Talk:False balance

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On the proposed merge[edit]

As the first sentence of the article makes clear, this is not a synonym for media bias, it is a description of one particular media bias. The charge that it is a neologism is also quite false. As the merge proposal seems to be based on so many false assumptions, I intend to remove it in two days time, if there is no discussion of it before then. -- Antaeus Feldspar 04:42, 21 September 2005 (UTC)

I would like to know where the examples of the inventor and Holocaust denial as "false balance" come from. I'm not disputing either case, I just would like to know where they were called "false balance," since it wasn't in the external link. I don't need a detailed citation, just a comment.

I think you'd be hard-pressed to distinguish the specific criticisms levelled at "media bias" from those against "false balance." It all comes down to reporting or not reporting things contrary to the reader's preference. In any case, I've added some relevant material at media bias#Efforts to correct bias. Gazpacho 02:58, 22 September 2005 (UTC)

It's hard to know what you do and don't want. For instance, when you think I'd be "hard-pressed to distinguish the specific criticisms levelled at 'media bias' from those against 'false balance'", I don't know what you're looking for. You want me to distinguish the specific criticisms against a general class from those against a specific subclass? Would you be willing, for example, to distinguish the specific criticisms levelled at 'media bias' from those levelled against the specific media bias of sensationalism, to show me what you're looking for?
As for the others, I chose them not because they were the examples of false balance where it was easiest to document that someone had called them examples of false balance, but because they were the examples that best documented:
  • In the case of the inventor, that yes, news media will run stories that present two "sides" with widely different levels of credibility (a backyard inventor vs. basically every living scientist) in a way that suggests the views have some essential parity after all; and
  • In the case of Holocaust denial, that this is a media problem with very serious potential consequences, something that may not be as apparent to all readers if the example were, say, Kerry vs. Bush or global warming, where the reader may in fact be on the side that is alleged to be getting the benefit of the false balance and will therefore have a harder time perceiving where false balance is said to exist in the example.
As for citations for these two examples, well, this isn't the easiest thing to research, since the proverb about "a false balance is an abomination unto the LORD" and references to "false balance" in the accounting sense create a lot of false positives. For the Holocaust denial, I can offer you this, which uses the phrase 'false "balance"' rather than 'false balance', and this, the story it refers to, where over 200 academics protested C-SPAN's decision to give equal time to the claims of Holocaust denier David Irving as to Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt and specifically their use of the word "balance" to describe and justify that decision. I don't know if this will be acceptable to you, since even though they are both clearly talking about false balance, the exact phrase "false balance" with no extraneous quotation marks is never used. As I said -- I don't know what you want. -- Antaeus Feldspar 07:00, 22 September 2005 (UTC)

Intelligent Design[edit]

Should this be included? I think not. It is cited here as being a common false balance. This isn't true. Theres not a single fact about the beginning of the earth, universe or life. Any theory is just as likely as another. And any evidence present for any side of this issue is highly presumptuous. The so called facts of evolution and origin of the universe are at best estimates based upon other estimates. Theres no conclusive evidence showing any origin as true or false.

Yes, it's fine, because Intelligent Design is given time as though it was science, which it ain't. Intelligent design is a perfectly tenable empiricial position as long as you still accept the big bang, common descent, et cetera. But it is (roughly speaking) irrelevent to science - because it doesn't seem to make any empirical predictions. For what it's worth, many of the facts on the issue of evolution and universe are very well established, and to claim otherwise would be a textbook example of false balance. WilyD 16:08, 20 June 2006 (UTC)
Evolution is as difficult to prove as Creationism is.

Um...No. Evolutionary theory has a wealth of evidence for it, including observed speciation, genetics, and concrete applications.
There is no reason to have a sentence giving examples of false bias. Clearly I can see that a wikiwar has happened and that people are citing wikipedia itself as a false bias along with creationism and other such specific topics.

Why not create a blanket statement like: "False balance is often found in political reports, company press releases and general information from organisations with special interest groups in promoting their agenda." or something similar?

It might prevent people trying to add their sneaky biases to the page! :) (you know who you are!) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:55, 18 July 2008 (UTC)

I agree with the above in that removing intelligent design makes sense. Surprised its been so long and no one has changed it yet... Adrieth (talk) 21:15, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

Incidentally, you can sign your comments with four tilde signs in a row - it helps keep track of who said what.

ManicParroT 17:42, 27 October 2006 (UTC)

Intelligent design fits completely within the definition of false balance. By the way, I would add to the definition of "false balance" that it is accepted as axiomatic that there are two (or more) equally correct and equally weighted sides to every argument. There is no logical reason that this should be true ("by virtue of an argument's existence at all, and only for that reason, it therefore follows that the argument has two or more equally correct points of view"). The insistence that an argument has two points of view because it is an argument is begging the question.

The issue is that intelligent design is being peddled as science, which, as WilyD above said, it is not. Intelligent design has no testable hypothesis (beyond "the universe was created by an intelligent designer," which is not testable), no observations (beyond The Bible, which is not a source of anything beyond some historical data), no experiments, no reproducible results, no conclusion beyond "evolution is not true" (which was never proven through any methodology), and cannot be used to predict potential future discoveries. And yet, intelligent design proponents demand that their theory -- which does not adhere in any way to the scientific method -- be treated equally with evolution, which has stood up to rigorous scrutiny utilizing the scientific method.

In fact, the statement above that "[a]ny theory is just as likely as another" is, in itself, an example of false balance. It is not equally likely that the sun revolves around the earth as it is that the earth revolves around the sun, for example. We have data that prove one theory and disprove the other. Unless we want to take this to reductio ad absurdum and claim that, since there is an asymptote at "Truth," there is never 100% certainty of anything, meaning that all theories are potentially invalid, and therefore this miniscule degree of uncertainty must cause us to believe in nothing.

Fitzador (talk) 20:17, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

“earth revolves around the sun”. Not quite correct usage; the correct usage is “earth orbits (around) the sun”. Nonetheless, i know what you mean. Don't worry, i have always accepted the idea that the “earth orbits around the sun”.--Solomonfromfinland (talk) 22:34, 24 August 2013 (UTC)

Zombie article/essay[edit]

This piece reads like a high school essay of dubious quality, marked by many vaguely expressed opinions and few concrete facts, Is it possible to clean it up? Is it worth cleaning it up? Is anybody watching this page? --TS 18:17, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

I don't think so. I'm reading up on deletion policy right now. Not that I'm unsympathetic to the concept but it appears to be a neologism. Abbenm (talk) 02:22, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
I agree. This piece is less an exposition of false balance than it is a piece on the 'truth' of anthropogenic global warming. Even the link to 'scientific consensus' is laughable on the basis that science either is or is not; consensus does not make inconclusive data and results any more valid or make it so. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:43, 19 March 2015 (UTC)


I take issue with this para, which conflates skeptic with denialist

"First, this article puts scientists against skeptics, as though both are on equal grounds of knowledge, when in reality the scientists (even in 1992) have far more reason to believe that humanity is causing temperatures to rise than skeptics have to disagree. Additionally, putting “global warming” in scare quotes implies that the phrase is lacking in legitimacy"

Bpdlr (talk) 22:38, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

View from Nowhere[edit]

I think the above article should be merged into this one. It seems to be another name for the same phenomenon: taking an 'objective' stance by presenting two points of view as of equal merit, when in reality they are not. 'False balance' seems to be a more common name for it than 'View from Nowhere'. That article is also less developed than this one. Robofish (talk) 21:10, 29 February 2012 (UTC)

I agree completely. Also, the above article previously used the Thomas Nagel book of the same name as a source, though with no actual footnotes; but the Nagel book has nothing to do with journalism, and is about attempting to do metaphysics and moral philosophy from a completely objective standpoint (whether this is possible and what the result might be like). I've deleted this reference as it bears at best tangential relevance to the article, as I can only assume its presence was intended to create the appearance of greater scholarly support than it actually has. (talk) 08:26, 12 May 2012 (UTC)
I agree. If you read the two articles they describe essentially the exact same thing. I recommend merging "view from nowhere" with this article since this term is more commonly used in the media. I've never heard the term "view from nowhere" used in the media or anywhere else until today. Dr. Morbius (talk) 17:32, 11 July 2012 (UTC)

History section[edit]

The History section describes the term "false balance" meaning an inaccurately calibrated scale. This is not closely related to the subject of the article, the two phrases just happen to be homonyms. Consequently I have deleted the section. (talk) 13:09, 15 July 2013 (UTC)


This article should be expanded beyond the Global Warming subsection. There are many other possible examples.--Solomonfromfinland (talk) 22:28, 24 August 2013 (UTC)

I agree. Let's see what other topics qualify for inclusion.
I gather from the above there has been a section on Intelligent Design and Creationism versus evolution theory. That sounds highly appropriate.
I would also advocate a section on vaccination [1] The Seventh Taylor (talk) 03:59, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

Synonym: False Equivalence[edit]

Numerous examples on the internet and journalism use the term "False Equivalence" for precisely this topic.[1][2] At the moment, the term "False equivalence" only leads to a mathematical topic. Perhaps a synonym/disambiguation should be added? Ghostkeeper (talk) 20:31, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

Before realizing there was this article on False Balance I expanded the False Equivalance article. In the meantime I've added cross-links but I guess there is a case to be made for merging the two (although the mathematical piece should not be part of any such merger). The Seventh Taylor (talk) 03:43, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
The False Equivalence article states in the end: "It should not be confused with false balance – the media phenomenon of presenting two sides of an argument equally in disregard of the merit or evidence on a subject (a form of argument to moderation).". Jjk seems to make it clear in the page history (of False Equivalence) that they're not the same.[3] It would be nice if the False balance article didn't start of with "False balance, also referred to as false equivalence," because that's confusing. seriema (talk) 06:52, 4 January 2015 (UTC)


Climate change denial and "false balance" news coverage[edit]

Here's an excellent source for the Global warming section:

“Science coverage does not simply lie in reflecting a wide range of views but depends on the varying degree of prominence such views should be given.”
The Trust said that man-made climate change was one area where too much weight had been given to unqualified critics.
In April the BBC was accused of misleading viewers about climate change and creating ‘false balance’ by allowing unqualified sceptics to have too much air-time.
In a damning parliamentary report, the corporation was criticised for distorting the debate, with Radio 4’s Today and World at One programmes coming in for particular criticism.
The BBC’s determination to give a balanced view has seen it pit scientists arguing for climate change against far less qualified opponents such as Lord Lawson who heads a campaign group lobbying against the government’s climate change policies.

Here is the actual report from the BBC Trust:

Use of The Daily Telegraph, a secondary source, backed by the BBC Trust primary source, should be good enough as references. -- Brangifer (talk) 18:05, 6 July 2014 (UTC)