What is a Bias Consultant?


A bias consultant shows there is always a hidden component to one's thinking; and that bias controlled attitudes will improve every type of relationship and decision


The nature of human biases requires interested and well-disposed people to be aware of the reflexes, circumstances, and emotions that shape their own beliefs and the opinions and perspectives of others. I help clients understand and apply this. I call it Bias Aware Thinking or The Art and Science of Bias Management. It is Critical Thinking taken to a new level by including the consequences of everyone's biases.

 

A primary point is that Bias Management requires a significant amount of very practical skepticism. However, being a skeptic is frequently equated to being a cynic or a contrarian; and a real cynic may suggest a skeptic doesn’t believe anything is definite; or alternatively they just can’t face up to reality. Neither is correct; but the water gets muddier as the word “skeptic” can be used as a misleading cover to promote a particular agenda, complete with its own set of biases.

 

But skepticism has a long and proud tradition. The ancient Greek thinkers started it all and skepticism was one of the crucial foundation stones of modern science. William Whewell, who originated the term Science in 1833, cautioned that the human dimension (biases) could not be divorced from science. In the mid-twentieth century philosophers of science like Thomas Kuhn (of Paradigm Shift fame) and Karl Popper (“True ignorance is not the absence of knowledge, but the refusal to acquire it.”) put great emphasis on how cautious we must be when we start to form important opinions. 


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


As a forensic investigator I am called upon to form a professional opinion (whatever that means as compared to any other sort of opinion) based on topics which are necessarily complex. The simplest definition of a complex question is one that cannot be precisely defined and then definitively tested in a scientific laboratory. While deliberating on an issue I continually ask: how do I know I am right, what have I not considered, and how can I, or someone else, invalidate my opinion. The first step in getting to grips with complex issues is to recognize and classify the quality of various pieces of information: a bit like distinguishing a needle in a haystack full of shiny spiky objects.

 

Information can be of various types: it may be fraudulent or erroneous; at best it will be incomplete. And it will most likely be biased by a particular perspective. Put this way it should be apparent that well-considered steps are needed to resolve many of the difficulties caused by human biases.

 

A Bias Consultant applying and art and science of Bias Management can never make final decisions for others; or provide definitive answers to complex questions. What can be done is show the correct steps that will reduce biases in people and systems; and minimize their sometimes calamitous consequences.