The reading I did for this week’s discussions covered many topics, of which, I liked Shankar Vendantam’s hidden brain post best. ( S.V is currently producing a podcast for NPR covering social sciences). The main point S.V raises is that bias is traceable to a cognitive process where our mind is trained to see patterns in repeated inputs it receives. So, our first reactions to meeting people who are considerably different from us is fear, suspicion and in general involuntary but negative judgement.
I think there is more to this argument, as I will try to explain, and back up my thoughts with a few sources. What evolution has done to our minds is that it has wired it so that the tools for detecting confirmation are far more powerful than tools for logical thinking, especially if it requires going against our already re-inforced convictions ( This is the main argument here, and the examples are fascinating!). To make things worse, human beings’ cognitive apparatus is evolved to to scream danger when we find ourselves in new environments. This has been vital for our survival for many years, but is not helping us now, living in a cosmopolitan era. The solution (until our bodies find time to catch up) is to identify and resist and diffuse these misconceptions.