View Full Version : Bias blind spot

05-09-16, 21:06
So, guys? Which ones of us are the least biased on this forum? :)

A very nice and thought provoking read

05-09-16, 22:40
It's not having a bias that is the issue. The issue is do you acknowledge it to yourself and what do you do about it when analyzing data.

The only important thing is to make sure that you find all the holes in the arguments of each side, ignoring your own personal feelings about the matter.

Some people have less trouble with this than others. Let's pretend you're a lawyer in the U.S. working for a big firm that does a little bit of everything: corporate, matrimonial, criminal, labor law, personal injury etc. In reality firms are more specialized than this, but let's pretend for the time being.

You're assigned a divorce case. The woman, who is your client, is a sleaze, a total horror. She's been an unfaithful wife, a bad mother, you name it. Her claim, however, is that she was underage when she signed the pre-nuptial agreement. It's your job to totally research the relevant statute and case law, find all the factors that your client has on her side, and all the factors her husband has on his so you're prepared for the counter-arguments, and then make the best argument you can for her, despite your personal feelings on the matter. Let's further assume you give the case to the judge for adjudication. He may also hate her on a personal level, he may even think the law is incorrect. However, it's his job to "divorce" his feelings from the matter and see where the weight of the evidence falls.

The same thing happens in criminal trials. You don't even ask your clients if they're guilty, because it makes doing your job more difficult.

It's a skill like any other, this removal of your own feelings from the equation as much as humanly possible. It's a skill that more people should try to acquire.

The important thing as the person sifting the evidence is that you maintain your intellectual honesty as much as humanly possible. I totally disagree, by the way, that all people are equally biased, if that's what you're implying. People who are committed to a certain political or "racial" agenda are often incapable of seeing the complexities of the issue, but there are a lot of people who can and do.

05-09-16, 22:59
The important thing as the person sifting the evidence is that you maintain your intellectual honesty as much as humanly possible. I totally disagree, by the way, that all people are equally biased, if that's what you're implying. People who are committed to a certain political or "racial" agenda are often incapable of seeing the complexities of the issue, but there are a lot of people who can and do.
All people are equally thinking of themselves to be less biased, than the ones they argue with. Plain math gives 50% of them are correct and 50% are wrong.
"Self-enhancement biases may play a role, in that people are motivated to view themselves in a positive light. Biases are generally seen as undesirable,[5] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bias_blind_spot#cite_note-Pronin2007-5) so people tend to think of their own perceptions and judgments as being rational, accurate, and free of bias. The self-enhancement bias also applies when analyzing our own decisions, in that people are likely to think of themselves as better decision makers than others.[4] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bias_blind_spot#cite_note-page-4)"
"Pronin and Kugler's interpretation is that, when people decide whether someone else is biased, they use overt behaviour. On the other hand, when assessing whether they themselves are biased, people look inward (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Introspection), searching their own thoughts and feelings for biased motives.[6] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bias_blind_spot#cite_note-gilovich-6) Since biases operate unconsciously (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unconsciously), these introspections (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Introspection) are not informative, but people wrongly treat them as reliable indication that they themselves, unlike other people, are immune to bias"

05-09-16, 23:44
I don't see how it's relevant that everybody thinks they're being rational. That's probably true. Most people don't admit to themselves, much less to anyone else, that they're stupid or irrational. A lot of them would fail simple logic tests, but they still might believe that they're logical thinkers. They're just wrong in their perception of themselves. The fact remains that some are right and some are wrong in their perception. I don't buy this relativist idea that nobody is right, or logical or whatever.

Goodness, the law school entrance exam in the U.S. is one huge, multi-hour, horror of a logic test. They make up jurisdictions, laws, fact patterns, and you have to draw logical conclusions. Some people are good at it, and some aren't.

As an observer, you can judge by all sorts of things. Does the person proposing the argument ignore contrary evidence? Do they provide as proof things that actually aren't true at all? Are they overstating or misinterpreting the evidence that supposedly supports their point of view? Do they, in every situation, find that the evidence totally supports their point of view or favored group. Of course, then there are people who impeach themselves by showing their dishonesty. You can discount any argument whatsoever that people like that raise.

Aren't we on this Board supposed to be trying to present the latest evidence, from the best sources, in the most honest way possible so that we can come to the best, even if tentative, conclusions? I know which posters I think do that and therefore whose posts I most admire.

To look at it from a political point of view, I can turn on a left wing channel and a right wing channel to get the "slant" or talking points that each side uses. There are, however, certain politicians, certain journalists, who do try to present the issue "in the round", looking at all the complexities, examining all sides of an issue honestly. They don't usually get very far, but they exist.

06-09-16, 09:40
also academics have clear bias

a few decades ago it was believed everything was invented in Mesopotamia, including agriculture, the wheel and the charriot
simply because history in other areas was not known

now the thruth appears more complex

06-09-16, 10:54
if this isn't bias, I don't know


this man is abusing the authority of the United Nations humans right watch
he should get his priorities right

06-09-16, 16:27
Is it bias when you form your opinion on the facts available? In hindsight, as different facts come to light, it may turn out that you were wrong, but I don't think that shows you were biased in reaching your original conclusion.

Bias is when you interpret or even misinterpret every single piece of evidence so that it supports the conclusion you want to reach.

What everyone should be doing, in my opinion, is looking at the facts available and trying to form them into a coherent, logical, narrative without regard for how it might affect your particular values, or political opinions, or inclinations, or whatever. If it turns out to be incorrect later, so be it. At least you were honest or did your job or whatever.

When you do that, however, in my opinion, you often wind up with very tentative or even ambiguous conclusions. Most people can't handle that. They don't want subtlety. They're more comfortable not having to think too deeply about things.

09-09-16, 01:40
Bias is not intentional. It is the way our brain works. Our brain is constructed to notice changes. When we walk a certain route day after day we the see the same buildings and people we don't notice them any more to avoid data overload. That is how spies works. They blend in by not being too different. Just like eating the same food we don't seem to appreciate its flavour and smell. We seek the exotic. So bias comes in because we think in a certain way and don't notice the errors. As we see the errors day after day we think it is normal till some event comes along that blows up this error to a noticeable level. Only then can we mend our ways. It is like living a person living lavish life style till his/her bank account is empty and the debt collector knocks on the door or get a threatening phone call. This the wake up call!

09-09-16, 03:44
also academics have clear bias

Bias that is commonly occurring in research is known as publication bias. It's when the results of the research influence the decision of authors whether to publish the results or not. The results that are statistically significant are 3 times more likely to be published than the results that are not statistically significant. Despite the fact the design of experiments with results that are statistically significant are not superior with respect to design quality. In fact , the designs of experiments with statistically non-significant results can be superior than the designs with statistically significant results with respect to quality.

09-09-16, 03:58
Superiority bias is often referred to as the above average effect. In a randomly selected large group of people most (more than 50%) will say they are more intelligent than an average person. By the law of large numbers half of them have intellect below average, and only have above the average.