It seems every facet of Canada’s energy discussion is in constant motion. Development aspirations rise and fall with commodity prices. Ideas for producing energy cheaper, quicker and cleaner abound. And a steady stream of news articles, tweets and blog posts document it all.
Canada’s energy debate is high velocity and, unfortunately, as divided as a two-lane highway. Some people strongly favour the status quo and want to continue developing Canada’s hydrocarbon energy resources. Others are opposed to fossil fuels and want to abandon them as quickly as possible.
While naming-calling and the like keep the discussion polarized, there are also other forces at work holding back progress.
Regardless of the public position someone has decided to stake, anything they do is still largely determined by invisible lines that divide even more clearly than their explicit positions: their biases.
In psychology, bias is one of the most important principles for understanding why we make the choices we do. Whether we’re conscious of them or not, our implicit attitudes are shaped by the world we live in, from our upbringing to our current lifestyle. As Warren Buffett says, “What the human being is best at doing, is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact.”
Researchers call these implicit attitudes “blind spots.” Once you’re aware of your biases, researchers contend it’s possible to reframe your thinking and approach to others.
The good news is that we can make the mental equivalent of a shoulder check by analyzing our blind spots. There’s a test you can take to determine your blind spots, as well as a book (reviewed here) with insights for adapting beliefs and behavior so we can be fairer to those around us.
When it comes to solutions on how best to produce and consume energy now and in the future, it’s critical we, as a society, start moving together in the same direction, even if we don’t completely agree on how to get there. Knowing about and regularly checking our blind spots may help us avoid collisions and reach our destination safely.