"Not a single word."
Dr Rebecca Erikson, my professor, in her introduction of epistemology and challenging the main narrative
In news we all already know, scientists at the University of Sheffield have found that high quality science work by women is being given low exposure in favour of work by male scientists. Men were more likely than women be invited to present and show off their work even when you factor in the reduced number of female scientists by comparison to men.
filed under: colour me shocked.
The 12 cognitive biases that prevent you from being rational
The human brain is capable of 1016 processes per second, which makes it far more powerful than any computer currently in existence. But that doesn’t mean our brains don’t have major limitations. The lowly calculator can do math thousands of times better than we can, and our memories are often less than useless - plus, we’re subject to cognitive biases, those annoying glitches in our thinking that cause us to make questionable decisions and reach erroneous conclusions. Here are a dozen of the most common and pernicious cognitive biases that you need to know about.
We love to agree with people who agree with us. It’s why we only visit websites that express our political opinions, and why we mostly hang around people who hold similar views and tastes. We tend to be put off by individuals, groups, and news sources that make us feel uncomfortable or insecure about our views - what the behavioral psychologist B. F. Skinner called cognitive dissonance. It’s this preferential mode of behavior that leads to the confirmation bias - the often unconscious act of referencing only those perspectives that fuel our pre-existing views, while at the same time ignoring or dismissing opinions - no matter how valid - that threaten our world view.
Somewhat similar to the confirmation bias is the ingroup bias, a manifestation of our innate tribalistic tendencies. And strangely, much of this effect may have to do with oxytocin - the so-called “love molecule.” This neurotransmitter, while helping us to forge tighter bonds with people in our ingroup, performs the exact opposite function for those on the outside - it makes us suspicious, fearful, and even disdainful of others. Ultimately, the ingroup bias causes us to overestimate the abilities and value of our immediate group at the expense of people we don’t really know.
It’s called a fallacy, but it’s more a glitch in our thinking. We tend to put a tremendous amount of weight on previous events, believing that they’ll somehow influence future outcomes. The classic example is coin-tossing. After flipping heads, say, five consecutive times, our inclination is to predict an increase in likelihood that the next coin toss will be tails - that the odds must certainly be in the favor of heads. But in reality, the odds are still 50/50. As statisticians say, the outcomes in different tosses are statistically independent and the probability of any outcome is still 50%.
Relatedly, there’s also the positive expectation bias, which often fuels gambling addictions. It’s the sense that our luck has to eventually change and that good fortune is on the way. Similarly, it’s the same feeling we get when we start a new relationship that leads us to believe it will be better than the last one.
Remember that time you bought something totally unnecessary, faulty, or overly expense, and then you rationalized the purchase to such an extent that you convinced yourself it was a great idea all along? Yeah, that’s post-purchase rationalization in action - a kind of built-in mechanism that makes us feel better after we make crappy decisions, especially at the cash register. Also known as Buyer’s Stockholm Syndrome, it’s a way of subconsciously justifying our purchases - especially expensive ones.
Very few of us have a problem getting into a car and going for a drive, but many of us experience great trepidation about stepping inside an airplane and flying at 35,000 feet. Flying, quite obviously, is a wholly unnatural and seemingly hazardous activity. Yet virtually all of us know and acknowledge the fact that the probability of dying in an auto accident is significantly greater than getting killed in a plane crash-— but our brains won’t release us from this crystal clear logic (statistically, we have a 1 in 84 chance of dying in a vehicular accident, as compared to a 1 in 5,000 chance of dying in an plane crash [other sources indicate odds as high as 1 in 20,000]). It’s the same phenomenon that makes us worry about getting killed in an act of terrorism as opposed to something far more probable, like falling down the stairs or accidental poisoning.
This is what the social psychologist Cass Sunstein calls probability neglect - our inability to properly grasp a proper sense of peril and risk - which often leads us to overstate the risks of relatively harmless activities, while forcing us to overrate more dangerous ones.
Observational Selection Bias
This is that effect of suddenly noticing things we didn’t notice that much before - but we wrongly assume that the frequency has increased. A perfect example is what happens after we buy a new car and we inexplicably start to see the same car virtually everywhere. A similar effect happens to pregnant women who suddenly notice a lot of other pregnant women around them. Or it could be a unique number or song. It’s not that these things are appearing more frequently, it’s that we’ve (for whatever reason) selected the item in our mind, and in turn, are noticing it more often. Trouble is, most people don’t recognize this as a selectional bias, and actually believe these items or events are happening with increased frequency, which can be a very disconcerting feeling. It’s also a cognitive bias that contributes to the feeling that the appearance of certain things or events couldn’t possibly be a coincidence (even though it is).
We humans tend to be apprehensive of change, which often leads us to make choices that guarantee that things remain the same, or change as little as possible. We like to stick to our routines, political parties, and our favorite meals at restaurants. Part of the perniciousness of this bias is the unwarranted assumption that another choice will be inferior or make things worse. The status-quo bias can be summed with the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” - an adage that fuels our conservative tendencies. And in fact, some commentators say this is why the U.S. hasn’t been able to enact universal health care, despite the fact that most individuals support the idea of reform.
People tend to pay more attention to bad news, and it’s not just because we’re morbid. Social scientists theorize that it’s on account of our selective attention and that, given the choice, we perceive negative news as being more important or profound. We also tend to give more credibility to bad news, perhaps because we’re suspicious (or bored) of proclamations to the contrary. Today, we run the risk of dwelling on negativity at the expense of genuinely good news. Steven Pinker, in his book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, argues that crime, violence, war, and other injustices are steadily declining, yet most people would argue that things are getting worse - a perfect example of the negativity bias at work.
Though we’re often unconscious of it, we love to go with the flow of the crowd. When the masses start to pick a winner or a favorite, that’s when our individualized brains start to shut down and enter into a kind of “groupthink” or hivemind mentality. But it doesn’t have to be a large crowd or the whims of an entire nation; it can include small groups, like a family or even a small group of office co-workers. The bandwagon effect is what often causes behaviors, social norms, and memes to propagate among groups of individuals - regardless of the evidence or motives in support. This is why opinion polls are often maligned, as they can steer the perspectives of individuals accordingly. Much of this bias has to do with our built-in desire to fit in and conform, as famously demonstrated by the Asch Conformity Experiments.
As individuals trapped inside our own minds 24/7, it’s often difficult for us to project outside the bounds of our own consciousness and preferences. We tend to assume that most people think just like us, though there may be no justification for it. This cognitive shortcoming often leads to a related effect known as the false consensus bias where we tend to believe that people not only think like us, but that they also agree with us. It’s a bias where we overestimate how typical and normal we are, and assume that a consensus exists on matters when there may be none. Moreover, it can also create the effect where the members of a radical or fringe group assume that more people on the outside agree with them than is the case.
The Current Moment Bias
We humans have a really hard time imagining ourselves in the future and altering our behaviors and expectations accordingly. Most of us would rather experience pleasure in the current moment, while leaving the pain for later. This is a bias that is of particular concern to economists (i.e. our unwillingness to not overspend and save money) and health practitioners.
Also known as the relativity trap, this is the tendency we have to compare and contrast only a limited set of items. It’s called the anchoring effect because we tend to fixate on a value or number that in turn gets compared to everything else. The classic example is an item at the store that’s on sale; we tend to see (and value) the difference in price, but not the overall price itself. This is why some restaurant menus feature very expensive entrees, while also including more (apparently) reasonably priced ones. It’s also why, when given a choice, we tend to pick the middle option - not too expensive, and not too cheap.
Casting Practices in Hollywood [bahstudios]
Even in my female-dominated profession (counseling), the thoughts and opinions of male psychiatrists and peers are given more credence. And the dismissiveness with which those men treat our thoughts and opinions is palpable. So yeah.
1. My odds of being hired for a job, when competing against female applicants, are probably skewed in my favor. The more prestigious the job, the larger the odds are skewed.
2. I can be confident that my co-workers won’t think I got my job because of my sex – even though that might be true. (More).
3. If I am never promoted, it’s not because of my sex.
4. If I fail in my job or career, I can feel sure this won’t be seen as a black mark against my entire sex’s capabilities.
5. I am far less likely to face sexual harassment at work than my female co-workers are. (More).
6. If I do the same task as a woman, and if the measurement is at all subjective, chances are people will think I did a better job.
7. If I’m a teen or adult, and if I can stay out of prison, my odds of being raped are relatively low. (More).
8. On average, I am taught to fear walking alone after dark in average public spaces much less than my female counterparts are.
9. If I choose not to have children, my masculinity will not be called into question.
10. If I have children but do not provide primary care for them, my masculinity will not be called into question.
11. If I have children and provide primary care for them, I’ll be praised for extraordinary parenting if I’m even marginally competent. (More).
12. If I have children and a career, no one will think I’m selfish for not staying at home.
13. If I seek political office, my relationship with my children, or who I hire to take care of them, will probably not be scrutinized by the press.
14. My elected representatives are mostly people of my own sex. The more prestigious and powerful the elected position, the more this is true.
15. When I ask to see “the person in charge,” odds are I will face a person of my own sex. The higher-up in the organization the person is, the surer I can be.
16. As a child, chances are I was encouraged to be more active and outgoing than my sisters. (More).
17. As a child, I could choose from an almost infinite variety of children’s media featuring positive, active, non-stereotyped heroes of my own sex. I never had to look for it; male protagonists were (and are) the default.
18. As a child, chances are I got more teacher attention than girls who raised their hands just as often. (More).
19. If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether or not it has sexist overtones.
20. I can turn on the television or glance at the front page of the newspaper and see people of my own sex widely represented.
21. If I’m careless with my financial affairs it won’t be attributed to my sex.
22. If I’m careless with my driving it won’t be attributed to my sex.
23. I can speak in public to a large group without putting my sex on trial.
24. Even if I sleep with a lot of women, there is no chance that I will be seriously labeled a “slut,” nor is there any male counterpart to “slut-bashing.” (More).
25. I do not have to worry about the message my wardrobe sends about my sexual availability. (More).
26. My clothing is typically less expensive and better-constructed than women’s clothing for the same social status. While I have fewer options, my clothes will probably fit better than a woman’s without tailoring. (More).
27. The grooming regimen expected of me is relatively cheap and consumes little time. (More).
28. If I buy a new car, chances are I’ll be offered a better price than a woman buying the same car. (More).
29. If I’m not conventionally attractive, the disadvantages are relatively small and easy to ignore.
30. I can be loud with no fear of being called a shrew. I can be aggressive with no fear of being called a bitch.
31. I can ask for legal protection from violence that happens mostly to men without being seen as a selfish special interest, since that kind of violence is called “crime” and is a general social concern. (Violence that happens mostly to women is usually called “domestic violence” or “acquaintance rape,” and is seen as a special interest issue.)
32. I can be confident that the ordinary language of day-to-day existence will always include my sex. “All men are created equal,” mailman, chairman, freshman, he.
33. My ability to make important decisions and my capability in general will never be questioned depending on what time of the month it is.
34. I will never be expected to change my name upon marriage or questioned if I don’t change my name.
35. The decision to hire me will not be based on assumptions about whether or not I might choose to have a family sometime soon.
36. Every major religion in the world is led primarily by people of my own sex. Even God, in most major religions, is pictured as male.
37. Most major religions argue that I should be the head of my household, while my wife and children should be subservient to me.
38. If I have a wife or live-in girlfriend, chances are we’ll divide up household chores so that she does most of the labor, and in particular the most repetitive and unrewarding tasks. (More).
39. If I have children with my girlfriend or wife, I can expect her to do most of the basic childcare such as changing diapers and feeding.
40. If I have children with my wife or girlfriend, and it turns out that one of us needs to make career sacrifices to raise the kids, chances are we’ll both assume the career sacrificed should be hers.
41. Assuming I am heterosexual, magazines, billboards, television, movies, pornography, and virtually all of media is filled with images of scantily-clad women intended to appeal to me sexually. Such images of men exist, but are rarer.
42. In general, I am under much less pressure to be thin than my female counterparts are. (More). If I am fat, I probably suffer fewer social and economic consequences for being fat than fat women do. (More).
43. If I am heterosexual, it’s incredibly unlikely that I’ll ever be beaten up by a spouse or lover. (More).
45. Sexual harassment on the street virtually never happens to me. I do not need to plot my movements through public space in order to avoid being sexually harassed, or to mitigate sexual harassment. (More.)
45. On average, I am not interrupted by women as often as women are interrupted by men.
46. I have the privilege of being unaware of my male privilege.
*cis male privilege
I have bolded the ones that I found most relevant (to my own life and experience) and striking.
Science professors at American universities widely regard female undergraduates as less competent than male students with the same accomplishments and skills, a new study by researchers at Yale concluded.
As a result, the report found, the professors were less likely to offer the women mentoring or a job. And even if they were willing to offer a job, the salary was lower.
The bias was pervasive, the scientists said, and probably reflected subconscious cultural influences rather than overt or deliberate discrimination.
Female professors were just as biased against women students as their male colleagues, and biology professors just as biased as physics professors — even though more than half of biology majors are women, whereas men far outnumber women in physics.
“I think we were all just a little bit surprised at how powerful the results were — that not only do the faculty in biology, chemistry and physics express these biases quite clearly, but the significance and strength of the results was really quite striking,” said Jo Handelsman, a professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology at Yale.
Dr. Handelsman was the senior author of an article reporting the findings, published online on Monday by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."
The New York Times, “Bias Persists for Women of Science, Study Finds.”
For fuck’s sake.
This is media-driven controversy.
And you’re a fucking moron.
i hope a car repeatedly runs over your face.
Yeah, guys. That bottom picture just proves that Trayvon is a criminal.
Oh wait. No it fucking doesn’t you dumbshit.
Because, clearly, wearing a suit makes you way more worthwhile.
OK. Here’s the thing. This is me
This is also me
I think almost every Black person has a gangsta pose photo. It means nothing. Does either photo mean it’s ok to shoot me if I’m unarmed and walking down a street? That is the central issue here.
Yeah, like what the fuck?
Oh so posing like a stereotypical gangster means it’s okay to shoot someone. I guess it sucks that I once took a picture like this:
OH WAIT. THAT’S RIGHT. I’M WHITE. IT’S ONLY OKAY TO SHOOT BLACK PEOPLE WHO POSE AS A STEREOTYPICAL GANGSTER, I FORGOT.
Low IQ & Conservative Beliefs Linked to Prejudice
There’s no gentle way to put it: People who give in to racism and prejudice may simply be dumb, according to a new study that is bound to stir public controversy.
The research finds that children with low intelligence are more likely to hold prejudiced attitudes as adults. These findings point to a vicious cycle, according to lead researcher Gordon Hodson, a psychologist at Brock University in Ontario. Low-intelligence adults tend to gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies, the study found. Those ideologies, in turn, stress hierarchy and resistance to change, attitudes that can contribute to prejudice, Hodson wrote in an email to LiveScience.
“Prejudice is extremely complex and multifaceted, making it critical that any factors contributing to bias are uncovered and understood,” he said.
Here’s a link to the article on the Psychological Science article:
You do need to be a subscriber to read the full text though. Funny, and unsurprising stuff.