On Admitting Bias

One of the things that I like most about internet writing is that it doesn’t attempt to insult readers’ intelligence by claiming to be unbiased. Unlike newspapers, good writing that you find online almost always credits its audience with having enough intelligence to understand the tinted view of its author with the hope that the person reading it will seek out other sources of opinion before forming their own.

Authoritative voices on any subject, even one as ultimately meaningless as baseball, are usually only considered authoritative to themselves. No matter how conscientious or neutral a writer may try to be, his or her biases will always shape their work. Pretending that it doesn’t is a mistaken attempt at creating an authoritative voice.

All of this is a means of introducing the tête-à-tête between blogger The Tao of Stieb and Grantland writer Chris Jones that you can find here. The two well worded individuals lay out their respective biases before getting into the nitty gritty of their thoughts on The Article Which Shall Not Be Linked, which accuses the Toronto Blue Jays of using a man in white sitting in right center field at Rogers Centre to signal what pitches are coming to batters 400+ feet away.

I don’t think anyone’s opinion is likely to be altered by reading the two sides duke it out, but it’s refreshing to come across two grown ups discussing something that has raised some very volatile reactions. The most interesting part of the whole exercise is that it reminds us that the original ESPN piece as well as all of the written criticisms of it, would have done well to state their biases and write a little bit about the impetus for writing what ended up being published, both in terms of the attempted authoritative magazine voice, and the bias wielding blogging voice.