We all deal with bias and preconceived ideas. Bias is easy to recognize in others and hard to spot in ourselves. All of us would like to believe that our thoughts are rational, logical, and based on current facts, but in reality, our perspective is a complex web of past experiences, previous thoughts, and bias shared by other people around us.
We can clearly see this in the political landscape today. There are 435 members of the House of Representatives serving in Washington, DC. These 435 individuals represent a diversity of age, race, gender, experience, background, and culture; however, when a bill hits the floor of the house, the support invariably is divided along party lines. It's hard for me to believe that, given a complex piece of legislation, every member of one party will be in favor of it while every member of the other party will be opposed to it.
Even members of Congress who are from the same state have opposite opinions regarding what's best for their constituency. Obviously, there is an overriding bias in play, and these people identify more closely with their party than the people they serve. Bias is hard to eliminate as we often perceive what we expect to find.
I really enjoy Major League Baseball, and despite their reputation to the contrary, umpires generally do a good job of calling the games. One area I have noticed where umpires consistently have a bias is when they are calling balls or strikes on a future Hall of Fame batter. Umpires are baseball fans like the rest of us. The vast majority of them would have preferred having a career playing the game instead of being the umpire. When a legendary player comes up to bat, umpires statistically call fewer strikes on them. In their minds, I believe they have an unconscious bias which tells them if a player like Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, or Joe DiMaggio didn't swing at a pitch, it was probably not in the strike zone.
Obviously, fans have a much more pronounced bias than umpires. If you're ever in a sports bar watching a game, fans of opposite teams will continue to argue their view of a particular play. Rarely does either side change their opinion even while watching the play over and over in slow motion. We see what we want to see or what we expect to see.
While it may not be possible for you and me to eliminate our own bias, we can be aware of it and take it into account as we make critical judgments and decisions.
As you go through your day today, be aware of all the bias around you, including your own.
Today's the day!