This is a picture from Death Valley sand and I am currently using it on MSN messeger. Not sure why I chose this picture for the post... maybe it'll be obvious to me after I finish writing. haha. I like it, that's why.
Just read a friend's rant about how she was mis-perceieved as a pro-xyz person just because she was present at a xyz-dominated event. The automatic assumption of one person's belief and principle based on a few things is nothing new. Everybody does it. To be an objective person in this day in age is rare. We are influenced by so many things around us: the Al-QaeBush effect, fanaticsm, subjective reporting, sensational interviews, reporters that cater to the audience, advertising, personalized advertising (read: Google).
Anyway, back to my point. There is such a bias in the way we think regardless of how hard we try to be objective. Some don't even try at all, as my friend experienced. I can be with you (against terrorism) and against you (method of fixing terrorism) at the same time. And on issues I know little about, I can't be objective because I haven't done my research. For example, I think bankers are all a-holes. Just kidding. But they don't have time to read my blog, much less care about it, so I think I'm in the clear. Another assumption.
I felt bad for my friend, because it was her principle that got violated by simple assumptions. But consider the consequences. In order to avoid the mis-perception, one solution would be to avoid the xyz-group all together: xyz-group realizes that she isn't one of us; both parties go on their way; more misunderstanding between the two. Another would be to clarify her beliefs, which may lead to the same conclusions anyway.
Here's an interesting piece from Freakenomics on the bias that many carry.
Gear change. Since my weekends start on Wednesdays, I went playing poker on W and Th night. Nothing coming on W, and I went all in with dwindlign chips and my opponent hit a straight on the river. Th night was okay. I finished second place and got my money back. The chip leader had a commanding lead on me and there wasn't much I could do. Either way, Freaknenomic's Steve Levitt has a fascinating story to tell on his poker tourney.