“Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!” (Matthew 6:22–23 NLT)
Caroline Criado Perez’s book Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men is all about how the data used by scientists, regulators, policymakers, and engineers is skewed toward men. She writes, “Because so much data fails to take into account gender, because it treats men as the default and women as atypical, bias and discrimination are baked into our systems. And women pay tremendous costs for this bias, in time, money, and often with their lives.” One of the examples she gives is in the use of crash-test dummies, which were first introduced in 1950. These dummies were built to represent the average-sized man, which is still significantly taller and heavier than most women. It wouldn’t be until 2011 that the US would begin using crash-test dummies based on the average woman. According to Criado Perez, even though men are more likely to be involved in a car crash, a woman involved in a crash “is 47 percent more likely to be seriously injured, and 71 percent more likely to be moderately injured, even when researchers control for factors such as height, weight, seatbelt usage, and crash intensity. She is also 17 percent more likely to die. And it’s all to do with how the car is designed — and for whom.”
Computer science has a term for this: GIGO, meaning garbage in, garbage out. Flawed data input will lead to flawed results. The problem is that so often, such as in the case of the crash-test dummies, the flawed results work well enough that we don’t always initially recognize the flaws of the data, or, even worse, we suspect there is a flaw but we don’t want to make the necessary effort to correct it because of the work involved; the mess of a cake that came out of the oven looks and tastes enough like the real thing that we’re willing to choke down the dry, salty concoction rather than spend the time and resources to remake it correctly.
To some degree, all of us have committed this folly of failing to recognize when we have accepted an incomplete understanding or an outright lie as the full truth. For example, one person’s misconception of what hospitality means might lead them to host friends for dinner rather than open their life to the strangers in their midst and in turn allow themselves to enter into spaces where they themselves would be considered the stranger. The former is good, but it’s not the full picture of what hospitality is meant to be.
Invite the Holy Spirit to shine his light on your life, illuminating the areas where you have mistaken darkness for light, fiction for fact, incomplete data as the full truth. Allow God to help you work through correcting the garbage that has come in, and don’t let yourself be afraid to put in the work to remake the cake.