Thursday, September 4, 2008

An "Unbiased" Statement on Bias

A few minutes ago, while watching TV, I saw a rather remarkable ad. The wonderful people at Time-Life were marketing a video series about the "untold" story of the Vietnam War. One of the carrots they employed to try to get viewers to order the series was that this documentary offers an unbiased appraisal of said conflict.

Really? No bias?

There's one problem with this claim. It's hogwash!! Pure unadulterated hogwash!

Every one of us views the world around us through a subjective lens. We don't merely see things with our eyes, we interpret what we see we our brains. Further, our emotions color how our rational faculties transcribe this data. Consequently, every second of every day is affected by our biases.

In relation to any video, our biases determine what, when, where and how we film the matter at hand. In a scene with a lot going on, the determination of what elements to focus on reveals a bias. Deciding to film in one location and not another reveals a bias. Who gets interviewed and who doesn't reveals a bias.

Our biases even extend beyond the initial phase of any film project. How a project is framed or the music chosen as background (or deciding to use no background music at all) or what gets left on the cutting room floor are yet more examples of someone's bias.

The same is true for almost every aspect of our lives. Whether we're talking about books, magazine articles, blog entries, TV shows or what we tell our family members about our day, our personal biases determine what information is shared and how it is shared.

We couldn't remove our biases even if we wanted to. It's one of the characteristics that makes each of us unique.

So, anytime someone tells me that they will present an unbiased account of something, I laugh almost as hard as when someone says their presentation will be objective.


  1. I disagree with your premise. Though I would make the following distinction: There are those who try to have a non biased view and those who make a claim to a non biased view while making no attempt.

    what say you?

  2. Please Watch this video and tell me what you think...

  3. To anonymous:
    Trying to be unbiased has nothing to do with it. Subjective creatures will always be subjective. If you tried to live an unbiased life, wouldn't that be your bias?

    To Bob:
    Interesting video. First off, one can't blame all the problems of 1977-81 on Jimmy Carter. Secondly, it's dangerous to argue that Obama's inexperience is a liability because Palin then shares that same liability too.

    For me, Carter's legacy has little to do with his stint as president. In my book, he's one of the greatest ex-presidents in US history.

  4. very disapointed RT...

    left a critical response. no post?

  5. I'm always disappointed in RT. Bet he a Palin/McCain sticker on his truck.

    J.A. Wayland


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