Uncovering Bias In Bias Training. If you’ve ever worked for a large company, you’ve probably received training from H.R. The company I work for is no different. We receive all sorts of training, and most of it is very helpful. Usually these sessions are pretty predictable, however. But I recently went through on session that made some interesting claims.
The training I took was on uncovering your hidden biases. Now, before I start, let me say that I do recognize that we all have hidden and explicit biases. I’ve talked before about how Christians need to be aware of bias. It’s something that can present itself in a number of different ways.
We all tend to give things we want to be true less scrutiny than things that we don’t want to be true. If we see an article that supports our ideas or beliefs, we tend to give it less scrutiny than one that opposes our beliefs. We’re quicker to post something in favor of our point of view online than we would something opposing it.
So What Happened In The Training?
As I said, I take a number of training courses. But this one made an interesting claim right out of the gates. This was a virtual class, and the instructor came on to introduce themselves and explain the training.
The facilitator then offered the following statement (paraphrased from memory) “We all have hidden biases. It’s in our DNA. Our ancient ancestors recognized differences as threats to the group. Therefore we continue to hold these biases as a holdover of evolution”.
The trainer said all this matter of factly. He then continued on with the training. But I was still stuck on the first part of the presentation. And to be honest, I was kind of glad that the training was virtual. Has this been a live presentation, I have a feeling my hand would have shot up to ask some questions, and this was only the introduction to the course!
Did You See What I Did In The Statement?
So what was it that caught my attention in the opening statement? First of all, there was no supporting evidence that what the facilitator said was true. While this sounds plausible, there is no evidence that our current biases stem from evolutionary causes. This is a “just so” story, not meant to be questioned.
Secondly, the person making the claim didn’t seem to realize he was doing the very thing that we were there to learn not to do. And that is ascribe unjustified actions or beliefs to a certain group of people. Notice the claim that ALL people have this predisposition because ALL of our ancestors acted a certain way.
Does This Worldview Support The Claim?
My biggest problem with the statement was something not said. The thing that was missing was a reason why, on this point of view, should we not continue holding onto our biases? After all, if this is part of an evolutionary process that helped us survive, shouldn’t we keep doing it?
I think the answer to that would be no, we shouldn’t, because it is no longer needed. But no longer needed isn’t the same thing as being wrong. And the training made quite clear that holding hidden bias was wrong.
Now just to be clear, I do believe that holding unwarranted biases is wrong. And I recognize that this is harmful in many cases. But my contention is that you can’t get this wrongness from the explanation given.
Does This Make Sense On The Christian World View?
Now, I think on the Christian worldview we can make better sense of why we should avoid hidden biases. All people are made in the image of God, and therefore deserve fairness and respect. We shouldn’t treat other image bearers differently based on skin color, national origin etc. in the words of Jesus, we should “Love our neighbors as ourselves”.
Our worldview allows for this. And it makes perfect sense. But the reasoning in the training simply did not. There wasn’t even an attempt to try and justify why biases were wrong based on the worldview presented.
I think we are going to see this type of thing more and more. As society tries to push religion out of the public square, it needs to replace it with something. But does the new story replacing Christianity do what they think it does? Can it offer a clear morality of tolerance and acceptance? More specifically, can it justify such claims? From what I’ve seen thus far, the answer is clearly “no”.
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