The Common Misconception of Bias

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The Common Misconception of Bias
Sexism and Racism

FALLACY1

Particularly in the past few decades, the surge in tolerance and legality of ethnicity, gender and homosexuality has lead to a rather huge shift in moral standpoints. It is generally accepted that discrimination, including ethnic bias (racism) and gender bias (sexism), is largely immoral, and the explanation as to why it is immoral is almost universally understood; because distinction in skin colour, or sexual physiology, are not valid justifications of peoples’ intrinsic value. Unfortunately, this moral standpoint has caused a huge confusion in identifying bias situations – leaving people to be ostracized when they do not deserve it.

A Lady's False Accusation of Racism on Facebook

A Lady’s False Accusation of Racism on Facebook

I had just recently saw an image (portrayed above) of a woman complaining about a certain image’s racist remarks on Facebook, despite the fact that no racism nor negative stereotype was even remotely conveyed in the image. She gave a further explanation as to why she considered it racist, suggesting that the descriptive words used (slackass etc.) were inherently targeted towards black people, but her justification was nonetheless refutable, and simply misunderstood. Although some people agreed with her, I felt compelled to send the lady, whose anonymity remains, a message explaining in detail as to why the image in question was not biased at all. While the message* (below) was directed at her comment specifically, it still relates to any situation in which people’s comments are inaccurately accused of having biased undertones – something which I see far too often. Hopefully, the following message will give some clarity in identifying discrimination.

Original Image, Accused of Racist Pretense

Original Image, Accused of Racist Pretense

Facebook Message

I saw an image which showed you accusing an image of having racist pretense, and I’m going to tell you why that post isn’t racist:

     Firstly, the post wasn’t relative to black people at all.There were no suggestions that black people are lazy/slack etc. and the adjectives were attributed to the person in the picture, who was wearing ridiculously baggy pants. The mockery was targeted towards the clothing style. Just because you associated baggy clothing and laziness to black people, it doesn’t mean that the post associates its comments to black people.

     In fact, if you claim that those adjectives were typical of a black person, then you’re not only falsely interpreting the original post, but you’re the one perpetuating the negative stereotype on black people.
Secondly, even if it did claim that black people wear ridiculously out-of-proportion clothing, it still doesn’t constitute as racism, or any bias for that matter. See the definition of racism below;

racism: Noun
Prejudice or discrimination directed against someone of a different race based on such a belief.” – Google result, definition

Just because the concept of black people wearing baggy clothing is considered stereotypical, it doesn’t mean that black people are marginalised or discriminated against; a stereotype can have truth to it, and that exempts it from racism. If somebody said that black people predominantly live in the housing Projects, which is true, then it would be a stereotype – not racism, because the comment is based on statistical evidence and it’s not suggesting that black people live in the projects BECAUSE they’re black. It didn’t claim that people vary in intelligence/character according to their skin-colour – it didn’t even remotely portray a stereotype about anybody.

If you’re ever confronted by anything which people deem as racist, then remember the fallacy: correlation does not imply causation.

If black people are statistically more likely to live in poverty, then it’s suggesting that black people correlate with poverty. It doesn’t, however, suggest that black people are the cause of poverty. In this case, if somebody ever suggested that black people wear baggy clothing, then they’re giving a correlation between baggy clothing and black people – not a causation.

Morgan

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East to West: Part 1

East to West:
Part 1

Islamic Architecture values Aesthetic

Islamic Architecture values Aesthetic

 

In Australia, my country of residence, a less-than-popular Television channel called ABC broadcasts constructive documentaries, foreign films and educational series, particularly during prime-time. Recently – that is to say last week – ABC began broadcasting a Television series called East to West. The documentary series, which begins at 7.30pm every Wednesday, Details the Eastern cultures during Middle-ages and post-Ancient times and their influence on the Western world. Unfortunately, the general concencus of the Eastern world in Western culture is very uninformed. With the increasing negative stereotypes around Islam and Asian society (i.e. Al Qeada being associated with Muslims), the program could not have come at a more appropriate time. Hopefully, people will change their channels from The Big Bang Theory to ABC in the effort of watching East to West, as it serves as quite an informative, yet visually stimulating series.

The first broadcast of the documentary, presented last week, centered around the early Islamic movements and their influence on the Western culture of the Renaissance as well as post-modern times. The show turned out to be quite informative to me, as it kept me captivated with great facts of history which are rarely ever spoken about. As it turns out, the Muslims and Arabians were imperative for flaying our society into shape and the current stereotype of their culture is in blind sight of their influence. Important texts of the Ancient Greeks, such as the writings of Plato and Pre-Socratic philosophers, were translated into an almost Universal language by the Middle-Eastern Muslims. In fact, some of the precious gems supposedly destroyed from the Dark Ages were gracefully saved by the Eastern societies. If it were not for Islam’s great value of religious and historical texts, the Western world today would presumably be entirely different – with valuable texts like Republic lost to the wind.

I will be evaluating the upcoming episodes of East to West and supplying the Blog with the Eastern influences pronounced by the Documentary. The next episode will give an explanation of Buddhism and the struggle for leadership of Rome and China.

Memorable Fragments by Heraclitus

Heraclitus and the Fragments:

 

Statue Resembling Heraclitus

Statue Resembling Heraclitus

 

Heraclitus

Heraclitus is one of the most renowned Greek Philosophers during the Pre-Socratic times. Although not much is known about his upbringing and general biography, he was – and still is – considered a “pioneer of wisdom”, especially throughout his own era. In Plato’s Theaetetus, Chapter I. Heraclitus is mentioned and his famous quote, “No man ever steps in the same river twice”, was employed by Socrates in an effort to understand the nature of knowledge. Yet, Heraclitus is also quite memorable for his fragments: brief sentiments about Philosophy and life in general which were written by him in Greek. The list of known fragments which Heraclitus wrote are listed below in English translations. The translated texts were extracted from classicpersuasion.org , and the site’s bibliography is referred respectively underneath the listed Fragments.

Painting of Heraclitus

Painting of Heraclitus

Fragments

 

Fragment from Heraclitus

Fragment from Heraclitus

 

Below are some memorable Fragments written by Heraclitus, translated from Greek to English by G.T.W Patrick.

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     “Into the same river you could not step twice,  for other waters are flowing.”

              – Heraclitus, Alleg. Hom. 24.

War is the father and king of all, and has produced some as gods and some as men, and has made some slaves and some free.

– Hippolytus, Ref. haer. ix. 9.

Recognizing oneself and being of a sound mind are for all men.

              – Fragment B116

Although the Law of Reason is common, the majority of people live as though they had an understanding of their own.

– Sextus Emp. adv. Math. vii. 133.

It is hard to contend against passion, for whatever it craves it buys with its life.

– Iamblichus, Protrept. p. 140, Arcer.

Dogs, also, bark at what they do not know.”

– Plutarch, An seni sit ger. resp. vii. p. 787.

Of all whose words I have heard, no one attains to this, to know that wisdom is apart from all.

-Stobaeus Floril. iii. 81.

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References

From The Fragments of the Work of Heraclitus of Ephesus on Nature, translated from the Greek text of Bywater by G.T.W. Patrick, Baltimore: N. Murray, 1889. This was originally Patrick’s doctoral thesis at Johns Hopkins University, 1888. A note states that this 1889 edition was reprinted from the American Journal of Psychology, 1888.

Personal Analysis of “All Along the Watchtower”

Updated:
13/03/2013

[1]     “There must be some way out of here” said the joker to the thief
     “There’s too much confusion”, I can’t get no relief
     Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth
     None of them along the line know what any of it is worth.

[5]     “No reason to get excited”, the thief he kindly spoke
     “There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke
     But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate
     So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late”.

     All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
[10]     While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.

     Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl
     Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.

Bob Dylan Portrait

Bob Dylan Portrait

Personal Analysis of All Along the Watchtower
by
Bob Dylan

During the surge of music proceeding the Beatles, Bob Dylan stood out as a profoundly influential musician of his time, and perhaps for future generations as well. Bob Dylan was considered the pioneer of lyrical writing, as he integrated riveting story-telling into musical passion. Songs such as Like a Rolling Stone and Hurricane were prime examples of Dylan’s story-telling genius, and other songs such as Mr Tambourine Man and All Along the Watch Tower were a testament to his avant-garde, poetic side.

Possibly the most revealing sentiment about the lyrics of All Along the Watchtower is extracted from the final verse;

[11]   ” Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl
          Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl

The lines paint an introductory scene for the listener, suggesting that the song’s chronology is reversed. This revelation was established by English Literature professor Christopher Ricks, saying that “at the conclusion of the last verse, it is as if the song bizarrely begins at last, and as if the myth began again.

From Christopher’s finding, the lyrics tell quite an interesting, almost Biblical, tale of both a Thief and a Joker (1). Throughout the first lines, the Joker talks of a matter of freedom to his companion, the Thief. The Joker’s tone seems rather stressful as he claims that “there must be some way out of here.” Obviously, the two are both retained in some form of imprisonment. Unlike the fellow prisoner, the Thief’s tone is particularly firm as he says;

[6]     “There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke
           But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate
           So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.”

The thief’s comment gives value to the scene as it suggests that the two strangers have apparently known each other for quite some time, almost as though they’re inseparable friends. The response also gives clarity to the two protagonists’ philosophical perspective: that life is contrarily a divine experience. A traditional middle-aged castle with Princes, sprawling crowds of women and “Foot servants, too” is presented in the lines preceding the final verse (9, 10). The picture of the Castle, or more specifically a Watchtower, in the relevant lines gives the perspective of seeing the forest for the trees. While the expansive Castle is visualised as being magnificent, the community within its gates is very hierarchical in social status. The Princes who “kept the view” (9) are established first as the wealthy class, following with the women, who are the middle-class, and poverty-stricken foot servants being presented last. The social Hierarchy is a blatant reference to Western culture’s burden of wealth distinction.

watchtower_quoteYet, with both the characters’ Philosophical values, imprisonment and the social Hierarchy are evident, how do the three correlate? When evaluated from its reversed structure, it becomes clear that the two characters were, in fact, the riders approaching the watch tower. Their subsequent imprisonment is not necessarily justified, however the assumption is made that the two were wanted thieves, or bandits, judging from the mysterious aura shrouded around their identity; it certainly explains why the protagonist is referred to as the Thief.

Naturally, the Joker’s pseudonym implies that the character is comedic and light-hearted, as though life is “but a joke” (6). However, the identity of the Joker is unmasked when the Thief expresses their Philosophical belief that life is quite serious, and divine in nature. It seems that, in light of being in abandonment, the two characters express their genuine identity, as opposed to what the titles convey.

Along the Watchtower, however, the general population goes about their day free from imprisonment. Their identities (i.e. the Princes, the women & the foot servants) are never expressed differently throughout the entire lyrics. Instead, their pseudonym remains the same – the Princes are wealthy, the women are maids, and the foot servants are poor. As such, lines 9 & 10 are directly communicating the political dilemma of class distinction and the negative impact of a mass society which judges people based on their social status and popularity. In this sense, the Joker and the Thief are positioned as people who are direct victims of demanding social expectations. This is further emphasized in the following lines, “Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth
     None of them along the line know what any of it is worth” (3), as it suggests that monetary value of objects, particularly retail prices, don’t testify to their intrinsic value. The mentioning of Businessmen validates the concept of class distinction, and it gives a more accurate detail as to what privileges the wealthy have lost to the poor. According to the song; the poor, as William Blake said, “see a world in a grain of sand”, while the businessmen find 5 dollars in a bag of sand.

Perhaps their imprisonment is metaphorical in the sense that it shows the consequences of revealing one’s independent identity. The Joker is sentenced to abandonment from the populace as the song reveals that his beliefs contradict his pseudonym. The Thief serves as a close companion to the Joker, being the only one who has remained in the cell of confinement with his friend. In this sense, a genuine friendship goes beyond the confines of social abandonment, and the masks of everyday life are not  just worn over the face, but rather the soul.

The lyrics pose an unusual stance, making it rather difficult to interpret the meaning for some. Like many pieces of literature, however, the texts are entirely open to a myriad of different interpretations. Nobody quite knew what Shakespeare was expressing in his sonnets, and Chaucer never did leave behind cliff notes for his writings. In some respects this is the beauty of literature – one text may have no meaning to one person, yet it may offer profound relevance to the human condition for another person. All Along the Watchtower is considered the latter for me. It expresses a great political and social turmoils in youth culture with typical Dylan song-writing, and it serves as a quintessential example of how literature is endlessly open to interpretation.

Forbes’ List of the World’s Billionaires

Forbes’ List of the World’s Billionaires

http://www.forbes.com/sites/luisakroll/2013/03/04/inside-the-2013-billionaires-list-facts-and-figures/

Carlos Slim

Forbes’ lists has just recently released a controversial document listing the wealthy men throughout the world who have the sole value of over a Billion dollars. The whole list is rather insightful, especially when seen in comparison to previous lists. There are more Billionaires now than ever before, and it’s not entirely because of inflation. As well as that, the Billionaires listed both previously and now are gradually becoming more valuable – as the expression goes, Nothing makes money faster than money.

This is certainly true when looking at the value of some of the richest men on the planet, with the man coming first, Carlos Slim, having a Net Worth of $73 billion. Not only does this list give startling evidence of democratic society’s opportunities for material success, but it also shows the increase in the Billionaires’ philanthropy particularly for the less fortunate. Warren Buffett, ranked as the 4th Wealthiest man, has exceeded the expectations of many by donating an astounding amount of nearly $41 Billion in his life-time. The Forbes’ list certainly shows a future of generous wealth.

Rationalising the Ethics of Justice: Theft and Murder

Justice is Blind

Justice is Blind

A common question which is asked by the general public when it comes to Ethics is; “How do our Laws really determine what’s right and wrong?”

Such a question is the quintessential starting point for most Ethical debates, and it’s quite alarming as to how many people do not understand why the most essential ethical codes are in place today. Two of the most essential ethical codes which are governed in laws are theft and murder. While being accepted as insidious acts of immorality, most people during their youth years question as to why they are so unjust. The points made here will hopefully establish why these two common acts of injustice are implemented in the laws today. The distinction between morality and Ethics is established below as well in a concise, informative manner.

While the words “Moral” and Ethics” both derive from the Greek word “Mos”, meaning custom, the two are different in terms of Philosophy. Ethics, in terms of Philosophy, are the codes of what we personally believe in right and wrong. Ethics are the thoughts. Morality, however, is that which is objectively right, and it determines that which is objectively wrong. Morality is the ACT of right, while Ethics are the thoughts of right. That’s why the laws which the Government implements are considered ethical codes, because they’re laws which the people of the government think govern justice.

If one were to take candy from a baby, then they’re using force to retrieve something which was originally in rightful ownership of the baby. The baby earned the candy through non authoritarian methods, and it was unlawfully taken by somebody who exploited the governing system in exchange for nothing. In the movie, “The Gods must be Crazy”, the narrator suggests that ownership is something which is determined by the Governing system of justice in order to maintain a sense of equality and freedom for people. For example, to “own” a mars bar legally you have to exchange something for it. This trading of ownership is a fundamental part of western society, as it tries to equalize the privileges among society. If you take a candy from the baby, then the baby has lost ownership of an object and gained nothing else in ownership. The only case in which this is ethical is if the baby warranted for you to have the candy in exchange for nothing, otherwise the baby has essentially lost something and the scales of equality are skewed.

The case of murder being immoral can be rationally justified as well, similarly to theft. If you murder somebody with a gun, for example, then you’re using certain mechanics to propel a certain object into the victim’s body, with the intention of killing them. When the trajectory hits the brain, in this case, and the victim has been killed, then you have essentially exploited the laws of physics in order to make somebody lose their right of life without their consent. When somebody loses their life, they lose every possible freedom that they originally had: they lose the freedom of buying an object, like a croissant, and eating the croissant. Once the victim loses consciousness, they have lost the capability of doing, or even experiencing, anything. Upon murdering somebody, you have essentially destroyed every freedom of the victim in order for your own purpose (whether it’s for monetary gain or just pleasure). Unlike theft, where you take away the freedom of a baby to enjoy a candy, you literally take away every possible freedom, and every memory, from that person. That’s why murder is widely considered as the most immoral, revolting act against equality and freedom that anybody can commit.

God and Morality

God is Great

There is a question proposed by a lot of people in regards to God’s morality, and it is often left unanswered by some. Often as a result of a personal or national tragedy occurs, people are left asking the notorious question; “How could God let this happen?”

For the sake of argument the existence of God is unquestionable  and assuming that the God is naturally supposed to radiate justice, then the question is begged by yet another question; how is it the God’s responsibility for tragic events which are a result of human (or perhaps natural) manipulation and alteration?

The God merely created the Universe, its components and laws of nature, and it shouldn’t be his responsibility when you exploit the laws of nature and the Universe’s components in order to injure somebody. For example, if I shoot somebody, then I am using certain mechanics with a device with my own intention of sending an object at rapid speeds to penetrate somebody else; why should it be the God’s fault if I were the one who solely committed the act?

Just because God created an environment in which beings die it doesn’t mean that he is at fault, as the Universe’s components and laws, particularly our manipulation of them, are what result in injuries and deaths (two of the most atrocious acts of immorality). Besides, you’re suggesting that divine beings have the capability of seeing human morality. Perhaps they can understand ethical codes, but the objective sense of morality which humans, not animals, possess is basically synthetic.

Is God Responsible for the World's Turmoil?

Is God Responsible for the World’s Turmoil?

A proportionally popular response to the question of God’s morality is particularly expressed by theists and faithful, and that is; “God works in mysterious ways.”
Such a response is usually expressed in good spirit, and, in some respects, it does have some validity. Mankind’s grasp or morality, a supposedly objective and external truth, goes only as far as our ethical perspective, and our ethical standpoint is often subjected to cultural/individual relativism. For example, somebody in Western society may have strong beliefs against physical assault – so much so that any form of physical assault is subhuman and never justified unless used as a form of defense. However, in country’s riddled with religious extremism and political madness, people may find that physical assault is perfectly justifiable in seemingly unjustifiable situations. Perhaps God only knows that which is truly moral, as opposed to ethical, and the failure to grasp this leads us to beg that notorious question.

Or, contrary to trying to rationalise the madness that God apparently allows in this world, perhaps God is immoral. After all, God in essence is defined as the creator of the Universe, and to create something does not necessarily mean that one respects their moral obligation to keep their creation intact. Maybe the gift of life itself is a privilege so profound that God’s lack of moral sense of forgivable.