Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Implicit Bias: Racial Bogeyman Debunked
Very few Americans say they would not vote for a black for president, or that they object to interracial marriage, and virtually nobody says they favor segregation.
So what are people who want to see themselves as social justice warriors, fighting the scourge of racism, going to do?
Simple, they have to find a new way to label people racist. One way to do this is to test them for “implicit bias.” Administered by computer, the Implicit Association Test typically shows that people have a preference for white faces rather than black faces.
The test works by measuring how quickly people can, for instance, associate African-American faces with positive words versus European American faces with those same positive words. In one round of the test, you’re instructed to press a particular key if a positive word like “pleasure” or “wonderful” flashes on the screen and to press that same key if a white face appears. Then, in another round, the program will tell you to press the same key for darker faces and positive words. It tracks how many mistakes you make and measures how quickly you press those keys, right down to fractions of a second. The site also offers tests that measure bias against other groups, including obese people, the disabled, and the elderly, though it’s the race results that tend to dominate the discussion.Favoring white faces certainly sounds prejudiced, but does it show anything other than the fact that people associate negative things with black people? If so, how do we interpret that?
First, we have to remember that a lot of negative things are empirically associated with black people. Black people are more likely to be poor, to have limited education compared to whites, to be dependent on government assistance, to have been born out of wedlock, to commit crime, etc.
Not nice thoughts, but the truth. So does the implicit bias test simply mean people know the truth, even if it isn’t politically correct to admit it? That would explain why even liberals who pride themselves on being unbiased and black people themselves show a preference for the white faces.
Does it Relate to Behavior?But even empirically justified ideas about racial differences are unfair if they lead to people being treated according to the stereotype, rather than their actual individual merits.
It seems, however, that implicit bias has little relationship with how people actually behave. From the Chronicle of Higher Education:
But the link between unconscious bias, as measured by the test, and biased behavior has long been debated among scholars, and a new analysis casts doubt on the supposed connection.The Cut notes similar research:
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Harvard, and the University of Virginia examined 499 studies over 20 years involving 80,859 participants that used the IAT and other, similar measures. They discovered two things: One is that the correlation between implicit bias and discriminatory behavior appears weaker than previously thought. They also conclude that there is very little evidence that changes in implicit bias have anything to do with changes in a person’s behavior. These findings, they write, “produce a challenge for this area of research.”
That’s putting it mildly. “When you actually look at the evidence we collected, there’s not necessarily strong evidence for the conclusions people have drawn,” says Patrick Forscher, a co-author of the paper, which is currently under review at Psychological Bulletin. The finding that changes in implicit bias don’t lead to changes in behavior, Forscher says, “should be stunning.”
Given all this excitement [generated by the IAT], it might feel safe to assume that the IAT really does measure people’s propensity to commit real-world acts of implicit bias against marginalized groups, and that it does so in a dependable, clearly understood way. After all, the test is hosted by Harvard, endorsed and frequently written about by some of the top social psychologists and science journalists in the country, and is currently seen by many as the most sophisticated way to talk about the complicated, fraught subject of race in America.And the liberal New York Magazine has expressed skepticism.
Unfortunately, none of that is true. A pile of scholarly work, some of it published in top psychology journals and most of it ignored by the media, suggests that the IAT falls far short of the quality-control standards normally expected of psychological instruments. The IAT, this research suggests, is a noisy, unreliable measure that correlates far too weakly with any real-world outcomes to be used to predict individuals’ behavior — even the test’s creators have now admitted as such. The history of the test suggests it was released to the public and excitedly publicized long before it had been fully validated in the rigorous, careful way normally demanded by the field of psychology. In fact, there’s a case to be made that Harvard shouldn’t be administering the test in its current form, in light of its shortcomings and its potential to mislead people about their own biases. There’s also a case to be made that the IAT went viral not for solid scientific reasons, but simply because it tells us such a simple, pat story about how racism works and can be fixed: that deep down, we’re all a little — or a lot — racist, and that if we measure and study this individual-level racism enough, progress toward equality will ensue.
We can be more blunt about why the test has been so popular. It offered a neat explanation for the situation of black Americans — and one politically correct people find congenial. Facing the truth would require discussing the culture of the black inner city: the number of kids born out of wedlock, the prevalence of crime, schools that are poor in spite of high levels of spending, attitudes hostile to a “straight” life of work and achievement.
That has to be avoided at all costs.
Saturday, August 19, 2017
Let’s Forget About All That
Black Lives Matter Lauded Fidel Castro
Upon hearing of the passing of Fidel Castro, Cuba’s dictator-emeritus, leftist politicians and celebrities wasted no time taking to social media to sing their sweet elegies for the Western Hemisphere’s most notorious tyrant.
Yet these tribute tweets, brimming with unwarranted admiration, soon encountered fierce resistance. There were those who quite sensibly pointed out Castro’s litany of human rights abuses. To speak approvingly of Castro, to eulogize him through euphemism, is to sanitize the legacy of a man who, in addition to committing egregious human rights violations, also tanked one of Latin America’s most historically prosperous economies.
But the Castro enthusiasts were also rebuked by a different sort of argument: the eruption of pure, unbridled celebration on the streets of Miami, the place where many exiled Cubans now call home.
While headlines and hashtags seemed to center mostly on the remarks of Barack Obama, Enrique Peña Nieto, Narendra Modi, and Justin Trudeau, one of the most benighted responses came from the feed of Black Lives Matter.
On Sunday, the organization published an essay, “Lessons from Fidel: Black Lives Matter and the Transition of El Comandante,” in which the leaders of the movement encourage their own to “push back against the rhetoric of the right and come to the defense of El Comandante” as they “aspire to build a world rooted in a vision of freedom and the peace that only comes with justice.”
Lessons from Fidel: Black Lives Matter and the Transition of El Comandante https://t.co/CYTcy6ReIa— Black Lives Matter (@Blklivesmatter) November 27, 2016
Of course, there is much else wrong with Black Lives Matter.
But this whole business raises a question: while conservative politicians are required to renounce white supremacist organizations, and when they do (as Donald Trump did) are hectored for not denouncing them in sufficient feverish language, it’s just fine for liberal politicians to cozy up to Black Lives Matter.
As Barack Obama did.
And of course, the same corporations that engaged in smarmy virtue signalling about the Charlottesville riots (placing all the blame on the white nationalists, and none on Antifa) have pandered to and funded Black Lives Matter.
Of course, the hatred of police that Black Lives Matter engenders among blacks is ultimately harmful to the black community. But the liberal politicians and the corporate panderers don’t care. They have gotten the protection they wanted.
Friday, August 18, 2017
Thursday, August 10, 2017
Not the Business You Are In
Tuesday, August 08, 2017
Lena Dunham: Trying to Get American Airlines Employees Fired Over Private Conversation on Transgenderism
This week, famous millennial journaler Lena Dunham was strolling through an airport eavesdropping on a couple of flight attendants. There she was, just a right-thinking individual with fluency in approved language and a desire for a kind and compassionate society, when she heard a conversation that violated her sense of an ideal society.The author, Mary Katharine Ham, goes on to observe that:
Then, as any individual principally interested in kindness and empathy would do, she reported the flight attendants’ conversation to their bosses at American Airlines.
Then, filled once more with the compassion and humility that are her hallmarks, Dunham broadcast this conversation, and her reporting of it, to her millions of social media followers. American Airlines is reportedly looking into it.
Because how, pray tell, could the world be a good place if middle-class flight attendants are allowed to talk to their friends at work in any way that gives this rich, famous public emoter a sad? What have we become, as a country, if millionaire, private-school progeny of Brooklyn art-scene families can’t have their exact conception of acceptable conversation reflected back to them during every minute of a flight delay?
Here’s What Lena Dunham Had a Fit About This Time
Hearing this conversation, Dunham wrote, was the “worst part” of her night.
This is the conversation Dunham alleges she heard. They were “talking about how trans kids are a trend they’d never accept a trans child and transness is gross.”
This is the sinister side of the liberal “hamburger problem” Josh Barro wrote about. His thesis is Democrats could win a lot more elections if they stop insufferably hectoring everyone about everything— for instance, insisting eating a hamburger is an inherently political act because of the public health consequences and the carbon footprint and the blah, blah, blah. He’s probably right about that, but many liberals go far beyond hectoring.This, of course, is the sort of bigotry that thrives in academia. Marquette University, in an online module on “harassment” had a little scenario where two female employees where talking to each other, and expressed their opposition to gay marriage. An employee who overheard it was offended, and it was was made clear that the women were guilty of harassment, simply by expressing an opinion that somebody overheard and disapproved of.
Dunham isn’t content to publicly lecture about trans issues. She wants to punish people who disagree with her, going after their jobs without so much as a conversation with them, and she expects to be thanked and honored for her good works.
It’s a cliché, but worth repeating, that the people who talk all the time about “tolerance” are the biggest bigots.
There Will Be Something
Monday, August 07, 2017
Steve Jobs Favored School Choice
Steve Jobs said in a 1995 interview, “The unions are the worst thing that ever happened in education.”Of course, this ignores the fact that some voucher proposals require that voucher schools accept the voucher for the full price of tuition, and the vast majority of kids would get an education at that price level. And the value of the voucher would be set to buy an education easily as good (and likely much better) than the current public school system
Jobs spoke with Computerworld’s Daniel Morrow in a 1995 interview, which covered a wide range of topics, but frequently delved into Jobs’s views on the American education system. As he said, “I’d like the people teaching my kids to be good enough that they could get a job at the company I work for making $100,000 a year.”
But Jobs blamed teachers unions for getting in the way of good teachers getting better pay. “It’s not a meritocracy,” said Jobs. “It turns into a bureaucracy, which is exactly what’s happened. And teachers can’t teach, and administrators run the place, and nobody can be fired. It’s terrible.”
He noted that one solution is school choice: “I’ve been a very strong believer that what we need to do in education is go to the full voucher system.” Jobs explained that education in America had been taken over by a government monopoly, which was providing a poor quality education for children.
He referenced the government-created phone monopoly, broken up in 1982: “I remember seeing a bumper sticker with the Bell logo on it and it said, ‘We don’t care, we don’t have to.’ That’s certainly what the public school system is. They don’t have to care.”
Jobs said that the main complaint against school choice is that schools would cater only to rich kids, and the poor kids would be “left to wallow together.”
However, he said, “that’s like saying, well, all the car manufacturers are going to make BMWs and Mercedes and nobody’s going to make a $10,000 car. Well, I think the most hotly competitive market right now is the $10,000 car.”
In other words, Jobs said, all students would benefit from more school choice, as the monopoly in education was broken up.Of course, being a billionaire tech genius does not make one an all purpose expert on everything. But it does mean one knows a lot about dynamic, radically innovative and creative markets, and how they serve consumers. That is to say, markets very unlike the current educational market.
“The market competition model seems to indicate that where there is a need, there is a lot of providers willing to tailor their products to fit that need, and a lot of competition which keeps forcing them to get better and better.”
Thursday, August 03, 2017
Politically Correct Math Education Comes to Springfield
Wednesday, August 02, 2017
Bullied Evergreen State Student Speaks Out
Exposing the American Association of University Professors: Politicized Guild
A key point: the AAUP is less than forthcoming when the academic freedom of conservative professors is attacked. Some key passages:
“In the aftermath of [Trump’s] election, it has become evident that his election poses a grave threat to the principles that lie at the very heart of the AAUP: academic freedom, shared governance, and economic security for those engaged in teaching and research in higher education,” AAUP President Rudy Fichtenbaum declared at his organization’s 2017 annual meeting.So the simple election of a president you don’t like is a threat to academia freedom? Thanks, AAUP, for making your political biases clear.
The article goes on to mention cases where the AAUP defended extreme and inflammatory statements from leftist professors, and notes the lack of support for conservative academics. And further:
The same goes for more politically-neutral professors who simply challenge campus orthodoxy, like the Christakis’s and, even more recently, Evergreen State College Professor Bret Weinstein, who was forced to hold classes off-campus after campus police were unable to protect him from a mob of students who had angrily confronted him for questioning the legitimacy of an event in which white people were requested to leave campus for a day.The author (Anthony Gockowski) devotes considerable attention to our case. While the AAUP objected to our suspension in December, 2014, it had no problem with Marquette’s attempt to fire us, and with the punishment imposed by a faculty panel.
The AAUP did not release a single statement in support of Weinstein’s “academic freedom,” even after the student protesters held the school’s president hostage in his own office to demand, among other things, that Weinstein be summarily suspended without pay.
“My thoughts regarding the AAUP are much like my thoughts about the ACLU,” said George Leef, director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy. “It avoids battles where it doesn’t like one of the combatants, principle be damned.”
David Randall, director of communication for the National Association of Scholars (NAS), expressed similar sentiments, acknowledging that while the AAUP did play an instrumental role in [conservative Mike] Adams’ lawsuit, “it is easy to find cases in which conservatives on campus have suffered significant infringements of their academic freedom in which the AAUP has been mute.”
An AAUP official informed us that we had received “due process” from the faculty panel.
“Their position was that I had received ‘due process’ from the Faculty Hearing Committee, and that was all I deserved,” McAdams told Campus Reform. “They seem to view ‘academic freedom’ as a collective right the faculty have, not a right that each faculty member has. Thus, views unpopular with the faculty generally will get little support from the AAUP.”Worse, however, was the fact that there were several gross violations of due process on Marquette’s part. As we told AAUP official Greg Scholtz:
. . . McAdams noted that due process—especially on a “contemporary campus”—offers “scant protection to views unpopular among the faculty,” pointing out that “in addition to ideological bias, there is the fact that campus bureaucrats can load committees with people who are keen on currying favor with the administration.”
- I was suspended in violation of Marquette’s own rules. You have already taken notice of this.
- The Faculty Hearing Committee was supposed to issue a report within 90 days of the end of the hearings, but failed to meet that deadline by almost a month, finally delivering a report on January 19, when the deadline was December 23.
- One member of the Faculty Hearing Committee had signed a statement attacking me for my blog posts, but declined to recuse herself.
- Marquette refused to provide my legal team with evidence, possibly relevant to the case, that my legal team requested.
- President Lovell, while claiming to follow the recommendation of the Faculty Hearing Committee, in fact added a proviso that I had to apologize for the blog post, and provide a loyalty oath pledging allegiance to vaguely defined “Marquette Guiding values” and “Marquette’s Mission.”
- Marquette could point to no rule that I had violated, but the Faculty Hearing Committee engaged in what [my attorney] called a “multi-part balancing test” to come to the conclusion that I should be disciplined (but not fired). Restrictions on academic freedom (like all restrictions on speech) should be based on “bright line” prohibitions, and not vaguely defined and subjective “balancing tests.”
Free Speech to Criticize ProfessorsBut going beyond merely defending the right of leftist professors to say extreme and inflammatory things, the AAUP has condemned those media outlets that publicize those extreme and inflammatory things. For the organization, “academic freedom” means a lack of free speech when that speech criticizes leftist professors.
As David Randall suggested, the AAUP has to be viewed as a “politicized guild, and not as disinterested partisans of academic freedom.”