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Author Topic: Is everyone biased?  (Read 12894 times)

Kent Beuchert

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Re: Is everyone biased?
« Reply #15 on: June 20, 2014, 07:58:55 AM »

Let' see  now, X claims everyone has some bias, about something. Now to prove that claim
X need only examine the 5 billion or so humans on the planet, in an exhaustive fashion,
using lie detector tests, etc.
 The main issue here is that, in the field of science, personal bias is irelevant. Scientists don't
(or shouldn't) judge  the plausibility of a theory by trying to figure out whether the
person who advanced same is biased. Or whether they have green toenails, either.
 You're in the realm of ad hominem fallacies if you do. Now if the person judging the plausibility
of a theory is biased, that's his problem. The theory and its supporting evidence remains unaltered irregardless of any bias of that sort.

Bruce Thomas

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Re: Is everyone biased?
« Reply #16 on: June 20, 2014, 08:05:02 AM »

The theory and its supporting evidence remains unaltered irregardless of any bias of that sort.

Your green toenails are showing.



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Re: Is everyone biased?
« Reply #17 on: June 20, 2014, 09:30:16 AM »

Since when did 'bias' get such a sullied reputation as to be considered an object of such... bias?

Every human being alive is full of bias, at least in terms of being limited by one's own knowledge or ability to understand or tolerate those things that are observable around them.  Obviously what matters is the more willfully applied form of bias, when it occurs - whether one acts or reports in an arbitrary way on a crucial subject because of some bias of laziness, level of comfort or avoidance of upsetting convention - or determination to actively upset a convention.  Those are not marks of the more able observer and reporter, for sure - bias tends to be consciously avoided by such people for the most part.

Then it becomes hardly worth the mention: the material presented by someone who had applied bias, willfully or not, would soon be revealed to the critically qualified reviewer as something less-than objectively given, IMO, i.e. one may judge for one's self, keeping in mind one's own limitations and... biases.

It seems then more a matter of how well an individual reporter chooses to behave - and IMO, a serious academically-minded person would clearly avoid the application of human bias.  Is that perhaps more the argument?

If it is - and I tend to believe it is so, then the reviewer bears the burden of rooting out bias and proclaiming it, if necessary, in a clear, bias-free manner.  A broadcast assumption of human bias at every turn is far too sweeping to be effective - it is mere smoke drifting across what may well be a reasonable report, in my own biased view.  That bias also is chilling, IMO - it is as if a tool of the would-be censor.  It is therefore also possibly not a question of whether I've just made a biased statement about the application of bias and human nature due to my own human nature, but whether it is reasonably biased toward my position by some acceptable convention of judgment... 

The point of wide-spread human bias then becomes moot, IMO - every position worthy of consideration also deserves critical review and responsible comment should the reviewer deem it so important.  This is so whether commentary is supportive or challenging; that burden necessarily falls to the commenter every time, *regardless of any bias otherwise. 
(*The preferred form of the common expression, IMO, so as to avoid the dubious and double negative form of same; my propensity to remark thus reveals also a pet peeve, one rather definite form of bias, however right or wrong I may be.)

There the thing seems to stand in my view.  It does nothing for me to wave off an account of a civil war battle as unreliable because a mere human being wrote it and it therefore is necessarily 'biased'; nor should I attack it at face value simply because of an absence of peer review.  I believe I could do no more than state "it lacks peer review", were that the case, and would bear the burden of saying substantially why the account is unreliable due to bias, were I to proceed that way.  I must identify why the writer either exercised or overlooked personal bias - if I can reasonably show that such a thing is causal.  Otherwise I would display mere bias of my own; I think I would be rightly limited to a factual comparison and realize that the writer might have had limited information, etc.

That this string has grown as it has underscores for me that many have green toenails where others might prefer, say, purple (I am biased toward blue, personally), and that differing opinions - necessarily born of bias since human experience and knowledge from different perspectives are brought to bear, are creatures of some bias themselves...

The question then may be: is bias material to the argument?  If so, has something thereby made the point impeachable as an unreliable or stilted product of bias?

My bias toward bloviation is now slaked; I am off to polish my own toenails... I so wish others could see the loveliness of blue as I do.
- Jeff Neville

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Monty Fowler

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Re: Is everyone biased?
« Reply #18 on: June 20, 2014, 10:26:36 AM »

A common danger in academia is getting too far into your own head - like standing in the middle of a tunnel and realizing you're just as far in as you'll ever be out.

We try to eliminate bias, but ... people remain people no matter what we do with them. The scientific method is one way to arrive at an eventual end. It's not the only way. It may not always be the best way. But in TIGHAR's case, it gives structure to our efforts and allows us to advance the body of knowledge about what happened to Amelia and Fred.

Monty Fowler, TIGHAR No. 2189 ECSP
Ex-TIGHAR member No. 2189 E C R SP, 1998-2016
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