Monday, July 31, 2006

How the Brain Helps Partisans Admit No Gray

How the Brain Helps Partisans Admit No Gray - Washington Post

It is slightly interesting that psychologists have ‘recently’ learned that “people are not evenhanded when they process information, even though they believe they are”. The Greek spirits of Socrates and Plato, the patrons of critical thinking, must be having a big laugh now that their contribution of 2,500 years ago has been re-discovered, again.

Nevertheless, the discussion certainly begs acknowledgment of the correlation of human tendencies and resulting societal collisions, particularly when it come to issues of race. The distinction between malicious and ignorant racism falls out of this understanding of human foibles and serves us, if we allow it.

When I listen to a group of Blacks discussing issues of White behaviors, I am not so surprised by the amount of bias I hear, but rather how exceptional I feel that I seem to be in the minority that my brain discerns it. More often than not, I keep silent and thank the stars that I 'took a liking' to philosophy in college. I imagine my White counterparts, in critical thinking, experiencing something similar, as they listen to their ‘folk’ discuss behaviors.

Unlike the ignorant variety of bias, as described above, malicious racism is less a common thing to hear and see, but it does happen, and in all directions. Interestingly, the facilitator of malicious racism is largely the camouflage provided by typical, non-critical thinking. By inference, if we attack weak thinking in general, beginning with early education, we better expose and challenge the lurking efforts of those with malicious agendas. Herein resides the case for adding critical thinking courseware in K-12 curriculums.

Stepping back, what might be interesting to the Greek Skeptics is researcher ability to pinpoint just what portion of the brain is doing what, as our thinking goes wrong. But then again, the Greeks might reasonably conclude that the physiology of errant thinking is superfluous evidence to what we already know and experience as societal illness.

James C. Collier


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