Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Another Anti-Republican Study

Well, it's about time for another absurd psychological study looking at the racism of guess who--I know you will be shocked--Republicans--hat tip Michelle Malkin. Take a look at this Washington Post article about a study that ties political leanings to hidden biases:

Another study presented at the conference, which was in Palm Springs, Calif., explored relationships between racial bias and political affiliation by analyzing self-reported beliefs, voting patterns and the results of psychological tests that measure implicit attitudes -- subtle stereotypes people hold about various groups.

That study found that supporters of President Bush and other conservatives had stronger self-admitted and implicit biases against blacks than liberals did.

"What automatic biases reveal is that while we have the feeling we are living up to our values, that feeling may not be right," said University of Virginia psychologist Brian Nosek, who helped conduct the race analysis. "We are not aware of everything that causes our behavior, even things in our own lives."

and the study goes on to say:

For their study, Nosek, Banaji and social psychologist Erik Thompson culled self-acknowledged views about blacks from nearly 130,000 whites, who volunteered online to participate in a widely used test of racial bias that measures the speed of people's associations between black or white faces and positive or negative words. The researchers examined correlations between explicit and implicit attitudes and voting behavior in all 435 congressional districts.

The analysis found that substantial majorities of Americans, liberals and conservatives, found it more difficult to associate black faces with positive concepts than white faces -- evidence of implicit bias. But districts that registered higher levels of bias systematically produced more votes for Bush.

Here is the test the biased liberals--I mean "reseachers"-- used to make their point. It has been around for awhile but I have never taken it until today after seeing this silly article. My results are quite interesting. The first time I took the test, my results said that I had a moderate preference for European Americans to African Americans. I took the test a second time and it said I had a slight preference for African Americans over European Americans. Well, which is it?

The test takes a bit of time--try it for yourself. But I remain a skeptic of this silly biased test--especially since the researchers are giving money to the Democratic Party--including Howard Dean. Doesn't that fact tell you all you need to know about the reliability and validity of their "unbiased" research? And where is any research done by conservative psychologists about liberals? Or is conservative and psychologist an oxymoron?

I also find the researchers conclusions about implicit tests to be laughable. They make the assumption that those with implicit or implied bias would be prejudiced in everyday life. One set of researchers at MIT and the University of Chicago did a study where they sent out the exact same resume to potential employers using a white or a black name. The whites got 50% more call backs. Wow, what a scientific study. I did my own similar scientific study in the late 80's. A good friend of mine in Manhattan was trying to get into a PHD program in clinical psychology. These programs are extremely competitive and hard to get into--sometimes with over 600 applicants and 10 openings. Needless to say, my friend was devastated when she was turned down by every program. She came to me in tears before sending out her next set of applications and asked me what to do to get in. I took a look at her 3.7 grade average from NYU and impeccable credentials and told her to leave everything the same and change her name from her English sounding one to her married name of Gonzalez and mail out the applications. She did and next thing you know, she was swamped with interviews. The only problem? Once they saw her white face, they quickly lost interest. The moral of my little unscientific study? We can all come up with results that match our world views if we try hard enough.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember reading a story several years ago about Jesse Jackson feeling nervous and then relieved as he was walking down a city street at night - seeing a white man as opposed to a black man walking behind him. Jackson went on to say that he was embarassed by his inital reaction that was based on a sterotype, but it was real to him at the time. Does that make him a racist? I get a negative feeling when I see a picture of Cynthia McKinney, John Conyers or Al Sharpton not because they are black rather because they are left-wing fruitcakes. Does that make me a racist because I voted for Bush? According to that study both Jesse Jackson and myself are racist for the same reason; a negative feeling.

10:48 AM, January 31, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Dr. Helen, for a great post. I was hoping you would discuss that silly study here, since you are also a psychologist.

What's next? Soviet style "treatment" for the "mental illness" of conservatism?

Interesting point, also, about your friend and the role that "affirmative action" is playing in admissions in general. I don't have a good solution. But if we are all concerned about changes in composition of students/faculty over time with regard to race---hence affirmative action---perhaps we should also be concerned about the issue of political bias in hiring/tenuring in academics.

Before anyone gets all upset, please look at this link:


Compare political affliliations between 1984 and 1999. If you were to replace "left" and "right" with "white" and "black" there would be a national uproar.

Oh, sure, we'll hear that politics do not matter in academics. But reports like the one that Dr. Helen is replying to, and the Professor Bainbridge article, suggests that SOMETHING is going on that is damaging to the chances of an academic who doesn't toe the political line.

Again, Dr. Helen, great post!

10:53 AM, January 31, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I think that the Project Implicit preference study is silly (three passes through random studies revealed I prefer Coke to Pepsi, 50 Cent to Britney Spears, and abstaining to drinking), I wonder if the bias mentioned in the article has more to do with the way the media presents race than objective feelings Republicans might have about blacks otherwise. To simplify: Republicans tend to favor harsher punishment for crime and disapprove of racial preference and some social welfare programs. Watch a few hours of TV and you'll see black criminals, black welfare recipients, and you may even catch someone talking about affirmative action. We are fed a story about what it is to be black in America, and it's not a story that fits with a Republican world view -- not because of skin color but because of policy factors.

Kanye West is a good example that the bias cuts in both directions. I worked for a black female Republican at my last company; she admitted that she often bit her tongue or pretended to agree with her predominantly Democratic friends to avoid being branded a traitor. If the conclusion associating Republicans with a preference for whites is meaningful, where is the inverted study that shows any correlation of race and preference for political parties?

10:59 AM, January 31, 2006  
Blogger DADvocate said...

I took this "test" 6 months or more ago. I remember I found it quite confusing. I also lied about who I was when I registered. I just now tried to re-enter the site. They ask for your email address that you originally registered under. I tried all 6 of mine and none worked. So I obviously didn't use my true identity and probably fabricted my demographic info which I usually do at sites like that.

Working in marketing research, I know how important a clear, unconfusing test/survey is. I also know how important accurate demographic info is. Plus, tests/surveys that use volunteers can easily not reflect the general population nor any sub-group, i.e. conservatives, liberals, etc., accurately.

I'm sure the professors are having fun but to pass this off as science is hogwash.

11:02 AM, January 31, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...views about blacks from nearly 130,000 whites, who volunteered online..."

That is the only piece of information you need to know about this test. If their numbers are to be believed (and I even have my doubts about that), I want to know how they determined that all the people volunteering for this were white and how they know that all the people answered truthfully. I'd say the chances are very good that this "study" has absolutely zero value.

Online surveys of any type - no matter what the outcome - must always be regarded suspiciously because there is no control over who is actually doing the survey. It's very easy for anyone to game the system and skew the results. At least polls done by reputable companies have parameters over who they choose to answer questions... and even they don't always get things right.

No, this is just another media hype trying to make those outside of the "liberal clan" look bigotted. It's so stupid it's laughable.

11:28 AM, January 31, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Design of experiments (including polls) is a sophisticated subject I think it's fair to say most of us, myself included, do not fully understand. With that caveat, it seems to me that a test with obvious objectives and questions which inherently indicate how they will influence the outcome are going to bias responses.

In more specific terms, if I know that the objective is to "measure" prejudice against Blacks, and a set of responses ranges from "Hate Blacks" to "Love Blacks," it isn't too difficult to select an answer that reflects what I want it to reflect, regardless of how I actually feel or what I might do in any real world situation.

Contrast this with, for example, a math test where problems have objectively correct and impersonal answers; or a test like the MMPI where it is not necessarily clear to a naive participant what effect on the outcome a particular response will have; or any test where the outcome doesn't potentially impact the test taker's self-image (isn't seen as threatening some dearly held belief about self). Thus if I have a self-image which includes a belief that prejudice is "bad" and I am not prejudiced, and I am presented with a question which includes a responses that corresponds to that belief, I will choose that response INDEPENDENT OF ANY REALITY.

Liberals see no contradiction in portraying themselves as unbiased champions of equal rights while at the same time perpetuating a victim culture including any group that could be considered "oppressed." Such warped individuals, taking a test of this nature, will of course self-select the responses that reflect prevailing dogma and NOT their behavior (or its consequences). To then say, based on test outcome, that this group is in any comparison "less prejudiced" would be ridiculous.

11:53 AM, January 31, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards. With his first swallow of coffee, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to insure their safety and that they work as advertised.

All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance - now Joe gets it too.

He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.

Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air.

He walks to the subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

Joe begins his work day. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe's employer pays these standards because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to call the union. If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he'll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

Its noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FDIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.

Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime.

Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards. He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers' Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans. The house didn't have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification.

He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to.

Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day. Joe agrees: "We don't need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have."

11:55 AM, January 31, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And every one of those benefits would have cost Joe less in both money and liberty had they been created by the private sector.

As for stereotypes and racism, stereotypes are not plucked out of thin air. They represent broadly, if informally, observed statistical correlations. Acknowledging a correlation is not racist; racism is found in assuming causality. Correlation is not causality.

12:01 PM, January 31, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe it's because I grew up outside of any church, but I thought it every bit as arrogant and annoying to be diagnosed "clinically depressed" or "paranoid" by some busybody who took Psych 101 as it would be to be called a sinner. In fact, I'd prefer (and agree with) the latter. Psychiatrists were the new priesthood when I was growing up. To the liberals it's still 1966.

12:45 PM, January 31, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, the funny thing about the 11:55 post is that I have seen very similar rightwing versions of it...and all my leftwing friends make fun of it, call it simplistic, etc.

Now, the leftie poster thinks such a thing is deep wisdom. But it is only because she or he agrees with it.

Just look at Ted Kennedy's antics yesterday. THAT is the face of liberal tolerance and fair mindedness.

Thanks to jic for finding the original source of the 11:55 post.

12:47 PM, January 31, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When she was in 7th grade my daughter thought she noticed her science teacher being disproportionally strict with black students, so she conducted a study.

Every day she handed out 6 sticks of gum to her classmates. Three to black students and three to non-black students and she kept track of who got busted for chewing gum.

The study showed that the teacher was indeed scolding the black students much more often. When my daughter told me about her study and showed me her table of results I was floored. What a kid!

Needless to say, I heard more than once that "your daughter has a problem with authority".

Jane Galt has a really good post on this "racism" study at http://www.janegalt.net/blog/archives/005688.html.

Here are a few key paragraphs:

"If you do not have detailed information on an individual, it is rational to evaluate them on group averages. If you are walking down a dark street at night, and a small, elderly female approaches from the other side, you would feel safe because small elderly females are statistically non-criminal. On the other hand, if a large, young man approaches, you might be more worried. If the man is black, given higher crime rates among blacks, you may be more concerned still.

Judging people on group averages when you have no additional information is called "statistical discrimination", although given how loaded a term "discrimination" is a better phrase may be "statistical differentiation". Statistical differentiation is not racist in that it is not a preference for one race or another, it is simply a decision based on group averages when individual information is not available.

The Implicit Project implicitly assumes that any differentiation between blacks and whites is racist, and does not consider that case of statistical differentiation. This means they do not consider that an individual may make decisions based on factors other than race, of which race is merely a statistical marker."

12:52 PM, January 31, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Correction: that post I mentioned is by Winnterspeak and is posted at Jane Galt.

12:54 PM, January 31, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know a young man who played high school sports on an integrated team in an integrated school. He played first-level intramural sports in college in an integrated league.
When he got his first job, he became active in Habitat for Humanity.
When he got married and his wife began teaching in an inner-city school, and coaching, he said to me, anguished, "I try not to be prejudiced."
My guess his test scores would vary significantly by date. And what would either one of them prove?

2:37 PM, January 31, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a white republican male who grew up in California and now live in Virginia. I took the racial preference test and it said I have a slight preference for Blacks...

go figure...

3:00 PM, January 31, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I took the test, I "got better" as I went along. On the results page, they claim that the results are adjusted for the order in which I took the test. I wonder how this adjustment is made?

4:40 PM, January 31, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've taken this test before, quite awhile ago, so I wonder if I'm part of the sample. I got sick of it half way through and quit taking it seriously.

I took it again this time and found that I have a strong preference for blacks.

Of course, that's what I tried for, so it's not that surprising. I also told them that I was an 18 year old liberal girl from Botswana with an elementary education, but that's not that important.

The results of this test mean very little. It has little reliability, and thus even less validity.

The only thing this study might, and I stress might, show is that liberals are more self-conscious about race than conservatives (which is no doubt true), but that's a far cry from conservatives being a bunch of racists.

4:56 PM, January 31, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


My friend was Jewish--how would that have helped? Do they need more Jewish psychologists in NYC?

8:04 PM, January 31, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, it might just be that if Republicans listend to politically correct sermons instead of conservative debate that they'd be more racially neutral.

The implication is that certain points of view need to be censored to expunge some vague racist impulse from our collective conservative psyche.

It might be true! Even so, I'd rather be a subconcious racist than a moonbat zombie. All my token minority friends will just have to deal with it.

12:02 AM, February 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All you have to do is imagine white limosine liberals and black Republicans. I ended up with a moderate preference for black people. (I'm white).

1:36 PM, February 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't read the study either, but any statistical procedure that looks at a geographically based sample is likely to suffer from spatial autocorrelation, which would render standard OLS estimates biased, inconsistent, and inefficient.

Which, incidentially, is not normally covered in most PhD disciplines.

2:04 PM, February 01, 2006  
Blogger DADvocate said...


If you can't easily see the holes in the scientific method of this "study," you need to take an introductory research class.

No control group, no random sampling, no verification of demographic data, no known validity or reliability measures, no double blind, known bias on the part of the researchers, etc, etc. It is the researchers burden to prove the validity, etc. of their research.

There's a reason that this research has not been published in a peer reviewed journal. The reason is obvious.

2:15 PM, February 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bet a similar sort of survey would show that "democrats" associate brutality, racism, stupidity and a host of anti-social characteristics with cops and soldiers...

Look, the demographics associated with either party have statistically demonstrable (but by no means dominant)knee-jerk opinions that we as a culture by and large reject. If we get from the fact that racists are somewhat more likely to be republicans that republicans are racists, we're being willfully obtuse (a lot of that going around!)...Democrats are statistically (I suspect) more likely to hate cops, sympathize with terrorists, and suffer from class envy. So what? Such "studies" are worthless and just serve to further poison our political discourse.

2:20 PM, February 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I finished a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psych (not Social) a bit over a decade ago and am quite familiar with these kinds of tests. I'd be a careful about just dismissing this one out of hand. While it may indeed be flawed for the reasons pointed out above, the findings don't surprise me a bit. Do they really surprise you? And isn't everyone - both Dems and Repubs - reading more into this than is truly warranted by the findings?

Think about it. First, the ratio of African Americans in the Democratic Party is much higher than in the Republican party. Just based on well established "similarity preference" effects (where we tend to like people who appear more like ourselves) I would expect that, in aggregate, Republicans would score higher in negative associations.

That is, if you looked at *White* Dems vs. *White* Repubs you may well find that the results are identical (the researchers' statement that whites of all political persuasions have a higher negative association score for African American faces supports this interpretation). Now, take a 10-15% African American population, throw it in the Dems corner and presto: Dems have - in aggregate - a lower negative score for African Americans simply because of group averaging effects (assuming African Americans do not exhibit a bias against their own).

Second, I'd be very curious to see the study repeated with faces that, while dark-skinned, are not African American (e.g. Indian) or that are well-known and loved (Bill Cosby, MLK, Condi Rice) or that are all older and/or female. This would permit an empirical distinction between race (and racism) and a learned dislike focused on young black men.

As someone pointed out above, the news reports are often filled with the faces of young black men when reporting violent crime (heck - skip the news and look at the media presentations created by young black men themselves - rappers - when they wish to communicate their culture and build their appeal). By simple trained emotional response, I'd expect that Republicans - people who typically have a lower tolerance for crime and disorder - would score the black male faces more negatively. Keep in mind that even if only a portion of the study's faces are young black males, the aggregate effect would be enough to skew the overall results. Again, is this at all surprising? Do we say, as was said in the 60's and 70's that we'll live with astronomical crime rates as part of a misguided plan to create a liberal utopia?

Finally, I think that people are taking a terribly simplistic and even wrong-headed interpretation of this study. The Dems who point and jeer about "racist" Republicans do not have a leg to stand on. The study didn't measure whether Republicans would support racist laws and policies. In making a leap that this is so, they discount humanity's marvelous talent for what Kwame Anthony Appiah calls "Cosmopolitanism" - the ability to see that the common thread of humanity is far more important than accidents of birth.

Is it not obvious that Kwame is right? That, across America, the vast majority of us can almost effortlessly transcend racial divides when we are confronted by a living, breathing human being?
More importantly, aren't you sick to death of people who look for every possible excuse - inflammatory or subtle - to divvy us up by skin color and build mutual distrust?

I would tell Republicans that the answer is not to "shoot the messenger" in this case but to repudiate the entire idea that small preference effects are meaningful in a political setting. Republicans should stand, simply and clearly, for full racial equality and let the Democrats paint themselves into a corner of racial divisiveness and small-minded rhetoric. Since it seems hopeless to expect the Dems to become the party of Cosmopolitans - they are far too smugly tribal - I can only hope that Republicans take up the mantle.

2:34 PM, February 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A problem that I have with the study is that by reversing the side in which you rate 'good' and 'bad'/ light and dark, it confused me to where I was hitting the wrong key too often the second time around.
Of course, as a white, war supporting, affirmative action opposing male, they told me that I had no apparent preference for light or dark-skinned individuals.

This study tries to measure sub-conscious preferences. That's why they tell you to answer as fast as possible. That's all fine, but what if I do have sub-concious preferences for light-skinned people? Does that mean I don't actually think about my actions? As mentioned before, I have problems with this assumption (I had just spent the last turn hitting 'e' for joy, and now I need to hit 'i'?). This is not a proxy for racism. It's studies like this that give John Watson a good name.

2:37 PM, February 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually,no. It's being mocked for pretending to be a scientific study with zero controls. It could come back with a perfectly honest response to my individual imput and it still would be worthless as who knows who else participated or how honest they were. And you teach this stuff?

2:52 PM, February 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We can all come up with results that match our world views if we try hard enough.
Confirmation bias is a wonderful thing. However just because evidence confirms someone's beliefs doesn't make them wrong. to make a valid conclusion one has to actually address the evidence and the quality or lack thereof.

Instead, the primary source of dismissing this study that is presented here is the fact that the researchers gave money to Democrat. The fact that this talking point comes from "a spokesman for the Republican National Committee" does not seem worth note. I wonder who Brian Jones contributes to, or whether anyone here believes that this effects his veracity? While it may be valid to question the motives of the presenters of evidence a) it still doesn't directly address the quality of the evidence (their study and it's conclusions) and b) commits the logical fallacy of deciding to summarily dismiss the authors regardless of qualifications and/or expertise because you don't care for their associates. If the same were done (and it has been done) to a Republican it would be seen as evidence of rampant moonbattery, and intellectual dishonesty - an excuse to dismiss the message because you don't care for the messenger's friends.

Further, we all know how accurate science reporting is - not. The writer of the WaPo article has never seen the as yet unpublished study; it was written from lecture notes. So what was summarized as:
"That study found that supporters of President Bush and other conservatives had stronger self-admitted and implicit biases against blacks than liberals did."
Is actually:
"On average, the White residents of both districts that went for Bush and districts that went for Kerry reported preferring Caucasians to African-Americans. The White preference was somewhat stronger in districts that showed greater support for Bush. This does not mean that all Bush supporters have stronger White preferences than all Kerry supporters. For example, men are taller than women on average. However, that does not imply that every man is taller than every woman."

Frequently Asked Questions about Washington Post Article - This isn't an experiment, therefore you don't need double blinds and control groups, etc. This is a study, which means you need a statistically valid sample size. The link addresses the selection groups, researcher bias, specifically states that their data doesn't infer that people vote/voted based primarily on racial preferences.

But by all means, be more like Democrats and whine over every slight, real or percieved.

3:30 PM, February 01, 2006  
Blogger Celeste said...

Didn't they already spoof this test in a King of the Hill Episode? Yes, I see they did in 2003

3:52 PM, February 01, 2006  
Blogger DADvocate said...


Obviously not all the babbling stuff I pointed out matters. But some of it does. Especially, who are the people really taking this test. I've taken it twice under fictitious names and locations (another state of former residence). Plus the validity question, does it really measure what it says it measures. (You're supposedly the teacher, isn't that the basic definition of validity?) At permagringirl points out, it's not new.

As for babbling, I listened to plenty of it from my college profs.

4:01 PM, February 01, 2006  
Blogger SWBarns said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:27 PM, February 01, 2006  
Blogger SWBarns said...

These folks certainly get my nomination for the "Samuel George Morton* Award"

The only bias I can see from this study is researcher bias; they set out to prove that Republicans are racist and hey look.

*Samuel Morton proved conclusively the white folks are smarter than black folks. He was an intellectual hero to Nazi eugenicists and the Klan. Way to go guys, you're in excellent company.

4:28 PM, February 01, 2006  
Blogger Quadraginta said...

Dr. Helen, this test was bruited about on digg (www.digg.com) a while ago, and a number of geeks there twigged immediately to its obvious design flaw, viz.:

You get "trained" by the first half of the test, where you hit button X when you see image type A, and button Y when you see image type B. Then on the second half of the test, which always seems to be the one where going slower "proves" your unconscious bias, they reverse the association, i.e. you now hit button Y (not X) when you see image type A.

So you slow down. Would that be because you have subtle unconscious bias? Ha ha. Nooooo, how about: you slow down simply because you're working against your recent "training"? That is, you're trying to do exactly the reverse of what you've just trained yourself to do. So obviously you're going to slow down, and obviously this proves exactly squat about your unconscious attitudes. It just proves that even a short training run lays down mental patterns that are hard to immediately reverse.

Mmmm, however, the fact that Harvard-trained social "scientists" (and I use the word loosely) can take seriously the results of a test hardly more empirically sound than phrenology might say a lot about the unconscious biases and blindnesses of the academy.

4:42 PM, February 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Instead, the primary source of dismissing this study that is presented here is the fact that the researchers gave money to Democrat."
No, again the primary source of dismissing this study is the total lack of controls. Now the primary reason we suspect the authors are presenting it as science is the fact that the researchers gave money to democrats.
How hard is this to understand?

4:54 PM, February 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why waste time and money in order to find out whether or not Republicans are racist? Let me save you some time, they're greedy and selfish too. Geez, isn't it obvious?

4:57 PM, February 01, 2006  
Blogger Pat said...

I forget where I saw this, but somebody had a good point. The researchers supposedly proved that people in Republican congressional districts were more racist than those in Democratic congressional districts. But it is quite possible that this does not mean what they imply (that Republicans are more racist than Democrats). For example, we know that the higher a person's income, the more likely they are to vote Republican. And yet Red States (in general) have a lower median income than Blue States.

5:08 PM, February 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Commenterlein: People misleading who they are, people trying to skew the data, black people saying their white, white people saying their black, one person taking the test 100 times, pretty much anything that a person could do with a internet test.
That's the whole point of this. Without any controls other than restricting it to anyone with access to the internet, what good is the data?

5:31 PM, February 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't take the test on race, but I took a number of others. One being a preference for Freedom or Security (I happen to like both). I found however that the words they wanted me to associate with the two categories were confusing. I was supposed to put "controlled" with Security--something which I had a very difficult time doing. I also always wanted to put "safe" with Freedom--perhaps not entirely relevant to my point that the researchers chose negative words to describe Security and largely positive ones to describe Freedom. This test is useless for determining people's preferences. Furthermore the "either or" aspect of this test seemed problematical to me. If the race test suffered from similar problems I wouldn't take it seriously. For example I would always associate Bill Cosby positively and Puff Daddy negatively.

5:40 PM, February 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Something interesting. I took one test - the one about Native Americans. Since I finally figured out what they were trying to prove and the bias of the test, I spent lots of time hesitating on choices on two of the tests. It still told me that I was slightly preferring Europeans. That seemed strange, especially since I selected the American Indian as the only Strongly American when I took the test. Could it be that they are not reporting actual results at all? Is that possible? It would certainly skew their results, especially since you have to indicate whether you're conservative or liberal...

6:22 PM, February 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It said I have a strong preference for Al Sharpton. Excuse me while I kill myself.

6:39 PM, February 01, 2006  
Blogger pst314 said...

"Fancy words like 'control group' or 'double blind' have absolutely no meaning in the context of such a study, and throwing them out doesn't make you sound competent."

Commenterlein is absolutely right: Such a study has nothing to do with science and everything to do with liberal politics. For such a study there is no need to have a group of test subjects who are statistically representative of the population.

Oh by the way: 'control group' and 'double blind' are phrases, not words. Mistakes like that don't make you look good when you are talking down to people.

8:32 PM, February 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Commenterlein: "what you describe amounts to garbage data, which, if there is too much of it, would almost inevitably result in insignificant test results. That's not what the authors find, and that's why they don't worry about it."

OK, I will try it again.
The authors dont know if there is a little garbage data, a lot of garbage data, all garbage data or no garbage data. No one does. And that is the point.

"Republican party are more biased against black people than Democrats."
I would ask who has more of a bias, those who think black people can take care of themselves and should be encouraged and judged individually on their merits or those who see black people as children who need perpetual care?
"If you care so much about being called biased, do something, change the way conservative people in this country look at black people. Spend more time giving a shit about black people"
I think that pretty much sums up your bias right there. You obviously dont know any conservative people. You would prefer feelings, we prefer action.

10:58 PM, February 01, 2006  
Blogger Micajah said...

I took that test, or one much like it, quite a while ago. I consider myself lucky that there was no microphone involved, since I was announcing before every choice I made what the current relationship was -- "Black, good; White, bad" or vice versa -- so I could keep track of the "language" I was being asked to use. Had there been anyone else in the room, I would have had some explaining to do!

I was, of course, found to be slightly prejudiced against people who have more pigment in their skin than I. Their explanation was that I hesitated more on some choices than others. I doubted that, since I was like a metronome while saying aloud what the current association was before making a selection. Afterwards, I wasn't bothered by their assessment of me -- I was just glad to stop trying to keep track of which one they were telling me to associate with one thing or another.

12:23 AM, February 02, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a missing control group:

Run the same test but replace the good/bad words with even/odd numbers. See if you get similar results.

If you get similar results, then it shows that people associate blacks with even numbers, or something...

Better yet, before the test tell some of the people that blacks are more frequently associated with even numbers, some of the people that blacks are more frequently associated with odd numbers, and the rest nothing about what people tend to do on the test (I can't help but wonder if telling people beforehand that people tend to associate white and good doesn't cause people to associate white and good).

It might also be good to test something more in a spectrum like big numbers vs. small numbers.

I'm hoping that because a control like this doesn't seem to be included that this test is really looking at something else (like how often someone will take the test again if you tell them they have a strong association one way or another), but I'm kind of doubtful of this.

8:31 AM, February 02, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can they tell that the person taking the test is a liberal or conservative?
Is there a proof that the chances of a person taking the test are always 50-50, regardless of political inclination or any other modifier?

8:46 AM, February 02, 2006  
Blogger Eric said...

I agree that "you slow down simply because you're working against your recent 'training'" and additionally, I think that because most people who take this test have a desire to "prove" they are not bigoted, this works against them. I think it's a malevolent extension of the "try not to think about elephants" rule.

Very unscientific, but it might be a scientific way of hoodwinking people. (I found that this principle has been used in marketing for years.)

8:13 AM, February 03, 2006  
Blogger Red A said...

Did the Race test and Asian-American test. "Passed" both. I've lived in Taiwan for 13 years so I was really interested in the asian-american test.

It seemed unfair that the test kept throwing up a lot of European landmarks as "foreign" where it might be easy to associate those with European American faces but only included the Pyramids and Sydney opera house as a non-European foreign landmark.

I found the tricky part to be the reversal of keys.

12:37 PM, February 03, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is always one response I can count on in response to studies that do not show conservatives in a favorable light. Regardless of the study and methods of conducting the study, conservatives just dismiss it.

You can take or retake any test you want until it reveals a non-racist bias but why do conservatives continue to simply dismiss issues that portray them in a negative way?

Trent Lott? George Allen? Tony Snow and Mitt Romney (Tar Baby?) What about Bush to Brazilian President Cardosa, "You have blacks here too?" Call it racism or call in incuriosity, what is worse? When studies that indicate conservatives feel they are "less curious" or sleep studies that reveal conservatives report far mor nightmares than non-conservatives, conservatives should at least ask the question as to why this is so?

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