For issues of racial and other discrimination, do we really need the idea of “unconscious” bias at all? Someone scrawling Islamophobic graffiti on a wall is obviously quite conscious about it. Agarwal has chosen throughout to use the terms “implicit bias” and “unconscious bias” interchangeably. The first is linked to a controversial psychological tool called the Implicit Association Test, the arguments over which show the difficulty of proving the existence of something that is, ex hypothesi, unconscious and so unavailable to the subject’s introspection. So the IAT uses reaction times as a proxy for the assumed bias: if a white person is slower by some number of milliseconds to associate a black face with a desirable social role, for example, then they are said to have an implicit bias against black people. … [Read more...] about Sway by Pragya Agarwal review – how we are all unconsciously biased
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Thaler and his fellow behavioural economists also raise interesting questions about how far the arm of government should extend. It is expected that politicians intervene where an individual may pose harm to others: that is why driving is so heavily regulated. Rather more unusual for the government is to step in where an individual is harming no one but him or herself. Should the powers that be really scheme about how we get rid of our rubbish? … [Read more...] about From Obama to Cameron, why do so many politicians want a piece of Richard Thaler?
We were not the only ones in this situation. Denpasar airport was full of people of all nationalities looking bewildered and lost, in tears, frantically making phone calls. The Brits were all in the same boat – essentially being given one day’s notice from the government to get home before all flights were cancelled. It was an impossible task, and pot luck as to whether you had booked a flight that fell in that 24-hour window. My impression is that the British government just wasn’t keeping an eye on the situation. Had it been better at communicating with us, we would have had a better chance of making it home. As far as I’m concerned, the paltry warning was too little, too late. … [Read more...] about Britain told us to come home from Bali – but there were no planes, and no help