This is a bit about how we are trained to waste our time entertaining nonsense and how it works to our detriment. Written while I am waiting for the SOTU to start...
In football, there are officials on the lookout for cheating the make sure the game being played is “Football” and “Team who sneakily put more players on the field wins!”.
Some teams cheat more. Some teams are notorious for doing this*. These teams tend to garner more penalties and get called out more for their cheating... And managers and coaches have a strategy called “Working the Refs”
The premise is that after being caught and penalized for cheating far more than the other team, the manager will have a fit and raise hell and such implying some level of unfairness towards their team or unacceptable bias is the reason why they are getting penalized more. The reason for working the refs is to encourage future leniency regarding the next penalty when the cheating team cheats again, or to encourage harshness in calls against the opposing team.
We as humans are weak to vulnerable to this idea of “balance” when it is not applicable to all things and all people.
We also see this in public discussions. There are notorious liars and cheaters influencing public policy. Project Veritas is an example of an organization whose entire premise is to create deceptive videos to back attacks against institutions, public figures and journalists. There exists public policy groups that have existed only to promote falsehoods and doubts about if smoking or sugar was hazardous to one’s health, if changing out atmosphere would change our climate, if certain leaders were speaking in good faith about weapons of mass destruction and so on. After getting caught in lies again and again, some groups and speakers are dis-invited to participate in discussions, or only with disclaimers about the other times they have been using coverage to lie to their audience.
I recently was in a discussion started when I responded to a complaint about how "The Media" and journalists were biased against Conservatives because they had flagged groups such as the U.K. Institute for Economic Affairs. Google them if you like, or if you know PR imagine a British Version of the Heartland Institute. This group has been paid by groups such as RJR Reynolds Tobaccos, Exxon Mobil, and [SECRET NONDISCLOSED DONOR] to always have an... """Expert""" at the ready to advocate stopping anti-tobacco education, arguing against the science of climate change, and in favor of Brexit.
It turns out smoking is harmful, actions HAVE been able to decrease smoking rates, changing the makeup of the atmosphere IS changing the climate, Brexit DID inflict economic pain on the British People and so on. If you are looking for someone to contribute in a smart and meaningful honest way to any discussion, you can probably do MUCH better than someone from the IEA.
So when (smartly and rightly) folks flagged IEA ....""Experts"" and invited them less (along with other think tanks with similar histories) someone wrote a piece decrying the "BIAS!!!" of Journalists, the Media, and so on.
This is an attempt to Work the Refs. Someone will sent an angry email, someone will write a letter, someone will threaten to never tune in again or cancel a subscription and so on. Hearing an accusation that another is being "Biased" against you group produces a strong emotional response to "Defend" your group against some outside threat. It often moves the discussion from deciding what objective truth is to making sure your particular group isn't being mistreated.
Groups such as Young Earth Creationists, "Vaccines Cause Autism!", Supply Side Economists, Phrenologists and others all have felt their laughably and obviously wrong ideas and experts were the victims of unfair bias and not given equal time compared to their non-wrong opposition. Eventually, we decided that evidence and truth was more important than seeming "unbiased" and so truth moved forward.
"Test Everything, Hold on to what is good" - 1 Thessalonians 5:21
To move forward, in terms of knowledge, wisdom, good decisions.. we must not only seek out and find new data, ideas and interpretations, but we also must discard ideas and practices that are explicitly wrong. It wasn't enough for Ignaz Semmelweis to theorize and demonstrate that properly washing hands before surgery reduced infections and saved lives, but the "Handwashing Sceptics" had to be persuaded, cajoled, or mandated to clean their hands as well. Today there is a strong "Bias" in Medical Schools towards cleanliness in operating rooms and if you wish to advocate the abandonment of these principles, you will likely not be welcome to teach in a credentialed medical school. This can be viewed as either progress and the triumph of truth and a great victory for the health and well being of patients the world over, or as an example of academic snobbery and an attack on the free exchange of ideas. It wasn't enough for Dr. John Snow to learn theorize and demonstrate that contaminated water was the source of Cholera, he had to remove the dirty well's pump handle. People fought Semmelweis's and Snow's ideas for quite some time but we now know to wash our hands well before putting them into a human body and to avoid drinking shitwater.
"A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." - Max Plank
We are blessed to live in a free, open, and technologically advanced society where ideas from the world over can be expressed and examined with ease. We are also drowning in a deluge of bullshit. "Fair and Balanced" can NEVER produce progress. At some point those espousing clearly wrong ideas, proven again and again and again to be lying, acting in bad faith, and demonstrably wrong - need to be pushed to the margins.
We still have flat-earthers, people who don't believe in viruses, supply side economists, and people who voted for Blake Shelton as the sexiest man alive. It is not in the nature of man to have EVERYONE to discard an idea when it is wrong and harmful. We hoard - sometimes nearly discarded ideas turn out to be useful, but usually not. Every time we take a step forward and former a point of contention becomes the common wisdom, it will appear as "Bias" to those who are for some reason emotionally invested in their ideas.
Conservatives, as this particular time and place in the history of the United States, often claim to be the victims of Bias by those who study history, political scientists, anthropologists, psychologists, journalists, entertainers, academics, researchers and so on. In a way, they are probably right - some tenets of conservatism are more and more objectively wrong (given more and more history to observe) and - as progress is made - any idealogy that clings to demonstrably wrong ideas is not going to be rejected by thinkers more and more, often culture leads common wisdom and policy, but over the long arc of history, the bend is towards progress.
I've had some really, really wrong ideas in my life. I most certainly still do. But I am making a sincere effort to try and be open to the ideas making progress and to give a greater weight to those advocating out of understanding, duty or urgency, rather than for a check or out of self interest. As I approach middle age, I will likely feel my "side" is under attack from biased people more and more. May I be blessed with the wisdom to weigh a "Bias" against my ideas with eyes open to the possibility that some ideas may not be true enough to merit further discussion.
Also, Fuck the whores of the Heartland Institure, The Institute for Economic Affairs and Project Veritas. Y'all are selling bullshit and you know it.
*-Sometimes those football teams go to the Superbowl.