Bias is prejudice about someone or something which has been created based on incomplete information. More often bias has a negative effect as it affects other people, our way of thinking that could be driven into stereotypes frame. Every day we face with a huge number of biases and some of us even do not know about the existence of them. If it gets to that point when something suffers from it, people need to overcome biases. There are a lot of examples of biases in our world. It is everywhere. An example of bias can be found in politics and media. Frequently politicians feel that the press is biased toward them in an unfair way. On January 20, 2017, a reporter from the magazine “Time” falsely reported President Trump removed the bust of Martin Luther King from the Oval Office1. This information was quickly spread. Then further investigations reveal that the bust was still there but it was being blocked by reporters. President Trump thinks and believes that the media discriminate against him and it is based on unjustified prejudice. The purpose of media mass is to deliver the fresh, truthful and relevant news. It would help the audience to form their opinions. However, there is no doubt that things are different.
In psychology bias usually viewed as a tendency leading to rash decisions or discriminatory practices. Bias can come in different forms. Anything biased is generally subjective. A cognitive bias is one of a wide range of effects identified in social psychology which includes memory errors that are common to all people, statistical and social attribution. Social biases which are usually called attributional biases, affect our everyday interactions with each other. Bias is an important subject in such areas of study as probability and decision making. It affects the scientific method which is designed to minimize such biases using shortcuts called heuristics in computer science. Heuristics or mental shortcuts allow people to make decisions quickly and efficiently. This type of decision-making is often useful, saving the time and effort of evaluating all the information in the world. Usually, the heuristic process results in a high-quality decision. The problem arises when individuals rely on these shortcuts unconsciously.
We also should mention the distinction between two terms – bias and stereotype. Bias is a tendency to hold a perspective for or against these people based on the personal characteristic. A stereotype is specific beliefs about individuals or groups based on some known characteristic.
As an example of bias, I have chosen the research which was conducted by Kaspersky Lab in 20152. The term “digital amnesia” was suggested by Kaspersky Lab for the results of the survey, which said, “The results reveal that the ‘Google Effect’ likely extends beyond online facts to include important personal information.”. Ninety-one percent of people used the Internet and forty-four percent used their smartphone instead of remembering details. Kaspersky Lab surveyed 1,000 consumers from age 16 to 55 in the USA. In most cases, people could not remember important information that should have been familiar, leading to the conclusion that they forgot the information because of the easiness of finding it using devices. The original research concluded with three main conclusions. First of all, people begin thinking of computers when asked general knowledge questions, even when they know the correct answer. If the answer is unknown and the question is too difficult for a person this effect is especially expressed. Another point, people do not tend to remember information if they know it will be available to look up later. All these biases were formed in recent years and as a result, impact our decision making and the everyday lifestyle.
There are a lot of research on the topic of stereotypes. For example, studies have shown that we all unconsciously use stereotypes all the time and we don’t even know about it. When asked, Aboriginal kids estimated that about 95% of Aboriginal youth is involved in gangs. The actual number is 3%. “Research indicates that children in the United States come to understand race and ethnicity concepts between the ages of three and four. Many children have definite and entrenched stereotypes about blacks, women, and other social groups by five years of age. At around age 6, children become accurate at sorting people by ethnicity. At age seven children understand that race and ethnicity do not change.”3
For this essay, I have chosen two ways of knowledge which are reason and language. We express ideas through the language and use the reason to think logically and come up with conclusions and new ideas. The questions that arise when discussing the title are: to what extent the language used is biased? Is it really true that our reason is bias-free?
According to Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy4, most philosophical writing on the ethics of implicit bias has focused on following questions. Are humans morally responsible for their implicit biases? Afterwards, can humans change their implicit biases and control the effects of these attitudes on their explicit judgments and behavior? The overconfident bias is tendency people have when they are more confident in acting ethically. Generally, humans think that they are more ethical than their opponents, colleagues, peers. People often take ethical issues gently because of bias. It is presumed that they will do the right thing because of good character. The research project “Are some entrepreneurs more overconfident than others?”5 conducted by Daniel P Forbes shows that the overconfidence bias was the reason of overestimating the amount of money people will donate or how often they will volunteer. The study showed that 50% of business people tend to believe that they are in the top 10% ethically. Consequently, this bias can cause us to act unethically and without proper reflection.
This example leads to the question: how can we identify and question confidence about our own abilities in order to shape our judgments? In most cases, people even do not know about the existence of biases which lies underline of their judgments. When their judgments questioned, they could not easily realize assumptions which were formed by their previous experiences.
Objectivity lies at the heart of the science because the only objective language allows humans to construct knowledge concepts and share them across individuals with different backgrounds and experiences. The language and reason help us to find and set terms which are free from subjective biases. When the language is subjective or transferred knowledge contains some personal impact it creates confusion, misunderstanding, and even hate when dealing with sensitive topics such as politics or religion. Of course, we may say that all human statements are subjective. But this position is not productive and would not allow us to carry on any meaningful discourse. In this regard, people usually try to set some objective boundaries to the terms, notions, and language in general which is used for discussing some topic of interest. It sounds easy but in fact only four centuries ago scientific method and objective language began spreading but nowadays people study it in schools. In social sciences like economics, history, psychology or we may say in all sciences where the main object of the study is a human, it is extremely difficult to draw the line between what is objective and what is subjective.
1 Time. January, 2017 http://time.com/5046803/brian-ross-abc-news-suspended-donald-trump/
2 “Google effect” Kaspersky Lab. June, 2015
3 “The illusion of race”. April, 2004. http://sciencenetlinks.com/lessons/the-illusion-of-race/
4 “Implicit Bias”. Feb, 2015. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/implicit-bias/#Eth
5″Are some entrepreneurs more overconfident than others?” Daniel P Forbes. May, 2005 http://download.aizhong365.net/xuebalib.com.13225.pdf