Can One truly have an Unbiased Opinion?
Debate Rounds (4)
I am Con for this debate, so I will be arguing that unbiased opinions are non existent. Pro must argue that one can have an impartial view on a matter. First round is acceptance, second round is opening arguments, third is rebuttals, and fourth is for summation and rebuttals.
Unbiased - showing no prejudice for or against something; impartial.
Opinion - a view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.
I look forward to the debate...
For starters, this 'rule' of 'acceptance only first round' is ridiculous. That is my unbiased opinion. For me to accept that 'rule' would be biased. It goes against the intent and regulation of this site and is made solely to benefit con. There is NEVER a reason to waste an entire argument in such a way in any debate. If con chooses to forfeit his first argument in such a manner is up to him. He can NOT, however, force me to acquiesce to that position.
That is my unbiased opinion. It is based on fact and knowledge not personal belief or prejudice.
In any debate, the role of the person starting the debate is to offer a 'statement of fact' that will then be argued by two sides. In this case that statement of fact is:
"Can One truly have an Unbiased Opinion?"
That is the only role of the person starting the debate. They don't then get to tack on additional 'rules' or conditions that suit their preferences or give them an upper hand. The rules of debate are set by the debate sponsor (in this case debate.org) NOT by one or the other participants (which would be wholly unfair from the get go). The fact that I can make this argument as long as I want and in any context I want within the boundaries set by debate.org and not my opponent PROVES this to be true. Hence my opinion is fact based, not biased.
My position on this is based entirely on my knowledge of what constitutes debate and what the ACTUAL rules of debate.org are. Hence my opinion is unbiased.
Another example. If my girlfriend tries on two different dresses that I have no idea who made them or where they were bought, and asks my opinion of which one looks better on her, I can't possibly base my opinion on any bias. My only knowledge is that she wants my opinion of how the dresses look on HER. My opinion might be different if worn by someone else. No bias involved.
Let's back up for a second. Bias is based on a preconceived belief of something that isn't necessarily factual. If it IS factually based, then it's not a 'bias', it's simply a fact.
How a particular dress 'looks' on my girlfriend is pure opinion. She may not agree and others may not agree. It's simply my opinion. As I know nothing about the dresses beyond her trying them on, there is no chance of me having a bias for one over the other.
Yet another example. I am a photographer that also deals in photographic equipment. If a client brings me two lenses of brands I am completely unfamiliar with of the same focal length and specs and asks me to test them out and give my opinion on which is 'better' I cannot possibly be biased in my opinion. The two lenses start out as completely equal in my mind as I have no knowledge of them prior to testing. My opinion is derived entirely through testing the lenses, hence it's a pure opinion without bias as bias isn't possible in that scenario.
Now, I'm going to assume my opponents chief argument is that if you hold an opinion you are naturally biased to it. And of course that is true. However, that doesn't mean you were biased in FORMULATING said opinion. Only AFTER you form an opinion do you develop a bias towards it.
In all of the instances above, I formulated opinions based on different factors that have nothing to do with any bias.
My opinion of my girlfriends shopping spree is unbiased initially. Only AFTER I see her in both dresses and formulate an opinion do I develop a bias for one over the other. The opinion itself, however, was completely unbiased.
Ditto the camera lenses. My INITIAL 'bias' would by default be that the lenses were identical in capabilities. Only through testing each one could I come to an opinion.
One last example for this argument.
The blind taste test. These used to be very popular.
You have two or more consumable products to taste and choose which one you like better. You do so without knowing what brand they are. There is no possible bias if you don't know what the products are that you are testing until AFTER you give your opinion. This is double true if it's a product you've never consumed before.
For example, you do a blind taste test of cola but you've never drank cola before. You have no way of knowing the unique taste differences between Coke or Pepsi hence you have no bias. You have no choice but to simply give your opinion, unbiased.
I thank my opponent for accepting this debate, but remind him that he also accepted the rules I set at the start. If he didn't like them, he shouldn't have joined. I remind the voters of this blatant loss of conduct during the voting period.
The Perceptual Set
The perceptual set is directly linked with decision making. In 1955, Allport described it as:
"a perceptual bias or predisposition or readiness to perceive particular features of a stimulus".
The perceptual set means that any decision or opinion you have is affected by external sources, cultural heritage, or a plethora of other things. The perceptual set notices some aspects of something, while completely ignoring others, creating this bias. Allport also described 6 things which affect perception:
(I) bodily needs (e.g. physiological needs)
(ii) reward and punishment
(iii) emotional connotation
(iv) individual values
(vi) the value of objects.
Or, in 4 more succinct sections:
An example of this was the study by Bugelski and Alampay in 1961. They showed participants this picture:
and then asked them what they saw. They found that the participants were more likely to say they saw a rat when they had previously been viewing animal pictures. Even though they believed they were being impartial, their perceptual set was affecting the decision they made. Another example of a perceptual set being influenced by other sources is:
This was carried out by Bruner and Minturn in 1955. It showed how expectation also affects our bias towards certain things. When one looks at the 13 in the middle, they may also see a B. However, if one looks from right to left, in the sequence "12,13,14" they are more likely to see 13 because that is what they expect to be there. Similarly, if they look down through "A,B,C" they are far more likely to see a B because that is what they expect to be there. Perceptual set is always affecting our judgement, whether we like it or not.
To bring in some of your examples:
If my girlfriend tries on two different dresses that I have no idea who made them or where they were bought, and asks my opinion of which one looks better on her, I can't possibly base my opinion on any bias.
You can base your opinion on bias. Say for example that one of your psychological needs was sex, you would be far more likely to say that the dress that reveals the most looked better. If you were brought up in a culture that frowned upon the sexualisation of women, you would do the opposite. Your perceptual set is constantly being affected by your heritage, your needs and your wants.
Another example you gave:
Yet another example. I am a photographer that also deals in photographic equipment. If a client brings me two lenses of brands I am completely unfamiliar with of the same focal length and specs and asks me to test them out and give my opinion on which is 'better' I cannot possibly be biased in my opinion.
Yet again, you are incorrect. If the client brought you these two camera lenses and asked for your opinion (and, even in your words, they are of exactly the same focal length and specs), then you can only base your opinion on bias. You may not realise you are doing it, but the decision you ultimately make has been influenced by your perceptual set. It matters about context as well. If they ask you to test which one is better at taking long distance photos, and you know that you prefer a camera lens with a certain attribute when taking photos from afar, then you are more likely to choose the lens with that particular thing in it. Now, I realise that these examples are only apt in certain circumstances, but the point still stands. Whether you believe you are being impartial or not, the perceptual set is always affecting your decision.
The problem with this theory is you have to 'create' a reason for my supposed bias. (desiring of sex or abhorring the objectification of women). As I made no indication that there was a significant difference in the dresses, that's a false assumption on your part. Further, on a different woman my opinion could very well be different depending on the build of the women and how the dress fits them, etc. There are many things that shape an opinion, not always a predisposition. You bring up things that -might- have a partial effect on my formulation of the opinion, such as if my girlfriend has a great body I -may- consider that a factor in which dress looks better on her. But the SAME dress on a DIFFERENT woman may not be as flattering or attractive, hence my opinion is clearly not biased, but rather formed from a whole host of issues. If my girlfriend is on the heavy side then I'm less likely to choose a revealing dress no matter how 'desiring of sex' I am. Either way, it wouldn't be the only determining factor.
"Yet again, you are incorrect. If the client brought you these two camera lenses and asked for your opinion (and, even in your words, they are of exactly the same focal length and specs), then you can only base your opinion on bias. You may not realise you are doing it, but the decision you ultimately make has been influenced by your perceptual set."
Absolutely incorrect. Indeed I would do identical controlled tests on both lenses that are absolutely side by side comparable scientifically. From the results of those tests I would formulate an opinion as to which one is 'better'. There is no bias at all. Zero. The entire process is scientific and repeatable. At the same time "which is better" is a matter of opinion, not fact. Someone else might have different standards than I do on 'better' so could come to a differing opinion just as legitimate as mine. However, my opinion has no bias what so ever as it's based SOLELY on the results of controlled tests. I have no bias at all, only demonstrable test results. However, it still only my 'opinion' that this is the best or proper way to test camera lenses. Others have different methods and their opinion is just as valid as mine.
All of that said, there HAVE been instances that despite what the test results were, the lens that tested 'inferior' produced better images to my eye, in which case my opinion is that Lens A is technically superior but lens B produces more pleasing images. Hence, you can't even argue that my tests are the bias as that's not true. they are simply a tool I use to help formulate an opinion, they are not the be all end all in said opinion.
As far as my not following your 'rule', it is my opinion that in actual debate, the debaters do not set 'rules'. It is also my opinion that 'rules' which do not make rational sense should be ignored. In online debate, the debate site sets the rules, not the debaters. The ONLY purpose of a 'rule' is to force your opponent to do/not do something in order to give yourself an advantage. There is NO other reason to dictate how someone else may debate.
Here is how debate works.
There is a statement of fact.
In this case, that is "Can One truly have an Unbiased Opinion?"
Once "the statement of fact" or debate topic has been chosen, each side is given a set number of arguments with a set number of characters in order to support their position. That's it. It's very simple. You, like most people who have no understanding of how debate works, are of the opinion that whoever starts the topic can then add any rule or stipulation to the debate they want and the challenged must abide by those 'rules'. That is the antithesis of debate. Debate is an exchange of ideas in a competitive manner, 'rules' set by one or the other participants are counterproductive to that premise.
My opinion on this matter is unbiased. It's based solely on my knowledge and understanding of debate. Your opinion is completely biased as someone who doesn't support true debate, but rather prefers to handicap your opponent through 'rules' with the ridiculous notion that "you accepted the debate so you must argue my way". It's a control issue. In true debate neither side has control and neither has an advantage built in, nor do they want one. If you are capable of debate you can argue either side of any issue effectively without handicapping your opponent along the way.
To further demonstrate that my opinion is not biased, I KNEW when I made the argument it was going to be a very unpopular one as many of the 'voters' here don't have much actual debate experience so believe the accepted (but faulty) practices on debate.org are valid. I KNEW going in that simply making that argument would likely 'lose' me the debate as people will naturally follow their own beliefs on the subject rather than my argument.
Imagine a Presidential debate where one of the candidates says "we can't bring up health care, unemployment, or the national debt" simply because those are weak issues for said candidate. How well do you think that would be received? It wouldn't. That candidates demands or 'rules' would simply be ignored. Do you think the general populace would hold it against the opposition for 'ignoring the rules'? Of course not. Debate is open honest discourse, not a carefully manipulated 'argument' intended to give one side or the other a competitive advantage. This is why debaters don't set the rules, the debate committee does. In this case, debate.org. No where in debate.orgs 'rules' does it state anything about skipping the entire first argument, which is what you attempted to do. There is simply no valid reason to do so. Even if one accepted that debate initiators should be allowed to 'make rules', "First argument acceptance only" is a non-sensical rule with no purpose. Clearly by accepting a debate, it has been accepted. I don't need to waste an argument saying "I accept". That's just silly, at best.
Finally, if all opinion is based on bias, then there is no purpose in debate of any sort. If your opinion is based on personal bias, then nothing either of the debaters says can change your mind.
I will grant you that most closed minded people form all of their opinions based on bias and will cling to said opinion in the face of all fact and reason, however, open minded people do not, hence their opinion can change with new information. If your opinion is based on personal bias such as political or religious ideology for example, nothing I say, do, or show you can change that opinion. A biased opinion is unwavering and can not be changed. Thankfully, not everyone is like that or this world would be in much more trouble than it already is.
My opponent totally ignores all scientific and psychological evidence I gave him pertaining to the perceptual set, and instead offers us his own subjective opinions. He seems to be stating, " I chose X over Z, therefore, as I had no knowledge of X or Z before, my opinion cannot be biased". If he had the courtesy to read my argument, he would see how this predisposition is unavoidable. This will be outlined in my rebuttal's:
the problem with this theory is you have to 'create' a reason for my supposed bias. (desiring of sex or abhorring the objectification of women)
These were examples of how the perceptual set could affect you. I never stated that these particular things will always affect your decisions, but the things I stated before ("Cultural Heritage" etc...) always influence you to a certain degree. I gave you countless studies which support this, yet you still have a disregard of the evidence given. This is called "Cherry Picking", as you have picked parts of my arguments while totally ignoring the others which are directly related to it.
but rather formed from a whole host of issues
I fail to see how this argues your case. You admit in this part that your argument is "rather formed from a whole host of issues", yet you are stating that my evidence on the perceptual set is invalid. Your mind, how you are feeling at the time, what you have been doing that day; they all have a part to play in the process.
Absolutely incorrect. Indeed I would do identical controlled tests on both lenses that are absolutely side by side comparable scientifically. From the results of those tests I would formulate an opinion as to which one is 'better'. There is no bias at all. Zero.
Yes! They are both scientifically the same! YOU need to decide which is better, and, obviously, if they are both exactly the same you would come to the conclusion that they are just as good as each other. However, for you to choose one over the other, YOU must prefer one of the products. This can be affected by a variety of things (see the evidence I gave in my first argument), but, ultimately, your decision has been swayed in some way. Your stubbornness to accept these simple psychological facts is mind blowing.
You, like most people who have no understanding of how debate works, are of the opinion that whoever starts the topic can then add any rule or stipulation to the debate they want and the challenged must abide by those 'rules'.
I have every idea of how a debate works. You are blowing this out of proportion. It was a rather simple thing which did not need the condemnation, nor the amount of scorn that it has received from you. Please, if you came here to pour your heart out about the woes of "Extra Rules", save your breath. I understand your point of view and I respect that, but you have caused more trouble by causing this dispute than was absolutely necessary. Please refrain from being so childish.
Finally, if all opinion is based on bias, then there is no purpose in debate of any sort. If your opinion is based on personal bias, then nothing either of the debaters says can change your mind.
You misunderstand my premise. All opinion is based on bias of some sort, but that does not mean that it can't be changed. Also, bias does not have to be "based" off anything. AGAIN I must point you to the rather extensive research I sourced in my first argument. There are many things which can affect you in some way or another.
A biased opinion is unwavering and can not be changed
Biased - prejudiced for or against someone or something.
Nowhere does it state "cannot be changed". It simply means that you have been affected somehow, and have a pre deposition towards a certain thing. That pre deposition can be altered by a well formulated argument, but your original premise is influenced by a plethora of things.
This argument annoyed me somewhat:
I KNEW going in that simply making that argument would likely 'lose' me the debate
If you lose this debate, you have just put it down to my "rules". You do not even contemplate that it could be the fact that my arguments are simply better, nor that you have not cited your sources and are basing this off your own opinion. It seems you are lacking the knowledge concerning debates in this case.
If this were actually so, then it wouldn't be a debatable topic, it would be accepted fact with you starting a strawman debate you can't lose. A few 'studies' doesn't equate to fact. It does not matter whether I give credence to your 'research' or not. It is not necessary for me to refute your 'research' line item by line item. All I need do is give one example of unbiased opinion and your entire 'research' is automatically null and void. I have given several, despite your apparent ignorance on them.
" This is called "Cherry Picking", as you have picked parts of my arguments while totally ignoring the others which are directly related to it."
Call it whatever you like. That doesn't change the fact it's not incumbent upon me to argue the merit of your 'studies' or anything else in order to dispute them. I know you would like for me to argue in the way you wish, but that's not going to happen as I have no need to.
"Yes! They are both scientifically the same! YOU need to decide which is better, and, obviously, if they are both exactly the same you would come to the conclusion that they are just as good as each other. "
No. This is very wrong. I understand you likely have zero knowledge of camera lenses and that ignorance is showing but that claim is no where close to true.
Two lenses that have identical specs are NOT exactly the same. You can have a Canon 50MM F/1.8 lens and Tamron 50MM F/1.8 lens. They have the same specs and fit the same camera, but most definitely do NOT produce identical results. Not even close. There are other things at play such as the quality of the glass, the coating used, the amount of fringing, the Bokeh, sharpness, a WIDE range of things that can be very different between two lenses despite having the same peripheral specifications. These items can all be measured with tests which is what my opinion would be based on. No 'prejudice' whatsoever. Which lens comes out superior makes no difference to me at all. Remember, a client brought the lens to me for my opinion, they are not mine nor did I purchase either of them (which may present an unconscious bias) I have no emotional ties to either lens.
To further that example, These things can also be different on two examples of the SAME lens. Two Canon 50mm F/1.8 lenses can have completely different test result for various reasons. In that case it's impossible to claim I'm biased for one make of lens over the other as they are the SAME make, model, place of manufacture, etc. Yet they can/probably do have differences that make one superior to the other.
"However, for you to choose one over the other, YOU must prefer one of the products"
Completely incorrect. As I stated there are NUMEROUS tests that can be run on each lens to come to a scientific, unbiased opinion. Those tests will not vary regardless of my 'mood', 'heritage' or any of the other things you claim would affect my opinion in a biased manner. I am simply drawing conclusions from well accepted tests and guidelines for interpreting those tests. It makes no different what day I run the test, what my general mood is. what my skin color is, or anything else. There is ZERO bias involved.
"All opinion is based on bias of some sort, but that does not mean that it can't be changed."
That is nonsensical. A biased opinion can't be changed unless your bias changes otherwise it is no longer a biased opinion which completely supports my position.
"nor that you have not cited your sources"
There is no need for a Google search listing 'sources'. It's a waste of time on such a simple topic that should be common sense to most people. I understand online 'debates' usually devolved into Google fests, but I have neither the time nor inclination to search for theories and 'studies' that contract yours. Again, I don't have to. I only have to give a SINGLE example of unbiased opinion and this debate is effectively over.
The issue here is you using 'bias' to mean anything that affects one's thought process. If you accept that generally broad, all encompassing very loose definition of 'bias' then it's impossible to argue against. Thankfully that's not what 'bias' means.
But wait...then you gave the actual definition of bias...
"Biased - prejudiced for or against someone or something."
There is absolutely NO prejudice in my lens comparison example. None.
But the even better example was from my first argument. The blind taste test.
A person who has never drank cola before is given a glass of Pepsi and a Glass of Coca Cola then asked which they like better.
As they have never drank cola before and have no idea what Pepsi or Coca Cola tastes like, nor can they see the product packaging...simple two identical glasses containing liquids that appear identical. They simply can not be "prejudiced for or against something". Their opinion on which tastes better to them is based solely on their tasting the two products to determine which they favor. They could very well like both products but prefer one over the other. They could decide they like or dislike both equally. No prejudice involved.
"If you lose this debate, you have just put it down to my "rules". You do not even contemplate that it could be the fact that my arguments are simply better"
This is a silly internet debate. What do you 'win'? Oh, that's right, nothing. I don't care about 'winning' or 'losing' a 'debate', but apparently you hold a strong emotional attachment to these things. No need to get your blood pressure up over something nobody else cares about.
"nor that you have not cited your sources"
I repeat, this isn't a Google-fest. This is a common sense argument.
"and are basing this off your own opinion."
Now you're getting it! Unfortunately for you, that opinion is UNBIASED. As with any debate I engage in, structured or otherwise, I could effectively argue either position. Clearly I'm not BIASED (prejudiced for or against something) on the subject if I could argue your position as well.
"It seems you are lacking the knowledge concerning debates in this case."
That's funny. In actual debates you don't stand at the podium and cite Google references and Wiki notations. They even took away Obama's teleprompter during the Presidential debates! If folks put a premium on Google arguments over common sense then they probably aren't qualified to vote on actual debate anyhow.
I prefer to think for myself, not let random Googled web sites form my opinions for me. Once again, all I need to do is give a single example of unbiased opinion and there is no more debate as it flushes all of your 'studies' down the toilet. I have given multiple examples that you cannot/have not effectively refuted. All the Google mumbo jumbo in the world doesn't help your position if you can't demonstratively use it to refute my examples.
RossM forfeited this round.
Despite all the pictures, graphs, and cut/paste arguments from elsewhere, it would appear my opponent has no rebuttal for my very simple argument.
In order for me to prevail in this debate, it is only incumbent upon me to give a SINGLE example of an 'unbiased opinion'.
My opponent argues that it is IMPOSSIBLE to have an unbiased opinion, so a single example is all that is necessary to disprove his topic.
Are -most- opinions biased? Of course. But are ALL? No, of course not.
As I demonstrated with my camera lens example, it would be impossible for my opinion in that instance to BE biased as it would rely solely on structured, repeatable testing. It is still my opinion as others have different ways of forming equally valid opinions on camera lenses and by no means is mine the absolute 'right' way. It's just my way. There is ZERO bias involved, which is precisely WHY I use the method.
I further demonstrate a lack of possible bias in a blind taste test. In both instances, bias would simply not be a factor. Couldn't be a factor.
Bias is emotion. Simple as that. If you can eliminate emotion from the opinion forming process then you have a non-biased opinion. As demonstrated. Rare, yes, but not impossible.
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