Bias Blindness (#633)

Brad and Wayne catch up after a few weeks of travel for both of them—Brad to his son's wedding and a media event in Dallas, and Wayne to upstate New York. Through a strange set of circumstances, Wayne was able to spend some time with Jens Erik Gould, the Co-founder and Chief Editor of The Knife Media. As he shares their encounter with, it launches a conversation about personal bias and its impact on our convictions and our conversations. Who can be truly objective, especially when our biases hide so well?  What steps can we take to help us see our own biases and lean ever more consistently into what's really true, rather than what we want to be true.

Podcast Notes:
The Knife Media
The latest news from our project in Kenya
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  1. Many years ago, I used a different approach to sorting media bias than the one talked about (different, additional, not better): I was an avid reader of Time in my post college years finding the coverage more varied and the writing crisper than say, US News & World Report or Newsweek. But when I had access to the Wall St. Journal, I found multiple instances in which a Time story would report information A, B, and C, but the Journal would include A, B, C, D, and E. It was always that Time left things out – and not meaningless detail, but information that colored the stories in a fairly consistent manner. Thus ended my Time subscription. I’ve notices something similar today in two leading members of the online “soap opera media” (my term): and I find more cases of political stories just plain absent from than I’ve not studied this systematically which may be difficult because of the noise from “soap opera” stories which are local news stories and probably should not be in any national source.

  2. I don’t believe that “strategic” is a concept that has any meaning in the context of developing relationships. If “discipling” (edifying, encouraging, equipping) *always* authentically happens in that context, why rely, instead, on strategic thinking/planning/organizing?

    True, (1) there are aspects of walking with Father that involve meeting large needs (those that are bigger than an individual), and (2) Father has gifted some who he leads into those needs with strategic abilities. It’s not that we’re never to use those.

    What I’m proposing is that the bulk of our journey with Father is about developing relationships and living authentically in those relationships (and the only way to do either is by abiding in love). Even the stuff that involves a wider action (and in which Father may employ our strategic abilities) will almost certainly not look like the hyper-detailed, mapped-out, outcome-driven, led-from-the-top strategic plans that we use in institutional structures.

    Instead, I see them used in ways that look like “wisdom” and that more often involve choosing not to do something as to take an action (and usually because that action would involve violating the authenticity of the relationships involved).

    I’ll freely admit that all this gets to be most challenging when others who are necessarily involved (whatever that might mean in a given situation) in the wider action give way to a desire to achieve a specific outcome, and will do all they can to influence (manipulate) people, events, and actions toward that end.

    I’d say that’s OK—we don’t have to get into holy wars to “save the original vision.” After all, it may well be that Father had in mind an entirely different kind of outcome than what we thought was supposed to happen, and we can be sure that his path through all this will always be revealed through our resting into our relationship with him, abiding in love with all the other people involved, and holding to a core of authentic relationships, not self-determined outcomes.

    So yeah, when I hear a call to “get this organized” within the family, I instantly want to slow down and take a long look at whether what’s happening honors relationships or is trying to leverage them. If I hear a call to plan/act strategically, I’m already pretty certain that it’s not going to take a very long look at all to see what’s really going on, and that it’s not going to carry the fragrance of Father.

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