The Tallest Dwarf

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False Accusation

Posted at — Oct 2, 2021 by Abishek Muthian

False accusation for children especially if the accusation goes totally against their values can have profound negative consequences.

When I was in grade school(early 2000, India), I went out to take a photo-copy(xerox) of a study material in a shop nearby school. After I returned to the class, I was called to the headmistress office; The shopkeeper was there and I was falsely accused of stealing his mobile phone. HM defended me for my good character and that was the end of it.

All my life I have been taught to return things which I find to the rightful owner by my parents. When I was even younger I have returned expensive things to the school authorities like Timex data-link watch when I didn't have a watch.

Couple of days later I learnt from another student that someone notorious for stealing things in our school was the one who stole that phone. I didn't do anything about it.

I had nightmares of that incident when I was a child. Mental health/Counseling was not a thing in India(Still isn't for most). I had been ruminating on 'Why me, I'm not a thief' for a long time.

In my late 20s I found that thief on Facebook, He was a DJ in an European country. My friend request was accepted, My goal was to ask him about the incident, May be if he accepted his wrong-doing I could have some closure. I didn't ask him.

I'm 34 now, My philosophy towards life have changed and so is my understanding of science. I think the reason shop keeper accused me was just because of cognitive bias. I'm a dwarf with visible limb deformities. I think the shop keeper accused me, because he remembered just me in a shop where there could be two dozen people anytime.

Now I'm overtly conscious of my environment and cognitive biases of people who see me due to my disability.

If you have read till now, Thank you for your time.

This post originally appeared as my comment on Hacker News. I'm writing this here as a gentle reminder that our cognitive biases can affect us and others in the ways we've haven't considered before.


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