We learned that mindsets and biases influence how we perceive every event, person and thing we see. Can we explain how these are formed and what we can do to overcome them. Give at least two examples of how specific biases have appeared in a homeland security setting.
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I think that biases are formed in a few ways. First, one's upbringing is very influential. Second, the community which one lives in is also influential. Lastly, the influence of the media is also responsible for biases.
In regards to Homeland Security, people have created biases based upon the things mentioned above. People, regardless of who they work for, still have biases (whether they admit to them or not).
Mindsets and biases tend to be formed by generalizing about past events. This is why terrorists will often try new, unexpected tactics. It is surprising, in fact, that they are not even more inventive and unpredictable than they have proven to be, especially since so many of them seem willing to sacrifice their own lives to achieve their objectives.
Biases can also come from parents, and many children develop beliefs that coincide with their parents' attitudes. My father, having faught in World War II, refused, for example, to ever consider buying German or Japanese cars! He would never have approved of an old Mercedes I once purchased, nor the Honda Civic I now own.
We might like to think about homeland security in relation to the threat of immigration and the way that white Americans view Latino immigrants. Often, the bias among white Americans is that Latinos are all illegal immigrants who do not contribute to the US economy, whereas in fact the opposite is true and the US economy is often propped up by the work of Latinos, who do the jobs that white Americans do not want to do.
While these very real biases are hard to overcome, if a person takes a moment or a lot of moments to think about how the MAJORITY of Muslims think and behave, then there is a chance that the bias will fade to some degree. Educating yourself about the truth of Muslim religious beliefs and reading for yourself articles or books about the Muslim religion would help a person recognize the difference between what most Muslims believe and what the radical extremists believe.
Dealing specifically with homeland security, it was argued in the post-9/11 investigations that there was a lack of imagination among those whose job it was to fight terror. The phrase was even used in the 9/11 reports as one of several failures in advance of the attacks:
Essentially, our fixed mindsets made it difficult to imagine the ways in which terrorists might attack. We assumed terrorists attacks might be something like the first attacks on the WTC, or on the USS Cole, and failed to imagine what else might be possible. We were preparing, in other words, for the last terrorist attacks.
Our biases are also formed by the media. The talking heads on television are supposed to be experts and so we listen to them. Often times they have little clue as to what they are saying, but we listen away. This causes our perceptions to change and we form biases. For example, many conservative talk shows try to control people through fear. There is fear of terroist attacks, Muslim plots, and the like.
Our biases can arise because of events that happen in the world. In that sense, they have a basis in reality. In the case of homeland security, one of our biases is against Muslims. This arises, of course, because those who have been trying to attack us are Muslim. This does not mean that all Muslims want to attack us, yet we worry about them even so. We also have a bias in favor of simply allowing the government to create more and more of a security apparatus. This bias arises perhaps because we have become so used to the presence of government in our lives and we believe it is the entity that can solve our problems.
We tend to see what we want to see
Once we have a perception of something, it is hard to change our minds
We interpret new information using what we already know
These the the three bias that we need to overcome as Security/Intelligence professionals
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