We are in the age when a narrative with no credible evidence, basis in reality, or logical backing can be forced upon an entire classroom, university, corporation, or society, with rarely a public utterance of dissent. Why risk losing your job over some mandatory diversity training, right?
Well, on a personal level, it’s easy to understand going along to get along. But, on that same level, it’s also pretty easy to see why people like James Damore – the ex-Google employee who dared to point out evidence in the face of a false narrative about why fewer women work in the tech sector – is such a hero.
Speaking out against the prevailing, politically-correct narratives of the day is pretty much a zero-sum game. It could get you fired. Blackballed from an entire industry, perhaps. The consequences of such a reality are likely to be devastating to those who aren’t prepared for such disproportionate backlash.
On the flipside, if you can gain the attention of the logical, silent majority as Damore did in the Google case, you could arise from the situation a more valuable commodity, more greatly admired in the circles that matter, and a cult hero of sorts. Frankly, for every James Damore, there are countless cases of those who lose their income, career, property, and self-efficacy from simply stating the obvious: politically correct culture is most often bullshit, and it is insidiously dangerous to American, meritocratic values.
Whether it’s the notion that the white man’s persistent oppression is the cause of black Americans’ ills, or that – if only the patriarchy were overthrown – gender studies majors would run the world, these narratives should be contested, in public, consequences be damned. Again, it’s easy to understand why many aren’t willing to risk the dinner on their family’s table over something they see as a mild annoyance, but it can’t be stated enough: the danger of letting politically correct culture persist uncontested is far more consequential than many realize.
Which brings me to a specific case of a politically-correct, academically-backed yet false narrative that has spread its tentacles throughout corporate America. You may have heard the term, but you probably don’t fully understand it, assuming you are a rational being.
It’s called ‘implicit bias,' and it’s a crock of shit, according to the Wall Street Journal’s Heather Mac Donald, among others.
Like most ‘theories’ looking to justify reasons why this group or that group tends not to do as well in a particular field or area as another, the concept of implicit bias was conjured up by ‘social scientists,' in this case, Anthony Greenwald and Mahzarin Banaji. They came up with something contradictorily called the ‘implicit association test’ in 1998, following this ‘test’ with the bold claim that “The pervasiveness of prejudice, affecting 90 to 95 percent of people, was demonstrated today . . . by psychologists who developed a new tool that measures the unconscious roots of prejudice.”
They went even further in their 2013 best-selling book ‘Blindspot’:
“Given the relatively small proportion of people who are overtly prejudiced and how clearly it is established that automatic race preference predicts discrimination, it is reasonable to conclude not only that implicit bias is a cause of Black disadvantage but also that it plausibly plays a greater role than does explicit bias.”
Considering the fallibility of the means by which they reached such a bold, divisive conclusion, you’d think they’d tread more lightly.
The test itself is comically juvenile in its system of prejudicial ‘measurement’:
‘In the race IAT (there also versions for everything from gender to disability to weight), test-takers at a computer are asked to press two keys to sort a series of black and white faces and a set of “good” and “bad” words. For part of the exercise, the test-taker presses one key for white faces and words like “happy,” and the other key for black faces and words like “death.”’
The test is meant to measure prejudice, but anyone who can imagine themselves taking such a test can imagine the sort of doublethink, back-and-forth, and reverse psychology that goes into answering such illogical questions, particularly considering the implications that such answers could have upon one’s own sense of self. The test, and its conclusions about the prevalence of ‘prejudice’ in the world, never had a leg to stand on.
Implicit bias is, implicitly, untestable. Even the term ‘implicit’ itself, according to Dictionary.com, is somewhat contradictory. It means both ‘potentially contained’ and ‘absolute.'
So, is a person’s feelings of prejudice something that is ‘potentially contained’ within them, or something that is ‘absolute.' Neither, as the multiplicity of the word implicit’s definitions indicate. These kind of intangible, self-contradictory terms are exactly the type that ‘social scientists’ love to pin their theories on.
You spin yourself in circles trying to pin down the logic of it all, but ultimately end up in the same spot. Except, in PC America, such illogical circles are used to justify the spending of millions of dollars and the mandated implementation of countless ‘training’ programs; diversity training, sensitivity training, and last but not least, implicit bias training. And who ramped up that charge to implement such training – and the resulting implications – into academia and the American corporate environment?
You guessed it, Barry O:
‘President Obama sent federal law-enforcement personnel to implicit-bias training; many local police departments are doing the same, spending millions of dollars that could be used instead to improve officers’ tactical and communication skills.’
It’s pervaded society at all levels. Here’s how it looks in academia:
‘Faculty hiring committees routinely have to take the IAT to confront their hidden biases against minority and female candidates. College students are being encouraged to take it as well. UCLA’s vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion, Jerry Kang, has argued for federal regulation of local news coverage, especially crime stories, to lessen implicit prejudice.’
And corporate America:
‘This summer nearly 200 CEOs signed a pledge to pack their employees off to implicit-bias training, part of an economy-wide diversity initiative championed by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Plaintiffs in employment discrimination cases regularly try to introduce implicit-bias research into their lawsuits.’
Like most politically-correct theories, assertions, and their resulting programs, it knows no bounds. It’s insatiable. And, most importantly, it attempts to re-define how we should, and are often comically ‘trained,' to see the world. And it’s not a good world. It’s not a merit-based world, as Dr. MLK would have liked to see.
It’s a world dominated by implicit racists, sexists, fat-shamers, etc. It’s an ugly world.
But there’s a problem with this view of humans and the world as a whole: the science doesn’t hold up, as you might have suspected from the test. For one, the repeatability of the results of implicit bias assessment, the most fundamental basis for any legitimate form of research, is not there:
‘A person’s IAT score can vary significantly each time he takes the test, undercutting its reliability as a psychological instrument. Test scores have almost no connection to what IAT research ludicrously counts as “discriminatory behavior”—trivial nuances of body language during a mock interview, say, or a hypothetical choice to donate to children in Colombian slums rather than South African ones.’
The authors even admitted how flawed the test is. They acknowledged that the test does not, in fact, test for bias in the real world. They, in a statement, acknowledged that their ‘theory,' which propelled the sale of countless books and millions of dollars spent on programs to ‘educate’ people of their unconscious biases, was based on junk science.
‘Mr. Greenwald and Ms. Banaji now admit that the IAT does not predict “biased behavior” in the lab. (No one has even begun to test its connection to real-world behavior.) The psychometric problems associated with the race IAT make it “problematic to use to classify persons as likely to engage in discrimination,” they wrote, along with a third co-author, in 2015.’
But an after-the-fact admission that they more-than-likely knew at the time of their study’s publication does no good. Like virtually everything in PC culture, ‘implicit bias’ is here to stay. It will be cited in lawsuits, used to justify continued programs in both academia and professional America, and it will persist as if it’s fact.
Just know, implicit bias is not fact. It’s falsehood. We know because implicit bias’s creators told us so.