Saturday, July 02, 2016

you can't be sure what you think


DOTE |  Implicit bias is usually associated (in research) with racial bias. Thus the Aeon article cited at outset goes through this exercise.
Do you think racial stereotypes are false? Are you sure? I’m not asking if you’re sure whether or not the stereotypes are false, but if you’re sure whether or not you think that they are. That might seem like a strange question.
We all know what we think, don’t we?
But of course the whole point is that we don't know what we think.
...Another consequence [of ISA theory] is that we might be sincerely mistaken about our own beliefs.
Return to my question about racial stereotypes. I guess you said you think they are false. But if the ISA theory is correct, you can’t be sure you think that.
Studies show that people who sincerely say that racial stereotypes are false often continue to behave as if they are true when not paying attention to what they are doing.
Such behavior is usually said to manifest an implicit bias, which conflicts with the person’s explicit beliefs. But the ISA theory offers a simpler explanation. People think that the stereotypes are true but also that it is not acceptable to admit this and therefore say they are false. Moreover, they say this to themselves too, in inner speech, and mistakenly interpret themselves as believing it.
They are hypocrites but not conscious hypocrites. Maybe we all are.
Maybe we're all unconscious hypocrites. In fact, that is part of the Flatland claim. The Flatland model also says that "implicit bias" is far more general than simple racial bias. We can't be sure what we think because those biases exist in the unconscious, which by definition is inaccessible to us.
Now, consider an essay which just appeared in The Guardian called—and I'm not kidding—Why elections are bad for democracy. The author is named David VanReybrouck.
Brexit is a turning point in the history of western democracy. Never before has such a drastic decision been taken through so primitive a procedure — a one-round referendum based on a simple majority.
Never before has the fate of a country—of an entire continent, in fact—been changed by the single swing of such a blunt axe, wielded by disenchanted and poorly informed citizens.
I'm here to tell you that there is nothing more democratic than a simple up/down referendum where each vote counts equally. Nothing. That's as democratic as things get.