What’s My Bias? Let’s Find Out

Photo by David Bartus on Pexels.com

By Joshua Blake

So, today I’m starting a new experiment. Every week I’m going to discuss a topic at length. Something like disability or healthcare or others opinions on political issues. After dissecting these topics and coming to a conclusion about them, I’m going to ask myself “What’s my bias?”

The idea is pretty simple: I’m performing a thought experiment on myself – to see if the opinions I have about topics that I’m interested in, match the general consensus of what other people agree upon. I believe one of the biggest barriers we struggle to break through is understanding not only others, but ourselves. It seems like people are arguing more and more – especially in the digital age. What causes these disagreements in the first place, and are they a simple concept to breakdown?

But in order to understand all of this, I need to know: What’s my bias?

Well, why do people argue about social/political issues in the first place? My question brings me to a story in New York Magazine from Park MacDougald. In this story, MacDougald references a libertarian economist named Robin Hanson, who got into some hot water over his assessment of incels – or “involuntary celibates.”

Hanson went on to author a book named The Elephant In The Brain. The book was a window into Hanson’s view of how humans interactions with each other boil down to signaling and deception – that there’s a biological reasoning for this behavior and this is how people form connections physically, mentally and socially. There’s more nuance to MacDougald’s review of the book that I’m not looking to dissect here, but for the sake of my questions so far, it’s a good start.

Something that does intrigue me about Hanson’s argument in his book is that – even if it were taken as gospel – how do you convince other people that they deceive others and themselves all of the time for their own gains? On the surface, this idea of outward and inward deception towards each other makes a lot of sense. But to boil down the human social experience as one built on a foundation of self-inflicted deception, seems a bit ironic coming from the same person making the argument.

But if Hanson is attempting to define the cause of our disagreements in the first place, and I don’t believe his argument, I’m looking for my own definition here, aren’t I? This isn’t to say that I think I must be right in my view, but rather, the answer to why we disagree is easy to find.

In the context of political disagreements, I believe that there is a magical equation out there that will not only define the issue, but solve it and wipe it out of our cognitive existence. But, the more I think about it, a new list of questions emerges in my mind.

Is it better education?

Eliminating bias?

Both?

What kind of education am I even talking about?

Do these questions make any sense?

Maybe you think my questions make sense, dear reader, and if you do, I’m sure there’s questions you have about a multitude of issues that impact you both close and afar. But I guess all we can do sometimes is say that we’re not sure where to look moving forward.

If people from different political ideologies are constantly vying for support and attempting to govern according to their worldview – and you or I disagree with that- then I think I have my answer.

What’s my bias?

I think we can all get along. And I know that thought comes from the distress I feel knowing people argue over issues that effect everyone in real time, and that there are real world consequences because of it.

I’ll be back next week.

One thought on “What’s My Bias? Let’s Find Out

  1. I find it hard to fully examine, all by myself, my own biases and blind spots – therefore, I often attempt to engage in conversations with folks that think very differently from me – Sometimes it’s SOOO hard to have the conversations, but it IS worthwhile, except, I find one bias in me hardening more and more, the older I get – Anyone I ask to learn more from, their perspective on this or that topic, if they engage in increasing attacks on my IQ, stupidity, ignorance, etc…. or brush me off as ‘just trying to cause problems/pick a fight’ when, to me? I listened and then asked, “Okay, I can see that – but what about this? How does that get handled, if we take this trajectory forward?” or, “I’m struggling to see the benefits of this solution, given a history of…[insert point(s)” – – Getting over your own biases and blindspots all by yourself is, to me, hard to do – to get over it, means engaging in interactions that may heavily tax your reserves of tolerance, patience, etc., at times -= but then, I’m not a fan of thinking I can simply meditate my way to inner peace – to me? My bias on that topic? Historically, it is spouted by those who are happy with their life and comfortable and they want to shame/blame those who are struggling into not shaking up the ‘status quo’ they benefit from – – but, afterall, that is me own bias…. 😀

    Like

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