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In these polarized times many people ask themselves why others see things so differently.

Here are thirteen lenses that affect the way we hear or the way we see. (Technically they are called biases. See below)

I ask you to briefly read through the whole list. Can you identify any that you can recognize in yourself?

  • First, confirmation bias: The human brain welcomes information that confirms what it already thinks and resists information that disturbs or contradicts what it already thinks. 
  • Second, complexity bias: The human brain prefers a simple lie to a complex truth. 
  • Third, community bias: The human brain finds it very hard for you to see something your group doesn’t want you to see. In otherwise words, we put tribe over truth. This is also known as social confirmation bias.
  • Fourth, complementarity bias: If people are nice to you, you’ll be open to what they see and have to say. If they aren’t nice to you, you won’t. We mirror back the attitude we receive from other people, and that makes us open or closed to what they have to say, whether it’s true or not. 
  • Fifth, contact bias: If you lack contact with someone, you won’t see what they see. 
  • Sixth, conservative/liberal bias: Our brains like to see as our party sees, and we flock with those who see as we do. 
  • Seventh, consciousness bias: Our brains see from a location, a person’s level of consciousness, or we could say their cognitive maturity makes seeing some things possible and seeing other things impossible. 
  • Eight, competency bias: This is really an interesting one. Our brains prefer to think of ourselves as above average. As a result, we are incompetent at knowing how incompetent or competent we really are.
  • Ninth, confidence bias: Our brains prefer a confident lie to a hesitant truth. We mistake confidence for competence, and we are all vulnerable to the lies of confident people. 
  • Tenth, conspiracy bias: When we feel shame, we are especially vulnerable to stories that cast us as victims of an evil conspiracy by some enemy or other. In other words, our brains like stories in which we’re either the hero or the victim but never the villain. 
  • Eleventh, comfort, or complacency, or convenience bias: Our brains welcome data that allows us to relax and be happy, and our brains reject data that requires us to adjust, work, or inconvenience ourselves. We could say the brain is lazy, but it’s very fast at being lazy.
  • Twelfth, catastrophe, or normalcy, or baseline bias: Our brains are wired to set a baseline of normalcy and assume that what feels normal has always been and will always remain. That means that we minimize threats, and we’re vulnerable to disasters, especially disasters that develop slowly. 
  • Last, one of the most powerful, is cash bias: Our brains are wired to see within the framework of our economy, and we see what helps us make money. It is very hard to see anything that interferes with our way of making a living.

My tongue-in-cheek way of scoring…

  • I never do this – (you are God)
  • I probably do this but I can’t recall any instances – (others may be able to help you))
  • I can name some times in the past where I’ve done this – (you are part of a large crowd)
  • I frequently try to become aware of such behaviors – (you are on the way to enlightenment)

If you have the time, I suggest you read this transcript to learn what memories were triggered for three well-known spiritual leaders. You might surprised by what their memories trigger in your mind.

Learning How to See (Brian McLaren, Jacqui Lewis with Richard Rohr)

Or listen to the podcast.