Thursday, November 5, 2009

people may even be less racist than Project Implicit implies

from In Bias Test, Shades of Gray:
In a series of scathing critiques, some psychologists have argued that this computerized tool, the Implicit Association Test, or I.A.T., has methodological problems and uses arbitrary classifications of bias. If Barack Obama’s victory seemed surprising, these critics say, it’s partly because social scientists helped create the false impression that three-quarters of whites are unconsciously biased against blacks.
As Shaking the foundations of the hidden bias test notes,
This has been one part of an ongoing debate that has suggested that the IAT is not all it's cracked up to be, while the originators of the test have fired back with the heavyweight review [pdf] of over 100 studies, defending their position and the IAT's credentials.

The debate is important because the IAT has become one of psychology's central tools for separating conscious and unconscious associations and has been applied to pretty much everything from racism to diagnosing psychopaths.
So Project Implicit may be right, or their critics may be right, but either way, the Critical Race Theorists and Whiteness Students are, to be kind, mistaken in their belief that everyone's racist.

(Thanks, serialbabbler, for pointing me to the Mind Hacks link!)