Are We All Unconscious Racists? No: there’s scant evidence to support the trendy implicit-bias theory.

Are We All Unconscious Racists? No: there’s scant evidence to support the trendy implicit-bias theory. By Heather MacDonald.

Few academic ideas have been as eagerly absorbed into public discourse in recent years as “implicit bias.” Embraced by a president, a would-be president, and the nation’s top law-enforcement official, the implicit-bias conceit has launched a movement to remove the concept of individual agency from the law and spawned a multimillion-dollar consulting industry. The statistical basis on which it rests is now crumbling, but don’t expect its influence to wane anytime soon.

Implicit bias purports to answer the question: Why do racial disparities persist in household income, job status, and incarceration rates, when explicit racism has, by all measures, greatly diminished over the last half-century? The reason, according to implicit-bias researchers, lies deep in our brains, outside the reach of conscious thought. We may consciously embrace racial equality, but almost all of us harbor unconscious biases favoring whites over blacks, the proponents claim. And those unconscious biases, which the implicit-bias project purports to measure scientifically, drive the discriminatory behavior that, in turn, results in racial inequality.

The need to plumb the unconscious to explain ongoing racial gaps arises for one reason: it is taboo in universities and mainstream society to acknowledge intergroup differences in interests, abilities, cultural values, or family structure that might produce socioeconomic disparities. …

 

More PC fantasy.

The evidence for implicit bias rests on the assumption that all groups of people have the same statistical properties, at least when it comes to anything affecting achievement. This is so obviously unreal that it is hard to take seriously, but there is financial and political profit in it for some so here we are.

We are to believe that alleged millisecond associations between blacks and negative terms are a more powerful determinant of who gets admitted, hired, and promoted than these often explicit and heavy-handed preferences. If a competitively qualified black female PhD in computer engineering walks into Google, say, we are to believe that a recruiter will unconsciously find reasons not to hire her, so as to bring on an inferior white male. The scenario is preposterous on its face — in fact, such a candidate would be snapped up in an instant by every tech firm and academic department across the country. The same is true for competitively qualified black lawyers, accountants, and portfolio managers. …

The fact is that blacks on the academic market and in many other fields enjoy a huge hiring advantage. Yet they are still not proportionally represented in the workplace, despite decades of trying to engineer “diversity.” You can read through hundreds of implicit-bias studies and never come across the primary reason: the academic skills gap. Given the gap’s size, anything resembling proportional representation can be achieved only through massive hiring preferences.

From 1996 to 2015, the average difference between the mean black score on the math SAT and the mean white score was 0.92 standard deviation, reports a February 2017 Brookings Institution study. The average black score on the math SAT was 428 in 2015; the average white score was 534, and the average Asian score was 598. The racial gaps were particularly great at the tails of the distribution. Among top scorers—those scoring between 750 and 800—60 percent were Asian, 33 percent were white, and 2 percent were black. At the lowest end—scores between 300 and 350—6 percent were Asian, 21 percent were white, and 35 percent were black. If the SATs were redesigned to increase score variance—that is, to spread out the scores across a greater range by adding more hard questions and more easy questions—the racial gaps would widen. …

Proponents of racial preferences routinely claim that the SATs are culturally biased and do not measure actual cognitive skills. If that were the case, blacks would do better in college than their SAT scores would predict. In fact, blacks do worse. Further, the math test is not amenable to the “cultural-bias” criticism (unless one believes that math is itself biased). …

Street crime today is almost exclusively the province of “people of color.” In New York City, for example, blacks and Hispanics committed 98 percent of all shootings in 2016; whites, who, at 34 percent of the population, are the city’s largest racial group, committed less than 2 percent of all shootings. Those figures come from the victims of, and witnesses to, those shootings. Blacks, who are 23 percent of the population, committed 71 percent of New York’s gun violence—meaning that blacks in New York are 50 times more likely to commit a shooting than a white New Yorker. In Chicago, blacks and whites each make up a little less than a third of the city’s population: blacks commit 80 percent of all shootings; and whites, a little over 1 percent—making blacks in the Windy City 80 times more likely to commit a shooting than whites. …

Oh no. Those facts are not permitted in opinion forming in modern society. Leading to nonsense like this:

An officer from Chesterfield raised the most pressing concern in the Black Lives Matter era: depolicing. Seventy-five percent of the apprehended shoplifters in the Chesterfield mall were black, he said. (Chesterfield’s black population was 2.6 percent in 2010.) “We struggle with depolicing; it’s difficult to tell officers to enforce the shoplifting laws when they will be confronted with the implicit bias issue.” That is the dilemma facing officers today: if they enforce the law, they will generate the racially disproportionate stop-and-arrest statistics that fuel specious implicit-bias charges. But it is the reality of crime, not bias, which results in those disproportions.

hat-tip Stephen Neil