People disguise their prejudice in several ways. A growing trend is the use of bias disguised as choice. Learn how to spot it and illuminate their hidden agenda.
Saying that all choices are the same is a way to hide bias and prejudice. Many people use this because people don’t expose this tactic. It is used to cloak bias and harmful intent as a seemingly neutral premise. Let’s look at how this works so you can spot the tactic. You also need to learn why this is a dangerous slippery slope.
Hiding Prejudice in Plain Sight
A choice is a decision with a range of differing implications. We must make a choice when there is more than one option. We make several choices in the course of our everyday activities. Most of these everyday choices are significant for the absence of overt harmful effects.
However, many decisions have intended and unintended consequences. Many choices have ethical or moral implications. So, all our decision-making needs to involve discretion.
For instance, deciding which vegetable to eat would normally be a neutral choice. That is, as long as the decision does not have a harmful outcome. So, for example, if you steal the vegetable that has a harmful effect. Stealing is harmful to the person who owns them. So, it’s not a choice without harmful or negative ethical consequences. On the other hand, if the vegetables are from your garden, then the decision is likely neutral. Choice results in a decision without harmful effects.
Negative Bias and Prejudice
On the surface, Prejudice appears similar to the concept of choice. It’s a decision between several options. However, decisions made with underlying negative prejudice result in harmful outcomes. Sometimes the harmful outcome may not be immediately clear. The underlying prejudice creates a negative impact. This can take several forms of discrimination, such as gender, ethnic, and racial bias. It could also incite physical harm and provide justification for the violence.
Just because you don’t intend to cause harm doesn’t excuse you from your participation in activities that do cause harm. Hiding prejudice in plain sight has become a common practice. It shifts the moral implications to someone or something else. But lack of intent does not reduce the effects of negative bias and prejudice.
So, it is logical to conclude that prejudice is the root of harmful intent. The intent of our decisions is part of the fabric of our worldview. If you have a worldview with a negative bias, it will show up in the decisions you make. Furthermore, the underlying intent becomes your rationale for making value judgments. And, this is exactly how prejudice becomes a rational neutral choice. The value judgment of the worldview promotes prejudice. And, people with this mindset rarely realize they are doing this. And, this is how bias is disguised as a choice.
Choice and prejudice differ in the same way discretion and discrimination differ. Discretion is a choice. For instance, deciding what vegetable eat is a routine decision. This type of choice is neutral and absent harmful prejudice. Whereas, discrimination is a choice with an adverse impact even if effects are unintentional. Either form of prejudice comes from a worldview that promotes this confusion. Prejudice results in decisions with harmful outcomes. This may seem semantics but the results differ like night and day. Bigotry is always a choice.
Bias Disguised as Choice
Hopefully, you can see how choice and prejudice differ. To spot the use of this tactic, you need to identify the intent behind the decision. Delve into the premise of the argument. So, one way to spot prejudice hiding as a neutral choice is the lack of clarity in the intent. Ask these questions:
- Do they tell you why this choice is correct?
- Is the outcome of the decision neutral or does it result in harmful effects?
- Is the decision bias disguised as choice?
- Does the decision reveal negative prejudice against any person or group (gender, race, ethnicity, sexual preference)?
In the final analysis, it’s wrong to promote a premise with prejudiced intent as a neutral choice. A logical argument needs to contain valid premises. Also, a choice that results in harmful outcomes is a breach of common ethics. Harming others is always wrong. Ordinary mistakes reveal a lack of knowledge or attention. But the harm caused by prejudice is a decision based on a skewed value system. Unless of course, you think prejudice, discrimination, and bias are okay. If that’s the case, then that’s the problem.
Don’t allow people to get away with hiding prejudice in plain sight. Call them on it. Let them know what you see.
Harmful results are the product of a worldview colored by prejudice. So, the obvious question is what creates a worldview built on prejudice? Prejudice is at the root of extremist ideology and hate. It’s a slippery slope you should try to avoid.
Because you didn’t come here to make the choice, you’ve already made it. You’re here to try to understand *why* you made it. I thought you’d have figured that out by now. — The Oracle from The Matrix
Confusing Choice with Prejudice
As mentioned above, confusing choice with prejudice creates a slippery slope. You’ve likely made decisions that are based on some type of prejudice. Now we want you to see why. That’s the only way you stop doing it. Most people believe their decisions are correct. People use the underlying bias of their worldview to justify their decisions.
Not surprisingly, religions and political entities use these tactics. In this way, they can justify harmful behavior from war and genocide to gender mutilation. They accomplish this through a brainwashing technique known as groupthink manipulation. It’s the cultural programming tool of choice. That’s because it enables them to program values and prejudices which support their point of view. That’s because prejudice is one of the main enemies of progress.
Sadly, many submit to this programming. And, as a result, believe the negative prejudice is correct because it comes from a source they trust. The source can present premises and resulting arguments with extreme bias. Sometimes people will argue all decisions are choice regardless of intent or outcome. This is an attempt to hide prejudice and bias. Don’t let them fool you with this smokescreen. Point out how the results differ. Hate and prejudice are always harmful.
Here’s how this issue comes up. For example, your religious leader asks for support of a health policy that affects the community. However, it’s really about excluding treatment to certain people. The exclusion would be harmful. This creates an ethical dilemma. If you go along, supporting a harmful act. Or, do you reject this policy? Rejecting this policy would go against the wishes of your religious leader. If you do this, you risk losing membership or worse. What do you do?
Confusing choice with prejudice is a tactic you need to avoid. It’s a misuse of an argument with the power to distort logic and values. It is bias disguised as choice. Here are some practical things you can do to minimize or eliminate this from being a part of your thinking.
Don’t watch TV news and religious programming. Both are sources of groupthink manipulation tactics. These mind control methods promote an emotional response and plant bias and prejudice thinking. Remember, hate isn’t a neutral choice. It is a decision based on bias and prejudice that has harmful consequences.
Don’t allow people to get away with this tactic. Point out how their seemingly innocent choice is hiding prejudice in plain sight.
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Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia