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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » The Ashton Kutcher Scandal - Racism (explicit content) (Page 5)

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Author Topic: The Ashton Kutcher Scandal - Racism (explicit content)
Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
*facepalm* Dan, do you want me to explain to you how this sort of test works, or are you just being bloody-minded? I really can't tell.

Are you familiar, for example, with the Keirsey Temperament test? I can start with that and go from there, if you'd like.

I'm not being bloody-minded, no.

I'm "familiar with" the Keirsey test in that I've heard of it. It's like Meyers-Briggs except more behavior-driven, at least that was the impression I got. But, I haven't taken it or read that much about it.

I'd be happy to hear more about it!

However, before we go off on a tangent there... are you responding to my comment to Sam that I don't understand how the Implicit Test is getting it's explanatory power? If so, then knowing how this sort of test works would probably help me.

Or, are you responding to what I said to you about whether or not taking the Implicit Tests multiple times is viable?

Because, if that's the case, then I want to set aside how "this sort of test" might work for a moment. The creators of the Implicit Tests very explicitly stated that you can, and even should, take their tests multiple times. Right? Did I misread the FAQ?

If I read it right, and if we take them at their word, isn't that, prima facie, incompatible with your assertion that all of my tests were invalid after the first? Do you need to explain other tests to answer this question?

I can think of one possible argument: Are you saying that, since my first test was a dry-run to try and understand how it worked, and more broadly since I'm skeptical of this sort of test in the first place, it won't "work" for me, period? In effect, all of my results are really inconclusive because I'm approaching the test skeptically?

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Stone_Wolf_:
What does "bloody-minded" mean anyway?

"Deliberately obstructive and unhelpful" would I think be the meaning he's going for.

Possibly "perversely cantankerous" ...man, what a description! If that's what he means, I hope next time he just calls me that. I've been called perverse many times, but rarely cantankerous, and that's such a fun word.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
*facepalm* Dan, do you want me to explain to you how this sort of test works, or are you just being bloody-minded? I really can't tell.

Are you familiar, for example, with the Keirsey Temperament test? I can start with that and go from there, if you'd like.

I'm not being bloody-minded, no.

I'm "familiar with" the Keirsey test in that I've heard of it. It's like Meyers-Briggs except more behavior-driven, at least that was the impression I got. But, I haven't taken it or read that much about it.

I'd be happy to hear more about it!

However, before we go off on a tangent there... are you responding to my comment to Sam that I don't understand how the Implicit Test is getting it's explanatory power? If so, then knowing how this sort of test works would probably help me.

Or, are you responding to what I said to you about whether or not taking the Implicit Tests multiple times is viable?

Because, if that's the case, then I want to set aside how "this sort of test" might work for a moment. The creators of the Implicit Tests very explicitly stated that you can, and even should, take their tests multiple times. Right? Did I misread the FAQ?

If I read it right, and if we take them at their word, isn't that, prima facie, incompatible with your assertion that all of my tests were invalid after the first? Do you need to explain other tests to answer this question?

I can think of one possible argument: Are you saying that, since my first test was a dry-run to try and understand how it worked, and more broadly since I'm skeptical of this sort of test in the first place, it won't "work" for me, period? In effect, all of my results are really inconclusive because I'm approaching the test skeptically?

wow.
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Dan_Frank
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Oh Sam, don't be such a flirt. I know I "wow" you on a regular basis, but this is a public forum. [Wink]
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Stone_Wolf_
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Samp: I find your cryptic assertion of awe to be utterly unhelpful in any meaningful way to discussion and wonder why you bothered commenting at all.
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Dan_Frank
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You get used to it.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Stone_Wolf_:
Samp: I find your cryptic assertion of awe to be utterly unhelpful in any meaningful way to discussion and wonder why you bothered commenting at all.

Continue wondering, then, as I'm essentially in holding pattern intent to wait and watch tom to field this. But for what it is worth it is an expression of bewilderment which is me really solidly getting why tom has expressed exasperation by now.
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Stone_Wolf_
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At least that is clear communication.

I don't understand where you are coming from, as Danf makes prefect sense to me, but that really is the point of discussion isn't it...sharing unfamiliar thoughts and experiences to grow as thinking beings through mutual benefit.

Oh wait...internet discussion board...that's more about nit picking and arguing, I forgot for a second.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Stone_Wolf_:

I don't understand where you are coming from, as Danf makes prefect sense to me...

Just call me Percy Weasley.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Stone_Wolf_:
At least that is clear communication.

I don't understand where you are coming from, as Danf makes prefect sense to me, but that really is the point of discussion isn't it...sharing unfamiliar thoughts and experiences to grow as thinking beings through mutual benefit.

Oh wait...internet discussion board...that's more about nit picking and arguing, I forgot for a second.

I um.

Are you trying to be Paternalistic Internet Dad? Okay thank you dude, I got it. Got it, thanks!

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Rabbit: Right. So the disclaimer confirms that the test is about as reliable (and should be given about as much credence) as an online Hogwarts sorting hat. Gotcha. Well, at least they're upfront about it!
No, you made patently false claims about the creators intent and now you are making provably false claims about the tests reliability and yelling "gotcha". You should be embarrassed.

Read the website. Check the research papers these people have published. The test has been validated in a wide variety of ways. The tool was designed as a means of researching implicit bias and it has proven to be a highly reliable when it is used as intended.

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TomDavidson
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Okay.
First off: this is a survey in the social sciences meant to measure general tendencies. As they have noted, and as with Keirsey and Myers-Briggs and any similar test, taking it multiple times will produce multiple (different) results. You may find that your multiple results reinforce a general tendency, but this is going to be highly variable. Especially problematic, once you know the "trick" of the test, is going to be someone who -- like Dan -- cares a great deal about the "implications" of a given status. Dan very much does not want to be a bigot. Dan is aware of the mechanism by which the test attempts to expose any latent prejudices.

It is possible, then, for Dan to subvert this mechanism, in the same way that it is possible for someone who is told that a company is only looking to hire energetic, personable people to completely skew their personality test results -- even without deliberately doing so.

Let's look at what the test's creators actually said:
quote:
If the outcome repeats, the result is definitely more trustworthy than is the first result alone. If the outcome varies, it is best to average the different results. However, if the outcome varies widely from one taking to another (something that is unusual) we suggest that you just regard the set of results as 'inconclusive'.
They do not say, "Taking this multiple times produces more accurate results." Rather, they say, "If you take this multiple times and get similar results each time, those results are more likely to be accurate." There is actually a huge difference between the two claims.
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Stone_Wolf_
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Samp: I wasn't aiming sarcastic barbs your way (I can see why you would think so). I was sincere...I forgot that often times discussion boards do not have the same motivation behind them as discussion.

Tom: Did Dan specifically state he "very much does not want to be a bigot"? Or that he "cares a great deal about the "implications" of a given status"? If so, then great, I must have missed it.

If not, this one humbly suggests that assuming people's motivations in that way can be highly detrimental to polite conversation.

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TomDavidson
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Sure, it can be. But in this case, it isn't.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Tom: Did Dan specifically state he "very much does not want to be a bigot"? Or that he "cares a great deal about the "implications" of a given status"? If so, then great, I must have missed it.
This could be a question for both you and dan: as far as you can guess, given anything and everything you know about studies on human behavior, why do you think experiments are so often designed around the use of things like confederates that the experiment subject is specifically kept from knowing are actually part of the experiment? Can you imagine what would change if a subject were to have an experiment such as Milgram, Zimbardo, Asch repeated again with the subject now aware of the "trick?"
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Stone_Wolf_
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Tom: Isn't your surety in this particular case a bit premature as Dan might well take offense?

Samp: While I understand the concept you are referring to (some tests are invalid if the subject of the test understands what is being tested for) although not the specifics, I am failing to understand the connection between what I said to Tom and what you are saying.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Isn't your surety in this particular case a bit premature as Dan might well take offense?
Nah. Dan's a sensible guy, not a jerky idiot.
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Stone_Wolf_
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Am I correct in understanding that you are saying that if someone were to take offense at someone else assuming their motivations that that would make them a jerky idiot?
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TomDavidson
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Not in all cases. In this case, though, sure.
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Dan_Frank
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Don't have much time right now, but Tom:

quote:
Dan very much does not want to be a bigot.
I can think of two main ways to interpret this. The first is literally. In which case, you're right! Are you seriously suggesting someone else, say, you or Sam, does want to be a bigot? I suspect not. No decent person wants to be a bigot.

The second (more likely) way to interpret this is: "Dan very much does not want to find out that he has any latent or unconscious racist tendencies."

Is that what you mean? If so, you're much less right. I'm very open to discovering that I have such tendencies, and identifying why, and changing my mind. In fact, I have done so on more than one occasion. I'm not somehow ideologically or emotionally opposed to the prospect that there's more work to be done. Nor do I think I'm somehow completely impervious to cultural memes like racism.

I'm not sure what you mean by "implications" but I think it's also wrong, if it relates to what I just said. I'm not afraid of the "implication" that I might have an unconscious racist bias.

However, I am skeptical that a test like this could reveal such information to me in any meaningful way. I want to ask this again: Do you think that matters?

That is, if I go into the test skeptically, trying to identify "the trick," then it will skew my results and be worthless? I think you implied the answer to this question is "yes" but I want to make sure.

Sam: That analogy makes no sense. The site does recommend people take the test multiple times if they question their results. That's fundamentally different than Milgram, where running someone through again, after they knew what it was about, would totally invalidate the results. It doesn't matter how open to the experiment people are, it matters whether or not they know they're being fooled.

PS: Yeah, Stone Wolf, don't worry about it. If I didn't take offense at Sam's awesome "wow" comment how likely do you think I am to take offense at Tom making a few reasonable assumptions?

Heck, I understand the impulse; if you assume right, it skips the conversation ahead a bit. As long as you're open to finding out you assumed wrong, and backtracking if necessary, it's cool.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Anyway, I am skeptical that a test like this could reveal such information to me in any meaningful way. I want to ask this again: Do you think that matters?

That is, if I go into the test skeptically, trying to identify "the trick," then it will skew my results and be worthless? I think you implied the answer to this question is "yes" but I want to make sure.

Yes, broadly. I think keeping "the trick" at the forefront of one's mind as one takes the test will significantly skew the responses of many (or most) people who are at all emotionally invested in the result.
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Dan_Frank
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Hm.

Would you categorically disbelieve me if I said I wasn't terrible emotionally invested in the result either time I took it? I mean, I have so little respect for the test that I don't think it would bother me if it said I was a closet member of the KKK.

The only time I may have been truly invested was the first time, when it said I took too long to answer and it was inconclusive, but I was invested in figuring out what the point of the test was supposed to be, not in getting a result.

The other two times it was more morbid curiosity than anything.

The other reason I was asking this, by the way, is because "if you go into it skeptically that will tarnish your results!" is a common refrain heard in all sorts of blatant quackery (astrology, palmistry, seances, etc.), so that seems like a red flag. Maybe I'm missing a key difference though.

Okay seriously back to work now.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Sam: That analogy makes no sense. The site does recommend people take the test multiple times if they question their results.
1. what analogy?

2. Yes, and it qualified the reasons why, and the known associative implications of the effect of future attempts at the test by the same individual. In addition, whether a test is useless without confederate concealment or only merely potentially likely to be unconsciously biased by the performer in subsequent tests (a hallmark of IAT) under patternable circumstances is not the defining point of understanding why research into human behavior and attitudes often use systems like confederates and other methods to isolate true behavior versus reported/idealized performance.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Would you categorically disbelieve me if I said I wasn't terrible emotionally invested in the result either time I took it? I mean, I have so little respect for the test that I don't think it would bother me if it said I was a closet member of the KKK.
Dan, you are a knee-jerk anti-authoritarian who dislikes social science in general. You are emotionally invested in disproving the validity of any study you take. [Smile] Tell me if I'm wrong, here, but you have always struck me as the kind of guy who goes into any sort of "mushy" test -- be it a personality test, a psych eval, or a horoscope -- thinking, "There's no way this'll apply to me!"

-------

quote:
The other reason I was asking this, by the way, is because "if you go into it skeptically that will tarnish your results!" is a common refrain heard in all sorts of blatant quackery (astrology, palmistry, seances, etc.), so that seems like a red flag.
Oh, absolutely. That's why, for studies where this sort of problem applies, multiple people are given these tests and the results of the tests are then checked against the results of other tests for consistency. You don't compare one user's multiple tests against themselves; you compare a mass of test results against a mass of other test results.
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
Would you categorically disbelieve me if I said I wasn't terrible emotionally invested in the result either time I took it? I mean, I have so little respect for the test that I don't think it would bother me if it said I was a closet member of the KKK.
Dan, you are a knee-jerk anti-authoritarian who dislikes social science in general. You are emotionally invested in disproving the validity of any study you take. [Smile] Tell me if I'm wrong, here, but you have always struck me as the kind of guy who goes into any sort of "mushy" test -- be it a personality test, a psych eval, or a horoscope -- thinking, "There's no way this'll apply to me!"

[Razz]

Yeah, okay, you got my number. Emotionally invested in the study being hogwash is pretty accurate.

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Destineer
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I'm pretty skeptical of these association-based tests myself. The ones that seem like a bigger deal are the resume' tests, where they show people the same qualifications but change the name at the top, and notice a significant discrepancy in how highly they're rated as potential hires.

quote:
There's a real-life example where Destineer thought I was doing this, I think in the Trayvon thread, but I can't find it right now. Basically, I said something sounded horrible, and his response was along the lines of "yeah, sometimes things are horrible!"

Which, if you stripped my comment of context and assumed I was calling it horrible as an argument, would sound like an appeal to consequences. So, as I said, people have certainly assumed I was doing that.

That was in the epistemology/psych thread. Glad to hear I was misunderstanding you.

There's another issue in the ballpark which is tough to prise apart from this one. There's nothing wrong with objecting to something on the basis of its logical consequences. It's a truism of logic that "one person's modus ponens is another person's modus tollens," and if some claim entails something you know is false on independent grounds, you have good reason to reject it.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
I'm pretty skeptical of these association-based tests myself. The ones that seem like a bigger deal are the resume' tests, where they show people the same qualifications but change the name at the top, and notice a significant discrepancy in how highly they're rated as potential hires.

Right, this has been mentioned before. I've been really curious to see the details of these kinds of tests. Preferably in plain-English, as wading through a psych major's attempts to sound erudite makes my eyes cross.

(...Not specifically criticizing psych majors here, by the way. It's a common problem. Whether a research paper, a study, an article, a novel, or, heck, code documentation, I have a very, very strong preference for plain-English, and keeping technical jargon down to only what is absolutely necessary.)

Anyway, like I was saying. I'd love to see more details of the resume tests, what they controlled for, etc.

Some questions I would look for answers to: How do non "black," non "white" names square up? Like, Yuko, or Parvati, or Pedro?

How about quintessentially "white" names that are also not very traditionally American? Like, Adolf, or Jurgen, or Vladimir?

Or names that are just not popular anymore, like Benedict, Seymour, or Gertrude?

Where do nonracial, nonstandard names rank? Or are they too rare to even be a blip? Stuff like River, Moon Unit, Crimson, Moxie Crimefighter, etc.

Do any of these change based on industry?

So many questions!

I wonder if the people doing the studies shared my questions. Did they control for these possibilities?

Sometimes it seems that many people just dismiss these kinds of questions as pointless nitpicking... like, "If Susan gets picked substantially more often than Shaniqua, then that's racist, and those other questions just obfuscate the matter."

But if Gertrude and Moxie both got passed over as often as Shaniqua, then the best plausible explanations for the data has changed! The takeaway then wouldn't be "people are prejudiced against ethnic names" but rather "people are prejudiced against uncommon or unique names."

That would be a huge difference.

And if the tests just focused on typical "white" names and typical "black" names, without allowing for all these variables (and probably dozens more variables I didn't think of, right? I'm not that smart) then doesn't it cast the explanations into question?

Maybe they controlled for every conceivable question like this that someone could ask. But I'm curious to see if that's the case.

Edit: To nip off anyone assuming that I am implying that I don't think any "resume" racism could exist... that's not what I'm saying. My questions aren't assertions, they're questions.

quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
quote:
There's a real-life example where Destineer thought I was doing this, I think in the Trayvon thread, but I can't find it right now. Basically, I said something sounded horrible, and his response was along the lines of "yeah, sometimes things are horrible!"

Which, if you stripped my comment of context and assumed I was calling it horrible as an argument, would sound like an appeal to consequences. So, as I said, people have certainly assumed I was doing that.

That was in the epistemology/psych thread. Glad to hear I was misunderstanding you.
Heh, I knew it was in the epistemology/psych discussion, but we posted for a long time in the Trayvon thread before moving to our own.

[ May 14, 2012, 08:38 PM: Message edited by: Dan_Frank ]

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TomDavidson
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quote:
But if Gertrude and Moxie both got passed over as often as Shaniqua, then the best plausible explanations for the data has changed! The takeaway then wouldn't be "people are prejudiced against ethnic names" but rather "people are prejudiced against uncommon or unique names."
I'm just going to leave this out here for you to think about for a second, Dan.

(Edit: and, on reflection, I'll throw you a bone. The study in question did rank names in order of frequency, and found no strong correlation between the frequency of the name among the population and the callback percentage. The authors also specifically point out in response to this anticipated criticism that many of the more "exotic-sounding" names are in fact quite common in the African-American population, and not actually "exotic" at all.
http://scholar.harvard.edu/mullainathan/files/emilygreg.pdf )

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Destineer
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I'm not actually very familiar with the race-themed studies, but I wouldn't be surprised if the bias-indicating results held up under those kinds of controls, given how much better "Brian" did than "Karen" in this study:

https://faculty.diversity.ucla.edu/resources-for/search-committees/search-toolkit/Impact_of_Gender.pdf

I think you'll agree those two names are equally normal-sounding.

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Rakeesh
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The point is, without an explicit statement of sexism, let's all just calm down before discussing whether it's taking place-even if Brian does better than Karen for no other known reason;)

--------

quote:
Is that what you mean? If so, you're much less right. I'm very open to discovering that I have such tendencies, and identifying why, and changing my mind. In fact, I have done so on more than one occasion. I'm not somehow ideologically or emotionally opposed to the prospect that there's more work to be done. Nor do I think I'm somehow completely impervious to cultural memes like racism.
I believe I've asked a similar question about a similar statement before, Dan, so bear with me if I'm repeating myself, but: how on Earth can you be as sure as you're sounding that you have that kind of self-knowledge? I mean, do you keep track? A log or something wherein you list some of the things you feel a strong certainty about that you keep regularly, and can check against past logs later? What method do you use to determine how strong your actual certainty was in the first place, or whether that wasn't so much certainty that the idea was right but that there was something else about it that really rang true?

Basically I would look askance at anyone, even myself (especially myself) who claimed that kind of awareness. It's just not very common at all. Personal example: I am strongly opposed to second class rights for homosexuals, and to prejudice or racism towards minorities. I vote that way and I make a point to speak up when I encounter it, many times at least, though not as much as I should. But even still, I will still occasionally glance twice at, say, an interracial couple, not with disapproval but surprise as though that were odd or noteworthy, instead of just two humans dating. In books or films, I've noted a tendancy in myself for not disapproving of homosexuality, but...it is easier to have beef with other parts of the story if it is. (Though at least for really great storytelling, so far as I can tell it simply doesn't matter to me.)

I've still got this stuff cluttering around in my head, with a pretty good idea of where most of it comes from-societal pressures, the rarity of such things in my childhood, and an almost never spoken but noticeable faint disapproval on the part of my elders. I still have that stuff clanging around in there sometimes, like a draft you feel from the crack in the wall on an extremely windy day.

And yet, I can look at my life and be glad that, after careful examination, it doesn't seem to show itself very much in my behavior or relationships. I've for instance dated other races, and helped babysat for a friend of mine whose kid is 'mixed', to go with the old unpleasant term. Despite occasional guilty twinges, I'm amiable friends and coworkers (in fact, they are a couple of the most not-morons in the building, which is refreshing!) with two homosexual men, and I shoot the shit with them talking about would-be romantic entanglements just like the straight dudes and ladies.

But even with all of that, it's still there, just a smidge of my family, less than a year ago, less than five, less than fifteen when it would still be something I would support, but internally there would be more of a portion of reasoning-my-way-to-it rather than just thinking that way entirely naturally.

I get all navel-gazer here not to bore you, or to somehow praise myself (in fact some of it is quite embarrassing), but to explain why when you claim that you don't have any mental investment towards not changing your mind, or when you toss off that we don't have any irrational hardwiring, why I have such a strong reaction. There are people I would credit with that much self-awareness. I don't intend to insult you when I say that you're certainly not one of them, because I ain't either. I think you claim much more control over your own thoughts, conscious and otherwise, than actually exists for just about anybody.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
But if Gertrude and Moxie both got passed over as often as Shaniqua, then the best plausible explanations for the data has changed! The takeaway then wouldn't be "people are prejudiced against ethnic names" but rather "people are prejudiced against uncommon or unique names."
I'm just going to leave this out here for you to think about for a second, Dan.

(Edit: and, on reflection, I'll throw you a bone. The study in question did rank names in order of frequency, and found no strong correlation between the frequency of the name among the population and the callback percentage. The authors also specifically point out in response to this anticipated criticism that many of the more "exotic-sounding" names are in fact quite common in the African-American population, and not actually "exotic" at all.
http://scholar.harvard.edu/mullainathan/files/emilygreg.pdf )

Thanks for the link!

So, I get what you're saying (and thanks for throwing that bone, because I didn't really get what you were hinting at till I continued reading.)

The implication is that a name that is "exotic sounding" to me is only exotic sounding because of racial bias; it is after all a common name in the black community. Right?

But I still have a problem. I can foresee a potential response, too, so I'll include that as I go.

The data from the study indicates that the white female names used were 3.8% of total white female births in the US. Black females were 7.1% of total black female births in the US.

White male names were just 1.7% of total white male births, black male names used were 3.1%

So it's fair to say that, in layman's shorthand, the black names were twice as common as the white names, yeah?

Well... sort of. Twice as common among black people as the white names were among white people.

Of course, roughly 70% of the US population is white, while something like 15% of the country is black.

So, in strict terms, a "common" name among the black community doesn't quite pass muster as a "common" name in the country as a whole. Right? Setting aside whatever you assume I'm trying to say here, the above sentence is at it's most basic level factual.

Now, moving on...

The obvious rebuttal to this is that, well, black people are called a minority for a reason, and what an insensitive ass I am to hold that up as proof that it's okay to discriminate against them.

That's not what I'm saying, of course. Hell, I think that employers discriminating against uncommon names is wrong, so regardless of the racial angle it's still an interesting study.

I'm just observing that the "black" names used are far less common overall than the "white" names used. It's a fact. The study didn't include non-racial (or "white") names that occur in the overall population with the same frequency as the "black" names chosen, to compare against. That's a weakness.

I'm not saying it blows the whole thing out of the water or whatever. Again, I don't doubt that there is racial bias at work here. I'm just saying that, despite your feelings to the contrary, Tom, the issue that I raised before looks to me to be a legitimate one, now that I've seen the actual study. The study was relatively narrow in scope, and does not appear to have controlled for all of the factors I wondered about.

Destineer: Thanks for that one too! You may be right. I'm not actually asserting that it wouldn't. I'm just saying that it hasn't.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
The point is, without an explicit statement of sexism, let's all just calm down before discussing whether it's taking place-even if Brian does better than Karen for no other known reason;)

How many times do I have to reject that this is what I'm saying before you'll stop using it when you feel like being sarcastic? [Razz]

quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
quote:
Is that what you mean? If so, you're much less right. I'm very open to discovering that I have such tendencies, and identifying why, and changing my mind. In fact, I have done so on more than one occasion. I'm not somehow ideologically or emotionally opposed to the prospect that there's more work to be done. Nor do I think I'm somehow completely impervious to cultural memes like racism.
I believe I've asked a similar question about a similar statement before, Dan, so bear with me if I'm repeating myself, but: how on Earth can you be as sure as you're sounding that you have that kind of self-knowledge? I mean, do you keep track? A log or something wherein you list some of the things you feel a strong certainty about that you keep regularly, and can check against past logs later? What method do you use to determine how strong your actual certainty was in the first place, or whether that wasn't so much certainty that the idea was right but that there was something else about it that really rang true?
Wow!

I am so baffled by this, man.

When I read what I wrote up there, what I see is...

1: An admission that I have identified biases in my thinking in the past.

2: An assertion that I have tried to remove those biases when possible.

3: An acknowledgement that I fully expect there could be others.

4: And recognition that resisting cultural influence is difficult, so I could even adopt whole new unfair biases if I'm not careful.

It seems like you read it, and think that I'm saying I have perfect control over my mind and have purged any trace of bias or racism forever and always.

Baffled, man. Just... baffled.

quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
Basically I would look askance at anyone, even myself (especially myself) who claimed that kind of awareness. It's just not very common at all. Personal example: I am strongly opposed to second class rights for homosexuals, and to prejudice or racism towards minorities. I vote that way and I make a point to speak up when I encounter it, many times at least, though not as much as I should. But even still, I will still occasionally glance twice at, say, an interracial couple, not with disapproval but surprise as though that were odd or noteworthy, instead of just two humans dating. In books or films, I've noted a tendancy in myself for not disapproving of homosexuality, but...it is easier to have beef with other parts of the story if it is. (Though at least for really great storytelling, so far as I can tell it simply doesn't matter to me.)

I've still got this stuff cluttering around in my head, with a pretty good idea of where most of it comes from-societal pressures, the rarity of such things in my childhood, and an almost never spoken but noticeable faint disapproval on the part of my elders. I still have that stuff clanging around in there sometimes, like a draft you feel from the crack in the wall on an extremely windy day.

And yet, I can look at my life and be glad that, after careful examination, it doesn't seem to show itself very much in my behavior or relationships. I've for instance dated other races, and helped babysat for a friend of mine whose kid is 'mixed', to go with the old unpleasant term. Despite occasional guilty twinges, I'm amiable friends and coworkers (in fact, they are a couple of the most not-morons in the building, which is refreshing!) with two homosexual men, and I shoot the shit with them talking about would-be romantic entanglements just like the straight dudes and ladies.

But even with all of that, it's still there, just a smidge of my family, less than a year ago, less than five, less than fifteen when it would still be something I would support, but internally there would be more of a portion of reasoning-my-way-to-it rather than just thinking that way entirely naturally.

I get all navel-gazer here not to bore you, or to somehow praise myself (in fact some of it is quite embarrassing), but to explain why when you claim that you don't have any mental investment towards not changing your mind, or when you toss off that we don't have any irrational hardwiring, why I have such a strong reaction. There are people I would credit with that much self-awareness. I don't intend to insult you when I say that you're certainly not one of them, because I ain't either. I think you claim much more control over your own thoughts, conscious and otherwise, than actually exists for just about anybody.

Thanks for sharing all that.

First of all, as always, don't apologize, you can't insult me. Well, I mean, you can, if you call me a stupid fatface I suppose you will have insulted me, but I won't actually care. It's fine.

When I talk about "hardwiring" you should probably ignore it. I'm talking about innate vs. learned, nature vs. nurture sort of stuff that belongs in my epistemology thread. What I'd call cultural memes picked up at a young age are probably, for the purposes of this discussion, identical to what you call "hardwiring." So let's let that one go for now, okay?

On the matter of personal growth/perspective/etc. I guess I can offer some of my thoughts/experiences so you have a more specific idea what I'm talking about.

While, as I said, I've found occasional areas of existent bias, I'll admit that I don't think I have found that much. That probably adds to your image of me as woefully un-self-aware, but I'm trying to be as honest as you were. And as Destineer was earlier in this thread.

Man, apparently you can't have a racism thread without a bunch of white guys opening up about how racist they think they are or aren't.

Anyway, here's some of my background when it comes to race:

(Okay having just written a bunch of crap I'm coming back up here to say I sort of go into a bunch of very rambling personal crap that is probably both uninteresting and unrelated to the topic. Sorry! I'll leave it anyway, since I went to the trouble of writing it.)

I was raised in the SF Bay Area by very hardcore hippy Buddhists, and I do think I should probably credit them with instilling a very tolerant attitude in me since childhood.

My family was poor, but many of our friends were poorer, so we almost always had friends of my parents living with our family for various stints of time. Most of them weren't white. My dad says he's never gotten along with white people, which strikes me as being racist in his own special way, but whatever.

One of the people I looked up to most as a young boy was a Tibetan monk who lived with us for several years.

I remember when I was probably 9 or so, I joined in with a group of kids who were bullying a kid who had recently moved to our area from Indonesia and didn't speak a lot of English. I don't really know if I personally bore him any racially motivated ill will or if I was just trying to fit in, but I'm certain some of the other kids had racist motivations. And I participated, so my motivations seem largely irrelevant. I've been ashamed of that behavior my entire life.

It's interesting to me that you brought up homosexuality. My parents were largely tolerant of homosexuality same as everything, though my dad tended to be... hm... like you, maybe? He was adamantly for gay rights, but sometimes you'd pick up on an undercurrent that he wasn't personally comfortable with gay guys.

When I was an adolescent I had some experiences I don't care to share just now, followed by a crisis of sexuality as I started having homosexual thoughts and worried about being gay. Worried, despite knowing my parents would largely accept it. I don't recall ever harassing any gay kids, but I was so confused and ashamed I might have had the right situation arisen.

In my late teens I still wondered, and I'd had some weird and dissatisfying experiences with women, so I went ahead and had sex with a couple of guy friends to see if I was missing something. It was fun, but it wasn't any less weird or slightly-dissatisfying than sex with women had been.

Sex as a teenager, it turned out, was often weird and a little less awesome than advertised.

As I grew up, I had less crises and such, but I certainly still had different hurdles to overcome.

I lived on the edge of the Navajo reservation in Arizona for a few years, and racism between whites and Navajos there is very weird and can slip into your thoughts if you let it. I think it helped that I worked a low-end food service job, so 50% or more of my workforce at any given time was Navajo, so I made a lot of friends and saw a lot of the crap they sometimes go through.

Similarly, back here in CA, I worked various parts of the financial industry, including phone customer service, and that's a field that is not just predominantly women, but disproportionately black women to boot. 5 out of 6 managers and the regional manager were black women.

Working phones like that you often encounter the worst in people, including a lot of racism. Even I did, of the casual kind that is thankful they got a man with a white voice instead of a black lady (or guy, as one of my few male cube-mates had an incredibly awesome, smooth baritone that was pretty unmistakably a "black guy" voice.)

When I started at that job, I know I had a low opinion of urban accents. Ebonics. Whatever you want to call them. "Axing" questions and whatnot. I didn't think of this as racist; they're speaking poorly, dammit, it's a matter of proper enunciation!

But a fair number of my coworkers spoke that way, including my direct manager, and of course they weren't actually less competent or dumber or whatever than people who spoke "correctly," it was just how they grew up speaking. I've mentioned before here on Hatrack that there aren't many (if any) accents I don't like. I think that was the last one to win me over, but of course it did.

Eh, I dunno man, I've rambled for a long time. I guess I'm just saying what I said initially:
I think you're reading an assertion of control over my thoughts that I didn't intend to put there. I'm not in any way trying to assert that I am superhumanly self-aware.

Okay?

quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
But even still, I will still occasionally glance twice at, say, an interracial couple, not with disapproval but surprise as though that were odd or noteworthy, instead of just two humans dating.

I wanted to comment on this gem separately, so I've reposted it.

It's not that odd or racist that you notice this, if where you live such couples are noteworthy (i.e. uncommon.) Why wouldn't you? The idea that eliminating racism means being literally colorblind is kind of silly. They still have a race, whether it bothers you or not.

When I see a couple of any sort that I don't often see in public... that's interracial, gay, substantial apparent age differences, or mixed subculture (like a very "punk" woman snuggling a man in a suit)... I often notice. I delight in the fact that less "standard" couples like that feel comfortable showing their affection in public. I think it's freakin' awesome.

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Rakeesh
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*sigh* You claimed to be 'very open' to discovering hidden biases in yourself (though, even though I suspect it would not be persuasive, if your posts are reflective of your thinking, that I'm not the only one who would raise an eyebrow at 'very').

My question was and remains, "How do you know you're actually very open to such discoveries? How would anyone go about knowing how willing they are to discover hidden parts of their thinking? How could they possibly predict how they'll react to what they literally don't know to the extent of being 'very sure' about it?"

I'm not sure if your thoughts on how the mind works includes such a thing as subconscious thoughts (I mean that very broadly, including a whole lot of things), or if that's another area of psychology that you dismiss, but it would be as though someone told you they were very open to the idea of discovering what they weren't aware was on their mind-even if it was bad.

So having read your post, before you worked with people who spoke 'ebonics', do you think you would have classed yourself 'very open' to discovering you were wrong about that? How do you know just how strongly you felt that way, and just how unconscious it was? I hear you when you say you aren't claiming as much self awareness as I think you are, but I'm not even insisting you're wrong about yourself, not really (though I am as skeptical of you in this as I'd expect anyone to be of me), I'm asking how do you *know* enough to say 'very sure'?

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Dan_Frank
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Aww, don't sigh, Rakeesh!

We're making progress! [Smile]

First, to answer one of your questions to establish background: Yeah, I agree that unconscious/subconscious thoughts exist.

When I say I am "very open" to the idea that I have hidden biases, there are two major implicit ideas here.

The first and biggest is that, as an advocate of Popperian fallibilism/critical rationalism, as far as I'm concerned one of the most important things to do in any discussion is to be open to criticism.

I can't "know" that I'm right, so it's important to always keep an open mind when facing new criticisms, and it's equally important to be willing to change my mind if I can't refute a valid criticism.

So if someone thinks I have an unconscious bias or other irrationality, I should be open to listening to their reasons, and do my best to figure out if they're right.

Unconscious biases are some of the hardest to identify, of course, so I may fail at this, but the possibility of failure doesn't mean I should resist the attempt. I'm "very open" to the attempt, if that makes sense.

The second part, an addendum really, is simply that our culture has plenty of unconscious biases about race. It's a problem area (one of many). Given that, its a front where rigorous self-scrutiny in the face of new criticism is especially important. Again, that makes me "very open" to the possibility that I have flawed thinking in this area.

At no point does being "very open" to finding biases in my thinking automatically translate into being very effective at doing so. Especially without criticism!

You're free to think I suck at it, though I think I do alright.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
You're free to think I suck at it, though I think I do alright.
That fact that you think you do alright at recognizing your biases is evidence that you almost certainly do not.

The first step toward being rational and objective is to recognize that you aren't and accepting that you will never be fully objective about somethings. Our biological programming does not favor rational objectivity.

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TomDavidson
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Well, to be fair, someone who is very good at understanding his own mental processes would also think he was very good at it.
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Samprimary
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I think I do okay at recognizing MANY of my biases. It is fun to find new ones, and recognize where they've been at work without my understanding of them as bias. There will always be plenty to find. It is the nature of being confronted by the biological structure of our own minds.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
Well, to be fair, someone who is very good at understanding his own mental processes would also think he was very good at it.

I'm pretty sure it doesn't work that way. In my experience, the more expertise you gain in any complex field the more you realize how much there is that you do not understand. I see no reason to expect that self knowledge would be an exception to this rule.
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TomDavidson
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Except that if you have genuine self-knowledge, that would include the self-knowledge to know that you've got more than most people. [Smile]
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Samprimary
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This is true. Whether or not most people trend towards claiming self-knowledge which is ultimately false for many reasons, it's absolutely true.
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The Rabbit
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My knowledge of the human brain leads me to believe that the human brain is incapable of comprehending itself. Genuine complete self-knowledge is impossible and therefore it is irrelevant to speculate about how a person who had it might behave.

If you have enough more self-knowledge than most people have, you will also know that you know yourself worse than most other people believe they know themselves.

Unfortunately, a certain threshold of critical thinking ability is necessary before people can recognize when their critical thought process are poor. Most people never make it over that threshold.

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Dan_Frank
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Yeah, I'm with Tom here.

The knowledge that you don't know everything is very different from false humility.

There are many topics about which I think, broadly, that I know more than "most" people.

But there is not a single topic about which I don't also recognize that there's a lot I still don't know, and I often even know specific people who know more than I do about it. That's okay! There's an infinite amount of knowledge to be gained. It isn't like Pokemon. I can't catch it all. Well, maybe that is like Pokemon. Don't they keep adding creatures or something? Anyway you get my point.

"The more expertise you gain in any complex field the more you realize how much there is that you do not understand" is not the same as "The more expertise you gain in any complex field the less good you are at that field, or even the less good you ought to think you are at that field."

Both of those are silly. The latter may sound a little better, but it's still fundamentally irrational.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
My knowledge of the human brain leads me to believe that the human brain is incapable of comprehending itself. Genuine complete self-knowledge is impossible and therefore it is irrelevant to speculate about how a person who had it might behave.

I'm guessing you don't want to get into a philosophical debate about this belief of yours, though, right? Especially not with me?

quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
If you have enough more self-knowledge than most people have, you will also know that you know yourself worse than most other people believe they know themselves.

Who cares how well people believe they know themselves? You just established that someone in that situation would A) know themselves better than most people, and B) that they would be aware of this fact.

quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
Unfortunately, a certain threshold of critical thinking ability is necessary before people can recognize when their critical thought process are poor. Most people never make it over that threshold.

Yeah, this is largely true, though the problem goes a lot deeper than critical thinking ability.
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The Rabbit
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Nothing in what you've said necessarily contradicts what I've said.

Joe believes he understands his biases better than most people.

Joe'e estimate of how well he understand's his own biases is lower than most people's estimate of how well they understand their own biases.

There is nothing contradictory about those two statements. The first describes how Joe compares himself to other people. The second compares Joe's self assessment of his ability to other peoples self assessment of their ability.

In any sufficiently complex field there will be a strong correlation between these two but in this case I expect the correlation to be almost perfect because of the reflexive nature of the problem.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
I'm guessing you don't want to get into a philosophical debate about this belief of yours, though, right? Especially not with me?
I'd be willing to get into a philosophical debate about it assuming my opponent had good enough critical thinking ability to make it something more than an exercise in futility. I don't know whether you'd qualify or not.
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Tuukka
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I agree with Rabbit.

For example, the great majority of people who claim to know how their mind works, are at the same time completely ignorant about cognitive sciences.

You can't really know how your mind works, and why it works the way it does, unless you have researched cognitive sciences. And the more you research them, the more aware you become of how little you actually know. The field of cognitive sciences is so extremely vast, that one lifetime isn't enough to master all of it.

BTW, there are studies supporting the idea that incompetent people tend to overestimate their ability, where as competent people tend to underestimate their ability. In other words, stupid people are so stupid, that they don't even realize they are stupid. Therefore they have a sense of false superiority.

Smart people on the other hand are so knowledgeable and aware of the limitations of their intellect, that they are more critical of themselves.

The Dunning-Kruger effect.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
quote:
I'm guessing you don't want to get into a philosophical debate about this belief of yours, though, right? Especially not with me?
I'd be willing to get into a philosophical debate about it assuming my opponent had good enough critical thinking ability to make it something more than an exercise in futility. I don't know whether you'd qualify or not.
That's a promising beginning!
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
Nothing in what you've said necessarily contradicts what I've said.

Joe believes he understands his biases better than most people.

Joe'e estimate of how well he understand's his own biases is lower than most people's estimate of how well they understand their own biases.

There is nothing contradictory about those two statements. The first describes how Joe compares himself to other people. The second compares Joe's self assessment of his ability to other peoples self assessment of their ability.

I agree with this.

There's no reason whatsoever that the fact that I think I do okay would be convincing to anyone. I'm pretty sure all Tom pointed out is that it should not somehow be especially unconvincing either, which was what you initially asserted. Have you changed your mind?

quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
In any sufficiently complex field there will be a strong correlation between these two but in this case I expect the correlation to be almost perfect because of the reflexive nature of the problem.

Let me see if I understand what you're saying here:

If a field is complex or difficult, the likelihood of someone being good in that field is lower.

If a field is easy or simple, then the likelihood of someone being good is higher.

But if a field is deceptively complex, so people often think it's easy, then there will be a large number of people who think they are good at it. So there will be a higher number of people who erroneously think they're good?

Is that about right? If so, I think that's an interesting assessment.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by Tuukka:
Smart people on the other hand are so knowledgeable and aware of the limitations of their intellect, that they are more critical of themselves.

The Dunning-Kruger effect.

Thanks Tuukka, I've been trying to remember the name for that for several days.
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quote:
Have you changed your mind?
Not in the least, you evidently didn't read the last paragraph.

quote:
In any sufficiently complex field there will be a strong correlation between these two but in this case I expect the correlation to be almost perfect because of the reflexive nature of the problem.
Let me explain what I meant by the "reflexive nature of the problem". To know yourself well takes effort. You need to have a drive to understand. The stronger that drive is, the more biased you are going to be. The better you understand yourself and the effects of bias on assessment, the more you recognize that you are unable to make any objective judgement about your own self-knowledge. Hence, when a person claims they are good at recognizing their own biases, it's evidence that they are not.
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