I don’t mean to glorify open mindedness but I am just rather sick of being cast into one one bracket or another. Why should something only be right or wrong. It’s not only others who stereotype us, we tend to do it to ourselves and then pass it on to others.
Right form the day we are born we are forced into a mould. Remember your childhood when you had a nose like your dads and your mannerisms like you mom’s and walk like your uncle’s…blah blah blah.. the list is endless. My point in here is that we are always compared to someone else and others see us as an extension or as in this case a junior version of others. Here is an excerpt from an article by Seema Goswami on biasing. It explains my point very well.
And its not quite rare, in fact we all do it from time to time. It could be based on how they dress, where they went to school, in which area they live, where they holiday, the accent in which they speak.
If you dress in a salwar-kameez or a sari, then you must be a behenji; if you wear a short skirt or a tight top then you must be a slut who is up for it; if you are into computers you must be a nerd; if you are fat you must be greedy; if you wake up late in the morning you must be lazy.
At one time or another, all of us resort to this kind of shorthand. Punjabi = loud and crude (I guess I can say that without fear being a loud and crude Punjabi myself). Bengali = ineffectual but intellectual. South Indian = brainy bureaucrat. Sindhi = crooked businessman. Gujarati = canny stock-exchange whiz. And so on.
Why should we slot people into these little categories and take the view that they couldn’t possibly do anything else? It is possible to be a champion of women’s rights and yet oppose the Women’s Reservation Bill.
But few people are willing to take this idea on board. After all, it’s so much simpler to just stick people in one bracket or the other. It makes life much easier, doesn’t it?
Read the complete article here
But I want to move a step ahead now. We tend to stereotype people into brackets. Okay. But that isn’t such a big problem according to me. The bigger problem is when our biases overrule basic logic.
As we already make an opinion of the person we are debating with, we are more likely to forget logic and just serve information that would target the opponent.
For Instance, My views on Caste census have shocked quite a lot of people and hence led to a lot of debates. But most of the counter arguments follow a pattern. Coz I am a pro choice guy, the first counter that is fired at me is that the Yadavs are in favor of the census. ( and hence it must be bad coz it befits such politicians). The fact that I hate politicians like him is probably the reason for this counter.
But if you analyze this through logic. It doesn’t prove anything. If it’s good for them, so let it be. All that we should be concerned about is is it good for us?
It is very important to understand that every debate and every answer needs to logically fit with the question or the previous argument. For instance most of the times when I debate about the Godhra riots and BJP’s involvement in it, the first and usually the only reply that I get from the BJP types is that “So did the Congress in ‘84” Now its very interesting to look at the psyche behind the thinking process that produced the result.
1. I was automatically assumed to be a Cong supporter or sympathizer
2. I was assumed to be against BJP
As if nobody could have an independent view on the subject without subscribing to one political party or the other.
While in reality, I am support the New India parties most important of which is Jago Party. But it was just easier for the people to cast me in the pre conceived mould.
But the real problem in all of this is that we usually tend to forget our main agenda and go into a meaningless debate as it frequently happens in debates. The agenda of the debate was to answer the question ‘Why was BJP behind the Gujarat Riots’ and all it actually did was lead to counter- allegations and polarization of thoughts. All of this is from personal experience.
Another example of logical disability coz of our biasing is women elections. A classic case being Pratibha Patil’s election run.
We know that there is a bias against women and she was running to be the first woman president of India. This polarized the debate into two groups of people. One who supported women representation and the others who didn’t but no body focused on whether she was capable enough as an individual. In the complete chaos we ended up losing Dr. Kalam and getting such a dumb president. The debate was always centered around whether we need a women president or not, it never was about whether a competent president or not? Which it should have been.
I don’t really know if I have been able to explain my point properly and its highly unlikely that I have coz I am not really good at explaining my behavioral observation through my writings 😉 But I am sure if you try to analyze this with respect to your own life you would understand. The next time you are answering a question or countering an argument, just think before saying.. ‘Is my argument logically answering the question’ and more often than not you would realize that it doesn’t and may be you would realize my point then.