Bias is introduced into scientific research in a variety of ways, not least through the individuality of the researcher, her likes and dislikes in modes of working, physical location, research methods, her social background and values, and a host of other possible influential factors. Bias can arise is the design of the investigation, such as sampling errors. Type I and Type II errors are those of omission and commission, respectively, where relevant parameters or influences have been ignored, on the one hand, or not excluded from the experiment on the other. The scientific method has proved invaluable in reducing certain types of bias, but is much weaker in eliminating others.
In the case of medical research, there is concern that studies may be unbalanced because those studied do not constitute a representative sample of the population, and yet the results are used to prescribe treatment for the population as a whole. Medical research on heart disease, for example, tends to be based on younger people, and yet it is amongst older people than its incidence is greatest. An age cut-off is applied which may also reflect the relevance of such studies to women.
Science has no privileged assertion to objectivity. Scientific knowleddge can be explained by the interest (such as money or politics) of those who develop it.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.