Unconscious Bias, Us and Them

Science overthinks Unconscious Bias. Unconscious Bias reasons people hold of interest to scientific and social communities, is commonly determined to be a bias against people(s) which an individual is not even aware they are biased against. No one escapes Unconscious Bias. One may be knowingly biased against people for demographics, skin color, or facial and body features, and this bias is Conscious Bias.

Put in another more formal way, here is the definition from the Office of Diversity and Outreach:

Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups, and these biases stem from one’s tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing.

I disagree with how science has determined how Unconscious Bias occurs. I am of the opinion, Unconscious Bias comes from a much simpler and much older place and was active possibly before modern humans even developed language.

Unconscious Bias is likely built into our DNA, and is not something we can easily eradicate, and probably something we should not even try to eradicate. It is important to quantify the Unconscious Bias which I address. This is not an outright culture or race bias which is behind much of today’s news. This Unconscious Bias I wish to define has familial properties.

Unconscious Bias is likely in our DNA, and it should stay there

The Unconscious Bias I am talking about maximizes survival of the family unit, carried forward from our most ancient ancestors. Two hundred years ago (a blink of an eye), most of the world had a limited supply of food and clothing. In most of the world we were living a rural village life. There was the family unit, the extended family unit, and the remaining people who together comprised a village, perhaps one hundred people, probably less.

Village population was determined by resource allocation and our brain size. There was only so much food and clothing to go feed everyone. There were only so many people able to hunt and cultivate crops. There were finite supply of edible fish and animals within a reasonable hunting distance from the village.

When the family had food for the day, food was distributed by family ties. Perhaps Parents and grown Children were fed first. Grandparents and young Children second. If there was a food surplus, extended family would be allowed to share the food. After extended family, friends of the family would be given food. Finally, the rest of the village population would be given food.

Our brain size determines our social ability. The most brain growth in modern humans was done to increase our social ability. Today most of us have between one-hundred to one-hundred fifty people we socialize with in varying degrees.

Looking at Unconscious Bias through this perspective, Unconscious Bias has little to do with race, geography, skin color, or other artificial measurement. Unconscious Bias was developed for maximizing survival of the immediate family unit.

Starting with the immediate family unit (parents and children) who have a surplus, and extending to the village unit, everyone followed the same model. The more you are one of us (closer to a family matriarch), the better your chances of receiving extra sufficient food and clothing when available. As food distribution is extended, a non family member’s chance of receiving food diminishes the farther they are from being part of the family.

You can test this idea yourself as you go through your day. Pretend you have extra food available which must be given away as it will spoil soon. You have enough food to give to three people beyond the people in your immediate family. As you look at the people you see or have contact with, decide whether you would give them food or not.

I think you will find, the people you are most likely to feed are those people either closest to you or most like you. I think looking for ulterior motives and reasons for Unconscious Bias, and trying to eradicate Unconscious Bias in any other definition is akin to, “Beating a dead horse”. You can beat the dead horse into dust and powder, but it doesn’t change the fact the horse is dead.

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