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Personal Reflection/Journey Creative Writing Essay (Other (Not Listed) Sample)


This journal/Perosnal refelction paper need to write about the personal experience of(BIASES, RATIONALIZATION, AND MISTAKEN BELIEFS PDF) that shows what experience made you felt (BIASES, RATIONALIZATION, AND MISTAKEN BELIEFS ) and how this topic reflects in your life.



1 HANDOUT 4 BIASES, RATIONALIZATION, AND MISTAKEN BELIEFS By Mark J. Nielsen and J. Michael Stebbins ©1999, 2020 Mark J. Nielsen and J. Michael Stebbins. All rights reserved. Handout 3 focused on helping you become acquainted with personal authenticity – being consistently faithful to the process of “looping” – not as a set of concepts, but as a living reality you can identify in your own experience. The emphasis there was on identifying the drive that motivates our questing and on becoming more familiar with the dynamic pattern of activities through which that drive – the desire for truth and the good – expresses itself. You were asked to notice what goes on in you when you give yourself over to the rhythm of paying attention, understanding, judging, and deciding. We’re made to live in fidelity to that rhythm. We’re made for authenticity. It goes without saying, however, that all too frequently authenticity seems to be in short supply, both in ourselves and in the world at large. We regularly fail to be faithful to our yearning to know and to love without limit. In other words, although the dynamism of the human spirit is natural, it doesn’t function automatically. It’s in competition with other drives and influences that can distort, weaken, or divert it. In this handout we will consider the problem of inauthenticity and what we can do to overcome it. Why do we sometimes find it so easy to ignore or stifle the fundamental drive at the core of our being? Why do we so often prefer to drift than to take responsibility for ourselves and our world? What can we do to get ourselves back on track when we discover we’ve strayed from the path of authenticity? The Problem of Inauthenticity Despite the fact that authenticity is the way of being that best “fits” us as human beings, it can be very difficult to reach and to sustain. We never find ourselves in a position of pure, unconditional authenticity; instead, we always find that our efforts to strive toward authenticity require us to struggle with the inauthenticity that’s already present in us. This difficulty has two roots. 2 First, recall the fact that come into the world without a clue as to what’s going on. Through our own efforts and the efforts of others we gradually piece together our worlds, identifying what we consider to be true or false, plausible or implausible, good or bad, lovable or unlovable. It’s within the world each one of us constructs, and within the shared worlds we construct together with other people, that we individually and collectively live our lives. But it takes a long time to accumulate experiences, sort through them, and figure out who we really are and how we’re supposed to live. We have to learn how to ask questions, how to test our answers, how to distinguish between reasonable beliefs and mere myths, how to respond to the feelings we have, and how to recognize what’s truly worthwhile. One of the roots of the problem of inauthenticity, then, is the sheer fact that we have to live before we know how to live well. Why is adolescence such a critical time in a person’s development? Because during those year’s you’re in a position to make a lot of important choices, but you haven’t had the chance yet to develop the wisdom to know how to make those choices well. As a result, you make some judgments and choices that a person who was more authentic wouldn’t make. (Examples are too numerous to need mentioning. Think back on your own years in middle school and high school!) These mistaken assessments and errant decisions set up a kind of psychological momentum that’s pointed in the wrong direction. If these choices are allowed to go unchallenged, then the next time you find yourself in a similar situation, it’s that much easier for you to get things wrong again. Over time you develop inauthentic habits of thinking, feeling, choosing, and desiring, and you make sense of the world accordingly. By the time you reach the point in your life when you wake up to the fact that you need to take responsibility for yourself – what Bernard Lonergan calls the “existential moment” – you’ve already established a number of formidable obstacles in mind and heart, and also in your way of making sense of the world, that will have to be overcome if you want to make real progress on the path to authenticity. The second root of the problem of inauthenticity – and it’s related to the first – is the fact that some of the values, convictions, ideas, and feelings that we learn about from other people and incorporate into our world are more or less skewed. We might be born into a family where abuse occurs, where racial bigotry is displayed, where most conversations are trivial, or where entertainment, comfort, and possessions are overvalued. Even the best of parents pass on to their children traditions and heritages that are partly inauthentic. Broader groups and communities that we belong to also have a considerable impact on our attitudes, feelings, beliefs and values, especially in an age of streaming and social media. Schools, neighborhoods, churches, political 3 institutions, the market in all its forms, and media of all kinds are constantly telling us what (and who) is important and what (and who) isn’t, what’s true and what isn’t, and what’s morally acceptable and what isn’t. Unfortunately, as a result many people learn to desire things that are superficial and worthless, to believe what’s dubious or misleading, and to feel morally justified in conduct that is positively harmful to others. People may even be misled about what counts as human fulfillment, mistakenly believing that their own physical or emotional comfort is the fundamental purpose of their existence. Right from the beginning, then, we’re constructing our worlds largely out of the materials available in our environment, and some of these materials are faulty. Nor does this problem cease stalking us when we reach adulthood. The pressure of our social and cultural environments can prevent us from grasping the true significance of what we believe or do. To what degree have we allowed ourselves and our worlds to be formed by teachers, colleagues, bosses, friends, authors, entertainers, journalists, YouTubers, and influencers on social media like Instagram or Twitter, whose way of making sense of the world is (probably unknown to them) partly mistaken? The problem of inauthenticity means that being authentic is not always the easy, spontaneous, obvious stance to choose. In many cases, being authentic means, in the first instance, working to overcome the inauthenticity that has already made its home in our minds and hearts. This problem has enormous consequences. You don’t have to look very far to find places where the results of inauthentic choices, unexamined assumptions, ignorance, bias, and sin have accumulated to cause a situation that is extremely resistant to solution. As a society we are confronted by many situations where misunderstandings and bad decisions have piled up, leading to an increasingly unintelligible state of affairs. It becomes more and more difficult to do the intelligent or loving thing. In the face of these apparently insuperable difficulties, anyone who puts forward a plan for taking sensible, responsible action is likely to be met with the objection, “But that would never work!” So inauthenticity is not just an individual problem; it’s also a crucial factor in social decline. Bias and Rationalization Because the problem of inauthenticity is so formidable, it’s helpful to be aware of some of the chief forms it takes. One of these is bias; another is rationalization. 4 There are three kinds of bias we want to draw attention to here. The first of these is individual bias or egoism. This is the familiar tendency to make one’s own narrow interests the criteria for evaluating situations and taking action: “What’s in it for me?” Note that we’re not naturally built to operate this way. Naturally, we’re meant to live authentically. For individual bias to take root in us, we have to shut down our drive to be responsible and loving, and we consistently have to refuse to consider experiences, questions, insights, and judgments that might force us to take other people’s needs as seriously as our own. Group bias is the tendency to pursue the apparent good of one’s own group in all situations. It’s found wherever people are oriented to satisfying the needs and desires of their particular group – family, friends, neighborhood, organization, school, church, social class, nation, etc. – without any regard for how the satisfaction of their group’s needs and desires might affect the welfare of other groups. Although members of a group may show great generosity toward one another, group bias causes the generosity to stop at the group’s boundaries. Other groups are viewed as competitors, foreigners, enemies, pawns; they’re objects of contempt, condescension, suspicion, hostility, or outright hatred. Sometimes other groups are seen as simply irrelevant, if they’re seen at all. Whatever form it takes, group bias blocks progress toward the common good. As with individual bias, it involves an enfeeblement of the dynamism of our questing. Rather than being oriented to truth and goodness, the minds and hearts of the group are turned to activities that serve only the group’s small-minded interests. At some point, of course, a suppressed or mistreated group may strike back and, infused with its own bias, measure out to its former tormentors a generous dose of inauthentic retaliation. There is also general bias, the all-too-common tendency to aim at the short-term satisfaction of needs and desires, without regard for genuinely understanding what’s really going on and what will actually work over the long run. People with this bias can be very well-intentioned. They like to think of themselves as supremely practical: “Let’s just get the job done!” Some years back, the North Atlantic cod fishery was almost destroyed due in large part to the fact that all of the interested parties – fishermen, government agencies, and scientists – failed to take the long view and understand what was happening as the cod were being fished out of existence. Instead, it was easier to focus only on near-term issues. The consequence of “being practical” was an environmental, economic and social disaster. People who give in to general bias tend to dismiss theories and ideas and the search for thorough explanations as being beside the point. But many of the most pressing human problems are very complex, and working 5 toward their solution requires a considerable amount of research, careful thought, experimentation, and collaboration. General bias involves a failure to appreciate how important genuine understanding is for human living, and this lack of awareness leaves it without the vision and courage to address both short-term and long-term issues. General bias leaves us content to muddle through, applying one quick fix after another, never getting to the bottom of any problem. The kind of practicality general bias promotes turns out to be highly impractical. Finally, human beings often employ rationalization in the service of their inauthenticity. It strengthens the biases and prolongs their effects. Rationalization isn’t simply telling a lie or being hypocritical; it’s subscribing to a distorted account of some part of reality – or even of reality as a whole – in order to mask the inauthenticity of oneself or one’s group. This has a corrupting effect even when it happens in relatively small matters: “I should have called Andrea today, but she’s usually busy and I probably wouldn’t have been able to talk to her anyway,” or “Well, yes, strictly speaking, this probably isn’t a legitimate deduction, but my taxes are too high, and if they don’t object it must be okay.” Rationalization can also occur on a massive scale. We can point to the propaganda machines of the Third Reich or the Soviet Union as instances where governments engaged in a systematic program of rationalization designed to reach into all areas of public and private life. But in a less organized, more seductive way – and for that reason, perhaps even more effectively – many influential people and institutions in our own culture purposely transmit a flurry of skewed messages about the world and ourselves. False ideas are presented as if they were true, and true ideas as if they were false; evil is held up as good, and good is condemned as evil or dismissed as foolishness; the past is rewritten to erase the memory of errors and sins of all kinds. The greater the degree to which whole groups, communities, or societies succumb to the trap of rationalization, the more difficult it becomes for people to become aware that they are living inauthentically. If a person or group manages to shake off the prevailing cover story and attempts to live authentically, they’re almost sure to be marginalized or attacked. The point of this handout is to underscore just how serious the problem of inauthenticity is. Bias and rationalization are pervasive features of the human condition. They act by hindering the very mechanism that would allow us to escape them, namely, our God-given ability to ask questions, to get at the truth, to recognize the good, and to pour ourselves out in love. 6 Mistaken Beliefs Our awareness of what is going on in most of the world, or what has happened in history, or how things work, or anything else that we don’t experience and figure out on our own, is due to our believing what other people tell us. When we learn about history, we’re believing historians, who in turn are believing what witnesses to past events wrote, said, or depicted in art. When we watch a news report, we’re believing the people in the TV studio, who themselves are relying on reports from the field. When we hear about a scientific discovery, we don’t actually know what the scientist knows, because we haven’t done the experiments and understood exactly what they show; we simply believe that some new advance in scientific knowledge has occurred. In short, our way of making sense of the world depends far more on belief than on our own personally-generated knowledge. For the most part, the fact that we have the capacity to believe is a good thing. It makes it possible for people to cooperate even though they live in different places; it makes it possible for people to learn from others, including people who lived at an earlier time. If we couldn’t rely on what others have figured out, we would have to make sense of the world only in terms of what we ourselves could experience in our immediate environment, and we would have to live on the basis of what only we could learn with our own minds, unaided by the ideas and experiences of other people. It would be a very primitive mode of existence. Believing opens up the world and draws people together. Of course, the fact that we depend so much on belief has its downside. Some – perhaps much – of what we believe is false, and in some cases people knowingly communicate falsehoods, as discussed above. But more often, people pass along their own false beliefs without realizing what they are doing. The problem with false beliefs, of course, is that we don’t suspect their falsity; we take them to be true. (This is the predicament of the prisoners in the Allegory of the Cave. In some ways, we are all like them.) As a result, when we communicate with other people we sometimes serve unwittingly as conduits of falsehood rather than conduits of truth. We can’t eliminate the problem of mistaken beliefs entirely, because we don’t have the capacity to carefully examine every story or explanation or claim that is available for us to believe. But we can exercise caution in the way we believe: we can examine sources of information to determine if they should be trusted; we can ask ourselves, with respect to something we believe, “How do I know this is true?”; we can notice when contradictions appear between our beliefs, or between something we believe and 7 something we know because we’ve figured it out for ourselves. Our best safeguard against mistaken beliefs is our willingness to be consistently authentic by paying attention, asking questions, and doing our best to understand correctly. We’re built for that.


Personal Reflection/Journey
Asking questions can seem like an easy thing to do. However, for some people, it can be scary. First of all, one may not have the courage to ask a question. Secondly, there are others like me who fear to ask questions because we are afraid that we will look stupid. Having such an approach to life can leave you lonely because you agree with the crowd even when you know you know nothing about the topic at hand. My experience with bias, rationalization, and mistaken beliefs stems from the normal routine of asking questions. Whenever a teacher or a speaker at an event would leave room for questions, I would sit around and look at those who are courageous enough to ask them. I would sit back and listen intently as the responses were being given but I would never ask a question myself even if I had not u

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