Bias, prejudice mean a strong inclination of the mind or a preconceived opinion about something or someone. A bias may be favorable or unfavorable: bias in.
Every author holds opinions that affect his or her discussion of an issue, opinions that you as a reader must try to recognize and understand. Even the most seemingly factual report, such as an encyclopedia article, can carry an understated or implied judgment. Such judgments reflect an author's bias or preference for one side of an issue over another.
As you evaluate a source, consider whether the author's bias affects his or her presentation of information and opinions. Ask whether this results in one side of an issue being treated more favorably than another. To explore an author's biases, you must ask where his or her allegiances lie. Is the bias hidden or stated? Ask yourself if you need to look for a balancing viewpoint or approach?
Just because an author has a strong bias does not mean that he or she has written something invalid. However, in the interest of being prepared to fend off attacks from those who want to challenge your analysis or argument, it is best if you recognize, early on, to what biases an author does hold.
If a newspaper article is biased, this means that an unfair preference for someone Did the author give you access to the full study? Did the.
When defining rhetoric, the art of persuasive speech and writing, the Greek philosopher Aristotle defined three ways in which the speaker or writer could make a convincing argument. The first was logos, the use of logical and sound reasoning in one's argument. The second was pathos, the use of emotional appeals.
And the last, and perhaps most misunderstood, is ethos. Though it is often translated today as 'ethics' - the two words share a root - and it goes beyond the writer just being ethical, which means they aren't just lying or manipulating the audience. Ethos is the writer's general credibility.
When reading a piece of writing meant to persuade you to a particular viewpoint, i.e. persuasive writing, it is important to assess the writer's ethos when deciding how convincing their argument is. Some ways to do this include looking at the writer's authority on the topic, their willingness to acknowledge other viewpoints, and ability to limit and qualify their argument.
Determining a writer's authority to speak on a topic may seem pretty straightforward, but can be pretty thorny. Simply put, this means looking at the writer's background and depth of knowledge about the topic, and then determining whether or not to trust them. So, for example, if you are reading about climate change, someone with a Ph.D in climatology is probably going to have more authority than your buddy who sits next to you in science class.
But it gets more complicated than this. Just having a fancy degree is not enough to make someone credible. People will often try to claim false authority by asserting that their expertise in one field translates into another. So a Ph.D in English literature, for example, is not going to necessarily give someone more authority on climate change than your buddy in class.
But to counter this, a lack of a Ph.D, or other formal qualification, does not necessarily mean someone does not have any authority. Maybe your buddy in science class is deeply passionate about climate change and has read deeply in the subject. He might be useful.
So look at how a writer talks about a topic. Do they understand technical terms? Did they get the facts straight? Do they demonstrate deep engagement with the topic? This is often the best way to determine authority.
And finally, you should never judge credibility on authority alone. You also want to consider these next two factors.
Persuasive writing deals with controversial topics. A controversial topic, by definition, is something that reasonable people disagree on. For example, no one needs to write a persuasive essay on why we should not kill babies and eat them. Everyone already agrees that this is bad.
So a credible writer on a controversial topic will acknowledge that there are people who disagree with them and, possibly, that the opposition might be right about a few things. A credible writer has read people who disagree with them, and tried to understand things from their point of view, even if they ultimately don't agree. They play what writing teacher Peter Elbow has called the 'believing game' - putting themselves in the shoes of someone else, and trying to see things from their perspective.
A credible piece of persuasive writing will first and foremost acknowledge that other viewpoints exist. If the writer acts as if their idea is as obvious as not eating babies and no reasonable person would disagree with them, that's a big red flag. And, a really credible writer engages with the other arguments, explaining in detail why they do not agree and possibly even acknowledging that the other side is right about a few things.
A writer who has both expertise in the topic and engagement with other viewpoints will often have a properly limited and narrow view of their own argument. By this, I mean that they do not claim more than their evidence allows. This is most often seen in the use of scientific studies.
Let's say a scientific study showed that lab rats exposed to rap music for an hour per day were 55% more likely to develop cancer than lab rats that didn't listen to rap. A credible writer would look at this evidence and say that there is an interesting increase in the likelihood of cancer among the rap-listening rats and perhaps more studies should be performed about this connection. A writer who is not credible would use this study for their anti-rap persuasive essay, claiming, possibly in all caps, 'RAP MUSIC CAUSES CANCER! WE MUST OUTLAW IT IMMEDIATELY!'
Ethos, or the speaker's credibility, is one of the key aspects of rhetoric and all forms of persuasive writing. There is no finite way to determine a writer's credibility, but important factors include examining the writer's authority.
Ways of determining a writer's authority could include formal training and degrees, but can also be the level of expertise the speaker displays in talking about a subject. Beware of writers claiming false authority who think you should listen to them just because they have a fancy degree, but no other expertise.
Other factors include a willingness to engage with, and understand, other points of view on the topic. Anyone who thinks their stance on a controversial issue is as obvious as not eating babies is suspect. And, a writer's evidence should limit their argument. Using one scientific study to say rap music causes cancer, thus rap music should be illegal is not a credible argument.
Reading the Article CriticallyDigging Deeper into the NewspaperExamining Multiple Sides' CoverageArticle SummaryQuestions & AnswersRelated ArticlesReferences
This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD. Christopher Taylor is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his PhD in English Literature and Medieval Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014.
There are 18 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
With all the information that's out there these days, it's important to be able to recognize bias in the news. If a newspaper article is biased, this means that an unfair preference for someone or something affected the way the reporter wrote the piece. The reporter might favor one side of a debate or a particular politician, and this could cloud the reporting. Sometimes, reporters don't even mean to be biased; they may do it by accident or because they didn't do enough research. To wade through this kind of reporting, you'll need to read very carefully, and you may even need to do your own research.
1Reading the Article Critically
Check out the images to look for bias. Photographs, cartoons, and other images tell stories just like words. Look for the main subject in the image and think about how this person or thing looks. Take note of any shadows or colors that make the subject appear scary or triumphant. Consider how the picture makes you feel, especially if you're suddenly feeling sympathetic toward a particular group of people or side of a political debate.
2Digging Deeper into the Newspaper
Read the “About Us” section for online media sources. Reputable news outlets will give you this kind of information. It should let you know who supports or owns the website or newspaper. If you can't find this section, it could be a sign that the news outlet is trying to hide a sketchy source of income or information.
Keep a record of the articles you read and biases you find. The more you read, the more you'll discover about individual newspapers and the types of articles they write. Keep a journal of the articles you read, the newspapers they come from, and any biases you find. Be sure to note what the bias was in favor of or against.
Read more than one article about the same topic. Find articles from different newspapers or media outlets covering the same topic. Read critically to look for the different newspapers' biases and compare them to one another. Use these comparisons to find facts that appear in both pieces. You can then make your own judgment about a debate, person, or event.
What if they interview people from one side and none from the other? Would that be biased or not?
Check whether the author uses the interview as evidence to favor one side. If yes, it would probably be considered bias but that depends on the context. If no, the interview is just being used to inform the reader more (not considered bias). Also, be aware that balance is not achieved by digging up an extreme fringe group to state their case as some counter-balance to the wider majority and minority insights into an issue -- that would be trying to manufacture a balance that suggests the extremists are legitimate in their fringe beliefs or opinions when few people would consider them reliable.
Why is it important to recognize bias?
It's important to be able to recognize bias because this kind of knowledge and skill will help you form your own opinions. You don't just want to repeat what someone else thinks without knowing the facts and picking your own side!
How do you find a bias? I don't understand.
It can take a lot of experience and a good deal of knowledge of the subject at hand to recognize bias. But, for example, you could notice bias in a newspaper article announcing the results of a presidential primary in which one candidate won one state and the other candidate won another state, but the headline or article really emphasizes the win of one of the candidates and downplays the other. It can be easier to recognize bias if you frequently read work by the same author or paper, and compare it to how other sources report on the same subject - you may start noticing patterns in who or what the author/paper tends to write more positively/negatively about, and you can question whether that's justified by facts or just a bias.
Is the article biased if the reporter uses the word "I?"
Usually, reporters won't use the first person (which includes the pronoun "I") in their reporting. If you see the word "I," you may be reading either an editorial or a column, pieces in which reporters write about their own opinions. You might also be reading a personal reflection, which are also sometimes printed in newspapers.
What if it's from the 1850s?
The date is irrelevant. You would look for the same clues as to a reporter's bias.
Ask a Question
You'll find examples of author bias in any book you open. Likewise, you catch more readers with more subtle means than shoving your.
It's important to understand when you are researching because it helps you see the purpose of a text, whether it's a piece of writing, a painting, a photograph - anything.
You need to be able to bias in every source you use. The following questions will help you work out how reliable and accurate information is.
Who created the resource?
Whether it's a book, journal article, website or photograph, sources are influenced by the ideas of the person who created them. Think about:
If you and your teacher both had to write an essay about the importance of homework, you would probably give very different answers...
When was the resource created?
Any type of resource you look at will reflect the society and time in which it was created.
So it's useful to think about the events, people and ideas – or – that surround it. Keep in mind that:
Why was the resource created?
Writers, artists, historians, photographers and other creators will sometimes use their work to persuade people about a particular viewpoint or interpretation of an idea or event. So, it's important to work out why the resource was created. Remember:
Who was the resource created for?
Many different kinds of resources – from maps, government documents and diaries to photographs, websites and advertising materials – are created for many different audiences.
So it's important to think about how the intended audience has affected the format and overall message in the resource. Ask yourself:
A teen magazine, travel website or tabloid newspaper has a very different audience to an academic journal, government annual report or a reputable broadsheet newspaper. You would expect the approach to text in each of these publications to be very different.
Someone's personal diary is a great primary resource, but it's important to remember that it presents that individual's . The author probably wasn't expecting their writing to be read by others, so they wouldn't necessarily have presented an objective and balanced account.
To be objective means to write with curiosity, rather than having a preset opinion, while the writer is also assuming all girls are better behaved, showing a bias.