CHAPTER SIXTEEN: Movement Bias
There is another thing that impacts the accuracy of dead reckoning that is not an externality, but rather resides within the man himself. It is his innate tendency to circumvent obstacles in a particular direction, either to the left or to the right. This “movement bias” is something that every man has. Whether it be a boulder, tree, ravine or swamp, a man will unconsciously bypass it to the same side almost every time, which will cause him to vary from his azimuth in that direction over the course of his movement. The longer the movement, the greater the variance will be.
A man’s movement bias will seriously threaten his ability to locate his objective quickly if he doesn’t learn to account for it. Over time, I learned that my movement bias was to the right, so I didn’t waste any time searching to that side. I only looked to my left, because I knew my tendency was to move in the other direction. If I missed my objective, as I often did, I knew from experience that my movement bias would have caused me to miss to the right.
Just as every soldier has a movement bias that will nudge him off the correct azimuth when he is navigating through the woods, every man has a viewpoint bias that will lead him astray in life if he doesn’t learn to account for it.
To be clear, I refer here to biases based upon ideas or things, not against a set of people based upon their immutable characteristics or the fact that they don’t share the same beliefs. That’s not viewpoint bias, its prejudice, which is the stock-in-trade of the Orist and something against which the Minivan Centurion must discipline himself.
For example, a man can have a bias against ballroom dancing, but if he feels antipathy toward ballroom dancers as a group, that’s not a bias, it’s a prejudice in the form of a preconceived assumption founded upon classification rather than reason or experience. His opinion that ballroom dancing is a waste of time (probably because he has two left feet) does not logically support the notion that all ballroom dancers are bad people. A man could be a ballroom dancing fiend and still be a lovely person. In fact (in my experience) most are. But a man can only make that discovery if he is an Andist who will not allow his bias against ballroom dancing lead him to be prejudiced against its practitioners. That’s what an Orist would do.
It is of prejudice rather than bias to which Martin Luther King referred when he said he looked to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Like him, the Minivan Centurion is a man of hope who believes that prejudice is something above which humans will someday rise. But he is also an Andist who recognizes that viewpoint bias (just like movement bias) has and always will be with us, as nothing changes under the sun. It is baked into our capacity to reason, which is what provides us the free will to decide for ourselves what we believe or reject.
In this sense, viewpoint bias standing alone is neither a good nor bad thing, but rather a innate characteristic that has the capacity to lead to a positive or negative outcome depending upon how a man uses it. If he employs his viewpoint bias to Collision Learn, he will grow as a man and be an asset. Conversely, if he allows it to close his mind, he will stultify and become a liability.
Because his credo drives him to be an asset, the Minivan Centurion is a Collision Learner who regards viewpoint bias as a tool that can be used to build up or tear down, like a hammer. Good Carpenter that he is, he doesn’t blame his tools when he fails to reach his objective. Instead, he looks first to himself and considers whether he has sufficiently accounted for his viewpoint bias if he finds himself varying from the proper azimuth.
Unfortunately, that perspective is a radical notion to the predominant culture, which blends bias and prejudice into a single pernicious cocktail that it purports to be unfit for human consumption under any circumstances. That is a fallacy of a mind closed by the over-reliance upon didacticism to the exclusion of the search for wisdom.
Full-throated didacticism is the antithesis of Collision Learning because it relies solely on classroom instruction and the unilateral provision of a pre-determined set of beliefs that demand unquestioning adoption by the recipient. Under didacticism, one is required to simply memorize every “fact” that he is provided rather than engage in critical thinking to determine for himself whether it is valid or true. It is the jamming a fact-funnel into a man’s mouth to force preconceived notions down his throat.
This type of didacticism leaves no room for argument, which is the forceful juxtaposition of opposing viewpoints to learn. As I said in Chapter Nine, argument (together with failure and adversity) is one of the three indispensable components of Collision Learning. It is through argument that ideas are tested, sharpened, and advanced—or exposed as meritless and abandoned. Without the litigators’ arguments, a judge cannot reach a just determination. Without reasoned debate, a legislature cannot pass a just ordinance. Without the clash of viewpoints that argument provides, the accumulation of wisdom is not possible.
For the Minivan Centurion, wisdom is like an objective tucked into the deep dark woods. Finding it requires disciplined movement over uneven ground through periods of high stress and limited visibility. Because he is an Andist, he anticipates that the integrity of his movement will be adversely impacted by his viewpoint bias, and that what he believes at the start point will vary considerably from what he discovers when he gets to his objective. For the Minivan Centurion, this is simply part of the compromised adventure of a man who has strong beliefs that are loosely held. He seeks wisdom because he would rather do right than be right.
Conversely, the Orist does not view wisdom as an objective that requires movement to obtain. Nor does he recognize viewpoint bias as innate to all men and necessary to our capacity to argue and reason for ourselves. Instead, he conflates bias into prejudice and declares himself above both. He is a “good” person with the “right” beliefs to which he persistently clings with ever-whitening knuckles. As a result, the Orist is not moving anywhere. In fact, you will need to move to him or risk bearing the brunt of his rage—for him, being right is an idol that trumps everything else. He is a bad carpenter.
The Fat Ted also rejects wisdom, but for a different reason than the Orist. He doesn’t care about being right, he just wants to avoid the personal discomfort inherent in movement. This leads him to pass on the Andist’s invitation to think for himself in favor of having the Orist’s fact-funnel jammed into his mouth, simply because it is easier to succumb to having preconceived notions rammed into his brain than it would be to search for his own objective. As such, he is a mere male who has disabled his Three Dots of courage, strength, and commitment. He is not a carpenter at all.
Confronted as he is by the rigidity of Orists and the fecklessness of Fat Teds, the Minivan Centurion will be continually tempted to surrender his own commitment to movement and abandon his Family Truckster at the roadside. He may even take a tug or two on the didactic fact-funnel because it seems easier to be told what to think and do by the Meteorologist Jims than it is to exercise his agency and think for himself.
About that, he would be correct. It is easier to be told what to think and slip into the comfortable numbness of agency-free passivity. To help him resist that tempting siren song, the Minivan Centurion has a credo, a statement of beliefs and objectives that guide his actions. And that credo requires him to stay in the fight and serve the people who depend upon him throughout his compromised adventure. It requires him to be an asset.
Ultimately, he never quits because he has no right to do so. He is Purposeful Mud, equipped with Three Dots by a Creator who alone will decide when he has reached the ultimate objective of his life.
Until then, he must continue to move. His bias must be to movement.