Staring into the Mirror

October 11, 2016

Tags: Prejudice, Bias, Jo Joe, Tribalism, Bigotry

An Anisfield-Wolf blog asked, “What Biases Are You Carrying?” In the blog, Attorney Louise P. Dempsey was described as having used the following riddle as part of a lunch talk.

A man and his son were in a car accident. The critically injured man had to be helicoptered to the hospital. His son was rushed by ambulance to the same hospital. When the boy was wheeled into emergency surgery, the surgeon looked at him and said, “I can’t operate. This is my son.” The blog then asked the question, “How is this possible?”

If you haven’t heard that anecdotal test before, consider your answer for a few moments before continuing to read.

I’ve seen the riddle before. So, I knew the answer. Of course, the surgeon was his mother. But even steadfast feminists (including Dempsey) have been known to not get the answer right away.

The blog goes on to say, “Dempsey, who serves on the American Bar Association’s Council for Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Educational Pipeline, used the brainteaser to illustrate implicit bias. These are the hidden assumptions people carry that influence their behavior despite their explicit beliefs.”

Though my previous knowledge of the answer invalidated the test for me, I can’t pretend that I am that of that very rare (probably non-existent) breed that has no bias. My comment on the Anisfeld-Wolf blog was, “Prejudice and bias is human nature. How we handle it in our lives is a measure of our commitment to a just, balanced human society.”

People are tribal by nature. We’re comfortable with what we know, and tend to prefer being with people similar to ourselves. (more…)