Simply ‘calling it like you see it’ doesn’t cut anymore. We now know that conscious and unconscious intuitions are socially constructed by our surroundings, with cultural, religious, social biases all included.
Hence, confirmation bias is at work when new information is gathered and quickly aligns with one’s world schema. For example, a white person may come across an African American man who is paying child support and on welfare. Many whites in America may nod their heads to this, conforming what they already think they ‘know’. However, they fail to look to the majority of African American men who do not fall into this stereotype.
It’s similar situation with Michael Shermer and the new atheists. Soon after my article on the new atheists’ scathing criticism of Islam appeared on Dissident Voice, Mr. Shermer went to Twitter to counter it:
No Peter Crowley, we focus on Islam now because that is the primary source of political violence as I document in The Moral Arc … If that changes so too will our focus. It’s not an inherent bias against Islam.
To be fair to Mr. Shermer, he is of significant intelligence and his new book Heavens on Earth was a largely enjoyable read. However, there was the obligatory snarkiness towards the concept of afterlife in Islam – a tone that is absent in his writing on Judaism and Christianity within the book. For example, he writes (p. 61):
If you were single in this world you get hooked up with beautiful companions…