Bias and How We Look at the World

Every now and again, life hands you a lesson.  My most recent was on how my own background can bias how I look at the world.

While I was going through some books on Arts and Crafts furniture, I saw several photos of a Frank Lloyd Wright print stand similar to this one from Popular Woodworking.  The stand looks a lot like a chair in the collection at the St. Louis Art Museum and my brain simply refused to process what I was seeing.  How could this piece truly function?  A book placed on the table-like surface would not be at a convenient height to read.

I mentioned this piece at the dinner table.  My friend, a librarian, immediately started working out how you would use it as a newspaper rack.

Not so my husband.  He just shook his head.  “A print stand.  An art print.   You just set the frame on the “seat” and lean it against the back.”

Oh.  The writer and the librarian, both historians, were trying to make it work with print media.  But without our preconceived notions, my husband quickly sorted it out.

When a source doesn’t make sense, maybe your biases are distorting how you see it.