I am a woman born 1949 and my quest is to find a mindmate
to grow old together as a mutually devoted couple
in a relationship based upon the
egalitarian rational commitment paradigm
bonded by intrinsic commitment
as each other's safe haven and secure basis.

The purpose of this blog is to enable the right man
to recognize us as reciprocal mindmates and
to encourage him to contact me:

The entries directly concerning,
who could be my mindmate,
are mainly at the beginning.
If this is your predominant interest,
I suggest to read this blog in the same order
as it was written, following the numbers.

I am German, therefore my English is sometimes faulty.

Maybe you have stumbled upon this blog not as a potential match.
Please wait a short moment before zapping.

Do you know anybody, who could be my mindmate?
Your neighbour, brother, uncle, cousin, colleague, friend?
If so, please tell him to look at this blog.
While you have no reason to do this for me,
a stranger, maybe you can make someone happy, for whom you care.

Do you have your own webpage or blog,
which someone like my mindmate to be found probably reads?
If so, please mention my quest and add a link to this blog.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

620. Strangers And Risk Avoidance

620.   Strangers And Risk Avoidance

It can be very difficult to find the right middle between avoiding risks and avoiding to hurt others by unfounded prejudices and racism.

Generally speaking, every first contact with a complete stranger is a risk.    It is often difficult or not possible to correctly predict a stranger's behavior.  

Herman Melville's novel 'Typee' is an excellent illustration of the problem.   In this story, two sailors are running away from the mistreatment by the captain of their ship.   The place is an island in the Pacific, where cannibalism was at that time some tribes' known practice. 
When starving, the heroes of the story had to decide, which path to take towards finding those natives, who would most probably help without having them for dinner.   The had only hearsay to rely upon concerning the location of those tribes considered to be the least ferocious.   
When the two sailors finally did meet some natives, there was no common language.   They were guided to the natives' village wondering what to expect, whether there they would eat or be eaten.  
Later they found out to have indeed met the one tribe, which they had been fearing the most, cannibals in the habit of sometimes eating the captives of tribal wars.   But the two sailors survived without being feasted upon.  
While the narrator of the story was puzzled, for what reasons they were spared, I could think of one possible explanation being the tribe's own definition of who belongs to the ingroup and who is outgroup.   Maybe only bellicose tribes were defined as outgroups, while their guests were enclosed into the ingroup set of behavior.  

Belonging to an ingroup is often a choice, being treated as outgroup is not a choice.

The real risk of being harmed by a stranger requires to be able to protect oneself by appropriate preventive behavior, which in turn requires to estimate the magnitude and kind of the risk.   
Much of today's inappropriate racism and prejudices have their origin in the times, when people living in small tribes and groups in areas of low population density were born into their ingroups.  Every person not belonging to the same community was automatically outgroup.   People mutually having no doubt about who else is ingroup were not prone to make mistakes in judging risks.   

Today in the complexity and globalization of modern societies, people often cannot know, if at all and how strongly they are considered as outgroup by strangers.    They cannot even know, if they are recognized correctly as members of any group or only confounded with members of any especially hated or loathed outgroup.    

Eating outgroup members is certainly an extreme, but when outgroup members are beaten, exploited, stolen from, insulted, socially excluded, ridiculed, abused as prey (entry 619) it is nevertheless caused by the same instinct.   

On that Pacific island, the probability of someone being a cannibal was certainly high only in those, who were visibly natives, while it could be assumed that the Europeans were no cannibals.   But considering them as cannibals because they were racially natives is a fallacy.   It just happened to be a correlation between the foe eating culture having developed, where only the natives were living, while the culture of not eating humans had been brought there by the Europeans.  This fallacy of mistaking a correlation with a genetic predisposition has contributed to deriving absurd assumptions from external traits like the color of the skin.   Such anachronistic fallacy has lead to the irrational, stupid and sick racism disturbing even modern civilized countries with mixed populations like the USA. 

There are two possible mistakes with very different consequences.   

Someone underestimating the risk from strangers just perishes and cannot hand on the knowledge.  Nor would his absence of gullibility to prejudice become prevalent in the gene pool.   Had the sailors in the story been eaten, nobody would ever have heard of to take it as a warning.    
Someone overestimating probabilities or only imagining non-existing ones, perpetuates irrational and unrealistic prejudices and racism.  
The guy, who kills or avoids the strangers, can never find out, if he did this for good reasons or not.    Had the sailors in the story had weapons and had they killed the natives and survived by eating their food, they may have well told later without any doubt to have killed cannibals to prevent being eaten.   They would never have felt to have murdered and robbed people. 

Lacking any knowledge about a stranger as an individual, estimates of these probabilities are based upon pre-concepts, previous experiences and knowledge or hearsay about the group, tribe and society, to which the stranger belongs.   These pre-concepts can be more or less valid or completely invalid.   All pre-concepts, which are not suitable to predict real risks based upon real attitudes and evident behaviors, are a fallacy.  

Both of the above mentioned mistakes impede the correction of the pre-concepts and perpetuate the fallacies.  

To predict a stranger's behavior requires a lot of estimating and guessing.

1.  The probability of specific attitudes leading to, enabling or facilitating specific behaviors.
2.  The probability of the stranger's having such specific attitudes.  
2.1.  The direct probability of specific attitudes being expressed and indicated by attires and body modification.  
2.2.  The two combined probabilities of the membership in a specific ingroup indicating the presence of specific attitudes and of specific attires and body modification indicating the membership in a specific ingroup.
3.  The probability to be considered as outgroup in contrast with an ingroup, to which the stranger is so much affiliated, that outgroup members are prone to be harmed.

Estimating and guessing the invisible is difficult in complex societies.

1. Subjectively felt affiliations with specific ingroups are often by choice.   Shared attitudes and other invisible attributes can cause strong subjective affiliations, which are hidden from and not noticeable for ignorant strangers.    The members of ingroups sometimes know how to recognize each other, while the indicators for this recognition are unknown to the outgroup members.   
Religions, political parties, social associations or sports teams are examples.    Easily defined traditional ingroups as are ethnicities, villages or neighborhoods are not always automatically experienced as ingroups.

2. The stronger someone identifies with an ingroup, the stronger he is prone to feel hostility towards outgroups.    To every ingroup, there can be more than one outgroup, who for a variety of reasons do not all elicit the same amount of hostility.    

The line between either a drastic misjudgment of probabilities towards being merely too cautious or the irrational, stupid and gullible belief in claims with zero probability is delicate and often blurred.
Being aware, that every interaction with strangers is bearing a risk is by itself not a prejudice. 
The real problem is the correct estimation of the particular risk and what harm to prevent.     Not every caution is a fallacy, only because it is denounced as prejudice or racism by those being themselves the hazard.   Both previous behavior and expressed attitudes in favor of specific behaviors are indicators of real risks.   

Examples of
alleged prejudices justified by the probability of a real risk:

1.  Most prisoners are in jail as a consequence of having harmed individual persons, therefore it is statistically probable, that someone just released from jail is not trustworthy.   Not wanting him as an employee or tenant is not a prejudice but a rational avoidance of a risk.    Those few, who are reformed and will not repeat criminal harm, have brought it upon themselves.   

2. Religious people are morally guided by rules established by their religion.    The more someone feels compelled to consider the guide book of his religion as absolutely imperative to his conduct, the more he feels a good person by following the book, no matter what the victims of his behavior experience or say.   

There are many muslim men on French dating sites and chats.   Rejecting them for being muslims frequently leads to the accusation of being either a racist or prejudiced.   Letting aside my general rejection of men with any religious belief, muslim men are especially hazardous to women, who want a monogamous man without sharing him with other women.  

The islam does of not only allow but prescribe unlimited promiscuity to men.   The koran explicitly allows a man four wives and an unlimited number of concubines.    What a non-islamic woman considers and defines as cheating and as a transgression, is therefore normal and morally correct behavior for a male muslim guided by the koran.   
In the possible case, that a muslim restricts himself to only one woman, this is in contradiction to his religion.  It can be due to a lack of either a wish or an opportunity, or it is only temporary, but it is not a moral attitude of feeling any obligation towards a woman to be monogamous.   

The egalitarian attitude, that a woman is equal to a man, and being a muslim, are mutually exclusive.  Any muslim's claim to treat a woman as an equal cannot be trusted, unless he leaves the entire abusive religion behind and becomes an atheist.    Therefore a woman rejecting muslim men is not prejudiced, but acting wisely based upon the awareness of a real risk.    By accepting to be muslims, men bring the rejection by monogamous women upon themselves.