Sunday, October 09, 2005

Reporting Bias

Here's an article from a Saudi newspaper arguing that Americans get a particularly warped view of the Middle East. I particularly liked the line,

"Just imagine if, after a visit to America, I write only about drugs, crime, and racial discrimination. While those problems exist in America as in any other society, they are not what America is all about. It is the same here."


Blogger Hamlette said...

See, this is why I pay no attention to the news. If I'm not going to be getting the truth and the full story, then I might as well not get any of it and just let you filter through things and tell me what you think is important.

9:20 PM  
Blogger Octavo Dia said...

While experiencing technical difficulties, I accidentally removed one of Noumenon's posts. Here it is, for your reading pleasure:

I understand that America's racial problems received even more press in the Soviet Union than they do here. So imagine every report on oppressed Muslim women as being about America's downtrodden blacks, and maybe you will have a balanced view.

Didn't like the Saudi article much, though. I'd prefer him to take a specific example where our views are warped and break it down. Besides, can I take lessons on bias from someone encouraging a Jew to "rescue her religion from the extremists who have hijacked Judaism in Israel and America"? You can get the limited anti-bias effect of reading the opposite bias, but it's not as effective as a nonbiased argument from a biased perspective.

On whether to pay attention to the news, it's economically irrational to waste your precious brain time puzzling through the bias to become informed. And yet -- if someone shows you enough optical illusions, do you stop looking out the window? You might have good filters, but they're never going to be able to take you to New Orleans and show you Katrina, or quote an interview with the President verbatim, or tell you things from the perspective of some total atheist. The news tells enough fascinating, true, and important things that it's worth learning to detect the falsehoods.

8:46 AM  

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