Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 2nd Jul 2006 21:26 UTC
Features, Office People say I rant too much. I complain and complain, but never seem to really like anything. As I promised a few weeks ago, I will talk about things I love about computers. After explaining why I like to complain and rant, this column will solely deal with fluffy bunnies, green meadows, blue skies, and shiny, happy people. I promise.
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>However, the main point I was inexplicitely trying to make was that in order to run a site as OSNews as unbiased as possible, one needs to be detached from the subjects you report on.

That is an understandable, yet common misconception. You cannot hope to be unbiased about anything, ever. It's not possible. Since you have no strong feelings for any platform, that makes your bias one of indifference. Make no mistake, that is a bias, and a strong one at that.

Everyone tries to hide the truth from themselves. If you really want to be a great reporter, then don't, because you aren't fooling anyone but yourself. Acknowledge your biases, and report within the context of them. People frequently do that, and it makes for a much more reasonable story.

Example of biases: 1) Macs are the best, and all others suck, 2) Macs are a waste of money, and whoever created it should be shot, 3) I don't give a crap about computer platforms, and don't see the issue.

You can see that each point of view has it's validity, even though you probably agree with only one of them. They are all just a personal opinions. But to take the third option and call that unbiased is not correct. The third point of view is not any more valid than the other two.

>the best example of this is my love for Fiona Apple. I am simply not capable of criticising her music or her character, because she and her music mean too much to me.

If you cannot criticize Fiona Apple, then you must consider her and her music completely perfect, an ideal to which all other musicians should strive. If that's how you feel, then great. You are one of the few people in the world who has seen perfection. If you can say, I love her music except for . . ., then you understand that you CAN critisize within the context of your passion. People do it all the time, because perfection is so hard to attain.

When others understand your bias, and the context of your comments, and when you can freely discuss all sides of the issues, instead of ignoring others' points of view, then you will have more credibility.

Reply Parent Score: 4

Thom_Holwerda Member since:

I said as unbiased as possible. That's the key. Of course I know I am not unbiased. Nor is OSNews as a whole. However, in the field of reporting OSNews concentrates on, we are one of the more unbiased websites; contrary to some others, who, of course, I won't name as that's not very posh and all.

But yes, of course I'm biased too.

If you cannot criticize Fiona Apple, then you must consider her and her music completely perfect, an ideal to which all other musicians should strive.

I don't want to stray too far off into off-topic land, but, well, yes. She makes music for herself, and never really cared about the money side of it, or the pleasing-the-fans stuff. This means she can make her music without any of those two important constraints.

I mean, she only made three albums in 10 years. Her first was a major success, but did she continue to make the same sort of music? Did she start to produce music as if it is a product?

Many other artists are in the same league, I know that. However, with those, I do not have this personal connection. Some others might have, and that's why music, like all art, is so interesting and fascinating.

Reply Parent Score: 1

Cloudy Member since:

You cannot hope to be unbiased about anything, ever. It's not possible.

If asked to judge whether a pair of dice is rigged or not, I submit them to a statistical test. If they fail the test, I rule them rigged. If they do not, I rule that the test cannot judge.

Where, precisely, is the bias in that?

Reply Parent Score: 1

rattaro Member since:

>Where, precisely, is the bias in that?

All right, fair enough. We're getting off topic, but I'll still answer the question since the thread is dying anyway.

There are many biases here. Why are you asked to judge? Is it for a game of dice, or is it for scientific explanations of probability. If it is for a game, is it for tons of money, or just for fun? You can keep going down the line of questions until you become very precise. My bias is that you are being too vague, because in MY past, I've answered vague questions, and gotten in trouble. I never like to answer questions that are vague. Others may not mind.

Then you come up with a "statistical test." #1 comes up on the dice 16.1% of the time. Is it rigged? #1 should come up 16.666666% of the time. Is it close enough? Depends upon the underlying bias of the examiner. A statistician may say no. I may say yes, depending upon the situation. Did we roll the dice enough times? Maybe it was just an anomaly. What does "failed test" mean? Is 15.2% failure? If so, what about 15.3%? Where is the line? Is there a margin of error? If so, what is it? All of this will depend upon your personal beliefs about statistics and the potential variability. i.e. your preexisting biases.

Additionally, I might disagree with the test itself because of my personal biases. It's Monday, July 3rd. Dice should never be rolled on July 3rd, because of Gamblor, god of gambling, alters the odds. Sounds stupid? It's more reasonable to me than some religions. That's just my bias.

You may be thinking that I'm just being stupid and petty, but that's again a bias by itself. Biases vary as much as opinions. Your question implies that you trust statistics. I don't. I usually distrust the methodologies of data collection and analysis, and therefore, the results.

Finally, ask yourself the question, why do you have to judge to begin with? That implies there was disagreement ahead of time. Why is there disagreement? Why does anyone disagree with anything? I'll give you a hint; it has something to do with bias.

My point is that you shouldn't deny biases. Reveal them, and speak about them within the context of the situation. Then you and your audience can find a common ground to agree or disagree. If you deny any bias, then you can never find common ground with anyone, since you don't know what it is yourself.

Edited 2006-07-04 01:28

Reply Parent Score: 0