Every human being has two constants in their life: perception and bias. Both of these are how we process information, with the perception being how we interpret and observe information and bias being what we choose from the two. Both our perceptions and biases are subjective and attributed to our upbringing, spiritual beliefs, life events, race, gender, etc.
It is, thus, paramount to ensure that there is a level of self-awareness that informs us as to how and why we have certain beliefs and opinions. The reason it is important to uncover one’s personal biases and have a firm understanding of what your lenses of perception are is that it allows you to be self-aware in why you formulate your opinions the way you do.
Recently, I heard a story of how we internally have biases without being aware of these said biases. The story was about a father travelling with his son. The two were involved in a car accident in which the father did not make it; however, the son was rushed to the hospital. Upon arrival there, the child needed a surgeon; the hospital staff got the surgeon but just before the operation, they realised it is the surgeon’s son. The question was how was this possible if the father had died in a car accident?
Upon further thinking, I realised that I had assumed the surgeon to be a man and had not considered that the surgeon could have been a woman thus the child’s mother. This is an example of an internal bias that I possessed without having realised it. As a feminist, you must understand that this came as a shock to me to realise that I could possess an unknown bias that would assume a job position to be that of a man – even though I know that a woman is wholely capable of doing the job.
Thus, we find ourselves with internal biases that come as conditioning from how the world functions. Given that we are in an era that is continually unlearning harmful beliefs, we do ourselves a great injustice when we do not stop to reflect and ensure that we unlearn the harmful biases we may have. These may or may not come from our upbringing, our religious beliefs or the lens through which we perceive life.
When the discussion of race or abortion is tabled, each participant in the discussion has pre-formulated opinions. These may have been gathered from prior debates, research or religious views, for example. What one needs to be aware of is something called confirmation bias.
Confirmation bias is defined as “the tendency to search for, interpret, favour and recall information that confirms or supports one’s prior personal beliefs or values”.
Thus, when you have a bias and belief, you tend to lean towards finding information to justify your stance as opposed to objectively informing your stance. What makes confirmation biases dangerous is that one may strongly lean towards a false belief even though there is strong evidence that suggests otherwise.
Thus, the next time you want to argue a matter or subject, introspect and ask yourself: ‘am I arguing from a bias place?’ It is no longer enough to hold personal beliefs without ensuring they are informed. When presented with new information, become accustomed to seeing life through a new lens.
Belief, logic, and opinions stand to be changed over time. It, however, requires a great deal of growth. It may be uncomfortable to challenge your belief system but when you hold onto harmful false beliefs when presented with new information, it is dishonest. Contrary, you may find that further looking into your beliefs may very well equip you with new information that strengthens your stance. What is important is the process of ensuring you are informed and not operating from a place of ignorance because ignorance is not bliss.
With Love, Mavis
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