Saturday, 13 May 2017

The Complaints From Both Sides Fallacy

Backing up a shrewd comment from a (much) earlier thread and taking ITBB's Tardis back to last Saturday....

Here's a classic illustration of the Complaints From Both Sides Fallacy in action, courtesy of Twitter - a Corbynista cries 'right-wing BBC bias!' and a right-wing guest on the offending programme replies sarcastically:

'Aha! Complaints From Both Sides!' cry BBC defenders.

Well, no. 

Keeping track of all the guests on Dateline over many years has proved that complaints from one side (Peter's side) are wholly wrong, while complaints from the other side (Alex's side) are pretty much spot-on. 

Last week's edition was actually unusual in being 'balanced', with two right-leaning guests and two left-leaning guests - though, yes, there were no Corbynistas present. 

But, though it has grown somewhat more balanced over time, it's still far from unusual for Dateline to have panels that consist entirely of left-leaning people, covering the whole range of the left-wing spectrum from the just-left-of-centre to the extreme-left (e.g. the 8th April edition which featured Rachel Shabi, Isabel Hilton, Steve Richards and Jeffrey Kofman). 

The reverse cannot be said.

So the Complaints From Both Sides Fallacy is, indeed, a fallacy. 

And it's not just BBC editors appearing on Newswatch or Feedback who use it. It is quite staggering how often you see being used by ordinary (largely centre-left people) on Twitter. 

They must assume (a) that both sides' complaints must be equally invalid (which is far from being necessarily true) and (b) that the BBC is incapable of being biased on more than one front (say, against the Right and the extreme-Left, in favour of 'the Soggy Centre Left'). 

1 comment:

  1. Good points
    I'm seeing a lot of what I consider to be false complaints from LibMob these days