Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Your Unbiased Opinion Please!

I am sure someone has asked you for your unbiased opinion, at some time or the other. Whenever someone asks me for my opinion, with this proviso, I have feel amused but go right ahead and give my best, biased opinion on the matter.

Can anyone really give an unbiased opinion at all? Is it not an oxymoron? If one can really have an unbiased opinion, then the one asking for it may himself or herself generate that opinion.

All of us would like to believe that we are capable of thinking rationally and come to an unbiased opinion on a subject. In fact, we all have different biases. We prefer to call it a different viewpoint. As the cliché goes, our opinions are based on “where we come from” – not the geographical location, of course, but our “backgrounds”. An unbiased opinion is thus an oxymoron.

Now, is it really good to have an unbiased opinion, if it was possible at all? Gandhi exhorted us to ask the question “what does this do to the poorest of the poor of this country?” and then decide whether we should do a certain thing or not. In other words, he has exhorted us to have a bias towards the “poorest of the poor”. As is our wont, we have put Gandhi (or his image) on a pedestal and trashed his “rule of thumb” for taking decisions.

If we did apply his rule of thumb, would all those projects (always towards progress and development, mind you!) that displace thousands of poor people ever take off? Narmada Damn…… Oooooops, dam for instance. Have you ever heard of thousands of people from the upper echelons of society being displaced in the name of development? Something smells fishy. It actually stinks, does it not?

So if we can’t have an unbiased opinion, what do we do? The trick is to have the right bias. What does it mean to the poorest of the poor of the country is a right bias.

Or does it sound like a left bias?


  1. If I may say so, an unbiased opinion is an opinion that is not clouded by prejudice. Whether a favourable prejudice or otherwise.

    for example, saying Mohammad Kaif is a good/bad ODI batsman purely because he is Muslim is ridiculous.
    As is saying Mayawati is/was a good/bad CM because she is a dalit.

    An opinion based on facts - Kaif has saved the team innumerable times and hence he is good. OR Mayawati is bad because of her lack of governance - is unbiased.

  2. Prabhu1:28 pm

    An unbiased opinion is possible if one does not have a vested interest in a topic under discussion. An unbiased opinion can be given in a true Geeta Style "Karmanyevaadhikarsthe maa phaleshu kadaachana..".

  3. opinion: unbiased or biased?

    Everyone will give "one" biased/unbiased because it is the most easiest
    in life and also if it really doesn't effect his/her daily activities.

    What are these "opinions" for? Are we planning to use them constructively?
    What do we do collecting them?

  4. Anonymous1:55 pm

    Prerequisite for an unbiased opinion is that the opinion giver should be a witness - not a participant.

    Mahatma Gandhi was right when he opined that the opinions should be biased towards the poor.

    Was he a Left?