A wise friend of mine recently posted a joke about people only finding evidence to support what they already believe. It was funny because it was pointing out a bad thing that had a ring of truth that we all recognise. It made me question what I’m doing. If everyone is pre-biased there is no point in looking for the truth, ever. But if nobody ever tried we would never have even reached the stone age. Clearly, however bad we are at researching, lots of us manage to find stuff out that is true otherwise we would be walking around in our small pox riddled bodies with no idea what the surface of the moon was like.
How do you know if you are biased? You can’t, you just have to trust you curiosity to keep questioning. I change my mind a lot and say I just don’t know a lot.
In recent years I’ve done jury service twice and in both cases I was pleased to see that the jury engaged in a proper polite truth seeking discussion, we really did seriously brainstorm every single bit of evidence put before us. We all changed our minds at least once.
So how do you know when you are right? Well that is impossible unless you are looking at a really simple postulation. But here is a clue to when you might be wrong. With complex things it is almost never ever true that something is 100% good or 100% bad. So if you have an opinion and you can’t find one single thing right with the argument for the other side and feel that everything they say is wrong, my guess is you are suffering from a belief.
If Ken Livingstone said 2+2=4, however much I’d be loathed to do so, I would have to agree with him. ( I’m only judging him on his silly Hitler comment, you understand, for the purposes of a humorous example. In reality I know nothing about the man, he might be the cleverest human who ever lived for all I know.)
Whilst carefully stepping back from the belief-bias trap be careful not to fall into the “change my mind to prove I’m not biased” trap.
So promising myself to keep those two traps in mind, I feel a little safer to proceed. Lifejacket on and clipped on.