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The Nature of Scientific Research

Uncover Media Bias

Identifying Bias Embedded in Information

Pseudoscientific claims are largely spread through the media. When we encounter blatant bias in the media, it's relatively easy to spot.  But oftentimes, bias is demonstrated (and spread) in much more subtle ways. It is embedded in how information is presented. The library guide, Uncover Media Bias, outlinesythe many ways in which mass media exhibits bias in published information.  With pseudoscience, you may encounter any number of these, including:

  • confirmation bias
    Search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions or predictions.
  • commercial bias
    Claims guide readers to purchase products/solutions.  
  • temporal bias
    Dated, debunked research studies are used as evidence.
  • visual bias
    Scaling or other editing of images implies conclusions different than those warranted by the data.
  • sensationalism
    Emotional claims illicit the reader's desire to believe.
  • fairness bias
    Ethical claims insist that readers deserve an alternate point-of-view, regardless of evidence.
  • witness bias
    Only testimony that support claims is presented.   
  • proximity bias 
    Researcher/author is not objective due to personal connection to claims.
  • omission bias
    Information that disproves or experts that dispute claims are disregarded.
  • word bias
    Words are selected that have highly positive or negative connotations.


Select a partner.  Choose one research article you have located to be exchanged for peer review.  When reviewing your partner's article, highlight any red flags (suggestions below) that you believe should be considered carefully.  Discuss your reasoning with one another.


first person point-of-view that personalizes comments with words like "I" or We"

superlatives, such as "always," "never," "must"

belief statements that include "I believe" or "I think"

inflammatory language designed to anger or excite.

judgement statements that attack rather than report

  • accusations that use words like "they" or "you"
  • overuse of qualifying adjectives and adverbs

solution suggestions using words like "could," should," "must"

Library Information and Media Center - Monona Grove High School - Monona, Wisconsin

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