Examine the Claim That It Is Possible to Attain Knowledge Despite Problems of Bias and Selection

Authors Avatar by bunny382 (student)

Examine the Claim That It Is Possible to Attain Knowledge Despite Problems of Bias and Selection.

The claim that I’m attempting to evaluate in this essay is if it is possible to gain knowledge even with problems of bias and selection. It is necessary to define what the terms “bias” and “selection” mean accordingly to several dictionary sources first before we have a preconception of them. Bias is stated as a penchant that prevents objective consideration of an issue or situation; basically the formation of opinion beforehand without any examination. Selection is stated as the act of choosing or selecting a preference; resulting in a carefully chosen and representative choice. Another important keyword in this title is "knowledge", which can be defined as "facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject ". Bias and Selection both affect our knowledge in a very serious way, as they can lead us to gaining knowledge that can be one-sided or away from the truth. Although knowledge attained without any bias or selection seems to present a fairer and a more objective, independent point of view, the knowledge attained would be too much to be of any use. The range of uncertainty of what knowledge is closer to the truth can be huge. Whereas knowledge attained with biases and selection might be subjective but it is more specific and can be better evaluated and compared with other knowledge so to be able to justify what is closer to the truth.

First, I will examine the problem of biased knowledge in a historical aspect. In history, my knowledge claim is that it is less likely that knowledge can be attained without bias or selection. It is probably fair to say that nearly every historical event and its interpretation have been shaped by the bias and selectiveness of different people. History’s purpose is either to keep record of the past or prove a point of view. Say for instance, the book Records of the Grand Historian also known as Shi Ji which was the magnum opus of Sima Qian. It is a book which he recounted Chinese history from the time of the Yellow Emperor until his own time. It gives overview of past events and its purpose is to give the summarization of significant events and people in the history of China. However, who decides which events are more important in the past and which events should bare more detail and take up more page space in the book? The author does and as an individual, he must have his own ideas of reasoning what’s acceptable and what he thinks is relevant to his purpose, after all, it is his book. The book serves to summarize the events and interprets mostly by the author’s point of view and in doing so; it makes selection of contents that are relevant to his belief and thoughts. Bias takes a part in the author’s recount as well, but depends on the individual’s personality. Although bias and selection took parts, the book still provides specified knowledge of the history. Also, we can cancel out and make a selection of knowledge as well by evaluating the sources accordingly to their origins and purpose. For me as a Chinese, every time when I came across a world history book, I tend to select and pay particular attention to those parts related to my own country. Also when I read those stories in the history books, I prefer to read about the stories of famous women in the past. I realize that I can be affected by my nationality, my culture and even my gender, and this leads me to select and choose the knowledge that I want to attain. If I am affected, others will be as well as I am.

Join now!

However, as one claim always has its two-sidedness, the counter claim of this issue is that knowledge can be attained despite problems of bias and selection. Say for example, there was a history book that covers everything in the past with unbiased records, being complete, fair, and objective. Though it may be a lot of information, the knowledge could be useful. If it were written as a narrative, it would be like going back in time to when the historical events actually happened and you could experience an imitation of the actual events. The knowledge you could get out of ...

This is a preview of the whole essay