Contstructing reality #10

Posted on October 30, 2011

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Where do you get your biases, your super-biases, your mini-biases, your life-long biases, your temporary biases?

Inherited biases

In the last post we talked about the biases you inherited as a member of the human species, such as fight and flight reflexes, fear of strangers and the dark, attraction for sweet taste and avoidance of bitter taste and bad – rotten – smells. We also mentioned cultural biases including food and clothing preferences, and within cultures you acquire sub-group biases  for certain types of music, language, and dress.

But what happens when we need a bias and don’t have one? Most of us rely on a bias or bit of bigotry that  we borrow or buy from a ‘leader’ or ‘expert’ who fits our bias of what ‘experts’ should look and talk like. We rely on political and religious leaders and stars – entertainment stars, sports stars, news anchors and academic stars to provide a cafeteria of biases from which we can borrow or rent a bias for the time being.

So in the addition to the hierarchy of  relatively stable models, beliefs, or biases which   we inherit (evolved as a species) – and learn from our culture, we fill in the gaps with short-term  biases that we borrow or buy from leaders, experts, news anchors, TV evangelists, politicians, or temporary biases that emerge from booze or drug sessions – then everything seems so simple and  clear…. til we sober up.

Culture deprived?

But whether the models or biases we rely upon, to construct our realities (our truthiness),  originated over thousands of years of evolution, or from cultural programming, or from  TV  ‘experts’,  or  from 4 shots of booze, they all serve to help  make sense of  the buzzing confusion of  the endless flood of light and sound waves by cutting them down to mind size.

In brief, if you ain’t got a bias you ain’t got no reality! …. You in trouble!

If you lose some of your evolutionary biases through a stroke, or some of your cultural biases become inappropriate by moving to a different culture, or you are inundated by more sound and light waves that your accustomed to, you discover how absolutely necessary  trusted models or biases are in constructing your realities, in maintaining your sanity.

What happens when inherited biases and cultural biases conflict? Can you think of an example? Hint: sex. Can you think of others?

What happens when cultural and sub-cultural biases conflict? Example? New immigrants. Can you think of others?

What happens when you don’t have enough functional evolutionary and cultural biases to construct tolerable realities out of the flood of light and sound waves and you have to  trusted place to stand?  Many of us start relying on booze and /or drugs to handle the overload. But  the fragile models or biases you construct with your brain wrapped in a chemical blanket can’t keep you afloat for long in rough seas…..

There’s the story of Olly a Swedish seaman aboard a sinking ship. The Captain yells: ” Yump Olly…Jump!”

Olly replies: “Where will I jump when there’s no place to stood!”

Well that’s enough for now.

Happy biases! happy constructed realities, happy truthies!

Inherited biases:.flickr.com/photos/photonquantique/1858685882

Culture deprived: flickr.com/photos/alshepmcr/4124103373/

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Posted in: Sciencing