02 November, 2011

How to tell if you’re biased

I have written before that if I am considered a leftie, it’s only inasmuch as I oppose the crazy right (as opposed to the moderate right, which does exist although is often smothered by louder voices).  I’ve also confessed that I tend to support the side that acts like less of a dick (a relative term) and that this tends not to be the right wing.  These are my honest observations – if anyone would like to show me where I’m wrong, I am certainly open to that discussion.

I also pride myself on always trying to apply the same standards to all sides.  It’s this that usually leads to accusations of bias on my part from those who would rationalise intellectual dishonesty, hypocrisy, contradictions or just plain dickishness. 

It’s a very deep question whether we judge people or parties by their words and deeds, or judge words and deeds by people or parties that say and do them.  You can get an idea by asking yourself a few questions:

The next time Julia Gillard says something, ask yourself how you would feel if Tony Abbott said it.
If you think Bob Katter says crazy things, ask yourself if you’d still think so if Bob Brown said them.
When Barack Obama announces a policy, ask yourself if you’d still agree or disagree with it if were John Boehner’s policy.
When Sarah Hanson-Young makes a comment, imagine if Barnaby Joyce had made the same comment.
If Richard Dawkins says something brilliant, ponder how brilliant it would be if it came from George Pell.
And the next time Twitter’s favourite Canberra correspondent tweets something seriously questionable, ask yourself if you would react the same way if one of our favourite News Ltd whipping boys posted the same thing.

Don’t just say X wouldn’t say something like Y.  Do it for the intellectual exercise.  Ideally, your reaction should be exactly the same.  I know it sounds obvious, but it might be harder than you think when you try it.


  1. Spot on the money, but lost on the people who need to consider it the most.

  2. I think we all do it a bit - the trick is to recognise it when it happens.