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Boston, MA, US
Posts: 13

Originally posted by iluvcows on November 11, 2020 18:45

Why do you think people automatically believe in the validity of news outlets views of certain individuals without any prior knowledge on the topic?

I think people believe news outlets' judgements of others because they trust the sources and aren't (or at least, don't feel) informed enough to make that call themselves. Especially when our sources' partisan slants reaffirm our worldview, we grow to not only trust them more, but even to depend on them to make sense of the world while also maintaining our worldview. When someone believes that the current president is extremely popular, for example, but knows that he has twice lost the popular vote, this person might turn to a news outlet to reconcile these two, seemingly contradictory beliefs. Fox News has lent credence to Trump's claims that he lost the popular vote in 2016 because of fraud and illegal immigrants voting, and they continue to do so this time, only with more of a focus on fraud and mail-in voting than before. Because many people have a false understanding of Trump's popularity, and Fox News knows that most of these people, like all of humanity, would rather find a dubious way to reconcile this false understanding with reality than confront their misconception, the network has an incentive to back the president's claims and make its viewers feel safer. Evidently, this creates a dependence on the network to continue maintaining their (mis)conceptions, and this phenomenon plays out similarly in many other instances throughout the political sphere.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 13

Originally posted by BlueWhale24 on November 11, 2020 21:27

Discrimination and judgement are critical to how we as humans perceive the world around us. It’s impossible to completely rid ourselves of our instinctual nature to come to conclusions about whatever we see. However, the sad reality of current society is that many fail to recognize the mistakes of their judgement due to the “my viewpoint can’t possibly be wrong because I’m the one making it” mindset. This attitude comes about as a byproduct of the choice-filled world which we live in. The idea of “othering” relates directly to the individualistic mindset of always looking out for your own best interests. For example, an anti-immigration American complains about “those Mexicans” for stealing American jobs, because it damages their preferred group. They might complain about “those Muslims” because they see them as a threat to their people. The feminist and Black Lives Matter movement are prime examples of situations which are seen as threats to so many people, even though in essence they pose no threat towards the groups which oppose them. But rather, the thought of groups which have historically been marginalized coming to power frightens those who have never had to face such issues.

@BlueWhale24 makes a lot of good points, but I disagree with their assertion that an individualistic culture is somehow more conducive to othering than a culture that is not centered on the individual. While different cultures might lead to smaller differences in the manner/kind of othering, ultimately, discrimination, hate, and dehumanization do and will continue to exist in all countries regardless of whether they are individualistic or collectivist. A greater focus on the community does little to help prevent othering, in my opinion, because by definition, to “other” someone is to see them as outside your community, as fundamentally different from you. It’s true that people in collectivist cultures might care more for their neighbor than those from individualistic ones, as we have clearly seen from the very different attitudes towards mask wearing in East Asia vs. the US, but that’s not the same as preventing discrimination and prejudice that still exist in both those places.

West Roxbury, MA, US
Posts: 8

Discrimination is Human Nature

To answer BlueWahle24’s question of how can we combat extreme consumerism in America when capitalism has become such a big part of our national identity, I would have to say we need to do this by limiting our choices. As Americans, we buy too many things, most of which we have no real use for. By raising the tax on consumer products, this would limit the choice that Americans have as it is easier to recklessly buy things when they cost less. This tax could come in the form of true cost economics, which includes the cost of the negative externalities associated with goods and services. Another way to do this would be by getting rid of Black Friday sales, as a lot of the items that are bought on that day end up in the dumpster.

As humans, we have to discrimination and come to judgements in order to survive. That is what it means to make a choice—comparing your options and coming to the conclusion on which one is “better”. People who refuse to make decisions are labeled indecisive, and between being decisive and indecisive, most people choose the former option.

Discriminating amongst things (such as which pepper you would choose) is fundamentally different than discriminating amongst people. When discriminating on which pepper is better, one has to judge how each one might taste compared to the other, are there any defects or imperfections, is it ripe enough, and any other judgement that can lead to a conclusion on which one is the best, and possibly tastiest, pepper to eat. This could have real implications depending on the choice, maybe not in the choice amongst those 5 peppers, but if you had to choose between two different types of berries and one might be poisonous. If a human chooses the wrong choice, they might die.

But choosing between two groups of people to judge which is better lacks any rationale at all. One might be able to choose and judge individuals, as this occurs all the time in job interviews, college admissions, and presidential elections, but that can only happen because you have the information to, at least hopefully, get an accurate depiction of who the person is and if they would be better for this specific position. But it is impossible to judge whether one race or group of people is better than the other, as those individuals in each group might have nothing else in common other than their race, and what does it mean to be “better”, as different people are better at different things. You can’t judge a fish by how well it climbs a tree.

Since there is no logical reason to try and distinguish one group of people as better than the other, this act of “Othering” as John Powell discusses, lacks all merit. It is only used when one group feels threatened, and not by the specific group they label as “Others”, but economically and instead of taking responsibility for a failure, they look for someone else (or a whole group of people) to pin the blame upon. John Powell uses the example of Trump generalization of Mexicans to maintain power by deflecting any economic blame elsewhere. Alicia Garza also points out that the Trump campaign only targeted minority groups in order to bring out white voters. By doing so, he was trying to make equality and equal rights (which would decrease the privilege that white people have, but justly) seem as if it was discriminating against and exploiting white people.

While I do not believe that discrimination at a large scale is neccessary for a society to exist, I believe that we have not yet found a system of governance that is able to eliminate dog whistling and “Othering”. However, I do have hope that one day there will be a society in which those terms will no longer be applicable. On the other hand, discrimination and judgement, just at a smaller, individual level, is neccessary for the world to exist as it is the basis for all life (evolution and natural selection is in itself discrimination and judgement of which is better).

My lingering question to you is this: do you think that humans are innately discriminatory against other humans, or is that something we are taught (i.e. do we discriminate because we hate things that are different/unknown to us or just because society tells us to)?
BOSTON, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 7

The Inevitable

Although humans have managed to change themselves through societal norms and rules, pursuing lofty ideals, I think judgement, and to some extent discrimination, will always be a part of our existence. As @ernest. mentioned, there are obviously the harmless judgements and choices that come out of them, such as subjective personal preference of favorite ice cream flavors, that will always exist. However I think that even more meaningful and impactful judgements, such as forming impressions and assumptions about people, are just as unavoidable. One reason is because I still ultimately see humans as animals, and animals make judgments and choices all the time, even if they are dictated solely by instincts for survival. For example, where to live, what other animals to trust or distrust, and more. Even without being conditioned by the societies we live in, if humans existed in a form as simple and natural as possible, I think we would make judgements and choices in tune with our natural instincts like animals.

Obviously, this is not the case, but even with society’s established ideals and goals of completely unbiased people, and the power upbringing and societal influence has, I think these attempts are ultimately futile. This is because I think anywhere where there are differences that are pointed out and recognized between different things, judgements and choices will inevitably be made. For example, in Sheena Iyenger’s TED talk, she talks about how Americans, because of the importance placed on difference and choice in America, were more conditioned to judge and choose between the seven sodas offered. However, in previously Communist countries, where difference and choice was deemed unimportant and maybe even wrong in some ways, the people were more likely to not judge and choose between the seven sodas, instead seeing it as only two choices between having and not having soda. This shows that the level at which difference and choice is recognized and deemed as important by a society directly relates to how inclined people are to judge and choose. Therefore it would make sense to believe that unless a society were created where there was absolutely no recognition of difference or choice, which I do not think anybody would enjoy, people will always judge and choose to some extent. Basically, yes, we must judge and choose, because judgement and choice are inevitable side effects of recognizing difference, and are important tools in helping us do so.

For the same reasons, I do not think that judgement and choice are inherently bad or good, but I think they have the power to be either. I agree with @bebe, who noted that discrimination is where judgement and choice crosses the line and has the ability to harm people, and it is important to try and end discrimination. But I also think it is very challenging to suppress discriminatory inclinations. Because everyone is forced to judge and choose, I think everyone also inevitably has biases and preferences, even if we do not want to admit it or may not realize it. As John A Powell notes, this may come in the form of “othering”, as a result of the influence media and politics has on us. With our inevitable biases, preferences, and perhaps tendency to “other”, the natural thing to believe is that the choices born of these ugly, often hidden or unrealized, but very real feelings, would manifest as discrimination. It may not be explicit discrimination, such as thinking a certain group is less than and purposefully making choices that harm them, but it might be that the choices we make that align with supporting our biases, end up harming and oppressing other people.

I think that the only way to stop this from happening is to pull back from ourselves and our own feelings, try to recognize where we might be biased, and make judgements and decisions while recognizing our biases and trying our best to understand other people’s opinions, perspectives, and judgements. When we do this reflecting and understanding each other well, I think judgements and choices can be good. This is because it then helps each of us formulate decisions taking into account multiple perspectives and judgements from many different people, rather than just our own. I think this then leads to both individual and group decisions that are far less discriminatory and that take into account a more common good. Although this reflection and understanding is hard, I do not think discrimination is a must, and depending on our ability to carry these things out, judgement and choice can be good or bad.

With all of this in mind, I do think choice has essential roles in society. Choices are what help us differentiate things. Judgements and choices are also a part of each of our perspectives, which are essential to recognize, share, and understand. That way we can use them to make even more choices that are not discriminatory, but rather are better for us as a collective, and avoid having these judgements and choices be a bad thing. If there were no judgements or choices, I think this would have to mean there is no recognition or celebration of difference; everyone and everything would be the same, and nobody would like that. We need to find a balance between enjoying our differences, while also making sure the judgements and biases born of them do not manifest as discriminatory choices. But rather as choices that take into account everybody’s judgements and perspectives, and aim for a common good.

My lingering question is, how much choice do we as individuals really have, and how much of our choices are really just a result of our upbringings? For example, if a conservative grew up in the south in a conservative family and community, being force fed conservative views all the time, was it their choice to be a conservative? The same applies to most of us but for liberal views. How much blame or praise should people get for their choices, depending on how much their choices are based on them as individuals, versus their upbringing?

BOSTON, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 7

Originally posted by Noodles on November 11, 2020 22:55

My lingering question to you is this: do you think that humans are innately discriminatory against other humans, or is that something we are taught (i.e. do we discriminate because we hate things that are different/unknown to us or just because society tells us to)?

Post your response here.

@Noodles, I think that this is a very good and hard question. Ultimately, I do not think humans are innately discriminatory against other humans, but I also think that it is inevitable that we end up with biases for and against people. In their purest form, humans are free of the type of judgements that could lead to discrimination. But, I think as we are brought up in society, we are trained to differentiate between people, and make judgements and choices. This in turn leads to biases, as we are conditioned by society to associate these different people either positively or negatively. As we make choices based on these biases, I think they have the ability be discriminatory against other people, unless we are able to recognize our biases and understand other peoples' perspectives. Basically, I think society does tell us to discriminate as it molds peoples' judgements and biases so that we become capable of discrimination against other humans where otherwise we would not be.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 4

Nurture over Nature

My answer to Noodles’ question would be that discrimination against others would be something much more influenced by what we are taught. Essentially, I believe nurture outweighs the nature. While it can be argued that discrimination is solely based on human nature, I believe our current view on discrimination and judgement is a much more amplified version of what we are innately born with. The environment and society one grows up in largely impacts how they judge others. One’s discrimination and judgement of others can increase if they were raised in a community where that was the norm. If someone is aware of the consequences of discrimination and unfair judgement from an early age, the chances of them becoming someone discriminatory would significantly lower.

Judgement and discrimination are so heavily ingrained into our lives, and while some forms of it are certainly not necessary, they aren’t completely negative subjects. I’d most heavily attribute this to judgement, something that isn’t solely against people but also includes items, ideologies, choices, etc. We make judgements on what our next choice should be, weighing both the positive and negative effects. I would also like to agree with the points that many made with the fact that judgement and choices tie in closely to each other. Choices, which relate to personal judgements, are essential to our everyday lives.

I personally don’t believe we can exist in a world without discrimination and judgement. On top of humans naturally finding differences in each other, it would require immense unity to work together to make discrimination obsolete. Even if there was a world without discrimination, many different opinions and ideologies would still exist, and discrimination would eventually find a way to come out again.

The question I would like to ask is, how is a person’s stance on discrimination and judgment influenced by those around them? Is it something that they can change as they mature?

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 8

Luckily, I am able to answer the question brought up by @cookiemonster: If our school systems are already drastically unequal in terms of resources, how are we as a global society supposed to address systems of oppression? I have done some research on the inequalities within our public schools system, so I can provide some statistics as well.

Attending university is often thought of as a way to explore one's interest and to create equal occupational opportunities for everyone, but if attending college is unattainable for some due to a low economic status, then how does university truly offer equal occupational opportunities when some aren't even given the opportunity to attend? A study done by the U.S. Department of Education found that those among the highschool graduates in 1992 with family incomes over $75,000 were about 2.7 times more likely to be “highly qualified for admission at a four-year institution” than those with a family income below $25,000. So not only is it extremely difficult for those in poverty to afford a college tuition, but it is also difficult to be prepared academically because those in poverty don’t have the educational opportunities that those in high income households have (such as a private tutor or a private school education). With more and more jobs requiring at least some form of a college education, it is challenging for those in poverty to acquire a higher paying occupation. This causes socioeconomic mobility to remain difficult, and for the cycle to just continue on

Judging is vital. As people, we have to judge things in order to make decisions. “Which sport should I play?” Well you wouldn't be able to choose unless you looked at the negatives of each sport. If we can’t make decisions then we can’t get anything done. As individuals we need to judge things, but we also need it in our government. The laws that we have against certain crimes communicates to people that whatever that crime may be is not okay and will not be tolerated. We need to judge others for committing such crimes because then it would not be universal knowledge that such crimes are not tolerated.

We form our judgment based on what we know. In Sheena Iyenger’s TED talk, we are presented with the fact that children from different cultures respond differently to how the activities they are participating in are being administered. From Iyenger’s study, we see that people are more comfortable with what they know. This is how people can be discriminatory without even knowing or meaning to be. If something new is presented to someone, then most likely that person will be skeptical or scared even because of the fact that they have not been exposed to whatever that new thing was.

This all leaves me with the question: What is the right amount of judgment? When is it needed and when is it just cruel?

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 9

The Power of Choices

We should never discriminate, but how feasible is that really is?

Like many others before have said, I believe that judgement is innate and inevitable. The way we change, what we change, and how we judge is, of course, from the messages that media show to us, but what many forget is that our background, role, family and environment are equally as important, which I feel like @bebe, @cherryblossom, and @BlueWhale24 all sort of alluded to. Even if we do live in this American society, each of us will have slightly different ways to judge someone or interpret something differently simply because of our life situations. Somebody who also has a stutter, has a family member who stutter, or a parent who works with stuttering patients can immediately emphasize and understand what a person with a stutter is going through. Those who have never encountered this condition will simply think they are awkward or “slow” or dumb or a bumbling fool. We can’t help the backgrounds and circumstances we are born into, but one thing we can change of course is our mindset.

But like what @ernest. wrote, believing you’re totally not a racist/sexist/homophobe etc isn’t enough because these unconscious thoughts surface in the most unassuming of moments, and these unconscious thoughts surface because of what we see in our daily lives. We see certain people more in certain situations, therefore our brain unconsciously connects the two. It’s why Trump’s words or anybody of Trump’s caliber is so dangerous. Powell understands it well and deduces it’s why people are so drawn to him - the fact that he says what everybody is thinking unconsciously. However, what he says is not the whole truth. He simply grabs the most obvious part and runs with it. Instead of challenging people to question why certain people appear in certain situations more often and examining the framework of society in which these things happen, we don’t. And when powerful politicians also don’t examine the statistics or the underlying reason further, people don’t feel the need to. In other words, they remain complacent.

Like @ernest says, things like choosing whether or not the bread should stay longer in the toaster are trivial, because no one around you except for your family will see your choice. However, some things that we think are trivial, like choosing your outfit for the day, are influenced in part by how we want to represent ourselves and how we want others to think about us. This brings me to Iyengar’s Ted Talk. I’ll be blunt, though I wholly welcome a new perspective in examining what choices can do to us, I deeply disagree with her. It is true that having too many choices can cause anxiety or that making a choice from a sea of options can make us have second thoughts about what could have been if we had just picked a different option, but choices fundamentally represent freedom. It represents the different ways we can express ourselves, and if nothing else, having that choice there affirms the idea that it’s okay to be different. When the Polish man said that having different kinds of bubblegum is artificial, I disagree, because what’s wrong with someone simply disliking a flavor and preferring something else? “Because you don’t like chocolate ice cream, you must be blank.” “It’s wrong to like sugar with green tea.” This circles back to othering, showing that it’s everywhere, even in the most mundane of places, culminating into prominent examples of othering such as race.

Choices allow us to support what we want to support and push for. The Russian participant claims that choosing from many brands of soda is just choosing soda at the end, but what the participant missed is that it’s also about choosing which company values you want to support. If we only have one soda brand, we would be forced to indirectly support whatever horrible action that the brand does. However, the more brands that pop up, the higher of a chance an ethical brand could appear, which means that now we would not be forced to support a horrible brand. Of course, that’s one of the arguments for capitalism, but whether or not that could happen most of the time is an argument for another day, though @BlueWhale24 discusses a bit about the issue and @ernest discusses whether or not forcing yourself to do the ethical thing every single time is feasible.

To answer @vare’s question: The question I would like to ask is, how is a person’s stance on discrimination and judgment influenced by those around them? Is it something that they can change as they mature? I think of it as the mirror effect. Humans do this unconsciously, we mirror the people around us because we want them to like us, fit in, or think of us a certain way. Even though many of us might disagree, we are sociable creatures by nature. Our first activities have been all about hunting in groups after all. We are reliant on those around us, therefore if our parents believe a certain way, we would also be inclined to believe a certain way. If this news network that’s on TV right now thinks this certain way and presents these facts in a certain way, then the people currently watching it would be inclined to believe them in this certain way as well. If all my life everybody around me, my neighbors, my classmates, my teachers, and my family firmly believes in this one thing, it’s hard to get into the mindset that they might be wrong. After all, how do you know something that you’ve never known before?

Change happens to each and every one of us. They could be as little as preferring yellow over orange, or as big as a change as moving away to a new place. Adults tend to be more responsible, more rational, and more cautious. Do they want to admit that they were wrong? Do they want to consider new perspectives? Perhaps changes along their life, like the meeting of new and diverse people, could help bring further change. We have the capabilities to change, but the question is whether or not the person wants to change. How mature is this person? What did they encounter along the way?

One of the main points that Garza pushes is the complexity of intersectionality and how that means we have to enlarge our conversation and consider issues from many, many different sides. My question to the next person is this: Should we encourage organizations that focus on one singular aspect, such as the perils of transgender women, to better focus and hone in in that area or should we create a general organization like a group that focuses on all black issues to mobilize more people for a common goal?

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 7

And What Of Our Choices?

To first answer @vare’s question of “how is a person’s stance on discrimination and judgment influenced by those around them? Is it something that they can change as they mature?”, I think that people at an early age don’t have much of a grasp on how their choice may affect others, but in America, we’ve seen how there’s a general culture of wanting to make a choice for the benefit of oneself or as an individual. I would say that someone’s stance on discrimination can definitely be influenced by others; mob mentality usually makes the individual believe that their stance may not seem as significant or cannot make a huge difference in the scope of their community and beyond, so they decide to go with the crowd out of fear of being socially isolated or belittled by others. A person’s judgement can also be swayed when someone of a higher power exploits their fear in a strategic way in order to make them perceive the “Other”, as we’ve read in John Powell’s article. Although easier said than done, I definitely think that the person can change their judgement without the influence of others by choosing to inform themselves and gain perspective on other people’s contexts and not just going by a single narrative to dictate their thoughts. Thus, it’s easier to dispel previously thought of stereotypes of other people when one has the internal motivation to start thinking laterally.

To start off, it was an interesting experience to see the outcome of what our class decided on what they considered the “best” pepper. The experiment in itself got me thinking about why people chose the peppers they did, and how their experiences shaped the way their criteria for judging others in society. For some of us, I believe that the idea of having so many peppers to choose from seemed intimidating as we may have found individual qualities in each of them that we liked, and for others, they were set on one pepper and one pepper only. This leads me to a plethora of thoughts that I have on why we make the choices that we do, and how it affects others, as well as our whole as a society striving for a sense of togetherness and equality.

My first thought about discrimination is that it is something that will always be present in our society. We judge in order to make the choices we think are best for ourselves and for others, and we choose because it’s our responsibility to engage in what we think is most important to us. Although, there is a fine line between choice and judgement going on to discrimination; our choice should not be at the cost of someone else’s and where it can deprive them of the most basic needs in life. I agree with @speedyninja that people are bound to have their own biases and preferences, but that’s something that we cannot change, and to reference Sheena Iyenger’s talk, in the example of when American and French people chose to cut their loved ones off of life support, Americans showed a lack of closure with their decision and continued to experience negative emotions. From this, I recognized that Americans believe that the choices they make represent their individuality and their voice, thus their judgement in a complex situation is what is of utmost importance to them. In one aspect, I understand that choice in society plays major roles because it’s what allows us to recognize that there are differences among people but it’s those differences that will unify us in order to have the perception that “we” are the people and not “we, but not them”. Without choice, we wouldn’t be able to gain perspective and expose ourselves to other people’s experiences.

The idea of “Othering” made me think more about how divide in our country has gotten to the point where groups of people are being dehumanized as a result of another group’s fear of change and other influences, like a higher power. For example, following Donald Trump’s induction into office, a daughter and father from the deep South went to a restaurant in which the father questioned whether or not he should turn the waiter in to the authorities because he believed that he was an undocumented immigrant without “papers”, despite the waiter’s several years of serving them. The idea of the “Other” is formed when an explicit voice amplifies itself and people begin to follow said voice’s ideals and agenda, because they think that there are groups who are “ruining the economy” or are “suspicious and dangerous”. Their values become easily malleable, but people often only see their perception of “Othering” to be a reaction to their fear of change but this distinction is harmful as it isolates other groups and prevents them from living in a safe environment.

The question arises of how we can make this distinction and how it will work in regards to the seemingly large gap of judgements in our country. From John Powell’s article, I agree that there’s either the choice of bridging ourselves to have shared basic human decency/be understanding or we can break off into the “us vs. them” mentality which supports dehumanizing other groups. However, we need to be able to create an environment in which differences can be recognized and not feared. In addition, Alicia Garza’s podcast made a good point that identity in itself cannot initiate change but identity and a vision can. Our society doesn’t need performative activism which can be seen when companies hire women just because they’re women or hiring a person who is underrepresented for the sake of looking diverse, because it does not create change nor does it value the person for their abilities. We also need to be able to attack oppression as a whole and not compare how one is more oppressed than another because even if some things are not explicit or visible, doesn’t mean it’s not as relevant or it’s not happening. In the end, even if people don’t agree on everything, difference can give a clearer vision of what to work on.

After understanding that fear is a very prominent emotion that can severely affect people’s choice and judgement, my lingering question is this: How do you think people react out of fear of change (whether it be in their own lives or in society) and what defines a good change if people are divided in thought?

Fruit Snacks
Boston, Massachusetts , US
Posts: 9

Pepper 2 is cuter.

I didn't realize that choosing was so complex. I thought it was just harder for people that are indecisive, but choice is harder for a lot more people. Choice is influenced by the nature one grows up in. For example the choice to add sugar into green tea. For Americans having that option is normal, but for Japanese it’s outlandish, and they won’t give one sugar because it’s their job to “protect those that don’t know any better”. Similarly when the kids were given the projects and different cultures reacted differently. Some people have been given the privilege of having a choice, while others have gone through life being told what to do. I assumed everyone had that privilege, but some cultures do have the value of superiority instilled in them. Another factor is who does the choosing. In the life support ultimatum when the parents were able to choose they had more negative emotions, while when the doctor chose they expressed more positive emotions. However the Americans wouldn’t have rathered the doctor to make the choice. Choice is too powerful to be handed over to a stranger.

According to “Us vs. them”, othering is “based on the conscious or unconscious assumption that a certain identified group poses a threat to the favoured group”. It is so sad that othering occurs because it’s mainly based on outside information. Most of the time, the things being said about another group is completely false and general. Othering could be prevented if people took the time to research what they were supporting. It is okay to fear something unknown but criticizing others shouldn't be the coping mechanism. It’s not healthy, and it pushes people away. America is a melting pot, and that’s why people need to be more open minded and accepting.

I agree with Alicia Garza that white supremacy isn’t just white people. I also believe that any race can be racist. Racism is discrimination against one for their race. This doesn’t limit the definition towards a selected race. Discrimination is universal because everyone is so different. People are born into different cultures with different values. It’s not fair for all the judgement, but in a way it’s expected. In the pepper experiment during class, everyone had their own preferred pepper based on the standards they chose to place. It wasn’t meant maliciously for any of the other peppers, but that gets lost in practice in real life. Although people genuinely believe their way of thinking is correct, it shouldn’t be an excuse for the rude remarks and belittling towards others.

Do people genuinely feel they’re not hurting others with their judgement? IS it a moment of getting carried away or band wagoning?

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 8

The “We” peppers vs. the “They” peppers

I think there is always discrimination at certain levels. No matter how progressive you are or think you are, you will always have a preference towards something. By having preference we are choosing which we think is best for us. This type of discrimination is not as damaging as excluding people just because of their race or because of their size. As humans, I believe we all are programmed to judge. We judge to separate who’s irregular and throughout evolution humans have used the method to push away those who we deem as a danger. I’m not saying it’s correct to judge and have preconceptions of people, but I believe it's a trait that has been passed down. This isn’t seen in just humans, judging is seen in animals as well. In wolf packs, the pack deems which wolf is the weakest, and that wolf would be picked on and sometimes killed.

I think as the world grew and things such as consumerism and markets opened, more and more choices were available. Before when people only had what they could come by, choice wasn’t really an option. Now that there are more choices, we naturally want what we think is the best. I believe that this is a good and bad thing. Of course we all want the best, but this creates a separation in society. Those able to get the best will perpetuate the cycle of wealth and elitism. Those who can’t get the best and receive the basics, will be deemed as lower class and poor. The creation of choice leads to a separation of people and division.

I believe that there always will be roles in a society. Society is a complex and intricate system that requires different things in order for it to function. There are different ways to run a society, but a society which is supposedly equal is unachievable. There will always be a need for a leader and that alone creates a power dynamic which tips the balance of equality. Roles are needed in a society and no matter the set up of a society there will always be division.

I don’t think there is going to be a society without discrimination. People are evolved to hate and fear the things they don’t understand and the things that are different from them. As complex as a society is, the brain is even more complex. There will always be judgement and discrimination as that’s human nature.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 9

Judgement and Choices

I think that it is human nature to judge and categorize things in an attempt to understand them better. For this purpose, we have devised many complex systems of naming and classifying different things that occur in science and nature. In this context, judgement and distinction are relatively harmless, and actually beneficial. However, when we begin to assign significance and hierarchy to the qualities that define us as humans, we create the opportunity for discrimination and othering.

I think we instinctively take note of how others are different from ourselves, especially with physical and biological aspects. But why do we interpret these differences the way that we do? Why do we decide that skin color or race have any actual significance? This must all be a result of our socialization and how we are taught to perceive these differences, as there is no real distinction between races aside from physical appearance. We assume that these differences are accompanied by inherent traits that we then ascribe to certain groups. According to Powell, othering “is based on the conscious or unconscious assumption that a certain identified group poses a threat to the favoured group.” He says that this assumption is not one that humans make organically, but rather as a result of the demagoguing of politicians and the media. He says that most of the time people are unfamiliar with those they are othering, which is yet another example of why diverse, inclusive education is so essential. There is such a wide range of books, film, and media dedicated to this purpose, and school must use them to humanize the people their students would never encounter in their daily life before dangerous misconceptions become ingrained in their minds. However, I also think that one can encounter members of a certain group everyday and still harbor dangerous implicit biases. The real test is in how you confront those biases that exist within yourself. I once heard that your first judgement about a person is made through the lens of society. Your initial thoughts about them might reflect what you have been taught to believe or notice first, but what comes after are your own original thoughts and perceptions. I don’t know if this is true at all, but, like @speedyninja, I do believe that we all need to make an effort to fight against the prejudices that have been instilled in our minds by the world around us if we want to defeat discrimination.

When I say defeat discrimination, I don’t mean completely eradicate it, because that would be impossible givent he history of our nation. We can certainly limit it and increase accountability for those who engage in it, but we wil probably never achieve a “post othering” or “post racial” society. Not when most of our institutions were founded on racism and other forms of othering. Powell has demonstrated how easily even the slightest difference between a group can be weaponized for political gain, and so I fear that this practice of othering will continue indefinitely into the future. However, I am hopeful that the behavior of our new leadership will set an example that the aggressive, hateful dehumanizing language we have seen in the past 4 years will no longer be tolerated. But then again, othering can also take more subtle, sinister forms, which can be just as harmful.

I agree with many of my classmates that we need to find the commonalities in each of our identities and use them to band together in our advocacy. @lurando posed the question, Should we encourage organizations that focus on one singular aspect, such as the perils of transgender women, to better focus and hone in in that area or should we create a general organization like a group that focuses on all black issues? And my response is that the larger the numebrs behind a cause, the better. In our country we have a large variety of different interest groups, some with more narrow, single-issue interests, some with very broad goals. Of course, it is always those who have the most funding and support who see the greatest results. Therefore I think it is best for us to unite whenever possible and prioritize intersectionality. That is what Alicia Garza sought to do through her initiative, which hadn’t yet begun at the time the podcast was filmed. She aimed to unite and empower women of all backgrounds, especially marginalized ones, through their shared anger and passion at the political conditions of the country at the time. But in order to truly uphold intersectionality, we must make an effort to elevate individual voices within these larger groups, like transwomen within the black and feminist communities.

On the topic of Iyenger’s Ted Talk, some of my classmates have stated that an abundance of choices can be more detrimental than beneficial, however I can’t imagine any real life situation where this would have a significant negative impact. Having more than just a few choices could be somewhat anxiety inducing, and could raise the chances of choosing a less favorable option. But it could also mean a wider array of favorable options, it is so dependent on the individual situation that it is difficult to generalize. We should be able to trust ourselves to make the best possible choice for ourselves, and then to reconcile with the consequences if we were mistaken. I think that having a multitude of choices is essential to maintaining freedom and democracy. As Iyenger said, this is a typical belief for an American, as it’s been enforced by our capitalist society since the beginning, as @BlueWhale24 discussed, and it was fascinating to learn about how this differs across cultural lines. She explains how, when making choices,some will apply a collective outlook which sharply contrasts the individualistic mentality many Americans have when making these same decisions. I think that when one’s choice will have an effect on others, like when voting in a federal election, it is irresponsible to consider only one’s own best interest. However it is not the government’s place to prohibit these choices, and we must instead hope to cultivate empathy in our citizens through education and exposure to more perspectives. On an individual level, although having less choice may contribute to greater contentment or peace of mind in certain situations, as Iyenger points out with the example of French hospitals, I believe that it would be contradictory to core democratic values to limit one’s ability to choose in any situation, no matter how reckless or self destructive their choice might be.

Speaking of self destructive, I hope that no one else has a sleep schedule as poor as mine, but in case there is anyone who has not yet responded, I’d like to ask them about identity politics. I find the concept itself somewhat confusing and vague, as everyone’s political views are shaped by the experiences that result from their identities. Garza referred to both Stacey Abrams’ campaign for governor, which sounds like it included people of many different identities, and Donald Trump’s campaign for president as examples of identity politics. I thought this was interesting because I had never heard identity politics discussed in terms of a white identity. I’ve only heard it in reference to people of marginalized identities, sometimes as a way to belittle or invalidate their perspectives. I need to do more research into this myself, but I’m wondering: What is your opinion of identity politics? Are they a productive, unifying force, or one that encourages competition between marginalized groups and distracts from the real issues in an election?
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 7

Can education solve othering and discrimination?

Must we discriminate? At first glance it seems like a no brainer. We shouldn't discriminate on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.. however the question opens up after you realize that we discriminate in our everyday lives. The word discriminate means to recognize a distinction. When we are young, we differentiate objects in size, color, shape. It's how we process the world. It's easier to see the differences than to see the similarities. However, it becomes confusing when we apply this to people.

I absolutely hate it when people say "I don't see color!" or "I didn't even notice" when speaking to a person with a disability that is blatantly obvious. We have been trained to see differences since we were young (or maybe it's inherent.. I still don't know the answer) and it's ridiculous to say that you don't see them because it's not necessarily bad to notice these differences. Because when you say that you don't see "___," then it completely undermines the person's experiences. It assumes that everyone is on an equal playing field and that everybody had the same upbringing. There is inequality in this world and it's important to realize these inequalities. However, on the opposite side it's also important that you shouldn't "other" a person too extremely because of their differences; this leads to dehumanization. In John Powell's article, it talks about the us vs. them mentality. I absolutely think that it's harmful because it creates fear. Humans innately fear the unknown and when people exaggerate these differences, it leads to a fear of an entire community. This can be seen in simple stereotypes or the generalization of people in politics. In America, Trump uses othering to his advantage. He knows that his demographic consists mainly of white, Christian men and uses othering in order to scare his supporters into believing that these groups are trying to get rid of the choices of Americans, e.g. Mexicans stealing the jobs of Americans and Democrats getting rid of the rights to bear arms from Americans. Instead we should unite our differences as alluded to in Garza's podcast. We should also make sure that minorities are working together to fight the oppressor and to not fight each other. It's easy to get lost in the differences that we forget what we're advocating for. Marginalized groups should stick out for each other and not turn it into the oppression olympics. See the differences. Choose to acknowledge the differences and work together in order to solve the bigger problem.

Then should an authority figure mandate what choices we make based on a consensus that a certain moral is correct? We can hypothetically live in a world where discrimination does not exist. No racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism, etc. and we are punished if we do any of those things. I personally think that we shouldn't feel like we are forced to be "good." Instead we should actively try to avoid these things and choose to not discriminate. We should choose follow the golden rule: treat others how you want to be treated. This can be done with education. But sometimes education doesn't always work..

I thought that @ernest's reference to child labor was quite interesting because I have found myself stuck in that same dilemma. I have the resources and education to know that there are industrial and developing countries that don't provide their workers with the proper conditions and pay them less than the minimum wage or even countries that use child labor in order to create their products at a very cheap price. However, I still buy products made in these countries because I want good quality products in order to enhance my own life. Will I be cancelled? Am I supporting child labor? I firmly believe that no person should be exploited in the work force and people should be treated as humans. But, I live in such a capitalistic society that sometimes it's not possible to avoid buying these products because one way or another, there will be something wrong with the choices I make. Do my choices even matter at this point? I find this argument also linked to becoming vegan. I know that becoming vegan is ultimately better for our world. Because the demand for animal products will go down if everyone decides to make the choice of becoming vegan, the carbon footprint will reduce dramatically. However, will everybody make that decision? There will be people who make the choice to become vegan and there will be people who will stay as a meat lover. Even with the education, people will make different choices depending on how they prioritize themselves. Or maybe that's just because choices are so emphasized in America, that the thought of removing a choice is associated with removing a person's freedom.

Are choices essential to making society function? Somewhat. I was intrigued by the experiment mentioned in Iyengar's TedTalk. Why is it that the kids from Asia performed better on tasks when told that it was assigned by an authority figure such as their Mom or a Miss and Western kids did better when tasks are done by free will. This is a difference of cultures. In Eastern countries, there is this duty to better the community. People feel like they have an obligation to help others. For example, in Japan there is no littering and there are always empty seats for pregnant women and the elderly. People are taught these values of respect by authority figures and so if they are given the choice to litter or take up a free seat, they won't. In Western countries, capitalism has seem to influence the idea of choices and it has been associated with a person's freedom. Both societies are still functioning but one prioritizes the individual while the other prioritizes the community.

To tackle @BlueWhale24's question, I feel like it is difficult to combat extreme consumerism and I don't even know an exact answer. Since America's founding, people have emphasized the idea of freedom and capitalism encourages this with consumers buying any product they want or the notion that anyone can rise to economic success. This coupled with the divided political tensions, it's difficult to convince an entire nation that this system is inherently bad. The best way is to educate people in a way that they feel like they are still having their freedom of choice. People are afraid of socialism because they feel like they stripped of choice and are forced to pay for some else's healthcare. But if people are taught that they should better the community, they will make that choice and will be willing to pay.

Lingering question: What is the best number of choices? As Iyengar said in the TedTalk, a person can have a sense of freedom when given many option, but too many choices can cause a person to feel overwhelmed. On the flip hand, a limited choice pool can ease a person's indecisiveness but what if the choices are both bad? This ties into the "lesser of two evils" dilemma that America seems to have in politics.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 3

Capsicum or Pepper?

As others have been saying, judgement of others and items is an inherent part of being a human being. It is that defense mechanism utilized by our ancestors to protect themselves in certain situations, to detect when danger is amuck and make decisions that they think would be best for their survival. We aren’t the only species to do so, either. However, just as we’ve evolved in our thinking and developed structures in society, I think another realization that we must make is we don’t exactly have free will and that’s because of what judgements have been made acceptable by society at large in regards to basic moral distinctions (both being incredibly nuanced though). The government’s existence in society is, after all, to abide by the social contract and keep individual’s free will. . . which of course can mean inflicting violence or robbing a person of his life or resources, so that created the necessity for law. Hence positions such as ‘judge’ and ‘police’ officers. So therefore, there is a necessity to make judgments and discriminate at times. . . which is also why we discern circumstantial judgments when someone’s acting out of place or abnormally, or even displaying toxic or abusive behavior. Again, it circles back as an act of self-preservation which can manifest in a positive or negative manner. The actions which result from trying to do is where judgement has to come into play to discern whether it’s justified or not. I’ll say it again, judgement is a necessity in keeping society in order but I also recognize that it does have its consequences when we put it in the hands of other human beings who can have their own clouded judgements as we can see from blatant racial and gender discrimination within the judicial system. I am appalled to see that only eight states have passed legislative bans on gay and or trans panic defense and that the juvenile court system actively targets low-income black communities and perpetuates a cycle of re-incarceration.

Then there’s the judgements that aren’t based on the law and influence us as individuals because they manifest as societal pressure, but again, toxic and abusive behavior can still happen from this. I think even with the strides to recognize more implicit biases and belief systems within movements such as feminism and Black Lives Matter, there're still large problems that remain from lack of intersectionality, one of the main points I had taken from the podcast with Alicia Garza. And of course, as Sheena Iyenger’s TEDTalk points out, happens even on the small-scale of discerning between different sodas like Pepsi or Coca-Cola. As much as I don’t believe that we can move away from our innate judgements, I believe that the way we go about communicating with people on a day-to-day basis should be changed. I’d like to quote the film Prodigy where the psychologist, Dr. Fonda is analyzing his patient, “If I had read this, it would have colored my perception of you before we met. Now personally I prefer to hear from the individual in question rather than focusing on a particular problem or mistake they’ve made.” It made me think about the things people say about other people that I have yet to meet or get to know personally and make me make automatic assumptions about their personality or behaviors. I do, however, prioritize the fact that I am a human being above all other things and apply that to everyone I encounter but also try to understand what they prioritize in their identity. You can have judgement, but it doesn’t mean you can’t respect and appreciate others opinions.

To respond to @Sippycup’s question, I would say that there is no best number of choices to be decided for every single individual, some people are more decisive than others, where that feeling of being overwhelmed comes is different for everyone. It’s why workplaces will only accept a certain number of applicants by a certain deadline. . . to create a limit that works for that area. In application to politics, the governmental system that was created from our innate ability to judge also had people understanding that giving large amounts of power to one person can cause great detriment to a country which is also why we have the checks and balances to keep individuals and systems in check. Given, anything created by a human, in my opinion, will have its flaws. Biden being referred to as the ‘lesser of two evils’ would certainly not be applicable to how all his supporters view him, though you could apply the reverse where someone who voted for Trump would see him as the lesser evil. I think the lack of bipartisanship in our country nowadays actually creates that notion, therefore, if you can’t completely agree with the sentiments and goals of one candidate, you’ll consider them the lesser of two evils because you have to make a decision based on the system. . . I also realize this is applicable to so many other areas. Though if both choices are bad, I’d think then reform in legislation must be advocated for. I must conclude that nearly all of my blustering above, are just all of my own imperfect judgments.

My question is, how could judgment not exist in our society? I personally just can’t see how it wouldn’t, though I would like to see if I can be proven wrong.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 8

Decisions, decisions, decisions

I’ve always thought of choice as one of the most beautiful things a human being can experience. I love making choices, its one of my favorite things to do. I should I have pizza or spaghetti for dinner, and if I regret my choice it doesn’t matter because I can always choose the other option tomorrow night. Everyday we have to make choices that define our lives. Should I wake up on time today or should I sleep in? Should I go class today or should I skip and do something else? Obviously most people choose the “right choice, the choice that leads to more productivity. Waking up on time and going to every class. I think about these choices all the time later in the week. I think to myself: “What would have have happened if I slept on Tuesday”, but I didn’t and it was probably a good thing I didn’t. But choice, isn’t just limited to food and waking up early it extends much further. It extends to what people believe and take pride in believing. Religion and political parties are just some of the things choice extends into. Ms. Iyengar stated that Americans are so involved in their ability to make a choice, wrong or right, that they feel entitled to it. But people need to know how to make good and bad choices, because that is what life is, it is nothing but good and bad decisions, we make that shape us. With that idea in mind we must discriminate and judge people. We all know the famous Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quote. “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”. The change Dr. King was advocating for was not to never judge people, but to never judge them by the color of their skin. And the content of a person’s character is wholly dependent on the everyday choices they make. There is no argument for why we should not judge serial killers or rapists. We can look at some of the factors that pushed them towards certain actions. Something that happened in their life like child abuse and neglect. At the end of the day they still did the things they did and need to be pushed for it. Observing the content of a person’s character is the ultimate form of judgement and society needs that judgement. Someone might say “who are we judge” what a certain person does or doesn’t do, and to an extent, truely who are we to judge? Who am I to judge a person who likes pineapple on pizza when I’ve never had it? The answer is I have no right to judge someone like that, but I do have a right to judge murderers even though I’ve never killed someone. There are limits to what a person can and can’t be judged for.

To answer the question of “What’s the point of judgement?”, is easier said then done. Again what’s the point of judging someone who likes pineapple on pizza. There is no point in this situation. Its just a topping and you’ll forget about that person in a week, and if that person for some reason makes you angry to the point where you complain about that person to other people, and you’re angry for a week, you have a problem. The point of judgement, I think, is to separate what is socially acceptable and what is socially unacceptable. And again some people think society should reject people who put pineapple on pizza, and some people think society should accept people who murder. To compare it to a another phase we’ve heard, “What separates humans from animals?”. Some people think it is the ability to feel love and pain. Some people think it is the ability to form a complex system where there are people on the top and people on the bottom. I think it is the ability to judge. To skip ahead on the question Ms. Freeman gave us: “Are they [choices] essential to making society function?” Yes, the ability as a group of people to look at something one person is doing and deem it as a bad action, is what makes the wheel of society turn. The point of judgement is to create society that separates humans from animals. In our society there are main people whose job is to make choices for our society. “Are there roles for choices in society?” Politicians, police officers, and paramedics. We as a society expect them to perform at their very best all the time. When these people have an “off day”, society turns on them because they make the choices, keeping us safe. It is these people’s job to make choices we can’t make. When you’re having a seizure on the ground it is society’s expectation, the paramedic makes the right choices to keep you alive. We leave the tough decisions up to these people, because our lives are in their hands.

“Must we choose?”. Yes, we must choose. Everyday we must choose between right and wrong. To wake up early or to drive safe. For some people it is one of the hardest decisions they make on a day to day basis. Comedian Bill Burr, has a joke that illiterates this. It is along the lines of “All it takes is someone driving a car to angle their wheel a couple degrees to the right or to the left to create a mass casualty event.” Some people want to angle the wheel or bring a gun to school and some people do it. We must choose, because the lives of people we never met depend on our choices. Some people also choose between italian or japanese for dinner, or else they simply just don’t eat that night because there’s nothing in the fridge.

“Are these good or bad things or somewhere in between?” I interpret this question as: “Are good or bad choices somewhere in between choices?”. I don’t think there’s anything such thing as an “in between choice”, either the choice was bad or it was good. Either you like pineapple on pizza or you don’t simple, but also “did you kill that person in cold blood or not?” simple. There are very good choices and just good choices. Deciding to study for the ap exam is a very good choice and holding the door open for a stranger is a good choice. There are also very bad choices and just bad choices. Drunk driving is a very bad choice and not doing one math homework is a bad choice.

My question is, how could judgment not exist in our society? I personally just can’t see how it wouldn’t, though I would like to see if I can be proven wrong.

Like you j4n3.d03 I also believe judgment not exist in our society. But to try and answer your question I’ll play devil’s advocate. A society that doesn’t judge would be a morally relevant society a society where everyone opinion matters and nothing can be said to put another person down because their opinion is just as valid as the next person’s. A person can murder and nothing can be said against them because their views matter just as much as the person whose partner was just killed. A society like this doesn’t exist. It can’t. It will tear itself apart. To compare it to pop culture it would be like The Purge, 12 hours where you can do whatever you want, but in a morally relevant society the twelve hours never end. Our society works because (most of the time) people see something and they all shout out thats wrong and they judge and punish perpetrators of crimes.

My question to my fellow classmates is this: “Where is the line for something that is acceptable and unacceptable for you? Is it more or less than society’s standard”

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