The Hidden Influence of Biases

November 6, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

There is no such thing as a bias-free or value-free position, we need to be aware of that bias, in ourselves and in others.” Richard Rohr

Let’s admit it: There is no such thing as an unbiased point of view.

Our personal histories contribute to our strongly held beliefs and “positions” on controversial topics. And the most troubling thing is that many of our biases are hidden and/or unknown even to ourselves.

Bias and Cultural Assumptions

Our biases can also be understood as our cultural “assumptions.” While we “assume” certain things to be true, we often don’t realize that those assumptions have been burrowed deep within our psyche based on our personal history and the culture in which we were raised.

For instance, I just recently I read of the American/Western “philosophy of progress.” I have never even thought of the concept of a “philosophy of progress” and yet that concept is absolutely true… but only for those raised in a society in which meritocracy is the norm. In America, most people would agree that you get what you earn; or that “progress” is a natural truth of the common human condition.

But I ask you to consider the cultural beliefs of those not raised in a wealthy/comfortable society like America or even the West in general. Right now I am thinking of Uganda. For the past five years I have traveled to Uganda 2-3 time each year. Much of my time is spent in very rural communities where people live at the edge of extreme poverty, earning less than three dollars per day.

The goal in this society is not about progress. In fact, progress is an almost unknown value. The driving value is survival, not success.

Bias Toward Success or Survival

Just this one single value (or bias) predetermines out entire approach to life: success or survival. These “filters” form the basis of our actions and beliefs on a daily basis. Yes, it is helpful to understand the core beliefs of other cultures in order to better understand your own biases.

So, what do we do: we read; we discuss; we contemplate; we travel. Learning is key to self-understanding and self-understanding contributes to our self-knowledge and therefore our ability to make even better decisions about what we believe.

Understand Your Biases

To Gain Clarity and Understanding

Photo courtesy of wildpixel at istockphoto

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