Bias is Life

I like to think of myself as unbiased, but it is impossible for anyone to be so. Bias is just a natural, subconscious thing that we all have in one way or another. In my mind I look at people and point out their biases. I think about what causes them, and how I would never let myself be like that. However, I know that I am that way sometimes. I know that I am biased, but it is difficult to notice when it is happening; it often takes an outside perspective to point out your own bias.

In the documentary Ways of Seeing it talks on the point of advertizing and the way that it uses bias to sell a product and influence people to buy things. I find it interesting because I love advertisements, and look at them as art. When I look at an advertisement I see the people and the idea behind it, I see who they are trying to sell to, and the small details that subconsciously influence the consumer. I watch as these advertisements affect my sister on a daily basis. She is 11 years old and highly influenced by advertisements. Every time we are in a store she will spot something she saw on TV and beg to get it. “Oh my god! Mom look! It’s that (fill in product)!”

“Yeah,” my mother says, already knowing what comes next.

“Can we get it?” My sister says.

“No sweetie.”

“Awww. Come on.” She replies, foolishly hoping to persuade my mother.

“No, let’s go.” She says. Watching this happen time and time again makes me think about how my sister hardly notices that she is being manipulated. When I see this I realize that it is not easy to know your own bias because it is just what comes naturally to you and the advertisers capitalize on that.

Although I feel that I have some bias, I often feel as though I have less than most people, but of course many people think that. Bias is not always good, but it is not always bad either. Bias is just a part of life. You might say that bias is what keeps the world going, and if you can recognize your own bias you can be better for it.

I have trouble finding my own bias, but I am not sure why. One thing that helps me to see my bias is to look at other peoples bias and how it affects them, and how they can be influenced or manipulated because of it. When I look at people all I can think about is their problems and how I can help them. I try to help people subconsciously with problems they might hardly know that they have. When I realized this I also realized I had a bias for people with problems. We often have biases for things that we have ourselves. And so I realized I must have problems myself that I cannot deal with on my own.

I have a bias towards leaders. I have been told time and time again that I am an amazing leader. However, I hate doing it. I attribute my leadership skills mostly to my skills from above. I can control people extremely well, but as I said, I do not like to make a big deal about it and would much prefer to do it without notice and not outwardly. I respect people who can lead and those who can do it well, and I surround myself with leaders so that I can relax a little more and not have to lead all of the time.

I also have a bias towards things that are easy. I tend to take the easy way out in almost anything. Whatever gives the most reward for the least amount of effort. It is not exactly that I am lazy, but I am logical, and it just makes sense to do what you know will work best.

All of these things and more, however innocent they may seem, leed to life changing decisions and reactions. These biases leave ‘blind spots’ that make it hard for me to see the other side. I cannot see my own problems and cannot help myself; I will never be the best leader because I cannot know what it is to follow; and I will never know what it is to be challenged and succeed, or fail trying. These of course are my own personal biases, but we all have our own, and we all have our blind spots. The thing is that they are not completely blind, all it takes is some careful thought and consideration, and you can see the other side. The wonderful thing about bias is that it occurs most often when you are not thinking. Bias is based on impulse and can conflict what you thought you believed in. This is noted in chapter 4 of The Blind Spot. They call the two states of mind reflective and automatic. When I first read about this in class, I thought that I must be special because I was pretty sure that both my reflective and automatic states were the same, and that they thought the same things. However, the more that I thought about it I realized that that was not true and that a lot of my automatic thoughts came from social norms that I told myself I do not believe in.

Bias is a part of life. It is not something that you can control or something that you might like, but it is there and you have to deal with it. You also have to deal with other peoples bias. Bias does not have to be bad, and if you can recognize your own bias and how it affects you, you can use it as a tool to help you in your daily life.

Comments (2)

Larissa Pahomov (Teacher)
Larissa Pahomov

Hi Miles, I really appreciated your analysis of the shopping scene with your family. We witness this moment all the time, but you stopped to think about what was the cause of it.