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Society & Ecology
Sunday, July 20, 2003  
Human Bias

Our experience of the world is shaped and influenced by a multitude of factors:

(a) The structure and characteristics of this particular universe. The natural habits ("laws") as we know them.
(b) Being a planet-based creature.
(c) Our size. About 5-6 feet - enormous from the perspective of molecules or ants, tiny from the perspective of solar systems, galaxies and the Universe as a whole.
(d) Our life-length. About 50-100 years - long compared to the lifespan of a lightning, a bubble or a fly, a glimpse compared to the lifespan of planets and suns.
(e) Our evolutionary history. Our experiences is filtered through our evolutionary history - traits and patterns that helped our ancestors survive.
(f) Our biology. We perceive with senses that opens up for some impressions and experiences, but leaves a vastly larger number out. We hear in a very limited range (compared to for instance bats). We see in an equally limited range (compared with gold fish). Our sense of touch functions on a limited scale (we cannot sense molecules or even quite significant collections of molecules).
(g) Our culture.
(h) Our personal experiences.
(i) Our mental and physical state at the moment.

It has many benefits to be aware of this. It helps us detect our own bias and that of others, and take it into account. Our experience of the world is always limited and biased. The world is always infinitely more than and different from our experience of it. And our *ideas* of the world are in turn rigid and limited expressions of our fluid experiences... Our views and theories express our particular relationship with the world.

I was reminded of this when I read that an archeologist from Brigham Young University theorized that the Mayan culture disintegrated due to the "loss of the royal court and the erosion of public faith in the hierarchy" (National Geographic, August 2003, p. 99). Of course, Brigham Young is the University of The Church of the Latter Day Saints (aka Mormons), which place a very strong importance on faith in hierarchy.

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