Intellectual Bias

During the discussion on various issues and challenges faced by Pakistan, one of our esteemed friends, Dr. Hasnain Naqvi, drew our attention to a national disease that we never thought about or discussed. We as a nation are either a part of this disease or one of its victims. This disease is called “intellectual bias”. Intellectual bias and dishonesty is one of our problems that is a major obstacle in guiding the nation in the right direction, and is playing a huge and awful role in dividing the nation on different bases.

What is intellectual bias? Intellectual bias is a disease found in most of the educated people of our country (whom we consider intellect to solve our various problems, i.e. scholars, teachers, intellectuals, writers, thinkers, analysts, columnists, and journalists). This disease prevents them from telling the truth even knowingly. These intellectuals, because of various biases, cultivate erroneous philosophy instead of expressing the right judgment with the people in any matter. Sometimes these intellectuals do so only for a small amount of money and to please the powerful people around them, or sometimes they do so to humiliate their opponents and appease their ego. However, the most dangerous form and cause of intellectual bias is our unjustified attachment to a particular thought, creed, sect, region, language, political view, or party. When a scholar, thinker, mystic, journalist, or intellectual limits his (or her) views and considers only his (or her) point of view to be correct, he (or she) cannot educate or train the nation in the true sense and cannot come up with the right solution to their problems. Rather, such people only create intolerance, segregation, and a gulf in society.

Before discussing the various causes of intellectual bias and their consequences, it is necessary to give a few examples so that the case may be clear. You can find many examples of intellectual bias in the media such as if some intellectuals are going to talk about an important national issue, you can tell in advance what their opinion will be. Why is it so? Because of their biased views, everyone knows what ideas or ideologies these intellectuals promote. When some intellectuals always say that every step of the current government is excellent and others are always worming about (even) the good deeds of the government, then you should understand that these intellectuals are suffering from political biases. The same is the case with our religious scholars in several matters. For instance, they will not tell you anything good about any other sect, but every sect is spreading falsehoods of others and is busy calling others infidels. How can it be that every word of one sect is right and every word of another is wrong? Therefore, even such scholars are suffering from religious/sectorial bias and dishonesty.

A perpetual example of intellectual bias is the Kala Bagh Dam and the controversy surrounding it. The Kala Bagh Dam, which could have been our national asset, fell victim to political and regional biases. Today the world has progressed to the point where you can bring together the best experts and engineers of the world and Pakistan to have a scholarly and fruitful discussion on the usefulness or potential harms of the Kala Bagh Dam. However, our media has never had such a scholarly debate, but preferred a dialogue between politicians and so-called intellectuals, with the result that these politicians and intellectuals always viewed this matter in the context of political and regional biases and misled our naive people.

Among various forms of intellectual bias, we are most commonly victims of religious, sectorial, regional, linguistic, political, and ideological biases, which are detrimental to our national consensus and unity. Intellectual bias not only promotes narrow-mindedness and intolerance in the nation but rather than solving problems, it complicates issues. Therefore, it should be fundamentally discouraged. Unfortunately, those elements (i.e. intellectuals) who should discourage it in any form are themselves flag-bearers of intellectual bias. You may have seen this demonstrated in various programs, when our scholars, intellectuals, and analysts quarrel with each other instead of listening to each other’s opinion patiently and discussing it logically. They often adopt a biased attitude instead of logical and rational arguments for the solution of problems and as a result create doubts in the problems and their possible solutions.

It is necessary to avoid intellectual bias and its harms at the national level. It is possible only, if:

  • First, we draw the attention of our intellectuals to this issue, force them to talk about it, and point out such biased attitudes. The intellectuals should also be willing to be self-accountable and should not only apologize to the nation for misleading but also discourage such biased views in the future.
  • Secondly, we should educate and train the people so that they can investigate such matters on their own. This can be done by broadcasting programs on national electronic media on this subject and holding essay and speech competitions and debates between students at schools, colleges, and universities. Thereby, the people, especially the younger generation, will become aware of existing intellectual biases.
  • Thirdly, we should not blindly believe, imitate, and follow any single scholar, thinker, or intellectual. None of us is perfect and we are all bound to make mistakes. Therefore, after listening to the opinion of anyone with an open heart, we, as a Muslim and a Pakistani, should examine it on logical and rational grounds, putting aside all our biases.

What is needed right now is to create awareness among the people about intellectual bias so that they can identify scholars, teachers, intellectuals, journalists, analysts, and other influential people who are suffering from this disease and can ignore their biased views.

Author: Abu Muhammad
The writer is the Editor at mPKg (www.makingpakistangreat.com) and can be reached at: abumuhammad.mpkg(at)gmail(dot)com.

Click here to read the article in Urdu language.

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