Judgment is interesting. While necessary for survival, it can interfere with seeing things clearly.
Judgment is simply the evaluation of evidence in the making of a decision. Some judgements are conscious (e.g. deciding to read a book because a friend told you it was good) while an unfathomable amount of judgments operate on an unconscious level (Neuroscientist David Eagleman captures this with: “your consciousness is like a tiny stowaway on a transatlantic steamship, taking credit for the journey without acknowledging the massive engineering underfoot”).
We make decisions every minute of every day, and thus we judge every minute of every day.
Quick experiment: watch the first 25 seconds of the below video then pause it before the guy starts talking.
Did you have any thoughts? Did you notice the thoughts when you were having them? How would you say you feel about this video?
For me, this kind of introduction could automatically trigger the following thoughts: “man this is cheesy, did movies really used to start like this? What is that, 16-bit sound?” In an instant I’ve just made a judgement.
Is that bad?
Depends on if I was aware of it.
If I was unaware, I may carry this judgment of feeling I was watching something “cheesy” with me throughout the rest of the video, and I would probably be more apt to discount the message once the guy (Richard Feynman) starts talking. This would be my loss. Feynman happens to be one of the most brilliant physicists of our generations and is a Nobel Laureate.
If I can be aware of these thoughts, however, I can decide if the judgment holds merit. In this particular case, the judgment is basically how video introductions from 1981 are not as sophisticated as those used today. So what? In ’81 this was probably cutting edge. In this case, my negative judgment is really just irrelevant “noise” interfering with my ability to understand the message.
Bringing greater awareness to our judgments, and then consciously accepting those that are valid while disregarding those that are not, seems to me to be immensely valuable.
How often are judgments just noise, especially when they relate to other people? I’m not sure, but I would imagine a lot more than most people are aware of. The more I’ve begun to pay attention to my judgments, the more I realize how bogus many of them are.
[Oh, and by the way, Feynman’s actual message in this video is great. It may the subject of another post, but if you haven't heard of him keep watching and you're in for a treat.]