The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tolerance and Me

I have posted a couple of items about prejudice and bias. And, because of something I recently read elsewhere, I thought I would address the subject again. From a slightly different angle.

Tolerance. There are a number of definitions for the word but, for our purposes here, these from Dictionary.com will suffice:

1. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry.
2. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one's own.
3. interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one's own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint.
4. the act or capacity of enduring; endurance: My tolerance of noise is limited.

There is one more, which my brother-in-law made me aware of. He was a career officer in the US Army and he had a peer who was black (or, if you prefer, African-American). This black officer, he says, once told him he did not like the concept of tolerance as it used in terms of viewing minorities. It seems he viewed tolerance as toleration which implies the allowance or sufferance of conduct with which one is not in accord.

In other words, it perpetuated the idea that someone, a member of a minority, was inferior.

I am not often impressed with my brother-in-law. And he is not what I would call tolerant in terms of the first 4 definitions. But this story is one I happened to like and the lesson one with which I agree. When we speak of being tolerant, we ought to agree on what it means.

While doing a little research (being lazy, I only do a little research), I came across a method of testing for bias on the www.tolerance.org website. So, of course I took the offered test.

At first, I was a little surprised at the results. After all, I consider myself fairly tolerant in terms of the first four definitions I offered. And, especially, when it comes to religion (which this test was concerned with). Mentally, I took issue with the methodology used. After all, testing methods can biased in their own way and reflect certain feelings the test-maker holds. But, after more consideration, I decided it was not so far out of line and its methodology might be useful in determining sub-conscious tendencies.

I won't reveal the results of my test but I will say it gave me pause.

I recommend it to anyone who is curious about his or her own feelings and about whether he or she really knows what they are. This link will take you to the test...

http://www.tolerance.org/activity/test-yourself-hidden-bias


You might be surprised at the results.

4 comments:

MilesPerHour said...

I really like your post. You define the word as it should be and with grace. Being so close to the subject I know what it means and I thank you.

Oh, and let me say GF and I tolerate alot about each other because of our love and that tolerance has nothing to do with our races.

Douglas said...

Miles, thank you. Successful couples practice the best kind of tolerance, I think. There is a "tolerance" that is a term for "allowable deviation from optimum." It is a term used by those who work in engineering, machining, and equipment maintenance (among other fields). Since humans are not perfect, we all deserve some tolerance.

The Jules said...

"Your data suggests:
Little to no automatic preference between Straight People and Gay People."

Er, I beg to differ.

I like boobs!

Steven said...

I was excitedly clicking on the last page of the survey to see my results when the experimental browser I'm running had an explosion. Now I gotta do it all over sometime.