Surrounded by prejudice

Actuarial science, or some nut somewhere, has determined that owners of red cars speed more often than owners of cars of other colors. Because they speed, they are supposedly more likely to get into accidents. Thus, if you buy a red car, you are likely to be penalized with higher insurance rates.

This “assumption” does not take into consideration that many owners of second hand red cars did not choose the car because of its color, rather, because they could afford it or was made available to them. Maybe they even got it as a present. Yet, the assumption penalizes them all the same.

Banks also make all types of “assumptions” concerning clients, when extending (or refusing) credit. So do taxation authorities, academic institutions and instructors, police authorities, even physicians. These assumptions often have no inkling with reality, but because statistics say so, you might be punished with more taxes, higher interest rates, lower grades, perhaps even an indictment or treatment you do not need, and might kill you.

You want to shout out that you are an individual with a story to be told, but statistics often lumps you with millions of other individuals that have nothing to do with you, and no one listens to you.

Why is that, you might ask? Because thoroughly analyzing a person’s circumstances, life story, etc, takes a lot of work. Better assume that you will get into accidents more often because you drive a red car than look into other data. Who has time for that? If a mistake is made, oh well…NEXT!!!

Assumptions, a nice word, are no more than a form of prejudice. Assumptions are practiced widely, often with disastrous, costly and irreversible effects on lives.

Understand me, I am not condoning prejudice, quite the opposite. Yet, if you use your own mental data bases to make personal decisions about things in life, you can often be called a bigot, intolerant, prejudiced individual.

I think that in order for society to sincerely adopt tolerance in earnest, the powers that be should start relying less and less on assumptions, and attempt to get the real story. How can we be tolerant as individuals, when we are surrounded by pseudo-scientific assumptions all over the place?

By the way, one day after I got my red Mini-Cooper I was stopped for speeding (when I was not), so I know what I am talking about. At least concerning red cars.



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