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Chemistry LibreTexts

Watching for Bias

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  • Watching for Bias





    As you look for sources for your research project, you’ll want to watch out for bias in your sources. 

    Bias is when an author intentionally or unintentionally leans a story toward one viewpoint over another.  For example, some sources could indicate that the Wright brothers invention of the airplane is what made the modern world possible while other sources focus on how the airplane made warfare far more deadly.  The way they spin the story indicates their bias.

    The YouTube video attached below from the Onion does a great job of illustrating just how ridiculous and convincing bias can be. It is a "news" report of how the Weather Channel is too "pro-weather". Make sure you watch it!

    Bias can take many different forms.  One form of bias is via word choice.  Simply changing one word or two can change the implied meaning of a sentence.  Take a moment to explore the Word Choice Buffet.  Think about how the sources you have looked at have used word choice to either praise your research topic or question it.

    Another form of bias is omissions.  You may have noticed that some sources include information left out by other sources.  In some cases, that could be due to bias.  The writer didn’t want you to know about that part of the person’s life so they chose to leave it out.  Explore this website to find further examples of omissions.

    A final form that bias can take is through framing the story.  The writer decides to interpret events through a particular lens and then writes the story from that lens, not admitting that there could be other ways to interpret what happened. 

    Take a moment to watch the video embedded on the left.  It’s created by the Onion so it’s definitely making fun of media bias (they’re pointing out how the Weather Channel is biased toward weather stories) but it also shows you the many forms that bias can take.  Think through your sources and identify ones that have possible bias.  You may even need to eliminate a source if you find that the information there is too biased to be accurate.