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Evaluating Information

What is Bias?

The Cambridge Dictionary (2017) defines bias as "the action of supporting or opposing a particular person or thing in an unfair way, because of allowing personal opinions to influence your judgment."

According to the Walden University Writing Center (2017), skilled writers avoid bias and evaluate evidence with an open mind.  The Writing Center (2017) claims "writers should write objectively and inclusively to receive respect and trust from readers, as well as to avoid alienating readers. To be objective means to write with curiosity, rather than having a preset opinion, and to engage with research, rather than presenting a personal preference".

Excellent writers also avoid generalizations or statements that are only based on personal experiences .  Instead, gifted writers include evidence to support their statements and use data to strengthen their arguments (Walden University Writing Center, 2017).  Merriam-Webster defines evidence as "something that furnishes proof."  To view examples of evidence based writing, visit the Walden University Writing Center website.   Or, read information about types of evidence at the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) website . 

Reference List

Cambridge Dictionary (2017) Bias. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from

Merriam-Webster (n.d.) Evidence. Retrieved from

Walden University Writing Center. (2017) Scholarly voice: Avoiding bias. Retrieved from

Who Me? Biased? A Video Series from The New York Times.

Avoiding Bias in Language and Including Counterclaims

Avoiding Bias in Language

The American Psychological Association (APA) provides tips for reducing bias in a helpful guide The guide provides examples of "problematic" and "preferred" language.  

Purdue University (2017) also recommends avoiding bias in written work.   This way, the writers will not offend readers based on their sexual orientation, gender, race, political views or ancestry.  For instance, the Purdue Online Writing Lab (2017) claims "if you write in a sexist manner and alienate much of your audience from your discussion, your writing will be much less effective."    The university includes examples of non-sexist language on their website and offers additional tips for avoiding bias.  


The Purdue Online Writing Lab (2017) includes a web page about developing an effective argument.  To construct a stronger argument, Purdue (2017) suggests using a counterclaim.  Presenting a counterclaim or an opposite view point increases the writers credibility and demonstrates a deeper understanding of the subject matter.  It illustrates that the writer is not biased, but rather well informed about a particular topic area (Purdue Online Writing Lab, 2017).  

If using a claim or counterclaim, support your statements with evidence and ensure the information used is credible.  Evidence consists of items such as facts, statistics, charts, survey information, scientific data or quotes from reliable sources.  For more information about evidence, view the printable handout from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Reference List

American Psychological Association. (n.d.) Supplemental Material: Writing Clearly and Concisely. General Guidelines for Reducing Bias. Retrieved from

Purdue Online Writing Lab. (2017) Stereotypes and Biased Language. Purdue University. Retrieved from

Purdue Online Writing Lab. (2017) Organizing Your Argument. Purdue University. Retrieved from


Confirmation Bias

"Confirmation bias is the tendency to acquire or evaluate new information in a way that is consistent with one’s preexisting beliefs."  (Allahverdyan & Galstyan, 2014)

The Facing History and Ourselves website provides an informative video that describes the issues surrounding confirmation bias.  The transcript for the video is available at this link.  The organization also provides extensive materials about confirmation and other biases on their website.

Reference List

Allahverdyan AE, Galstyan A (2014) Opinion Dynamics with Confirmation Bias. PLoS ONE 9(7): e99557. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0099557

Confirmation Bias in Action

Confirmation Bias & Real World Consequences

Howgego (2015) discusses an interesting case of confirmation bias and illustrates the resulting consequences.  The case is the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, one of the most serious environmental disasters in U.S. history (Barstow, Rohde & Saul, 2010). 

Before the explosion, Howgego (2015) claims bias impacted the decisions made by staff members.  The staff refused to believe tests showing a problem with a concrete seal.  The employees ignored the warnings and trusted their false belief that the problem was based on other factors. (Howgego, 2015). 

Bias got in the way of accurate decision making and clouded the judgment of staff members. According to neuroscientists, this is normal as humans naturally "have trouble believing evidence that contradicts their preconceptions" (Howego, 2015).  Failing to believe in the test's evidence created an explosion and huge oil spill.  This caused problems for the environment as indicated by NASA's Deepwater Horizon image.  In real world situations and in writing or research, it is important to be cognizant of confirmation bias.

Deepwater Horizon image


Reference List

Barstow, D., Rohde, D. & Saul, S. (2010, December 25) Deepwater Horizon's Final Hours. New York Times. Retrieved from

Howgego, J. (2015) Confirmation bias; we only believe what we already think.  New Scientist, (3034). 29.