Fuzz (rubel) wrote in i_witness,

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The Nature of Bias

The subject I'm about to speak about is brought up in this video from 5:25 to 8:25.

Basically, there's a long-standing issue that Green has with Yellow. And really, it's not a different issue essentially than the issue that Blue has with Red, and Orange has with Blue, and Green has with Orange. Basically, what does a fact mean, and where does one's personal bias factor in? Blue disputes Red's claim that what it wants is right just because it wants it. Orange disputes Blue's claim that what is right is what it believes just because it believes it. Green disputes Orange's claim that what is right is what is internally consistent and externally correlative, because the internal system and external data can vary from one reference frame to another. Where Yellow comes in with a critique is that it disputes Green's claim that what is right is what is potentially anything that can be internally and externally consistent from one's own frame of reference, because some truths persist beyond reference frames and can be seen from any of them.

Where Green has a problem with this is that for any one person to say it, Green maintains that this person is coming from his or her own reference frame, and so the view is infected by the very thing it is presuming to criticize. On the surface, this seems like a valid critique, but there is a systemic fallacy underpinning the accusation.

Red is right: what it wants is, on some level, reflecting some need and thus some degree of rightness.
Blue is right: What it wants as a whole must be broken into the right parts and the wrong parts. It is also right that what it believes, on some level, reflects some systemic code, order or structure (and need for such) and thus some degree of rightness.
Orange is right: What it believes must be broken down into what is internally and externally consistent. It is also right that what it sees, on some level, is a consistent way of looking at the world from its own sphere.
Green is right: What it sees must be broken down into what is consistent within its sphere and what is inconsistent with other spheres. It is also right that what reference frames it acknowledges, on some level, are all potentially consistent ways of looking at the world, and may not agree with each other.

But what I've just stated is a plethora of ways that each level is partially right. And the need for each new level stems from a need for less and less partialness to the truth. What each level fails to acknowledge is that it isn't merely different from other levels, but adds some new capacity to previous levels. Each level adds a way to decentralize, suspend, check, discern, and integrate prior views. Blue can take more than one person's wants into account and impose rules. Orange can take wants in general into account and impose consistency and correlation. Green can take consistency into account and impose pluralism of consistent and correlative systems. What can Yellow do?

Yellow can take pluralism of consistent and correlative systems and impose transrelative patterns of perspective generation.
In general:
Red looks at this and says "What? That's just what you want, not what I want."
Blue looks at this and says "That's blasphemy, because it's against our group's wants (beliefs)."
Orange looks at this and says "That's just your belief, which is refuted by what I see."
Green looks at this and says "That's just your belief, and may be valid within your own reference frame, but it is impossible to accurately say that you speak for other reference frames from within your own."

But there is a jump in structure that happens here that leads to this confusion. Each of those stages confuses the characteristics of this new view with characteristics of views that it is familiar with. In short, each of those stages confuses what it is seeing of the new structure with some correlate in the old structure.

But Yellow is the first structure of identification as the soul, and is thus the first stage of stepping out of one's mental frame of reference. Stepping out of one's own reference frame and into another entire structure that is transrelative (but still individual) means being able to see past reference frames to something more integrative. Now I MUST CLARIFY that there is still an individual flavor to this move (particularly at Yellow, where higher aspects and dynamics of the soul are not yet even acknowledged, much less understood). You are still using the tools of one person. However, those tools now integrate the whole realm of mental capacities and perspectivism. In this sense, you are still working from whatever the soul equivalent of a "reference frame" is, which still has an emphasis, nature, resonance, talents, etc, but is NOT limited by the things that limit the mind itself. Both mind and soul in an individual are limited to some small degree by their singleness, and this does not change with the step from Green to Yellow. What DOES change is the mind's inherent limitation not in number, but in SCOPE and in ability to be objective and step outside its own METHOD of functioning (namely, reference frames, logic, desires, discipline, and sheer identity).

One simple way to think about this is as follows:

Green is all about pointing out bias. Green rightly perceives that all individuals are biased, and this will influence their perceptions of the truth. Green also rightly perceives that all individuals are in context--that is to say "have a reference frame," and that this reference frame leads to bias.

The PROBLEM is that Green is not able to differentiate between the different biases. Green does not acknowledge that there is any form of perception that goes beyond bias in a meaningful way, because it perceives ALL of this bias as stemming from the INDIVIDUAL aspect of personhood. What's ACTUALLY the case is that each structure of being has less and less bias than the previous one (just as each LEVEL of each structure is less centered on the individual). The step from mind to soul involves discovering the tools to jettison the bias of mind, but the bias inherent to being one individual persists (and continues to lessen at each progressive stage).

Green does not understand this, but Ken Wilber is basically talking about it (very shortly, in no detail, and basically in passing) when he says "second tier does a much, much better job of presenting data on balance and presenting a more balanced picture." And he even acknowledges that there is still the limitation of being an individual when he adds, "But that doesn't mean you're right. It means you're often right, and it means that when you're wrong, you make bigger mistakes." The "bigger mistakes" part is also inherent to level development (orange mistakes tend to be bigger than blue ones, etc), but there's undoubtedly an element of "bigger mistake" from mind to soul as well.

Basically, at Yellow, people stop "wanting certain things to be true" to a large extent. They step outside of their mental identity for the first time, and to that extent, their mental preferences for truth no longer define them. Identity, now focused on the soul (but usually still not acknowledged as such) no longer feels threatened by what would once have threatened mental identity. This is precisely why this is one of the most talked about stages in psychological therapies, and why it is often seen as a psychological goal in terms of self acceptance, overcoming oppression, openness with others, and mature choice. The whole reason it is referred to as self-actualization is that people feel at this stage as if they are choosing each aspect of their lives to some extent--they are actualizing the self rather than idealizing it. We get tired of our own little games or lies we tell ourselves, we get tired of our attachments screening out the truth until it's too late, and we want to actually know ourselves and what's going on around us, at whatever cost to our beliefs (again, there is some version of this at every stage, but researchers seem to agree that there is a big jump at this particular spot). Having finally separated identity from certain ways we wish to view the world (and ourselves), we can view it how it actually is.

In any case, Green maintains that a certain level of "wanting or believing something to be true" will be inherent to the individual. Second Tier maintains that the "wanting something to be true" on a mental sphere of reality is something its new (transmental) tools of cognition easily jettisons, and "believing something to be true" in mental spheres is much less limited by mental preference, leaving observation, established fact, and new ways of perceiving (added by new stages and structures) more at the helm. It also fits right in with the faster and greater data processing that happens at these stages, and the approaches taken to uncover truths. This is much more effective, just not infallible.

Green likes to use this "not infallible" statement like a justification for jettisoning anything it doesn't like about Second Tier views and claiming "that's just your frame of reference." It even likes to go a step further and state "Your views are no less fallible than mine," as if no development had happened at all, confident that it has the tools to judge this adequately. To illustrate how insensible this is, we should really look at the jump from body to mind. Take the example of empathy. Through empathy, we can take on the role of another, not only intellectually, but we can FEEL what it must be like to be them. People who are stuck at merely bodily identification cannot do this, and if they had the linguistic tools to say so (usually only people pathologically incapable of empathy have these tools while also having the lack of empathy), would claim that "you can't possibly understand because you're not me." But people who have the development of empathy know this is not true, and they know that their mental tools make the body-centered bias easy to suspend or jettison, but they also know that there is still that limiting factor of being an individual that limits the extent to which they can feel the other person's pain. But acknowledging this is not tantamount to saying empathy is not significant, does not transcend individual perspectives significantly or account for them fairly, or does not mean empathetic data is invalid, pompous, presumptuous, marginalizing, or insensitive because it purports to factor in what is "not its own."

The same mechanism that leads from animal to empathy continues on past mind, and frankly, to assume that this not only IS not but CANNOT happen is as presumptuous as the brat who screams that no one can understand his pain when he is denied a hot dog.

There are many aspects to bias, as life itself shows us constantly. To claim which kinds can be escaped and which cannot, one has to be familiar with the different stages of development that lead to new awareness*. I'll leave it to those who have nondual realization to claim whether or not the bias of the individual can be overcome and on what levels that's relevant. But the claims of others who are not familiar with these things should at least be consistent with their own development and scientific observation. Anything else, I would argue, is simply the mental bias of "wanting it to be so," regardless of the evidence.

[*Again, this is not infallible, especially as one can be merely "competent" at a new stage in order to move to the next, and lower-level neuroses can infect the whole system. It is, however, the tendency of Second-Tier awareness to actively seek out these problems and address them, because of an innate desire to be free of merely mental bias--as one thing these levels add is an even greater degree of compassion than even found at Green. On a broad scale, Yellow views tend to be more inclusive, less biased, and more actively thought out than prior ones, just as could be said of ANY level with regard to ANY previous level, and/or any STRUCTURE with regard to any prior STRUCTURE. Both are factors here.]
Tags: spiral dynamics
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