Everyone’s got a bias. Everyone’s got an opinion.
This is why I tend not to trust statistics, because most of them are telling you the facts on a slant. It’s like there should be an asterisk next to the results of any given study.
However, this makes me wonder how the man Christ Jesus dealt with them.
The Affinity Bias- This is when you surround yourself with people who are like you. You want people who think like you, talk like you, and believe the same things. Jesus goes out of his way to avoid this. He surrounds himself with a crowd of followers. Of those followers, many were Jewish, like Jesus, but not all. Think about the Roman Centurion in Matthew 8:5-13, the Samaritan woman in John 4, and Zacchaeus the tax collector in Luke 19:1-10. Jesus was even commonly known to hang out with the prostitutes and tax collectors. Sure, when we think about the Twelve Disciples, they were all Jewish, but that leads us to our next section….
Confirmation Bias- We enjoy being right. We really enjoy it when other people tells us we are right. Its especially easy to do this if you are already surrounded by people who are like-minded. Jesus makes a point of doing quite the opposite. While his Disciples were essentially all hard-working Jewish men, and Jesus was also a Jewish carpenter from the boonies, they still disagreed with one another.
In Mark 10:14 we see the disciples stopping Jesus from being pestered by children. It makes sense, he’s a busy guy, he doesn’t have time for kids. But Jesus is indignant that they would not allow children to have just as much access to him as everyone else; Jesus and the disciples are clearly not on the same wave length. You also have Peter, just not getting it, and Jesus having to rebuke him in Mark 8:33. I know this isn’t a lot of evidence, but just thinking about it makes me wonder if the reason some people followed Jesus, was to find some way to contradict him. I imagine there were Pharisees that did just that. So literally, even they were followers of Christ.
I don’t think Jesus ever called those who agreed with him. I know for a fact that there are Christians who say they follow him, but don’t actually act like Christ. At the same time, I think there are a lot of atheists who will go out of their way to say they don’t believe that Jesus ever existed, but still follow closer in his footsteps than I do.
I really don’t remember if I read this or just made it up, but I present something called the Nemesis System: Its when a king has a person, who is always by his side, to simply provide the counter-argument. If the king says he wants to go to war, the Nemesis says that peace is the right way. If the king believes himself to be the greatest, the Nemesis reminds him that he’s only human and mentions an embarrassing incident in the king’s past. The Nemesis is the healthy reminder that maybe you’re wrong, so that you don’t always assume you are right. He’s the devil’s advocate, and we need more of those to balance out our polarizing views. But speaking of systems…
Systemic Bias- Its natural for me to develop systems that process information for me, so I don’t have to do the work. It’s the easy way out. We make physical systems like Calculators, but we don’t remember how to do the math after a while. We create habitual systems, like my brothers, who grew up with very little food, and learned to eat as much food as they could as quickly as possible, because they were raised with a lot of other kids and not much to eat. They don’t know why they developed this eating system, but they still have it. We created the Police to protect us and solve disputes, because we might not be able to do it ourselves. And lastly, we use our churches and Pastors as systems to believe on our behalf, because that’s how we are.
We like having a system to do most of the work, and we end up with the final result. Whether its the sum on the calculator, the way we eat, the protection of the police, or the sermon on Sunday, we enjoy our systems. Systems aren’t always bad, but sometimes we do things without knowing why, and sometimes we believe without really knowing what we believe.
I am so very guilty of this.
Jesus address the biggest one of all-time, when we over-complicate everything in our lives with rules, habits, and beliefs. Matthew 22:37-38: Love God; Love people. Its not hard. Its not complicated. In fact, its the sum of everything in the Bible. Jesus tore down the whole structure of Jewish faith, and showed everyone what it was supposed to be about. That’s deconstruction if I’ve ever seen it.
I had a Professor describe to me a very complicated problem involving multiple houses and members of his family, and how he eventually solved it all. He had a mentor of his just break everything down by asking, “So why are you doing all this?” My professor realized that after stripping all the rest of the issues away, he just wanted to have his mother stay somewhere safe, and the rest of it just fell into place once he figured this out.
Conclusion– I think its important to have a diverse group of friends who aren’t afraid to tell you that you are stupid, and when you feel like a problem is too much, don’t over-complicate it, but tackle the real issue.
P.S.- I realize this was quite a shallow article, all things considered, but it was only a small thought that popped into my head after hearing about biases.