Maintaining Objectivity: How Pm-Resources Can Avoid Bias

Mitigating Bias By Understanding Diverse Perspectives

Recognizing our own biases

As human beings, we all have ingrained biases shaped by our upbringing, life experiences, and social environments. These biases often operate unconsciously, influencing our perceptions and decision-making. As PM-resources seeking to provide objective analysis, it is critical that we strive to recognize our own biases. This involves honest self-reflection about our core beliefs and assumptions. We must ask ourselves questions like: What stereotypes or generalizations do I tend to make about certain groups? How might my background and identity shape my perspectives? What blindspots might I have?

Actively seeking input from people with different backgrounds

Once we have reflected on our own biases, the next step is to purposefully seek out diverse perspectives. We should make an effort to read, listen to, and engage with people of different genders, races, nationalities, political affiliations, and socioeconomic backgrounds. This not only exposes us to viewpoints we may not have previously considered, but also helps counter the pressure that can come from predominantly interacting with those of similar backgrounds. We should seek diversity not just in the consumers of our analysis, but also among fellow PM-resources we collaborate and deliberate with. A multiplicity of vantage points enriches discourse and allows blindspots to be revealed.

Considering how language choices may inadvertently introduce bias

Word choice matters. Subtle aspects of language can convey unintended connotations, assumptions, and judgments. For example, using terms like “illegal aliens” or “the homeless” reduces groups of human beings experiencing complex circumstances to one-dimensional labels. As PM-resources aiming for impartiality, we must vigilantly reflect on how the words and rhetorical framing we employ may inadvertently skew perspective and introduce bias. Are we using neutral, precise terminology? Are the associations conjured up by certain metaphors or analogies balanced? Do our linguistic choices paternalistically imply deficiencies about certain social groups? Asking these types of questions can uncover latent biases secreted away in language.

Providing context to help readers understand multiple viewpoints

Truly objective analysis requires not just neutrally stating different perspectives, but providing sufficient context for readers to appreciate the underlying reasoning behind divergent schools of thought. For contentious issues like inequality, crime, or immigration where passions tend to run high, we must take care to articulate, in a non-dismissive way, the values, evidence, and life experiences grounding each stance. While avoiding false equivalence between opinions clearly rebutted by evidence, context can illuminate why reasonable people may disagree. And exposure to fleshed out opposing views encourages critical reflection, rather than knee-jerk reactions based on presuppositions.

Writing Accurate and Balanced Content

Fact-checking statements against reliable sources

Factual accuracy is the foundation of objective analysis. Before presenting any statement as fact, we have an obligation to independently verify its truthfulness through careful checking against reliable, high-quality information sources. This could involve tracing a statistic back to the original dataset, confirming a historical event against consensus scholarship, or determining the scientific consensus around a theory. It means eschewing reliance on hearsay, dubious websites, or politically-motivated think tanks when citational support for a statement cannot be found in credible peer-reviewed journals, settlements, or investigative reporting. Not only does this verify accuracy, it also allows us to provide proper attribution through citations and links for traceability.

Representing differing opinions fairly

When covering debates around thorny political, social, or economic issues, the principles of ethical, unbiased journalism demand fair representation of clashing perspectives. This means avoiding tactics like cherry-picking extreme views or weak arguments from a side to make it look unreasonable. Arguments should be steelmanned, not strawmanned. We must characterize differing schools of thought on their own terms, relaying their central theses, logics, and evidentiary bases with nuance and rigor. This builds trust in readers across the ideological spectrum that we are guided by a good faith desire to illuminate complex disputes rather than imperceptibly slant interpretation. Where arguments rely on disputable assumptions or insufficient evidence, this should be calmly clarified without smugness or antagonism.

Using neutral language free of assumptions or judgments

The very syntax and word choice deployed in analysis conveys an authorial posture ranging from dispassionate neutrality to outright contention. As PM-resources, our informing mission demands discourse free from coded messaging and subtle rhetorical slights tipping the scales one way or another. That means eschewing language that: moralizes divides into “right” and “wrong” thinking; heaps speculative attribution upon on individuals or groups; connotes flag-waving affiliation with one side; sardonically singles out arguments for scorn; or accuses those holding disagreeable views of insincerity or turpitude. In place of such verbiage, neutral terms that avoid implied judgments should be selected to allow readers space for open-minded, independent assessment of the competing cases.

Guiding Readers Through Complex Topics

Breaking down issues into component parts

Many policy controversies discussed in the public square involve a tangled mesh of interdependent sub-issues obscured beneath superficial discourse. By methodically analyzing such complex matters into their constituent parts — teasing out precise points of disagreement and mutual acceptance — we can promote enhanced clarity. For something like healthcare reform, this may mean isolating distinct issues like coverage, cost control, mandate structure, role of private markets etc. as distinct dimensions. This reduction of multidimensional tangles into individual strands allows the costs, benefits and assumptions behind each discrete piece to achieve improved ventilation through isolated focus.

Comparing and contrasting different schools of thought

Side-by-side comparisons of competing perspectives, informed by the component breakdown of issues, further enhances enlightenment. By laying out the core tenets of each school of thought in parallel, contradictions and subtleties in reasoning become illuminated. For contentious realms like economic policy or foreign affairs, spelling out the foundational priorities — say security versus liberty — underlying disagreements fosters understanding about how similar first principles, when weighted differently, lead thoughtful observers to opposing conclusions. Furthermore, isolating points of genuine factual dispute from those where conflict arises mainly from values emphasis rather than evidence differences helps readers synthesize.

Enabling readers to draw their own informed conclusions

In navigating topically complex, politically polarizing subject matter, a natural temptation emerges for subject-matter experts to actively steer readers towards “correct” interpretations by subtly stacking the evidentiary deck. Yet in truth, if the goal rests in facilitating deep understanding as opposed to advocacy, authority should remain vested in the reader to weigh tradeoffs and render personal judgments. Our role involves laying out primary sources, intelligently highlighting tensions between arguments, posing clarifying questions, and indicating where relevant scholarship disputes consensus narratives without fear or favor. But ultimate meaning-making and choice calibration resides with readers — not analysts who, for all their wisdom, remain fallible and biased. Trust in the citizen bears fruit when discourse empowers.

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