Op ed

Come Let Us Think Together in Logic (Part 3)

In our human process of reasoning and judgment, we often fall to the subconscious lures of biases, prejudices, clichés and stereotypes. These four are worst enemies to sound judgment.

They are like fungus or plague which once present in our mind, mar or distort every sense of justness, objectivity or truth. As humans, can we really get rid of them completely? Personally, I don’t think so. But our concerns should center on detecting them and leaning how to handle them whenever they attempt to obstruct our objective interpretation of things and people around us. Now let us try to simplify the above concepts.

Bias
This means a tendency or an inclination or preference towards something, which automatically creates an impartial or impaired judgment of other things less likely to be preferred or liked. We should also be mindful that the mind based on its socio-cultural, economic, political, educational, sex or gender orientation has the natural tendency to like one thing instead of another. And so, when it comes to judging what we don’t like, we are already biased and may not be able to execute sound judgment. For instance; there is a natural tendency for Muslims to like fellow Muslims, and Christians fellow Christians. There is nothing logically wrong with this. But note that if proper checkmating of the mind is not carried out, these preferences or inclinations could create a distorted judgment of the others that do not fall into the category of ones own stated preference or inclination.

Prejudice
The word ‘pre-judice’ is derived from two Latin words, before and judgment. Literarily taken, it means before judgment. Prejudice therefore means arriving at a conclusion even before evaluation or judgment is made. Generally, many limit the meaning of prejudice to racial prejudice only. But the concept goes even beyond that. Until we carefully and properly examine ourselves, we might discover the level of prejudgments we pass on people, events and circumstance on day to day bases.  And the more we detect and recognize them, the healthier our human relationships and global tolerance become. Listen to the following argument carefully.

             ‘I don’t visit Nigeria because I heard that Nigeria is a corrupt country’ said Mr. A from Europe.
             ‘I won’t date an Igbo girl because, Igbos too like money’ said Mr. T from Zamfara, Nigeria.
             ‘I don’t have anything do with northerners because they are Muslims and hate the Igbos’ said Miss, J from Enugu, Nigeria.

These statements made by the three are all based on pre-judgments and thus prejudiced in viewpoints. The conclusions were reached before any involved personal judgment is made. And therefore, they do not pass as credible and trustworthy. In other words they are treated as fallacious statements.

Cliché
Cliché has to do with conventional or common way of using (sometimes overusing) word or phrase that it automatically become culturally acceptable without critical evaluation. Take for instance, the following popular and overused expression:

              ‘Every disappointment is a blessing’
             ‘If you don’t harm anyone no one will harm you’
             
 Individual critical thinking does not retain these forms of expressions. Some disappointments are just disappointments and nothing else. Innocent people had been harmed and in many cases even killed. Without a second thought, cliché may sound reasonable and truthful until evaluated. Note that, in itself, the use of cliché is not condemnable but often times, because they are based on mass thinking, we tend to accept them without proper discernment. And this could destroy good judgment process and conclusion.

Stereotype
Stereotype implies affixing a definitive predictable image on a person, group of persons, things, place, and events. This is another disease that damages the human sound judgment. In the mind, stereotyping works like popup from a malfunctioning computer. Once we hear about a person, a thing or a place, our minds automatically popup an image and attribute while holding it as the final conclusion to the image in question. For instance what image popup in your mind when you hear the names

Nigeria,
Africa,
Black people,
White people,
Igbo people,
Yoruba people,
Hausa people,
Niger Delta
Saudi Arabia
Iran
Iraq
Emeka Ojukwu
Church
Mosque
Quran
Bible etc

There tend to be an image (already formed without a clear logical principle) and perhaps only shaped by indistinct previous experiences, but yet which we allow to provide us with an instant conclusion about the topic in question. Stereotyping is like fixing a world or the world into a box and interpreting it as if permanent or inert. Once we have this rigid affixation, we become automatically blinded and it becomes difficult to see otherwise. So when you hear things as ‘Africa is a poor continent’, ‘Nigeria is a corrupt nation’. The mental judgment is often based on a stereotypical conception. And the true fact is that Africa has lots of wealth and resources and that only very few people are corrupt in Nigeria. This is just an example of how stereotype concretize our judgment of reality in a very negative way which also affect the way we live and interact.

All the things we named above tend to be part of the human social formation. Yet, while we cannot be completely devoid of their influence in arriving at a conclusion, we can checkmate and moderate their holds on our thought processes and judgments. If one can judge and reach at a conclusion about some one, some place or something without letting ones likes and dislike interfere, one would be sounding objective and truthful. As a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian, can I look at other people outside my faith precinct and talk about them honestly without being biased, prejudiced or stereotyping them. All the factors we enumerated above also surface significantly in any nation where there is diversity in ethnic origins. We look at a tribe or a race and not a person. We identify places with people. A lots of people in the world identify criminals and fraudstars with Nigeria. This is unsound reasoning and consequently unsound conclusion. Next week, we will deal with superstition, ethnic based wisdom or reasoning, mythologies and individual logical analysis and thinking.

Part One | Part two

66810-2008-05-13
TO BE CONTINUED

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