What a Teacher Learns - Instinct and Bias.

It's the middle of the night and you suddenly wake up from your sleep and reach out for your water bottle only to realize it is empty. There is no light in your room and you need to get to the fridge outside. What do you do ?

Most people would say " I instinctively know the way to my fridge, I don't need to see where I am walking" and that's right. We as humans also have a sense of direction that is exceptionally precise in a short range but what happens if we slightly alter the scene. Let's now imagine , and yeah don't close your eyes or you won't be able to read further, you are in a desert and you just woke up yearning for water. It's the night and there is no moon light. It's pitch dark as a sand storm passes. What do you do ? Which direction do you walk in ? What are you searching for ? The simplest answer to this is, since your mind doesn't recognize the topology of the area, in the dark it would search for the single source of light. No matter how small or distant you would rather prefer to go towards the light.


This does not only stop at this, let's broaden our imaginary horizons a little. We place a subject in a dark room , subject facing East. We place a large indiscernible door at the north end and a point light source at the south end. Assuming all other senses are neutral in the experiment we can see that the subject would walk right to the south end assuming that since there is light there is an opening. What people call belief is what I like to call "instinct".


But wait, why is it important for us to understand about instincts ? Because that is where another terrible cousin of instinct steps in - "Bias".

For centuries humans have tried to run away from the darkness and seek light, establish settlements and build communities to better protect and survive. So how did this become the foundation of bias? Let's say terrible things happen to you in a dark room, may be you get beaten up, assaulted or may be all your snacks get stolen. Bad things just keep happening to you in the dark, slowly but surely, your mind will start associating darkness and dark things to evil or harmful in nature. On the contrary what happens to you in well lit rooms and day is all roses and cherries. So naturally, you perceive bright things to have more moral and aesthetic value. See where I am going with this ? Exactly, a study shows that when 2000 kids were shown a series of 5 pictures and asked which one of these is a good person , over 70 % of the white population choose a white man over a colored man to be the victor. What's even more surprising is that over 50% of the black population choose a white man to be good. This doesn't stop here, it is just a matter of time before we apply this to different regions and spheres of domestic life. Men and women, transgenders, differently abled, specially abled.


It all starts with that small part of us that clings to the light, ironically blind to seeing the light in others.
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