SDMB - Fair and Balanced ?

Reading the posts in this thread, I was struck by the fact that the first post favorable to the President was in post #64. Each of us has a right to think that the speech is bunk, but I think it illustrates the leftward bias of this board.

This board is supposed to be about fighting ignorance, no? If you can post something in a forum called “Great Debates” about the President addressing the nation about a war, and get ZERO response from an opposing position in the first page and a half, I think that puts the lie to any semblance of balance here. Perhaps, in the interest of reducing our own ignorance, the climate should be a bit more conducive to both sides of every debate. I am also struck by the exceedingly few times anyone has ever posted, “Gee, I never thgouht of it that way, you may have a point there.”

This place is basically an echo chamber for the left. Certainly there are people right of center who make appearances and assert cohessive arguments, but they are definitely the exeption, as illustrated in the above thread. Anyone who asserts pro-Bush sentiments is pounced on and overwhelmed in an avalanche of dissent.

Can this board be made more balanced? What can be done to involve more people from different sides of the Great Debates of our day. I fear we have become a community who gathers to spout one side of the issue and high five each other for making the same point over and over in new ways, while dismissing the opposing arguments.

As I said, there are those who make a showing for less popular sides, but usually they are drowned out. In a nation that is more or less evenly divided, sometimes with swings pro or anti the President or the War or any particular issue, why is the debate not indicative of that?

Problem is, the nation is not evenly divided. You have your people who realize the president (any president) is doing things all wrong, the people who know he is doing things all wrong, but refuse to admit it, and then you have the easily swayed in the direction of the incumbent party.

What if the incumbent president was ignorance personified?

Granted, if he is not, you are providing a modicum of balance via this very thread, and I salute you for it.

Not this again.

Yes, in terms of American Politics, the board does have a leftward slant; however, in terms of world politics, it is typically to the right of centre. In any case, you can’t manufacture balance - whatever slant exists is just a representation of the views of the members.

It’s probably worth acknowledging that (perhaps not in this case) the appearance of bias doesn’t necessarily mean there is an unfair bias, for (preposterous)example; a thread titled: Planet Earth; blue-green oblate spheroid or shiny metal cube? would probably garner results with a strong bias toward the Blue-Green Oblate Spheroid camp, with very little or no represenation of views from the Shiny Metal Cube party. Would this be terribly unfair?

The nation is MORE OR LESS divided. Today it may swing one way, and tomorrow another. Certinly the degree of disagreement sways. But why is that not illustrated here?

:smack: Why, you ask? For the reasons Mangetout gave just a second ago, that’s why.

I think that is a poor example. You can PROVE the material nature of the earth. It is in fact not a metal cube and anyone who thinks it is displays obvious ignorance.

The issues here have no right or wrong, provable answer. Each side may THINK they have the answers, but in fact there is no way to PROVE either side.

Do you think that debate about the PResident’s speech is as cut and dry as debating the earth being a sphere or a metal cube? Do you think the answers are that…provable?

You cannot manufacture balance, but you can discourage it. That is what I feel happens here.

Yes, actually, there is a way to prove one side of the arguement. Take, for example, a economic plan proposed by a hypothetical president. One side says it will ruin the economy, and the other side says it will save the economy. The “ruin” side does studies, shows past examples, and so on, when the otherside preaches to the choir. Afterwards, when the results of the “ruin” side is published, the “save” side preaches to the choir even more.

The “ruin” side just won the debte.

The “save” saide just keeps on claiming there is no way to prove that they are not right. :dubious:

To **fight ignorance ** do you necessarily have to be “fair and balanced” ?

Your choice of the words "fair and balanced" being a bit bad too. I agree that having the opposing views helps debate. Still there are issues like Mr. Boltons apointment for example where we didn't see a good defense by the "other side" of the issue. 

Xtisme has a tendency to play devil’s advocate too… even “lefties” here will shoot down a bad argument against Bush. Even if there are less “righties” they certainly have the chance to defend their points of view… even if they are outnumbered. Quantaty of posts won’t make the “leftie” view any more correct.

It strikes me as being unlikely that one could make the message board balanced. We seem to have more posters who believe certain things than we do others. While asking them to be civil and refrain from pile-ons is reasonable- the reality is that some arguments are always going to be one-sided. In fact, there was a thread recently (last couple of months, right after manhattan decided to depart) in the PIT in which some discussion of a rule against pile-ons was made- and the decision was that it wasn’t practical or desirable. (I may be misremembering the details somewhat- and I don’t feel like searching for it at the moment.)

Having said that I’m not sure that the thread being used to illustrate a lack of balance is a good example. Some threads start out so lopsided that they never become anything resembling balanced. This trend is not unique to political threads. Ask people about major crimes committed against them, the people with such experience turn out (or at least some of them) the people without such experiences may read the thread but probably don’t post.

In particular, in the immediate aftermath of a presidential address seems to me like a good time for those who dislike the president to pick him apart (ad nauseum) and for those who do like him to pick nits. And when the first ten posts are all negative- it becomes easier for those who do like the president to decide to do their defending elsewhere.

I do think that people on all sides of arguments should employ positive reinforcement whenever appropriate- compliment people who frame arguments well, praise those who stay on topic and look up interesting references. Don’t wait for folks like Bricker, who always seem to be on the less-populous side of the argument to express dissatisfaction and a temptation to leave the board, before you tell them how much you enjoy reading their posts.

Employ constructive criticism as well, call posters on your side on it when they seem to be unneccessarily negative or argumentative. Limit the number of times you post to a thread in which it seems like your points are being made by others- and the opposition is drowning.

But at some level, one has to recognize that certain types of arguments are a form of “pounding one’s head against the wall” and sometimes posters do tire of it and decide to move on. It is unfortunate that it seems that there is an inexhaustable supply of people willing to bash Bush and a limited supply of people willing to defend him, but it probably says as much about the society we live in as it does about the types of people on this message board.

It strikes me as being likely that if a Democrat was President, and had made a presidential address, there would be a thread very much like the one mentioned in the OP, and it would be similarily anti- the president. The overall balance of threads might be different, but that particular unbalanced thread strikes me as more of a function of the way that message boards work rather than as proof of a political slant to the message board.

No, which is why I admitted it was a preposterous example; a bit of hyperbole to illustrate that balance is not always achievable because balance is not always appropriate.

A bit harder with politics, of course, but again, if most people think politician X is a dishonest, dangerous, incompetent asshole, we shouldn’t immediately dismiss the possibility that their opinions reflect reality; that politician X really is a dishonest, dangerous, incompetent asshole.

I’ll second this.

I’ll also point out that “fair and balanced” does not mean “both sides of all controversial issues are roughly equally accepted”. It means neither side is excluded from debate and that all evidence is weighed with intellectual honesty. That is, no arguments are discarded or automatically accepted merely because they come from one side or the other. This can still lead to one opinion being in the majority. It doesn’t mean that that opinion is correct, merely that the board’s members have overwhelmingly accepted it, due to various factors like self-selection of demographics. As long as they still approach debate with an open mind, a left-wing (or right-wing) board can remain intellectual honest, and “fair and balanced”.

Not that the SDMB doesn’t fall from these standards too often of course, but we are only human.

Very true. There’s no point to being “anti-liberal”, as what the hell have the liberals had the chance to do wrong (or right) in this country lately? Railing against actual policy by the people in power is more satisfying than ranting against hypothetical policies, should the Democrats actually get their act together and win some elections.

Where the speech was concerned, as with most of them, there is nothing to be"fair and balanced" about". The president once again tried to tie the 9/11 attacks to Iraq (several times). It just doesn’t hold up. The president still thinks untrue “hints” and short memories will see him through. He and Rove (mostly Rove) still think the “yer wid us or agin us” attitude will still fly. The country is finally waking up, and they don’t like what they see. More and more, they oppose the war, they oppose being accused of what Rove called “motives” (treason), they are tired of the ame old same old. There was no valid reason to give us this “pep talk” last night, unless the administration is worried. Toss in the other idiotic things - Schiavo, tax breaks for the rich while onverhauling bankruptcy laws for the middle class, the new “eminemt domain” reading etc, and people are starting to get really pissed off.

I for one would love to hear some good, coherent, thought through, explanations of why Bush Co. does some of the things it does.
I welcome the “other side” to express their views with some great points that make you go “well, you do have a point there” but I have yet to see it.

Like we’ve said you can’t manufacture “fair and balanced”. I’ve never seen a mod ban someone because they support right wing views and everyone is welcome.
If you know people who can debate some undeniable points for the right invite them to make some points.

It’s my belief that people who voted for Bush Co. did it for other issues besides the war. Whatever reason; taxes, economy, abortion, etc. they voted for him it wasn’t based on support for the war.

The country may be evenly divided on political fronts of Dem. vs. Rep., but if it was solely an issue on support for an Iraqi war the country would have voted it down by a majority IMHO.

This bears repeating.

The board has no obligation to be fair and balanced. It is a forum for its members to express their opinions and views. It skews left because that would appear to be the convictions held my a majority of its members. (which may, or may not be the case). This is why, say, the Yahoo message board is biased toward the chronically stupid and bellicose. Why not complain to them, too? Just because your views aren’t in line with the perceived majority doesn’t mean that they are of less value. That point makes this different from other boards.

I’m not sure what you mean by this - how is balance discouraged here? Everyone has access to a keyboard, everyone can post. There is no shouting down or drowning out, since this is a written medium.

Anyone who thinks that merely having a preponderence of people on their side constitutes evidence of being ‘right’ needs to see how pile-ons work on boards that skew in the other direction.

For instance, for you on the left who think your views are absolutely right and obvious and defensible, why don’t you try defending yourself over in the comment sections of Captain’s Quarters or Powerline? You’ll see how frustrating a ‘pile on’ can be. Doesn’t mean they’re right any more than the echo chamber here means you’re right. The fact is, the American public is still split almost 50/50 on the war, but that split is not reflected here.

As for myself, I’ve almost totally given up on Great Debates, and I’ve completely given up on discussing the war here. Sometimes I’ll think about posting a long explanation of what I believe, but then I realize I know exactly what the response will be and how the discussion will go, and just give up on the notion. And no, it doesn’t mean I’ve been beaten by superior arguments. It means you can’t fight city hall.

Let’s face it - the anti-war bunch owns this forum. They control the debates, they shout down that which they don’t like. Nothing wrong with that - it’s an open board. But sometimes you just have to stop tilting at windmills. My advice: If you’re getting frustrated trying to get your point of view across here, stop and go somewhere else.

**To newcrasher **
I have been posting on this board for almost three years, and your OP is very accurate. Nothing fair and balanced here. When I first came here I was naive enough to start a thread with a spiritual theme. In an instant I was introduced to the extreme anger of the members of this board. So, I don’t do that any more. They seem to hate religious, or spiritual themes the most.

I doubt anything will change the board bias. The balance you speak of is “run off” in a hail of name-calling and insults. Most will never come back. Now that the board members have to pay to post, I believe the board attitude will cause the board to lose many members. First the “conservatives” then the “liberals” who find the board unexciting after the conservatives are all gone.