The Basis of Judgment

Each and every one of us is constantly judging other people. We deem this person to be bad, this other person to be good, etc. But what is the science behind people’s judgment? In other words, is it possible to predict what judgment a person will make?

Let’s look at science  for this. Specifically Einstein and his theory of relativity. In this theory, Einstein stated that depending on the frame in which we are in, space and time is different for each observer. For instance, the fact of whether I am in a plane or just on earth affects the way I measure the speed of a flying bird. Basically, space and time change depending on what frame I’m in. Space and time is relative. Our rulers get shorter and our clocks tick slower as the frame in which we are in moves faster.

The same thing goes with how we judge people. Suppose my class is giving group presentations about Shakespeare. Depending on which “frame” I am in determines how my teacher judges what grade to give me. For instance, if the “frame”I am in is in which every other group besides mine failed horribly, then my average presentation suddenly seems like it deserved an A+. If the “frame” I am in is which all the other presentations aced liked hell, then my average presentation suddenly seems like a F.

As you can see, people judge by taking what other people have done with contrast to yours. Because the reality is, there is no exact thing that’s an A, B, C, D, or F. To put it in better terms, we judge based on examples from our surroundings or from our knowledge. For instance, take Hitler. Perhaps the first word that pops up into your mind is “evil.” Why do we judge him to be evil, however? Is it because of the mass atrocities that he committed? Partly, yes. But mostly it’s because we compare to other political figures in the past who have done better things than him and see that what he did was very much inferior than what the other leaders did. For if other leaders were killing millions of people every day, then we might just see him as any regular leader.

The same goes with anybody who we deem good or bad. Why one is deemed good or bad is not because of his actions, but rather because in contrast to what everybody else does, what he did was better or worse. All of this is relative. Relativity is the basis of how we judge.

So how can one predict how another one will judge? First, we have to consider that person’s background  with inclusion of his knowledge. Again, he is judging relative to what he knows. Second, we have to know if he has seen a similar situation to the situation he is judging now. This narrows done step one, because we can immediately guarantee that he will be judging almost entirely on that experience.

All of this brings up an important note: if the basis of our judgment is relative, then there is no such thing as “good” or “bad.” One can be considered good if you put it in one “frame,” or be considered bad in another scenario. There is also no such thing as pretty or ugly. Or smart or stupid. Because every judgment is relative, there is no exact values or definitions for the words we use to judge. It’s like in my previous example in which I said there is no exact thing for an A, B, or F. We might as well rewrite the definition of pretty as “looking better than others” and the definition of smart as “more creative than others” in order to encompass this relativity.

All in all, perhaps our very human behavior is relative.


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