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Identifying Bias

What is Bias, and How Do We Spot It?

Something is biased when it indicates a preference or prejudice for or against a person, object, or idea.  Bias is found everywhere, from your preferred news sources to your closest friends.  Most importantly, though, you are biased, whether you realize it or not.  To be truly objective (i.e. non-biased), you would have to forget or ignore all the meaningful experiences that make you who you are.  Your upbringing, the people you surround yourself with, your interests and hobbies -- they all influence how you think, allowing you to form opinions about what you like and what you don't.  

Being able to identify your own biases is the first step in finding them elsewhere.  Ask yourself these questions:  

  • How do you react when someone reveals an opinion on something you don't agree with?
  • How do you react when interacting with someone who looks different from you?  
  • How do you react when someone suggests doing something that you're not familiar or comfortable with?

Understanding why we think the way we do will be a major help when trying to determine if a website or scholarly source is exhibiting signs of bias.

How to Overcome Our Biases? Walk Boldly Toward Them