Objectivity: Just another $5 word for subjectivity

Wednesday 28 December 2011, 2.34am HKT


“I do not believe in the notion of objectivity. I think that’s essentially horse shit. Everyone has biases and any scientist will tell you that. I think rather than trying to be objective, you need to be more upfront about your biases and be rigorous in terms of fact-checking, context and history.”

— Arun Gupta, Indian-British-American journalist and co-founder of The Occupied Wall Street Journal, the mouthpiece of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement with a print run of 75,000 copies.

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6 Responses to “Objectivity: Just another $5 word for subjectivity”

  1. Ed Hurst said

    Yes, indeedy, you should confess your biases openly so folks won’t waste their time with you unless you can at least be entertaining. As you are.

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  2. Right on. I don’t even want to try to count the number of hours I’ve spent discussing this with colleagues. It seems to me that it ought to be common sense, but not for all. I knew people who had been through 7 years of having this idea pounded into their heads, and they still fell head over heels for every bloody research article they picked up. Don’t get me wrong, I think research has its place, but it sure isn’t the be-all, end-all that they tried to turn it into!

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    • This objectivity vs. subjectivity thing is interesting in that most people (regardless of their education) DON’T get it. You are right – it’s basically common sense, and heaven knows how unevenly distributed common sense is.

      A person who is tits over arse about ‘achieving’ or ‘attaining’ objectivity is just as subjective as the next person. A lot of linguists and social scientists are like that. Their bias towards that condition called objectivity colours their entire way of viewing the situation at hand, thereby making their analyses almost worthlessly artificial in many (but not most) cases.

      Here’s something for you to think about: the opposite of objectiveity is empiricism, but the the opposite of subjectivity is also empiricism. Most social scientists have a fundamental misunderstanding that empiricism = objectivity, and that’s hogwash. Clearly, the meanings of those words aren’t what they think they mean.

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    • Sorry, to avoid any misunderstanding, I am 100% with you on this score.

      Like

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