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Chemistry LibreTexts

Bias

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    186198
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    What is Bias? 

    This is how the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines bias:

    • BENT , TENDENCY b : an inclination of temperament or outlook; especially: a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment: PREJUDICE c :an instance of such prejudice d (1): deviation of the expected value of a statistical estimate from the quantity it estimates (2): systematic error introduced into sampling or testing by selecting or encouraging one outcome or answer over others.

    Here's what Roget's II: The New Thesaurus, Third Edition says:

    • Exhibiting bias: biased, one-sided, partisan, prejudiced, prejudicial, prepossessed, tendentious. See LIKE, STRAIGHT. 2. Disposed to favor one over another: favorable, preferential.

    When it comes to modern media like news, advertising and the Internet, bias on demand has become the profession of spin-doctors who specialize in spinning anything negative into something positive.

    Why should we check the bias of information?

    Would you trust information unsupported by facts or logical reasoning? A biased author may not pay attention to all the facts or develop a logical argument to support his or her opinions. This is important when you are researching because you want to make sure you have ALL the facts, not just some of them. You want to make sure your research is balanced, so when you write an argument you have taken into account both sides to develop your own position.

    Bias is when a statement reflects a partiality, preference, or prejudice for or against a person, object, or idea. Much of what you read and hear expresses a bias. Bias is when a writer or speaker uses a selection of facts, choice of words, and the quality and tone of description, to convey a particular feeling or attitude. Its purpose is to convey a certain attitude or point of view toward the subject. As you read or listen to biased materials, keep the following questions in mind:

    • What facts has the author omitted?
    • What additional information is necessary?
    • What words create positive or negative impressions?
    • What impression would I have if different words had been used?

    Biased information tries to change your mind, how you think. Being aware of bias and knowing how to identify, analyze, and assimilate biased information properly is a skill to be treasured. It puts you in charge of how you think instead of the print and media world. (Cuesta College Critically Evaluating the Logic and Validity of Information)

     

    What are some indicators of bias?

    • The language of the document is often extreme; statements have all or nothing connotations.
    • The argument appeals more to the emotions than to logic.
    • Things are worded with the intent to oversimplify or over generalize.
    • The author wishes to present a limited view of the topic.

    You should expect bias on things that are dedicated to selling you something. Additionally, sources dedicated to controversial topics are likely to have a bias.

     

    Questions to keep in mind as you seek indicators of bias:

    • What is the author's political point of view?
    • What does the author stand to gain?
    • Who is paying for the website?
    • Does the author present alternate points of view?
    • If so, are those views presented objectively, or with scorn?

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    Source:

    "Indicators of Bias." Indicators of Bias. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2014.