Pithy Perspectives about Bias

Favourite Quotes


Everyone needs to make assumptions - but they becomes biases when they are not adequately examined to see whether they are true, or not.  This is the case for scientists, the religious, or for everyday life


You will be unbiased when you cut the pie without knowing which slice you will receive. This is true whether you like pie or not - assuming, of course, you must eat all the pie you receive


An objective, dispassionate, bias-free point-of-view is a contemporary myth


Beware of those who use consensus as an argument for truth - what they are actually doing is showing you their biases 


Knowledge and intelligence do not make an unbiased thinker; it is the ability to eliminate emotion to enable oneself to evaluate: fact from fallacy, deduction from delusion, the significant from the superfluous, and the material from the myth.



We rarely listen to others carefully so we can learn or understand; we are too busy constructing a counter argument based upon the farrago of our personal biases


Critical thinking, with the avoidance of bias, requires much more than a kind heart and an open mind. It demands, the application of formal logic, a consistency in one's evaluations, an attention to the many relevant details - all topped off with, honesty, and above all,  a consciousness of one's limitations.  Cultivate these qualities in yourself and look for them in those who offer you their opinions


No matter how unbiased and objective you believe your opinion to be, there will almost certainly be another impartial and honest person who believes the exact opposite


Bias is much more that involuntary or wrong-headed ideas; it is the complex emotions that selects which facts to focus on and which to neglect

When the truth is too complicated, the biased seek a simple lie; when the truth is simple, the biased seek a complex lie


Bias causes the educated to rationalize truths away rather than accept the facts


People disparage biases in others; but defend biases that meet their needs or social goals


Two quite opposite qualities equally bias our minds: habits and novelty

Jean de la Bruyere (1645 - 1696) - Philosopher

The biased are never more confident about their fairness and open-mindedness than when they are describing the bias in others


Bias: an indifference to Truth


Bias, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder


Those who are prejudiced cannot be reasoned out of their ideas because it was not reason that created their Bias in the first place 

Bias is a result of focusing on the comfortable or favorable information; to the exclusion of the difficult, the annoying, or the embarrassing.  This is equally true in Science


Our reflex reaction to a person or situation does not display our Bias, any more than our “startle reflex” is our only response to our initial sight of a bad accident


Most (people) when they are thinking are merely rearranging their prejudices

 - William James - Psychologist


The subjective human dimension of science can never be divorced from the objective, because everyone operates with presuppositions (biases)

- William Whewell – Originator of the word “scientist” in 1833

We are all influenced by our biases:  the big difference between people is some are aware of this, while others are not


Bias and Belief are so intimately linked that how we acquire them must be looked at together


If the human brain formed only rational or even conventional thoughts we would never possess distinct qualities and personalities. We would be little more than mechanical clones. Bias is fortunately a fundamental human trait that allows each of us to have different ideas and qualities


Every hour spent trying to support a weak opinion would better spent learning how Bias affects one's thinking

Bias is deciding upon an issue without fully understanding it, along with a refusal to consider opposing points of view


People disparage biases in others; while they defend other biases that meet their needs and social goals


Bias is caused by accepting the comfortable, simple, or supportive information; and excluding facts which are disconcerting, complex, or troublesome


 If you thought that science was certain - well, that is just an error on your part

Dr. R. Feynman – Theoretical Physicist

The Elephant and the Rider metaphor has been used to explain a number of thinking ideas - and it applies to understanding bias too.    

A small yet skillful rider (our thinking self) can, to a good degree, control the large and independent elephant (our biases). But it requires continuous attention from the rider; and even then it seems the elephant gets its way much of the time.  

Knowing the elephant’s motivations and careful planning and preparation can keep the elephant sufficiently on track to reach a destination.



Bias:  a desire to rely on our own beliefs, combined with a lack of interest in the truth



Managing bias involves embracing truth, honesty, and integrity while avoiding all aspects of hypocrisy - the problem is discerning the difference