The Bias of Insecurity

I like to think that humans are, in gen­er­al, cere­bral beings, unaf­fect­ed by bias or emo­tion.

But every time I’m met with a big­ot, who has noth­ing to cling to but the strength of their opin­ions, I lose this hope.

The more they speak, the more they prove them­selves as inca­pable of accept­ing any­thing but their own beliefs. Added to this is a lack of self-aware­ness, caus­ing them believe that they’re not closed-mind­ed, they’re just right.

Often it betrays an inse­cu­ri­ty. You can tell that under­neath their words, they har­bour a sub­con­scious feel­ing that they’re wrong. To make up for this, they express them­selves strong­ly enough to con­vince them­selves that they’re right.

As log­i­cal­ly as you explain things, step-by-step, premise to con­clu­sion, they won’t under­stand. They’ll nev­er be able to accept the truth, and remain com­plete­ly igno­rant.

It’s impos­si­ble to have a dis­cus­sion with some­one like this.

The dis­cus­sion is super­fi­cial, and the issue lies with­in the per­son them­selves.


  1. Yep, that’s about the inter­pre­ta­tion I’ve come to too. Maybe throw in a lit­tle fear, a lit­tle hurt and a bunch of denial that they don’t want to han­dle that as well right now. They drew a line. Luckily it isn’t always a per­ma­nent state.

  2. I think as humans, we bring a bias and emo­tion from every past expe­ri­ence to each new expe­ri­ence. A big­ot just does­n’t under­stand or know how to han­dle the emo­tions and bias­es those past expe­ri­ences give us all, but bring those to a new sit­u­a­tion is not inher­ent­ly a bad thing. If every time I step out on a city street I did­n’t car­ry the emo­tion and bias I’ve learned thru out the years, I would be very vul­ner­a­ble.

  3. I usu­al­ly find them hilar­i­ous to lis­ten to, until I have to deal with them myself of course. It’s frus­trat­ing to think that no amount of cor­rect or accu­rate thoughts you can con­jure will ever sway them. I like to think I gen­er­al­ly stay open to things, but when I’m feel­ing like an ass I can be pret­ty nar­row, which leads me to believe that big­ots are just cra­dle-to-grave ass­es who will nev­er be sat­is­fied with the truth they don’t like.

  4. peo­ple like that cal­i­brate very low on the scales of con­scious­ness.
    which is why, exact­ly for the rea­sons you stat­ed, they will nev­er be able to under­stand any­thing out­side of their lit­tle world, unless they make a con­scious effort to see the world thru a new per­spec­tive.
    The book I told you of: Power vs Force (by david hawkins)
    explains all the bio­gotry, fear, guilt, blame, resent­ment, pride, greed, etcc.
    that peo­ple feel
    It’s all thanks to the ‘ego’
    once we see that it is our ‘ego’ that seper­ates us from all, and is the source of all suffering..we can see how includ­ing a world per­spec­tive OUTSIDE of our ego is very empow­er­ing.
    He teach­es us how to look at our ‘ego’ as our own inner ‘pet’ if you will, one that pro­vides a source of humour, but one that needs atten­tion and train­ing, much like a pet does.
    We are not our ego’s
    they only help us sur­vive.
    We are SOOOOoo much more than our ego’s.
    I KNOW that book is one you could real­ly ‘sink your teeth into’
    I bet much of what he asserts, is already part of your per­spec­tive.

    DARE ya.…

  5. @Pearl — Denial! That’s the word I was look­ing for, but could­n’t put my fin­ger on. I find that too often it’s a per­ma­nent state, because of the cycle of bias->denial->bias, but hope­ful­ly that’s just in my lim­it­ed expe­ri­ence.

    @ACG — You’re absolute­ly right; bias is an essen­tial tool for our sur­vival. It’s under­stand­ing these bias­es that’s impor­tant. Even his­to­ri­ans who can’t step aside from their bias­es should at least rec­og­nize and state them, so we under­stand that their inter­pre­ta­tion of his­tor­i­cal events is per­son­al on some lev­el.

    @Reno — I just find it plain frus­trat­ing. Even if I’m watch­ing a debate on TV, and I’m not involved at all. Usually I walk away, or I won’t be able to sleep. I wrote this entry because I had to get it off my chest one night.

    @amy — I agree that a con­scious effort to see the world dif­fer­ent­ly can go great lengths. Unfortunately, most big­ots believe that they’re right, so they don’t have the desire to try this. I should put Power vs Force next on my list of books to read, sounds like it may blow my mind.

  6. I know what you mean. Sometimes I see some­body say some­thing on TV and it puts me in a weird way for days. Just know­ing that there are cer­tain things being said out there can be pret­ty dis­tract­ing from every­day life.

  7. The dis­cus­sion is super­fi­cial, and the issue lies with­in the per­son them­selves.”

    Two Word Response: Well said.

  8. @Reno — Then you know exact­ly how I felt for much of the week­end.

    @Anonymous — Two word response: Thank you.

  9. This is right on the mark. I almost feel guilty for giv­ing up on these peo­ple, but they can’t see past their own beliefs, thus, often restrict­ing them­selves from the truth. While you are try­ing to point them in the right direc­tion, they are con­cen­trat­ing on your fin­ger, not the path.

  10. @Travis — Great anal­o­gy. It reminds me of a quote from Enter the Dragon: “It is like a fin­ger, point­ing away to the moon. Don’t con­cen­trate on the fin­ger, or you will miss all that heav­en­ly glo­ry”.

  11. i have to deal with a per­son like this on a dai­ly basis. i dont know what to do. con­ver­sa­tions with her dri­ve me crazy. she also takes every­thing i say as a direct offense to her and her opin­ions, even though the sub­ject mat­ter has noth­ing to do with her. any sug­ges­tions?

  12. Short answer: Become a Taoist. :)

    Long answer: There isn’t much you can do about it because these peo­ple are blind to their own blind­ness. The best thing to do, in my hum­ble opin­ion, is to try explain­ing to them, “I’m not attack­ing you, I’m sim­ply dif­fer­ing in my opin­ion”. That way, you can say that at least you tried to get them to see your side as best you could.

    If she still does­n’t under­stand (and most like­ly won’t), then you can avoid her, or keep con­ver­sa­tion brief and curt. If she notices this and asks you if any­thing is wrong, this can be your oppor­tu­ni­ty to explain why you don’t want to talk to her any­more.

    If even this does­n’t work, then it’s prob­a­bly best that you accept the fact that peo­ple like this exist in the world (as a Taoist would). There’s noth­ing you can do to change them, so you can embrace them (much eas­i­er said than done, I know), and under­stand the fact that because of peo­ple like this, it helps you appre­ci­ate oth­er open-mind­ed, intel­li­gent, and objec­tive peo­ple.

  13. I find that this usu­al­ly hap­pen when I said some­thing that made peo­ple defen­sive. Some skele­ton of them that I did­n’t know and assumed that they were fine with it.

    Padding the state­ment with two com­pli­ments about the per­son I am dis­cussing things with seems to work well. At least it increas­es the aware­ness enough that I can sense my idea sink­ing in dur­ing sub­se­quent dis­cus­sions.

    • You do what’s called a “com­pli­ment sand­wich” in busi­ness, where peo­ple put a crit­i­cism in between two com­pli­ments. That way, peo­ple don’t feel like they’re being dressed down dur­ing reviews.

      In some sit­u­a­tions though, it does­n’t make sense to do that. Say some­one hits your parked car, and argues it was your fault because you did­n’t park the right way. Or some­one steals your design, and says it should be tak­en as a com­pli­ment. In those cas­es, those peo­ple are unequiv­o­cal­ly wrong, but don’t want to admit it, so they try to cov­er up by argu­ing with more force than you.

      All you can do is stand firm in your point, and try to calm­ly and log­i­cal­ly explain to them how they’re wrong. If I try this at least once, I can give up know­ing I tried, and that the prob­lem is with the oth­er per­son.

  14. Jeff,

    I’m was a big­ot with you, sor­ry. I think your argu­ments are right. I got blind because I felt hurt. And I felt hurt because I felt embar­rassed. I was com­pul­sive. I apol­o­gize. I hope you accept my apol­o­gy. I closed my blog until it is com­plete­ly redesigned. It is an expe­ri­ence to be an idiot.

    Again my apolo­gies. Best regards, Sergio

    • Apology accept­ed. Let’s move on. Best of luck in your design ende­vours, and I hope you have fun.

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