Let’s Talk About Bias

Posted: June 11, 2012 in News and politics, Personal Growth, Personal Relationships
Tags: , , , , ,

So, I’m watching the NewsHour on PBS; and every segment is full of fascinating detail about the subject covered. As the report is shown, my mind is constantly looking for what my conservative friends might determine is bias. In this particular report there are two people being questioned about the conditions in Syria. One of those is Andrew Tabler of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. When I google that organization I find that it is supposedly an organization “whose central aim is to push an Israel-centric Middle East agenda”. Is that injecting an element of bias here? Near the end of the segment he states, “This hurricane is gathering on the Eastern Mediterranean. And I really don’t know what we can do to stop it. We can deal with the effects of it, but the most important thing is that — is for the United States to achieve President Obama’s policy objective of getting President Assad to step aside.” It is clear to me that he backs something the President is doing. Is he biased? How about the other panelist? Is she giving us an alternative view that might be featured prominently on Fox News? She is Mona Yacoubian; and she was an analyst for the state department, now with the Stimson Center, a Washington research organization according to the NewsHour. If we google her name, however, we find that even though she is with the Stimson Center, she has connections to the Washington Institute of Peace. If we look at that organization’s background… and the search goes on. It’s how those who read articles from FactCheck.org do research until they find something to challenge the veracity of its results from research that the person uses to support his/her opinion be it liberal or conservative.

I notice the interviewer didn’t use the much overused terms: “liberal” or “conservative”. In the past the terms were used to pigeon hole the organization.

My little piece here is the tip of the iceberg, as you can see. One could spend all his/her time ignoring what is being said for who is saying it. I can now see why The Jehovah’s Witness magazine doesn’t include the name of the author of its articles – besides the stated reason: that they want to keep from giving anyone too much recognition or something like that. I have used the argument against an article I didn’t like by saying it was written by somebody who didn’t attach his/her name, thus retaining anonyminity. My argument was effective only because the person who I was arguing with didn’t think to use a counter argument.

This is another time when I remember the comic strip about the mother putting her little boy to bed. His name is Pasquel and the comic strip is “Rose is Rose”. So, Rose is tucking Pasquel in and he, like my older daughter, is having a problem putting his mind to sleep. He says to her, “I can’t decide what I want to do when I grow up”. She responds, “The simplest way to make decisions is to trust your instincts.” She leaves, and her answer seems to calm Pasquel’s mind because he rolls over and goes to sleep. But, his sleep is interrupted by two little figures showing up with “Greetings Pasquel. We are your instincts, Do and Don’t.” Pasquel asks, “Which of you is Do and which is Don’t?” They answer, “We take turns”. Pasquel has a follow-up question, “How do I tell which of you is right and which is wrong?” They answer, “We take turns on that, too… sometimes.” With that, Pasquel rolls over and says, “Instincts apparently can be confusing. Maybe it would be simpler to follow logical reasons.” Immediately about 50 little figures show up with “Greetings Pasquel!” Trying to use reason to argue can get as complicated as using instinct in a good debate. Both participants have their own perspective. The more informed each is, the more challenging the debate.

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