heavily biased

tonko

Senior Member
Italian
Hello, so the phrase is the following

"The cells were shown to have a heavily \biased immunoglobulin repertoire."

My curiosity is about the term "a heavily biased", somehow I read this as a negative statement or a disadvantageous characteristic of such cells, is it just me or it would be the meaning such wording is implying.
What I am seeking for would be a more neutral term, like "a highly biased" is it so that these terms could be interchangeable because the meaning of both is identical or you read them differently where the first one implies something as I suggested?

Thank you.
:D
 
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  • Nunty

    Modified
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    This sounds very technical and there may be specialized vocabulary for what you mean. If there is, anything else will sound odd. I'd suggest looking at the professional literature in the field.
     

    Majorbloodnock

    Senior Member
    British English
    To me, "heavily biased" does not have a negative connotation. It certainly does put across a lack of neutrality, but that could be just as much of an advantage as a disadvantage. For instance, if a father found himself interviewing his son for a job, he might be likely to show a heavy bias. However, it's anybody's guess whether this would mean the father giving a really difficult interview or making it artificially easy.
     

    tonko

    Senior Member
    Italian
    This sounds very technical and there may be specialized vocabulary for what you mean. If there is, anything else will sound odd. I'd suggest looking at the professional literature in the field.
    Sure I agree and I have done it, but it is a bit specific term. However I am interested in general meaning of this term "heavily biased" or actually just the adjective heavily, does it itself implies something negative or it means simply as "highly biased", linguistically talking, I am not interested in an scientific opinion when it comes to this, just how you do read such expression as a native English reader. Same as we know that is not the same to say "biased a lot" or "biased too much".

    Thanks
     

    tonko

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Major,
    thank you for your comment , i understand what you mean, as usually it depends on the context. I was just thinking if you say something is heavily biased that you slightly imply that it should not be so, or it should not be happening.

    However I have things a bit more clear now, maybe, thank you.
     

    Majorbloodnock

    Senior Member
    British English
    No, Tonko. I don't think it's implying the bias should not be there. You could justifiably say our legal system is biased towards innocence (innocent until proven guilty), and yet it's quite right that this should be the case.
     

    tonko

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Why would you make such a general conclusion out of my question?
    When did I say bias should not be there? Where?

    I am simply analyzing the adverb heavily , and from this discussion I could conclude that is simply means "to a great extent".

    Thank you. :)
     

    Majorbloodnock

    Senior Member
    British English
    Why would you make such a general conclusion out of my question?
    When did I say bias should not be there? Where?

    I am simply analyzing the adverb heavily , and from this discussion I could conclude that is simply means "to a great extent".

    Thank you. :)
    Hi, Tonko

    I think we may be talking at cross purposes. I was answering the part of your previous post which I've highlighted below.

    ....I was just thinking if you say something is heavily biased that you slightly imply that it should not be so, or it should not be happening.....
    I took that to mean that you thought the term "heavily biased" was implying the bias shouldn't be there. I was simply trying to show how one could talk about a heavy bias that definitely should be there, and that a heavy bias could just as easily have a positive connotation.

    The term bias implies an imbalance. As such, adverbs to do with weight draw a clear analogy with a set of scales, so are often used to express the extent of the imbalance. You might easily talk about a "heavy" bias or even a "massive" bias. You might just as easily say something was "heavily weighted towards" a particular extreme. In none of these cases is there any suggestion of positive or negative implication, since it is only context that would show the effect of that imbalance.

    Does that make things clearer or am I just digging a deeper hole for myself? :)
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Hello, so the phrase is the following

    "The cells were shown to have a heavily biased immunoglobulin repertoire."

    My curiosity is about the term "a heavily biased", somehow I read this as a negative statement or a disadvantageous characteristic of such cells, is it just me or it would be the meaning such wording is implying.

    What I am seeking for would be a more neutral term, like "a highly biased" is it so that these terms could be interchangeable because the meaning of both is identical or you read them differently where the first one implies something as I suggested?
    Tonko, the reason for the confusion among the respondents is that we don't understand what a biased cell is, whether or not "heavily."

    In ordinary English, a thing such as a cell would not be referred to as "biased." We might refer to a person as "biased" or even "heavily (or highly) biased"--or having said or written something that is biased--and, yes, that would be a negative description.

    "Biased," when talking about a person or something the person said, means that he or she has prejudged, has a basic leaning for or against someone or something (often based on ignorance or misunderstanding) that prevents viewing clearly or making fair judgments.

    If we notice, for example, that a film critic always gives excellent reviews to any movie from France--even if everyone else agrees that it is not very well done--we might suspect that the critic is biased in favor of French films. That is not a good quality in a critic. Or if a police officer seems to always conclude that everyone of a certain race or nationality is guilty of crime, we might conclude that the officer is biased against such people; of course that is a very bad quality in a police officer.

    So we don't understand how a cell, which doesn't think or judge, can be "biased." The other respondents seem to feel--and so do I--that "biased" must have some different, special scientific meaning for you in relation to cells. Can you explain further about your meaning of "biased"?
     

    tonko

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Does that make things clearer or am I just digging a deeper hole for myself? :)

    Sure, you were perfectly clear even before now you have kindly explained even more I do appreciate that.
    I was just a bit puzzled when you concluded that I disapprove the term "biased" itself and you used the example of our legal system saying
    "our legal system is biased towards innocence and yet it's quite right that this should be the case".
    I felt like you were saying that the bias should be there sometimes, and I could not agree more.
    I was just trying to understand the term "heavily biased" as I had this feeling that it implies that something is biased too much, nothing else, just the word heavily was a sort of heavy for me in such context.

    But thank you a lot for all the remarks , I do enjoy discussing and therefore learning the language.

    Cheers :)
     
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    tonko

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Hi Parla,
    thank you for your comment.
    I was afraid this might go in that direction, as am not discussing the bias as a cultural or a human phenomena and whether it should be allowed or not, I was simply trying to understand if "heavily biased" means more "biased a lot" (a lot of bias) or "biased too much" (too much of bias).
    And I was not talking about "a biased cell" but about "a biased repertoire", which should be an understandable term, I believe. :)
     

    Aardvark01

    Senior Member
    British English (Midlands)
    In all examples so far "heavily biased" does mean a negative. By definition a "bias" is an imbalance and the adverb "heavily" must therefore mean the imbalance is extreme.

    With regard to the immune system the implication is that the cells have become so specialised in resisting certain types of infection that they have become vulnerable to attack by other types.
    Thus a human population could have a strong resistance to malaria, but at the cost of heavily/severely/drastically reduced lifespans (as happens with sickle cell anaemia) or they could all be wiped out by a common cold (as happened when europeans colonised South America). We could say this is a "heavy" price to pay.

    With regards to a legal system, "innocent until proven guilty" is a bias which, I believe, should be there (on the principle of the "golden rule": that one should treat others as one would wish to be treated).
    However, as has been in the news here recently, not only do the majority of violent convicts (ie. those already proven guilty) seek out and attack their victims again but the law prevents the police from telling the victims when their attacker is to be/has been released from prison. This is what I regard as a legal system which is "heavily biased" (towards the criminal).
     

    Majorbloodnock

    Senior Member
    British English
    In all examples so far "heavily biased" does mean a negative.
    I don't think I can agree with that; my example of a father interviewing a son demonstrates that a heavy bias could be either extremely negative or extremely positive for the interviewee. Certainly, it's an extreme one way or the other, but no implication is given as to which extreme is favoured.

    With regards to a legal system, "innocent until proven guilty" is a bias which, I believe, should be there (on the principle of the "golden rule": that one should treat others as one would wish to be treated).
    However, as has been in the news here recently, not only do the majority of violent convicts (ie. those already proven guilty) seek out and attack their victims again but the law prevents the police from telling the victims when their attacker is to be/has been released from prison. This is what I regard as a legal system which is "heavily biased" (towards the criminal).
    I suspect this might be starting to stray from the topic of the thread. However, I would question your assertion that it is the majority of violent convicts who seek out their victims again, and so I wonder if this might be exhibiting a "heavy bias" in your viewpoint.... ;)

    For the record, though, I happen to agree with you that the legal balance in this country isn't right. Perhaps I'm similarly biased.
     
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