Posts Tagged ‘confirmation bias’

There has been lots of talk over the last few years about cognitive dissonance, confirmation bias, echo chambers, and the general tendency of humans to hear what they want to hear, not what is actually being said. While this is a problem as old as humans, these last few years has seen it grow to an unprecedented volume. Largely thanks to social media, the fires of misogyny, bigotry, racism, and religious fervor have flared to global conflagrations. If it’s one thing humans really love to do, it’s hate.

The recent kerfluffle over the new female Doctor Who is but a small example of the hate parade out there. Pick just about anything on the Internet, and you’ll find scathing comments below. Pink posts a perfectly innocent family picture, and is slammed for being a terrible mom who’s endangering her children. The Afghani all female robotics team makes history for their country, and they receive death threats. Even cute little kittens aren’t exempt. Kittens!?! Come on, people!



Even that adorable fluff face…


I have to admit experiencing my own moments of “You’re stupid! Fuck you!” but I try to keep them to myself as much as possible. I was brought up with the if-you-can’t-say-anything-nice-don’t-say-anything-at-all philosophy. Though in later years I did learn how to offer constructive criticisms. You can’t be a decent artisan without that. But there’s nothing constructive about the vast majority of what goes flying over the interwebs. It’s just a vomit of anger for no apparent reason.

But there is a reason. The anger isn’t really about Dr. Who or Pink or kittens, it’s about change. The world is going through a maelstrom of change. Again, largely due to the inter-connectedness social media and the Internet offers. And most humans don’t do change all that well. We like our nice little comfortable bubbles of sameness. As long as we keep to the well-worn rut of routine, we can deal. We know what to expect and how to plan for it. Screw with that routine and we all fall apart.

Even the field of science fiction has experienced the pains of change. You’d think a group that pretty much epitomizes progressive thinking – you know, that whole new worlds, new peoples are cool thing – wouldn’t have such a problem. But there’s been a tiny group of grumpy white men (see Sad/Rabid Puppies) who have been railing against the SJW’s (social justice warriors) that have “taken over” THEIR science fiction. They view the inclusion of women, people of color, and LGBTQ issues in FICTION as a direct threat on them and their reign of control. They even went so far as to game the system for the Hugo awards a couple years ago, managing to get a goodly number of THEIR choices onto the ballots, at the expense of much more deserving writers. Thankfully, and to the credit of the majority of the voters, that year also saw the largest selection of “No Award” tallies ever seen at the Hugo’s.

Okay, guys. For one thing, it’s FICTION. ENTERTAINMENT. Don’t like anything that might threaten your delicate manhood? Don’t read/watch it. It’s not a life requirement. You want to live in a closed little bubble, while the rest of the world passes you by, you go right ahead. Since most of you can’t write worth a damn anyway, you’re not likely to get published beyond your vanity press, and you certainly won’t be missed.


Unicorn against idiots

I’m really going to be busy…


But what happens when a huge swath of the population at large has basically the same ideals? Change bad. Different wrong. And – even worse – disagreement equals attack, resistance equals persecution. The drama needle has swung off the scale and now even the tiniest difference between two people and their opinions becomes an apocalyptic battle of epic proportions.

Are we really that insecure? Are we so unsure of ourselves that we have to hate someone or something else to feel better about ourselves? We have to consider ourselves superior in ANY WAY just to make it through the day? Let’s think about that for a minute. What is hate? For me, hate is fear plus anger. Something scares us and we get angry and therefore we must hate it, because that’s better than running away. Only cowards run away and I’m certainly not a coward, right? Therefore, we must crush the object of our hate because that’s the only way to be safe.

So if the root cause of hate is fear, what are we afraid of? Or, more importantly, WHY are we afraid? Why is including more women – roughly half the entirety of the human race – both as creators and as characters in fiction so scary? Why are people of color – who actually comprise the majority in the world – too terrifying to be allowed equal representation? Why does it matter that the guy next door is having sex with another guy? Are you mad because you weren’t invited?


Fear is the enemy

Living your life in fear is no way to live.


We hate not because of a problem outside, but because of a problem inside, in our hearts and souls and minds. If you hate a young Afghani girl who wants to play with robots, then YOU are the problem, not her. But she’s a terrorist, you cry. She’s starting with robots and graduating to bombs! Congratulations. You’ve swallowed the cum of propaganda spewed by the fearful old white men who claim to run our country. Instead of thinking for yourself, you’ve followed the party line of hate, and there’s only one way that ends: in our destruction as a civilization.

And while there are those out there that just want to see the world burn, I’d bet most of us would rather that not happen. A hundred years ago, when it took days to walk to the next village, or months for a letter to wend its way to the New World from the old, it was easy to be isolated. And it made sense for local and state governments to have more autonomy over their territories, because they were right there, when the feds were weeks – even months – of travel away. But we’re not isolated anymore. Communication is virtually instantaneous. We can watch the protests in [obscure third-world country] in real-time from our couch in California. And we’re much more mobile, many of us commuting more in a day than our ancestors did in their lifetimes.

The world is not such a big place anymore. We can no longer be isolationist. We can no longer be separatists. We need more cooperation, not less; more integration, not less; more acceptance, not less.

And that means less hate, not more.


Read Full Post »

 “Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

            Alfred Pennyworth, The Dark Knight, 2008


Ferguson, MO.

Michael Brown, black teenager, deceased.

Darren Wilson, white cop, resigned.

Yup, another shooting. More outrage. Protests that turned into riots. People injured. Businesses looted. Buildings damaged. Cop cars burned. Fingers pointing every which way but where it really matters. Seems like I just wrote about something like this.

Oh, yeah, my article about the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin situation, just about a year and a half ago (“Why?”). Just substitute the names as you see fit and you’ll get the gist of what I was going to write for this article, before I remembered that I’d already written it.

You see, the real problem is we don’t learn. The plague of confirmation bias that has eaten through nearly every aspect of our lives leaves people on all sides of the problem unwilling to do anything to change. They are convinced they already have all the right answers, if the world would just listen to them. I have several very intelligent, very educated friends who are so sure of their stance on one side of the argument (“Wilson is a murdering nutbar.”) or the other (“Brown was just another thug who deserved what he got.”), they have defriended people on their Facebook accounts for even broaching the idea of a different opinion. That kind of attitude just leaves us talking to the mirror.

Sorry, folks. It’s just not that simple. It’s another case of the complete truth only being known by two people, and one of them, sadly, is dead. That’s why we have to depend on the evidence to tell his side of the story. In looking over the documents released by the grand jury on the case, the preponderance of the evidence sides with Wilson’s account of the incident. You can’t convict someone just because you believe he’s guilty, no more than believing in creationism makes it true. This is why we have the system we do, because too much damage was done under other versions (Salem Witch Trials, anyone?).

And, of course, it’s a huge racial issue, on top of the militaristic cops versus poor people scenario. Is there still racism in the US? You betcha. Discrimination of all forms is alive and kicking, in oh so many subliminal ways. I’ve experienced it as a woman, as a fat person and as a witch. Just because I have big boobs doesn’t mean I’m stupid, just because I’m fat doesn’t mean I’m lazy, and just because I’m not Christian doesn’t mean I sacrifice babies and worship Satan. But it sure seems that a lot of society out there thinks so, and just won’t be told otherwise.

I’ve also seen the discrimination blacks suffer – from their own families. I had a co-worker years ago who was articulate, educated, professional and well mannered. She had worked hard to get to that point and was working equally hard to make sure her children were the same. She told me how her family accused her of selling out, of “not being real” and trying to be “white.” They teased her mercilessly about her good diction, her professional attire, and her desire to continue her education. The fact that she made good money, and was on her way up professionally only served to prove to them how she had abandoned her heritage.

Since when did being educated, articulate, professional and courteous become bad? Why is it when a person of color wants to accomplish something for themselves and their family they are accused of being ashamed of who they are, by their own peers? Does this mean people like Martin Luther King, Jr., Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice aren’t really black? It seems to me that the whole racism issue isn’t just in the hands of whites. We all need to stop pointing out and dwelling on the superficial differences and start talking about the common ground every living human shares.

Toni Morrison, a Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning novelist, made some very poignant comments about race during her recent appearance on The Colbert Report. She does not want to be referred to as an African American author, but just simply an American author. She goes on to state there is no black race or white race, only the human race and the concept of racism is an artificial construct. You can check out that video here.

Another moving statement comes from Prince Ea, an award winning rapper and activist who has lived in St. Louis his whole (young) life. He is wise beyond his years, and his answer to some of the issues surrounding Ferguson can be seen here.

And Dr. King’s niece, Dr. Alveda King, has condemned the rioting in Ferguson, supporting my own belief that rioting is not protesting, and only undermines the legacy of peaceful change for which MLK and others worked so hard.

Yeah, I’m a middle-aged white woman, with my own issues and biases. I’ll never be able to fully understand what non-whites go through just to live in this country. But I hope I can keep learning and improving myself in this regard. I hope to be able to help erase all those special designations we keep attaching to ourselves, so one day we can all look at the facts of a situation – and only the facts – while leaving all those hyphenates that carry so much baggage behind.

I hope. But the real tragedy here isn’t that a young man is dead. The real tragedy is that – after all the hew and cry and hand-wringing and finger-pointing and emotion wrapped up in a racially-socially-economically, cop vs. civilian, white vs. black raw nerve of an issue – we’ll still do nothing to actually change things.


© 2014   Cheri K. Endsley   All Rights Reserved.

Read Full Post »

Hanging By A Thread

Stitch shenanigans of an embroidery artist


the things that come to hand

Eli Glasman

Site of author Eli Glasman


Movies with a bite.

Knite Writes

The Official Blog of Therin Knite

Interesting Literature

A Library of Literary Interestingness


Movies, thoughts, thoughts about movies.


Write, Explore, Adventure

The Jiggly Bits

...because life is funny.

Jack Flacco

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. (Matthew 6:33)


handwork, writing, life, music, books

Lora Lee's Centsations

Confessions of a Copperholic

Blue Windows

The word Blue brings many things to mind. The most obvious is the color- of sky and water. Some believe it to be calming and able to keep bad spirits away. Blue is also a state of mind, a sweet sort of sadness that may surface at any time. One may think of music, the sullen, soft sound of the blues. I am Blue - all of these things. Calm and peaceful, stormy, deeply emotional, sullen, sad and often sweet.

Kourtney Heintz's Journal

Believing In The Unbelievables: From Aspiring Writer to Published Author

The Better Man Project ™

a journey into the depths


For Aspiring Writers

%d bloggers like this: