Bias (That’s Okay)

There’s really nothing wrong with having an inherent bias about something. You may be biased towards certain flavors of food, for example, or biased against loud vehicles, or even biased in preference of one religion over another. That’s okay. In fact, that’s human.

That alone may or may not trigger you when you consider the textbook definition of the word:

A particular tendency, trend, inclination, feeling, or opinion, especially one that is preconceived or unreasoned

That’s from dictionary.com, but feel free to reference your favorite word source; they all say about the same. Bias is a form of often unfair and unreasoned prejudice. Sounds terrible, don’t it?

But I don’t like tuna, never have. I don’t like the smell of it or the look of it and I don’t like it near my face. Most people love tuna and will eat tuna sandwiches any day and sometimes every day for a while. But I just don’t like it. No amount of cajoling by my beautiful wife will ever change my mind. I have a bias against tuna. Sorry.

No, I’m really not. Because my unreasonable bias against tuna is a personal thing. My own personal thing. I think you should feel free to eat (dolphin-free) tuna til the cows come home. Cow, now, I like.

I also happen to have a bias against religion. All religion. I don’t believe in any supreme being or pantheon myself. In fact, to me, it seems rather silly. So, the fact that anyone would personally dedicate their life to the existence of such a thing strikes me odd. Furthermore, when you have bunches of people congregating together in the consolidated worship of and adherence to the rules of imaginary beings, and trying to create policies for others concerning them, it actually seems dangerous. Unworthy of us. Beneath our dignity.

But, on the other hand, most of the planet worships some sort of god. Most of humanity throughout its existence has always made up and believed in one or many. It’s what we do. Harari even says it saved us, or at least allowed us to dominate all the others like us that would have taken over the world if we hadn’t. Our collective storytelling pulled us together in larger bands and those larger bands were able to do things that smaller collections of ungullible folks could not, like kill a mammoth or wipe out the Neanderthal.

I made up the word “ungullible.” It just sounded right there.

The bottom line to that, though, is that I don’t mind that you like gods or follow gods or worship gods or band together with like-minded individuals in pews to pray together to gods any more than I mind that you eat (dolphin-free) tuna. We have different preferences, you and I. Different biases.

Here’s where the trouble comes in. Some folks, in fact a lot of folks, think their biases aren’t. They think, instead, that they have the one truth. The one. All other opinions and preferences are anathema to that truth. One god. One vision. One flesh, one bone, one real religion.

Sorry, Queen moment.

All other ideas are dismissed. Disdained. If above I said, “I don’t like tuna so thou shalt not eat tuna,” my bias would become a problem for you. If I told you I wanted to wipe out religion on earth that would be a problem for you, too. Well, for me, actually, because I don’t have the power, ability, or army to do that and some of you might beat me up for it.

I didn’t, though. I won’t. I don’t want to try to cut you off from your tuna addiction or from your celestial beliefs. I kind of admire some of them; I’ve studied mythology all my life. Thor is one of my favorite Avengers. I like Aquaman, too, so I have no inherent bias against sea life in general. Just the tuna. Yuck.

So feel free to like what you like, prefer what you prefer, and revere what you revere. Just don’t think it’s for everybody, cuz it ain’t. There are something like 7 billion people currently running around this world, and probably 8 billion different opinions on everything (some of us go back and forth). Respect the opinions of others. Cherish our differences. I do.

I have a bias in favor of pluralism. 😎

22 thoughts on “Bias (That’s Okay)

  1. I’ve come out as Transmatter. I identify as energy. And some biases get a tax break in order to promote their biases to more people. Of course, religion. Ever notice there may be one school for every ten churches? Maybe the ratio is greater for churches, and it’s all tax free. Which is why the religious bias isn’t going away anytime soon. Uh…trigger moment. We’ll never move ahead as a species if we can’t leave behind what brought us this far. Even Hariri would agree. Which brings me back to energy.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I happen to like tuna and have mixed feelings regarding religion. The rituals of Judaism, for instance, have always struck me as being built on and designed to build hope, and, whether religious or not, I believe we all need hope. And many who are raised in the Jewish faith are openly, even proudly conflicted about how their upbringing shaped them even though they’ve ultimately rejected faith in any supreme being, often because they’re uncomfortable with the belief they’re “the chosen people”. It’s no coincidence that it was a famous Jew who said, “I’d never belong to any club that would have someone like me as a member.” It’s characters like that who, in the age of mass media, created a perception that Jews are naturally funny even though through most of history Jews were seen as dour and secretive. The Spanish Inquisition, a prime example of how awful religion can be, was sparked by a belief that Jews who’d publicly converted to Christianity were still practicing Jewish rituals behind closed doors. This may have been true but it’s my belief, one shared by many others, that it didn’t justify centuries of persecution, torture, and murder. In fact the U.S. Constitution has a ban on “cruel and unusual punishment” because Enlightenment thinkers were so horrified by the Inquisition.
    My point here is I have a bias toward being long-winded, using the term, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, “A tendency, inclination, or leaning towards a particular characteristic”.
    It’s a definition that predates, by more than 150 years, the definition “Tendency to favour or dislike a person or thing, especially as a result of a preconceived opinion”, although I think both definitions are equally valid, which is why I have a bias toward the OED.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your definition is better than mine! And it’s interesting that you should bring up Judaism and hope, because nothing causes more persecution than the audacity of hope (I know from experience!) and there are possibly no more persecuted people in the history of mankind than the Jews. Great response as always, Chris!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Tribalism has its purposes. Stranger Danger was a useful defense to maintain a viable village. Many social creatures have such bands-of-brothers boundaries built in. Bbbbaby!
    But, now that globalism is a real thing, where we’re all interdependent on each other, across regions, across countries, across oceans, such biases against “the other” is counter productive — and on the rise. Oh well. Maybe Mars’ Muskville will be reset our genetics. “Sure, Earther, you suck!”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s amazing to you that you bring that up; so many hard-wired parts of us are no longer necessary in this modern world, and will become less necessary as we continue to evolve. This is why I preach love. This is why I preach hope. This is why I am so despised. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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