Thursday, April 27, 2006

Knee-Jerk Biases

I have personal views on a bunch of things: Abortion, the War in Iraq, immigration reform, the religious right, liberals, elitism, the environment, environmentalists, capitalism, social equality, taxes, certain celebrities' sexual orientation. You name it, I've blabbed about it at one time or another.

Lately, though, I've been very self-conscious about expressing my views. I fear that many of my opinions are not very well-considered, and drawn from an out-of-touch perspective. Sometimes I wonder if I gained some beliefs simply through osmosis after hearing them from others for so many years.

We are all prone to making judgments based on our personal points of view. That's just human nature. But nowadays I definitely try hard to weigh the validity of my views with a candid assessment of 1) my own perspective, and 2) whether my opinion is truly well-considered.

And my own self-conscious fear of forming -and voicing- an ill-considered, knee-jerk opinion makes me sensitive to it when I hear other people express their views. Admittedly, I don't always know how much the other person has considered the topic or to what extent it affects them personally. Which makes the whole thing inherently hypocritical. But every time I hear someone voice their views on a topic, I always wonder if they suffer from the same syndrome that I do.

Take one popular topic: Wal-Mart bashing. I often get annoyed when I hear people bash Wal-Mart, because I think it's easy to hate it if you can afford to shop somewhere more expensive. But in being annoyed, I reveal the hypocrite that I am. How do I really know how much the Wal-Mart hater I'm speaking to understands the underlying issues? Who am I to judge them for judging Wal-Mart? My friends certainly know that I am both abundant in opinions and lacking in knowledge (the worst of both worlds), so I certainly have no right to the moral or conceptual high ground.

It's a bit sad and perverse how my desire to open my own eyes has ultimately resulted in blinding me. I've become so averse to my own tendency to form unsubstantiated opinions that I often think I see the same fault in others. And in forming my own ill-considered, pre-conceived prejudices about others' beliefs, I have become exactly what I tried so hard to avoid.

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Blogger rick james said...

another good post jack.

i'm a hypocrite, i like to bash walmart, but i go there sometimes cause of the convenience... but its standard procedure to bash the guy on top, thats just the way it is... the little guy (underdog) never gets bashed cause nobody really cares..

but i do hate Starbucks, cause i think their coffee really sucks bad and they do try to knock out the little mom and pop coffeehouses that are trying to build some sort of culture in their communities

2:01 PM  
Anonymous jason azat said...

Argh, Teja!
What happened?!?
The other thing where you bashed was so much better! BASH SOMETHING! Now ou're just bashing yourself! I hereby bash your self-bashing!


so there.

and Teja,


So go ahead and piss off those idiots. Who cares.


maybe that is why i have so few friends.

that's just my opinion. and if you disagree then your a iddeeit.

2:21 PM  
Blogger jackt said...

DCCF: Haha your Starbucks post is hilarious- glad to see you're still waving the flag on that one! =)

JA: Yes, maybe soon I will go back into self-righteous mode haha!

Side note to JA's comment: The original version of this post was a rambling, preachy thing about Wal-Mart and why we shouldn't bash it if we can afford to shop elsewhere. It came out all wrong (I was half asleep when I wrote it), so I redid the whole thing but kept the same title. The current one is much more to the point (the discarded one never really got to the point).

2:52 PM  

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