Wednesday, July 3, 2013


 Two quite opposite qualities equally bias our minds - habits and novelty. - Jean de La Bruyere
You might ask yourself this question, “Why am I reading this?” Well the answer and the only one I can give you is “Only you know the real answer to that.” That is the truth. It is possible you are reading this because of a multitude of reasons. You might have come across this post searching for other more enlightening subjects. You might have been one of the faithful stalwarts that reads my ramblings periodically and blushes with an embarrassment that turns your face red from ear to ear, or you might simply be interested in where I am going to go with this line of thought, today. But there are many others that I am not privy to.

So after all what is “Intention?” Is it a motivation, a thought, a concept, or an idea? Whatever it is, it has the profound effect in every thing we do to achieve a goal. It makes us do things, create objects, mold psychologies, change ecologies, grasp the epistemology of phrenology and so forth. (I told you to stay close on this one).

But then, you might ask the question, “My intention might be different than yours.” Of course it will be, because the base of our intentions is shaped by something else. Something, deep and dark, something quite surreptitiously lurid, something more like ether than stone. Something that is not quite quantifiable. Something that is without a measure of metrics.

What of this ether? This nebulous vapor that so motivates us into creating this enigma, we call intention?

To answer that, let me trail this idea further with a short question posed by a youth…

There was a young man, whom I met several years ago. He told me about the nature of nature. He described his thinking in detail. He explained to me the consequence of the haphazard flow of evolving concepts, the drivers, the resistors, the mechanics and the constantly changing scaffolding that housed all those changes. He likened the present to a series of events between the occurrences in the past and the hazy, smoky, cut-with-a-knife foggy, future. He said we are where we are, because we are. He was wise beyond his years. I never met him again, but there was something from Rene Descartes, “Cogito ergo Sum,” in his dialog. He had posited, where does the Intentional thinking emanate and why does it change so over time? A valid question one might ask. Indeed, where does that come from? And does it change and if so why?

And we are back to the same question? What makes the change that makes the change? Ah! Now that gets us into the real conundrum of “Why?”

If change is going to happen, then what makes the change? If that is the intent then that must come from somewhere.

So we must launch into another short tale…

This middle-aged salesman, sharply dressed, eloquent in speech and quiet in demeanor asked me one day, to use his product. He hammered about the benefits of the products and that how it would bestow such wonderful benefits to everyone who came in contact with. It was a moving impassioned presentation. It was a classic act of promoting a marketable item. Having been moved by his pitch and rhythm, I asked him what made him so passionate about the product? Had he tried it himself, or knew of someone in his family that had done so? He answered, “No” to both the questions. Taken aback momentarily, he stammered a bit searching for words that failed to arrive, leaving the blankness of surprise firmly planted on his face. But never to be outdone in the field that he had mastered, he mumbled something like, “Well, to tell you the truth, If I sell this product to four more people, I will get a 20% bonus increase in my salary at the end of this quarter.” Now that was refreshing honesty, I was unaccustomed to, but having been pleasantly surprised by the facts and no further marshmallows to hide the bad tasting cereal, I shook his hands and promised to look at the product.

So here by now you might have arrived with your own concept of what is intention!

Intention is based on the fundamentals of bias!

Heresy! You say. This is a travesty put in words! “Off with your head,” as the Red Queen would say, but, but, hold on one moment, let us think this one out, shall we…

If you intend to do something, there always is a prerequisite to that action. If you desire to get another smart-phone, it is because…

If you want to go out with your friends, or shun their company, it is because of…

If you want to buy the latest model car, or for that matter a jalopy, it is because of…

If you want to wear your jeans below the butt…

Okay, that might be going to far.

But you do get the message. It is loud and clear. All our actions, motivations, concepts, ideas are based on a certain bias. What that bias is, is not a matter of terminology but the experiential reference of our past actions and future desires, based on birth, environment, culture, upbringing etc.

Uncovering the bias is not up to a litigator, a grand jury or a judge for that matter, but what is within us. It is the truth that hides in every living soul-bound artifice called human. This truth is hidden because it is biased. It is hidden because, sharing it would mean divulging a part of oneself. It is hidden because that is what makes us human

Am I biased to certain things? You bet, I am… 

Are you?

So you see, our intentions are what we make them and base them to conform to our ever-changing ideas and thoughts. These thoughts are further powered by a self-generated strategy or overpowered by others’ passion. The unexpressed view of the world, we hold, comes out through our intentions and is constantly masked over by that certain pale cast of thought, of which we may or may not be consciously aware, called bias.

This bias can be in the form of:
Illusory correlation
Primacy effect in memory
Availability heuristic
Pollyanna Principle of wishful thinking
Attitude polarization through cognitive dissonance
Risk aversion
...or other not mentioned forms of self-delusional, self-serving means of self promotion.

Moving bias from a noun to a verb…
To bias is human.
To bias is universal.
To bias is inevitable.
But to bias is not an error. It may create one, mask one, enhance or suppress one, but it is not one by in itself.

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