Bias

“Everyone is biased, it’s just a matter of picking the best bias to be biased by.”

I did mention yesterday exactly how much I love alliteration, which probably has something to do with why that’s still one of my favorite quotes. Well, that and the fact that it’s completely true. Everyone is biased, the key is whether or not a person is aware of their biases on certain issues, and how those can affect your critical thinking process.

For example: I am generally biased in favor of a more conservative viewpoint, but I’m also aware of that. Because of my conservative bias, I avoid Fox News like the plague, not because I think it’s bad; it’s because since their organizational bias often parallels mine, I’m less likely to be able to separate biased opinion from objective fact.

That’s actually why I prefer to watch CNN for my news – because their bias runs opposite of mine, I’m more likely to notice it and separate bias from fact.

I actually consider a bias that I agree with to be more dangerous than a bias that I don’t agree with. From my personal point of view, if I agree with what your opinion, I’m less likely to apply the necessary critical thought process to examine your opinion (and inherent biases) for their own value.

The flip side of that is that sometimes I’ll dismiss the opinions of other people entirely because they don’t agree with my predetermined bias. So it is very easy to fall into the trap of just rolling along with your preconceived opinions.

Bias in and of itself isn’t a bad thing, Webster’s defines bias as: “an inclination of temperament or outlook; especially : a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment”. Noting the “sometimes” qualifier to unreasoned judgment, it appears that a bias is really nothing other than an indicator of how you’ll react to an opinion.

Having a good knowledge of your own personal biases can really make you more effective at expressing your opinions, debating opponents, it can even regrow balding hair! Well, I might have lied about that last one, but the first two are true.

So, the question then is what are your biases? Feel free to share them in the comments – I’ll share one here.

I am generally biased in favor of the police. In the past, I have excused videotaped negative behavior by police officers because of my bias in that area. I accept that at times my bias in that area prevents me from applying all the critical thinking to certain issues that deserve it.

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