THE OTHER SIDE
For consumers of media, especially those living in cities, there is no dearth of ‘burning’ issues as usual. From climate change and international politics to the Ram Janmabhoomi case in the Supreme Court, condition of economy and the unending arguments between supporters of opposing ideologies- one may find even 24 hours less to dwell on all the issues. However, an increasing number of people seem to have strong opinions on various issues and express these on the social media.
It is another thing that in the majority of the cases, the views seem to be influenced more by personal bias than by facts.
If one analyses this scenario of people forming opinions and expressing them as ‘truths’ one will observe that most of them are suffering from what is called confirmation bias.
According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, “Confirmation bias is the tendency to process information by looking for, or interpreting, information that is consistent with one’s existing beliefs.
This biased approach to decision making is largely unintentional and often results in ignoring inconsistent information. People are especially likely to process information to support their own beliefs when the issue is highly important or self-relevant. Philosophers note that humans have difficulty processing information in a rational, unbiased manner once they have developed an opinion about the issue.”
Now consider the opinions being exchanged as facts by opposing sides during their interactions on the social media and elsewhere.
Anyone who is capable or even tries to be logical instead of being sentimental in a debate will notice that many opinions are based on incomplete, biased or incorrect knowledge of the subject in question.
Whether it be the issue of global climate change or Kashmir, the National Register of Citizens or the actions and plans of the Union Government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-most opinions do not seem to be based on accurate and correct facts when expressed by the general public and even some ‘experts’.
Apart from fueling illogical arguments and actions, this proclivity may actually end up exacerbating the problems being debated. Take for example the issue of environmental damage.
There is no denying the fact that environmental damage and climate change are real problems. That is apparently what teenage activist Greta Thunberg and the people protesting against the felling of trees at Aarey in Mumbai were concerned about.
But on viewing their expressions and actions without really getting involved in it, all doesn’t seem to be as projected.
Take the Aarey protests- no doubt the felling of thousands of green trees is something that should be avoided but was the felling of trees for other earlier commercial projects in the same area opposed in a similar manner? One can only imagine how much more green the city would have been if even half the number of protesters had been planting and nurturing trees and leading a environment- friendly lifestyle instead of protesting with placards and slogans.
One is not rejecting the right to or the importance of protest but if one is really concerned, one takes corrective measures instead of raising slogans- in this case planting and nurturing trees not in already green spaces but in places where they are needed more.
Sadly, people allow cities to have no space for trees and then complain about the environmental damage. The same can be said about people passionately expressing views on other subjects.
For example, those supporting and those opposing Hindutva in general seem to have little authentic knowledge about the subject.
As a result, in many circles, simply opposing the native culture and heritage is viewed as secular as long as one doesn’t acknowledge the truths in the ideology one dislikes.
It is good that the current Government is thinking of correcting the history that generations have been taught in distorted forms, provided the government doesn’t fall in the same trap its ideological rivals fell in.
Confirmation bias continues to afflict people on both sides of the argument and it is this tendency that is also being exploited to varying extent by the politicians and others who stand to gain.
Research has shown that not only in an argument, the effects of this condition are also seen in people in various professions including medical and legal services to name a few.
A psychologist will be better suited to explain this condition and its aspects in detail but for us, suffice it to state that the longer we remain afflicted by this condition, the longer will the problems remain.
We need to understand that the truth is not always what we want it to be and that it is not always convenient for us. However, it is liberating.
Learning true facts about one’s roots, the state of environment and politics can bring about major changes. There will always be differences of opinion but it would be better if facts are the basis of opinions instead of biases.
Saturday, 19 October 2019 | Paritosh Kimothi
Author: Paritosh kimothiParitosh Kimothi is the Deputy News Editor in the Dehradun edition.
Paritosh Kimothi is the Deputy News Editor in the Dehradun edition.
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