MetaCognitions | Biases, Leanings & Inclinations


We are all biased to varying degrees no matter our relative sanity or intelligence.

In fact, a sure sign of bias is to believe ourselves to be unbiased, to see only the biases of who disagree with us.

Our biases can be insidious, blinding us to themselves, and we have them merely by virtue of having perfectly ordinary if individually quirky human brains that work the way they happen to do.

Hence the need for scientific skepticism, to know of, understand, and to varying degrees bypass the problems of our own biases.

So, here are my biases, my leanings, those I’m aware of, minus the neuroscience jargon, and some of my resulting ideological views and values.

First, my politics; they are somewhat left of center.

I believe in a strong central government with checks and balances concerned with social welfare, equal treatment under the law, civil liberties and the common good with efficient spending and effective taxation.

I’m for a strong but lean and efficient military capable of effectively defending the state and national interests from threats to peace and the general welfare.

I favor a strong wall of separation between church and state maintained vigilantly against the efforts of fanatics and theocrats. There currently seems to be a considerable erosion of this by a major political party and special interests in my country. Needless to say, I find this a disturbing sign.

I favor reason and rationality, not gut thinking, as effective ways of reaching reliable conclusions and clear decision-making.

I place little stock in believing things on faith without prior reasons. I take people at their word when it is rational to do so, if and when they are generally reasonable and given to making reliable claims.

I value science as a fallible but powerful and reliable way of understanding the natural world.

I consider blind faith irrational and dangerous, but allow for a sort of faith in those things whose rational denial would be self-refuting—science, reason, evidence, objective facts—and whose irrational denial would be incoherent nonsense.

I consider dogmatism and authoritarian claims to knowledge unreliable and profoundly dangerous; contrary authorities and dogmas are always to be found, and they cannot possibly all be correct.

I’m technically an atheist, not a strong anti-theist, and I subscribe to humanist ethical values, preferring the labels non-theist, humanist, rationalist, or skeptic.

I’ve little interest in certainty or absolutes regarding matters of fact, value, or opinion. Certainty is a feeling, not knowledge, so certainty is not worth much to me.

Not all biases are bad—that would be prejudice—and some of them are often downright useful. It is possible to be ideologically biased in favor of reality and in wanting to have more true beliefs than false ones.

So rather than deny my biases, I try to understand and sometimes sidestep them, sometimes make use of them. That seems to me the better path.


Commenting below. No spam or trolling, or my cats will be angry.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s