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Biases And Truth In Research

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Joseph A. Bailey, II, M.D.
Clearly, based upon my daily research most people’s priorities rank above pursing the truth.

Whereas I pursue the truth and follow it wherever it leads, regardless of what damage it does to my feelings, many put their feelings first or simply do not honor the truth.  Social pressures dictate what Whites write about Black people so as to prevent reversing the absurd “White Superiority/Black Inferiority” mindset held by Whites. Hence White researchers, to avoid destroying their own careers by being rejected or isolated or receiving adverse comments in the White community, have to ensure that their research findings are acceptable to the White community.

The words used and the thoughts expressed, even in research, are likely to label the researcher as loyal (ethnic loyalty is called “Tribal” among Black people) or disloyal to members of ones own class. Further, the White middle-class researcher gets into trouble by assuming and implying or stating that all Blacks are just like all White middle-class persons with respect to anything because Whites foolishly believe they are superior. Also, trouble arises from White and Black audiences’ knowing the races are not alike because of vast differences in their systems of values.

As an evaluator you must have historical true facts (and they are not taught in school or presented in readily available books written by Europeans) and a clear understanding of the fundamental past and present philosophy of each of the ethnic groups involved. The problem is more complex when an ethnic group is newly formed, as in the case of 90% of Black Americans who are mixtures of African, Amerindian, and European. Acquiring such knowledge requires a tremendous amount of work and in unlikely and unusual sources. My best insights have come from studying the story of words. It is a big mistake to be sucked in by what you like and repelled by what you dislike because neither of these are necessarily related to the truth.  The same applies to the friendliness or unfriendliness of the people giving you information. In order to get you to believe them and think as they do, some people will try to get you to like them.  Also, there is a tendency to want to please those who have been especially nice. Avoiding the boring is laziness; taking short-cuts is foolishness.

Even if you do all these things correctly as a researcher, be alert to the possibility that the author of the information you are reviewing may not have been strong on every point. Psychological observation tends to be biased because the psychologist has used Freud or some authority as the lens through which he/she has seen and interpreted things (Dollard, Castes p38). These lens are totally out of focus when applied to Black people.

Sociologists have their own pattern of how they approach things—perhaps fully utilizing the social heritage in explaining human action before having recourse to biological factors. For example, White racists disagree with this approach when sociologists deny the categorical inferiority of Blacks and instead they explain Blacks’ present status in terms of historical circumstances.

I have found that before certain White publishers know anything about what I have written, they already have strong opinions about what should and should not be in my work. If you, like racists, possess similar biases and prejudices, then you miss out on wonderful new worlds to explore. Yet, none of us escape biases because of having been socialized to use those of others as the foundation for our own biased belief system —and to us it seems as if our way is the only right way.

Hopefully, out Selfhood may warn our minds to be critical of its own operations. Only by perfecting ones critical and rational thinking does one have a chance of rising above such narrow thinking. It takes as much courage to seek the truth as it takes to climb a very high mountain.

website: www.jablifeskills.com

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