Bias Arguments and Why We Like Them

As I mentioned before, I figured out that someone can argue for anything they want by highlighting certain aspects and ignoring others. Nothing is inherently good or bad – someone can argue as effectively either way. Just now I found out a fascinating implication that comes from this.

When creating an argument, you can select any evidence you want. Often, what we do is select evidence to craft the situation to look a certain way – the way we WANT IT to look. We ignore certain evidence outside of that sphere because it would damage the case we’re trying to make. But really, this just hides the underlying reasons for looking for one thing over another in the first place.

For instance, say you want to prove that Christianity is the best religion. Then you gather your evidence: “Jesus was such an amazing human being(/God), look at these great messages that are in the New Testament, there are many people who agree with me, Christians aren’t pushy about their religion and don’t go door to do like Jehova’s witness or Mormons, Chinese are Buddhists and Communists and everyone knows Communism is evil so Buddhism doesn’t work, Christians give such and such money to charities, they have great messages, etc.” You get the idea. You haven’t really looked at ALL the evidence, but you’ve found a sufficient number of items to surround your insistence that Christianity is the best religion and keep it alive. The question is why.

As soon as you delve into why, you can begin to get at the underlying issues causing you to create bias views in the first place, rather than look for the truth unhindered. So, taking the example above again, that person might have been told that Christianity didn’t have all the answers and actually did damage to the world, and, whether or not that was true, at the time they identified themselves as Christian, and the comment was taken as an attack on their identity. In defense, but scared to actually debate the truth of the issue, they surrounded themselves with arguments that favored their side. In essence: they were so afraid to let their identity be harmed, and so afraid to even consider that it COULD be harmed, that they surround the belief (that Christianity is the best) with a bunch of evidence that only supports their side.

Same is true when any argument is made – it’s why in debate teams it’s the norm to argue either side – that you choose what evidence to think about and use when arguing for something. Your reasons for choosing the evidence you do are important, and can tell you a lot about potential challenges that you can face more clearly, like fears that are so hidden you don’t even know about them. That doesn’t make facing the fears any easier, but it lets you see that they’re there so you can choose to face them if you want to.

This is also why it can be so hard to argue with people. They become so invested in being right that the given topic becomes about so much more than the truth. People can feel threatened if their beliefs are attacked because it means their fears, anger, sadness, and all that stuff they dont want to look at – can get exposed. They covered it over for a reason. We all do, even if we dont know it.