The End of Bias: How We Change Our Minds by Jessica Nordell was published in September 2021. The Amazon blurb notes that the book was shortlisted for a couple of awards and named a ‘Best Book of the Year’ by several organisations:
It’s not often I agree with blurbs without reservation. The book is a beautifully written overview of what is known about bias – which is a lot. The insights are subtle and deep, and the stories compelling. It’s as solid a grounding on the subject of bias as you will find.
What is bias?
The Neuroleadership Institute says, “If you have a brain, you have a bias.” It’s a shortcut, and hence unconscious, way of making choices and decisions based upon data gleaned from nurture, culture, and experience. That data is classified according to whether it is a threat or a reward. It is a fast and energy efficient process.
But that process now lacks several important attributes. The data may be wrong or out of date, and it is not context sensitive. There were times when the relatively simple bias-based process provided a quick, accurate and appropriate basis for a choice or decision. That is why such a process is hardwired into our brains.
However, things have changed. Our social groups, especially in a work context, have become more diverse, and our overall environments more complex. The simple binary mechanism isn’t the best tool for delivering optimal choices and decisions anymore.
We must reprogram our capacity for bias to avoid, or favour, a different set of attributes. For this to happen we must want it to happen; and be prepared to put in a reasonable amount of effort to make the reprograming stick.
What can you do?
I have been reading/listening to material on Inclusion and Diversity for the past 8 months pretty much as a fulltime occupation. Some things are very clear. Changing attitudes takes effort. It’s about building habits of thought and feeling. The best approach is little and often over a long time with a certain level of consistency. It’s like how you learned to drive. You started off with a massive cognitive and emotional load, and over time the essentials of driving became unconscious. But you still have to maintain conscious awareness of circumstances and contexts.
Treat reading/listening to The End of Bias: How We Change Our Minds like a really great driving instructor. Effort will be required, but the experience could even be enjoyable. Afterwards, it’s up to you to take advantage what you have discovered, but you have gotten your bias L plates.
I come across a lot of books I put into a ‘good to read’ category. There are a few that make it to my ‘must read’ category. The End of Bias is one of that few.
Because of my disability I prefer audiobooks and ebooks. I can do both on a smartphone. Both are way cheaper than hardcopy mostly. For example, I bought my copy of The End of Bias audiobook for AUD$11.65. The current paperback price on Amazon is AUD $21.64. That doesn’t include postage. An audiobook can be 1/3 the cost of a paperback.
I walk very slowly with the aid of crutches. That’s time I can waste on ‘monkey mind’ chatter, or I can spend it listening to something more intelligent and worthwhile. I listen to audiobooks and walk – it’s one of the few times I can do 2 things at once these days. If you are not a fan of audiobooks, please reimagine the benefits and opportunities they bring – whether you have a disability or not.