Avoiding Bias?

Don't get me wrong, I love the BBC - it's a great, great institution. It's one of the best things the UK has to offer. They've a great tradition of balance (and interview people even when they're attacking the BBC, something I can't imagine other institutions doing). Unfortunately, they will often find a 'balancing opinion' even when that opinion should have much less weight. For example, in the environment debate, they'll often give a disproportionate amount of airtime to those who deny climate change, thus giving the impression of far more controversy than there is in the scientific community (which is about when and how much, not whether)... A prime example of this is a recent article, pointed out by @mpk where the MHRA are recommending that a product is thrown away, and is illegal to sell [accessed 2nd Aug 2011... article may have been updated since then].

I have no special knowledge of the product. It may or may not work. The product might be a wonder - but the advice from the MHRA is unequivocal, the product is an unlicensed medicine and is illegal to sell, advertise or supply.

This view, given by experts in the field, is given equal weight to a single user - Nicole from Coventry. Indeed, Nicole (who is probably a lovely person) may have had a great experience with the product. She is, however, a single data point. She has no responsibility for public health, or for medicine approval. She has no way to quantify the longer term consequences. She may have simply got lucky.

Someone from the MHRA saying it is 'an unlicensed medicine' should far outweigh 'Nicole from Coventry'. The MHRA should certainly have both the first, and last, word. As the article stands, it finishes with a product endorsement from 'Nicole' saying:

"This is the best tan I have had. "This is my last bottle now and maybe in a couple of months, I may get another one.

As Dara O'Briain succinctly said in his excellent standup routine (see youtube) - this is like someone from the British Dental Association having a debate with a 'toothiologist'.

Dear, BBC.

Yes, it's a fine thing to represent all sides of an argument, to look at a debate from all sides. However, one should not fall into the trap of thinking that all voices should be heard equally on all topics. To do so can misrepresent an issue.

Yours,

Murk.