Objectivity, religion and belief…

No-one is unbiased. That’s something I write and speak about a lot. It’s not a problem, but it is something we need to be aware of. So I was really interested to see a feature in a recent edition of the British Medical Journal entitled “Why religious belief should be declared as a competing interest”. In it, Richard Smith and Jane Blazeby suggested that people’s faith can have a profound effect on their views. For example on matters such as assisted dying and abortion. That’s not a problem. But they argue that disclosure of religious belief is essential to provide the reader of an article with a full context for interpretation.

I wrote about the question of objectivity several years ago. I went even further and suggested that we need to be aware that any belief system or experience can impact a person’s views. As well as matters such as assisted dying and abortion (which are the focus of the feature in the BMJ), our beliefs, values and experiences can have a significant impact upon the way we see many things in life. No matter whether we are religious, humanistic, scientific, technocratic, holistic, atheistic or passionate about a cause. And when we work in an area which involves sharing written or verbal information with others, then we have a responsibility to let people know ‘where we are coming from’ ideologically.

Yes, including me. That’s why I have an about page and why my book ‘What’s Right For Me: making decisions in pregnancy and childbirth’ includes a section in which I describe my own experience and beliefs.

I don’t mind whether anyone agrees with me or not. I just want to ensure that people are able to evaluate the basis of my information in the same way that I encourage people to evaluate the basis of any other information they come across. And I’d love to encourage others to do the same.

No-one is unbiased. Context is important. Knowing the context of information can help us better make the decisions that are right for us.


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Photo by Yolanda Sun on Unsplash

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