Our Biases

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Confession

“Why has it been that overclockers.com has taken on a very AMD look and had almost nothing good about Intel to say?”

We asked folks to respond to this question posed by a reader. Most of the responses we got indicated that people understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it perfectly well. They understand that Intel isn’t doing anything and AMD is. They understand that there’s a very good chance AMD’s going to jump significantly ahead of Intel for a while, and that’s a big change that we should be reporting.

But some didn’t, and more importantly, it’s a common approach around the Web to treat this as “this is Good versus Evil, you for or agin us?” We certainly have strongly held views and opinions, we just don’t look at it in terms of Intel vs. AMD.

Of more concern, at least to me, is how so many people nowadays deal with disagreement. They don’t argue their case; they use politically correct buzzwords to shut off discussion. A big one nowadays is “bias.”

Yes, we are biased. Horribly, terribly biased and prejudiced, highly discriminatory. We’re as guilty of this as any hate group.

Bias Isn’t Always Bad

I would bet most of you think your own murder would be pretty bad.

If I gave you a choice between a Rolls Royce or a Honda Civic, how many of you would pick a Honda Civic?

How many of you have to think really hard between choosing a leaky as opposed to a leak-free gallon of milk?

All three of these show bias.

Are they all bad? Are any of them bad?

Just to be biased about something means nothing. It’s what you are biased about and why that makes the difference.

I would bet Joe Citarella and Saddam Hussein are equally biased against their own murders. If one of them had to go, would you consider it a coin-flip?

If you preferred a Rolls over a Honda Civic, were you biased towards the British and against the Japanese? Or did you have other reasons?

Any preference you have could be described as bias or prejudice or even bigotry. But they can be good or bad. I suggest to you that the only bad bias is an unreasonable one.

Why is the Klan bad? They’re not bad just because they have a bias; you’re just as biased against that leaky container of milk, and for the same reason. The difference is that the Klan’s bias is unjustifiable, and yours isn’t.

You literally cannot go through life without constantly preferring some things over others. You make personal judgments on what is preferable to you. You may or may not make the best judgments for yourself, but the fault lies with the quality of the judgment, not on making the judgment itself.

Everyone is biased. Even you. All judgments show some measure of subjectivity. This does not make them bad at all.

So bias as the term is usually used should not mean a judgment, but rather an unreasonable judgment.

Unfortunately, that’s not how the term is often used nowadays. People nowadays call other people “biased” simply because they disagree with them. I don’t call that Politically Correct; I call that Practically Cretinous. It’s a substitute for thought; slogans over substance.

I spoke a few days ago about a trivia game I play. A few years ago, I used to keep statistics on how teams did over the year in one particular game. One team began using computers to look up answers to questions, which boosted them into the #1 position. Of course, they never mentioned using them. They got “outed” by a local newspaper account on the Web.

I reacted to that by pulling them out of the regular category, and making a new category for teams that used computers. I thought that fair and just. They didn’t.

So they came up with their own statistics which they posted on their website, which they proudly proclaimed to be “unbiased.” No mention of who was biased or what the bias was, just the buzzword.

I see that the same kind of thing often in computer hardware forums. You want to call somebody biased, fine, but then say WHY!

Of course, that is risky. It involves thought. Others can disagree, and you may end up looking just as biased, or just plain dumb, as a result.

Disagreeing With You Is Not Proof Of Insanity

Judgments are usually based on people’s personal values. People value some things more than others. That’s usually the reason why reasonable people disagree on many things. The typical Mac owner values certain things more and other less than the average PC overclocker. Neither is universally right or wrong, and either or neither may be the best for you.

Unfortunately, people often treat what are personal value judgments they happen to disagree with like the other side was the Klan, like belief in video card and racial inferiority were equivalents. They’re not.

Our readers have Celerons, and PIIs, and PIIIs, and K6-2s and Athlons, Durons, and TBirds. When they upgrade, one might buy a Duron, and another might buy a Celeron. Is one wrong and the other right? Depends on your circumstances and what you find most important. There is no one right choice here.

Our Biases

These are our biases, our prejudices, perhaps even our bigotries. This is how somebody else might describe our principles, our beliefs, our values, we just beat them to it. Too often, one man’s principles are another man’s prejudices. Sometimes there’s good reason to denounce them, sometimes, there isn’t. There’s a difference between “this is evil” and “this isn’t for me.”

  1. We Are Best-Bang-for-the-Buck Nazis- We love getting value for our money. We want to get the best possible performance for the lowest possible cost. That’s not quite the same as being cheap. We’ll spend $50 to get 10% more performance. We won’t spend $500 for it.
  2. Only in Heaven Is Everything Perfect- We love good products, we hate bad ones, and we can and will tell you the difference, and why we think so.
  3. We Are As Loyal As A Cat- Our loyalty is to the best, well-made product at the best price, not to any company. Nobody always makes the best product.

  4. Stay True To Our Views: We will always tell you what we believe to be true as we see it. If that means a company won’t send us review samples because of it, fine. Doing otherwise means you end up paying for our ride on the gravy train, and we won’t pay that price.

Isn’t This A Bit Much?

As a response to what we asked, sure.:), but we think it’s good to point out a common pitfall in thinking, not only for our sake, but for anyone else’s.

Life usually isn’t all that complicated, just more than we want it to be.

We just don’t think in terms of Intel versus AMD, like they were two sports teams, and we needed to be on one side or the other. We think in terms of what’s the best for a task, and we go with what we think is best without blinders.

Two and a half years ago, I thought Intel was clearly better than AMD, but that due to the cost difference, AMD was better for some. Then the cost difference dropped with the Celeron, and I didn’t think AMD was good for anyone. The Athlon came out, and it was much closer to Intel, but not quite there yet. The Tbirds and Durons came out, and I thought it was about even or slightly in AMD’s favor, but no reason to abandon fairly current Intel systems, especially if cash were tight.
A few months from now, I’ll probably say AMD is clearly better than Intel, and six months after that, I might be saying the opposite. Absolutely inconsistent with an Intel vs. AMD worldview; perfectly consistent with Bang-For-The-Buck.

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