ByZero Bias Psychology

Nick Williams
9 min readNov 13, 2023
Image — Playground AI

No one likes Zero Bias. Zero Bias equals Maximum Perspective, and it also equals Being — which is to say ‘Realness’ or ‘Wholeness’. Bias, by the same token, equals Zero Perspective, Zero Being, Zero Wholeness. When we live on the basis of bias therefore, we have to endure — as best we can — the consequences of this deficiency of being, this deficiency of wholeness, this deficiency of perspective, and these consequences are utterly dire. In fact — not to be too coy about it — we can say the price we have to pay for ‘living on the basis of bias’ is unreservedly horrifying, the only proviso being that we are very rarely aware of the full extent of this price that we’re having to pay (and even if we do get a glimpse of it no one else will ever believe us).

We’re obviously extremely fond of this business of ‘living a biased life’, therefore. We must be, to have invested in such an unsatisfactory state of affairs so very much! We’re as fond of it as we could ever be fond of anything, otherwise we wouldn’t put up with all the crap that comes along with it. Or rather — since we haven’t made the crucial link here (since it’s important to us on a secret level that we shouldn’t make this link), we could say that otherwise we wouldn’t be endlessly distracting and confusing ourselves — as we are endlessly distracting and confusing ourselves — with false lines of inquiry and false explanations for our unhappiness. Life somehow isn’t as fulfilling (or real) for us as we know on some level that should be — we have a subconscious but correct sense that we are being short-changed. Even in the best of times we can’t help feeling that someone else is getting a bigger slice of the pie than we are (or that — even if we do imagine that we’ve got the pie all to ourselves — we can’t help feeling that others out there are plotting against us to take away what is rightfully ours). We have no peace, in other words.

What we put this down to — as a general rule — is ‘our failure to make the smart life-choices’. We believe that it is within our power to make the choices that will bring us happiness and so if we’re not happy then we are obliged — by our own logic — to blame ourselves fairly and squarely for that. If only we could ‘make it’ in the way that society assures us we can make it then all will be well, all will be wonderful, so we just have to try harder. That’s the only answer. The way of life that is based upon us continuously trying to promote or validate our own narrow view of things (rather than exploring what else might possibly be true) leads only to misery but we put this misery down to us put down to us not being rigorous (or rather ‘fanatical’!) enough in our blinkered approach. We become more conservative in our outlook than ever, as if conservatism ever solved anything. Our basic orientation can’t possibly be wrong, we tell ourselves — that would be far too disturbing a thing for us to countenance — so anything that upsets or spoils our plans must be some kind of a random ‘external disruptive influence’ that needs to be fought against — we’re incapable of seeing that it is our basic orientation in life that is causing all the trouble.

‘Our approach to life is that we want to live it ‘on the bias’ — we want to live in a biased way rather than unbiased way. The reason we want to do this is because everything is so very much easier then — all we have to do in this case is ‘keep reading from the script’, all we have to do is ‘keep following the orders that we’ve been issued with’, all we have to do is keep plugging away determinedly in a perfectly mechanical fashion until the right result ensues. This is machine thinking: ‘the instructions (or the guidance) can’t be wrong so we’ll just keep at it until either it works out for us or until hell freezes over — whichever happens the sooner. A bias is a rule so of course life becomes simpler when we follow it. That’s the great thing about rules after all; that’s why we love them so much…

This is what lies at the core of our perverse love affair with prejudice, with our hopeless infatuation with one-sidedness — the fact that this simplifies life and protects us from having to face it ‘first hand’, so to speak. Instead, we just have to do what the rules tell us to do, we just have to obey our instructions. That way we get to feel good about things in what is actually a completely illegitimate way — we feel good because [1] we are avoiding the challenge of facing life first hand, and [2] because we’re getting a pat on the head from the system (so that just as long as we believe uncritically in the system we get to feel validated). The external authority is telling us that ‘we did good’ and because we have agreed amongst ourselves that this ‘made up authority of ours’ is the ‘irreproachable measure of all things’, we never have to question ourselves.

Living on the basis of rules flips everything over on its head — instead of being in a situation where we respond creatively (which is to say autonomously) we’re in the situation where the only thing to the thing to do is to faithfully uphold and stick with whatever formula it is that we have been provided with. Beforehand, there are no standards, no expectations, no rewards and no punishment, no ‘right way versus wrong way’, no competition and no peer-pressure, none of that rubbish, whilst afterwards that is exactly what there is — we know this because that’s the world we see all around us every day! When everything is based on rules and our obedience to these rules then of course everything is about ‘the right way versus the wrong way’. It’s all about succeeding and failing, winning and losing…

The sweetness that we enjoy when we ‘act out our hidden biases’ comes about as a result of this ‘reversing’ of values — the more intimidated we are by the prospect of living life first hand, without any rules to tell us what to do, without any train tracks to run down, the more alluring this sweetness is going to be for us. The responsibility to ‘face life head on’ is lifted from our unwilling shoulders and — instead — all we have to do in the ‘conditioned life’ is to make sure that we live life in the right way and not the wrong way. All we have to do is make sure that we follow the official formula that tells us how to live life correctly, and don’t screw it up by disobeying the higher authority.

It sounds utterly crazy when we state it like this of course, but this is nevertheless exactly what we have all done — we have exchanged creativity for abject conformity, freedom for slavery, originality for the mass-produced generic product. Naturally we don’t like to dwell on this too much, but we can’t really deny it either. There is a ring of truth here that is hard to ignore if we have any degree of awareness at all. It’s not that we’re saying that ‘we shouldn’t ever follow rules’ (or that we shouldn’t under any circumstances ever let anyone tell us what to do) — that would be ridiculous. I am free to choose to wire an electrical plug in a way that is contrary to the instructions on the diagram (so as to demonstrate my autonomy) but that would just be ‘pointless posturing’ (and I am likely to burn the house down into the bargain). That isn’t what we mean by ‘not living life on the basis of rules’, that’s just ‘a petty rebellion designed to prove that we are free when we’re not’.

When live in a rule-based way then that means we do absolutely everything on the basis of precedence, absolutely everything on the basis of an overarching theory or picture of things. Thought informs us 100% of the time, in other words. There’s no way that we can adhere to a rational view of life without making ourselves into slaves of that viewpoint; there’s no way we can have an over-all idea or hypothesis about ‘what it’s all about’ without having to live according to the rules that belongs to this theory. Life itself is denied when we do this — life is denied as soon as we make the mistake of having an overall idea about what life is or should be. As we have said, everything is turned on its head the moment we do this — by having an idea about life we give away all our freedom, all our creativity and all our originality in a flash.

We tend as a matter of course to think that it’s good to have a theory or overarching idea about what it’s all about (a ‘Theory-Of-Everything’), we’re in favour of it because — otherwise, if we didn’t have a TOE — we wouldn’t ever be able to feel sure about things. We’re able to look as favourably as we do on the rational picture of life because we don’t see that this makes us heteronomous rather than autonomous, because we don’t see that we’re selling ourselves into slavery this way. We don’t get the connection between having a rational picture of the world and being the helpless tool or instrument of that view; we don’t get that at all and yet it is absolutely what happens. It’s what happens every time…

The way it works is that we’re as proud as punch of our overall theory of ‘life, the universe and everything’, and we’ll quite happily go to war over it. We imagine that we’re liberating people when we convert them to our way of looking things, whilst the actual truth of the matter is that we’re trying to make them into slaves just like us (since we can’t bear to see them running around free). We do the same with our children (or with other people’s children if we can) — we imprint our beliefs and ideas on them as soon as they are old enough to take it in, thereby making them into the slaves of these ideas too. We won’t be happy until everyone’s a slave, although ‘happy’ isn’t quite the right word to be using here since leading the one-sided life — the life where we always refuse to hear the other side of this story — is not in any way what we would call ‘a happy state of affairs’.

Traditional dogmatic religion provides a perfect example of this — life itself becomes ‘someone else’s idea of life that we have to adapt ourselves to in order that we don’t get punished’. Yet what else is dogmatic religion, if not this? As soon as the bias is thrown into the mix then everything gets distorted — it can’t not get distorted. An instruction or commandment to do or not to do something is a clever jinx, a jinx that we very rarely see for what it is. When something happens under pressure it never happens truly; if an action is forced then straightaway it turns sour, it’s jinxed right from the very start. It’s a non-starter — it became a non-starter just as soon as the rule got put in place. The rule ruins everything. The bias ruins everything.

If we have to live at all, then we have to live freely. If there’s a bias in the system, if there’s a script, then what ensues is a parody of life. Everything collapses, everything becomes hollow, theatrical, redundant. Redundancy is our reward when we engage in the one-sided life since all the values that we theatrically uphold are secretly counterbalanced by the negative of these values, reversed values that we also uphold without being able to see that we do. This ensures that we’re always locked into a state of conflict with ourselves, and this is a type of systemic conflict (or paradoxicality) that can never be resolved. We’re never going get anywhere with our theatrical tactics; theatrical tactics are after all only good for creating an appearance that ‘something is happening’ but not the reality of it, and polarity is always entirely theatrical. Bad is created at the same time as good, so when we live a life that is dedicated to purposely doing good things, purposely living a moral life, then we’re in orbit around the negative values just as much as we are around the positive one. Both plus and minus equals ‘the rule’ — everyone is always made up equally of what you must do and what you must not do, and this means that the sum of all our actions, the sum of all our aspirations is always going to be zero. Instead of Wholeness we have polarity, instead of the richness of reality we have a sterile world of rotating opposites…

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