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The Problem of Abundance

Bias: The Current and Terrible Solution to Abundance

Bias is inevitable, but should we at least try to avoid it. Some of it is not the consumer’s fault; YouTube and Facebook create bias in your feeds. Dan Cohen’s article “What We Learned from Studying the News Consumption Habits of College Students,” discusses how students want to have unbiased, factually correct news sources. Cohen goes on to state students feel they do not have the time to look for them, or do not trust any of them. The student’s lack of time and distrust in sources leads them to get their information from less than reliable sources or their peers and professors. It is interesting to note that they do find reputable sources for their academic projects, but are not willing to do the same for their daily news. If all news sources are biased, would it be better to use a combination of news sources with opposing biases to find the overlapping truth?

Bias also happens in the history classroom; there is so much history to teach, that inevitably some, well most of it, gets left out. There are countries I know little to nothing about because the curriculum did not cover them in my world history class in grade school. Taking our history from the internet is also automatically biased, as the internet has only existed for a small portion of the earth’s existence. Also, not everyone has the internet or the ability to use technology to add their story to the worldwide web. Therefore, their stories will be left out of the record like the masses before the 1960s. In Ian Milligan’s chapter of Seeing the Past with Computers: Experiments with Augmented Reality and Computer Vision for History, “Learning to See the Past as Scale: Exploring Web Archives through Hundreds of Thousands of Images,” the author did a study of different websites of a handful of first world countries. There is a lot of content on the internet, so some inevitably were excluded. Still, the data set Milligan chose was biased as there were no third world countries in the mix. Although the third world countries would be outliers, they still need to be included to portray an accurate picture of the world wide web.

Bias is inevitable, especially as information is abundant, and there is an abundance of perspectives in the world. Therefore, admitting your prejudice and trying to include as much information and as many views, may be the best route forward.

4 replies on “Bias: The Current and Terrible Solution to Abundance”

I like to agree with your point on trying to compile and reconcile many different perspectives on the same subject matter to avoid bias! It makes sense to do in many scenarios- particularly when abstract ideologies are involved. Therefore, wouldn’t it make sense to do when considering information? That’s what I’m considering in this blog response.

I think there’s been a lot of history and perspective lost from not listening to many views, like you said in your blog. But I also think it’s ridiculous that we have still not collectively figured out what to hold responsible for the COVID-19 outbreak. Was it the fish markets or pangolins or bats? Could it be lab or military base? I doubt the latter, though Chinese government officials are currently claiming it originated in a U.S. base. Regardless, it’s a little frustrating to consider that getting different perspectives on this won’t result in identifying the source.

Perspective and information are critical in compensating for bias, and this course has shown that so is context.

I’ve never really considered that bias could originate from an abundance of information and sources. I always equated bias to be the product of someone or something trying to present a certain perspective or to get their point across. But too much information causing an indirect result of bias makes perfect sense. If we are presented with thousands of news stories, we will probably read the one that the search engine brings up first. Most of the time, this is a blessing and a time saver. However, like you said, this can block our perspective. I’m reminded of a scene in the Netflix series The Crown, where King George teaches a young Elizabeth how when he is presented with the red box of correspondence and news for the day, he flips the pile upside down because, “they stuff they don’t want me to read is at the bottom.” Perhaps we should all turn our inquiries upside down.

Shannon,

I completely agree with you! I had never thought about it in the sense of too much information. (This will be a tangent) I think that because of when many young people (Generation Z) has been born, it has been in the midst of some tumultuous times. I think that not only has the news been twisted and not factual by some networks, but it is utterly terrifying at times which leads not only avoidance, but fear and anxiety.

History is so complicated like you mentioned, Lydia due to so many people either being written out of it, or just not mentioned within different teaching materials/curriculums. Most states in the US don’t even do a good job because of the lack of tact that history is taught or the blantant misinformation about difficult and embarrassing times within our history.

When it comes to News bias, one of the critical pieces, at least in my opinion is the distinctly short OODA loop on news pieces, especially ones that call for action. OODA stands for observe–orient–decide–act. In an academic context, I, and other students have days, weeks, even months to observe the evidence, orient ourselves within the context of a broad selection of evidence that we have collected, and then decide how to use it, before acting upon it.
With news on the other hand, there is almost always a pressure to complete the whole cycle quickly, and in our spare time. News is NPR on the drive in to school, or collections of articles shared on social media, more than it is a section of the day set aside for informing ourselves about the state of the world.

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