This word has largely come to be seen as something negative - reflecting the undue influence of any sort of prejudice over our judgment or decision making. Since this influence is understood to distort that judgment and decision making, the goal is often taken for granted as to become "free of bias" or "unbiased" in our assessments of the world around us.
This word “unbiased” is thus often synonymous with "objective" and "neutral." Out of this view, accusations of political bias are often made as an attack on various news networks or others presuming some kind of objectivity or neutrality - e.g., scientists and scholars.
From another perspective, some sort of standpoint or bias is an inherent and innate feature of the human mind - and something that literally cannot be "escaped" or "shelved." If that is true, some would argue this "bias against bias" may cause problems by pressing people to not acknowledge their biases and pretend they do not exist. As an alternative way to seek fairness and objectivity, diverse voices may be invited to acknowledge their biases in an open, transparent way that allows a discussion to be aware of what informs it.
QUESTIONS TO PLAY WITH:
- Do you see bias as a negative thing? If so, why? If not, why?
- What are your biases?
- Ask someone you know what your biases are. Is their answer different than yours was?
- What would happen if people (scientists and normal folks alike) acknowledged their various biases, rather than attempting to merely control or eliminate them?
Robert J. MacCoun (1998). Biases In The Interpretation And Use Of Research Results. Annual Review of Psychology, 49.
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