View from Bangladesh: There is nothing left to believe

Written by Rubaiyat Kabir | Published on: June 21, 2018

Confirmation bias is a hell of a thing


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How do you stay informed when the news is so biased? BIGSTOCK
 
Picture this: You’re on your social network of choice, mindlessly scrolling past nigh endless photographic evidence of your friends and close ones’ narcissism and faux happiness, when something controversial catches your eye -- it’s a story on the Israel-Palestine conflict detailing the harrowing plight of the hapless Palestinians caught in the literal geo-politcal crossfire, shared by one of your bleeding-heart Muslim friends.

You click on it and brood over the violent photographs the article proudly displays.

You resume your scrolling and stumble upon another article shared by that one token foreigner girl you know and proudly tout as being a friend of yours to your slack-jawed local friends, but this time the script gets flipped and the article is about how the Hamas’s ceaseless rocket and missile assault on Israel could potentially deal a lot of damage to the promised land of the Jewish people.

You click on it and maybe skim over the words a bit to try and see things from a different angle.

Of course, the reality of the situation dictates that you would let your (expectedly Islamic) bias against Israel and Judaism decide on which bit of literature to believe and side with.

Confirmation bias is a hell of a thing.

Despite my own best efforts to try and remain as neutral as possible when reading the news or just trying to be kept abreast of the world at large, it’s hard not to err on the side of my own biases to some degree.

For every needlessly sensational Guardian screed on how Donald Trump is signalling the end of the world as we know it and how the alt-right and the incels will inherit what’s left after the fact, I will try and watch a Fox News clip of Tucker Carlson barely avoiding being a misogynist when debating a woman on a topic such as the wage gap in Western nations.

But therein lies the rub.
When the news itself is presented through incredibly opaque lenses of political bias (in the example above being of the left-leaning and right-leaning variety, respectively), how can anyone expect the people to remain neutral?

I realize that the above example I’ve presented is grossly reductive, and I know that there are publications out there which try and remain neutral and objective in how the news is presented -- but can anyone honestly expect the average Joe to do his research over which publication caters to which agenda? 

Especially the sort of people who would vote for a buffoon such as Donald Trump just because they like how “he says it like it is” or think that voting for Hillary Clinton represents some kind of “win” for all of womankind?
Of course not.

Which brings us to Bangladesh -- land of the independent, home of the brave-ish.

As a citizen of this country, if you’ve ever espoused a political opinion of any colour, you’re probably well aware of just how much it pays to look over your shoulder every now and then. 

For every laudatory editorial on our leaders’ unabated efforts to propel the nation into further development, we have an article on the opposition … errm … wait, I lost my train of thought.

Pardon my glibness -- the lack of any concrete political opposition is no laughing matter, but I have hopefully gotten my point across.

If democracy gives way to division, and division gives way to political bias, and that bias in turn means the murky burial of truth, does it mean that truth -- at least a close facsimile of it -- perhaps lies in the death of democracy?

I have not a clue.

What I do know is that there is very little of what the talking heads on TV or the written word on newspapers have left to say, which can be believed with any modicum of assurance. 

And while I don’t usually endorse nihilism, I am genuinely doubting my decision to get out of bed this afternoon.

Rubaiyat Kabir is an Editorial Assistant at the Dhaka Tribune. Follow him on Twitter @moreanik.