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3 Bumps

S/O Is the problem with bias in not perceiving it?

Pulling this out so we don't further hijack jsb's question.

When the topic came up of teachers who exhibit a bias against students who have differing religions or beliefs, I brought up this:

There are some people who honestly don't perceive their bias. My religious philosophy prof was a priest working on his PhD at Notre Dame. He was completely oblivious to the rampant Christian bent in our area, assuming that because it's a "college town", it was by default a very liberal, open area. To a slight degree, yes the town the universities are in (8 U's and colleges total) is slightly more liberal than the surrounding counties (where most of us, as students, lived), but even then, it's hardly a liberal bastion of open-mindedness.

If you don't see it, you can't make an effort not to do it (and to his credit, he did after he saw)

Is this where most of the conflict lies - not in people being rampantly bigoted or biased against other points of view, but being so settled into the idea that most people believe as they do, they literally do not see things happening right in front of them?

How often has it come up here that people find the use of words like "witch", "heathen" or "nonbeliever" as insults to be really offensive, and when it's explained to people WHY it's offensive, most of them (sadly, not all) immediately realize how it comes across and stop doing it?  Those are all people who, if it hadn't ever been pointed out to them, would still be going around throwing those words around, all the while possibly insulting or offending people around them, and not even realizing the hostile environment they were a part of creating.

That's just one example, there are countless others, many of which have been brought up in all the "bashing" questions here and in R&B - some that probably seem benign (calling someone a witch) to some that are outright cruel (throwing rocks and stones at a non-Christian, or praying publicly for the Catholic to "see the error of her ways" and become a Protestant).  Are things written off because they don't "see" them?

Answer Question

Asked by NotPanicking at 12:26 AM on Jun. 29, 2011 in Religious Debate

Level 51 (421,174 Credits)
Answers (10)
  • We all have biases- some latent, some overt- some are just preconceived notions while others stem from a lack of exposure- I agree its important to be honest with yourself and when someone points out something- you need to listen and act accordingly- for me-here in CO- we don't have much problem with religion-our bias has more to do (in education) with family dynamics, income and educational ability. My point was (and is)if you are not willingly to have your notions of those things challenged- you need to get a new vocation. I can not tell you how many people will say "hes from a single parent home" or "well, she is on free and reduced lunch" or even "gifted kids act that way"-UGH- after two decades- I know better ;)

    As far as the example in the other question- that teacher was a hard core Atheist picking on a Christian- that is an overt bias and he should be aware of his bias and either keep it to himself or find a new job

    Answer by soyousay at 12:40 AM on Jun. 29, 2011

  • nice spelling and grammar from a teacher- I better quit while I am ahead on this one ;)

    Answer by soyousay at 12:41 AM on Jun. 29, 2011

  • Is the problem with bias in not perceiving it?

    Perhaps--sometimes at least.
    When one knows better, one does better--Maya Angelou

    Answer by popzaroo at 12:46 AM on Jun. 29, 2011

  • I think that a very large chunk of the "problem" with bias is that it is not percieved. That lack of perception causes all manner of "unintentional" offense, and also makes it where the biased person has no opportuntiy to rectify their bias. And because it is bias, it can be very difficult to make the person aware of it, too. How do you go about opening someone's mind?

    Answer by judimary at 2:55 AM on Jun. 29, 2011

  • Yes, we have our own individual perceptions. If something is said that has a personal connection to you it's can easily come across differently to you. We are all capable of saying something that can be perceived as biased we just notice it more when it's directly connected to us.  When people on here complain of Christian bashing, and others say no way, it's a difference in perception.  Just like when people use terms like heathen, or nonbeliever. 


    Answer by RyansMom001 at 5:38 AM on Jun. 29, 2011

  • I had a professor who was a born again christian & teaching a course about religion in society. Already having some knowledge on religion, i questioned a lot of her sources of information. Maybe I was the one being biased, but it seemed as if she had her own agenda. I kicked ass at that class, but all my doubt got me a fucking C....she did NOT like doubt offended her to the very chore. Instead seeing my questions as helpful for myself, she saw them as a challenge to her personal belief. THAT should be left out of the classroom.......she never should have mentioned her religion to the class int he first place, BIG mistake...

    So, yeah...she didn't know how biased she was, maybe i didn't either...

    Anyhow, i think we both had our own individual perceptions. If i could go back in time, i would have done things differently in that class.

    Answer by samurai_chica at 7:32 AM on Jun. 29, 2011

  • I think that's part of it.

    As we were driving home from visiting my in-laws in Florida, I noticed several billboards with messages promoting Christianity, including ones with the stereotypical image of God pointing to the belly of a pregnant woman, with the biblical quote about knowing the baby before it's born. It made me think about other billboards and how some are accepted, no matter how outrageous the message - like the one with the boy pointing a gun with the message "If God doesn't matter to him, do you?", implying that Atheists are violent gun-toting murderers. . . but when billboards say, "Don't believe in God? You're not alone", they can be deemed so offensive that in some areas (like Cincinnati) they have had to move the billboards because some Christians threatened the life of the property owner where the billboard was located. 


    Answer by jsbenkert at 10:31 AM on Jun. 29, 2011

  • Offense is often in the eye (and bias) of the beholder, and yes, sometimes people do get blinded by their bias and can't see when they are being offensive.


    Answer by jsbenkert at 10:32 AM on Jun. 29, 2011

  • Everyone is biased to one degree or another ... it is impossible IMO to give a truly unbiased opinion.

    So the question is "Which Bias is the Best Bias to be Biased By?"

    Answer by -Eilish- at 10:51 AM on Jun. 29, 2011

  • Maybe one that is tentative; maybe the best way to be biased is simply to be open to the possibility that someone else's bias is equally valid.

    Answer by judimary at 6:12 PM on Jun. 29, 2011

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