As a teen I was lucky enough to know everything. My Dad dubbed this teen phase, The I Know Years. That’s the teen answer, I know, everyone knows that, and/or didn’t you know that?
What I didn’t know and only found out as I grew older was, there was a lot I didn’t know. A lot.
What I didn’t know was so much more important that what I did know or thought I knew.
Whether we know it or not, whether we admit it or not, we are biased. Everyday.
We all have a bias…or two…or a dozen…or a thousand.
Bias is normal. It’s actually part of our flight or fight response, there to tell us if something is dangerous.
If you’re self-aware and use productive skepticism then you should effectively admit your biases and think through them logically.
What’s the difference between a bias, a prejudice, or a preference? Not as much as you would think.
I thoroughly enjoyed Howard J. Ross’s book, Everyday Bias (Rowman & Littlefield), borrowed from the awesome Netgalley.com
Naturally I started reading it chock full of bias. I thought I knew exactly what Ross was going to say (my teenage self and I still hang out sometimes; share a few giggles, cookies, and scoff-ee). We were firmly put in our place.
This book was so intriguing and thought-provoking that after I finished it I popped online to read more on the subject, and found Ross‘s earlier work, Reinventing Diversity which was also amazing. I love a book that not only makes me think, examine, but also makes me want to know more.
Our biases are mostly unconscious, and can run deep.
These start as newborns (yes, apparently babies can show bias) and are built upon though life experiences and things we hear, read, watch, etc.
Bias is even worse in times of stress and economic hardship because we exhibit more fear behaviour.
Years ago people showed this by rationing, conserving “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” ~Depression Era Slogan
Now we buy more, want more, do more; one thing has stayed the same, tyrants rise and freedoms fall during hard times. And others sit back and make money.
Logical fallacies reign, oppressors rise…
We have 24 hour news channels not because there’s more news, they’re infomercials for partisan views, after all, how can you sell your tribe’s views just at noon, 6 and 11? You need to drill the messages in 24-7-365.
We live in an we’re-right-and-no-one-else-is age. Confirmation bias is running rampant, we hear what we want to hear, believe what we already believed.
Republicans don’t listen to Democrats and vice versa.
Same here in Canada, the parties are so stuck in their ideology they sneer, snark, lie, and bicker.
The world is Us vs Them.
Rich vs poor.
Right vs wrong.
If you’re not with us, you’re against us.
Instead of making the world more inclusive, our empathy is waning with information overload.
Jumping from story to story, cause to cause, belief to belief. Platitudes, truisms, clichés…if it doesn’t fit in a soundbite, meme, gif, tweet, photo, video, if it has any depth, if it makes people look at society, life, etc. then it’s ignored or mocked. Fear is making us have more biases.
So we’re all biased, so what? Not really a problem, as long as we control them, not the other way round.