HELP! My Bias is Making Me Look Stupid!

The Rub

We all have our ideas on what individuals and government officials should be doing to combat the COVID19 crisis. I am amazed at the wide spectrum of opinions out there. Some are pragmatic and believe we are becoming emotionally unhinged and over-reacting, and even “destroying our country”. Others hold the compassionate position and are convinced that we should “Save them all at any cost”. Both sides are convinced they are right and somehow embody a more robust perspective.

Of course, both examples represent the two extremes. To be fair, I believe most people from both sides generally mean well, they just start from a different worldview and have different levels of emotional intelligence to guide them.

With that said, they CAN’T all be right. We all recognize this. It is evident by how wrong we believe others to be when they disagree with us.

If you are convinced that you are fully aware of your personal biases and have them fully in check, you are WRONG! In fact, you can’t. No one can. Even worse, you think you don’t even have a bias. There is a word designated for such a person, “fool”.

“…Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Rom 12:3

Wired to Fool Ourselves

Our personal biases are amplified by our pride. The more convinced you are that you are right, the greater your blind spot is. Our biased perspective gives us a false sense of assurance of being right and makes us stupid. We are okay with this, because we like to be right. We find favor in superiority. We are wired in such a way to believe what we want to believe, or what we have already been conditioned to believe.

“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear”. 2 Tim 4:3

Our Blind Spot

This principle applies to everyone everywhere. I am not talking about everyone who disagrees with you. Don’t use this article to internally justify pointing your finger at those who you oppose. This applies to YOU, and me. It is called Confirmation Bias and we are all infected by it whether we like it or not. If you didn’t know this… It’s because it remains in your blind spot!

We can’t see our own blind spots. That’s why they are called blind spots, but everyone else can spot them in us a mile away.

The Counterweight of Perspective

There is something we can do to help combat this internal force that lies to us and creates unintended stupidity in our heads. We can intentionally subject ourselves to countering ideas. We can listen to, and seek out other ideas, even those we don’t want to believe. Not with skepticism but giving reason a chance to prevail.

“May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you are bringing some strange notions to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.” Now all the Athenians and foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing more than hearing and articulating new ideas.” Acts 17:19-21 NIV

There is a truth to every matter and to help us keep our own biases from pulling us further away from it, we need a counterweight to bring us back.

We lie to ourselves so much. We are by far our own biggest source of distraction from seeing truth clearly. Only when we realize this, can we fully understand and appreciate how much we need others to help us develop a proper sense of perspective.

Drawing Better Conclusions

Our self-awareness desperately depends on others to help us see our blind spots. Ever try to see the back of your head without external help?

The more we seek to learn what we don’t know or understand, the more we can truly begin to draw closer to better ideas, better reasoning and better conclusions. Oh, and better relationships. There is a word designated for such a person that thinks in such a way, “wise”.

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing” Socrates

Self-Awareness – Identify the Stupid in You.

I realize how foolish I can be when I close myself off from external input. Because I realize that I am cursed with this potential for stupidity, I have determined that I am going to do my best to try to always seek out the other side of the story to help draw me closer to truth. I will seek to widen my perspective to keep my bias from decieving me and leading me down the path of foolishness. When I fail (and I will), I hope I can have the awareness to see my need to humble myself before those that have discovered my foolishness. Otherwise I will always be a fool in their eyes.

“Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5

In our interactions with each other when we are divided, let us show grace and humility. Embrace a spirit of curiosity, learning from each other with a common goal to enrich each other with mutual understanding. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

I know I am going to work on getting better at this. Call me out if you see me fail. My bias desparately needs a counterweight.

How about you? Want to chat more about this stuff?

Joel Smith

joelsmith123@yahoo.com