Facts or Fictions?

I hear you telling me how open-minded you are.

I believe that you want it to be true.

I think that you probably believe that it is true.

It is not.

And this is a pretty big deal.

It is really hard to change what you do not acknowledge. A lot of us think that we are “one of the good ones,” and rather than doing our own work we sit and point at the other people who need to change, who need to be fixed. The close minded people, the bigots.

But that leaves much work undone.

You are judgmental. So am I. You jump to conclusions. So do I. You make assumptions. So do I. Stereotypes influence your feelings and decisions about people. We know enough about the human brain today to know that we are never going to be “nonjudgmental.” Your brain does not care about your wonderful and harmonious intentions, it has a job to do…it is in large part a judgment making machine.

There is no hatred or fear required for you to be judgmental. It is simply a product of human beings being human. It is your natural setting.

This is not about what is in your heart. This is not about hatred or fear. This is simply about having a more accurate, evidence-based understanding of human nature, cognitive processing and social dynamics. So that we can act accordingly. We can greatly reduce the impact of stereotypes and assumptions and the many cognitive biases that influence our thinking about others if we can first acknowledge their impact and take steps to keep them in check.

Do you do anything to push back against stereotypes, assumptions and cognitive biases? Does your organization? If not, then you are likely to be basing your decisions about people on as much fiction as fact.

Do you work toward rigorous, disciplined decision making?

Do you take steps toward evidence-based, multivalent decisions about people, or do you simply run around telling people how open-minded you are?

Big difference.

Be good to each other.




  1. broc

    Joe, love the post – your writing has really been resonating. I grew up thinking I was really progressive and open minded. Then I moved to a different region and discovered that I was just as narrow minded as anyone, only we had a different set of prejudices (which, of course, I thought of as “truths”). A hard lesson that I sometimes (often) forget. Thanks for the reminder.

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