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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Anti-bias Bias

Have you heard this one? "You're biased, so your view doesn't count." I've heard it when "scholars" have questioned the use and validity of Scripture. "You know," they'll say, "the authors of the Gospels were biased, so we can't really take their word regarding the stories of Christ." I've heard it among Christians who say, "Don't listen to that theological position; they have their roots in Augustinian philosophy." I heard it recently when the American College of Pediatricians (ACP)1 put out a report that says that trying to change the sex of a child is harmful to the child. "Oh, no," the detractors say, "that's a group with Judeo-Christian, traditional values, opposed to abortion and gay adoption and even overexposure to electronic media. You can't trust them." See? "You're biased, so your view doesn't count."

The ACP, for instance, made its first mistake in that report with its first claim. "Human sexuality is an objective biological binary trait: 'XY' and 'XX' are genetic markers of health — not genetic markers of a disorder." Their premise was clearly faulty: "Facts — not ideology — determine reality." I mean, who thinks this way? What nonsense! Everyone knows that Christians cannot be trusted to present unbiased views on Christian matters and Christians in science cannot be trusted to make scientific comments on matters of science.

It is, of course, nonsense. The skeptic who claims that you can't trust the accounts from authors of the Gospels because of their bias is saying so from his bias. The Evolutionist who argues for Evolution is doing so from his bias. Sure, the Christian is arguing from his bias, but no one is not.

In terms of the news media, lots of people like to think that Fox is biased and CNN is not. (Feel free to fill in your favorite left or right media outlet for those two.) Rest assured, it is not so. It cannot be. Without bias, nothing happens. You are biased. I am biased. Everyone is biased. It is not bias that determines the truth or validity of the position. It is the truth or validity of the position that determines that.

Some of you might be tempted to follow that bad example. "Don't listen to them;" (where "them" may refer to the Christian right or the Christian left or the liberal media or the conservative media or whatever bias there might be) "You can't trust them." It is, to be sure, a convenient means of filtering truth claims where you don't have to evaluate them all, but it will certainly prove to eliminate truthful truth claims in one or more of these statements. Don't be lazy. Do the right thing. Even John said, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God." (1 John 4:1)
1 Wikipedia says that the ACP is "a socially conservative association of pediatricians and other healthcare professionals in the United States." They split from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) over the issue of gay adoption, arguing that a mother and a father are healthier parents than two people of the same gender for the sake of the child. But on one discussion I saw regarding their statement, the argument was that because they are religious and conservative and hold views that are opposed to the popular culture, they are distorting science. For those keeping count, this is what is called an ad hominem argument, attacking the character of the presenter of an argument without engaging the argument.


Stan said...

Wow, Dan T., THREE comments that will never be read. I'd think that you'd find better use of your time. There ARE still some blogs whose rules you haven't violated enough to keep you from commenting. This isn't one of them. And I don't read them. I suppose if you've enough time to waste like that, you can do so. But rest assured neither I nor my readers will know what you said here.

Bob said...

Stan i wish i had your brain, then i could play with it, like i do mine..
i find it amusing that the great thinkers that claim that Christians are biased, cannot see that they are exercising a bias of their own. oh how the nations rage.. in there efforts to appear neutral they in fact become the most intolerant. the Father must be laughing to tears at the world's foolish wisdom. i wish that Jesus would come soon, my brain is getting tired of this game, contending with the wise, i always appear the fool.

David said...

While I understand the fear (and sometimes truth) that bias is blinding, to think you (whoever you may be) are without bias is ludicrous. The trick about being biased is to allow yourself to question your bias without instantly giving it up. Bias has its dangers but it impossible to view data without bias. Same thing is. Can be said about faith on the issue of "the beginning". Those that believe in a literal, recent, 7 day creation are ignored simply because it is taken by faith, but the data isn't sufficient enough to say that the universe is billions of years old and started from a scientifically impossible bang without some amount of faith. Both of those faiths are based on a bias.

Stan said...

Bob, you don't always appear the fool. There is such a thing as being willfully foolish, as those who disagree with God must be.

David, I cannot fathom how "You Christians are biased so you don't know what you're talking about, but we who begin by eliminating the possibility of God can know for sure without bias" makes sense. (That was an example. "... but we who willfully eliminate the Bible..." or others are just as much a bias.) The evidence against the big Evolution Theory is astounding, but if you go with the known evidence you're biased and to be discarded. Can't figure out that reasoning.

Craig said...

it's interesting that out legal system assumes that people can set aside bias and look at evidence and arrive at a reasonable conclusion, but in virtually every other endeavor there are people who foolishly insist that bias is disqualifying.

All while demonstrating bias by not interacting with the method or the evidence, but with other things and while offering evidence from other people with different biases.

Strange how people blind themselves to faults in themselves that see clearly in othere.

Marshall Art said...

I am biased. My bias is informed by facts, to the best of my ability to find and understand them. At least I like to believe this about myself, and as yet have not found that anyone has proven it otherwise.

Others allow their bias to distort fact. I strive to avoid being this way and feel confident that I succeed for the most part (allowing that I can't always see myself in an unbiased way).

Bob said...

isn't it funny how even in the theory of quantum physics, one cannot even observe the experiment, with out affecting the outcome. weird... i have no idea what this means to our conversation, but it sounded like something i always wanted to say. maybe it's because the observer inadvertently induces his biased mind into the mix. just spit balling.. anyone for some banana flavored nano tubes , yummy..