OH TO BE HUMAN

Sharing Human Nature’s Trait Of Subjectivity

 The word human is often used as a synonym for mortal, fallible, faulty.

                                                                        Matthew Hutson

When someone is wrong or makes a mistake, others say, “Oh he/she is just being human. To err is human, (preverbal phrase). To be human means to share these common traits.Human nature is defined as: the general psychological characteristics, feelings, and behavioral traits of humankind, regarded as shared by all humans.

This blog is about subjectivity, a fallible, faulty tendency of humans. Subjectivity is: the quality of being influenced by or based on personal beliefs or feelings rather than based on facts, Dictionary.To be human is to have subjective (non rational) beliefs. This is a problem in human decision making that is well known. It is impossible for the behavior of a single, isolated individual to reach a high degree of rationality (“bounded rationality”).  Herbert Simon won the Nobel Prize for this discovery.

To be human means it is almost impossible to always be totally rational or objective. This is because to be human is to be subjective. And subjective beliefs are subject to cognitive biases.  A cognitive bias is a mistake in reasoning, evaluating, remembering, or other cognitive processes, often occurring as a result of holding onto one’s preferences and beliefs regardless of contrary information. Biases are a companion of subjectivity.

A Few Of The Most Popular 71 Identified Cognitive Biases

  • Confirmation Bias:To emphasize information that supports our beliefs, ignoring or rejecting information that contradict them.
  • Self-Serving Bias: We tend to maintain beliefs that benefit our interests and goals.
  • Bandwagon Bias: Our tendency to go along with belief systems of groups we are involved with.
  • Uncertainty Bias: Our brain does not like uncertainty and ambiguity; thus we prefer either to believe or disbelieve rather remain uncertain.
  • Blind-Spot Bias; Most people fail to recognize how many cognitive biases they actually have, or how often they fall prey to these biases.

My point is that we know to be human is to be fallible, and that we have subjective, biased beliefs. (Or we should know this). I suggest we each review the 5 above cognitive biases above and ask: Do I sometimes ignore or reject information that contradicts my beliefs?  Do I maintain my beliefs that benefit my interests and goals? Do my beliefs systems tend to be the same as the group I belong to?  Do I prefer either to believe or disbelieve rather than remain uncertain? Am I aware of my personal subjective cognitive biases?  When do you believe you are being objective?

True objectivity would mean standing outside the human body, off the earth even, observing both without bias and without a human brain, Diane Ackerman. To be human is to be subjective, fallible, to err — and it is part of the human learning process.

 To err is human, but it feels divine.Mae West

 

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3 Responses to OH TO BE HUMAN

  1. Eugene Unger says:

    How rational of you my friend. Trying to tell your brain to be more rational is an interesting process. A person should get a noble prize if his brain agreed to do so. Relax! Go for a walk in Nature!😄. Let your brain rest on idle thoughts of beauty and peace. Breath the breath of a Contented man! What a gift to be human ! Who gave us this gift?

    Gene

    >

  2. Marianne says:

    I really like this one. I accept all 5 of the biases as mine. Laying them out as you listed, makes it easy to see how each of those categories identifies my processes. I know I strongly identify my tribe as left leaning democratic, and it is comfortable to go along with each of the beliefs of “my” tribe. I do recognize sometimes of having a bit of a pull on my beliefs when I read somethings that show how the leftist view might not be the best. However, I quickly bury it and cling to old beliefs. I guess it is good to recognize that and then stretch myself to learn more about possible results of actions taken by more center or right leaning groups. So I do understand it would be very good to open myself to wider beliefs. Just hard to do. Good article that made me think—–not change—-yet, anyway. I’ll try to broaden myself and my beliefs.

  3. mclark3366@comcast.net says:

    I have sent a reply to this post–good by the way. I enjoyed reading Gene’s. Sounds like he suggests you not be “thinking” so much. And we know who he believes is in charge.

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