Sunday, October 12, 2014

Just World

The just world bias was kept alive and well on a daily basis in a COG commune. Since we believed that "life is fair and God is good," i.e. the world is just, then when an accident or illness occurred, we were obligated to look for its cause so that we could learn "what God was trying to teach us." 

In fact, there is a part of us that wants things to happen for a reason. We want the world to be fair and just. It make things simpler and easier to understand, giving us a false sense of security. This naturally appeals to us.

With a combination of biases at play, we looked for the underlying pattern to name as the cause for, say, an accident. Since "life was fair," we assumed there was a causal connection that we must discover; we had sinned and were therefore "reaping what we sowed." Together with the negativity bias, giving more weight to negative information than to positive information, we "searched our hearts" to come up with something, some "lesson" we could learn, so we could be delivered, healed, or whatever.

If one looks hard enough for a pattern or causation, one will find it. Indeed, "seek and ye shall find." We find what we are looking for, and we ignore what we are not looking for.

Granted, there are real causes to such things as catching a cold, but to look for a deep spiritual transgression as the reason that precipitated a certain mishap is absurd, yet it was just a run-of-the-mill happening in the life of a COG member.

This was carried to extremes when disasters happened to cities or countries. "God is judging them for their sins," of course. 

Just as a basketball player's "hot hand is entirely in the eye of the beholders"* so the causation of sin being behind bad things happening is entirely in the eye of the believers. 

* Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, page 117

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