Bias is a problem in nearly every research study.
Some studies suffer from bias of intent, a hidden intent to prove a specific outcome or result. These are counterproductive, and set research in the associated field back, rather than moving it ahead.
There are numerous other forms of bias that can harm research.
Design bias fails to take into account the inherent biases that are likely in a given experiment. It can also occur when those concerns are ignored when considering the results.
Bias can exist in sampling and selection of subjects and parameters to include. Procedural and measurement bias can effect the operation of the study, skewing the results. Biases can exist in how questions are asked, how much time is allowed for questions and in the way in which results are reported.
In the end, bias in research is essentially a fatal flaw.
So is yours. So is mine. Our bias is a flaw in our study of our world.
I don’t mean bias in the social justice warrior definition of the word.
I mean bias in how we conduct our daily research in the world, the way in which we interact with others and the world around us.
Each of our interactions with the world or with other people is like a miniature research study.
We assume a premise or seek an outcome. We observe evidence. We draw conclusions and create actions to suit those conclusions.
But how many times do we enter these “studies” with absolutely no biases?
Regardless of what you believe, the answer is never.
We start with design bias. We plan your day with the intention of avoiding any unknown or unpredictable circumstances. Perfectly normal, by the way, but still a bias.
We then apply observation bias. When something unexpected occurs, instead of observing it for what it is, we apply a preconceived label to it, either integrating it into our day or discarding it and moving on. Again, perfectly normal, but still a bias.
We often apply procedural bias. We avoid certain people for any number of reasons. They talk too much. They’re too grouchy (or too cheery!) They’re needy and need too much of our energy.
Or maybe we avoid certain people or certain areas because the way they look or where they live doesn’t fit our measurement bias. They don’t look like us. They live in an area we’d rather not pass through. They don’t speak like we do or fit our socioeconomic view of ourselves or what’s “acceptable.”
If we can’t avoid these variables, we apply biases in how much time we allow for interaction with them. If we don’t approve of them, we may cut off the experiment before we really learn anything about their condition or how they interact with the world and with others.
If we apply our biases to the world around us, we’re likely to miss some of the most important evidence of the truth.
If we apply our biases to the great experiment of living, rushing past the variables and unexpected evidence, we may very well miss the point of the experiment all together.
If we apply our biases to the research study that is our lives, we’ll miss the evidence that leads us to the most important conclusion of all.
For every conclusion we find in this experiment of living, there are 100 more questions to be asked.
Don’t let your biases block your search for the truth…and for life!