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The Problem of Biases in Science


Not all scientists view their world the same way.    

Consider these three opposing viewpoints, and the biases they create:

Viewpoint # 1

There does exist in the field of science today a minority group of scientists that view their world as being formed for a directed purpose.  This creates a bias in interpreting the evidence.

Viewpoint # 2

A much larger group of scientists maintain that if something other than natural processes was involved in the formation of our world, there is no way to test such a hypothesis, therefore only natural processes should be considered.  This also creates somewhat of a bias in interpreting the evidence.

Viewpoint # 3

There does also exist in the field of science today a group of scientists that maintain, not only was their world formed by natural processes only, but nothing other than natural processes exist.  This definitely creates a bias in interpreting the evidence, and a person’s outlook on life.


Interpretation Bias

The scientific evidence does not speak for itself it must be interpreted.  This is often where worldviews come into play.  Your particular chosen philosophical worldview will influence how you interpret the evidence.

Closed Science Bias

Because of one’s philosophical worldview, researchers are told to only consider certain types of hypotheses in their research, but do not include other possible hypotheses, if it does not fit the researcher’s chosen philosophical worldview.

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one's beliefs, hypotheses, or worldviews, while giving disproportionately less attention to information that contradicts it.  Debates often consist of attempts to overcome opposing views rather than honestly seeking truth.

Research Bias

Do scientists performing research ever influence the results, in order to portray a certain outcome?  Scientists are human.  Could scientists influence the results without realizing they are intentionally doing so?  Biases, to a certain extent, are unavoidable.

Sampling Bias

Sampling brings a certain amount of bias into your research.  Your research can be affected not only by the samples you include in your research, but also by the samples you might omit.

Measurement Bias

Measurement bias arises from an error in the data collection and the process of measuring.  A faulty scale might cause an instrument bias.

Reporting Bias

This type of bias arises because positive research tends to be reported more often than where a negative hypothesis is upheld.

An article on in February of 2017 was titled: “Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds.” This had to do with a 1975 study made by Stanford University. It stated: “The vaunted human capacity for reason may have more to do with winning arguments than with thinking straight.” “Once formed,” the researchers observed dryly, “impressions are remarkably perseverant.” Even after the evidence “for their beliefs has been totally refuted, people fail to make appropriate revisions in those beliefs,” the researchers noted.

The Human Element

We usually just don't like to admit we might be wrong; even to ourselves.   Science is supposed to be an unbiased and open search for the truth about our world.  How do we separate what we “know” about the world that we live in, from what we actually just “believe”?

Are Worldviews Hindering Scientific Research?

I believe most today involved in science cannot recognize where real science ends, and their philosophical worldview begins, be that a natural or a supernatural one.  Could this pose a serious problem for being objective and being involved in an honest search for the truth, not just an exercise in protecting our personal belief system?  In the best interest of real science, I believe it would be better if everyone involved in scientific research had no philosophical worldview at all (total objectiveness), but I can’t see that ever happening.

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