You most definitely have a bias


“Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people.”

A young chap once said to me, “I consider myself pretty unbiased.” My retort was swift and spiky: “So you don’t take a stand on things or have meaningful opinions. Cool, cool.”

You most definitely have a bias. To declare yourself “unbiased” is to assert a litany of heinous things:

If you ever met a truly unbiased human, you’d want to push them in a lake.

Humans are awash in bias. We are cognitively biased because human brains are made of matter and this distorts how we perceive the world. We are politically biased because we all had to be born in some place with its own laws and culture; this distorts our judgments about the world. We have human bias! We all had to be born into sweaty primate bodies1 and this distorts how we act in and arrange the world.

There are ways to counteract bias and these are worth pursuing. One way is to Bring your adversary closer. (You had to know that was coming.) Another is to ruthlessly question binaries (The universe is not binary), because they are human-made frames, not gifts from God.

You cannot erase your bias any more than you can erase your weight. Bias is part of being human. No, it’s not rational, yes, it causes problems. But you need a slant on things if you want to be human—let alone interesting.

Diversity is the acknowledgement that folks are biased in different directions, and diversity is a desirable thing. Our opposing biases may cause friction, but You need a little friction, sometimes.

Without a slope to the mountain, we’d have nothing to climb.

  1. To the tardigrades reading this, please excuse my human-oriented bias. I stand by you and strive to do better in the future.↩︎