Monday, January 31, 2011

Does bias have a place in the problem solving process?

Let's say you have a problem. In order to determine if a course of action is the best choice to solve that problem, the logical process would be to determine -

A) What the goal is (What do I want?)
B) What possible courses of action are there to accomplish that goal (How do I get what I want?)
C) What other side effects or consequences are there for each chosen action (What else will/might happen?)

If this process is reviewed considering ALL possible solutions and ALL possible consequences, wouldn't it be reasonable to assume this would have the best chance to find the best solution?

If bias is included in this process, it precludes the ability to accurately determine the problem and analyze all possible solutions and their side effects. How likely is it that the best solution (or any solution) will be found with such limited scope?

This is the problem that anti-gun bias causes for finding a solution to violent crime. The only problem they try to solve is firearm-related violent crime (ignoring or barely acknowledging that non-firearm related violent crime even exists), and their only proposed solutions revolve around firearms. Due to their bias, they can only see access to firearms as the cause of the problem, so that is the only solution they choose to pursue.

Unfortunately, their bias also instills a false sense of logic. They think that because dangerous people can get firearms, that limiting access is the only logical solution. They see this as a simple 1+1=2 formula, easy access + guns = "gun violence." Because their bias prevents them from realizing their narrow scope of the problem, they don't realize that it's more of a 1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1=10 formula. They refuse to see that there are MANY factors in violent crime, including several socio-economic issues (poverty, lack of quality education, racism, gang activity), failures of the criminal justice system, the "war on drugs," and our society's trend to not hold people accountable and responsible for their own actions. Because of their prejudice against firearms, they believe guns are the only (or at least the biggest) cause of the issue, in spite of having no evidence to show for it.

Due to their prejudice, they also fail to see and consider the benefits of guns in our society, and the negative consequences of gun control on those benefits. They fail to believe or factor in studies that show how many defensive gun uses occur, so they do not understand or weigh the consequences that stricter gun control will have on law-abiding, peaceably armed citizens.

Finally, their skewed sense of logic fails to allow them to comprehend that their suggested solutions simply don't work. In spite of being unable to prove any positive effect of gun control anywhere in the world, they continue to believe that if access to firearms is reduced, less criminals will get them, and the violent firearm-related crime rate will go down as a result.

Bias and prejudice has no place in a problem-solving process, it limits the view of the problem, eliminates solutions from being considered, and prevents accurate analysis of the possible side effects of proposed solutions.

As always, comments are encouraged.


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