Episode 5: Point of View (POV) What It Is and Why It Matters

In this episode Jimmy and Patty continue the conversation in their theme of listening for the spring season of Life to the Full: A Message to Christians.

Having talked about the importance of asking better questions of the church, of the Bible, of God, and as leaders,  they are moving on to another very important part of learning to listen: understanding points of view. Everyone has a point of view (POV) and that point of view shapes their reality. We cannot understand ourselves or others until we first understand our own POV and the POV of others. 

In this first episode in the POV series Jimmy and Patty discuss what is a point of view (POV) and why does this matter. 

Main Points -

Outline: 

  • What is a point of view (POV) and why does it matter? 
    • POV — bias 
      • Everyone has bias and that is okay!
        • Biblical Scholars: tend to admit their biased positions up front.
        • Scientists: invent clever strategies to deal with their bias — double blind clinical trials.
        • Observer Bias: when your results are colored by the results you hope to get.
  • Useful Metaphors for understanding POV or Personal Bias — 
    • Lenses: what we filter reality through. 
    • Box: the box that you have built around your mind and feelings.

What is a point of view and why does it matter? 

Point of View: we all have a unique point of view that comes from our set of assumptions on how the world works. Taken together our assumptions become our bias. 

Bias is disproportionate weight in favor of or against an idea or thing, usually in a way that is closed-minded, prejudicial, or unfair. Biases can be innate or learned. People may develop biases for or against an individual, a group, or a belief.[1] In science and engineering, a bias is a systematic error. Statistical bias results from an unfair sampling of a population, or from an estimation process that does not give accurate results on average.[2]

The word appears to derive from Old Provençal into Old French biais, "sideways, askance, against the grain". Whence comes French biais, "a slant, a slope, an oblique".[3]

It seems to have entered English via the game of bowls, where it referred to balls made with a greater weight on one side. Which expanded to the figurative use, "a one-sided tendency of the mind", and, at first especially in law, "undue propensity or prejudice".[3]

from Wikipedia Article on Bias: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bias

Scholarship once tried to escape all bias by trying to present the facts as is and let the facts speak for themselves. However, the best scholars today do not run from their bias, but they confront it. 

The truth is that everyone has a one sided tendency of the mind, or a particular way that they see the world. 

Biblical Scholars: try and state their bias upfront so they can be aware of it, and seek out conclusions that are not drawn from their bias, but from the text. 

Scientists: use various techniques to try and overcome their biases, so that their conclusions can not be drawn from what they think will happen. For instant clinical trials for new medicine will typically employ double blind studies where not even the participants or researchers know who is receiving a particular medicine.

Observer Bias: Observer bias (also called experimenter bias or research bias) is the tendency to see what we expect to see, or what we want to see. When a researcher studies a certain group, they usually come to an experiment with prior knowledge and subjective feelings about the group being studied. (https://www.statisticshowto.com/observer-bias/)

(For instance the Trump Presidential Election.)

Bias is seen as a dirty word in todays climate which is charged with tension. As I write this most of the country is on ‘lock-down’ from a controversial illness called COVID-19, and the world has erupted into protests and violent riots over the killing of people of black Americans. 

People like to appeal to facts and impartiality when making their arguments. Unfortunately an appeal to indisputable facts is rarely useful since both sides are usually appealing to the same set of facts. 

o Arguments over COVID 19 

Some useful metaphors for understanding personal bias:

LENS: colors and distorts what we see 

BOX: all of our preconceived ideas and notions

It is important to understand that a BOX is not necessarily a bad thing. It is in not seeing it or denying it where a lot of things go wrong. Most people are blissfully unaware of their box. They assume that their way of looking at the world is the correct way. While this is true of everyone, this is especially true in modern religious circles. 

Challenge of the Week (C.O.W.)

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Episode Five C.O.W. (Point of View POV - what it is and why it matters)

 Think about your own background and what may be your own biases in your own life. Remember bias is not necessarily a bad thing. It is your own point of view based on what you have been taught, what you have learned, your experiences, and upbringing. It can color everything you see like a pair of glasses. We used the metaphor of a box to talk about all of your preconceived ideas and notions — all of your your assumptions about how the world works. Try to write them down and talk about them. Get ready to explore more about your box in the for the next episode. 

Book Recommendation

Book nerds! Below are this episode's book recommendations. If you are interested in purchasing any of these books, then please use these links below.

They help support the show with no additional cost to you. Thanks in advance!

While not mentioned in the podcast this  book can help a lot in the discussion that we are going to be having. Everyday Bias, by Howard J. Ross, is a short little book that can help you understand the inherit bias that all of us have as human beings.