Saikron's Guide to Reading Articles

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Saikron, Nov 10, 2010.

  1. Saikron

    Saikron Member

    Nov 3, 2010
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    When having discussions on the internet talk almost invariably turns to articles posted therein. Often when this happens, the topic of bias arises. This post is intended to be a brief guide (but admittedly long post) to reading articles (mainly from the internet) and is an example of an unbiased piece.

    The most important thing about any article is its content. Authors write articles in order to present a conclusion and defend it by making points supported by facts.

    After you read an article that somebody else cited, you should decide whether or not you agree with the points the author tried to make by considering the merits of the supporting facts.

    If you disagree with the conclusion of an article, you should begin formulating an argument against it by attacking the points that the author made which led to that conclusion. Frequently, arguing against a point involves arguing against the facts that support it.

    Every individual is biased, but an author's bias does not invalidate their claims in any way. If the executive of a widget company says "widgets improve your sex life," the appropriate counterargument would include some fact proving that widgets do not improve one's sex life or questioning the evidence he used to support that claim. In the absence of any such facts, all we can do is cast doubt on his claim, not disprove it or even discount it.

    Bias influences what articles are selected for different sites, what conclusions authors make, what facts authors choose to cite, and how they interpret those facts, but proof of bias is not disproof of claims made in the article. "Bias." isn't even the beginning of an argument against an article. You will be better served by disproving the article, and in the end you can yell "bias" as an explanation for the author's motivation -- not the evidence against the article.

    Furthermore, strong evidence of bias is consistently lying or misrepresenting facts to support one conclusion. Coming to a conclusion that supports one group at the expense of another is, unfortunately, not evidence of bias. To find the evidence of bias, we have to go back and investigate the facts to see what lies and misrepresenting took place and if they were consistently in favor of a conclusion.

    In short, it doesn't matter what website an article came from; if you have any interest in being an informed individual, it unfortunately involves a lot more than reading the URL and headline. If you aren't reading everything with the same critical eye no matter where it was posted or worse: refusing to read something relevant because of the website it was posted on, you aren't using the brain at your disposal.

    These tips are equally useful if you get your news from non-web sources.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2010

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