The Radical Notion

Encouraging women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians

On bias September 27, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — theradicalnotion @ 6:59 pm
Tags: , , ,

The title and tagline alone of this blog should alert the casual reader that I make no claims of neutrality (fwiw, the tagline is tongue-in-cheek, paraphrasing a Pat Robertson quote, but the fact that I think it’s hilariously idiotic also betrays my not-moderate leanings). Clearly, I am not an Independent, nor anything close to conservative on, I would imagine, the vast majority of if not all issues. And I’m aware of this, and okay with it. It may be a tad difficult to pinpoint my political and social beliefs with complete precision, but something very left of center while not approaching, say, Communism would seem to be accurate.

So, as anyone who’s read some of my posts can attest, I view events through a certain lens. Inevitable bias creeps in, or stomps in sometimes. The psych major in me would like to point out that everyone looks at the world through schemata – specific preexisting criteria and beliefs that influence our perception of facts and events. Splitting, viewing things in complete ‘black-or-white’ terms, is a cognitive error seen in some mental illnesses (namely, borderline personality disorder) but is, in less extreme forms, a defense mechanism used by most people. It is easier, psychologically, to view things or people as all-good or all-bad, and more mentally taxing to have to think about subtleties and multiple truths and so on. One of the books I’m reading right now, (The Mismeasure of Women, by Carol Tavris), mentions that in periods of wartime, the general populace sees a decrease in mental illness, because it is psychologically beneficial to be able to focus on a defined ‘enemy’ and revel in patriotic solidarity with your fellow citizens, who might normally piss you off but at least aren’t Them.

I freely admit that this is one of my most common defense mechanisms used. Appreciating the nuances of people and beliefs, reconciling certain traits that I knew to be negative with other ones that were undeniably wonderful in acquaintances, conceding intellectually sound points to people I normally disagree with – these are all things I have had trouble with in the past, and though I may be better when it comes to specific issues, I know that, even now, I’m likely to Judge Now and Ask Questions Later. I think it’s fairly common in various spheres, and it’s rather unfortunate (though understandable) because it’s probably the greatest barrier to true ‘bipartisan’ or ‘universal’ progress.

However (tone change!), that is not to say that I believe my political and social beliefs are not well-founded. Most every position I hold on a certain issue has been researched and explored and justified (of course, as I have specific priorities, that is not to say that somebody who believes the exact opposite hasn’t given just as much thought to their position).  Why am I not a ‘moderate’ or ‘swing voter’? Because I am not moderate in my support of civil and social rights, the pursuit of equality, the quest for scientific and medical innovation and progess, governmental responsibility to its people, and global citizenship – in short, because all of the things I believe ‘happen’ to fall on one side of the aisle. I guess my point here is that, even though some things I say and do are the result of black-and-white thinking, the original rationale behind my beliefs is anything but kneejerk.

I could expound on this some more and probably will at some later time – the positive feedback loop of expectations and then filtering actual events to meet your expectations, whether there’s a difference between approaching a position from different directions – but what I originally meant to say in this post was that I know I’m not perfect. So if you happen to stumble across this blog because you know me or because you Googled ‘become lesbians’ or because you meant to go to (which is apparently the blog of a feminist medical student, so who could blame you? Upon closer perusal, I have actually added it to my blogroll), and you see some blatant inaccuracy or logical fallacy, and you have a minute to spare, why not comment? I might still end up disagreeing with you, but I’m always open to constructive, well-meant criticism.

On a purely intellectual level, I’m always up for a good-natured debate or trying to understand a position different from mine (I guess it speaks to my continual pursuit of some kind of absolute truth, if such a thing could even exist). When I see, for example, an organization called “Feminists For Life”, I am intrigued by the notion that there is a feminist rationale for being against abortion rights, as I feel completely differently (as far as that particular organization goes, however, it is quite far up Bullshit Creek without a paddle. So no dice).

So, if anybody’s still reading at this point, and has something to add here or on another post, comment away! The worst that could happen is that you could be a complete bigoted doucheclown and I ban you faster than a synthetic element decays, but the best is that we could all become just a tiny bit smarter and better-equipped to deal with the world.

Note: In case anybody is all, ‘wherefore the existential crisis, TRN?’, this post was inspired by musings about the psychological underpinnings behind a group of people being able to watch a single 1.5 hours of television and each come out with diametrically opposed, yet completely fervent, beliefs about who had done well and who had obviously been a third-rate hack in a cheap suit.


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