Implementation of UHCL's Quality Enhancement Plan, Applied Critical Thinking for Lifelong Learning and Adaptability, follows the Foundation for Critical Thinking model, which includes information ("data, facts, reasons, observations, experiences, evidence"*) as one of the elements of reasoning or thought to which intellectual standards must be applied. Critical thinking must be informed by information that is:
* Paul, Richard, and Linda Elder. The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools.Tomales, CA: Foundation for Critical Thinking, 2009. (p.3)
Based in part on the CRAAP Test by Meriam Library, California State Univ., Chico.
Bias is a "prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair" or "a predisposition either for or against something" (The New Oxford American Dictionary, 2nd ed., p. 159). In addition to looking for bias in an information source, consider your own assumptions and predispositions for a particular point of view.
Bias can be reflected through:
Word Choice - Subtle differences in expressions, syntax and diction can signal bias. Look for differences when comparing two articles [or documents] on the same subject.
Omitted Information - Stories, facts and details need to be complete and verified to offer the most objective and informed picture.
Omissions -- intentional and unintentional -- create slanted and/or incomplete pictures. Watch for differing information and the use of anonymous information for clues.
Framing - Framing is about context and how information is presented. Facts may be presented, but they may be put into a context/situation/pattern that emphasizes or de-emphasizes certain elements. Framing can be committed by manipulating the ideas or the actual physical location of an article.
Sources - Where is the article [or document] getting its information? Fair reporting will offer information that comes from a multitude of sources (most of them identifiable) and a variety of constituencies. Relying on just one source or unnamed sources can compromise reliability. Using sources with a vested interest in the topic or omitting source affiliations can slant.
Spin - Offering details or perspectives favorable to one side without adequate time/space/debate for alternate views.
(From Detecting Bias, Miller Library, Keystone College; used with permission)
As with any information source, consider standards and evaluative criteria related to currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, purpose, and bias, and be particularly careful when you encounter the following "red flags" on a website:
Domain indicators in a web address or URL (Uniform Resource Locator) are a clue to the fundamental nature of a site and typically indicate the following:
|.com||a for-profit, commercial business|
|.org||an organization of some type; could be professional, educational, non-profit, or some type of advocacy group|
|.edu||a higher education institution; the inclusion of a tilde character (~) indicates a personal page (such as a student page, for example)|
|.gov||a U.S. government department or agency; usually federal, but now often used at the state or local level, also (example: City of Houston at http://www.houstontx.gov/)|
|.us||often used for a U.S. state government department or agency (example: Texas Legislature Online at http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/)|
|.ca||example of a country indicator (example: University of Toronto at http://www.utoronto.ca/ in Canada)|
|.net||an organization associated with providing network access|
|.mil||a U.S. military organization or department|
While the indicators above are most familiar, website creators may now use a generic Top Level Domain (gTLD), which can be almost anything at all. Examples include:
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) oversees the creation and management of domain names.
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