La Voz de Galicia – May 31, 2024 →

Cristina PatoA few months ago, I read a blog post by Dan Ariely, the professor of Behavioral Economics at Duke University, which talked about the idea of «anachronistic prejudice» According to Ariely, anachronistic prejudice «describes a situation where we use current norms to judge something that happened long ago», and this idea produces a bias in us of which we are not always aware. His proposal to combat this bias is to imagine, for example, «our sense of humor of fifteen years ago», and also «think about how likely you would have been, in the same timeframe, to make the same mistake as you are judging them on».

It’s also important to accept our memory loss regarding these things when we think about ourselves. I prefer not to look back because I firmly believe that everyone should have the right to learn, improve, and move forward on their life path. But we live in a unique moment concerning our responsibilities to our «past selves», and also in a unique moment regarding our way of judging for the sake of judging, and of seeking out the guilty. That’s why I kept pondering this idea of prejudice that doesn’t align with its time.

There are many ways to look at the past, the present, and also the future. But one cannot help but wonder what the wisest way to do so is. We learn from the past with the eyes of the present because these are the eyes we have, but what makes us feel that we can judge it with those same eyes? I’m not talking about the historical revisionism of the academic world, I’m talking about our day-to-day lives, our way of judging the past mistakes of our neighbors without thinking about what our own were.

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