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You hear people say that you ought to see an "expert" to get unbiased viewpoints.

Isn't that largely based on the assumption that experts are unbiased? Or is it believed that smarter people in, say, certain fields, are not biased about their knowledge and experiences?

Like, for example, someone has trouble raising their difficult child, and are in need of guidance somehow. What they do is they get the help of a child psychologist/etc. What they're hoping for is help to raise their kids, teach them to behave better, etc., and would rather have the experience of a professional instead of a non-professional because they believe, likely, that it's going to be more beneficial than not.

A child psychologist, however, can be extremely biased about how kids should be raised, and have very strong opinions as well. In fact, they can tend to be more biased than "non-experts" because they have more knowledge on possibilities, and can fixate on their own methods of practice very strongly.

I'd assume that all answers to this question are going to be biased somehow, even if minimally. Why? Because the conjectures, opinions, and beliefs passed on by people are gained and attributed to life experience and personality, which are both shaped by odds, chances, genetics, and so forth.

A saying goes that no one is ever perfectly unbiased. A man says that cars run better when they have lots of gas in them. Is that because he proved this, it's generally "true", or because he's biased?

I give my kid candy and they stop crying. Am I biased if I tell others to do the same? Not all kids will stop crying for candy. What about growing up and having a horrible childhood? Am I biased if I tell others that childhood is horrible, simply because my experience went that way? Or with professionals, would an entry-level engineer be biased about how something could be built? After all, they're only going by what they know so far, and not by what's theoretically possible. This may sound pedantic, but consider it.

All cars will not indefinitely "run better" just because they have more gas. A doctor's opinion is not a final answer always. My terrible childhood isn't a fair example of most childhoods. An engineer can be biased because he/she chooses familiarity over productivity, or "standards" over creative insight to design.

closed as off-topic by Keelan, iphigenie, Neil Meyer, virmaior, Joseph Weissman Jan 10 '15 at 0:52

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  • Is this question biased? – Neil Meyer Jan 8 '15 at 12:47
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    I think the way this is asked, the question looks more like a psychology question. Can you refine some? – James Kingsbery Jan 8 '15 at 16:49
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You said "A child psychologist, however, can be extremely biased about how kids should be raised, and have very strong opinions as well". But that's not what "biased" means. I have a very strong opinion that 2 + 2 = 4, and not 2 + 2 = 5. That doesn't make me biased (towards the number 4 or whatever). A good child psychologist will have some rather strong opinions about child psychology, but not out of any bias, but because of his or her education in the subject and their excellent knowledge.

Of course a child psychologist could be biased, which would make them an awful child psychologist.

  • Believing 2 + 2 = 4 is biased, but that doesn't mean it's bad. A biased child psychologist can certainly get people's kids on the right track. The presupposition that an expert is better is biased, and the expert's conjecture that their method is better than another is biased too. A "rule" is a standard that is followed for a set of reasons; reasons which may be unreasonable and argued. In effect, there's no way to be unbiased, and there's no way to be perfectly biased, just as there's no perfect good or perfect bad. The worst criminal can have some good merit ... arguably. – Compatible Lover Jan 8 '15 at 18:22
  • Biased would be unfair prejudice of some sort; prejudice is preconceived opinion. A child psychologist will formulate a set of ideas that are known to better raise children or teens or whatever age of sorts you apply this to. If one simply picks them because of preconceived opinion that they're better, it's biased; if the child psychologist gives methods that imply superiority of rank over any other, it's technically biased as well. Believing your idea is better only because it's your idea is in-line with a bias. – Compatible Lover Jan 8 '15 at 18:27
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Everyone is terribly biased, as Hume demonstrated in his account of the Problem of Induction, since we all tend to believe in recurrence and example as the arguments for validity of rules.

Such belief is wrong for two basic reasons: i) no enumeration of objects or situations in line with a hypothetical rule can be turned into a general statement about the objects or situations of that kind, ii) rules are in fact presuppositions about the future for which we have no sensible reasons whatsoever.

So yes, we are all biased in more than just a way.

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