Hey, We Could Use This “Racism” Detector!
Science marches on, and some of it
marches right into a happy country that unites
Alice`s Wonderland to Orwell`s
1984. The latest scientific finding from Dartmouth
discloses a test that claims to be able to detect hidden
The test`s uses are obvious enough,
and one has already been proposed—to screen police
recruits to see if they`re "biased."
You could change the course of
history with this gadget.
The problem is that the test is
voodoo pure and simple—more simple than pure, as a
matter of fact.
The Boston Globe recently
reported on an article in the scientific journal
Nature Neuroscience that describes the racism test:
"According to the findings, the more biased people are,
the more their brain power is taxed by contact with
someone of another race, as they struggle not to say or
do anything offensive. The effect is so strong, the team
found, that even a five-minute conversation with a black
person left some of the white subjects unable to perform
well on a test of cognitive ability."
"Just having a prejudice makes
you stupider," beams John Gabrieli, a psychology
professor at Stanford who was not involved in the
research. "It is really interesting."
taxes brain, research finds, By Gareth Cook,
Boston Globe, November 17, 2003]
It is indeed really interesting,
not least because what it probably proves is that just
being a psychologist makes you stupider.
Here`s how the "racism test"
First, students are given what`s
known as an "Implicit Association Test" that`s
supposed to show how unconsciously biased you are. The
students (always white apparently) are asked to push a
button for words with "positive" associations
like "beauty" and a different button for "a
common first name" for a white person like “Nancy."
In the second session, they`re
given names "more common for a black person, such as
`Tyrone`. The greater the difference between the
reaction times in the two sessions, the more the person
has trouble associating black names with positive
Therefore, he must harbor
Give me a break already.
Aside from the test`s obvious flaws
(who says which names are "white" or "black"
and which words are "positive"; how do you know
how different students associate such names, etc.), the
test seems to be given only to white students.
Of course it`s unthinkable that
blacks or non-whites might harbor "racial biases"
toward whites. But of course again that`s not the real
purpose of the test, is it?
Then there`s the real breakthrough,
the magnetic resonance imaging test that detects
"racism." [An fMRI investigation of the impact of
interracial contact on executive function, Richeson
Nature Neuroscience, December 2003 Volume 6
student was then shown a series of photographs, some of
white males and some of black males. The more biased a
student was, the more the team saw a certain area of
their brain activate, an area associated with `executive
control,` conscious efforts to direct thinking."
This, said one of the Einsteins
behind the research, Dartmouth`s Jennifer Richeson, [email
her] "is a sign the brain is struggling
not to think inappropriate thoughts."
So let`s say the test is valid and
the MRI really shows something about "attitudes."
What does it show?
What Professor Richeson thinks it
shows is "a dispiriting portrait of the state of the
nation`s race relations … even among the well-educated,
well-meaning Dartmouth undergraduates whom the
scientists studied." Indeed.
"I think people are getting
caught in this trap where they are trying not to do the
wrong thing, rather than trying to act natural," she
told the Globe.
But what the test shows (maybe) is
that "well-educated, well-meaning Dartmouth
undergraduates" have problems "as they struggle
not to say or do anything offensive" when dealing
Maybe this is "racism." My
own bet is that it`s fear and guilt.
In any case, it`s also interesting
that the students` brain power is taxed by trying not
offend blacks—and that`s considered proof of
Personally, I hope the "Racism
Detector" turns out to be reliable.
Bill Clinton and
Howard Dean and the well-educated, well-meaning
young chickens at Dartmouth who will soon turn into
people like them, I want to use the gadget on such
apostles of equality as
Jesse Jackson and
Al Sharpton to find out how much their "brain
power is taxed by contact with someone of another race."
I`ll bet the results would be
For some reason, nobody at
Dartmouth seems to have thought of that.
CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
[Sam Francis [email
him] is a nationally syndicated columnist. A selection
of his columns,
America Extinguished: Mass Immigration And The
Disintegration Of American Culture, is now available
Americans For Immigration Control.
for Sam Francis` website.
here to order his monograph,
Ethnopolitics: Immigration, Race, and the American
Political Future and
Glynn Custred`s review.]