David Thompson
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October 12, 2017

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Connor

This is the realm of “diversity” Scientology, and the kinds of leverage in play may well attract people whose own motives are not entirely benign.

That!

David

That!

Well, the idea that such ‘testing’ and related policies – which offer countless opportunities to pry and humiliate, to shame people baselessly, making them feel awful, violated and insecure – the idea that this won’t attract people who enjoy doing that kind of thing, and who enjoy the leverage and sense of power… seems a tad unrealistic.

David

As Jordan Peterson says,

So this is what we want? You want your employers – and the state – to re-educate you so that your perceptions - because that’s what we’re talking about with regard to unconscious bias – so that your perceptions fall into accord with their demands?

Well, there’s no evidence that [‘unconscious bias’ testing] predicts your behaviour. So what good is it? Well, it’s good if you want people to send you to ‘retraining’ exercises so that you can have your perceptions adjusted in the direction that your organisation thinks is proper. And that’s happening. It’s becoming mandatory…

But there’s no evidence whatsoever that ‘unconscious bias’ retraining programmes have the effect they’re supposed to have, and there’s some evidence that they actually have the reverse effect. And maybe that’s because people don’t really like being marched off to re-education by their employers after they’ve been ‘diagnosed’ as racist, even if there’s no evidence that they in fact are. It’s an absolute misuse of psychology. It’s an assault on freedom.

Now imagine the kinds of personalities to whom that might appeal.

MC

Greenwald and his coauthors had counted opposite behaviors as validating the IAT. If test subjects scored high on implicit bias via the IAT but demonstrated better behavior toward out-group members (such as blacks) than toward in-group members, that was a validation of the IAT on the theory that the subjects were overcompensating for their implicit bias. But studies that found a correlation between a high implicit-bias score and discriminatory behavior toward out-group members also validated the IAT. In other words: heads, I win; tails, I win.

So it's all a load of dingo's kidneys then; I am amazed that the validity of this nonsense is even up for debate.

sk60

In other words: heads, I win; tails, I win.

"Social science"

David

“Social science”

Well, quite. Though that isn’t to say that all psychometric research is dodgy or invalid – tests of the ‘big 5’ personality traits (conscientiousness, neuroticism, etc.) seem much more reputable and predictive, and IQ tests are strongly predictive of life outcomes, much more so than, say, a person’s family background and social class.

David

If anyone has trouble with comments not appearing, email me and I’ll poke about in the spam filter.

R. Sherman

I note this "test" was created in 1998 with the help of our tax-dollars. The nature of the study, i.e. "implicit" bias, gives the game away. As explicit behaviors began to disappear, so did the need for the race-hustling industry. Thus, new frontiers needed to be explored in order for these grifters to maintain their various sinecures. And so we probe the subconscious--for nominal fee, of course. Thought-crime is very insidious. It sneaks up on you even if you know it.

Rafi

This bit is worth quoting:

Harvard’s Project Implicit website, which publicly administers the IAT, offers an optional questionnaire before the race test, designed to measure explicit racial attitudes. The questionnaire instead demonstrates the worldview of bias researchers. Agreeing with such statements as: “Most big corporations are interested in treating their black and white employees equally,” “Black people should take the jobs that are available and then work their way up to better jobs,” or “Many black teenagers do not respect themselves or anyone else” will undoubtedly earn you an F in tolerance and understanding.

Racist = not buying the left's narrative on victimhood.

David

Racist = not buying the left’s narrative on victimhood.

Somewhat related, Larry Elder gives Dave Rubin an experience he won’t soon forget.

TheTooner

There seems to be some bias implicit in the idea of this implicit bias test.

Sporkatus

"What the hell is a null hypothesis, anyway?" - Greenwald

Richard

Isn't there something somewhere about, "If I assert X is true then NOT X must be false"? That should put the mark of the Cain on "heads I win, tails I win". Of course, if I am a racist then everything I say is a lie. Or something.

George Boole had a funny name ...

WKrebs

Well, quite. Though that isn’t to say that all psychometric research is dodgy or invalid – tests of the ‘big 5’ personality traits (conscientiousness, neuroticism, etc.) seem much more reputable and predictive, and IQ tests are strongly predictive of life outcomes, much more so than, say, a person’s family background and social class.

It's worth noting here that U.S. employment law sets up a high burden for using any of those personality tests in employment decisions. Griggs v. Duke Power, later affirmed by the Civil Rights Act of 1991, requires that employers prove the business necessity of any such test, above and beyond its psychometric validity.

WKrebs

Isn't there something somewhere about, "If I assert X is true then NOT X must be false"? That should put the mark of the Cain on "heads I win, tails I win". Of course, if I am a racist then everything I say is a lie. Or something.

I seem to recall a theorem in logic that if both X and not-X are both true, then any well-formed proposition is also true. Which is convenient for a world-view based on emotive expressionism.

Kevin

This is the end result of handing over any power to government. If you cannot make black people sit at the back of your bus, then, not being able to choose who you bake a cake for becomes inevitable. Thought crime becomes inevitable. It all sounded good at the time though, didn't it. All those good intentions, paved a road straight to ... somewhere.

Mussolini made the trains run on time! That was so great! Sure, Italy had to deal with some minor problems associated with fascism... but true fascism has never been tried, right?

Trevor

... Larry Elder gives Dave Rubin an experience he won’t soon forget.

That Rubin isn't more widely regarded as the mediocrity he truly is says a lot about the competition for such accolades on the left.

David

It’s worth noting here that U.S. employment law sets up a high burden for using any of those personality tests in employment decisions.

I don’t have a strong view on psychometric testing for job applicants. I used to think of it as intrusive, and to some extent still do, but it’s usually an attempt to fathom basic things like whether a candidate is sufficiently conscientious to turn up on cold rainy mornings. Rather than pretending you can reveal how racist someone secretly is and therefore in need of some mental realignment that’s both absurd and sinister. And hiring people who don’t turn up reliably can prove very expensive.

David

That Rubin isn’t more widely regarded as the mediocrity he truly is says a lot about the competition for such accolades on the left.

He’s not a great, or particularly good, interviewer. As in the video linked upthread, he’s too often glib and easily wrong-footed. I think his virtue, however, is in his openness to a wide range of guests, many of whom are worth listening to but often neglected elsewhere.

David

Incidentally, Jesse Singal’s article on the IAT, mentioned by Ms Mac Donald, can be found here. As he notes, several critics of the IAT have pointed out that the test conflates any number of variables, including out-group empathy, and the appearance of racist ‘bias’ can be induced by the test itself.

Alex deWinter
Somewhat related, Larry Elder gives Dave Rubin an experience he won’t soon forget.

Anyone know where I can find a transcript of that?

Jim Whyte

And hiring people who don’t turn up reliably can prove very expensive.

That, I have to admit, explains some of my employment history. Anyway, just on a skim of the Mac Donald article so far, I've ticked three of Langmuir's six boxes.

Symptoms of Pathological Science (Irving Langmuir, 1954):

1. The maximum effect that is observed is produced by a causative agent of barely detectable intensity, and the magnitude of the effect is substantially independent of the intensity of the cause.
Check

2. The effect is of a magnitude that remains close to the limit of detectability; or, many measurements are necessary because of the very low statistical significance of the results.
Check

3. Claims of great accuracy.

4. Fantastic theories contrary to experience.

5. Criticisms are met by ad hoc excuses thought up on the spur of the moment.
Check

6. Ratio of supporters to critics rises up to somewhere near 50% and then falls gradually to oblivion.

You've gotta love this exchange, though:

Me: You base the statement that everyone has biases on what?
DiSciullo: On science and on the Harvard Business Review.

Rob

This is just a slightly more long-winded version of how we used to test for witches in the Middle Ages.

Monty James

I suppose this makes Greenwald the Biasfinder General.

Wh00ps

I don’t have a strong view on psychometric testing for job applicants. I used to think of it as intrusive, and to some extent still do, but it’s usually an attempt to fathom basic things like whether a candidate is sufficiently conscientious to turn up on cold rainy mornings.

I view them as an intelligence test. I used to work for British hardware chain B&Q (a bit like Home Depot crossed with scientology) and had to convince a machine that I'm an open, agreeable sociable person (I'm not).
I'm fairly confident I could do most personality tests and give the answers the employer wants, whether they are a retail chain or the Russian Mafia.

Clam
The IAT ranks the subject’s degree of implicit bias based on the differences in milliseconds with which he accomplishes the different sorting tasks; at the end of the test, he finds out whether he has a strong, moderate, or weak “preference” for blacks or for whites.

What if darker faces are less familiar and just take a few milliseconds longer to read anyway (regardless of positive/negative associations)?

Governor Squid

I'm fairly confident I could do most personality tests and give the answers the employer wants, whether they are a retail chain or the Russian Mafia.

Are you familiar with the work of Drs. Voight and Kammpf?

Jeff Guinn
What if darker faces are less familiar and just take a few milliseconds longer to read anyway (regardless of positive/negative associations)?

Dark faces reflect less light than paler faces, so it will take the brain more time to get the same information. After all, imagine a perfectly black face — there would be nothing on which to make a judgment, no matter how long one took.

Odds that these IAT nitwits took basic physics into account? Somewhere between nil and less.

Richard Cranium

Are you familiar with the work of Drs. Voight and Kammpf?

No, but I'm familiar with the system of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether. Both in print and in song.

PiperPaul

"Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether"

Oooooh, good album!

Wh00ps

Are you familiar with the work of Drs. Voight and Kammpf?

My mother? I'll tell you about my mother...

Fred the Fourth

An old favorite of mine, Weinberg's The Psychology of Computer Programming, relates an episode where a psychologist is distributing a written psych test to a roomful of programmers. One asks "How are we supposed to answer these questions?" The psych says "Honestly". The programmer says "Really? Do you think we are idiots?"

prm

wrt Rubin, I've been watching him for a while, and he would no longer describe himself as left, but as classical liberal. I agree that his main virtue is his willingness to have guests from across the spectrum.

Initially, seeing how the left was degrading into the 'regressive left', he had hopes of effecting some change, but soon came to realise that that was impossible as the left had descended into the sorry virtue-signalling, identity politics that we see so often on this blog.

He's also open-minded, so he can count someone like Shapiro (who is anti Gay marriage) as a friend, even though he (Rubin) is gay married. You know, that old nonsense about being able to agree to disagree rather than thinking disagreement = Nazi.

That whole Elder exchange is quite early on in Rubin's journey, and worth a watch. The interesting part is that, at the beginning, his producer asked if he wanted to keep that bit in, given how embarrassing it was for him. To his credit, he said yes, partly because it showed how he (Rubin) had a glib osmotic belief that foundered on the rocks of Elder's facts. I think he's done more chats with him, and counts him also as a friend now. And largely as a result of that clip, he no longer believes in systemic racism, or even that racism is really an issue.

David

Heather Mac Donald discusses the “implicit bias” flimflam here. If the broader implications don’t sound disquieting, listen again.

Adam

If bias is compensated for by behaving opposite to implicit (I think they really mean "tacit") tendencies, that means that people are aware of their bias. If they are aware, then a high score on the IAT also means that people choose their behavior - to overtly discriminate, or not to do so.

If we have free will and choose our behaviors, the IAT predicts nothing of value because it is the outcomes of our behavior that affect things, not our incipient impulses.

Jimmy Carter believed he sinned if he felt lust in his heart for another woman. Robert Frost, by contrast, knew that our choices make the difference, not the entertainment of them.

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