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Day to Day Politics: Now let’s be honest about my bias.

Wednesday 9 May 2018

1 Wikipedia tells us that:

Bias is prejudice in favour of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.

Biases can be learned implicitly within cultural contexts. People may develop biases toward or against an individual, an ethnic group, a sexual or gender identity, a nation, a religion, a social class, a political party, theoretical paradigms and ideologies within academic domains, or a species. Biased means one-sided, lacking a neutral viewpoint, or not having an open mind. Bias can come in many forms and is related to prejudice and intuition.

In science and engineering, a bias is a systematic error. Statistical bias results from an unfair sampling of a population, or from an estimation process that does not give accurate results on average.

Now let’s be honest about my bias

Every time I disagree with someone on Facebook I’m accused of being biased. “No,” I say to these people of the right of politics, it’s just an opinion I have. They normally deliver their own particular kind of bias with a venom not uttered in polite company. So much so that I have extracted myself from the web of thoughtless bias they weave.

Music has always held a special place in my heart. I have a collection of over 600 CDs and 150 live concert DVDs. I play piano (badly) and have composed a number of songs. I have no bias to any particular genre of music and appreciate it all.

Books are like children to me and I have a family of hundreds. I treat them with a fatherly love but I show no bias or favour to any. I have read the political thoughts of Hasluck, Menzies, Howard and Costello and many others on the right. Again my reading has no bias. Fiction and text books comfortably interchange.

In the AFL I support two teams, so I could hardly be called biased. And I have played a variety of sports.

But what we are talking about here is ‘political bias.’ So what is political bias?

I would say it is either “an inability or unwillingness to want to understand an opposing point of view.”

In my defence on that count I plead not guilty. I have studied conservative ideology and rejected it. I have studied current conservative policy from climate change to the NBN, and rejected it all. Not because of any biased view, but rather because I have studied each on its merits. A biased person rejects everything out of hand and is incapable of objective reasoning. Anyway, I will let others judge. Who knows, next thing someone will say I’m a communist and that Karl Marx’s grave is a communist plot.

In my writing I constantly place the state of our democracy before any allegiance to Labor and the left. However, it would be correct to say that I favour the political philosophy of the left. I find it has more emotion than the right, and more soul. If that be my bias, then I plead guilty.

2 The Poll Bludger: Essential Research: 53-47 to Labor:

Labor maintains its existing lead in the latest Essential poll, despite improving perceptions on the outlook for the economy.

My thought for the day

“Question everything. What you see, what you feel, what you hear and what you are told until you understand the truth of it. Faith is the residue of things not understood and can never be a substitute for fact.”

PS: If I’m biased, let me know.

 


17 comments

  1. New England Cocky

    Funny how being concerned about the welfare of the “common man” is considered “biased” compared to the extortion buy banks exposed at the Royal Commission that pay enormous unjustified salary packages to the perpetrators of these financial miseries.

    Must have something to do with about 70% of Australian MSM mastheads being owned by a US citizen still frothing at the mouth because the Whitlam ALP government called him to the Bar of the Senate in 1974 to explain his editorial “bias” against the ALP.

  2. Ella miller

    Call me biased, yes I am. When corporations pay tax on net profit, workers pay on nearly every cent they earn, is there justice in the corporate tax cut? When the flat tax comes in…a person earning $50 thousand dollars will pay 35C in the $ …. a person earning $200 thousand will also pay 35 c in the $…. progressive? I don’t know. Can you say with any certainty where you will be financially in seven years??? I can’t…too many variables…The Murdoch press will wax lyrical about the budget…but will a person on New Start? Will my children, when they find out because I have had to borrow money from the government to survive and their inheritance is owned by the government? If it is correct there are 100,000 waiting for aged care packages and they are providing …I think 17000 …Yes, I am biased…angry…and feel the government think we are fools.

  3. John Millar

    Thank you John. One of my best schoolteachers, half a century ago, berated a fellow history student for answering a question by quoting from the set textbook.And not for the obvious plagiarism. ‘Would you please read that again’ and then ‘Do people really act like that for those reasons?’ ‘No,sir’ Then why did you write it?’ ‘Because it was in the textbook’. A salient lesson in critical thinking. I sailed through the course by reading other history books. I now have a small ‘c’ catholic collection of books and music. Biased? I certainly prefer some views and sounds to others.

  4. helvityni

    …more recycling and repeating on Mal’s ABC, he’s a friend of the broadcaster, or used to be…?

    Annabel will get a short appearance on Shaun Micallef’s Mad as hell, IF he ever comes back…

    The folk earning under forty thousand, the most needy, get a teeny bit of help…dad can take kids to MacDonalds for mum’s birthday…Scottie is so nice…

  5. Kerry F

    Hi John, I don’t know if it is a problem to be biased if one is on the side of decency and compassion. But I don’t agree with being biased for a political party because they seem to be more self interested these days than concerned for the welfare of the people.

    Political parties use our bias to get votes they often don’t deserve. And they all do backroom deals. Look at Labor premier Palaszczuk whose partner is/was a lobbyist for the Adani deal. Why is it that this is allowable for a Labor Politician? You can be married to a right wing lobbyist or you can be a Labor premier but you should not be able to be both.

    Also I will be much happier about Labor when they realise that the Greens are not the enemy – aren’t we all on the left? Aren’t we all fighting for a fairer society?

    I would be interested to hear your thoughts to these questions from your perspective of a “biased” Labor supporter. I will add that I respect your obvious depth of knowledge on the issue.

  6. Leanne Jones

    I have a few close friends and several aquaintances who are extremely biased in their faith in the coalition making them wealthy….
    They’re biased against refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers, even though some of them are the children of any of the above.
    They’re so biased that they wouldn’t ever consider voting for the common good and the future generations of this country.
    One is so biased l have actually unfriended him on Facebook because he complained about what I post to my husband, who now describes this man as a bigoted bogun. He is so gutless that he couldn’t to tell me how he feels. I would be happy to hear his opinion only if he listened to mine.
    He disapproves of my view that everyone deserves a fair go no matter where they’re from.
    He’s a self serving vulgarian.

    I too enjoy an eclectic taste in music, reading, cuisine and travel.
    They do not.
    These people do not read, and they like listen to music from the 60’s and 70’s and would never consider broadening their horizons. ( Not that there is anything wrong with that music. Some of it is great.)
    They’re rusted on conservatives in everything that they experience and have failed to grow as human beings.

    These people don’t understand l feel passionate about this country and it’s people, many of whom are victimised and looked down upon because of their race and socioeconomic status.
    They blame the poor for their poverty.

    These particular people are extremely conservative and it’s appalling that they call themselves”christians” and yet they do not display any of the attributes of what a good christian should have.
    It’s like a dog eat dog view in their world.

    One of them used to work as a bank teller and a recent discussion about the banking sector and the royal commission made me wish that he could actually see that what has gone on is morally wrong and he told me that the government should not have started looking into the banks at all, because their job was to make money!

    I’ve given up trying to figure out how they can be so biased against others and their views on just about any subject.

    They think the latest budget is completely fine and don’t see anything wrong with much of it.
    Unfortunately they’re not alone in their beliefs, values and ethos.

    I think a lack of education has created such ugliness inside them and nothing anyone says to them will change their bias towards others.

    I have hope though that future generations of young people will become more knowledgeable about how the government works and maybe one day people will stop voting for the Dutton’s, Turnbulls and the Morrison’s of politics who stand for nothing but themselves and their own vested interests in their careers and big business.

    “Maintain your rage and enthusiasm”. Gough Whitlam

  7. Ricardo29

    Bias is in the eye or ear of the beholder. I freely admit to bias against the LNP without exception and both hope and expect the next election will see them gone. The religious bias, expanding the school chaplain programme ( which surely breaches the original intention of a free, secular and universal public education system) and the proposed flattening of the tax system to the advantage of the wealthy show some of the ideological biases of this incompetent and inadequate Treasurer and his government.

    The attacks on Welfare recipients, or those eligible, the ABC, foreign aid, and the failure to move on Newstart, clearly show the bias against our local and world social responsibilities. The LNP are economic vandals and Neanderthals. Put the LNP last, soon.

  8. guest

    I unashamedly admit to my bias against the Coalition. They lost me in the Howard years after I had unthinkingly followed them for some decades out of habit.

    This present bunch of ideological do-nothings have only confirmed my bias. They of the monied class think that money can buy them anything they want, even a continuation of their incompetent government after the next election.

    The way monied people play with other people’s money is a disgrace. Seven hundred companies pay no tax. Financial institutions such as banks rob their customers.

    Hand-outs to the poor are pitiful token charity. The poor could make more money sitting in the street with a cap on the ground. Some of them are reduced to that.

    They pander to the elderly – and goodness knows they need help. But the government is trying to buy or conserve votes from them because so much of their support is from the elderly who remember better times.

    One piece of science is the emphasis on medical research. No doubt good will come of it. But science is not a priority with this government; they have no minister for science and the science of climate change is beyond their comprehension.

    They promise half a billion dollars to help protect the Great Barrier Reef, but there is no hint about how they will do that. Destroy the GBR and they will not be able to buy another one for any money. Perhaps they hope for the breeding of coral able to survive temperature rises. Meanwhile, the Department of the Environment is heavily reduced.

    They paid $30m to Murdoch to wage the propaganda war on their behalf. They are taking away another $84m to reduce the influence of the ABC. Rupert will be pleased.

    Schemes such as Gonski and the NDIS are paid scant attention because they are seen to be part of Labor’s nanny state charity. Students do not vote and need not be feared at the ballot box. The infirm and disabled are put through the wringer if they apply for assistance because the Coalition does not want to pay out the money. They love money and like to know where it is safe so they can fondle it as assurance of their superior worth. So no more help from a Medicare levy.

    The conservative neo-liberals are dead scared that someone is going to come along and take what they have. Hence more spending on security and border protection against the unseen dangers (terrorists? refugees? the Chinese?) So big spending on submarines we could have bought more cheaply off the shelf, and big bombers, and an emerging arms industry to cash in on conflict around the world of which we are a part as we follow the lead of the genius head honcho in the USA.

    And then there is the building of road infrastructure to convey people and goods across and out of the country. There is a world-wide boom in trade. And what does that mean? That goods and materials are being bought and consumed at a continuing higher rate – as if such resources are infinitely available. To continue to do so would require a couple more planets, so we need a space research centre like NASA.

    You can see why the Coalition is so excited about its budget. For them it is hoped it will save their bacon – and the world!

    But in reality it is self-centred indulgence attempting to fly on a wing and a prayer.

  9. Zathras

    Bias ultimately comes down to selfishness and what is best for me right now rather than what is better for society overall.

    It extends from the so-called “hip-pocket nerve” to eternal salvation in some mystical heavenly paradise – both concepts entirely dedicated to the self and both via specific intermediaries also acting out of their own self-interest.

    I’m one of those who have “maintained the rage” and find that the coalition have made it easier for me as the years pass by, despite the shortcomings of the ALP. The Liberals offer nothing in the way of mutual survival and use division and fear as their political weapons.

    The Kakistocracy currently in charge see their sole role as simply being re-elected and not where the country is heading or what they will leave behind after they drift off into generous taxpayer-supported retirement.

    Another form of bias comes from plain old tribalism, whether you’re dedicated to a sporting team that happens to represent the geographical area in which you live to the endless numbers of other groups out there. Perhaps it’s a remnant of a safety-in-numbers strategy for survival?

  10. DrakeN

    @Zathras: “Bias ultimately comes down to selfishness and what is best for me right now rather than what is better for society overall.”

    What if, like me, you consider that your own situation is well provided for and then have a significant bias towards providing services and assistances which provide neither financial nor social reward?

    Rural fire services, Silver Chain and similar volunteers, Volunteer Ambulance services, Meals on Wheels, etc. are all sustained by those many who see public service as a responsibility and not a paid vocation.
    Without them, the whole Australian society would collapse, including the much overrated ‘Economy’.

    Personal avarice and aggrandisment does not enter the consciousness of a large number of people – large enough that the country does not collapse under the weight of Political, commercial and religious expediency.

  11. Charles Lowe

    Yep John: you are most definitely biassed.

    As am I (I’m very proud to say).

    I’m unapologetically biassed toward ‘legal and natural persons’ as opposed to ‘legal but non-natural persons’.

    And I firmly believe that every last ‘legal and natural person’ should be at least as biassed as I know I am – and as I’m certain you are as proudly too.

  12. jimhaz

    Left or right, male or female, the more biased one is the more rubbish or incorrect ideas and opinions one tends to communicate.

    Johns articles do not contain rubbish or incorrect ideas, he is fairly reserved for the most part, so his left bias is not an issue.

  13. diannaart

    I am biased against bullies, injustice, unrelenting greed, judgemental people – especially the ones who cannot and refuse to take a good hard look at themselves .. actually there’s quite a list.

    We are all biased – even if we consider ourselves as very self aware – unconscious bias applies to us all, even you John Lord, although probably not in the way your RWNJ’s on face-book claim, just in other ways you may not even be aware of, although you are a very reasonable and thoughtful person.

    Trust I will point out any bias in your writings should I stumble across them.

    🙂

  14. flogga

    I’m with you on the appreciation of most kinds of music, though try as I may I struggle to appreciate Death Metal. I guess I must be biased!

  15. wam

    Every time??
    To deny an opinion is what one believes to be the truth is that a bias?
    An opinion is a view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.
    “that, in my opinion, is right”
    You often equate the 50% below average as thoughtless followers of the ‘murdoch sun’ based on fact?
    ‘more emotion and soul’ wow ?? Was one of your books by Martha C. Nussbaum????
    ps
    if a person completes a set task with diligence and one is not appreciative of her/his efforts because one does not like the worker and/or the task. Is that opinion or bias?
    pps
    the labor members KNEW they were dual joyce didn’t. Should the cheats pay back their salary? Remember labor’s bragging about their procedures to prevent sect 44 cases? Should shorten take the chance to retire??

    agreeing to be bound by a treaty is the responsibility of the Executive in the exercise of its prerogative power, whereas law making is the responsibility of the Parliament.

  16. Stephen Brailey

    I have a friend of a friend on Facebook and like you John am constantly getting accused of being a left wing Marxist apologist. Interestingly enough these days I rarely post political opinion unless it’s certain newspapers for their apauling bias (…we all know who they are!). I mostly stick to what I think of as cool science and Tech fixes etc. Yet still if any mention of climate change or species extinction comes up the loony right rears it’s ugly head to complain about left wing conspiracies. What does it say about a political movement that rejects empirical evidence in favour of ideology? Are they weaving politics and religion into opinion formed on the basis of dogma. Is this too when your carefully thought out position is judged as biased John…when it butts heads with doctrine?!

  17. Zathras

    DrakeN,
    I think your examples are more an indication of a lack of bias rather than of bias itself.

    I don’t think you can be biased toward demonstrating concern for others out of feelings of fairness and natural justice. It’s the sort of person you are.
    Many people share such feelings but too few actually do anything about it.

    I certainly agree that society as we know it would not function without the efforts of such people.

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