Episode 186 : Mystery Episode 17

So, you know that thing you’ve been wanting us to talk about? Yes, you. That specific thing? Well, tonight, we talk about that. Probably. Maybe. I dunno. This episodes from another dimension! How would I possibly know? Stop pestering me! Enjoy!


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7 Responses to Episode 186 : Mystery Episode 17

  1. William says:

    Odd… the intro plays twice… what are those guys doing over there?

  2. jas says:

    Hayley Mills….with a goatee…

  3. jas says:

    In regard to how people react to Billiam, I think it’s more what Tony was describing at first (or at least this is what I thought he was saying)–it’s a projection of the judgment the person is making about him or herself onto someone else–rather than an overgeneralization/prejudice based on the way most people who avoid something act. At least my experience of people who avoid alcohol or who are vegetarians, etc. has been more that they’re like William. But I do have the experience when I’m avoiding something–like not eating meat–that a lot of folks think I’m judging them.

    And that’s why the example about people not feeling that way about someone who wouldn’t do heroin makes sense. Since most people don’t–it doesn’t seem like it takes effort. But people assume it takes effort not to drink, or not to eat meat (’cause most people do). That effort translates into a moral, conscious choice and then people are judging themselves for their inability to do the same. If it were the case that dislike of Billiam was based on an overgeneralization of the experience of other judgemental non-alochol drinking, vegetarians, then heroin addicts would also be angry at all non-users, assuming all non-users are being judgmental of them (which I imagine most are). But I think heroin addicts have accepted that judgment of themselves for the most part, whereas alcohol users and meat eaters think of themselves as the “norm” and are angry with something that turns their attention to the idea that it isn’t just a norm that everyone does.

  4. jas says:

    I think generalization is kind of built into the way our brains work. We couldn’t learn things or have language without it. And probably it’s a good survival skill so we generalize even more when we’re afraid–“Hey this is kind of like that time, Oog got killed! Let’s get outta here!” So I actually think it’s pretty hard work to go counter to that and doesn’t really make sense to say that not treating each person as an individual is illogical–there are some generalizations that make sense. When I meet a new person, in order to understand what they’re saying to me, or interpret the meaning of their actions, I’m making generalizations based on previous experience. Imagine what it would be like if each meeting was a discreet and individual experience. “What’s that thing this guy is doing with his teeth? Does that mean friendliness? Interest? Anger?”

    The other thing I’d say about our unconscious biases that makes them hard to deal with kind of relates to the earlier conversation–that is that people feel guilty about having them because everyone “knows” it marks you as a “bad” person. So people deny (“I’m not a racist”). I took some of those Implict Association Tests and found that I had a lot of biases that I’ve been working consciously all my life NOT to have (and so assumed that I’d conquered them). So just making a conscious choice doesn’t work. I think you’ve got to become aware you have them, then not retreat into denial or beating yourself up. And then in situations where bias is going to come into play you try to work against it.

    I dunno…I also heard they’re trying some training programs especially in some police departments to create different associations and that seems to work some as well, at least short term.

    • William says:

      Indeed, utilizing generalizations is how our brain works, and not just on cognitive levels, but on sociological levels as well. However, those aren’t the kinds of things we were talking about. We were talking specifically about cultural generalizations. And, recall, I did note that even these cultural generalizations are a significant challenge to set aside, and I agree they’re so much of a challenge to set aside one cannot just think they’ve mastered them through the power of a simple choice to “not be racist” or “not be sexist”. However, they aren’t impossible to set aside, and at the very least one can employ strategies that will allow them to gradually set more of that kind of thinking aside as time goes on, and, providing a person is looking for greater ease in forming and maintaining personal relationships, it would be a reasonable thing — even a logical thing — for them to commit to a program that would allow them to gradually set aside greater and greater amounts of cultural prejudice. Because such prejudices aren’t like cognitive or sociological generalizations at all — they aren’t helpful or beneficial in any way. Quite the opposite, actually, as we all know.

      But, yes, I think you’re absolutely right… the best strategy, and perhaps the only strategy, is to become aware you have biases, avoid denial or self-loathing about them, but, rather, recognize when they’re creeping into a situation so that you can deliberately set them aside. This will be very difficult at first, but habits of thinking will form eventually, so it’ll become almost second nature. Or, perhaps it’s better to say “third nature”, because the bias itself is second nature. 🙂

  5. jas says:

    Right, I wasn’t trying to imply that those kind of generalizations were beneficial, but rather emphasizing the cognitive basis to argue that it’s not simply about making conscious decision to do things differently–which is where I think most people get hung up on this. They know that saying/doing racist things is wrong so they’ve decided not to do them, and then they go on to assume they aren’t doing them anymore and get really outraged when accused of doing so.

    I think its helpful to think of it as a mental illness, and actually I know someone who suffers from several mental disorders and that person is always seeking to generalize in unbeneficial ways, and is also very flustered by things like people whose gender is hard to identify. For this person (and to generalize :)) I think for many people, thinking that they know the characteristics of all people of group X makes them feel more safe and in control.

    That’s why I’m not sure the whole tendency to call someone a racist or sexist (even more prevalent now on the internets) is at all helpful–in fact, it seems to lead to more racist/sexist behavior not less. It’s such a complicated conversation–maybe it’s not even possible on the internet–but somehow one has to invite people to look at themselves without immediately getting them into defensive strategies.

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