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Prejudiced Assumptions

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posted on Jan, 28 2007 @ 10:54 AM
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Upbringing, Society, Environment and Economics.

All of these and more are factors that directly influence our thinking and behavior, they "prejudice" us and cause us to make "assumptions."

I was watching an episode of the Unit the other day where they were going thorough their initial training. At the very beginning, the Master Sergeant in Charge told the troops to "listen exactly to what he said." to "pay attention to the words and make no assumptions." The very first exercise, one of the "troopers" was discharged from the training because he made an assumption.

Example,

President Bush walks out on an Aircraft Carrier and makes the statement "Mission Accomplished." He was speaking of the effort to capture Saddam.

Yet the segment of the country that had turned against him, read into his words that the war was over. No matter that he CLEARLY stated that the War on Terror was a VERY long ongoing process that was years in the future. He stated this several times, and yet all those that hate him heard was "Mission Accomplished."

Example

HUD Secretary Jackson makes a statement in which he calls for prominent black leaders to stop perpetuating the "victim" mentality and begin taking responsibility for their own actions.

Now there is a consensus among specific groups that his statements are racist and unproductive. There is also comments that he should not be making such statements even though I am pretty sure the First Amendment applies to HUD Secretaries as well.

What makes us read into statements? Is it that they are inherently against our beliefs and so we "choose" to manipulate the meaning instead of simply accepting the premise of the statement? Why must we always "assume" that any statement that does not fit in our comfort zone, be one of suspect origin?

Preconceptions

Instead of reading a statement and just accepting the premise the author intended, we automatically insert our own brand of preconceptions into it and thus negate any intelligent further discourse on the subject.

How do we combat this?

Listening. Reading. Time. Study and accepting that "our" view is not necessarily the correct one, or even the view the Author was reaching for. We do a disservice to not only the Author, but to ourselves and those we hold discourse with if we do not accept another's words for what they are and not place our own qualitative analysis into them. I am of course not implying we should not evaluate the subject matter. Where would ATS be if we did not do that. I am merely saying that we should cease with, "Well you know what he meant." and "It is obvious he is "this"' or "that"."

Acceptance

Acceptance that no matter how strongly we may feel about an issue, there are those that feel just as strongly and hold an opposing view. Accept that we just may be wrong and our upbringing or societal factors do not allow us to see this for what it is. We do not necessarily have to change our view, but we should accept another's view as plausible, even possibly more valid than our own.

Humility

Perhaps the most difficult of any factor that is a solid component in combating ignorance and the lack of understanding. However, possibly the most effective.
Humility allows us to be true to ourselves, to accept and understand our own limitations. Allows us to acknowledge that another's point of view is every bit as valid as our own.
More importantly, it grants us the ability to understand that we may be wrong.

Can we ever be expected to completely deny our own prejudices or assumptions? Of course not, the impact of our upbringing, societal impact and economic situations is too great. Yet we should not ignore the struggle or stop the battle to improve our ability to....

"Simply Read Another's Words"

Semper




posted on Jan, 28 2007 @ 12:32 PM
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Hi Semper!


As always, a thoughtful and thought-provoking post from you. I had never thought about humility in the way you've written and to use it to combat assumptions - good point. I try to choose my words very carefully so as to be clearly understood. But people still make incorrect assumptions about my words quite often. I work very hard at not just assuming something. If I don't understand what someone is saying, I'll ask for clarification to make sure I do understand them, instead of assuming. The thing is, if I make assumptions, I'll miss what another person is saying and I might miss a very important and/or valid point. IMO, most people aren't very good listeners to begin with, they're usually too busy formulating their response. Alot of mistaken assumptions get formed made that way.

Listening is an art and one that's not taught in school. I wish it was, it would make for a much more informed world. I submit that making uninformed assumptions is a form of prejudice/bias. Alot of assumptions are erroneously made about people from other countries or of different races. And sometimes it happens because people are too lazy to find out what the speaker really means. But I also think it's an often-used dynamic to combat new information coming into a fearful person with a closed mind.

Years ago when I was a flight attendant, I remember in training, I was told never to assume that the passenger who gets on the plane with old, faded jeans and cowboy hat was a hick or some such. They may just be the richest guy in Nebraska. I always remembered that and sure enough, there were alot of passengers who fit that description. Wealthy ranchers from S. Dakota, Nebraska, etc. can be very down to earth people and they just don't like to flaunt their wealth - they don't see a need to. I remember one such guy, was a delight. After we had served dinner and had a couple minutes for ourselves, he got up and HE served US dinner, then gave me a bunch of grapefruit from his ranch. I later was told he was worth millions and owned a huge ranch in Montana and flew our airline all the time, i.e. was a much valued customer. But I do know alot of people would have assumed that he was a "country hick" who was ignorant, uneducated and poor. They would have dismissed him as someone they didn't want to know and couldn't learn anything from.

We can miss some wondrous surprises about people if we assume and not really hear or see them for who they are. I would have missed out on some cherished friendships if I had made assumptions about their appearance, speech, etc.



posted on Jan, 28 2007 @ 01:02 PM
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ForestLady,

YOU, are one poster here that continues to set a standard we could all benefit from...

I have always found you thoughtful and understanding...

It just seems that many on here, me included sometimes, react instead of reply. Without any consideration of the message, they make assumptions and often twist the meanings to fit in their category.


I delight in your responses my friend and always look forward to them...

Semper



posted on Jan, 28 2007 @ 01:20 PM
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everyone lives in there own reality, and everything they say and think is only in context to them, if others try to understand it, that is where there is a loss of translation.

example i could think 10 sentences, and lets say that you were able to read my mind, you would not be able to tell which sentences were what i would consider true, and what i beieve or ones i thought of as crap thoughts(thjoughts of no meaning). context of the situation is very important.


df1

posted on Jan, 28 2007 @ 03:26 PM
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semperfortis,
It is ironic that you start a thread, titled Prejudiced Assumptions, with a premise based on your own particular prejudice, followed by an assumption about folks that disagree with your perspective.


Originally posted by semperfortis
I was watching an episode of the Unit ...

You have a military/police background so you watch that type of television, so your example is prejudiced at least on that basis. This is not a criticism. All of us have our own set of prejudices and they color everything we do to some degree. So it is with you too.



all those that hate him heard was "Mission Accomplished."

Then you make the assumption that all those that disagree with the president, "hate" the president. Lots of folks don't like the guy right now and many readers have likely already stopped reading at this point, because of your assumption that we are all "bush haters". You as a writer have established a poor basis for the dialog you are trying to have on this thread, because you have alienated a substantial part of your audience before ever getting to the meat of your point.



What makes us read into statements?

You're placing the blame on the reader for the poor communication skills of the writer. Unfortunately not many of us are mind readers, so we are limited to responding to what an author writes rather than what the author wanted to say.



posted on Jan, 28 2007 @ 05:29 PM
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And of course...

Your prejudice creates those assumptions...

Most incorrect, yet they are yours and should be considered..

I can even see where a knee jerk reaction would evolve into just such assumptions.

My case stands even more firmly..

Semper



posted on Jan, 28 2007 @ 05:51 PM
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Originally posted by df1
You're placing the blame on the reader for the poor communication skills of the writer. Unfortunately not many of us are mind readers, so we are limited to responding to what an author writes rather than what the author wanted to say.


To be fair, read Semper's first post again. His language was inclusive of himself. He said "we make assumptions" and so on. He spoke inclusively throughout.

We all make these assumptions and I think some good attempts at explaning why have been made here.

Semper does make assumptions as I heard on his ranting PODcast.
He makes incorrect assumptions about me. But he included himself in his language of this thread, so I don't disagree.


I try to be VERY careful when writing so my meaning comes across loud and clear, and STILL, people make assumptions.
It's a human failing I think.



posted on Jan, 28 2007 @ 07:10 PM
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BH,

Please know there was NO disrespect intended for anyone in the Podcast...

That is why I specifically ensured it was titled a rant...

I try and be as magnanimous as my self indulgent, greedy and all to human nature allows me to be here on the posts. I have discovered within myself, what a prejudiced and assuming person I can be and fight it everyday...

But on the Podcasts, I actually attempt to make them controversial and thus enjoyable to listen too...

Thanks for listening..

Semper



posted on Jan, 29 2007 @ 11:31 AM
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Originally posted by Benevolent Heretic
I try to be VERY careful when writing so my meaning comes across loud and clear, and STILL, people make assumptions.
It's a human failing I think.


Sadly, all too true.

Hey, Semper, thanks for the kind words. I try to maintain my viewpoint that we are a community here at ATS. I'm not always successful but I can say this: In my year and a half here on ATS, I have watched both myself and others do alot of growth, myself especially. I am exposed to many different viewpoints I never would have been in my physical life.

I know I find myself very critical of Bush, sometimes in knee-jerk fashion. But things aren't black and white, there's always alot of gray, so I have to read and reread carefully what I read about him so I don't misconstrue then I have to research the news item if have any doubts as to the facts or veracity of the report.

df1, sounds like YOU are making some assumptions about Semper, which I don't think are exactly true. Just because he has a police/military background, doesn't mean he marches in lock step. In my experience, most people just can't be shoved into pigeon holes and labeled and that is especially true of Semper, I think. He constantly surprises me with his viewpoints and he's made me really think about things and in some instances, change my opinion. (Not saying I agree with everything you say, Semper, we're miles apart when it comes to politics, but hey that makes it interesting.) He's willing to bring up and talk about his shortcomings, in turn helping others to see their shortcomings more clearly. And he does it regularly. How many people do we know that ever do that? How many police/military types do you know that do that?

We are all just faceless fictional names here on this board. You really can't make assumptions/judgments about people from a few posts, there's much more to them than that. And I firmly include myself as having been guilty of that, that's something I have to struggle to remember before I respond to people and I'm not always successful.



posted on Jan, 29 2007 @ 04:00 PM
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ForestLady,

Thank you for those kind words and I must say..

Maybe we can't see everyone on here face to face, but YOUR class shines right through the boards....

I know that df1 and others perpetually label me, and at times my postings gives them plenty of ammunition.. LOL

Yet is it not the exchange of ideas that we come here for? If we accept this as a truism, then what would be the use if all of our ideas, all of our personalities were similar? How long would any of us stay on ATS if we never had a differing opinion (A Semper) to debate with?

It was not the differing view points I was referring to in the opening post. It was the infusion of our prejudices and assumptions. Perhaps this is impossible to resist, yet is not the struggle most often the nobler goal?

Of course my views differ from df1, actually being a strong right wing conservative, they differ from most on here; yet can I not struggle, can I not attempt to resist my own prejudices? And in so doing, formulate more comprehensive and intellectual responses.....

Semper



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