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Bias & Critical Thinking

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Joseph A. Bailey, II, M.D.
Ancient Greek and ancient Roman information passed on to the world by Europeans is, at its best, biased. Compared to the Worth-based African Truths, Europeans’ Value orientation has generated delusions in Black people (and all ethnic groups) for centuries and on up to the present. So how can this vicious cycle be broken?  One approach is to access life-shaping words inside the tangled web of this vicious cycle by means of Critical Thinking. Just as these scales (plus and minus respectively) range from 1 to 100, there are classes of words that fit into a sequence along each scale.

An example is the class of words-positioned as a spectrum along the ‘negative scale’—which describe degrees of people’s control used to dominate others (and sometimes control each other).

Eight of those, in order of increasing intensity, are: bias, prejudice,discrimination, exploitation, oppression, brainwashing, enslavement, and genocide. Note that the practices produced by the ideas contained in each of these words have effects ranging in magnitude from mild, slight, moderate, and extreme—depending on how hard or how easy they are to detect and depending upon the individual’s susceptibility.

Furthermore, the destructive effects each can produce occur in one or more time periods (ranging from immediate to long term to afflicting offspring). Examples in struggling Black youth include culturally transmitted mindsets of delusional beliefs and self-defeating ways of thinking and behaving.  To gain an idea of how the mildest of the eight can affect victims, let us look the word “bias” and its effects. People can and do use it to deceive you and without you (and often them) being aware of it—and sometimes you use it to deceive yourself. English acquired “bias” from Old French but its previous history is vague and complex. Perhaps “bias” derives from Latin bifacem (bi, two; facies, face—‘looking two ways) and/or from the Greek epikarsios ‘oblique.” When “bias” first entered English it meant simply an “oblique line”; an inclination to one side; a slope; a slant; and one who looks sidelong. These concepts gave rise to the expression “on a bias,” meaning on a diagonal or on an oblique—an apt term to describe the tailor’s practice of diagonally cutting across the grain of a fabric. From these senses “bias” denoted anything that runs crosswise or is out of line. This idea was applied to the tendency to favor a certain position or conclusion, especially in the legal system when one was trying to slant a view (e.g. trying to bias a judge in ones favor). An expansion of this was the idea of an inclination to err in a certain direction—an idea that took on wide application. One was any preference for one choice or response over other choices, such as repeatedly selecting “heads” over “tails” in coin flipping.

A second was when a Biased Sample is found to be unrepresentative of all the cases concerning which an Inference (a reasoned opinion drawn from evidence) is to be drawn. A third is a lack of fairness, as indicated by terms with qualifiers—e.g. interviewer bias (where race or gender determines the questions and the interpretation of those questions); volunteer bias; and White Privilege bias. Fourth is an IQ test which predicts different success rates for Blacks and Whites designed to make Blacks seem less intelligent.  Today, a biased judge or reporter is already unfairly disposed ‘for’ or ‘against’ one of the sides involved. Critical Thinking needs discernment to troubleshoot for any bias from you or them.  Discernment is just barely being able to separate very, very slight differences in things that are confusing or have misleading appearances— as when we dimly see the distant boat sail at twilight. It sees through the boring and the unattractive to discover the “pearl”;“reads between the lines”; “feels” beyond the words; and, at its best, sees things only present to the spiritual “third eye.”

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