Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Biases

I have heard several people recently explain that we have to be careful what we take for granted from other people's presentations because "we all have biases."

On the surface, this makes sense because anyone who shares information with you has their own perception of how that information fits into the big picture. In essence, we should not accept everything presented to us, even if it comes from a relatively reliable source (such as a professor, or an expert in that field). I believe that this is sound advice, but this leads me to another thought.

The word "bias" literally implies some sort of error, or preference that potentially keeps us from the truth. My question is: if we are aware that we have some sort of bias, why don't we elect to get rid of it?

The answer most likely lies in the fact that individual preferences for comfort and/or aversions to change often outweigh any preference to truth. In other words, many of us are okay with accepting a skewed view of the world because the effort involved to change our views is not worth the truth that we would gain.

Any thoughts?

4 comments :

  1. This post is biased.

    No but really I agree.

    ReplyDelete
  2. So as I was reading in The Screwtape Letters today, I came across a quote that I thought went well with this:

    "...they (humans) find it all but impossible to believe in the unfamiliar while the familiar is before their eyes."

    The whole first letter actually goes pretty well with this concept. It basically talks about how we are prone to overlook plain, simple, and/or broader truth because we are more apt to nitpick and focus excessively on one aspect of it that we are already familiar with. This mentality limits our sight and causes us to miss out on the bigger picture. We can learn beautiful concepts and truths if we take the time to learn and study and open our minds, but most people have the tendency to do the opposite and focus on what they do know or have heard. They (we) accept it as a proven and complete fact (or convince themselves that it is one) rather than entertaining the possibility that there may be more to discover, let alone actively seeking it out and applying what they can find, simply because they do not see it or do not care to see it or do not care to make the effort to see it like you said.

    Longest run-on sentence ever. I hope that makes sense ha.

    Give it a read. Methinks you would enjoy it and find it interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Stephen Crane - The wayfarer,
    The wayfarer,
    Perceiving the pathway to truth,
    Was struck with astonishment.
    It was thickly grown with weeds.
    "Ha," he said,
    "I see that none has passed here
    In a long time."
    Later he saw that each weed
    Was a singular knife.
    "Well," he mumbled at last,
    "Doubtless there are other roads."


    That's one of my favorite poems, and I think it fits here pretty well. I think perhaps as much as the rejection of truth, though, nowadays people are rejecting the concept that there is a truth and saying everything is relative and whatnot.

    ReplyDelete
  4. What is to one person is a bias, is another persons belief system. Maybe bias is used interchangeable sometimes when it should be preference or ideals. Just one thought.

    ReplyDelete