Bias biases

TLDR: We are most biased in where we see bias.


We can certainly work to overcome our biases, once we notice them.

But what about our biases toward where to look for bias? We can only notice biases where we direct our attention.

And what about those intense and stubborn biases that we take for moral insights? We affirm some moral claims as really important and really moral, while dismissing others as irrelevant or immoral — and this guides the positions we take in controversies. We call it taking a stand, but, we just taking the side toward which we are more subjectively biased.

If we decide to justify our moral biases using objective arguments, the criteria we reach for are — guess what? — those toward which we are biased. But of course, we give our biases fancy objective-sounding names. We pick the most relevant, salient or reasonable criteria.

And why these criteria? Everyone agrees they are the right criteria, except those other deluded fools — against whom we are biased.

So, sorry, sahib! It’s bias all the way down, even in what we regard as bias.

The deeper you go, the less likely you’ll be to identify and counterbalance your biases, and where you are most biased, in the abysmally ignorant depths, you will refuse to counterbalance them — on principle.

The best we can do is be fully self-aware, as opposed to partially self-aware enough to pretend that our highly biased counter-biasing calculations have privileged us with moral objectivity.

3 thoughts on “Bias biases

  1. “It’s bias all the way down, even in what we regard as bias.”

    Welcome fellow relativist to the world of tragically joyful pluralism, where the only bias is towards seeing everything emerging from our biases!

    Relativists of the world unite! We have nothing to lose but our (less fruitful) old chains, and much to gain by putting on (more fruitful) new ones!

Leave a Reply