We’re All a Little Biased, Even if We Don’t Know It

Oct 9, 2016

By Emily Badger

One of the newest chew toys in the presidential campaign is “implicit bias,” a term Mike Pence repeatedly took exception to in the vice-presidential debate on Tuesday.

Police officers hear all this badmouthing, said Mr. Pence, Donald J. Trump’s running mate, in response to a question about whether society demands too much of law enforcement. They hear politicians painting them with one broad brush, with disdain, with automatic cries of implicit bias. He criticized Hillary Clinton for saying, in the first presidential debate, that everyone experiences implicit bias. He suggested a black police officer who shoots a black civilian could not logically experience such bias.

“Senator, please,” Mr. Pence said, addressing his Democratic opponent, Tim Kaine, “enough of this seeking every opportunity to demean law enforcement broadly by making the accusation of implicit bias every time tragedy occurs.”


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4 comments on “We’re All a Little Biased, Even if We Don’t Know It

  • It is part of bias’ nature for the biased to be oblivious to their own. However, scientists should be acutely aware of and versed in the kinds of biases that they may be carrying. The knock that I have regarding “everyday Joe” is that the vast majority of people have zero idea that they could carry bias, unaware of how they can be manipulated, and aloof when it comes to the myriad types of bias, fallacy, and basics of logic/debate. Then, when I engage in a discussion/argument, they carry this into the engagement and it is like we are on two different planets.
    Mike Pence is a gaping asshole (so’s Tim Kaine), and to attribute any coherence or gravity to anything he (they) generate is akin to asking a blind person to describe a Monet painting instead of going to a museum and seeing it for yourself.



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  • “Senator, please,” Mr. Pence said, addressing his Democratic opponent, Tim Kaine, “enough of this seeking every opportunity to demean law enforcement broadly by making the accusation of implicit bias every time tragedy occurs.”
    The concept, in his words, came across as an insult, a put-down on par with branding police as racists. Many Americans may hear it as academic code for “racist.” But that connotation does not line up with scientific research on what implicit bias is and how it really operates.

    How does the concept of “implicit bias” operate in the chants of Black Lives Matter marchers? They explicitly brand police officers as racists and call for harsh, very harsh treatment of them whether through the judicial system or by “other” means. Why does Emily Badger think we are confused?



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