A Lesson in Bias

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Tera Esposito Prof. Judith Leone English 101 March 3, 2013 A Lesson in Bias “A little learning is a dangerous thing. Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring. There shall droughts intoxicate the brain and drinking largely sobers us again.”- Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism. Malcolm X and Michael Moore are two autodidacts, activists, and authors who have endangered themselves by a “little learning”, having carefully gathered their learning materials and experiences in such a way that it aligns with, and reaffirms their own personal beliefs. This leaves them unable to detect their own bias, and unable to be objective. In “Learning to Read” by Malcolm X and “Idiot Nation” by Michael Moore, the authors’ writings demonstrate that they are indeed knowledgeable, but are also subjective on the topics that they discuss. When reading the essays of Malcolm X and Michael Moore, a perceptive reader can easily identify their biases which are illustrated throughout their work in the forms of inflammatory remarks, contradictory statements, and or, one-sided evidence. Inflammatory remarks are inimical and signal an author’s bias. By utilizing demeaning language, such as racial epithets, in an effort to draw support and substantiate beliefs, a writer alienates his audience and draws attention to whom or what his biases are against. In “Learning to Read”, Malcolm X uses several provocative phrases when describing Caucasians. He categorizes them as a whole, calling them “the collective white man” (215), and goes on to accuse them of being “piratical opportunists and employing Faustian machinations” (215). Malcolm X regards white people as one homogeneous group without variation or exception. He refuses to acknowledge the individual because his schema does not allow for it. His unwillingness to accept the possibility that not all white people are malevolent speaks to

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