Is Bias Good or Bad…or Neither?

Yesterday I wrote about fake news. I appreciate those who commented on my blog. I always welcome people’s thoughts because it helps me to think more deeply.

A little along the same lines, I want to talk about bias and truth. I like truth but I know that never is there a reporting of anything that isn’t biased in some way. Any English professor will tell you this. But bias doesn’t have to be considered evil. It is basically viewing something from a particular angle. I remember the story, The Seven Blind Mice, about mice each trying to describe an elephant? One mouse said it was a fan, another a pillar and on it goes, each one describing what they each experienced assuming it was the whole elephant. Only the seventh, as the tale goes, stepped back to see the whole elephant and knew that the “pillar” was its trunk and the “fan” its ear.

Bias to me is perspective. I am always open to perspective because it represents a new way of looking at something. Most perspectives are true for the view they represent. But a perspective is not the same thing as seeing the whole elephant. I feel that when I can accept someone’s perspective as simply their perspective I actually get closer to the truth. Seeing two parts of an elephant is more of the elephant, right?  The problem the mice had was that each thought he or she was seeing the whole elephant. Mice are pretty small. A truly humble mouse would understand its own smallness and realize that what he was seeing was just a part of something bigger.

I like to think of the idea of seeing the forest or the trees. Those who study trees for a living can be pretty anal about bugs and bark and such things if they care about the health of trees. But it is vital that someone be looking at the whole forest to really understand the way trees thrive or die. In the same way, people who look at issues such as poverty, job loss, disease or violence need to look both at the specifics and at the broad view and see how all things are connected.

I happen to be one who looks at the big picture. I am always seeing how seemingly unrelated events interconnect. It is not always the easiest way to see things. It is like the story I heard that when a butterfly flutters somewhere in Africa, the air moves in Minnesota. (Or something like that). I see causes and effects most people don’t see. It is the way I was created.