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02 November 2004

Verisimilitude Provocation



Media By Us

Two quick observations on people who bleat about media bias.

Firstly, statements about media bias usually say nothing about the media, per se. Instead they are a simple declaration of one’s own bias. Very seldom is there any other meaningful content to these statements, such as evidence or even a justification. Hence saying “the media is biased in favour of liberals” is in most instances simply equivalent to saying “I am a conservative.”

Secondly, there is a possible causal link between those who claim media bias without justification, and those who find it difficult to critically assess media reports from different sources. Those without the critical thinking skills may be more inclined to reject outright views that dont conform to their own preconceived ideas. This may be manifested as a claim of media bias: “I can’t accept what you’re saying because you are biased”. Or, to put it another way, a person who had confidence in their ability to think critically would be less concerned about media bias.

It would be interesting to see this theory tested in some way.

I for one would rather have the populace better equipped to assess the information they recieve from media outlets, than an ultimately futile attempt to eliminate all bias and subjectivity from these media outlets. Achieving the former would go a long way to achieving the latter anyway.

On a related note, I recommend a study by the Program for International Policy Attitudes of those who held “misperceptions” about the Iraq war, with an interesting corrolation to their political beliefs and news sources. It’s worth a read.