A great way to face down your assumptions

14 01 2013

We all make assumptions. It’s inevitable. There is simply too much happening in our little lives to fully know everything in detail. So we average, interpolate, assume. We take a few key points (perhaps fact, or perhaps themselves assumptions) and simple make the rest up. We have the illusion of a full picture, but really it’s full of massive holes that we gloss over by not looking too closely. It’s not a bad thing – it’s how we’re built. The upside is that we can move through an ever-changing, complex landscape without our brains exploding from sensory overload.

We can assume that most faces have two eyes, a nose, a mouth, and therefore just remember the things that make a particular face different. A scar, eye colour, a beard. It’s why we often mistake people from other ethnic groups – the baseline “normal” face is our own, so there are just too many differences when we look upon an unfamiliar group of others. Frequent contact allows us to adjust that norm and become more discerning with this new data. Otherwise, we’re left with a vague “Asian male” or “European female” kind of description.

So I assumed that CBC talk radio was boring. No real data. Just an assumption. My great friend Bunbury often espoused its greatness, but I preferred to listen to recorded music on my car journeys. I assumed CBC would be lots of Toronto stuff and of little relevance to me. Of late though, I finally gave it a try, and am a new convert. I have a new data point to replace the web of assumption.

Tonight I heard of the CBC’s Human Library project. Co-sponsored with Surrey library.

Imagine, if you will, being able to go to the local library and expand your mind. (You already do? Great!) Have your assumptions reassessed. But – instead of borrowing a book, what if you could borrow a social stereotype? What if you could “borrow” a Female Firefighter, and have a conversation? You’d be able to validate or quash your assumptions. Have your perspective potentially altered. Isn’t that how we learn? But instead of reading it in a book, you could get to the nub of your own personal questions by talking to an individual representing that stereotype. An amputee perhaps? A transsexual? A Muslim scholar?

I think it’s a marvelous project. Learn more here: CBC B.C. | Events.




2 responses

19 01 2013

[…] A great way to face down your assumptions (quieterelephant.wordpress.com) […]

19 01 2013
Doughnuts | Bullzen

[…] A great way to face down your assumptions (quieterelephant.wordpress.com) […]

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