Identifying Biased Information
Definition:   Information is biased if it reflects only one viewpoint about an issue.

Note: Just because information is biased doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use it in your paper.
You just need to be cautious, making sure you don’t present it as objective information.
(Definition: Objective means it is based on fact rather than opinion.)
Instructions:  In your information, watch for the characteristics listed on this page.
If you find them, it is likely the information is biased and should be used with care.
The Examples below show quotes from articles.
** Indications of potential bias are highlighted in red. **
Characteristics of bias: Loaded terms Moral content Stereotypes
  One-sided Name dropping Asking for money
Loaded Terms:
Definition: A loaded term is one that has emotional overtones and would tend to create either positive or negative reactions.
Example:  from the article "Public school privatization & commercialization."     (works cited)
" The conservative movement, being thoroughly anti-union, has at its heart a desire to rid the United States of the two remaining unionized sectors of the national economy: Public Education (teachers unions), and Public Employees. In service of these goals, the movement has moved aggressively against both public schools and public school teachers" ("Public school" 1).
Moral Content:
 Definition: Moral content is words or phrases that describe opinions or positions in terms of their integrity or moral content.
                    Integrity and moral content refer to what is right and wrong.
Example:  from an article entitled "Abortion is murder:"          (works cited)

"Those who believe in abortion are being fooled by Satan. Satan loves death and will do all that he can to destroy life. Life is precious in God's eyes and one cannot pick and choose which Commandments to obey. One cannot decide who should live and who should die. Abortion is the greatest sin in this world. Abortion is murder and is not acceptable in God's eyes" ("Abortion is" 1).
Definition: A stereotype is a generalized description of a person or group in an oversimplified, sometimes prejudiced, way.
Example:  from an article entitled "A pope who said the unsayable:"   (works cited))

In the coming general election, we can be certain of several things. First, a whole variety of issues will never reach the agenda…Some are ruled out because agreement between the main parties…is so great as to make discussion pointless. Others, such as abortion, are ruled out because neither party has an opinion…Second, the party leaders will conduct themselves as rival salesmen, trying to outdo each other's offers, rather than trying to articulate their own ideas more effectively. Third, nobody will propose anything more uplifting than discounts on council tax bills, several thousand extra police, and free bus passes. Politicians have so narrowed debate, so stripped it of wider meanings and values, that they have made elections about as exciting as the weekly trip to the supermarket ("Pope who said" 1).
Definition: Information is objective and not one-sided if it is based on facts rather than opinions, is not slanted according to personal feelings, and shows all sides of an issue.
Example: an excerpt from an article about the quality of TV programs:   (works cited)        
All those organizations with the word "family" in their names can relax. The Fox network's new Temptation Island is no threat to the American republic, the institution of marriage, or the morals of our young… Watching Temptation Island will be much like witnessing someone else's marriage counseling sessions, and about as entertaining.  What else can we expect after eight years of a president who wants to feel our pain? This is the Age of Oprah. We talk about everything; the notion of a private sphere of behavior is dying.  Publicly baring the body, a respected form of degeneracy since the days of Salome, may be too much for Fox, but baring the soul, it turns out, is quite all right. Of course, the latter is much more of an imposition on the rest of us, as even the most strait-laced should realize (Stuttaford 1).
Name Dropping:
Definition: Name Dropping is the use of names of famous people in a manner that could influence readers.
Example:  from an article called "Gun control hall of fame:"   (works cited))

"Barbra Streisand is among a galaxy of Hollywood stars and public celebrities that have seen the light on sensible gun control… When the very rude Mr. Charlton Heston challenged Barbra to a debate on gun control, she politely and sensibly refused" ("Gun control" 1).
Asking for Money:
Definition: Asking for money is the request for donations or advertising of materials for sale.
Example: from the death penalty Web site:   (works cited))

"Our publications are now available online!
Check out our new publications page, where you can find the latest editions of The Sentry, The Catalyst, and For the Record . Read more.

With your help, we will end the death penalty!   ("Death penalty focus" 1).
 Works Cited
"Abortion is Murder." Prophetic Voices. Ioánnes Courlísius Publishers v.z.w. Web. 13 Oct. 2004. 11 Oct. 2005.

"Death Penalty Focus." deathpenalty.org. 11 Oct. 2005.

"Gun Control Hall of Fame: Barbra Streisand, Celebrity Hero of Gun Control." VikingPhoenix.com. Web. 11 Oct. 2005.

"Pope Who Said the Unsayable." New Statesman 11 Apr 2005: 6-7. PerAbs. OCLC FirstSearch.   Web. 11 Oct. 2005.

"Public School Privatization & Commercialization." Media Transparency. Web. 21 Sept. 2005.

Stuttafore, Andrew. "Temptation Island." National Review 5 Feb. 2001: 28-9. WilsonSelectPlus. OCLC FirstSearch. Web. 11 Oct. 2005.
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