biased? It's not a trick question. Practically everyone is biased in
some way. If you support Newcastle United you are probably biased against
Sunderland, if you support Everton you are probably biased against Liverpool.
You can show bias when talking about different bands, books, television
programmes, politics, even the weather.
does it mean? Basically, bias means having an unfair or unbalanced opinion.
Since history is a subject where people express their opinions it means
that we have to be very careful to watch out for bias. Take a look at
the document below.
from Foxe's Book of Martyrs (DUL ref: Routh 29 A 14)
a page taken from a book commonly known as Foxe's Book of Martyrs. The
book tells the story of the persecution of Protestants in England and
was first published shortly after Queen Mary's death. If this was the
only source we had and we knew nothing else about that period of history
we would end up with a very one-sided view as this book is very anti-Catholic.
However, because we have other sources and we know a lot about Tudor
history we can recognise that this source is biased. This doesn't mean
that we shouldn't use this source - just that we should be careful.
It is also
important to recognise that bias is not found just in secondary sources,
primary sources can also be biased. People naturally show their feelings
on a subject whenever they put pen to paper. Recognising bias can be
hard but it helps if you ask yourself the following questions:
- who wrote the source?
- who were they writing for, in other words who was their audience?
- why were they writing the source?
- when did they write the source?
not necessarily a bad thing. In fact it can be very useful as it lets
us find out about what people believed or thought about a particular
subject. What historians need to do is to try and find evidence from
lots of different sources so that they can form a balanced opinion themselves.
try to see if you can find out more about bias by comparing two secondary
sources and two primary sources.