Implicit Bias & Philosophy

This week, I’m talking about implicit bias over at The Brains Blog. I’m including my portion of the discussion below.

1.  The Implicit Association Test (IAT)

A screen recording of the race implicit association test

The implicit association test (IAT) is one way to measure implicitly biased behavior. In the IAT, “participants […] are asked to rapidly categorize two [kinds of stimuli] (black vs. white [faces]) [into one of] two attributes (‘good’ vs. ‘bad’). Differences in response latency (and sometimes differences in error-rates) are then treated as a measure of the association between the target [stimuli] and the target attribute” (Huebner 2016). Likewise, changes in response latencies and error-rates resulting from experimental interventions are treated as experimentally manipulated changes in associations.

2.  The Effect Of Philosophy

As philosophers, we are in the business of arguments and their propositions, not associations. So we might wonder whether we can use arguments to intervene on our implicitly biased behavior. And it turns out that we can — even if the findings are not always significant and the effect sizes are often small. Some think that this effect of arguments on IAT performance falsifies the idea that implicitly biased behavior is realized by associations (Mandelbaum 2015). The idea is that propositions are fundamentally different than associations. So associations cannot be modified by propositions. So if an arguments’ propositions can change participants’ implicitly biased behavior — as measured by the IAT — then implicit biases might “not [be] predicated on [associations] but [rather] unconscious propositionally structured beliefs” (Mandelbaum 2015, bracketed text and italics added). But there is some reason to think that such falsification relies on oversimplification. After all, there are many processes involved in our behavior — implicitly biased or otherwise. So there are many processes that need to be accounted for when trying to measure the effect of an intervention on our implicitly biased behavior — e.g., participants’ concern about discrimination, their motivation to respond without prejudice (Plant & Devine, 1998), and their personal awareness of bias. So what happens when we control for these variables? In many cases, we find that argument-like interventions on implicitly biased behavior are actually explained by changes in participants’ concern(s), motivation(s), and/or awareness, but not changes in associations (Devine, Forscher, Austin, and Cox 2013; Conrey, Sherman, Gawronski, Hugenberg, and Groom 2005). Continue reading Implicit Bias & Philosophy

25+ Cognitive Science Podcasts

Cognitive Science investigates the mind with methods and tools from various fields like computer science, neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy. Here are some popular cognitive science podcasts. I listen to almost all of them, so feel free to contact me if you have questions that are not answered in each podcast’s description below.

Continue reading 25+ Cognitive Science Podcasts

Is post-fact reasoning redeemable?

You know how I do. When people make strong claims, I want evidence and arguments. So this US presidential campaign was a lot of work. A lot! (E.g., I read over 1000 pages about Clinton-related investigations alone). The problem is that people made loads of unsupported claims during the election. So I asked for loads of evidence. Curiously, people didn’t take kindly to my requests for evidence. As a reasoning researcher, this was fascinating. But as an aspiring reasoning teacher, it was thoroughly demoralizing. In this post, I’ll discuss my experience, some research that bears on my experience, and what this tells us about the redeem-ability of post-fact reasoning. Continue reading Is post-fact reasoning redeemable?

Why Care About Cognitive Science?

How does the mind work? How does language work? What causes bias? What reduces bias? These are all questions for cognitive science.

1. What Is Cognitive Science?

Cognitive science is an interdisciplinary field composed of psychologists, neuroscientists, philosophers, linguists, computer scientists, and other academics. With all these fields combined, cognitive science has lots of tools to solve puzzles about the mind!

2. Why Does Cognitive Science Matter?

Besides being intrinsically interesting, cognitive science does a lot for us. First, cognitive science research has taught us a LOT about the mind, the brain, the body, environmental stuff, and the relationships therein. Second, cognitive science has provided many tools that have proven to be very useful — even in ordinary life!

Neural Networks, …, Siri

For instance, cognitive science is responsible for developing cool stuff like
artificial neural networks. And neural networks have allowed for huge leaps forward in Continue reading Why Care About Cognitive Science?

Addiction Vs. Habit: An Infographic

September was National Recovery Month. And in September, science writer Megan Ray Nichols reached out. Megan made an infographic about the research on and differences between addiction and habit. It’s really interesting and well-designed! Check out the infographic and the sources below.  Continue reading Addiction Vs. Habit: An Infographic

Considering Third Party Candidates? A Podcast Discussion

The 2016 US election has many people thinking about third party candidates. Good news: philosophers and others have been sorting out the ethics and rationality of voting for awhile now. I talk about the philosophy of third party voting with Kurt Jaros below:

The Podcast

Continue reading Considering Third Party Candidates? A Podcast Discussion

The Minds Online Conference Is Starting!

From September 5 to September 30, there is an exciting, free, online conference about the philosophy and science of mind: the (second annual) Minds Online conference! Loads of wonderful scholars are sharing and commenting on each other’s research — and you can access and participate in all of it!

Here are a few things to note for those who are new to online conferences.

  • Sessions: There are four sessions, each with a different topic and its own keynote.
  • Timeline: Each session lasts one week. (So the conference lasts four weeks).
  • Participating: You can read papers starting the weekend before their session. And you you can comment on papers on Monday through Friday of their session.

So head on over and enjoy the wonder that is conferencing from the comfort of your home, office, favorite coffee shop, etc.

Here’s the program:

Continue reading The Minds Online Conference Is Starting!