Check for Bias
Sometimes it is obvious that a source is not good. Sometimes it is not.
Bias and Quality practice task
- What is Bias?
- e.g. research funded by a company making money from the thing researched
- e.g. research done by a researcher making money from the thing researched.
- e.g. a journal that only publishes papers which say climate change doesn’t exist
Here are five sources (journal, newspaper)
- Look at the Wikipedia article on fair trade
- Choose some random articles from the bottom.
- Grade them as follows:
|Unbiased = 5||High Quality = A|
|Maybe a bit biased = 3||Medium Quality = B|
|Totally Biased = 1||Low Quality = C|
Satire and April Fools: getting “onioned”
When you do not read critically enough, sometimes you even believe things that are written to be funny.
- For example, some people shared this article with their friends thinking it was real: http://www.theonion.com/article/emergency-crews-attempt-to-rescue-olympic-figure-s-35313
- Even real newspaper sometimes unthinkingly reprint articles that were meant as jokes:
- Example 1: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8237558.stm
- Example 2: http://www.npr.org/2012/12/01/166293306/the-onion-so-funny-it-makes-us-cry
- Your turn. Of these articles, some are jokes and some are real. Can you tell the difference? How?
- A: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/features/why-is-fruit-so-expensive-in-japan-9605105.html
- B: http://www.therisingwasabi.com/sadistic-heian-aristocrat-responsible-for-kanji-with-sixteen-readings/
- C: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/airbnb-academia-plan-inject-pro-market-ethos-sector
- D: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/chinese-private-school-company-buys-us-university-campus
- E: http://www.standard.co.uk/goingout/attractions/indoor-ski-slope-opens-in-chelsea-a3140331.html
- F: http://www.falmouthpacket.co.uk/news/14396386.Gyllyngvase_Beach__Falmouth_to_have_under_sand_heating_to_make_it_an_all_year_round_holiday_destination/
- F: https://atap.google.com/soli/
- G: https://www.google.co.jp/ime/furikku/
Solution: Checking the source
Some sources are usually reliable. Some are usually not.
- Is it a joke site?
- Is it a type of source known for being unreliable (e.g. a tabloid newspaper)
- Is it likely to be very biased?
However, even reliable sources sometimes print things that are not true (either deliberately on April Fools, or by accident), so…
- Check AT LEAST TWO other DIFFERENT sources, to see if it is also reported there.
- If it is about a country, read the papers from other countries
- If it is political, read papers biased to more than one side
- If it is a new science article, check for replication or similar research. Many new findings are not reliable until the experiment has been repeated a few times. Wait, or report carefully