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The Myth of Objectivity

I like to believe that I’m objective, but who am I kidding really?  Do I truly believe that I’m the only one out there that can escape my own bias?  Yet, I still find myself shaking my head in utter shock in response to some of these people I converse with on how wrong they are.  How THEY can’t seem to see past their own preconceived notions and prejudices.  If they could just see past their own bias, they could then see how wrong they are and then see that I’M RIGHT.
I want to be right, no, I NEED to be right.  I want to know the truth, like most of us.  I don’t want to be the one who was heading the wrong direction and have to make that embarrassing turn back.  I want to know from the get go that I’m heading in the right direction.  I also have enough confidence in myself that I can tell the difference from what is right from what is wrong.  I like to think that I’m not one that can easily be fooled.

Truth is I am just kidding myself when I say that.  I have been fooled before and there is no doubt that I will be fooled yet again.  I shouldn’t spend time beating myself up for this, but I still do.  
We all have a bias.  Having a constructive perspective defines who we are.  We make decisions from our past experiences that eventually help create our very own personal bias.  Of course we don’t want to completely remove our bias, or own perspective on certain things, rather we just want to be aware of it.
In the scientific community, bias is consistently a problem.   They have created many preventative measures in attempts to help prevent, control, or even reduce its affect.   
For example, if a particular scientist, who is actively working in the field of biology, firmly subscribes to the fundamentalist teaching of creationism from the Bible they will certainly experience the conflict that arises from the biological principle of evolution.  Well, as you can see this will have a profound impact on how this scientist teaches to his or her students and it can also have influence on future experiments.  It will also be clearly seen in his or her research and will lessen his or her credibility in the scientific community.  If this scientist firmly believes that the earth is around six thousand years old, then the principle of evolution is compromised, or even rejected.  This can have a very negative effect seeing that evolution is one of the most commonly taught principles in biology.  This example can show the problem that bias can create.
It is also important to be aware of our own bias when it comes to our own belief system, even if you don’t subscribe to a belief system that does not make you immune to having a bias.  Yup, you heard me atheists, just because you don’t believe in God that doesn’t automatically mean you are objective towards those of us with beliefs.  You aren’t any more objective than the rest of us. 
Unicorns and dragons are mythological creatures.  Believing your personal perspective is objective without a bias, or any prejudice, is also a myth.  The only answer to this problem is to be aware of the presence of your bias and try to keep it in check.  
Those of you who disagree with my conclusions are clearly incorrect.  Wait a minute…


Kiley said...

Great post. Very insightful.

I think you hit on a very important point. The only way to combat our biases is to try and be aware of them. Sometimes this is really difficult or even painful to do, but I think it is part of making good decisions. We have to do our best to figure out our motives behind our decisions; hold them up to our biases and see if our biases are the only reasons we are making our decisions.

I wish that we could see the world how it really is...

jen said...

Excellent post. I just laughed at myself for this one earlier today.

A friend of mine is growing a beard. His daughter finds his beard offensive. Her finding his beard offensive really annoyed me. I suggested he get a tattoo to really show her. And then I realized I was doing the exact same thing she was. (Telling him what to do, because I didn't like what other people were thinking.)

So, I backed off, apologized, and hopefully I'll be different next time...

Tom Perry said...

Thanks for the comments Kiley & Jen!

lifelongguy said...

The need to be right in my new direction is driving biases against previous biases to the extent that I now have to force objectivity in favor of that which I am trying to walk away from.

Does that even make sense?

I want to have integrity in this journey, but just like you said, Tom, I want to be right!

Kaylanamars said...

So glad I found this lovely blog! Thanks lifelongguy! Excellent post, Tom. I find if I'm agreeing to much with something I need to take a step back and look at other views and get more info. I don't want to always agree with someone/something again! No more special pleading for me...hopefully...anyway, great post.

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