Consciousness and how it got to be that way

Monday, July 20, 2009

Bias Bias

So we're biased against seeing our biases: while it's nice to have experimental verification, this should not be surprising, else our biases would be subject to examination and we could get rid of them.

A frequent subtext of bias studies goes is this: "Look how distorted our perspective of the world is. It's good that we study these tendencies so that maybe we can diminish or eliminate them, and people would have a less distorted view of reality." It would be useful to ask what would humans be like without these biases. How would individuals behave differently? What would society look like? Aren't some of these biases fairly obvious beneficial self-deception strategies that evolved as a result of conspecific competition; would cutting them out of some humans (but not all) actually result in individuals handicapped in the survival and reproduction game, and wouldn't similar strategies redevelop over time? Most importantly, without our biases would we be happier? Is it meaningful to talk about waving a magic wand and re-wiring the brain to eliminate these biases, or are they so deep-wired as to require much more profound commensurate changes to retain a functioning central nervous system?

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