Before you accuse me, take a look at yourself
—— Ellas McDaniel a.k.a. Bo Diddley
Earlier this week I was driving to work and listening to Krista Tippett interviewing Mahzarin Banaji and I remember thinking…
“Dang, Krista! You sure have created a great job for yourself. Good for you!”
Listening to Ms. Banaji and her take on these ideas… Ideas about bias, I so appreciated Tippett’s interviewing style. I felt like I was getting to know this person in a way that helped me to better hear what she had to say. Good job Krista! Good for you. Good for me.
Good for all of us!
And good for all of us to look more closely at the topic of bias. Implicit bias, explicit bias, hidden bias, overt bias… all bias. No matter what one’s opinion may be on the science (the focus of Ms. Banaji’s work) and no matter how any given person may perceive and/or experience it, bias (and the human differences that drive it) is worthy of deep, serious study.
And also good for fun conversation (^_^)
As it happened, I was able to have some such fun as soon as I got to work and approached the operations desk.
“So I got a riddle for you.”
“A man and his son are in a car accident and the man (the father) is killed. The boy is mortally wounded and rushed to the hospital and into surgery. The surgeon takes one look at the boy and says, ‘I can’t operate on this boy, he’s my son.’ How can this be when the father was just killed?”
The ops clerk was baffled. For several minutes she refused to let me tell her the answer as she made all kinds of convoluted attempts to come up with one fitting her assumption that the surgeon had to be a man.
“Duh” she slapped her head when I finally had to tell her.
I decided to look up the book Ms. Banaji had written on this topic and published in 2013. The reviews were very interesting. Lots and lots of positive reviews, but the most interesting were the negative ones. Wow! That so many found a need to spend so much time “refuting” these ideas made me want to look at them even more closely. Several of these reviews were of the classic, angry detractor variety. Many men (and only men) were clearly triggered by the book’s topic and while some went off into irrational (and often religious) rants, a few seemed to have quite cogent arguments against it.
They mostly had issues with the IAT (implicit-association test).
I think I’ll take that test today.
I simply have to take it. Especially after reviewing something I’d remembered hearing from another of my favorite podcasted shows. Something I looked at again while preparing to write this post but…
It’s not exactly on topic so I’ll leave any discussion I might have about that for another time.