The Problem Of Being Biased

By Henryk MatraszekMar 14, 2003
There has been a lot of talk on the internet lately about the objectiveness, bias and reliability of Elvis related websites. Much criticism has been directed towards webmasters, who, supposedly, manipulate their readers by praising certain groups of influence in the Elvis-world, while, at the same, discrediting others. The main proof for such actions was supposed to be the unfairness when it comes to writing reviews on the Elvis products. What all of us should agree with is that an Elvis’ news site should remain objective and non-prejudiced. They provide fans with information about the upcoming releases, re-releases and events. Giving this kind of information they cannot be subjective as what they provide us with are the facts. One could not lie about a CD’s release date for instance; as such an inaccuracy would inevitably lead to the loss of popularity among the readers as well as credibility, which seem to be two most crucial points in the existence of a website of the aforesaid nature. However, what must be mentioned here is the fact that the majority of Elvis websites (even those focusing mainly on news) provide us with other Elvis related matters such as weekly pictures, downloadable materials, but first of all reviews—the insights into the latest Elvis releases around the globe. Of course, there are a number of fans who purchase every new product labeled “Elvis” not paying much (if any) attention to its contents, as they seems to follow the rule that reads: “It’s Elvis—it’s mine.”, but a much greater deal of the buying public prefers to learn as much as possible about the product first, instead of purchasing it on spec. So what is the latter group looking for? They want to read a review of this possible “buy-me” candidate before spending (or rather wasting) their money, especially in the case when they simply cannot afford each and every novelty being put out on the market. In such a case the most reasonable step to find out whether the product is worth its price (or the potential buyer’s attention) or not is to wait for a review or better—several. But the real problem seems to lay in the fact that the more reviews one reads, the more confused he/she gets, as the analysis of a new CD, DVD or book may happen to be vary, or be even contradictory, depending on the reviewers attitude towards the particular product. “Why is it so?” One may ask. One of the characteristic features of human beings is our distinctness, which is often expressed in having different viewpoints on the same topics. A review appears to be the most subjective piece of writing one can produce. It must be so, as while reviewing a product you express your thoughts, put on paper your private emotions connected with a piece of music you have just listened to or a film clip you have just seen. What you try to do is to form a statement, which will best describe what you have just experienced. One should be aware of the fact that what you come up with will be published and may trigger off a fierce discussion. Due to that fact, some reviewers do their best to let you know the truth about the product (their personal truth to be more specific); others intentionally either extol or underestimate its value in order to form a certain attitude towards it. But let me ask you this: Don’t they have the right to act this way? Especially in the case when they express their opinions in the websites they had created and managed ever since, websites you do not even have to pay to visit? I agree it is cheating on fans, it is dishonesty, but you—the readers—are left with a free choice: you should not or rather cannot take everything you read for granted. You have your brains, so in order not to get fooled you are almost obliged to check others’ opinions on the subject. If, for instance, two out of three reviews say the product is worth buying, you buy it (if you show interest in it of course), if vice versa, you do not—as simple as that. If you assume one of the three reviewers purposely cheated on you, you lose your trust in him and stop being bothered by him anymore by simply not typing his site’s address ever again. You stick to those reliable ones, who were right… this time. There is also the other side of the coin—perhaps the author you wrote off was biased, perhaps he did underestimated the value of the product due to his aversion to its producers, or perhaps he had some other reason(s) in mind. You cannot tell. His action was far from being honest, but it is the example of what may happen, especially when he speaks his mind on his private website. What I would like to stress here is that firstly and mostly it was your duty to search for other opinions too, for it is your money which is going to be spent. I beg your pardon? You could not find it elsewhere? So maybe this “crazy” thought has crossed your mind telling you that the bad and unfriendly review was not a manipulation, perhaps other, potential reviewers did not even bother to inform you about the crap that had just been released by the x-label? Did you take such a solution into account? Then, who is to be blamed? The answer seems clear-cut… On balance, a human being is destined to be subjective as that is the way we were all created. We follow different paths, we often trick others, and even more often are being tricked and misled. Sometimes we hurt, other times we are hurt—whether it is done on purpose or not. The world we live in is a cruel one, so we have to fight back. Our ability to choose, to tell right from wrong is out greatest weapon. As is our brain. Let us use it once in a while, because one day we may find out that it is not them but us who are biased, prejudiced and unfair. As Elvis used to sing: “Before you abuse, criticize and accuse walk a mile in my shoes.” First think, and then do—not the other way round. Am I subjective? I certainly am, but the reason for this is that the views presented in the article are just my opinion…
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