Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

Is it bad to judge?

Asked by wundayatta (58326 points ) December 7th, 2011

I know there are times when people like me because I don’t judge them. There are other times when people do not seem to like me because I make judgments. I’m not clear on why this difference is there.

We judge all the time, I think. We like or don’t like something. We like or don’t like a person. We approve or disapprove of a person’s actions.

Should we never judge? If we do judge, when is it acceptable? When is it unacceptable? What is this shaming people for judging all about?

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42 Answers

GladysMensch's avatar

Not if you’re Judy

Leanne1986's avatar

I believe that everyone judges and it’s human nature. If you act on those thoughts then you will often come across as a self righteous arse hole but just thinking them doesn’t make you a bad person.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

In a public online forum like fluther, I think for us to express our inner judgements is important because it’s genuine and not as skewed as if we knew each other face-to-face. Where people do know each other then there’s how you’d feel if you didn’t know them and then what you feel by what you do know of them. Both are important and not bad as long as what’s received is kept in the context given.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Judgement is good and fine as long as one has all the necessary facts available to make an accurate judgement with. Anything less is vulgar self righteousness based in shortsighted ignorance.

KoleraHeliko's avatar

For some reason, a large number of people have this idea that ‘judging’ is bad. This is the height of ridiculousness. Before I get into a car, I judge whether or not the person driving is capable of driving. Before I eat something, I judge the possible mould levels. Before jumping across a gap, I judge how much force is required for me to clear it.

Judgement is not a horrible, evil force. It’s a mental process to determine things.

saint's avatar

It is important to judge, and also important to prepare to be judged.

jca's avatar

I try not to judge someone on their appearance, but I find that sometimes I can’t help it. If someone looks messy and dirty, I think to myself that this person maybe does not value hygiene, but I am very aware that it could be due to another reason, like maybe they’re homeless. But I won’t assume that if someone is messy and dirty looking, they’re homeless.

I think that it’s human nature to judge because judging can be a safety check. We size people up and determine if maybe, by their behavior, they are people we should not go near. Maybe we should not make friends with someone who commits crimes. That’s just one example I can think of quickly. Maybe if someone had some drinks and they want us to get in their car, we judge them and determine another course of action. Maybe if someone was a wife beater, that’s not someone I would like to date.

YARNLADY's avatar

No, judging is a survival trait.. However, what is bad is making judgments without sufficient information.

Paradox25's avatar

There are too many variables to answer with a definite yes or no. Some situations are obvious like if your roommate didn’t shower in 2 weeks or hasn’t worked in over a year. I think the line gets crossed when we criticize others for their personalities or viewpoints alone, and when you cross this line you must be prepared to have your own ego and viewpoints counterjudged as well. Example: an extroverted person criticizing a person for their introversion.

Coloma's avatar

Judging judgment is a judgment. lol
I do my best to be aware and catch myself if I feel I am going into a judgment space, but yep, judgment happens at times.
The only judgments that matter are those of character, the rest is ego.

I prefer to replace “judgment” with discernment.

Sunny2's avatar

The problem isn’t with making judgments, it’s voicing them inappropriately. If you keep your opinions to yourself, no problems. If you are criticized for speaking about your judgments, be prepared to take some flak, that’s all.

saint's avatar

@Sunny2 Assuming that we have made reasoned judgements, which are defensible, how do we voice those judgements inappropriatley?
Or is simply voicing them regarded as inappropriate?

Mariah's avatar

Judgement is necessary…it would be silly to treat every person and every situation exactly the same. It is necessary to discriminate because not everyone is the same and wants the same treatment as the next guy.

Premature judgement is what I think we should avoid. See an obese person and think “what a lazy slob.” See a woman in revealing clothing and think “slut.” That is not okay.

saint's avatar

@Mariah But if we see an obese person, and we know with certainty that they are a slob, than who could argue that we are being honest if we judge them accordingly?
Yet, I suspect that there are those among us who would argue that, in spite of that certainty, we are wrong to render an objective negative judgement.
I think that is the basis of the question, and it represents a moral problem in our culture.

Mariah's avatar

@saint That is exactly what I am saying. Judge away once you actually know the situation. Don’t judge prematurely – before you know whether something else might be going on beneath the surface.

saint's avatar

Then why are those who are objectively judged as slobs, worthless, useless, hopeless and wandering lost in the deep dark woods of some confused conceptual fog, so often regarded as immune from judgement?

Mariah's avatar

I don’t know that I agree with the concept of objective judgement.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

saint's avatar

Without an epistemological basis for objective truth, then there is no reason whatsoever for any reasonable debate. At that point, the person with the biggest gun wins the argument. Good luck with that philosophy. If you truly believe it, your future is not all that bright. Over and out.

Mariah's avatar

Uh, okay.

Symbeline's avatar

Everyone judges, it cannot be helped. It’s like tasting the waters, and figuring out if it’s good for you or not. It may be trite and primitive, but it’s a natural human thing we can’t escape. We’re big on survival, and yes, I believe that includes social drama. By judging, we maintain our sense of security and our sense of worth in the face of adversity, as well as this big bad world with the teeth like Jaws.
Is it bad or good? Fucks if I know. Seems bad most of the time, but I’d say the desire for gain creates just as many wars.

ETpro's avatar

I hate people who are judgmental. They are shallow, stupid, egotistical, self-important… Oh wait. I think I am judging them.

Bellatrix's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies and @YARNLADY pretty much sum up my thoughts on this idea. We all do judge but if we decide to speak up or act on that judgement, it should be based on valid information/evidence.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

The thing about judging has been said quite well by those before me. Where the judgment goes squirrelly is when that judgment on nothing but yourself or a group with no authority tied to behave or act if they are in some way better and more deserving then they who they judged badly.

There is no way to conduct anything with out setting limits, standards, etc. When you do that, there is a vetting going on as to what is up to snuff, and what doesn’t cut the mustard. It even has to happen with people, but it is just applied the wrong way.

jazmina88's avatar

Judge not, lest ye be judged.

If you look at life, as people being stuck on the same boat, instead of the millionaire’s deck, then you look at their circumstances as unique instead of dirty or wrong.

wundayatta's avatar

There are a number of examples I could mention where people have told me they are grateful that I don’t judge them. They include having had an abortion, being mentally ill, cheating, being gay, and more. At the same time, people tell me they feel judged in a way that implies I am doing wrong by judging in other situations. One that comes to mind is food. People are afraid of the look on my face, which apparently clearly says when I don’t like something.

I also judge people’s opinions. I judge Republicans badly. I don’t have any Republican friends. I do not approve of joining the armed services. I don’t approve of conservatives. I don’t trust religious people or indeed, almost anyone who doesn’t understand the scientific method and thinks their opinion has just as much validity as opinions for which there is scientific evidence—people who believe in astrology, for example (which is different from those who think it is a hoot or a way of getting to know people).

I get a lot of negative feedback about these judgments that makes me feel that I either shouldn’t have them, or if I do have them, shouldn’t express them. I think this is because people often feel bad when I express these judgments. They get angry with me. They feel put down—unfairly, I guess. As if it isn’t a justifiable ground for judging others. That’s just speculation.

Those are the kind of judgments it seems like it is bad to make. I feel like I should say that even though I think you’re wrong, I still respect you. And I do respect them on some level. I believe they have personal experiences that led them to these opinions, and even though they made the wrong analysis, I can understand how they got there.

Perhaps they feel I am judging their personalities, or their whole personhood. Or writing them off. Honestly, I don’t exactly know. Just speculating. Perhaps it’s just how I come off—arrogant or unfeeling or something. What is it about certain judgments that gets people’s back up?

Sunny2's avatar

@saint Sometimes it is inappropriate. Unless you are asked for your opinion, I don’t see that anybody has the right to express an opinion that might hurt someone’s feelings. We can’t just go around saying, “Hey, you’re fat!” or “You’re stupid.” On the other hand, making a judgment that someone is being too noisy, one may politely ask for quiet “because the baby is sleeping” or some such. If people have opinions about beliefs and get into an argument about it, they can fight it out as long as it doesn’t disturb the peace. imho

saint's avatar

So if somebody says “You hate the poor, because you resist paying more taxes” should I be hurt by that, or simply accept it as a fact of life?

Mariah's avatar

Now that I have some time and am somewhat coherent I’d like to defend my statement, if you haven’t completely written me and my future off, @saint.~

When I say I don’t believe in objective judgement I am not saying I think every single viewpoint conceiveable is equally valid. But I think when you consider issues on which people are largely divided, there is no clear cut answer as to which group is “right.” Different people have different priorities. I think healthcare is important. Someone else might prefer to move a percentage of those funds toward education. How could we possibly say that there is an objective right answer to that question, when every single person who might make those judgement calls is biased?

Anyhow, I tend to approach judgements of human beings even more delicately than political judgements because I value empathy and I think anybody you might condemn as a waste of space has probably gone through something horrible to make them that way, and I think it is kinder to think about rehabilitation than it is to run about declaring their uselessness. What does that even accomplish?

saint's avatar

@Mariah You can value whatever you choose. Others may not choose the same. But if you cannot objectively and rationally create values, they are capricious, and thus have no epistemological or moral value whatsoever.
However, if some people value health care, let them commit their resources thus. If someone values education more, let them spend their energy and money in that direction. Both are legitimate values. If you choose one, and I choose the other, we are both right. How could we be in conflict? What is the point you are trying to make?

Sunny2's avatar

@saint If someone told you that you hate the poor, then they are way out of line. You can argue or dismiss it. Why are they picking a fight? I would simply look at them astounded and say something like, “This is stupid.” Anyone trying to define another person’s feelings or opinions is on very shaky ground and I wouldn’t continue to argue. Their opinion is no longer of importance to me and I would avoid them in the future.

ETpro's avatar

@saint Here’s a discussion about why it’s wrong to tell people what they are instead of talking about what they did. The clip is about calling out racist acts or speech, but it holds true no matter what the conversation. I can tell what you do, and I can point out its effects. I can’t look in your soul and tell why you do it, so it’s best to steer clear of any claim as to what kind of person someone is, and focus on the right or wrong of what they do.

saint's avatar

@ETpro
I am not sure I follow you. People “are” just another a critter until they begin to think and develop ideas. At that point they are subject to judgement by other people. It is their ideas and how they are assembled that subject people to judgement. Thinking is no less “doing something” then building a bridge.

ETpro's avatar

@saint You can judge for yourself what somebody else is in their heart of hearts, but the moment you accuse them of being that, especially if it’s negative, you set yourself up for an argument you cannot win. The video clip makes the why of that abundantly clear.

You mentioned not wanting to help the poor. I don’t believe the political philosophy that things work best when it’s every man for himself, and screw all who fall behind. If the US Army worked that way, we’d have a terrible militray that could easily be routed in terrified retreat. You would know that in a firefight, none of your buddies would have your back. THey’d be scurrying away to save their own skins. If the enemy captured you, too bad. THat’s what you get for playing dumb. Forget about this nonsense that we never leave a soldier behind.

Likewise, when people support policies that benefit only the rich, and take from the middle class and the poor to do it, I don’t know what’s in their hearts. Some legitimately feel that;s the best path for America. Some are dupes seduced by clever bumper stickers crafted by a huge network of right-wing think tanks and PR firms financed by a group of billionaires and corporate jet setters who hope to be the oligarchs of the American banana republic they seek to create. Others are actually the men behind the curtain. Billionaires like the Koch Brothers, the Waltons, Murdoch… They support giving ever more breaks to the richest Americans because they ARE the richest Americans.

But if I get into a debate with someone I don’t know, I have no idea which sort of right-wing champion of reverse Robin Hood policies I am talking to. But I do know where the policies they support have taken us over the last 30 years, and I can debate then about what they are doing and where it will lead, not what they are.

bkcunningham's avatar

@ETpro, the hiphop blogger in the video you posted assumes to have the magic key to arguing and winning in every situation which involves what he deems a racist comment. Trumping someone and winning an argument is the goal of the video. What is the point of that?

It seems like he’s talking to and preparing some righteous army and already has an answer ready without really listening or having a conversation. ...“It seems like everybody, everywhere is talking about race right now. And when everybody, everywhere is talking about race, that means sooner or later you’re going to have to tell somebody that they said something that sounded racist. So you need to be ready and have a plan in place for how to approach the inevitable, ‘that sounded racist conversation.’ ”

Mariah's avatar

@saint “You can value whatever you choose. Others may not choose the same.” And neither choice is wrong because they are based on subjective experiences, both all of which are valid. That is my point.

My point with health care vs. education was not regarding individuals’ funds but government funds in which giving to one means taking from another. And I agree, supporting either choice is right.

Perhaps I misunderstood your position. If you believe in an objective reality then how can you believe that two opposing options can both be right? To me, that is what subjectivity is all about.

saint's avatar

@Mariah
“Government” values nothing but power and priviledge. It will act to achieve and keep these values by any means it needs to, even if it means (depending on the time and context) sacrificing your life and mine to do it. Look at history and the modern world. All governments do this to a greater or lesser degree. I was not talking about government. Government does not give one shit what you value, only what it takes to make you want to keep giving it power and priviledge.

There is no opposing opinion in the example you gave. If you value health care the most highly, you will use more of your energies to achieve that care than someone who does not. No conflict there. The role if government is to make sure nobody stops you from pursuing your value, and that you do not stop somebody else while they pursue theirs.

People may inject subjectivety into the process of evaluating reality, but the thing that they are experiencing, external reality, is not subjective. It is there. It is real. Our consciousness is designed to allow us to know what the nature of it is, so that we have a better chance of surviving in it. The less disciplined we are in how we use our consciousness, the less we know about reality and the more we know about all the other little things our brains can do (daydreams, fantasies etc), many of which at best get us nowhere, and at worst put ourselves and those around us at risk.

ETpro's avatar

@bkcunningham Sounds rather like jsmooth995 touched a nerve. I have relistened to his rap, and I find nothing offensive or judgmental in it. He’s pointing out an obvious flaw in trying to confront speech by claiming to understand its motivation rather than by ealing with what was actually said. What’s your problem with his suggestions. Do you think that racist speech should never be challenged? Your criticism of his video drifts pretty close to criticizing who he is because he is anti-racism and is attempting to help others who feel the same way stand up to racist rhetoric. Doesn’t that take you toward the “Whi he is.” conversation? If you think what he said is wrong, then let’s have the “What he said.” conversation about what’s wrong with it.

Mariah's avatar

@saint “External reality is not subjective. It is there. It is real.”

Delving into the very abstract evidence may be to the contrary. For example, the double slit experiment in quantum physics, which says that when we send a beam of particles at a set of two slits, each particle goes through both slits simultaneously. That is until we watch it. When we’re watching it is forced to make up its “mind” and go through just one. Similarly, the Schrodinger’s cat thought experiment tells about a cat that is simultaneously alive and dead until we check on it.

Furthermore, even if external reality really is objective, the term “good” is so subjective. While I might agree with you on the nature of reality I might not agree that that reality is “good.” I might take a utilitarian view (the greatest good for the greatest number of people is ideal) while somebody else might take a Machiavellian view and say that if some people have to suffer to further society, that’s a fair trade off. And who’s to say, who has the final word, which view is right?

Anyway, I suppose we’re going to just keep spitting the same concepts phrased differently if we keep this up, but I can respect your point of view, I’m not convinced I’m right it’s just how I see things right now, and it’s been a nice discussion. I’m out now though.

bkcunningham's avatar

@ETpro, did you actually read my answer? Your response is so unrelated to my response I don’t know how to answer you to be honest. I posted a part of “what he said” and my opinion on that part of “what he said.” Nowhere did I come anywhere close to conveying that I have problems with what he is saying because “he is anti-racism and is attempting to help others who feel the same way stand up to racist rhetoric.” That, my friend, is laughable and BS.

ETpro's avatar

@bkcunningham Yes, I actually read your answer You posted part of what he said, but then set up a straw man instead of dealing with his points. .I suspect there must be a reason you need to erect a straw man to skewer instead of dealing with the points tha jsmooth995 males. My rebuttal stands.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

No, it’s not always bad to judge. There are times when it’s important to make judgement calls. For example, a parent should be very careful about who he or she leaves his or her child(ren) alone with.

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