What Do You Mean Limbaugh Was Biased?
Is it possible to be an unbiased news source in our era of relative truth? N.S. Lyons’ The Upheaval seeks to rise above the noise of political and social ideologies to examine what is happening in our times and how it is changing our world.
In his post, “Introducing the Revolutions Upending Our World,” Lyons examines the radical shifts in Western (European and American) cultures. “But this ideology seemed to emerge so suddenly, and is in its stark irrationality so alien to the modern liberal mind, that surprised observers and hapless opponents so far struggle even to settle on a name for it,” he noted. 
Humans have a fascinating relationship with change and the unknown. The unknown raises a gambit of emotions, from disappointment to frustration, egotism to timidity, grief to anxiety, doubt to fear, or depression to paralysis. What’s fascinating about the human body is that these are natural psychological responses to the unknown.
Physiologically, our bodies respond to the unknown in an equally myriad of ways, including and not limited to increased heart rate, unregulated breathing, a surge of adrenaline resulting in that famous flight, fight, or freeze, avoidance of the moment, and people associated with it, loss of sleep, intestinal discomfort, and chest tightness. 
It is no wonder that people would rather settle into their explicit and confirmation biases, reinforcing what they want to believe about themselves, the world, their neighbor, and God. And since change is happening so rapidly now, along with the clashing of new and deeply held ideologies, do we really have to wonder why there is a clashing within our country, communities, churches, and families?
Lyons argued that there is a revolution underway that he compares to the rapid changes brought about due to the creation of Gutenberg’s printing press. “The evidence seems to be growing that this revolution – which is more accurately a revolution in how information is generated, collected, processed, analyzed, shared, consumed, and understood – may be fundamentally changing not only our relationship with each other but our individual and collective perception of, and relationship with, reality itself.”
And yet, since information is processed differently and readily available on many new platforms, an individual’s relationship with the truth has and will continue to change. Lyon calls this a paradox of “post-truth” and “anti-privatization.”
In Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s “Men Have Forgotten God” address, the Russian Anti-Soviet novelist argued, “The failings of human consciousness, deprived of its divine dimension, have been a determining factor in all the major crimes of this century.” Of course, Solzhenitsyn’s reflections were on the impact of the Communist Revolution in Russia and the pursuit of cohesion by a totalitarian government.
So how do we deal with the global changes happening all around us? How do we process information differently, preventing us from entrenching ourselves into our unconscious and conscious ideologies?
One way is to consider broadening our sources of news. If we know that partisan news outlets merely reinforce a prescribed worldview while making billions off of our fear, anger, and indignation, finding a diversity of sources is paramount for our development as leaders.
In my recent research on explicit and implicit bias for a chapter of my doctoral book project, a cognitive psychologist asked readers to consider AllSides.com, a news source that claims to pursue “media solutions company that strengthens our democratic society with balanced news, media bias ratings, diverse perspectives, and real conversation.” Similarly, in the United States, sources like “The Associated Press” starkly contrast the Fox News and MSNBC of the world.
The Knight Foundation, in partnership with Gallup, conducts ongoing studies into how Americans rate predominant news sources on bias, finding that a majority of Americans currently see “a great deal” (46%) or “a fair amount” (37%) of political bias in news coverage.  The same study produced the following results on the most biased media consumed in America:
As Christian leaders, we have our work cut out for us as we navigate workplaces and congregations filled with people navigating these rapid changes while engaging them with their implicit and explicit biases. It challenges us to consider how we choose to rethink how we process the world around us and how we help others rethink their approach.
 Lyons, N.S. “The Upheaval.” The Upheaval, April 7, 2021. Last modified April 7, 2021. Accessed October 5, 2022. https://theupheaval.substack.com/p/the-upheaval.
 Publishing, Harvard Health. “Recognizing and Easing the Physical Symptoms of Anxiety.” Harvard Health, 2020. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/recognizing-and-easing-the-physical-symptoms-of-anxiety.
 Ibid, Lyons.
 “Acceptance Address by Mr. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.” Templeton Prize. Last modified December 7, 2021. Accessed October 5, 2022. https://www.templetonprize.org/laureate-sub/solzhenitsyn-acceptance-speech/.
 “American Views 2020: Trust, Media, and Democracy.” Knight Foundation. Accessed October 5, 2022. https://knightfoundation.org/reports/american-views-2020-trust-media-and-democracy/.
8 responses to “What Do You Mean Limbaugh Was Biased?”
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Love the post and how you pull in your own research. How have you as a pastor practically confronted bias in your congregations? And what markers of growth (if any) have you seen within individuals or the group?
Also, side comment, I remember listening to “Rush” throughout my childhood. My very religious grandmother would often be embarrassed by what I can only imagine were his course language and hyper-cynicism. But we kept listening…
Michael, great question. So much of the research and work I’ve done on my project.
So we did a sermon on unconscious bias and created an interactive element for people to get a sample of it.
I had them write down the three most trusted people in their lives beyond family. Then I had them describe the three people’s age, gender, ethnicity, race, economic status, political persuasion, theological camp, and sexual orientation. Finally, I had them examine how diverse the three were and how closely related they were to their gender, race, political persuasion, etc.
Andy: I’m interested to know the processing of this by your congregation and if/how it led to any new discoveries, changes, etc.
Andy: I checked out allsides.com and I then I saved it to my ‘favorites’ in my web browser. That’s a good source. You’re right about the difficulty of navigating all the news and trying to lead in a Christian context. Our congregations are filled with people that hold dramatically different opinions about politics, economics, world events, etc… It’s a tight rope that requires us to speak with wisdom.
Andy, your post was a great read. I like your solution of widening our reading to overcome our own confirmation bias. What do you think helps people overcome their bias on issues that are not newsworthy but social issues that also present as theological issues? If we look, we can find someone who blogs and agrees with the opinion we already hold – how do we move beyond that?
Hey Andy…thank you for your post. I loved hearing your integration of the reading and your research/book. Thank you for that.
I found especially interesting your paragraph on our physiological/neurological/biological responses to change, new experiences, etc. Are you including any tools for navigating this in your book?
My husband and I have found very helpful the tools developed by the Trauma Resource Institute out of Claremont, CA. They work globally and their resources focus on these bodily responses (so can be used easily across cultures because they are not ‘talk’ based).
If you’re including tools in your book for navigating this part of the ‘responding to change’ spectrum, what tools are you sharing?
Andy, how do we as leaders navigate the commodification of “the news”…especially when many of our churches seem to be functioning out of their amygdala?
Don’t worry, I don’t expect you to write an answer.
Thanks Andy. First off, I respond to these blogs on Sunday mornings. That said, going forward, I will not be offended if you don’t respond to my comments! Seriously, just know that.
I appreciate your thoughts and perspective here. Kayli also noted that news source – AllSides. Thanks. I had not heard of that site but will certainly bookmark it.
Yes, we live in changing times. As Christian leaders then, it seems all the more paramount to me that we become students of His word to know and understand how He would have us respond. In what ways does Scripture provide a framework for you to filter current world events and challenges? As leaders, how do we do this well, maintaining the tension of being Biblically rooted yet also present with the times in which He has placed us?