No one to blame but themselves

The “No one to blame but themselves” rule “implies that once someone breaks a rule, you can do whatever you want to them and you cannot be blamed. We need that one mortal sin which will let us revoke a person's status as a human worthy of dignity, respect, empathy or anything else.

I think the reason so many racists could pass an ‘Are you a racist?’ polygraph test is that they don't think minorities are inhuman due to their color, but rather their supposed criminality.. The single hint of a single minor crime meant absolutely anything done in response is justified.. They all think their daily cruelty is in response to some extreme provocation.

If cruelty wears justice as a disguise, then anyone who believes in justice is at risk.”

David Wong writing for Cracked

A Second Look

A famous classical musician slipped on jeans and a baseball cap. He then took his million dollar Stradivarius violin into the Washington, DC metro and played for passengers. They were not impressed because he didn't look the part of a professional. He wasn’t wearing concert attire or playing in a concert hall.

A toddler was brought into the emergency room of a hospital for three straight days. But doctors dismissed her symptoms because of her mother’s behavior. On the third visit, the girl died.

In their book "Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior," Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman say these are examples of premature labeling.

Before you determine the inherent worth of someone or something, take a deep breath and make sure your first impression isn’t keeping you from seeing what's really going on.

Stephen Goforth

The Halo Effect

If you like the president’s politics, you probably like his voice and his appearance as well. The tendency to like (or dislike) everything about a person–including things you have not observed–is known as the halo effect. The term has been in use in psychology for a century, but it has not come into wide use in everyday language. This is a pity, because the halo effect is a good name for a common bias that plays a large role in shaping our view of people and situations. It is one of the ways the representation of the world that system one generates is simpler and more coherent than the real thing.

You meet a woman named Joan at a party and find her personable and easy to talk to. Now her name comes up as someone who could be asked to contribute to a charity. What do you know about Joan's generosity? The correct answer is that you know virtually nothing, because there is little reason to believe that people who are agreeable in social situations are also generous contributors to charities. But you like Joan and you will retrieve the feeling of liking her when you think of her. You also like generosity and generous people. By association, you are now predisposed to believe that Joan is generous. And that you believe she is generous you probably like Joan eve better than you did earlier, because you have added generosity to her pleasant attributes.

The sequence in which we observe characteristics of a person is often determined by chance. Sequence matters, however, because the halo effect increase the weight of the first impressions, sometimes to the point that subsequent information is mostly wasted.

Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow

a stone and a rusty nail

How do we keep from developing judgmental attitudes? This used to be my big hang-up when I first started counseling. Whenever people shared their problems with me, I found myself thinking,

“If he had stay away from the wrong crowd, this would never have happened.”

“He should have known better.”

“A little common sense could have prevented this…”

“A good lecture show sort her out.”

One day I shared my difficulties with an older counselor, who said, “That used to be my problem, too- and this is how I overcame it.’

Reaching into a desk drawer he took out a stone and a rusty nail.

‘I keep these here,’ he said, "For a special reason. The stone to remind me of the text, 'Let him who is without sin.. be the first to throw a stone' and the nail to remind me what a Friend did for me a long, long time ago on a hill called Calvary."

Since then, whenever I counsel anyone who has gone astray, I say to myself, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

a Counselor

Irritation with Others Mistakes

The imperative person has very idealistic expectations. Only the best is acceptable. Frailties, common to our humaness, are despise. The result is a strong tendency to look up on anything less than ideal with disdain. That's why imperative people often admit, “I get irritated when other people make mistakes.” or “I tend to do an important job myself because someone might not do it right.” Or “I get impatient when other people can't understand what needs to be done.”

So, clutching onto our high ideals, we tend to hold ourselves above others. False superiority is felt. Condemnation is communicated. Annoyance is a constant companion. Relationships suffer. (All the while), the impaired person must cling to correctness.

Les Carter, Imperative People: Those Who Must Be in Control

Seeing music

When Julie Landsman auditioned for the role of principal French horn at the Metropolitan Opera of New York (Met for short), the screens had just gone up in the practice hail. At the time, there were no women in the brass section of the orchestra, because everyone “knew” that women could not play the horn as well as men. But Landsman came and sat down and played—and she played well.

But when they declared her the winner and she stepped out from behind the screen, there was a gasp. It wasn’t just that she was a woman, and female horn players were rare.. And it wasn’t just that bold, extended high C, which was the kind of macho sound that they expected from a man only. It was because they knew her. Landsman had played for the Met before as a substitute. Until they listened to her with just their ears, however, they had no idea she was so good.

When the screen created a pure Blink moment, a small miracle happened, the kind of small miracle that is always possible when we take charge of the first two seconds: they saw her for who she truly was.

Malcolm Gladwell, Blink

Behind the Curtain

The world of classical music—particularly in its European home—was until very recently the preserve of white men. Women, it was believed, simply could not play like men. They didn’t have the strength, the attitude, or the resilience for certain kinds of pieces. Their lips were different. Their lungs were less powerful. Their hands were smaller. That did not seem like a prejudice. It seemed like a fact, because when conductors and music directors and maestros held auditions, the men always seemed to sound better than the women. No one paid much attention to how auditions were held, because it was an article of faith that one of the things that made a music expert a music expert was that he could listen to music played under any circumstances and gauge, instantly and objectively, the quality of the performance.

But over the past few decades, the classical music world has undergone a revolution.

Many musicians thought that conductors were abusing their power and playing favorites. They wanted the audition process to be formalized. That meant an official audition committee was established instead of a conductor making the decision all by himself. In some places, rules were put in place forbidding the judges from speaking among themselves during auditions, so that one person’s opinion would not cloud the view of another. Musicians were identified not by name but by number. Screens were erected between the committee and the auditioner.. and as these new rules were put in place around the country, an extraordinary thing happened: orchestras began to hire women. In the past thirty years, since screens became commonplace, the number of women in the top U.S. orchestras has increased fivefold.

“Some people look like they sound better than they actually sound, because they look confident and have good posture,’ one musician, a veteran of many auditions, says. “Other people look awful when they play but sound great. Other people have that belabored look when they play, but you can’t hear it in the sound. There is always this dissonance between what you see and hear.

Too often we are resigned to what happens in the blink of an eye. It doesn’t seem like we have much control over whatever bubbles to the surface from our unconscious. But we do, and if we can control the environment in which rapid cognition takes place, then we can control rapid cognition.

Malcolm Gladwell, Blink