READING – Bias
rev. August 2005
BIAS
Bias is prejudice about or leaning towards something.
An author shows bias by leaving out information or by altering
facts to force the reader to have a certain opinion about a subject,
or to convince the reader to take a certain action.
Critical reading requires that a reader recognize bias in writing.
Without this recognition, the reader may become the victim of the
writer’s propaganda. To identify bias in a passage or article, the reader must read through the
material and ask, “What does the writer want me to think or to do?” Bias is often present in
editorials, advertisements, religious publications, and political materials.
There are several common devices or techniques used by writers of propaganda and biased
material. Some of these are”
1. USE OF WORDS FOR EMOTIONAL EFFECT
Words like “commie,” “racist,” “hippie,” “liberal,” “pinko,” and others are used to
promote either a positive or a negative response in the reader.
2. REFERENCE TO GREAT MEN
Politicians often refer to famous men in the history of our country in order to gain
support for their ideas.
3. FLATTERY
The writer may use praise to try to gain a positive reaction from the reader.
4. STACKING THE CARDS
Instead of giving an objective description, the writer may give evidence to support
only one side of a question and may deliberately omit any opposing ideas.
5. BANDWAGON
A writer might suggest that everyone is doing something or thinking in a certain way
and that the reader should do the same.
6. PLAIN FOLKS
Many politicians and advertisers try to appeal to common people. Politicians attempt to
make voters identify with them by presenting themselves as ordinary people.
READING – Bias
rev. August 2005
BIAS – PRACTICE EXERCISES
EXERCISE I. Read the following letter to a local newspaper in which the writer
argues that Fairlawn Park should not be turned into a baseball
field. Note the “negative” terms that are used to influence the
reader.
Citizens of the Fairlawn Park area look with alarm at the diabolical plot to change a
beautiful spot into a baseball park. If this malicious plan is carried out, the lovely trees
in the park will be chopped down. Values of the property within the area will drop
sharply as the park fills with the filth and debris of the bulldozers and other equipment.
Later the shrieks of the young ruffians who take over the park will destroy the peace
and quiet of the neighborhood. Obviously no one cares about the poor citizen who has
slaved to pay for his home and to keep up with his taxes.
1. In this passage, the author shows bias against
a. homeowners and taxpayers
b. citizens of the Fairlawn Park area
c. a baseball field in the park
d. more trees in the park
Did you find the following terms used to sway the mind of the reader?
1. alarm 6. debris
2. shrieks 7. filth
3. malicious 8. diabolical
4. destroy 9. poor
5. ruffians 10. slaved
EXERCISE II. Read each paragraph; then, choose the best answer to the question
that follows to find out if you can identify bias.

New cars are not built as well as they used to be. Owners of new cars in 2002 have more
complaints about their automobiles than in past years. In fact, the recalling of new cars
by their makers is becoming a routine practice in America. Instead of insisting upon
safe, well-designed products, carmakers seem more concerned with throwing together
shoddy automobiles and making a profit. Invariably, new cars need parts replaced
almost as soon as the warranty expires. Unfortunately, people need transportation, so
they continue to buy new automobiles.
2. The author shows bias against
a. new car owners
b. foreign car manufacturers
c. car repair shops
d. automobile manufacturers
READING – Bias
rev. August 2005
BIAS – PRACTICE EXERCISES
Everyone who cooks should own a food processor. This marvelous invention is now being
used by over 12 million vegetarians, compared with only half that number a couple of
years ago. Vegetarians rarely have a weight problem since most vegetables are low in
calories and contain little or no fat. They do not suffer a build-up of cholesterol in the
bloodstream as they grow older. Some doctors have suggested a link between
vegetarianism and longevity. As Americans become more health-conscious, vegetarianism
will certainly become more popular.
3. The author show bias for
a. eating more vegetables
b. avoiding cholesterol
c. eating “health foods”
d. becoming a vegetarian
America is certainly a strong military power; it now has the nuclear power to destroy
the entire world. We are not the only country that has this