IN THE LIGHT OF HUMAN PSYCHOLOGY

In General
12th February 2019

The scientific study of human psychology informs us that we suffer from so many biases that it is impossible to be categorically unbiased. For instance, it is human weakness to succumb to the opposite extreme in the attempt to counter extremism. In psychology this is referred to as ‘Attitude Polarisation’. We also have the tendency to favour information that confirms our preconceptions or hypotheses regardless of whether the information is true or not. This is known as ‘Confirmation Bias’.

In the light of these and other countless innate weaknesses we have as humans, it is critical that we check, recheck and question our own intellectual veracity. And in the face of differences we must interact with wisdom and pragmatism. Without bigotry and indifference. Just as in any human struggle towards betterment and near perfection, we must endeavour to detect the biases that we are most susceptible to and try to limit and control these tendencies; specially in relation to seeking truth.

The golden way of suppressing these biases to a bare minimum is to admit before all else, that we have not yet learned all the facts about a given topic. Being wrong is not shameful for a child; neither should it be for an adult. Not every issue is black and white. And always check the other side for valid arguments and the possibility of being enlightened with new insights. If we approach dialogues with absoluteness of our own stance, then we will not see truth as truth even if it was staring at us. And finally, if we deal with each other with humility and civility we can diminish the chances of falling prey to these weaknesses to the bare minimum.

May Allah bestow in all of us understanding and tolerance for each other.

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