Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Unconscious Bias Is Anti-Science

I work for what is considered a science and engineering organization. You couldn't tell it by the fact that some of our groups are undergoing unconscious bias training. I haven't done the research myself, but from what Jordan Peterson asserts, and he is always careful about what he says, the science behind unconscious bias is shoddy to the point of worthlessness. See below.

Shoddy or not, the whole idea is ridiculous. First, if it's unconscious, I don't know I have it. In fact, you can't even prove that I have it. If you could, that would mean you know more about my internal thoughts than I do.

Second, even if it's true, it's so far down the list of decision aids that it's irrelevant if I have it or not.

In the last few years, I've had the, err, opportunity to drive through South Central Los Angeles. South Central is a horror.

This is a pretty common sight.
When you drive through South Central, you drive through it. You don't stop to shop, dine, visit or anything else unless you absolutely have to do it. All the unconscious bias in the world going one way or another isn't going to result in a different decision. You're acting on conscious bias, informed by real-world data.

Which brings me to the final point. If you observe data, develop hypotheses about it and test those against more observed data, what room does that leave for unconscious bias? Where would it arise independent of empirical facts?

Science. You're doing it wrong.

1 comment:

Tom said...

I see a pay phone. You say that’s common there? Interesting.