Posted by: crudbasher | May 4, 2011

Fact + Bias = Opinion

I was reading an article today about a report from the Innosight Institute about Blended Learning.

The report takes blended learning and breaks it down into 6 different categories. I think it’s good work and has some good applications. One line from the article though jumped out at me.

…since it classifies blended learning is the kind of disruptive innovation the Innosight Institute was constructed to promote, it would be hard to classify it as unbiased research.  

Well I agree that it isn’t unbiased research but really is there any such thing anymore? Research isn’t cost free. Everyone has a sponsor of some kind and I think in a lot of cases it can bias the research toward getting the results the sponsor wants. If you don’t make the sponsor pleased, are they likely to continue sponsoring your work?

That is why science has long since created a peer review process. However even that can be biased. Last year a series of emails came about about the peer review process used in climate research. In these emails researchers talked about how to get people to who would look favorably on the research on the peer review panels and to exclude skeptics. In fact in a lot of cases, the original data collected on climate is not released so other scientists can try to recreate the results.

No matter what your opinion of climate research is, it’s hard to deny that it is a very politicized process now. There is a vast amount of money at stake and as we all know power corrupts.

Ok so back to bias. I personally have no problem with bias. I think it’s human nature to try to fit the information we see to what we believe. It takes a very open and unusual person to be able to change their own world view to fit the facts. Especially in the Internet age, where anyone can find reinforcement for any view they have.

(cc) arimoore

Everyone has their own opinion. Interpreting facts to fit that opinion is bias. This is a natural thing. So here’s my problem. I really find it annoying when people try to hide their bias or pretend they don’t have one. If I watch a political add from the Democratic Party, I may not agree with it, but they are clear where they are coming from. If I see the same add being sponsored by the Center for American Progress, which is clearly a Democratic biased group, it becomes a lot harder to figure out what their bias is. I think people hide their bias so as to pretend what they are saying is fact. It’s not fact and I can prove it with math.  (tongue in cheek)

Fact + Bias = Opinion.

In the education reform debate let’s have everyone be clear about what their opinion is about what needs to be done. But don’t try to pass off your opinion as fact and self-evidentially true. Acknowledge that your view is opinion and so is your opponent’s views. The public will decide.

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