I started Bible Quizzing when I was 14. Somewhere in my early 20's I switched from quizzer to coach and quizmaster. The quizmaster is the person who asks the questions that the three teams jump on. He or she also makes judgment calls. Questions are constructed word for word out of the scripture like so:
Q: When did God speak to our forefathers through the prophets?
A: In the past
However, answers do not have to be word perfect, so there is often debate as to what constitutes a right or a wrong answer. Quizzers have the opportunity to debate these nuances with the quizmaster - to defend or contest a given answer.
Looking back, it is interesting to me that when I was a quizzer, most issues were black and white. Quizmasters were, from my perspective, either dead on or out of their minds on particular judgments. Good calls were the ones that I agreed with, bad calls were those with which I did not. The personal convenience of that pattern never occurred to me. I was often puzzled by quizmasters who spent so much time considering a ruling on something that was OBVIOUSLY so clear.
My perspective changed once I started quizmastering. I spent time weighing out the various arguments. I could often give a measure of validation to both sides of the debate. Sometimes I would have to throw a question out because I felt I could not make a fair call otherwise. At that point, the captains of the opposing teams would often roll their eyes... convinced that I could not be more wrong.
What had happened to the certainty I had as a quizzer? Where had the clarity gone?
It went away with my biases. Now that I was no longer advancing or defending a position, I had lost my vested interest. Being on a "side" created a natural imbalance in my mental scales... something that is difficult to recognize while you are on a side.
This makes me wonder where else in my life I see clarity where there is none. Where else do my vested interests push the scale to an outcome that does not exist for someone outside the equation? Through experience I have learned to recognize some of my biases and I try to compensate for them; but how many lurk beneath the surface, silently altering my view to create something that is not completely accurate?
I thought this video of the varying commentary on Michelle Obama's convention speech is a good example of biases coloring the view of the same occurrence.