Two Old Codgers

How the World strikes us

'Research is gathering authoritative information to support an argument or point of view'.
University of Greenwich
This is the heading of an online article by the University of Greenwich which is echoed by other august institutions. I suppose I do a fair amount of online research when writing bits for the blog. What I didn't realise is that I researched 'to support an argument or point of view'. I honestly believed I was being open minded and looking for facts. It gets worse, I probably don't even see the bits that oppose my inbuilt bias.

What's an inbuilt bias? I believe we all have them and it must be the result of nurture. In other words your religious beliefs or political affiliations aren't in-born but the results of influence by others - parents, tutors, school teachers, clergymen etc. It is unlikely that you will be able to identify the source of your bias, you won't even recognise it as bias - we assume that what we believe is 'Right'.

I suppose it must apply to anyone who writes, be it a book, article or blog. We start with a point of view. Let's pick a subject, an easy one for a start "Parking your car on the pavement". You may not have given it much
Pavement Parking
thought but it seems there are two points of view according to your own personal situation.

1. If you have a mobility problem, visual impairment or regularly push a child in a wheelchair you will be anti parking on pavements.

2. If you live in an older house without a garage or need to park you car near the shops - what does it matter so long as other vehicles can get by?

We will choose as our point of view that we are anti pavement parking. Now let's look for some official figures.

Between 2005 and 2018, 8.6% of the 5,835 pedestrian deaths in England, Scotland and Wales occurred on pavements, the University of Westminster’s Active Travel Academy, a new academic think tank, has found. Wow! 5,835 pedestrian deaths! We will definitely include that.

From the same think tank. The same figure but laid out differently.

Between 2005 and 2018, 548 pedestrians were killed by drivers in the supposed safe haven of pavements or verges in the last 13 years. 548? We will use the first fact and leave this out.

It's bit obvious but I think its applies to most things. If you believe that arial bombing of German cities in WW2 was wrong, you will search for civilian casualties and anecdotes from survivors.

If your Grandfather was in RAF bomber command you will probably remember him as a hero and research RAF casualties and heroic anecdotes.

I suppose we gather political news items in the same way. Ignore those which give credit to the 'other side' and retain those which support our beliefs. If I start to write something about WW2 I will inevitably turn to earlier books on the same subject as well as official records and diaries, most of which will have a built in bias so I will be steered in that direction.

There is no escape, I once read that 'The history of war is written by the victor'. One day I will take a look and see if I can find a WW2 history written from the German perspective.

German POWs

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