Thursday, March 19, 2009

An Unbiased Discussion of Bias

We hear the word "biased" tossed around a lot in political discussions. However, what we do not hear a lot is any evidence to support these claims. Instead, the arguments of bias amounts to "they disagree with us". A good example of this circular reasoning can be found in this WorldnetDaily article about Snopes.com, and their handling of the Obama birth certificate controversy. One can read the entire article and find not one example of Snopes botching a story due to bias, nothing of the form "Snopes said X, by relying on biased source A, but a search of credible sources B, C, and D shows X to be false". The closest they come is Snopes' debunking of the myth that fluorescent light bulbs pose health risks, wherein Snopes cites the EPA. However, what is entirely missing is any evidence that the EPA's references should not be considered credible. It is not enough to merely assert that a source is unreliable. Evidence supporting the case needs to be provided. Instead, what you'll see from WND is a lot of "they disagree with us" arguments like this:

The Snopes conclusion refers to an image posted on another website, FactCheck, which in turn cites as documentation of Obama's Hawaiian birth a "Certification of Live Birth" that the Obama campaign posted during 2008.

Critics, however, have pointed out that the "Certification of Live Birth" posted online is not, in fact, the same as a "Birth Certificate," and COLBs have been issued by Hawaii to parents whose children are not even born in the state...


From there we get the standard arguments against Obama's eligibility, without any unbiased corroboration, and without any evidence that FactCheck should not be considered reliable. This is common practice in politics: claiming any sight that disagrees with you is biased. Without independent evidence, however, the arguments fall flat and should not be treated as credible, but rather as sore loserisms. It's the political equivalent of declaring the referees or judges in a sporting event biased merely because they didn't pick your team.

1 comment:

notedscholar said...

Bias is a non-concept, or else it applies to anything everyone ever says!

NS