The Implicit Prejudice

I’ve put this under the Perfect Storm because illusions and errors in human thinking bear very directly on why we’re about to have a Perfect Sotrm of problems. And, I’ve listed it under Science because – it is.

Mahzarin Banaji can show how we connect “good” and “bad” with biased attitudes we hold, even if we say we don’t. Especially when we say we don’t.

Mahzarin Banaji wrestled with a slide projector while senior executives filed grumpily into the screening room at New Line Cinema studios in Los Angeles. They anticipated a pointless November afternoon in which they would be lectured on diversity, including their shortcomings in portraying characters on-screen. “My expectations were of total boredom,” admitted Camela Galano, president of New Line International.

By the break, though, executives for New Line and its fellow Time Warner subsidiary HBO were crowding around Banaji, eager for more. The 50-year-old experimental social psychologist from Harvard University had started with a series of images that showed the tricks our minds play. In one video clip, a team passed around a basketball. Of the 45 executives watching, just one noticed the woman who walked slowly right through the game, carrying an open white umbrella. After a few more examples, Banaji had convinced the audience that these kinds of mistakes in perception, or “mind bugs,” operate all the time, especially in our unconscious responses to other people.


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