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.

16 comments

  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.

Leave a Reply