Bias and Selection in our Acquisition of Knowledge

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I have interpreted the key aspect of this essay question as evaluating the extent to which knowledge can be obtained, despite possible problems of bias and selection. First of all I would like to give my own personal definition of bias and selection to make clear my interpretation of what these two words mean. Bias is a tendency to give an opinion that disregards any other possible alternatives. Selection is the process by which one decides what information should be included and what should not. Already by reading these two definitions one can see that they can pose a possible threat in obstructing our acquisition of knowledge. However, we must not discard a source that contains aspects of bias or selection as useless, as is this not a form of gaining knowledge in itself? I will start by evaluating the knowledge issue of “To what extent can we still obtain knowledge despite problems of bias and selection?” in relation to history. I believe that in history it is possible to obtain knowledge even when faced with problems of bias and selection. History is a record of what happened in the past and it gives us information about past events. This in itself is a way of obtaining knowledge as by reading a historical source one gains information about the event one is reading about. History gives us knowledge of the past regardless of any bias or selection a source may contain. But if there are elements of bias and selection in a source, the subsequent knowledge issue arises, “How can we deal with bias and selection when obtaining knowledge?” Even before starting to question the reliability of the source, a certain degree of knowledge can be obtained from it. In my opinion even if a source contains a degree of bias or selection, it is ... ... middle of paper ... ...election are present on our quest for knowledge, these do not seem to have a huge effect in preventing us from obtaining this knowledge. At times, such as when carrying out OPVL on a source, the aspects of bias and selection present in the source can actually be an additional form of knowledge in allowing us to understand the motive behind why they are included in the sources. Without bias and selection the amount of knowledge available to us would be so overwhelming that we could hardly make any sense of it. Ironically, it is thanks to these very aspects of bias and selection that we can understand and interpret the knowledge that is presented to us, taking one step closer to the truth we seek. Works Cited Richard van de Lagemaat, “Theory of Knowledge for the IB Diploma”, 2005, Cambridge University Press. http://monabaker.com/quotes.htm Last Accessed 01.02.12
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