Bias Is All Around You

A Handbook for Inspecting Social Media & News Stories

Non-Fiction - Social Issues
57 Pages
Reviewed on 10/13/2021
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Author Biography

Erik holds a master's in journalism from Michigan State University and he also holds a doctorate in education with sanctioned research interests in cultural competence, leadership, and mental health. A section editor of The Journal of Leadership Studies, John Wiley & Sons, he also is founder of the Ethan Bean Mental Wellness Foundation, a Michigan 501(c)3 public charity. Because mental health issues have adversely affected his family and so many around him, he is passionate about helping others. This lifelong effort includes the 2019 award-winning Ethan's Healthy Mind Express: A Children's First Mental Health Primer book and co-author of the self-help series 20/20 Prudent Leadership. The idea to write Bias Is All Around You (2021) was a byproduct of the misinformation associated with the 2020 US election, the pandemic, and uncivil unrest.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Daniel D Staats for Readers' Favorite

We are surrounded by bias. Everyone has a degree of prejudice, and their bias often comes out in their writing. Because bias can be hidden or disguised, Erik Bean has written Bias Is All Around You. Erik has developed the KLEMP method to assess the degree of bias in any given situation. Knowing a person’s bias can help us vet the usefulness of their writing. We must stop accepting what the media shoves at us at face value. It is high time we vet the information, throw away much of it, retain the little that seems true with the least amount of bias, and just what is worth sharing. Proper critical thinking cannot be rushed. Sharing information without thoroughly vetting it is irresponsible, risky, and wrong. The stakes are high, so we need to be sure what we share, read, and believe is valid.

Thinking critically is what Erik Bean wants you to do to vet the media. He wants his readers to have the skills and tools to properly vet the information that bombards you daily. In Bias Is All Around You: A Handbook for Inspecting Social Media & News Stories, Erik has taken a complex concept and boiled it down to easy-to-use steps. With his KLEMP method and his myriad of questions found in the book, there is no excuse for anyone not being able to critically discern the value of any report. Erik’s style of writing is informative and concise. He desires to teach others how to analyze data so they can feel confident sharing information with others.

Pikasho Deka

We live in a time where it is becoming increasingly strenuous to process and verify the barrage of sensationalized news and information thrown at us via faux news networks or through social media. Bias Is All Around You by Erik Bean is a much-needed handbook that empowers you with easy-to-use techniques to filter out such information. Bean provides a step-by-step set of guidelines that helps you to get to the truth. The steps include determining the source of information and verifying its authenticity. Afterward, it's important to dissect and analyze it by employing critical thinking to appraise and check the accuracy of said information. The author suggests a creative method called KLEMP, an acronym for Kairos, Logos, Ethos, Mythos, and Pathos, to assess the accuracy and inherent bias levels.

Bias Is All Around You is certainly a relevant handbook, especially in this age of propaganda-based social media. Even scientific evidence is ignored to the extent that a deadly pandemic is called a hoax by a subset of the population. Author Erik Bean meticulously breaks down the steps needed to discern the inherent bias in any information floating around the internet and carve out the facts. The author utilizes the expertise of his journalistic background and, with the help of illustrator Gail Gorske, pens a concise handbook that doesn't waste a single inch of page space. Due to its length, it would make a perfect coffee table book. Anyone who feels distressed browsing social media or watching television should check out Bias Is All Around You.

Joe Wisinski

Bias Is All Around You: A Handbook for Inspecting Social Media & News Stories was written to help readers understand that all information, including media content, is partial to one side or the other. Author Erik Bean warns of the dangers of not properly assessing informational bias. Those dangers include tarnishing your credibility and compromising your values. Bean also explains internet algorithms that affect the content people view. One chapter is titled “Understanding Fallacies,” and the author names ten common ones. He also provides an easy-to-use assessment tool to help readers discern what fallacies may exist. This is a scholarly work, including an extensive list of academic references. Gail Gorske illustrated the book. Full disclosure: the former president of the United States comes under some criticism.

This book is badly needed in contemporary American society and culture. The ten fallacies the author names alone make Bias Is All Around You worth reading. We’ve heard people employ these ten fallacies, such as ad hominem, ad populum, and straw man, many times in the last few years. Author Erik Bean wisely warns of biases inherent in all major entities, even in those where there shouldn’t be, such as non-profits and government. Fans of the former president may not be pleased by the author calling out his behavior. But anyone who approaches this book with an open mind will gain much knowledge and insight into the bias that exists in all information. Even though the book is written as a scholarly work, it’s easy to understand the author’s points. I highly recommend this fine book.

Francis Mont

Bias Is All Around You: A Handbook for Inspecting Social Media & News Stories by Erik Bean is an extremely important book that all people, especially those frequenting social media, should read. It is a real handbook with a down-to-earth presentation on how bias is created, how to recognize it, how to defend ourselves against it, and avoid becoming either victims or disseminators. It points out the dangerous consequences of unexamined ‘news’ items we pick up here and there. Particular emphasis is placed on critical thinking, and the book lists seven sources of misleading information that the reader must be aware of. Detailed instructions are included on how to test journalistic sources. My favorite chapter was the one about fallacies, in which ten typical forms of fallacies are listed and explained. The last chapter is a passionate plea for “A Renewed Call for Civil Discourse.” The book ends with many pages of references that are referred to all through the text. I also enjoyed the numerous illustrations and cover by Gail Gorske.

As I started the review - "all people, especially those frequenting social media, should read” - I was aware of the desperate need in today’s world that has been called post-truth where unconscionable people attempt to create an alternate reality by abandoning the methodical scientific research that created the comfort of our lives here in the West. This attitude can lead to nothing but social disintegration and deteriorating mental health for its victims. However, the book goes way beyond preaching the danger facing us all by providing a blueprint for recognizing and defending ourselves against the ever-present danger of unconscious or deliberate biases. In the Appendix, there is a one-page summary and practical method for evaluating and scoring received information and finding out if it falls into one of the following categories: Very Low Bias; Low Bias; High Bias or Extreme Bias. It should take no more than a few minutes to fill in that scorecard for any piece of information coming our way, with full confidence that we did not miss considering anything important. I very highly recommend Bias Is All Around You by Erik Bean to all well-meaning citizens who want to navigate the jungle of misinformation we are surrounded with.

Sheena Monnin

Bias Is All Around You by Erik Bean takes an educated look at the ways the human brain processes information and responds to messaging coming to us minute by minute. This book is a powerful resource with compelling examples and logical steps one can take to overcome and work through the various forms of bias that exist for each of us. The author begins with a compassionate look at why people are biased and some of the ways that bias can infiltrate our lives without us even being aware of it. Following up on that, the reader is then taken on a journey through the bias found in the nonprofit, for-profit, academic, news media, and other sectors. Presented in an easy-to-understand and easy-to-follow way, this book will challenge the reader to take a closer look at their sources of information and to think twice before declaring a ‘fact’ that may, indeed, be biased and lacking objectivity. Readers will view their resources with more care upon reading each chapter.

Within the first few paragraphs, the reader will be impressed by the comprehensive nature of the ideas and information presented in Bias Is All Around You by Erik Bean. Most adults may not believe they are holding onto biases or that their interpretation of information is skewed in one direction or the other, but the reality is that most of us walk through life with unconscious biases that shape our worldview. Laden with well-supported and researched facts, this book challenged my thinking and positively impacted the way that my brain accepts and interprets facts, events, and the words of experts. The author lists his sources with transparency and presents his information kindly, allowing the reader to slowly become aware of their own biases at home, in the workplace, and in every other area of life. This book is an excellent resource to keep nearby and revisit time and again.