Sunday, August 30, 2015
Scientists discover a way to reverse racial bias in young children. But how firm is the effect?
I am not sure that the authors of the baby studies below realize what they have shown. They showed that in initial encounters babies are biased. They simply prefer familiar appearances. But that is very temporary. Given just a little extra information, biases vanish. People recognized as individuals tended to be accepted as individuals, despite differences in appearances.
But that is only the beginning of the story. What happens in real life outside the deliberately limited context of a psychology laboratory?
What we do see from the experiments described below is that "Stereotypes" are highly malleable and responsive to extra information. They are not mentally imprisoning. Even a little information makes a big difference to impressions. That is in fact what the whole stereotyping literature shows. See here, here and here
So people do respond cautiously to differences in appearances BUT the response is very plastic. Caution will evaporate if and only if nothing important is associated with the different appearance. That is the opposite of the old claim that stereotypes are rigid mental straitjackets. Given extra information prejudgments will in fact change rapidly -- for better or for worse. They are very reality-sensitive.
A rather good example of that process is on view daily in Australia. Australia has a large East Asian minority, mostly Han Chinese. And it is so common to see young East Asian women on the arms of tall Caucasian men that one looks with some surprise at couples who are both Han. In such couples the man will, however, invariably be a TALL Han man. The little East Asian ladies go for tall men and they get them. They like height and they want tall children.
And relaxed Australian whites are fine by them. The ladies are probably in general a bit smarter than the Caucasian whites they grab but they know that the men concerned are easy-going in the traditional Australian way so they can live with that.
But the tallest population group in Australia are dark-skinned East Africans. Many are very tall indeed. And so many of them have come to Australia as refugees that it is common to see them lounging around the streets and shopping centres. But I have yet to see ONE of them partnered with ANY kind of an Asian lady.
The lesson? Easy. Interracial relationships may start out from a simplistic base of preferring familiar appearance but the real characteristics of people rapidly come to dominate relationships. African men are generally poor, dumb and aggressive and nobody but their own women wants them, except for a very few socially marginal or foolish white females. No Asians want them. So the Asian ladies are racist in that they recognize real racial differences -- but they are not bigoted. They in fact prefer a race different from their own. They respond to important differences and ignore unimportant ones.
Reality is so much more complex than the simplistic formulas used by the Left.
Children as young as three months old have been found to have a bias towards women who are the same race as themselves.
Now, a University of Delaware scientist has discovered a simple exercise that he claims can undo this unconscious racial biases in young children.
Using the technique of measuring how much time the babies spend looking at pictures of faces, Paul Quinn has spent a decade studying how infants classify race and gender.
At six months, Quinn said, the infants were classifying faces into three groups - Caucasian, African and Asian.
He has found that, by nine months of age, infants not only distinguish racial categories but also become less able to tell different individuals apart if they are members of a less-familiar race.
For example, white infants can identify white faces as belonging to different individuals, but they are less likely to see Asian or African faces as distinct individuals.
'Might these perceptual biases we see in infants be related to the social biases that we see in older kids, beginning at three or four years of age, and adults?,' Quinn said. 'And if they are, can we use a technique to reduce bias?
'As we tried to answer this question, we hit on the idea that if the perceptual and social biases are linked, we might be able to reduce the social bias by perceptual means.'
In their latest study, published in July in the journal Developmental Science, Quinn and his collaborators in China used photos of African and Asian faces and morphed them together to create ambiguous images that looked equally African and Asian.
Some of the faces had pleasant expressions, while others looked more severe.
When researchers showed the images to four- to six-year-olds in China, the children identified the happy faces as Asian - the category they were used to seeing - and the angry faces as African, a group they rarely saw in daily life.
The scientists' wanted to see whether the children's unconscious racial biases could be disrupted. They showed the youngsters five different African faces and gave each of the individuals a name, repeating the process until the children could identify each of the five faces by name.
When the children then looked at the happy and angry ambiguous-race photos again, their bias in favour of their own racial group had dropped dramatically.
'This process of getting the kids to respond to the [five African] faces as individuals, not as a category, only takes 15-30 minutes, and it made a significant difference,' Quinn said.
'It suggests that what is a social bias has [visual] perceptual components and that it can be disrupted.'
Another, related study that Quinn conducted in his lab at UD with babies from the Newark, Delaware, area has been published online by Developmental Science, with print publication expected in the future.
In this study, researchers worked with Caucasian babies to explore how and at what ages they began forming categories of people based on the racial characteristics of faces.
Denver Corruptocrats' Chick-fil-A Smokescreen
Holier-than-thou liberals on the Denver city council are waging war on Chick-fil-A in the name of tolerance and diversity. Now, let me tell you what the squawking is really all about: It's a distraction, a feint, a mile-high smokescreen.
Spiteful Democrats claim they are upholding progressive "Denver values" by delaying approval of an airport concession contract with the Christian-owned restaurant chain. But the politically correct storm over same-sex marriage (which Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy personally opposes) is convenient cover for the local government's serial mismanagement, bloated spending and shady contracting practices.
Denver International Airport concessionaires raked in more than $322 million in gross revenue last year amid longstanding complaints of political favoritism and dirty dealing that date back to the facility's construction in the mid-1990s.
You should know that while Denver's city council leftists falsely accuse Chick-fil-A of discriminatory practices, they've been embroiled in litigation over bid-rigging allegations involving a separate $53 million airport concessions contract. Last fall, a retail group filed suit against the city council rubber-stampers and Denver International Airport officials for allegedly conspiring to help the winning bidder snag a seven-year deal to run the airport's duty-free shops.
The plaintiffs in the case, DIA Retail, uncovered what they call "systemic" misconduct and manipulation of the award process, including multiple violations of rules prohibiting contact between the winning bidder, Hudson Group, and government officials after submitting their request for proposal.
Then there's the city's own audit of the airport's "disadvantaged concessionaire program" released in May, which showed that Denver officials are much better at preaching to others about "diversity" than practicing it themselves. After finding that half of DIA's food and beverage revenue was concentrated in the hands of three operators, the auditor exposed "questionable" financial wealth claims by some concession owners certified by the city as "economically disadvantaged."
Gaming the airport contract system is as popular a Colorado pastime as skiing and rock-climbing.
In April, a jury indicted city employee Larry Lee Stevenson, a supervisor in Denver's Excise and Licensing Department, for allegedly accepting a cash bribe to help a local business get a deal to run parking operations at the airport.
DIA's nearly $40 million "minority-owned" mechanical construction contract, which the city awarded to black female businesswoman Denise Burgess, is a massive front for non-minority subcontractors, according to a Denver Post investigation last year. "Burgess Services is not equipped to carry out a mechanical project. It subcontracts the construction work to other companies," the paper found. "Yet the entire contract value counts toward the airport project's overall minority- and women-owned business-enterprise participation goal of 30 percent. In reality, minority- and women-owned businesses are doing only a fraction of the work on Burgess' contract."
And the cost of that work keeps soaring.
DIA overspending is epidemic. Another scathing audit identified skyrocketing cost overruns in the airport's hotel and transit construction project — scheduled to soar from an initial estimate of $500 million to at least $730 million — thanks to shoddy recordkeeping and nonexistent oversight.
What kind of financial controllers are at the wheel? Fraudulent accountants like Laura Trujillo, who was fired earlier this summer after the Mountain States Employers Council concluded that "there was no record of Trujillo ever having a CPA license, no record of her ever having applied for such a license, and no record of her ever having applied to take the CPA exam in Colorado."
Perhaps the sanctimonious Denver city council should spend less time finger-wagging at other businesses and more time minding its own sordid henhouse.
Canadian "Hate Speech" Proposal Threatens Free Speech
Thirteen years,thirteen honor killings, all in Muslim families, all of them in Canada. But if you should condemn those murders, you might find yourself the subject of investigation and convicted of a crime.
Quebec Human Rights Commissioner Jacques Frémont has proposed a bill "to prevent and combat hate speech and speech inciting violence."
If adopted, the law known as Bill 59 would allow Quebec's Human Rights Commission or members of the public "to initiate a 'hate speech' lawsuit against a person who makes a statement considered discriminatory against a group," Marc Lebuis, director of Point de Bascule, an organization that tracks Islamist activities in Canada, said in a recent interview.
In addition, the bill would grant the commission power to investigate people alleged to have uttered hate speech, said Justice Minister Stephanie Vallée. Those convicted of promoting hate could be fined up to $20,000 and their names would be made public and posted indefinitely to a list available online.
Most view Bill 59 as a response to pressure from Muslim groups, who have filed several complaints of "Islamophobia" and anti-Muslim hate speech in recent years. In many ways, the bill resembles UN Resolution 16/18, an initiative of the 56 Islamic States who comprise the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and which restricts speech that could be considered "discriminatory" or which defames religion and can be considered "incitement to violence." Only Bill 59 is worse: it pertains to personal, subjective, emotional responses that an individual has to something that he reads, hears, or encounters.
That this proposed statute flies in the face of everything we in the United States as well as in Canada believe to be fundamental to human and civil rights and the sanctity of free speech is not the only challenge the proposed bill presents. But it presents its greatest threat to democracy and the values the West holds sacred.
Ironically, Lebuis says, supporters justify the bill by suggesting it will protectdemocracy against terrorism. They reason that "terrorism is a reaction towards people who criticize their religion," he explains, "so by banning the criticism of Islam, we would end terrorism." Such arguments have been made both by Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and by Muslim groups such as the Association of Muslims and Arabs for a Secular Quebec (AMAL). "Hate and Islamophobia drive certain people in groups subject to discrimination toward another form of extremism and violence,"said AMAL President Haroun Bouazzi in a recent presentation to the National Assembly during a debate over the bill.
But Canada's federal criminal code already calls for imprisonment (up to two years) for "anyone who incites hatred against any identifiable group," as the Montreal Gazette points out. Though the proposed bill addresses hate speech against individuals, not groups, it fails even to define what "hate speech" is. As attorney Julius Grey testified, "Nietzsche, Shakespeare and Voltaire could all be found to have incited violence and hatred. Should they have been censored?"
Moreover, because there is no clear definition of "hate speech" and no standard by which it can be measured, the bill leaves the door wide open for prosecution. "It is based on what people feel or could feel," Lebuis said. "Public interest, the truth, facts or even intentions are no defense."
That situation is made worse by the fact that conviction is based on the determination of the Human Rights Commission tribunal, overriding federal laws which require a determination of guilt "beyond reasonable doubt." As columnist Don MacPhersonobserves in the Montreal Gazette:
"The federal Criminal Code defines 'hate propaganda' as advocating or promoting genocide, inciting hatred against an identifiable group [that is] likely to lead to a breach of the peace,' or 'willfully' promoting hatred against such a group ... And an accused can't be convicted 'if the statements were relevant to any subject of public interest, the discussion of which was for the public benefit, and if on reasonable grounds he believed them to be true" (as would be the case, say, with any condemnation of an honor killing).
But Bill 59 makes no such provisions.
Others, including (surprisingly) AMAL's Bouazzi, have objected to the proposed creation of a permanent, public record of those found guilty of "hate speech" - a gesture that is not only defamatory but could even become dangerous should anyone seek retribution. Further, "hate speech" is not defined in the bill, so such a conviction has Machiavellian potential: For example, were you, to ascribe honor violence or terrorism to cultural or religious beliefs, you could be subject to prosecution. This would be the case even if the actual perpetrator claimed to act in the name of culture or religion. And while a terrorist will go to prison for his deeds, should you be found guilty of violating Bill 59, your name, not his, will be indelibly included on that list visible to the world.
As such, the potential for political parties to silence - let alone criminalize - those who oppose them lurks ominously within the reaches of such a law.
Among Muslims, according to Pakistani-Canadian activist Tarek Fatah, opinions seem to be split. "Ironically, some Islamist-promoting organizations and mosques have welcomed Bill 59, notwithstanding the fact they violate it every week when they start their Friday prayers with a ritual invocation that asks, 'Allah to give Muslims victory over the "kufaar"(Christians, Jews and Hindus),'" he writes in the Toronto Sun.Others like himself, he says, "everything we can to make sure Quebec's Bill 59 does not pass." And if it does pass, he adds, "the first complaint to the QHRC will be against Islamist mosques for spreading hatred against Jews and Christians.
That is a promise."
Judging from past efforts to legislate such issues in Canada and from the apparent opposition to Bill 59 being voiced in editorials around the country, the measure seems to have little chance of passing. A measure to legalize sharia tribunals, for instance, failed in 2005, though ironically, these tribunals - opposed vehemently by Muslim women, who recognized that such tribunals tend to discriminate against women in cases of marriage, forced marriage, domestic abuse and inheritance - were denounced by many as "Islamophobic." (One has to wonder what the Quebec HRC tribunal would have to say about that issue: Islamophobia or misogyny? And what of the person accused of "Islamophobia" who in turn declares the term "Islamophobic" offensive and presses charges against his accuser?)
Pierre Trudel, a lawyer and professor of law at the University of Montreal, also feels that the bill in its current form stands limited chance of succeeding. But, he added in an interview, "it's fair to expect that it will be amended to answer the objections of many opponents." Otherwise, he said, the result will be "a significant chilling effect on speech."
Ironic, then, that nothing else could better hand a victory to those very terrorists the bill was written to subvert. In the words of Benjamin Franklin (as Silence Dogood), "Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech."
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.