Bias

When I worked on clinical trials in my earlier healthcare career, I learnt about statistical terms like Randomization and Masking. Important concepts, which help maintain the integrity of any scientific study by eliminating bias during the conduct of a trial. Those involved in designing and conducting such studies, use such tools to plan in excruciating detail to ensure different kinds of conscious and unconscious biases are taken care of, for better accuracy of results. But the question always remains – is it possible to eliminate all kinds of bias completely?

Isn’t it part of our human nature to have some bias/preference/opinion/prejudice…etc?

I considered myself fairly objective and open to different perspectives. However, I realized just like everyone else, I have my own set of prejudices and preconceived notions which I acknowledge time to time. Over time, I try my best to not let my preconceived notions get the better of me. A long way to go, but at least it is a start.

Many many moons ago, when I just started college, I was introduced to various students from different schools and different boards of education. A lot of my new classmates were either toppers of their respective schools and state/district boards. In my mind, a star performer appeared in a certain manner – mild mannered, extremely studious, indulged in only intellectual conversations, sat in the first row and a perfect goody-two shoes. So imagine my surprise, when I met someone who didn’t check any of these boxes and claimed to be a topper. I scoffed. I mean the way the person spoke, dressed, exhibited fun carefree lifestyle choices, nothing matched the above. But I was mistaken and am embarrassed to admit, I judged too quick. This was my first lesson to not have such rigid ideas and judge a book by its cover.

We have been conditioned to think and believe in certain ways and put everything under specific labels and boxes. So anytime we see something a little different, we assume if it does not follow the predetermined track that we have ascertained to be absolute gold standard, it has to be wrong.

Recently, few of us were discussing privilege. During the conversation, it came up that those born with privilege, could never ever understand hard work, and if they were successful, it was not because of their grit or ingenuity, but because success was handed over to them. They probably never deserved it. Some even questioned their character. Suddenly, wealth got equated with lesser morals.

So it made me question, is it a crime to be born privileged? Isn’t it an unfair assumption to think a slightly better off person is not hardworking or is less deserving? Should young adults/kids be made to feel guilty for being blessed with good fortune? To some extent, aren’t most of us part of a cycle where there may be someone who has more than us, and at the same time, there may exist someone little less fortunate than us? If we had the option to create opportunities for our kids, without breaking the law or sabotaging someone else, won’t we do it? Would you give up on the opportunity to cash a winning lottery that secures yours and your family’s future? Yet, when we come across someone more affluent, the fundamental assumption is that, they are non-deserving spoilt brats, who lack character, and get everything served on a platter without any perseverance or hard work. We are quick to diminish any of their accomplishments, and achievements, if any, are met with petty cynicism.

One must always acknowledge privilege and be grateful for it, but should one be apologetic for it? I realized how even progressive, educated individuals are blind to such prejudices. I wonder if there is another statistical tool to remove such preconception!

Almost all parents, work towards providing a better future for their children. While I was growing up, my parents made plenty of sacrifices to provide a good life for me – a safe and healthy childhood, robust education, an appreciation for financial and future stability and all the various life experiences I have had. I am beyond blessed, that through my family I have had the wonderful opportunity to be exposed to different cultures and appreciate every bit of it. Maybe that was my privilege and it shaped me as as the person that I am. As a parent, I will pay it forward and try to do even better for my family.

I would love for my child to grow up with the same values, understand the significance of hard work, imbibe positivity from her environment, appreciate and value opportunities that come along her way. On some days I will show her tough love, enforce discipline and explain the meaning of consequences. And on some other days, I may shower her with too much love, gifts or wonderful experiences that I may have not had while growing up. My point is, when it comes to parenting and providing for children, it is not a standard one size fits all. There are times, when you are strict and other times, when you spoil them rotten. Privilege or no privilege, ultimately it is the time that you invest in your child in terms of teaching core values such as kindness, compassion, honesty, integrity, humility, sportsmanship, taking pride in work, maintaining relationships, and many more such qualities that defines their success.

So, despite what others say or make you feel, if your conscience feels right, You do You, don’t let someone else’s bias influence you.

6 thoughts on “Bias

  1. Thought provoking !
    Bias has a negative connotation. Is it possible to have a positive bias for something ? For example is a bias toward science positive or negative ? Well – you got me thinking – thanks for that 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In science any kind of bias is not good. Though in real life, I feel it is not so easy to be objective throughout. I guess it is fine to have an opinion or affinity or be biased too, as long as it does not impair one’s judgement or feel other options are worthless. I mean, lets take your example – a bias towards science is cool, but what if being biased towards science, makes you treat arts or any other topic as less important/ insignificant. Then that becomes an unfair prejudice (at least that is what I think ;)). A good discussion point – how different people may interpret it.

      Like

  2. Bang on… So many people seem to be apologising for being born into a certain class or caste. Fully agree with what you say and more and more children should be told this- to empower themselves with their own conscience and exercise gratitude.

    Liked by 1 person

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