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Preconceptions Influence Our Thoughts And Actions


Methinkshe

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Okay; I am interested in preconceptions which is what informed my initial post.

The particular question I asked was irrelevant in terms of subject except to the extent that I guessed there would be more preconceptions abroad than actual knowledge.

I was only able to pose this particular question because I have inside knowledge, so to speak.

My sister who has been working as a midwife in Malawi for the past 18 months came to visit for a few days.

During the course of conversation I was surprised to learn from her that when the ladies give birth in the hospital in Lilongwe/Bwaila which she attends, they give fulsome praise to God for a girl schild; and if it is a boy, they give a dismissive wave of the arm - take it away kind of stuff.

I was interested because this challenged my preconceptions. I had supposed that male children would be more appreciated by mothers giving birth.

My sister tells me that although in the male dominated villages the birth of a male child is celebrated, in the hospital, women dread the advent of another male. Because it is women who do all the work. Males are just hangers-on.

Furthermore (and I aleady knew this, but some on HPC still won't accept it) the quickest way to population control is not enforced birth control or sterilisation, it is assuring the mothers that one or two of their children might survive infancy. In other words, it is medical care that is needed, not contraception or sterilisation. Which poor woman reliant on hands to work the fields for survival, and knowing that average life expectancy is 37 yrs, and infant mortality rates are high, high, high, wouldn't opt for multiple births?

Anyway, that's my reasoning.

But to those whose preconceptions led you to believe that boys would be more desirable to a Malawi woman than girls, perhaps you should re-examine ALL your preconceptions (and I also got it wrong, so I number myself amongst you) and maybe just take a little more care before you attempt to reorder the world according to your preconceptions - about anything or anyone.

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Okay; I am interested in preconceptions which is what informed my initial post.

The particular question I asked was irrelevant in terms of subject except to the extent that I guessed there would be more preconceptions abroad than actual knowledge.

I was only able to pose this particular question because I have inside knowledge, so to speak.

My sister who has been working as a midwife in Malawi for the past 18 months came to visit for a few days.

During the course of conversation I was surprised to learn from her that when the ladies give birth in the hospital in Lilongwe/Bwaila which she attends, they give fulsome praise to God for a girl schild; and if it is a boy, they give a dismissive wave of the arm - take it away kind of stuff.

I was interested because this challenged my preconceptions. I had supposed that male children would be more appreciated by mothers giving birth.

My sister tells me that although in the male dominated villages the birth of a male child is celebrated, in the hospital, women dread the advent of another male. Because it is women who do all the work. Males are just hangers-on.

Furthermore (and I aleady knew this, but some on HPC still won't accept it) the quickest way to population control is not enforced birth control or sterilisation, it is assuring the mothers that one or two of their children might survive infancy. In other words, it is medical care that is needed, not contraception or sterilisation. Which poor woman reliant on hands to work the fields for survival, and knowing that average life expectancy is 37 yrs, and infant mortality rates are high, high, high, wouldn't opt for multiple births?

Anyway, that's my reasoning.

But to those whose preconceptions led you to believe that boys would be more desirable to a Malawi woman than girls, perhaps you should re-examine ALL your preconceptions (and I also got it wrong, so I number myself amongst you) and maybe just take a little more care before you attempt to reorder the world according to your preconceptions - about anything or anyone.

Interesting, thank you. :)

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But to those whose preconceptions led you to believe that boys would be more desirable to a Malawi woman than girls, perhaps you should re-examine ALL your preconceptions (and I also got it wrong, so I number myself amongst you) and maybe just take a little more care before you attempt to reorder the world according to your preconceptions - about anything or anyone.

You're assuming all Malawi women are the same.

That would be .....

I'll give you a clue it begins with P

:P

I'm joking (in a way) thanks for your patience on this 'un.

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You're assuming all Malawi women are the same.

That would be .....

I'll give you a clue it begins with P

:P

I'm joking (in a way) thanks for your patience on this 'un.

Just read my sister's blog, that would do me fine. She does such good stuff on a shoestring and with her 7 year old son in tow ( who got malaria 6 months ago and whom she nursed through it while still attending her pregnant women in Bwaila hospital. She's such a good woman. This is a link to her blog:

Birthing a Dream

It's such an eye opener to we in the western world.

But that apart, and to return to the subject in hand which concerned preconceptions: I become more aware by the day that I need to re-examine on a day to day basis all information that has informed my preconceptions and never be caught in yesterday's knowledge/understanding. I cannot afford to stand still, in other words. I must forever strive to understand what is happening today, not what occurred yesterday. Not that one should ever dismiss historical evidence but always that one should make every attempt to gain first hand knowledge before pontificating.........enter Steve Cook. please, the arch pontificator.............

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Just read my sister's blog, that would do me fine. She does such good stuff on a shoestring and with her 7 year old son in tow ( who got malaria 6 months ago and whom she nursed through it while still attending her pregnant women in Bwaila hospital. She's such a good woman. This is a link to her blog:

Birthing a Dream

It's such an eye opener to we in the western world.

But that apart, and to return to the subject in hand which concerned preconceptions: I become more aware by the day that I need to re-examine on a day to day basis all information that has informed my preconceptions and never be caught in yesterday's knowledge/understanding. I cannot afford to stand still, in other words. I must forever strive to understand what is happening today, not what occurred yesterday. Not that one should ever dismiss historical evidence but always that one should make every attempt to gain first hand knowledge before pontificating.........enter Steve Cook. please, the arch pontificator.............

Nice exercise.

However, you failed at the first fence - having a preconception that everyone had a preconception.

;)

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Late to the thread, but my Dad told me something along these lines a few years ago as he spent a fair bit of time in Africa a while back.

He said that the men are idle and a complete burden on the women and that for a woman having a boy is just the prospect of more work and no help in the future. It wasn't Malawi but I'm guessing it's not unique to that country.

EDIT: According to my Mum, who had three sons and no daughters, the phenomenon is not limited to Africa.

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Late to the thread, but my Dad told me something along these lines a few years ago as he spent a fair bit of time in Africa a while back.

He said that the men are idle and a complete burden on the women and that for a woman having a boy is just the prospect of more work and no help in the future. It wasn't Malawi but I'm guessing it's not unique to that country.

EDIT: According to my Mum, who had three sons and no daughters, the phenomenon is not limited to Africa.

Yep, that appears to be the case.

But we each have different preconceptions and it is these preconceptions about anything and everything that I was hoping to explore in this thread.

You see, what is evident to me is that where we lack first hand knowledge, we rely on preconceptions fed by anything that supports those preconceptions, that could have been gained from any which where.

Which is why I am so suspicious of those who have such dogmatic views that don't allow reconsideration in the light of new knowledge. It's just a view one must hold - regardless. Preconceptions can so easily trap one in a certain way of thinking where one instantly dismisses any opposing view point.

Steve Cook's jack-hammer approach on the Gaza thread that has now been relegated to off-topic is typical of this preconceived, lacking knowledge, type of response.

I don't believe that any of us have the right to be so sure of ourselves that we can stand up and adjudicate on any situation way beyond our personal compass.

I would have said (before my sister corrected me) that because male children obviously were most desired by Malawi women we must take this as a starting point for any developmental aid etc......

Huh! I would have been grossly wrong.

There are so many preconceptions that we bring with us to any and every estate of man and it seems to me that we need to be a lot less sure of our position (based on preconceptions) and a lot more open to reviewing current knowledge.

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Thanks for posting your sisters blog. I have just been reading it and will read more over the coming days.

Oh, please do.

I am going to attempt to make it into a book so as to raise funds....

She has just secured sponsorship for another two years to train Malawian midwives in a new hospital... but it's so touch and go. I collect stuff for her to take to her babies and mothers but it is so expensive to have it shipped...yet they are so short of basic equipment... oh there's so much that could be done, so much that needs to be done, but aside from the NGOs and the oft misappropriated funds of registered charities where more money goes on maintaining the presence and doing round-the-world first-class flights to brag about the work, than ever goes into helping people on the ground. And that's what my sister does - just one hospital, one person at a time...no grand projects.....just delivering a baby here and a baby there...

Anyway, that's by the by....just glad you read her blog...

Any interest in her work is greatly appreciated and so needed.

If only we, in the western world, could begin to appreciate how blessed we are....

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I held off replying as I had a preconception that this thread was not actually about preconceptions. Turns out some preconceptions are correct.

I have a preconception that a woman who would knowingly expose a 7 year old child to Malaria is not so much a good woman, but a woman with a serious psychological disorder.

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I held off replying as I had a preconception that this thread was not actually about preconceptions. Turns out some preconceptions are correct.

I have a preconception that a woman who would knowingly expose a 7 year old child to Malaria is not so much a good woman, but a woman with a serious psychological disorder.

I do hope you never let your child into a playground where he could fall off a swing or injure himself on a slide or even catch his big toe on the roundabout. That would be so irresponsible if you ever were to allow that to occur.

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Yep, that appears to be the case.

But we each have different preconceptions and it is these preconceptions about anything and everything that I was hoping to explore in this thread.

You see, what is evident to me is that where we lack first hand knowledge, we rely on preconceptions fed by anything that supports those preconceptions, that could have been gained from any which where.

Which is why I am so suspicious of those who have such dogmatic views that don't allow reconsideration in the light of new knowledge. It's just a view one must hold - regardless. Preconceptions can so easily trap one in a certain way of thinking where one instantly dismisses any opposing view point.

Steve Cook's jack-hammer approach on the Gaza thread that has now been relegated to off-topic is typical of this preconceived, lacking knowledge, type of response.

I don't believe that any of us have the right to be so sure of ourselves that we can stand up and adjudicate on any situation way beyond our personal compass.

I would have said (before my sister corrected me) that because male children obviously were most desired by Malawi women we must take this as a starting point for any developmental aid etc......

Huh! I would have been grossly wrong.

There are so many preconceptions that we bring with us to any and every estate of man and it seems to me that we need to be a lot less sure of our position (based on preconceptions) and a lot more open to reviewing current knowledge.

I think that is called Confirmation Bias , where we seek out information to confirm our previous held view (ignoring anything that may contradict this view).

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I think that is called Confirmation Bias , where we seek out information to confirm our previous held view (ignoring anything that may contradict this view).

Ah, well, the thread has been moved off-topic so any further consideration and debate of preconception or confirmation bias or anything else has just been been stopped dead.

Thanks for responding, anyway.

Best regards.

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Ah, well, the thread has been moved off-topic so any further consideration and debate of preconception or confirmation bias or anything else has just been been stopped dead.

Thanks for responding, anyway.

Best regards.

Shame it has been moved - it does have direct impact on our outlook, particularly regarding house prices and where the market is going.

Do we all suffer from "confirmation bias" on here, (ie searching out the news links / people that "confirm" our own view?

Confirmation bias features heavily in "The Black Swan" by Nicholas Nassim Taleb.

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I do hope you never let your child into a playground where he could fall off a swing or injure himself on a slide or even catch his big toe on the roundabout. That would be so irresponsible if you ever were to allow that to occur.

Interesting comparison. Deadly disease Vs. broken leg or severe concussion.

Your sister is outrageously irresponsible. She can make her own decision to go and practice midwifery in some godforsaken country, it's an eminently worthwhile thing to do and something I'd applaud.

Taking a 7 year old child along for the ride, who has no choice in the matter is just sick.

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Shame it has been moved - it does have direct impact on our outlook, particularly regarding house prices and where the market is going.

Do we all suffer from "confirmation bias" on here, (ie searching out the news links / people that "confirm" our own view?

Confirmation bias features heavily in "The Black Swan" by Nicholas Nassim Taleb.

I don't think there's any confirmation bias in HPC these days. It's a given. Maybe in the 2004-2006 period.

We used to have rule number one written on a big sign in our lab: Read what your data say, not what you want them to say. We all need to be reminded. I've been appalled at some of the confirmation bias I've seen involving scientists who really should know better. The worst probably being one who after finding the same effect in a vacuum, still claimed air played a part in a process he was studying.

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Steve Cook's jack-hammer approach on the Gaza thread that has now been relegated to off-topic is typical of this preconceived, lacking knowledge, type of response.

Thought that was what this was really about.

Cognitive dissonance. Ego defense.

Perfectly understandable for a Christian holding your position.

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Does this explain your screen-name, methinkshe?

There is a theory that some 90% of people's views and interpretations [their perception] are inferred from prior experience (their weltenschaung) and only 10% on current sensory input. That is why it is so difficult for people to accept facts which go against their pre-conceived inferences.

Doidge in the Brain that Changes Itself, discusses numerous examples of how the brain can be re-wired (re-moulded plastically). Neuro-plasticity is a double edged sword - while the brain is adaptable, once the neural pathways are set they can be a bugger to re-route. However, there is hope - by becoming aware of all your sensory inputs you can modify your perception and therefore your future inferences.

As to your question, I thought boy then girl (because I was aware that boy was obviously my inference) so I inferred girl from the way your question was posed and now that you have explained why the answer is girl, I now completely perceive this to be the reality.

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Does this explain your screen-name, methinkshe?

In part; it is an admission that one has to take an awful lot of information on faith, on trust in the purveyor of the information, and also constantly be aware that one may be harbouring unjustifiable bias due to either stasis of thought (basing today's thinking on yesterday's knowledge or even false knowledge.) All or any of these inform preconceptions which become the foundation stones of debate. Unless we regularly re-examine our preconceptions to check their veracity and pertinence then we can become liable to build an argument on false foundations.

I was intrigued by the polarisation of opinion on the Gaza thread and the equal passion with which opposing views were held. It seemed to me that it was not so much a matter of straightforawrd right and wrong, but a far more complex issue that had to do with the personal experience and/or knowledge that informed individual poster's preconceptions. For instance, I am sure that my preconceptions are influenced by having relatives living in Israel. However, I hope that doesn't make me unsympathetic to the Gazan civilians and their suffering. I just don't believe that because Israel is militarily stronger, that de facto makes the Gazans right - for want of a better word, and the Israelis wrong and any force they use disproportionate.

If military weakness equated to rightness, then Mugabe would have to be held right by most of the world since militarily Zimbabwe is so much weaker than most other nations. Moreover, I have heard ordinary Zimbabweans almost beg for military intervention (even if it cost their own lives or the lives of their loved ones) so that the tyranny of Mugabe's regime could be ended and the country might resume some kind of normal, democratic status. These people are thinking of children and children's children, not just their own lives.

So sorting out the rights and wrongs of complex situations like Israel/Gaza and Zimbabwe and even Congo and Rwanda is not straighforward and, imo, requires a certain willingness to be flexible in our thinking. We have to undestand the mindset of the populations, for instance. Sometimes we try to place on people from different cultures, a mindset that is identical to our own. One of the things that has always struck me about debating with my Jewish relative is the high passion, near aggression, that he brings to any argument. It never fails to take me aback, but I know that it is a characteristic of a lot of Jews, and Arabs, come to that. We are far more likely to be tolerant of opposing views than are the Middle Eastern cultures - at least, that is my personal experience.

The other thing is that we have to take into account cultural differences. Many years ago when I was in my early twenties I had a long friendship with a Kuwaiti Arab. It fizzled out in the end because I simply would not accept that I should be responsible for cleaning his shoes - he thought I should willingly do the job. Okay, you might say, what has cleaning shoes to do with anything. Only that it symptomises an underlying cultural belief that women are, and should remain, subserviant to men and are to be instructed by males as though they were hired hands. And that, in turn, influences other choices/decisions that are made at family level, local level and national level.

There is a theory that some 90% of people's views and interpretations [their perception] are inferred from prior experience (their weltenschaung) and only 10% on current sensory input. That is why it is so difficult for people to accept facts which go against their pre-conceived inferences.

Doidge in the Brain that Changes Itself, discusses numerous examples of how the brain can be re-wired (re-moulded plastically). Neuro-plasticity is a double edged sword - while the brain is adaptable, once the neural pathways are set they can be a bugger to re-route. However, there is hope - by becoming aware of all your sensory inputs you can modify your perception and therefore your future inferences.

Yes, the plasticity of the brain is an interesting subject. I did do quite a lot of research following my daughter's brain-damage. The brain is far more plastic under the age of two, than over; under the age of ten, than over; and under the age of twenty-one, than over. So it loses plasticity all the time and after the age of twenty-one gets pretty much set in its ways. Which is why gymnasts and ballerinas and musicians etc are largely made before their eleventh birthday.

However, I think that if we are aware of this tendency towards mental stasis (which, after all, is well known - how often do we speak of a person becoming set in his ways, for instance?) then we can go some way towards addressing the condition. Not that it doesn't have value - in some ways it is useful in transferring those traditions and that information that is useful and worthwhile. But equally, it can prevent us from taking on board new knowledge and changing perspectives.

As to your question, I thought boy then girl (because I was aware that boy was obviously my inference) so I inferred girl from the way your question was posed and now that you have explained why the answer is girl, I now completely perceive this to be the reality.

Like, you, my preconceptionos made me jump towards boy, until my sister told me otherwise. The frightening thing is, I would probably have argued vehemently on a forum such as this, that boys were more likely to be wanted, and girls were more likely to be abandoned.

That's why I started this thread.

It made me wonder how many more preconceptions I hold that would not bear the searchlight of firsthand knowledge.

All one can do is, with all humility, examine and re-examine those preconceptions which one holds dear and see if they match up to reality or whether they need to be adpated, brought up to date, or even thrown out altogether. And some beliefs can only ever be held as an article of faith - they are simply not knowable any other way. Predictions concerning global warming, for instance, must of necessity be faith-based even if the predictions are based on evidence available today and exptrapolation of known trends. They can never be claimed as factual since the future will always remain an unknown quantity until it becomes the present.

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Shame it has been moved - it does have direct impact on our outlook, particularly regarding house prices and where the market is going.

Do we all suffer from "confirmation bias" on here, (ie searching out the news links / people that "confirm" our own view?

Confirmation bias features heavily in "The Black Swan" by Nicholas Nassim Taleb.

Is there a new moderator on duty?

I've noticed of late that loads of interesting threads are being moved so that the main forum is now largely anodyne and broring - a recital of anecdotes and newspaper articles. Nothing much of interest - not as far as I'm concerned, anyway.

Of more interest to me are these side-issues that explain the "whys" as opposed to the "whats" of the current political/financial crisis.

I don't think mere recital of events is ever going to help our understanding of why they occur, how they gain a foothold etc.

I wish the mods would stop being so hasty in their thread moving - it does ruin a thread to have it cast into the HPC hinterland.

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