Thursday, September 04, 2008

Personal and Public Bias

I am biased. You are biased. We all are biased. This is because EVERYONE has beliefs, convictions and opinions.

What does it mean to be biased? IS it the same thing as "having an opinion," or "believing in something?"
From Wikipedia: "Bias is a term used to describe a tendency or preference towards a particular perspective, ideology or result, especially when the tendency interferes with the ability to be impartial, unprejudiced, or objective. [1] The term biased is used to describe an action, judgment, or other outcome influenced by bias, and it is also used to refer to a person or body of people whose actions or judgments exhibit bias."
From 2. a particular tendency or inclination, esp. one that prevents unprejudiced consideration of a question; prejudice.

When does bias come into play? It comes into play when someone is supposed to give an objective / unprejudiced opinion/fact about something but doesn't. aka. Bringing personal beliefs, perspectives, or ideologies into the telling of the story. Bias usually comes in the form of speculation about the details and motives behind events or other facts. Any way it comes, it shows favoritism.

Can you tell which people are biased? What is the difference between a talk show host who rips on the democratic party and a television news station that says essentially the same thing? The answer is that the talk show is all about opinions and beliefs and is thus not "biased" because the host is never intending to tell the story from an objective perspective, where as the tv new station is supposed to be objective and unbiased, so they are guilty of delivering biased news and in my opinion they should be stripped of their credibility. But then we would have no (or almost no) tv news stations anymore because the majority of them are biased.

Since it seems to be a fact of life that new is biased, what are we to do about it? Well, we can't close them all down, we can't (or shouldn't) cut news out of our life altogether, we can't get them to change (at least not unless you have a lot of money and power). So it looks like our only option is to live with it. We can figure out what stations and reporters are biased and how. But in the end what good is that? Do we only listen / watch the stations and reporters that share our own personal beliefs and convictions? If so, how do we conpensate for the fact that we will be hearing one side of the story? Do we listen to two different stations that report from different biases in order to get the whole picture?

I speculate that most people listen and watch only the stations and programs that fit their own personal beliefs and convictions. I have observed that most people get angry, spiteful, and defensive when watching news delivered from a bias other than their own. Instead of attacking the source of the bias, they usually attack the subject of the news and anyone who shares that same belief and conviction.

There are a lot of angry, spiteful and defensive people out there. The only way to appease them it to surround them with people of their own opinions (and sometimes that is not even enough - hence angry protestors - they must let EVERYONE know of their opinions, beliefs, and convictions as if they are the only right ones to have - they are right, everyone else is simply wrong and stupid if they do not change their mind).

I suggest listening / watching BBC news sometime. It is refreshing to see unbiased news (they are not perfect either, but they are much better than the American news media).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You really must get out more if you believe the bbc is unbiased - it is not upholding its charter and is arrogant, secretive, and dismissive of the vast number of complaints on its bias.