I caught myself being a moron the other day. While watching CNN I was reciting a mantra to myself that went something like, “biased liberal media crap, biased liberal media crap” when suddenly the news network said something that was well received by my conservative mind. I’m not sure what they said, but the first thought that came to me was, “Ah-ha! They are not so biased after all!” It took me a minute to reflect on what I had just said before internalizing what a dupe I was, but after doing so I started deliberating on what biases truly are, and how they affect our opinions. Since I always love including definitions when appropriate, here are two:
“Bias; Prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.“
“Opinion; A view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.“
Throughout my life I have been asked countless times for my “unbiased opinion”, everyone has. Whenever I was asked for it, I’d try to answer by imaging how I would think if I didn’t think as I already did and then from that formulate an opinion. Does this make even a shred of since? If a girl was to ask me, “what’s your opinion on my sequin dress?”, I’d most likely respond, “I don’t really like it because I don’t like sequin.” But if she asked me for my unbiased opinion on her sequin dress, should I then say, “Oh, it’s a very nice dress because I lean neither left nor right when I comes to sequin”? In summary, biases and opinions are essentially the exact same. They are the both preferred judgements of an individual.
Additionally, a thing to recognize in this is that whenever you are trying to give an “unbiased opinion”, you usually formulate the opinion by incorporating biases that contrast your own. Back to the sequin dress example, my method for formulating an unbiased opinion would likely be to imagine if I in fact did like sequin, which would then allow me to feel as though I had alleviated myself of my own bias. I believe the most relevant example of this occurs when a parent tries to give their child an unbiased opinion on a college. If the parent has any pr-established opinions concerning a school, they will naturally form (if asked) an opinion that contrasts their pr-established one – deeming the new opinion, unbiased.
“An unbiased opinion isn’t an opinion at all” ~ SLS
The words above are ones that I wrote down in my journal last year. Not until my embarrassing moment while watching CNN though did I truly understand what I had been trying to say so many months ago. Modern culture has postulated that prejudices, judgments of others, and in many ways favoritism are all negative qualities for a person to incorporate into their thoughts. However, if we go back to the definitions of bias and opinion – accepting that they are inseparable – we learn that the two are completely defined by prejudices, judgments, and favoritism. Thus, you should never allow yourself to believe that you are able to formulate an unbiased opinion, because opinions and biases are the same thing and come from ones prejudices, judgments, and favorites.