Critical questions for detecting bias
- What is the author’s / speaker’s socio-political position? With what social, political, or professional groups is the speaker identified?
- Does the speaker have anything to gain personally from delivering the message?
- Who is paying for the message? Where does the message appear? What is the bias of the medium? Who stands to gain?
- What sources does the speaker use, and how credible are they? Does the speaker cite statistics? If so, how were the data gathered, who gathered the data, and are the data being presented fully?
- How does the speaker present arguments? Is the message one-sided, or does it include alternative points of view? Does the speaker fairly present alternative arguments? Does the speaker ignore obviously conflicting arguments?
- If the message includes alternative points of view, how are those views characterized? Does the speaker use positive words and images to describe his/her point of view and negative words and images to describe other points of view? Does the speaker ascribe positive motivations to his/her point of view and negative motivations to alternative points of view?
- Compare and contrast your childhood influences to the influences of the children of the Westboro Baptist Church. Did you have any similar influences? How were your family and surroundings different?
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