You hear it regularly in conversations on Capitol Hill. One guy says X and the other guy instantly dismisses it because “oh, that’s what you expect Fox/CNN/MSNBC to say. That’s just fake news.”
And that raises an interesting question, and not just for men and women working in the House and Senate or one of the congressional agencies like the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) or Government Accounting Office (GAO).
It’s not just on the Hill, though. Erik Manning, writing on The Poached Egg, puts it this way:
“So yeah. We got some trust issues. This is the cultural background we’re living in. In this age of hyper-awareness of bias, Christians have the audacity to say Jesus is alive and that we have historical evidence to prove it.
“But these reports are from Christian sources. They’re not dispassionate, disinterested parties. They’re skewed in favor of their faith. Does this fact mean that the gospels are unreliable?”
Manning, a former atheist, is perhaps in that sense an unexpected source for the response to the accusation that biased sources — like Fox News, Jesus disciples or Julius Caesar on the Gauls — equal fake news.
Without giving away the whole story, here’s a sample of Manning’s arguments. First, rejecting a claim simply because of potential or actual bias in the source is an example of the Genetic Fallacy.
Second, what about bias against the claim? Should Saul of Tarsus be believed or Paul, who happens to be the same guy but he met somebody on the road to Damascus who was supposed to be dead (That’s Paul in a classic piece of art above, writing one of his epistles).
And here’s my own modest contribution to the discussion: In my experience, when somebody rejects a claim based on its source, it’s often just a convenient way to ignore or discredit some inconvenient facts.
But enough from me, check out Manning’s case, then give a listen to J. Warner Wallace, the world-famous cold-case detective who dealt with the biased source argument in solving dozens of murders.