David and Tamler tackle the topic of implicit bias and the controversy surrounding the implicit association test (IAT). What is implicit bias anyway? Does it have to be linked to behavior in order to truly count as a "bias"? Has the IAT been overhyped as a reflection of individual or group prejudice? And why is the debate on this topic so depressing? Plus, some deep thoughts on the intellectual dark web, how to join it, and what the analogy is supposed to reflect.

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00:00:00very bad Wizards is a podcast with a philosopher my dad and psychologist Dave Bizarro having an informal discussion about issues in science and ethics please note that the discussion contains bad words that I'm not allowed to say and knowing my dad some very inappropriate jokes to keep the bad things out and I don't think that's good because you don't pay him for the world
00:00:39are you a very bad man
00:01:00anybody can have a brain
00:01:08you're a very bad man I'm a very good man just a very bad Wizards welcome to very bad Wizards from the University of Houston Dave today we're going to tackle a controversial subject involving race that many people would rather just avoid does this mean we're making a bid to join the intellectual dark web
00:01:33is is that the Criterion talking about race at the Criterion was having fancy pictures taken of you kind of in the dark if that's the likes it like so every person who has that gets to be part of the intellectual dark web
00:01:51the necessary but I don't think it's not sufficient I think we're too liberal tip to be part of the dark web just appears to be people who on the base of it are liberal but turn conservative or maybe just conservatives who liberals here about 5 but who have been the victim some over-reaction by. I think a stripper Joe Rogan is that I don't think anybody's over-reaction so we need some conceptual analysis of the intellectual dark web clearly
00:02:34why don't you say what it is an article written by Barry Weiss that had a lot of photos of people like Sam Harris and my stepmother I guess Joe Rogan shows how far I read into the far I think Dave Rubin was another one baby and who else was part of it Brett Weinstein Yap red wine stay in The Evergreen State he's there he's had quite a couple years that's pretty impressive Bret Weinstein and be like hey why the hell didn't this happen to me
00:03:34Bret Weinstein I don't know what he does I deduct for you people will come after you I don't understand the metaphor yeah like to leave me earlier
00:03:51I think that the intellectual dark web is where you go to find dangerous ideas do you think that liberals use up porn mode on their browser whenever they navigate to Tukwila is there a browser that just honestly cause it porn mode since there's no other PC whatever private browsing your spouse comes home and they're like waiting they're sitting at the table and you're like what does like a check your browser history what are you talking about really reason.com really I was just well you haven't had many debates in the house recently you know we used to we used to do what controversial discussions all the time and now we like never did we just same routine every night so excuse me if every once in awhile I want to find something I'm not getting at home
00:04:51take me to race is related to IQ and we talked about that I'm too tired always say you're too tired you know it's a good thing these websites exist because where else I would just have to go somewhere else so you should be thankful instead I don't have to pay for my challenging ideas always always erase your internet browsing but you don't need to anymore but not yet you don't need to anymore some
00:05:29that's only if your wife or husband or girlfriend or boyfriend checking to see if I've never had trust well so what we are going to talk about you bet we didn't have the time to do the necessary research for our patreon selective the episodes so we are doing at the second-place vote-getter which is the IAT implicit bias because we'll probably dominate the conversation but but yes the whole notion of implicit as opposed to explicit pies now that's good that's exactly right before we get there do we have to have anything more to say about the intellectual dark web. I love my stepmother I'm glad she is getting some
00:06:29engine I didn't read the whole article though so I don't know people say it's it was more nuanced than what you might think of an article like that if you hear about it and I don't know if that's true or not but I hope that it is my my only feelings are that the name is Courtney self-congratulatory in a somewhat cringey kind of way but you know just me the corner chills like well and also the thing that I don't like about it is
00:07:11I don't like when people who have fairly mainstream views that are being celebrated by a large percentage of the population you know it has this kind of like we are Mavericks kind of feel to it and I think that maybe they they are more willing to go against the grain on certain issues than other people you know Sam Harris is probably more willing to go against the grain then certain people on on the last on certain issues but I think it it would I don't know I don't know if it's fair that it doesn't strike me that these aren't people with revolutionary radical ideas and you know like on that list for people with arguably
00:08:11stop podcasting dope in the nation one of the best selling books if not the best selling book of the year it's it's a little hard to this garden is 12 rules but this is why I may be the article May address the complexity of that and it's really just the name that we would be complaining about nothing else to say or angry Tweets in email as I think they can just I think that you need to have a fancy picture in the dark and you have to believe that the gender wage Gap isn't nearly as big as people say it is those to Belize diving capture every time
00:09:02that's probably true yes all right so that you will just got online for Skype either he's an going to come on again or he's about to record one of his that he doesn't need this doesn't need a drinking kind of early for drinking their big to beer can't believe they're actually having two beers on their posit I have at least for drugs in my system now you know but I don't tell my podcast in our all and antidepressants speaking of speaking of podcast where people drink and talk about how they drink and make that extra central part of promoting the podcast my stepmother member of the intellectual dark web as a podcast called the
00:10:02planners and that is a good title I think that is a good title defense planers with Danielle Crittenton who is one of her very good friends out in Washington DC and someone I like a lot to she is also the wife of David from sitar they drink their drinking on their podcast yes they have cocktails though I may go on their podcast and at some point I think that a lot of people really look forward to to your holiday podcast with is a she's a good person to have to get so that people who have a caricatured view of her positions can get a more nuanced view of her position even even you
00:10:52even you with your sjw curious Tendencies before we got to the implicit bias topic and Main segment we thought we would list some of the things that we have enjoyed our least a couple of the things that we have enjoyed recently that we've been watching people always treat us an email us and asked us if we've seen this or that here is a couple of things that we've been watching that we recommend Dave you answer in the background and there's a few Amazon Prime video shows that I that I really have enjoyed the first is Sneaky Pete which is the great Primus Giovanni Ribisi plays as an ex-convict to takes on the identity of his cellmate to sort of avoid get avoid the trouble that he's facing up on leaving at prison
00:11:52and is he doing this long con so it's basically I love I love movies and TV shows were con artist do cool things for Conns and this is this is just a version of that but I think it's well acted the other one is Bosch which is like a police procedural takes place in La played the lead role is played by Titus Welliver who who wasn't it would and I just like that guy and it seems like it might be just that serve a boring police procedural but I think it's actually really interesting well done shot in La if you like it LA or you've lived in La you'll recognize a lot of it I think it's it's great and to to end it off
00:12:42there's been one season of a show called Goliath with Billy Bob Thornton on Amazon Prime video plays a sort of just a washed-up a lawyer who apparently was brilliant but is now an alcoholic again these things sound like tropes but it's really well done so apparently he was a great litigator but just got bored and now spends his life as an alcoholic but of course something happens to bring some back into the world of law okay tell her I have a couple of movie recommendations this is just these are two movies that I've seen recently that really enjoyed that I think our listeners may not have seen the first is brigsby bear which has supporting performances by Mark Hamill and Greg Kinnear those are probably the two people the only two people you've heard of I went into this having heard a podcast recommended to me a film people that I trust and I knew nothing about it
00:13:42that's how I think it's best to go into it I think it's a great movie I think anybody that I've recommended it to as that is seen it has enjoyed it and I enjoyed it way more than they thought they would so I just recommend checking that out it's available on Amazon but I think you have to buy it or you could just sign up for stars and I think it's available on Starz if you just sign up for that free preview or something of stars and and then you'll be able to see it or one of the movie channels it's great it's really funny and sweet and and in good and it's good to watch with your kids another one that's good to watch with your kids that I just watched is Paper Moon I haven't heard of that one either this is as movie from the early 70s by directed by written and directed by Peter now sorry not written by but directed by Peter bogdanovich and starring Ryan O'Neal and Tatum O'Neal set in the depression it's shot and gorgeous
00:14:42black and white some beautiful movies and absolutely stunningly beautiful movie and it's about a con man who comes to the funeral of to ever love a woman that he knew and clearly slept with at some point leaving a now or friend young daughter played by Tatum O'Neal she I think she was shooting it when she was 9 or 10 at the most remarkable heartfelt beautiful and end hard performance like it's a really she's she's like smoking in the movie Jesus like this is definitely from the seventies you couldn't have this movie right now and it's thoroughly entertaining and really moving and yeah I mean just see it if you want to see a child performing like the child just knocked it out of the park and strongly recommend Paper Moon and then that the thing that I've been watching on TV
00:15:42this is the shows that I've been watching with my daughter and my wife and my wife and I have seen it and I've seen it multiple times but I think once a child my daughter just turned 14 she was definitely ready to see the wire and we watch the first three seasons of the wild and she loves it and is very moved by every attached to the characters and so obviously I think most of our listeners have probably seen the wire but maybe some of you have children that you might be wary of showing a show like that too I was I was not surprised because I know Eliza has sophisticated View and tastes but I was very encouraged by how much she embraced the show and was challenged by it and moved by The Script
00:16:42this is also just a documentary about card magician who happens to be blind so it's more than about that is called Delta about a guy named Richard Turner and he just does a fucking amazing things with cards just by touching them he's actually a card sharp like he's trained to be able to cheat really well completely blind can can do all kinds of things with cars that most people cannot do with both their eyes 3 document all right when we come back our bid to join the intellectual dark web will be complete as we talked about implicit bias
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00:20:25look at it looks smokey
00:20:32welcome back to very bad Wizards at this time we'd like to take a moment as we always do after the break to thank all the people who engage with who tweet us to email us who give a shit on Reddit and Facebook this is the kind of community that we love it's the kind of it's it's what makes us so happy to keep doing the podcast and we really appreciate it we say this a lot but I think we have one of the highest levels of Engagement from Bliss not acting out our engagement but your engagement but we hope that continues and we hope you keep getting in touch with us you can email us at very bad Wizards at gmail.com tweet us at tamler at peas at very bad Wizards you can go to a Reddit page we have a subreddit R / very bad Wizards
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00:22:32we love our patrons patrons are supporters we save us a lot but we mean it a lot and we just posted for our $2 and up supporters a lengthy the black from Black Mirror season 1 and it turned into about a 60 minute conversation that I enjoyed I didn't it was not edited so I didn't go back and listen to it but I really enjoyed it and I hope our patrons enjoyed it as well so yeah thank you
00:23:16alright let's get to implicit bias so
00:23:24assembler said this was the number to pick I actually thought it would win as is a pic because of how Salient relevant current the topic is how much are reflexive sort of a larger conversation about that that's all that takes of scientific research the pot so it reflects politics in general interflex divisiveness in America it so I wanted to start off by maybe defining what it is that people mean when they say implicit bias because it's it's not always clear well for sure that term is abused so there are some cases in which people act and very explicitly prejudicial ways
00:24:24still referred to as implicit bias to pair with me to give a little bit of history about why we refer to these kinds of attitudes or beliefs as implicit and it really comes from an older literature in cognitive psychology where
00:24:46the term implicit was used for instance heavily in the study of memory and the distinction between implicit and explicit memory something every intro psych student learns that there are things that you have conscious access to like you know what your name is what you what you did where you went on vacation last year those things are available to your conscious memory there explicit but then there variety of things that you in some way no but have no real ability to formulate that you know it and so one really easy example of that is what what what you might call for a procedural memory so you are able to ride a bike or if you learn to drive a stick shift to drive a stick shift you don't have really any explicit ability to say how you do it or what you're doing you just kind of know it
00:25:46there are other there are other things that out of there demonstrations of implicit memory that are procedural so for instance you can be to have a memory that you're unable to report through a variety of procedures I won't get into into those particular priming procedures but it but I think it's really well illustrated by an anecdote this might be apocryphal but it nonetheless is a very very good example of what is the difference between explicit and implicit memory so take a great day music people like the guy in Memento they cannot form a new long-term memories that is they remember about you know anywhere between 10 seconds into minutes of their current life but as soon as that's done it's just out of there so
00:26:41you tell somebody a joke you get one of these patients and you tell him a joke they laugh cuz they've heard it for the first time but you know that when you come back in 5 minutes they won't have any memory of that show
00:26:54at least I won't have any explicit memory about your back they won't have any explicit memory of you for who you are but if you keep telling him that joke coming back every 5 minutes they laugh less left less and less so at some level they have an implicit memory that you can measure in this case by say laughing that that is a reliable indicator that there is some form of knowledge that has been stored and is being accessed but that the person has no explicit access to it is very well established that we have these kinds of implicit memories there variety of ways in which you can show you can induce an implicit memory in the lab and show that it has an effect that basic approach that division between explicit and implicit was reported over to the study of social psychology and the study of attitude because
00:27:54for a long time it was known that if you want to study some some topics like if you want to study racism for instance in America let's black white racism a lot of the discussion on that used to be that you could just ask people like what do you think about black people you could ask white people what they thought about black people they would actually tell you of course that stop being an easy way to assess Prejudice but there was still a believe that that clearly there were prejudicial behaviors but people were unwilling to report it and then there was the belief that perhaps it was even more that people were just weren't willing to report it but perhaps they didn't have access to some of the attitudes and beliefs much like you don't have access to choose implicit memories but none the less they reveal themselves in some way or another
00:28:49and so in the early 90s there was a big push of bringing tools using cognitive psychology over to social psychology and we will now refer to the field sometimes of social cognition and there were a variety of methods that were used to try to assess people's implicit attitudes towards something and by attitude here I mean fail it's like a positive or negative attitudes or would this be an example of an implicit attitude let's say I am I I think that I Harbor nothing but affectionate loving attitudes to act towards you know my brother or something like that but there's certain aspects of the way I act that makes it seem like I'm really angry at him about something and so but I but I don't know if you ask me am I angry at my
00:29:49I will say no and I won't be lying I will genuinely believe that the answer that question is no right yeah that could be in fact there is some some work on on implicit attitudes toward close relationships on the tries to assess just that many people believe that we have valence attitudes towards everything that is at some level your mind is quickly categorizing things into I like it versus I don't like it's even if it's very very weak and even if you don't notice it so I just quickly flash you a letter from a language from an alphabet that you never seen before the idea is that you will have some sort of reaction to this you'll either like it or you might not even notice it but you may unit ask you may choose that this all sort of exploded with the work done
00:30:48by Anthony Green wall in Missouri but Najee the University of Washington and Yale University respectively because they develop a test using the knowledge of how to use Reaction Time measures that they borrowed from cognitive psychologist to try to measure valence attitudes with a sort of clever Reaction Time measure that could assess attitudes that you might not even know that you have and Tamela you took one of these cuz anybody can take him right now so it at Harvard right yeah it's called project implicit it's a nonprofit organization they collect data they basically make a whole bunch of tests available for anybody to take will put a link to it it's implicit project. Org but that directs the implicit. Harvard.edu
00:31:42and the idea is that you can sort of see how your attitudes might be toward of right if it said they're there are tasks that about that it says your attitudes about obesity or age or gender of course race and here's the basics of how it works I mean it's it's very you'll get the idea if you go and take a piss test and we'll also linked a couple articles that explain it very well but the basic ideas this is a relative assessment so you have on one side you have the word good
00:32:18so that's your left side on the right side you have the word bad
00:32:22and now in the middle at the bottom of word shows up and it says joy your simple task is to categorize that is good or bad Joy is a word most people think is a good thing now I'll use the race i t is an example now you have the word black in the word white and now face comes up and face is either of a black person or white person and you have to sort right so if it's a black face and I do African-Americans and european-americans baby but who knows if those if black people are Americans in those pictures but yes so so you sort those faces the critical trials are the ones where now
00:33:20you are going to be asked to simultaneously pear faces into either black or white and words into good or bad so now you have a pairing on the left of a white face with the word good underneath it and on the right side you have a black face with the word bad underneath it and your ass to go as quickly as you can black face pops up you hit the right button the word that pops up you hit the right button the word Joy pops up you hit the left button the the white face pops up you hit the left button so you're sorting now black and white white and good on one side black and bad on the other side of your reaction time is measured you're instructed to go as fast as you can in fact if you go to slow your data is just discarded because because it's useless it's supposed to be something that you can't control easily
00:34:13and that critical moment is when they flip it sometimes its flipped first cuz it's kind of balanced and now the word good is paired with a black face so now whenever the word Joy comes up you have to click the left button cuz the word good is there and a black bases there and it's the same button that you were quick if you saw black face so now you're doing black and good and white and bad rather than black bad white good and there is to make it very simple
00:34:50the difference between how fast you are at the white good black bad categorization task and the white bad black good categorization task is roughly the measure that they use for assessing how biased you are or what your what Your attitudes are and then they ask you a bunch of questions to measure explicit bias and then they assume use that as I throw subtraction they don't use that they just they're using that doesn't go into your i t squared there just the assessing the degree of correlation between your implicit attitudes in your explanation explicitly racist I guess because the task doesn't ask you to make any judgements is that asks you to do like
00:35:50like a like a puzzle where there's always a right or wrong answer right or wrong answer that that will always count is implicit bias even if you also report explicitly racist attitudes that's right so you could be high on xsplit bias in this case you could be let's just use the direction that would be most familiar you could have negative associations with black faces so you so you have a high score and you might be explicitly prejudiced or you could be low on explicit Prejudice but high on the implicit test if you really weird if you were if you were very low on the implicit test and high on the explicit test there like at Frankford and sort of a second-order desire to be racist but you can't really get your be like who was Herbert doing that or was it so how to force himself
00:36:50air force himself to be cruel to 2ga like to overcome his empathy for Jews and try to report to measure implicit attitudes but I first want to talk to you tomorrow about about the just the notion that there is an implicit that there is a third of all the level of attitudes that you might have that you don't that you're not aware of do I find that possible yeah I think I would be surprised if you know we are aware of if I would I be surprised if there weren't a lot of attitudes that we have or the valence of which we are not either fully aware of or even aware of at any level so it could be that you are really biased against pregnant women and what year
00:37:50can you just you don't look in her direction and you sort of ignore her when she speaks you don't really realize that this is the case you have no idea why why this would be the case you did not buy it but nonetheless it sort of is influencing some aspect of your behavior is that at this is my first question so for it to be a troop an implicit attitude is it does it have to also influence behavior in some way. That's a really good question and and depending on who you ask the answer might be different So my answer is not necessarily so so but this takes the wind out of the sale of the first of the sales of people who want to use these kinds of Assessments as a way to combat Behavior but I think that there are most likely that is very
00:38:50possible that their attitudes that would never be expressed for a variety of reasons right so you might you might Harbor but negative negative attitudes toward young black man but never but you know like for either societal constraints or because you don't believe that you should have divorced these you never let yourself actually behave in a way that that expresses Prejudice so some people would claim well you just don't know that you are in fact expressing Behavior but I don't think conceptually the link has to be the only has to be that the most minimal level if it is an attitude you should be able to see it in some degree but you could treat that you can read the it as a as a behavior of an in some ways it's an unimportant conceptual right distinction because the only way that
00:39:50this test matters is I think if it is tied to behavior in some way because if it turns out that people who are implicitly biased do not in any way behave in ways that are biased or prejudiced then it it just wouldn't be that interesting that Anna and you might not even call it but you might say the wrong word to use ready by this is the wrong word yeah at but what makes it important what would make it have real-world implications like we need diversity training and seminars to combat this is if it affected people's behavior I think that's right right now
00:40:43now what behaviors you think are important turns out to be when when Scholars disagree about the nature of the evidence about whether this test predicts Behavior they often disagree about whether the behavior that it has been shown to protect is important in any way so so for instance one common tasks that has been used by social psychologist to assess Prejudice like a behavior in the lab is that they'll have a black student sitting down in a chair and they'll have a white student, and don't say just grab a chair and sit next to the person that you're going to interact with and they measure the distance to which the person puts the chair right so critics might say well this is a stupid measure but if the it predicts it which I believe it does to some degree they would say well look like this is this is not going to measure flag burning cuz people
00:41:43like these are the kinds of things that actually do matter and everyday life like you know looking at a black person suspiciously when they walk into your store or acting nervous when you're walking you know crossing the street those are the kinds of behaviors that that actually they're not trivial they might be they pale in comparison to you no voting for Trump to Chino wanting segregation to be brought back to the United States but so some of the arguments of the argument about how much those so and I know there's some controversy of how reliably it even predicts those kinds of behavior certainly for individual and in fact I might sense from reading the stuff that you gave me was it didn't predict for individuals
00:42:43extra groups so so this is also Up For Debate I will put a link to Jesse single who who who is great science journalist on his rent a couple of pieces he wrote a very long piece in January on the nature of this test and weather prediction anything and he sort of reviewed the research and concluded that in fact that suffers from so many problems and it doesn't predict behavior my reading of the research is different than his so I think that he comes down too hard on on the task in terms of weather can predict behavior and it it really turns on some some academic debates that we won't get into but like what kinds of things that you count as predicting Behavior what you include when you do a meta-analysis which is just an analysis of all the studies that you can find that have tried to find a link and certainly
00:43:43are moderators such that for some things it's a better predictor of behavior than for other things but nonetheless even the people who are The staunchest Defenders that it predicts Behavior as measured by anyting admit that it is a week predictor a bit if exercises which is sort of US Standard statistical way of describing the relationship between two variables there low there they're pretty low so when you want to predict whether or not somebody who scores bias on the I-80 is going to engage in any specific prejudicial behavior you don't have a great shot right you are more likely to be wrong then then people might think and that's what gets lost in the discussion about this stuff right this is not a game this is not a sort of Golden Road to
00:44:43there be no the real causes of behavior and there are a lot of reasons why that might be the case usually these studies use a limited number of measures the test itself suffers from some methodological problems and you you wouldn't expect the the relationship to be too high in an ideal world you would have multiple tests of an implicit attitude and you would assess prejudicial Behavior over a long period of time and see you know in multiple ways it see whether or not you actually get predictive power but but it is really difficult to do that so we often use just one measure to assess implicit attitudes and we often use one or two measures of behavior because we're constrained in the lab so seems like having read about the controversy surrounding this a lot of the controversy also
00:45:40revolves around what has been said about the results including by by the authors and the kinds of policies that it has led to people in implementing but the depressing part of this controversy and it is a depressing controversy I got depressed as I was deep into it today at seems to be not on the very technical nature of the debate about whether or predicts Behavior at the individual level or the group level and to what extent into at the degree in what the effect sizes were in with the reliability of the test is with the validity of the test is it's more what people have said that it shows contrasted with what it actually should so I'll give a little sort of history of of this because I was a graduate student at you
00:46:40when mahzarin banaji had a very very active lab and the IT the implicit association test that we just described was being sort of there their lab was conducting a ton a ton of studies looking at the it there was just this huge explosion of research using the it because it seems like such a easy way to get at people's attitudes and the idea was the thinking was that this was a way to tap into the unconscious mind and so the original theorizing was that these were slow forming attitudes that were learned over a long period of time that would be very hard to change and so so you're raised in the United States you you serve at son some level beyond your own awareness you're constantly face with stereotypical
00:47:40presentations of black man and overtime that will show up in the it and there was a lot of excitement about it a ton of studies were run it really exploded when Malcolm Gladwell talked about it like most things like like listings in social psychology
00:48:03so gained a lot of explosion and you're right that the controversy has been really around here is one layer that is depressing
00:48:11what interpretation of what this is measuring is simple associations it's called the implicit association test so if you pair and be enough times you will probably score on this test you will demonstrate that A and B are associated with you so black and batter when good whether or not that is reflecting valence that you have that you have an attitude about this is Up For Debate it could just be simple Association without being right so that you've seen a lot of movies where the black person has been the bad and so
00:48:57but but people you know social psychologist included like to say that this is a measure of implicit bias so of valence like you literally if you score low on a few score such that you reflect a strong association between black and bad in comparison to the to the associate with white good that you are biased but they did his racism it's not your everyday racism but it is nonetheless racism but it would have even that right I mean it has to type a behavior in some way even if it's a small away even if it's a suspicious extra suspicious look or even people that you see in your store or people who you you know by walk on the street and you know that you see on the street or people that you interact with it work for it to be anything more than just a measure of the kind
00:49:57that's the kind of audio visual media you were exposed to as a child it needs to have some sort of predictive effect on Behavior one it's hard to actually measure that stuff right so so even though there's been an explosion of research on this there is surprisingly little good research looking at at people's head judicial actions over time in a way that you would really want to see if you were testing the statistical relationship between is too and so so it remains unclear there's there is a lot of evidence that there is there is some effect on Behavior one of the most compelling cases that's mentioned even by Jesse single in his article is work done by a friend of mine Matthew knock who is a professor Clinical Psychology at Harvard and who won the MacArthur genius award couple years ago
00:50:57he and mahzarin banaji who is also my friend and she's a wonderful wonderful person she does not come off well in Jessie singing one of his one of his I should say you know the thigh TP mahzarin banaji Brian nosek these are these are personal close friends of mine so so this may be one reason to to take my sort of discount my positivity here but I bet I think so research by Matt knock and monster Menagerie show that implicit attitude did an implicit association test measure bring up self-harm self-injury so associations between yourself and self-injury are actually very very powerful predictor of whether or not somebody's going to injure themselves or attempt suicide it's a striking finding that at least add some new ones that there's one question about
00:51:57questions about the test itself you know one of the problems is it's always a relative measure it's it's the score of black versus white there are test retest reliability issues they're all kinds of issues that you that Jesse single raises about the test itself but there is no reason to think that it would be really good at predicting Behavior cross aldermen so it could be that it predicts up for instance in the self-injurious and suicidal ideation or suicidal attempts paper I'm it clearly predicts that behavior and there is evidence that the degree to which your implicit in your explicitly beliefs converge that's the best predictor Behavior so so if you both score anti-black and you kind of say yeah kinda don't like black people be implicit test
00:52:53predicts above and beyond just the explicit test right so are you done with that thought will affect will affect the relationship between the task and behavior
00:53:12so I don't know what what the implications of what I'm about to say are so I'm just going to put it out there so it my result I can't believe I've held off reporting it as Salon showed that there's no I have no automatic preference between African-Americans and european-americans now let's say that's reliable in fact I did take this about 8 years ago and I and it wasn't that it would show that I had you know I had implicitly racist attitude yeah me too and now and I take it it shows this now let's say that the reason for this the reason for my good score and now is what I think is plausible I've lived in Houston for 10 years I interact with black people all the time like that my child's teachers are black the people I work with in the University or black
00:54:12and I have overwhelmingly positive interactions with black people and that's been going on for the last eight or nine years and so let's say that can explain why I score better on this now than when I totally lived in Houston for two years before that I lived in one of the whitest places you could possibly live Morris Minnesota where my daughter was the black kid because she had slightly sworth your skin then the blonde Swedish Lutheran's that mostly populated ever but they didn't hater at they hit it or more cuz she was black then because it's further say that this result would generalize to a lot of the people that the more you interact with this kind of a contact hypothesis idea the more you interact with people the last some of your earlier implicit attitudes that might have been cemented by watching a lot of tea
00:55:12Indian movies from a from the time that we grew up you know those things start getting overridden by just that your day today interaction and your life so let's say all those things are true I guess here's my question does that with that me and let's say my explicit attitudes are not racist I didn't seem like it measured it ask a bunch of questions I asked a bunch of questions I I was giving sincerely none none racing but I had it but I knew which ones like black people moved into your neighborhood I came home David came over for dinner I'm schools free we should be sad segregated old old timey aggregation of Sue Texas maybe they got drunk and they want to see how high they can score but so I have two questions does this make me less racist than somebody
00:56:12hey maybe lives has all those sort of right added attitudes but lives in less diverse place and hasn't had the kind of day today interaction that would allow them to score better in a test like this and to that question I might say yes in a very qualified way that I'm most less likely maybe to have a sort of those really like that you know I might be less likely to not sit near a black person then you know like some of those behavioral measures other question and I think this is what depressed me and bug me so let's say that this generalized to a lot of people in diversity is like Houston what that mean that that black people face less discrimination in Houston because the people are less racist in this way
00:57:03and there is my my my suspicion is the answer to that question is definitely not or at least not necessarily because so many of the deep problems with discrimination and race are structural and those are the difference in the kind of schools that that a lot of poor black people go compared to a lot of white people the difference in criminal justice the difference in housing policies all those kinds of issues so that even if the on average the population is is less racist in this way it wouldn't be a consolation or it wouldn't mean it wouldn't it wouldn't have what I think is is the real issue how much discrimination a black person is likely to face based on where they live or an end
00:58:03the kind of environment they come from and I think that's the depressing part for me is that in all the controversy about is centered around something that seems like it's the smallest little tip in the iceberg about what the real issue with racism is it just the tip just like an in addressing implicit bias in the ways that some of the people are addressing it with diversity seminars it's it's like a Band-Aid on like a like a little Mickey Mouse Band-Aid on like a gut shot or something like that it just right it doesn't it's it's not the it's not the issue and yet out so much of the discussion of revolves around it so I totally agree with you I don't will it let let let me actually
00:59:03my answer to to your questions even though they might have been just rhetorical the person who who does not have the opportunity to come into to to have positive contact with black people and they score low they score high on the implicit attitude test are they more racist I think the only answer there is if we had good measures of of racist behaviour whether they included you know job hiring or or crossing the street when a black person is coming their way or getting upset if their daughters dating a black man all of those things I think would be far more important than the score on the implicit Association task now I do think that that their score
00:59:53would be hiring that this would be related to behavior if we could measure it if that behavior in the right way but it's an open question still I think in this country if you are solidly middle to upper middle class and you were raised in a completely white neighborhood and you never really interactive black people you might be more likely to lock your door to protect you if we're taking that as a measure racism then then I would say that that that would be more likely to happen whether that's racism or not is here's the part that depresses me that the critics of the it in particular the notion of implicit bias in general with in academics are good Scholars and there definitely is hacking on methodological grounds and they know way more stats than I do and they dig into the data
01:00:48I do however think that there is a fundamental disagreement in whether or not we ought to call people who score to stick with the Rays example who's score
01:00:59strongly Negative black associations on the 80 whether we are to a tall label them as biased erase it and I think that a lot of the energy on one side that wants to say hey look isn't it crazy how we can assess how racist everybody is
01:01:18that is driven in part by this desire to show that that you know racism hasn't disappeared and then the critics are driven by this real antipathy towards saying that this is racism so like I I am a member of you know the ACLU and I voted for Obama and all of my behaviors are ones that aren't racist how dare you call me right on the base of this shity test that you put online and I'm sympathetic to both of those claim your last point is surely one that everybody agrees. I mean this is these are people who are studying individual psychology and in particular a very very specific way in which you might acquire at negatively valence attitude about a class of of objects rather those to race or not and I think that anybody who thinks that this is a pen a Panacea for for combating the problems have to do with
01:02:18reasons countries is smoking crack and that's what really really pisses me off you know I don't I didn't read too much about the Starbucks Fiasco but but my senses that they were giving implicit bias training as a way yeah where does Derek Lee write love it's just like you know what we fix the problem we're doing implicit bias training there's a recent paper that just came out trying to look at brand-new stickers one of the co-author I think it's brand-new I'll link to it as well trying to show whether implicit bias reductions have any effect on Behavior yeah that's a very depressing one like that that actually shows that even if there is a link between implicit bias and behavior that's that is fairly small as a predictor for all the reasons that that we've talked about
01:03:18moving people down on like trying to get their score down on the I-80 through a variety of means doesn't seem to do much to their behavior and that's not a huge surprise if there are these implicit attitudes and if they do influence behavior in the subtle ways it's going to take more than a two-day seminar to change that and it's it's going to take I mean I honestly think that it it it really my guess is it would be hard to measure this but I suppose you could if you were so inclined to measure somebody moving from a less diverse environment to a much more diverse environment and then measuring you know how they test after that but that even an egg and even then so so let's say that that that that had an affect it but the thing that I think drives people crazy about these
01:04:18diversity seminars and also the way that people talk about their score on the implicit association test Jessie single has he says it's almost like a ritual now where you have to confess to your score and also confessed have taken aback you were by your score and it has this kind of confessional white guilt kind of now I'm cleansed by reading that I'm privileged and racist and I know that's not true and I know a lot of these people are also in addition to that actually working for causes that will that can have and supporting causes that can have real effects but I think that's the unfortunate thing about the debate and the controversy surrounding it is that it the people engaging and I think this is on both both sides but maybe but maybe like the sort of the kind of white liberal who likes to disclose
01:05:18this information and try to address it
01:05:23it is there's something about it that strikes me is as you're letting yourself and others off too easy and distracting from the real problem it's a Super Safeway you say that you're dressing by erase and I
01:05:44is a few things so I think that if there is a value to this work on implicit bias the value is an academic one so so I'm interested in you know how attitudes are formed in the structure of the mind there is interesting they're interesting questions about how the human mind works that this work can address and working out the Kinks in in the the you know keep doing it I love it it's good work there's a there's some value in that there is also some value
01:06:20in taking the task and realizing that you might have these automatic Association you know I can say the first time I took past it was kind of a weird thing to to just noticeably see how much harder one was in the other so there is some value if it can get a conversation going if it can get you to reflect but the way that it's been used now as the source of of problems in the workplace Earth Society in general is going to agree 100% with you like that's not to a two-day workshop talking about implicit bias is going to piss off white people who say they don't have a racist bone in their body and it's not going to change probably their implicit or explicit attitude and it's going to get a bunch of white people who already know that you know
01:07:20exactly the self-congratulatory way that that you were describing the purge that the sort of confessional it's going to make them happy about what they've done to be less racist and I don't think you'll have an effect on them either right and and so it it sucks that there's no easy way out of the race problems in this country is no easy way out and and anything that gives people the feeling that there's that it won't take hard work of like actually black people and white people talking to each other forming it major Institute structural stuff yeah yeah all all of that stuff is it's a hard solution it's hard solution and I think the solution
01:08:11seems even harder now given that
01:08:15that it seems as if now thought that racism had subsided quite a bit more than it probably had because the the nature of Public Communication is such that I don't even believe that people are ashamed to report there racist beliefs of the way that they might have been yeah I wonder if the controversy I think the height of this controversy was in during the Obama years where people might be more likely to say hey look we voted for a black president twice we're not racist anymore and if this had a kind of pragmatic about this dude Jessie single talks about this in one of his one of the articles that I read which is like luck even if this isn't that good a measure or doesn't predict Behavior it's good for white people to recognize that the country is
01:09:15tell racist and that they might Harbor racist attitudes it's just a good thing for them to do I'm uncomfortable with the idea of using science or fudging the science to further a goal that you think is morally correct but but let's just say it did have that effect now I admit I think that that the illusion that we are a post-racial society has dissipated I've been in the last couple years need to uncover the secret race doesn't allow black people to protest like that's just so you know when I was a grad student mahzarin banaji
01:10:10let me be in her office space so the office space for the grad students that she had was really nice I was sort of in-between advisors and she said yeah you can be there so I would work every day with all the kids were doing the it research including Bryan Ossa can I said you doubt if you guys really wanted use this task in a way that that could show that it works why don't you make a version that shows
01:10:40like sexy half-naked women and sexy half-naked man and give it to explicitly gay men explicitly straight men and see if it's good at uncovering people who are gay but they're not willing to say I even did some research I found the images I called it the Hiatus the homosexual I-80 undercover score and I told Brian I was thinking about it and then I told him I was ready but in then he told me I was reading about it and she brought me in her office and she said you will never do that sounds like a good idea I think I was a Maverick. You could have been enjoying the band real actual dark way of that. Yeah we're still using Alta Vista
01:11:40I think that if the public debate about whether or not we have secret racism is very different than the methodological do you know that McDivot's and we can separate them out there late because you want good science to you know if there's even to be a debate but but I think they're pretty separable and I think that no matter how strong the it gets at predicting Behavior if what we really care about is making the world or the US less races then we're not going to be able to do just that and in fact like this in some ways might be a bad use of our energies that we wanted direct towards the sexy sexy sexy but it says it's very surface it's very superficially sex Myers-Briggs
01:12:40oh which will talk about I assumed right and there's been right I think rightfully so appear that employers would use the it as a way of either screaming tires or finding out something about their own employees which I think would be very irresponsible given given the sort of unreliability of the test
01:13:05so can I ask you a couple of final questions which I just had it in my head so number 1 is this the same Anthony Green Wilder wrote the totalitarian you go absolutely and and not celebrate favor is a great paper he was Muslim Minaj's advisor Muslim Benassi was Brian nosek supervisor and the three of them collaborated quite a bit on on the I-80 number to the related to what you were just saying so things that frustrates a careful science journalist like Jay-Z single and I know and I would I can understand this is exactly related to that point about the you know the academic debate versus the popular debate so it seems like Anthony Green wild and mahzarin banaji
01:13:59when they have responded to critics coming like Jesse single dad said look this is an academic debate and the devil is in the details and it's really not appropriate to debate this ad in the popular press because these are really technical up that the the issues that are being raised by very technical and nature it seems like you can't do that and at the same time also promoted at a popular journalistic level and you know use it to write a best-selling book and and you know the press release so it seems like there is a and at em tonight and this is one of the ways in which I think at least as he portrays it she and Anthony Green well don't come off well is they want to have it both ways they want it to be promoted and defended in the popular press but anytime there are critics they want that to come to be a real
01:14:59technical thing that nobody finds out of that I don't know Anthony Greenwald very well at least I do know my husband well and I think that if if I were to guess I think that
01:15:17it the way that Jesse framed it is a bit unfair to her so I think that what she what she is saying is I believe that this test is in fact assessing at some level Prejudice and you science journalist are coming to me and saying hey Phil Phil tatlock and Bart Hanson have have published this stuff about criticizing the it and you know what do what do you think it would be disingenuous if she actually I think believe that those criticisms were damning but she it's not as if she hasn't published papers right they've done meta-analyses they've responded to the academic papers that criticize them I can see why she wouldn't want to say well the inclusion criteria for The Med analysis that that padlock and planting use were different because of this and this and this and the you know the way that they scored the
01:16:17i t was they didn't put the blocks together they separated them and yeah I can see why she would say that and I could see how Jesse both in good faith both acting good faith it would come across as if she is deflecting now I think that if you asked mahzarin maybe at this point she wouldn't be comfortable with some of the claims they made in the book some of the stronger claims they made in the book I would think I know for sure for certain Brian nosek is actually back down quite a bit he didn't he was a quatrain the book but he is he is looking at the evidence very carefully and doing work showing that in many cases it is not a good task but
01:17:04I bet I can see how that might be Lost in Translation and so so maybe the better strategy would have been to say these methodological critiques we've addressed here right find a way to communicate
01:17:20to the popular press that these methodological critiques aren't as important as maybe they say there or maybe just be like philosophers and not have anybody care about your results in theories and arguments to begin with you know if the barns are all four sides but how many Barnes when your thought experiment yeah what was the end for but it's been it's been argued that the more bars in your thought experiment the more your intuition this is very technical and I'm sorry I did not appropriate for debate and then it in the New York Times in the USA Today
01:18:04I've written it in my written it up in mind to go read that and the Canadian Journal of philosophy thoughts are well-documented bear volume with sharp Outlets
01:18:20well at least it's the last no offense to the Canadian Journal of philosophy
01:18:35Noah Dara screw that rule consequentialism collapses at consequentialist solid solid solid result lost me does not make progress is a big debate about that right now. Really yeah you must not have been online recently have you been saying how do you not know about this
01:19:01I believe it collapses and I believe all the people who say that it doesn't clap or only motive motivated by personal antipathy toward the bill ternes
01:19:16and Native Americans
01:19:21course that you have to say that we should do personality psychology LOL we'll see how we manage to butcher that take some of these tests some won't be surprising cuz you have very strong explicit attitude so if you do a like a flower versus insect you won't be surprised you never know you might learn something cool like I like you like step sister porn I like putting it in the search engine but
01:20:13I didn't know that I actually liked it or remember that guys claim in that book about line that we didn't read but we read the article about it where he said that the data show that that men like overweight women as measured by their behavior I wonder if the it would predict would predict this porn watching habits with finding that would be talk to you Jesse single we have evidence
01:20:43Watch Dogs alone I love her next time on very bad Wizards
01:21:10a very bad man
01:21:30anybody can have a brain
01:21:35very bad
01:21:37I'm a very good man just a very bad Wizards

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By Tamler Sommers & David Pizarro
Very Bad Wizards is a podcast featuring a philosopher (Tamler Sommers) and a psychologist (David Pizarro), who share a love for ethics, pop culture, and cognitive science, and who have a marked inability to distinguish sacred from profane. Each podcast includes discussions of moral philosophy, recent work on moral psychology and neuroscience, and the overlap between the two.
United States
146 episodes
since Aug, 2012
explicit content
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