Saturday, September 12, 2015


While part of the definition of bias is: "an inclination of temperament or outlook; especially :  a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment :  prejudice," you can expand that out to more or less any sort of overall understanding of The Way Things Ought To Be, or in short, an expectation. And there are any number of circumstances in which we are expected to have biases. We are expected to stand with our family against strangers, or to give children the benefit of the doubt. Or we may be expected to view certain people as being worthy of charity. To the degree that we do not always go through an exhaustive process of objectively justifying these sorts of sentiments, they are biases. And we don't see these things as problematic.

For instance, I am a single, childless, Black American, middle-aged, professional male. To the degree that people are likely to view me as a potential criminal, based on the color of my skin, that is considered an unfair bias, and we expect people to examine what in themselves leads them to such a conclusion. But to the degree that people are likely to view me a self-centered and irresponsible, based on the fact that I am neither a husband nor a father, there is much broader social approval, and simply the way things are. It is interesting to me that we seem so unaware of that bias.

Because for the people who hold a given set of biases, they are all "simply the way things are." They are the rules that allow them to make sense of the world around them. And perhaps the path to changing that is an unbiased view of our biases.

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