How free is freedom of expression?

The term freedom of expression, which includes freedom of speech, has been thrown around a lot lately, from university campuses to grocery stores to courtrooms. But do we even know what it means to have freedom of expression or what that freedom looks like? Let’s start with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1):

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration in and of itself does not impose any limits on freedom of expression. Neither does the First Amendment of the US constitution (2):

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Before we delve into the intricacies of freedom of expression, I should warn you that this post will probably ask more questions than provide answers; this is intentional. The reason for that is, first of all, I do not have a formal training in law. Secondly, the main purpose of this post is to actually ignite discussion and conversation. The other purpose of this discussion is to challenge us to think more deeply about what we think we know and what other explanations can tell us. Ultimately, we all must come to our own conclusions.

Freedom of expression is a two-way street

Freedom of expression should apply to all humans (even though some autocratic governments might disagree with this), so everyone has the same freedom to express their opinions. That also means we have the freedom to challenge and critique each other’s opinion. Challenging an opinion is a form of expression. Freedom of expression doesn’t mean one can say whatever they want and then get mad when someone challenges their opinion. If one chooses to put their thoughts and opinions out there, they are also inviting those thoughts and opinions to be critiqued.

Freedom of expression doesn’t mean we are free from consequences that arise from things we say or opinions we express. This is not a limitation of freedom of expression. This is merely being responsible for our actions and expressions. If someone expresses a hateful opinion and loses their job because of it, that is not a limitation of their freedom of expression, that is them being held accountable for something they have said. Suppose you are sitting in a crowded theatre (hopefully in a world without COVID). Someone decides to exercise their freedom of expression and yell “fire,” out of nowhere. Everyone panics and rushes towards an exit. On their way out a few people get injured in the chaos. Should we hold the person who yelled “fire” accountable or should we say since they had the freedom to express their opinion, that’s totally fine? (3)

Freedom of expression is a basic human right and thus, all of us humans should have the right to it. (1) To ensure that is the case, we have laws so that our collective freedom of expression is protected. Some people might argue that adding more laws, for example banning hate speech, fraud or obscenity, is jeopardizing our freedom of expression. While it might be technically true that by adding laws, we could be limiting the freedom of expression for some, there is a very simple answer for that: We live in societies and we are bound to have clashes between each other’s freedoms. Those laws are there to protect us in case of these clashes.

Tyranny of the majority

One major flaw that has been attributed to majority rule is that it can give rise to the tyranny of the majority. (4) If you are in the majority, chances are you enjoy the benefit of having elected representatives pass the kinds of laws you support, you have the freedom to express yourself more easily, have more people that agree with your opinions, your opinions have (most probably) been previously expressed by others and you don’t have to go through the trouble of advocating for them, and your basic rights are protected without having to go through multiple hoops. In many cases, minority groups would have to advocate for the same rights the majority readily enjoys. For an example, refer to the case of civil rights protections for transgender workers that was just recently ruled by the US Supreme Court. (5)

Over the years, we have realized that democracy should protect the rights of the minorities as well as the rights of the majority. Therefore, some countries have divided the power structure into legislative, executive and judiciary branches. Some have conducted (or have learned to conduct) consultations with minority groups before proceeding with projects that affect them (for example, when choosing team names that make use of terms related to indigenous peoples or building pipelines that pass through indigenous reserves). Some have introduced pieces of law such as Bill of Rights and some have given minority groups platforms to express themselves and to advocate for their rights.

Social media platforms have been a double-edged sword in this regard. On the one hand, they have given a platform to minorities to freely express themselves. On the other hand, their algorithms have been designed to show the “best/hottest/most upvoted” comment at the top (i.e. majority’s opinion) and to learn the most from the data that is abundantly available (i.e. data from the majority), which accentuates the majority’s opinions and thoughts. This goes more into the concept of bias and more specifically, confirmation bias, which is beyond the purpose of this post (refer to further reading items 7 and 8). All of this is to say that freedom of expression should include everyone, and that means minorities are included as well.

Academic freedom

There is a lot of debate going on between opponents and proponents of unlimited freedom of expression in academia. Should there be a limit to our freedom to express? If so, who gets to decide where that line is drawn? In fact, I would argue that we are not debating free speech, but rather where and how to draw a line between morally acceptable and morally unacceptable speech.

Universities have been under scrutiny for not letting specific talks and/or debates to happen on their campuses. Students are scrutinized for being “snowflakes” and being triggered by opposing opinions. Some argue that universities are marketplaces for ideas and should let controversial debates happen for people to make their decisions themselves. I do believe that universities are the breeding grounds for opinions, and different types of opinions should be allowed to be expressed and subsequently analyzed and challenged. However, universities are where knowledge grows. For knowledge to grow, we need well-informed and reasoned ideas to come to fruition and for that to happen, we need open-minded debates, not name-callings and hate speech. Again, the question is: what is considered hate speech and what is not?

As far as the human rights declaration and the US constitution go, there are no lines drawn for hate speech and understandably so. These are discussed in case laws and legislations that define and rule on hate speech. For instance, Canada has specific human rights legislations and multiple case laws on this matter. (6)

If a speaker has a history of name-calling, racist and sexist speech and is not there to actually further the realm of knowledge, I’m not sure what the benefit of that person speaking on a university campus is. If our initial reasoning for them being there was to have an open discussion and challenge people to think, hate speech is not conducive to that. For example, how is calling a specific race “lazy” or a specific gender “not real” going to help spark an open debate?

Most college students in the US, when surveyed, agreed that they want hate speech banned. The numbers are higher when you ask minority students. (7) You know why? I suspect (keyword being suspect) that these students are probably the ones that are being attacked in those name-callings and discriminatory speeches. So, who should we listen to when inviting speakers to campuses? The students who are going to listen and learn from them, people who might be affected or victimized by this kind of expression, or the people outside of colleges that probably have no relations whatsoever to students or the affected individuals? Students might be biased, sure, but as are the people who are not directly involved with campuses.

Asking speakers who are going to be speaking on campuses to use the correct terminology (for example gender vs sex or indigenous vs native) is not banning free speech, it’s making sure that the campuses are actually a breeding ground for knowledge, and not for hate or for incorrect assertions. We won’t invite someone who doesn’t know the difference between theory and hypothesis to speak to us about genetics, because arguably this person doesn’t know how science works and we wouldn’t want them spreading false information. With the same logic, why should we invite someone to talk about gender, when they don’t know the difference between gender and sex? And you can easily generalize this to other fields as well.

It’s not just about freedom of expression

Reducing all human rights to only freedom of expression is misguided and short-sighted at best. Basic human rights include many other freedoms and rights as well. Articles 5 and 12 of the human rights declaration, respectively, assert (1):

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

(emphasis mine)

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

This means that people’s reputation is also a protected human right and one can’t just attack someone’s reputation citing freedom of expression and their rights. The world and our interactions with it, its components and other humans are much more complex than one would think. We can’t just reduce them to one article of the human rights declaration (or even a few articles, for that matter) and call it a day. Even the declaration itself is general at best and we need detailed laws and regulations to govern those interactions. A question to think about is: what if my right to freely practice my religion infringes upon your right to security or vice versa? The declaration does not have answer for this. This is something that legislations and case laws would deal with.

Freedom of thought, belief (including religion and lack thereof), opinion and expression are protected in many countries. These countries have laws to protect specific populations and actions as well. For example, perjury, counselling suicide and creating child pornography are expressions but are not allowed in Canada, as well as many other countries. (6) I would be very surprised if the people who think we shouldn’t have limits on freedom of expression would also support the creation of child pornography. Again, the question is: where do we draw the line?

Another point worth making here is that specific types of racist, sexist and xenophobic speech can make a hierarchy of human worth and that is also against the human rights declaration. It is a running thread in the declaration that all humans are equal in rights and there is no hierarchy between them. Someone degrading a certain race or claiming that a specific race is good at math or is stronger than other races is not only making a hierarchy of humans but also reducing those groups of people to those specific traits. These might be considered microaggressions in the short-term, but there are long-term consequences as well. What if a member of that group is not good at math or is not stronger than their peers? Wouldn’t that make them feel less than their peers? So, not only does this make a hierarchy of humans based on which groups they are a member of, it also makes a hierarchy within those groups. As a matter of fact, I don’t see what good would come out of expressing these (false) claims in the first place.

Some more examples to think about

Most of you might remember the bakery that refused to bake a cake for a homosexual couple’s wedding. At the time, the camp of people supporting the bakery claimed that this was OK, because “it was based on their values” and that businesses should not be pushed to do things they don’t want to do. This most probably was coming from a place of privilege. People in that camp were probably not refused services because of their identity. I don’t think these people would have been OK with that bakery refusing to provide services to white people or people of colour or bald people or men or tall people, and the list can go on.

This debate came up again during the current COVID pandemic, when specific businesses decided that they will require a mask for customers to enter their premises. I can’t say for sure where the people that thought the bakery had the right to refuse specific customers would stand on the issue of masking. However, if we agree that businesses have the right to refuse a specific group, what they are doing now is essentially that. They are freely expressing themselves, as are the people not wearing masks. But the consequence of not wearing a mask in this situation is the businesses not allowing them into their premises, which is a right they hold as well.

I would argue here that the difference between the bakery’s refusal to bake a cake for a homosexual couple and a business’s denial of services to people not wearing masks is a bit deeper than that. The bakery in question refused a specific group based on their identity, something the customers do not have control over (refer to the examples above). A business requiring customers to wear masks is refusing a specific group based on something they have almost full control over: wearing a mask or not wearing one for a short period of time (for example, while they are shopping). One can argue that there are people that might have trouble wearing a mask and I’m not denying that. However, there is good evidence that no healthy person should have a problem wearing masks. If someone is unhealthy enough that can’t wear a mask, they should be isolating themselves, because chances are, they are the most susceptible to getting infected by the SARS-CoV2 virus.

Another example that comes to mind in terms of freedom of expression is kneeling during the national anthem. Is it OK for someone to kneel during the national anthem? Is that not freedom of expression? If this is OK, can someone kneel as a form of protest to show their dissatisfaction with something? If yes, how minor or serious does that dissatisfaction need to be for this to be OK? Is burning the flag of another country OK? If yes, under what circumstances? Is it OK to burn your own country’s flag? If yes, when and why? You see, there are a lot of questions and there may not be simple yes or no answers for them. Most of these are ethical questions and their complexities stem from the fact that the world we live in is too complex for us to answer questions like these with a simple yes or no.

I hope this post got you thinking about this matter a little further and I would be happy for you to exercise your right to freedom of expression in the comments section and let me know what you think. Please feel free to share this article with others and ignite conversations in your circles.

I would like to thank Spencer Millis for his edits to this article. You can see his articles on conversion therapy ban and universal basic income, here and here, respectively.



Further Reading


Ethical Dilemmas

During my commute today, I was listening to another episode of the “Philosophize This” podcast (no surprises there) and the host, Stephen West, brought up the trolley problem. This is one of my favourite ethical dilemmas and it is an interesting thought experiment. For those of you who don’t know what this is, I’ll explain it: Suppose that you are the conductor of an old trolley. There are 5 people stuck to the rails and if you continue operating the trolley the way you do it right now, those five people are going to get killed. The ONLY WAY for you to avoid that is to pull a lever and change tracks. However, there is one person stuck to the other track and if you go that way, you will kill that person. Now, what do you do? Do you continue in the same way and kill five people or do you pull the lever and kill one?

Now, let’s look at a slightly different scenario: You are on top of a bridge that is above the tracks. There are five people stuck to the tracks and a trolley is coming. The trolley is not able to stop in time and if you don’t do anything, those five people are going to get killed. However, there is someone sitting on the side of the bridge. The person sitting there is big enough that if you push him down the bridge and on to the tracks, he will be able to stop the train, but he will get killed. Would you do it?

Some people might say, “I will pull the lever in the first scenario, but I won’t push the guy in the second scenario, because I’m physically touching the guy in the second one and I’m directly killing him.” OK, I’ll ask it another way: Suppose there is a lever that will launch this guy on to the tracks, would you pull that lever then, since you are not physically touching the person? And, as if it is not complicated yet, let me introduce a third version of this dilemma: You are a doctor and you are caring for five people in the ward. Each one of them has an organ that is failing and if they don’t receive a transplant soon, all five of them are going to die. A healthy person walks into your office for a routine checkup. This person is a match for all five of those people. Would you open him up and use his organs to save those five people, which would mean killing him in the process?

By now, some of you might have already given up on doing anything about any of these scenarios, because you say “I don’t want to be responsible for someone’s death.” However, you might want to consider the fact that by being in those situations, whether you do something or sit there and watch, you are responsible for the results of your action(s) (or inaction(s) for that matter). Five people might get killed because you didn’t do anything or one person may get killed because you did something. By the very nature of you being in those situations, you are somehow responsible for what happens.

There are really not a lot of differences between these three scenarios. You are saving five people by sacrificing one. However, let me introduce another twist. What if that one person, if alive, will go on to develop a vaccine that will save millions of people from a contagious disease? Would your answer change to any of those questions? What happens is that we, most often, judge a situation by the consequences we think are going to happen. We might think the lives of five people are more important than the life of one or the life of someone who could develop a vaccine and save a lot of people is more important than someone who couldn’t, but how do we decide that? Almost always, we only have a limited account of what might happen and we decide based on that limited information. Maybe we think in terms of the contribution to society, but what constitutes a contribution and why more contribution to society is superior to less contribution, when there might be a myriad of other factors in play as well?

I know I opened a pandora’s box and posed more questions than I answered, but hopefully this would spark a conversation in your daily lives and in here as well. Please comment below if you have something to add. I would be happy to read your perspectives on this matter as well.

Forty Reasons to Stay Alive

Life is tough, but it is also beautiful. It can put you in pain for some time and make you feel happy some other time. It can give you a reason to cry some time, but it can also make you laugh. As you can see, there are a lot of sides to life and the way to experience them is to stay alive. Having heard a lot about a book by Matt Haig, I started reading “Reasons to Stay Alive.” It is not a long read (in fact less than 200 pages on the version available through my city’s library). Although I wish he would have talked more about his journey of recovery from the elephant in the room, i.e. anxiety and depression, I enjoyed every bit of it, especially because it comes from someone who has had a first-hand experience of how tough life can get. There is a section in the book that lists 40 reasons to stay alive and I wanted to share those with the readers of my blog along with some comments of my own (my comments start after the dashes). So, here it is:

  1. Appreciate happiness when it is there.
  2. Sip, don’t gulp. – When we are gulping through any drink, we are not enjoying what that drink has to offer, it is as if we are in a hurry to be done with the glass. But when we are sipping it, we give time to our organs, whether internal or external, to understand what that drink really is.
  3. Be gentle with yourself. Work less. Sleep more. – We are living in a world today that work is defining who we are. Think about your answer to the question “Who are you?” Aren’t we answering with our job title any time we are asked that question? The reason most often being that we spend a lot of time working, we forget how else we can be defined. Maybe we could go on that vacation we’ve been dreaming about for a long time or get that good night’s sleep we’ve been craving for the last few weeks.
  4. There is absolutely nothing in the past that you can change. That’s basic physics. – Then why worry about changing what’s already been done.
  5. Beware of Tuesdays. And Octobers.
  6. Kurt Vonnegut was right. ‘Reading and writing are the most nourishing forms of meditation anyone has so far found.’ – I can attest to this through personal experience. I feel great whenever I read or write.
  7. Listen more than you talk. – Good listeners make great speakers. Don’t quote me on that though! 🙂
  8. Don’t feel guilty about being idle. More harm is probably done to the world through work than idleness. But perfect your idleness. Make it mindful. – Personally, I don’t like being idle, and I would argue that if you are making your idleness mindful, you are not really idle!
  9. Be aware that you are breathing. – This is a great reminder. There are a lot of things that we take for granted in life. I think this one tops the list!
  10. Wherever you are, at any moment, try and find something beautiful. A face, a line out of a poem, the clouds out of a window, some graffiti, a wind farm. Beauty cleans the mind.
  11. Hate is a pointless emotion to have inside you. It is like eating a scorpion to punish it for stinging you. – Washing blood with blood is not going to work. Sometimes, educating the hater might be a good idea, but sometimes you have to leave the hater alone. You can’t teach the scorpion not to sting, for example!
  12. Go for a run. Then do some yoga.
  13. Shower before noon.
  14. Look at the sky. Remind yourself of the cosmos. Seek out vastness at every opportunity, in order to see the smallness of yourself.
  15. Be kind.
  16. Understand that thoughts are thoughts. If they are unreasonable, reason with them, even if you have no reason left. You are the observer of your mind, not its victim.
  17. Do not watch TV aimlessly. Do not go on social media aimlessly. Always be aware of what you are doing, and why you are doing it. Don’t value TV less. Value it more. Then you will watch it less. Unchecked distractions will lead you to distraction.
  18. Sit down. Lie down. Be still. Do nothing. Observe. Listen to your mind. Let it do what it does without judging it. Let it go, like the Snow Queen in Frozen.
  19. Don’t worry about things that probably won’t happen. – i.e. don’t overthink!
  20. Look at trees. Be near trees. Plant trees. (Trees are great.)
  21. Listen to that yoga instructor on YouTube, and ‘walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet’.
  22. Live. Love. Let go. The three Ls.
  23. Alcohol maths. Wine multiplies itself by itself. The more you have, the more you are likely to have. And if it’s hard to stop at one glass, it will be impossible at three. Addition is multiplication.
  24. Beware of the gap. The gap between where you are and where you want to be. Simply thinking of the gap widens it. And you end up falling through. – I think it’s good to remind yourself of your goals, but only when you have done something to get closer to it, which will give you even more motivation to get even more closer. But, if you haven’t taken any action recently, reminding yourself of your goals is not going to make things any better and it might even make them worse.
  25. Read a book without thinking about finishing it. Just read it. Enjoy every word, sentence, and paragraph. Don’t wish for it to end, or for it to never end. – Refer to number 2 above as well!
  26. No drug in the universe will make you feel better, at the deepest level, than being kind to other people.
  27. Listen to what Hamlet, literature’s most famous depressive, told Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. ‘There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.’ – There is still a lot of debate on the topic of good and bad and whether things are innately good or bad or are we making them so. I think this quote sums it up really nicely.
  28. If someone loves you, let them. Believe in that love. Live for them, even when you feel there is no point. – That point might come later. Not every point in life starts showing itself as a point or purpose.
  29. You don’t need the world to understand you. It’s fine. Some people will never really understand things they haven’t experienced. Some will. Be grateful. – As a social person, I’m guilty of this. I try to make connections with a lot of people and when they don’t understand me, I get upset or think about what I did or said. We have to let them be. Not everyone we meet is going to end up being our BFF or SO or even our acquaintance!
  30. Jules Verne wrote of the ‘Living Infinite’. This is the world of love and emotion that is like a ‘sea’. If we can submerge ourselves in it, we find infinity in ourselves, and the space we need to survive.
  31. Three in the morning is never the time to try and sort out your life. – But it might be the time for the brain to try and sort out all the inputs it has received during the day and get rid of the tiredness that comes with those.
  32. Remember that there is nothing weird about you. You are just a human, and everything you do and feel is a natural thing, because we are natural animals. You are nature. You are a hominid ape. You are in the world and the world is in you. Everything connects. – Speaking of nature, I agree that most of the things we do are natural. They are in our nature. We are all weird and normal at the same time. Whether you want to be a weirdly normal or a normally weird person, is the choice you are going to make.
  33. Don’t believe in good or bad, or winning and losing, or victory and defeat, or up and down. At your lowest and at your highest, whether you are happy or despairing or calm or angry, there is a kernel of you that stays the same. That is the you that matters.
  34. Don’t worry about the time you lose to despair. The time you will have afterwards has just doubled its value.
  35. Be transparent to yourself. Make a greenhouse for your mind. Observe.
  36. Read Emily Dickinson. Read Graham Greene. Read Italo Calvino. Read Maya Angelou. Read anything you want. Just read. Books are possibilities. They are escape routes. They give you options when you have none. Each one can be a home for an uprooted mind. – And as the famous saying goes ‘you have lived as many lives as the number of books you have read.’ Each and every book gives you a perspective on life. You look at life from the point of view of a different person and you could be one of those different people one day. That day you will have at least as many options as that person had in that book.
  37. If the sun is shining, and you can be outside, be outside.
  38. Remember that the key thing about life on earth is change. Cars rust. Paper yellows. Technology dates. Caterpillars become butterflies. Nights morph into days. Depression lifts. – And change brings happiness. Wear that tie you haven’t tried on since you bought, change the decoration of your office, change the way you look at people, change your point of view on things you do everyday and you will see happiness dripping through your life.
  39. Just when you feel you have no time to relax, know that this is the moment you most need to make time to relax. – ‘I don’t have time’ is basically a euphemism for ‘It’s not a priority.’ Make time for priorities. We need somethings to be able to even perceive ‘time’ and relaxing is one of them.
  40. Be brave. be strong. Breathe, and keep going. You will thank yourself later. – I don’t know why, but this reminded me of what Ed Latimore said on a podcast I listened a while ago: Running is not always enjoyable, but neither is being physically unfit. Working out can be painful and having a non-fit body can be painful as well. The difference is that you will have a fit body if you go through the pain of working out, but you won’t see any changes going through the pain of having an unhealthy body. So choose which pain you want to experience.

I really recommend reading the complete book, not only to those who sometimes feel low in life, but to anyone, because this book can also give you an idea of what some people might be going through and will maybe help you help someone who is in need of your support. On a related note, let’s tackle the issue of mental health and make sure we are paving the way to finally destigmatize it!

Confirmation Bias

This subject was on my list of writings for a long time and today I decided to finally write about it. Induction is a way of reasoning. But, it definitely has downsides to it. Suppose I move into a new town and the first few people I see are all physicians. Does that mean that everyone living in this town is a physician? Of course, not. It just means that the people I have seen are doctors. However, this may lead to me forming a hypothesis that maybe the vast majority of the people living in this city are doctors, which is a legitimate hypothesis. In order to test for that hypothesis, I have to devise a study protocol. I have to randomly select a sample of the people in that city and see if they are physicians. My main focus in this post is actually the process of random selection.

Statistically, random selection means that everyone in the population has the same chance of being chosen into the sample. If you go around and ask only the people who carry a stethoscope, your sample is biased. If you go around and ask only the people who own a shop, your sample is biased. Because, there is a high chance that the person with a stethoscope is a doctor and a person who owns a shop is not. Now, this is when I have good (or at least neutral) intentions!

If, for whatever reason, I decide to mock a group of people (which I hope I won’t!), I actually try to be biased. More specifically, I use Confirmation Bias, an informal logical fallacy, in which I only seek out information that supports my hypothesis and disregard anything that says otherwise. Unfortunately, many of the new developments on the web are going this way. For example, the personalized ads on Google, suggestions on Netflix or Amazon, and the “Because you liked …, you’ll like …” principle in general is feeding the beast even more. But, that’s a subject for another post I’ll probably attend to later!

A few weeks ago, I saw the video of Jesse Watters going down to New York’s Chinatown and interviewing people. For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, here is the video:

I don’t exactly know what this correspondent’s actual intentions were, but this is an example of how nonrandom selection skews the results of a study. I don’t want to go into a detailed assessment of this video, but there are a few things I want to point out:

  1. The host says they wanted to sample “political opinion” because China was mentioned 12 times in the first US presidential debate. What he doesn’t say is how that 12 times compares with other words or countries mentioned in the debate. Also, he doesn’t say why New York’s Chinatown was chosen.
  2. The correspondent actually starts the interview with a cultural stereotype.
  3. He doesn’t comment on cultural norms, e.g. the fact that some of the people call Hillary as “Clinton’s wife”. I remember I read a piece somewhere and a gentleman from China had commented on it “Please write more.” This is a cultural practice there, somehow meaning “Keep up the great work,” while this may mean “you haven’t written enough on this piece” for people from some other cultures.
  4. He has chosen some of the people who couldn’t answer the question, apparently because they don’t speak that much English.

This is something that we see a lot in our everyday lives. I remember a few years back when there was a debate going on in Iran in terms of which soccer team has the biggest number of fans and a TV correspondent went to a stadium to talk to the fans of a specific team and the people he chose to show on TV were either the not-well-educated fans or the fans who couldn’t speak the country’s official language well. He didn’t comment on what he saw and who he talked to, but the representation was enough for many people to start mocking the fans of that team.

It is also important to comment on the population that we have selected the sample from. For example, if the population we are looking at is birds in Australia and we only choose a random sample of 10 birds from Melbourne, our sample is biased (even though the sample has been selected randomly). However, if the population we were interested in was birds in Melbourne, our sample would be acceptable. But, going back to the video above, the host starts with talking about China in general and then goes to the New York Chinatown. This is how first impressions can be important. Although they say that they have gone to the NY Chinatown for this interview, you would induce that these people interviewed are representatives of the Chinese all over the world.

And here is a video from Big Think on Confirmation Bias and the effect of first impressions to end the post. Please share your views about this in the comments below.

Thanks for reading! 🙂