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Can you really teach kids not to be racist? Someone thought it a good idea to force children to undergo the dubious 'implicit bias' training, and film it

And the fact that this secret has eluded the most intelligent people since the dawn of time doesn't at all dampen your spirits. Photo: ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

And the fact that this secret has eluded the most intelligent people since the dawn of time doesn't at all dampen your spirits. Photo: ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images


July 7, 2020   8 mins

Imagine you’re worried about a disease. (Shouldn’t be hard, at the moment.) You’re in charge of some sort of community; I dunno, a school, and there’s a real disease going around, and you want to be able to test for it.

Someone tells you that there’s a chemical found in school wallpapers that makes the disease more likely to spread. But, good news, they have a test which they can run, which detects the levels of the chemical, and then — if levels are high — they can strip the wallpaper for you. Great! You get them to run the test, they find the chemical, they strip the wallpaper; they run the test again, no chemical.

But then you learn that lots of other local schools have had the same treatment, and in the months afterward, some of them get the disease and some of them don’t; the results of the test, and whether or not the wallpaper was subsequently stripped, doesn’t seem to have any effect on whether or not the disease spreads in the school.

So you say to the people who did the test, hey, what’s going on here? And they say “The disease is real! Are you suggesting the disease isn’t real?” No, you say, I know the disease is real, I’m just saying that the test you’ve run and the treatment you’ve administered doesn’t seem to have any relation to whether the disease comes or not. “No, the disease is definitely real,” they tell you. Presumably you would be unimpressed.

On which note, there was an extraordinary programme on Channel 4 recently, The School That Tried To End Racism. It took a bunch of 11-year-old kids at a school and made them take an apparently scientific test to detect unconscious racial bias.

The test finds that most of the children — 18 out of 24, in a class that’s 50% non-white! — “felt an unconscious bias towards white people”. The test, they say, “is now widely accepted as an accurate measurement of unconscious racial bias”, something that understandably shocks the children. 

They then make the kids embark on a three-week programme to reduce their unconscious bias. The kids are separated into “affinity groups”, i.e. white children in one room, non-white children in another, to talk about their experiences in their racial groups; a mixed-race child strongly resents being forced to choose which room she goes in. One child ends up in tears.

Then, three weeks later, they take the test again and most of the class is apparently “near to the neutral position: very little or no unconscious bias”.

It’s powerful television, and incredibly uncomfortable to watch. But there are two huge problems with it, and they’re the same problems in our imaginary school, above: disease is real, but the test and the treatment are not.

Problem number one, the “implicit associations test”, or IAT, on which it is based, is essentially useless as a measure of prejudice; it’s certainly not “widely accepted as an accurate measurement of unconscious racial bias”.

And problem number two, the “unconscious bias training” used to reduce the impact of this unconscious prejudice has not been shown to work, and in fact it’s just possible that it may even have a negative effect. 

This has been known for some years now, but the two tools — the IAT, and the training — have now become embedded in the public consciousness. So much so, in fact, that Sir Keir Starmer — the leader of the Labour Party — announced on LBC that he was going to undergo unconscious bias training, after he was criticised for his use of language around the Black Lives Matter protests, and in fact to introduce it for all Labour Party staff. “I think everybody should have unconscious bias training,” he said. “I think it is important.”

To drum the analogy home one more time: racism, like our imaginary disease, is real; and it would be astonishing if it isn’t at least partly unconscious, or subconscious, or related to some sort of attitudes not fully available to our conscious minds. “Unconscious bias” is a real thing. 

But these two tools for measuring and reducing it do not do the job they are supposed to do. It is pernicious that Channel 4 and Sir Keir are both supporting and publicising them in this context; our social battle against racism will not be helped by using unevidenced tools.

The IAT is a simple and rather clever idea; if you watch the Channel 4 programme you’ll see what I mean, or read this piece I wrote earlier this year. It measures whether people find it easier to associate positive words (“happy”, “wise”, “beautiful”) with white faces and negative words (“pain”, “angry”, “stupid”) with black faces, or vice versa, by measuring their reaction times. Most people (including black people) end up having a “preference for white faces over black faces”.

But there are two problems. One, if you test someone with the IAT twice, you’re likely to get two very different scores; it has a low “test-retest validity”. If you measure my height on Monday and then again on Tuesday, you’ll get almost the same result both times; but if you do the same with the IAT, it’s very possible that it’ll say I’m strongly prejudiced one day and not at all the next. (Which makes the children doing better on their second test less surprising or meaningful, although the odds of a total fluke are much lower when it’s 24 of them being tested.)

Second, whether you score highly or not on the IAT does not correlate with whether or not you behave in prejudiced ways in real life. It is essentially useless as a predictor of individuals’ actual, real-world behaviour. 

The IAT’s own creators say that it should not be used to diagnose levels of prejudice in individuals; they do think it can be useful at population levels, although even then it throws up weird effects, such as all categories of women being more prejudiced against women than all categories of men in the 2016 US presidential election. The idea that the average male Trump voter is less prejudiced against women than the average female Clinton voter is 
 well, it’s not inherently ridiculous, but it would require a huge redrawing of society’s understanding of what prejudice is and who has it.

I know “internalised misogyny” is a crucial feminist idea, but (to me, at least) it seems deeply weird to think that it would be internalised to that degree. Either way, it doesn’t make it all right to use it on a class of children to tell them that they’re prejudiced against black people.

The idea of training people so that their unconscious bias goes away is on equally shaky ground, if not shakier. A 2017 Equality and Human Rights Commission report found, firstly, that most workplace training uses tests like the IAT to diagnose individual levels of bias, which as we’ve seen is not a good idea. It also found that while bias training can improve IAT scores, there was “limited” evidence for behavioural change, and “potential for back-firing effects”, ie they may make the problem worse.

A 2019 meta-analysis found no evidence of backfire, but also “trivial” impact on behavioural change and only a small effect on IAT scores. This systematic review did find some evidence of effect, but only looked at the impact on implicit bias scores, not real-world behaviour. This one says basically that all the research on the topic is complete crap and not to be trusted.

I don’t know which particular flavour of unconscious bias training Sir Keir and the Labour Party will undergo; I gather it will involve “The meaning of unconscious bias; its impact on people we work with; common types; recognising and challenging personal biases; practical tips to uncover and challenge bias”, but I don’t know which particular practitioners or methods they’ll use. Some methods may be more well-evidenced than others. 

Similarly, I can’t find any research on the “affinity groups” model practised in the Channel 4 programme; it was led by a woman called Mariama Richards, who has been doing something similar in US schools since at least 2015. The article about it talks about the work of Claude Steele on “stereotype threat” — the idea that minorities “fail to achieve their potential because they internalise stereotypes” about their group. 

But the intervening years have not been kind to stereotype threat research; many of its most celebrated findings have failed to replicate. That may not be crucial to Richards’ work but I can’t find any research directly related to it, so it’s all I’ve got to rely on. 

For the record: I find the idea of telling children that they are prejudiced against black people, on the basis of an at best highly controversial and at worse flatly unevidenced test, deeply uncomfortable. Dividing them up into racial groups, to at least one child’s obvious distress, likewise. If the benefit was well-evidenced I could understand it, but in the absence of that – and, in fact, given the small but real possibility that it could exacerbate prejudice – it seems needlessly cruel. Putting the whole thing on telly seems doubly so.

Again: no one sensible is suggesting that humans are not unconsciously biased (least of all me). Of course we’re biased; it’s probably easiest to think of our brains as a collection of biases, loosely strung together. And of course we’re biased towards and against racial and ethnic groups, different sexes, different classes, in societally relevant ways. That seems so obvious, just from observing society or even honest introspection, that it hardly needs saying.

But the IAT, when used like this, is not simply that obvious truth in vaguely scientific language. It is a measure of your score on this specific test, which does not seem to be related (at least at the individual level) to any actual detectable real-world prejudice. And unconscious bias training, much of which seems to be aimed at improving people’s score on the IAT, seems to lack any good evidence for its effectiveness (and, similarly, all that much good evidence against it being harmful).

As I’ve written before, lots of major companies use the IAT and implicit bias training. I think that’s a waste of money and employee time, but it’s the companies’ money; as long as it’s not actively making things worse then whatever. It’s sort of the same for the Labour Party, although I’m not sure how its members would feel if they knew their money was going to pay for unevidenced training like this.

But the equation changes when schools are doing it to children, especially with cameras inside their race-segregated groups, and their real names and faces on national television. This should require a higher standard of evidence than “it probably isn’t harmful”. 

A retired clinical psychologist wrote to me about it, suggesting that it probably breaks British Psychological Society guidelines on research on children; certainly the ethical questions over whether it is okay to test these controversial and poorly evidenced tools on children, with no anonymising, are profound.

Channel 4 got back to me with a statement, saying: “The course followed by the school was developed by academics and educators and is based on similar schemes run in US schools. Whilst some academics argue that this test is not perfect, many agree it is a good indicator of implicit bias and it continues to be widely used both in academia and in the real world.” I think it’s worth noting that the “some academics” who “argue that it is not perfect” include the test’s own creators, who say that it should not be used to assess individual prejudice in the way this programme uses it.

Go back to our original analogy. The disease is real; racism is real, unconscious bias is real. We really do want to reduce prejudice against ethnic groups, because it really does affect people’s life chances. I’m happy to take all that as read, and while I’m really heartened by the fact that on most measures, Britain is slowly getting less prejudiced, we can probably all agree that it’s not happening fast enough.

But the IAT does not tell us anything about whether a class, or a person, is more likely to be prejudiced than anyone else. It does not do what unconscious-bias-training courses are selling it as doing. And the courses themselves are not supported by good evidence, even to the point that we can be sure they’re not doing more harm than good. If you want to protect your class from this disease, then you need a test that works and a treatment that’s effective; otherwise you’re just stripping the wallpaper.


Tom Chivers is a science writer. His second book, How to Read Numbers, is out now.

TomChivers

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Alison Houston
Alison Houston
3 years ago

“while I’m really heartened by the fact that on most measures, Britain is slowly getting less prejudiced, we can probably all agree that it’s not happening fast enough.”

No we can’t. Some of us think of prejudice as Burke and more recently Roger Scruton encouraged us to. It is an instinct which protects both the individual and the herd. It is a positive thing. If the black and brown minority have a prejudice in favour of the white majority perhaps it is because they see them as being people on whom they can rely and in whom they trust. After all this community is the one that gave their antecedents refuge and sanctuary, or provided them with employment, at a time of crisis for them in their own country or community.

It is natural to be prejudiced in favour of the majority group, that is where strength comes from. It would be entirely against reason as well as instinct to be biased in favour of unknown, untested minorities within groups. In the third world, where the young women look to white charity workers for help they have become the victims of rape, have been prostituted, exploited, trafficked. Where young white women have been told their prejudices in favour of white men are racist they have been raped and prostituted by members of the majority minority community. When their natural instincts are bullied out of them young women become victims in the way that young women always become victims.

We must reject every notion the left espouses, on principle, not go along with it one jot or tittle. Ultimately liberalism always leads to the exploitation and subjugation of women and girls.

Robert Flack
Robert Flack
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

The left use rape as a weapon

Alan Meekings
Alan Meekings
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Flack

Hello Robert Flack, You say, “The left use rape as a weapon.” Please give us your evidence.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

Not sure I agree with this Alison, particularly the final point.

Ironically what you say is close what some of the crazies that are pushing the equity/antiracist agenda are saying – that liberalism and freedom of the individual is actually a tool of oppression (!). Can you provide more context and information as to why liberalism, a movement that has achieved a lot for women (the vote, greater equality across society etc) leads to “exploitation and subjugation of girls”?

Also, I think it’s important to note that it’s not “the left” per se. The groups peddling these dangerous and divisive ideologies have done an impressive job of segregating (ironic, much) people into either left (with them) or against them. If anyone who is otherwise left wing and liberal dares criticise, they are racist and/or sexist and therefore right wing.

A side note but i think always relevant – I would recommend reading into detail on the Spanish Civil war (Beavor’s book is one of the best). It’s such a clear and obvious way to see how left wing groups can dissolve themselves in in-fighting and get consumed by internal “purity” wars. It resonates with how some on the left are behaving today, at least now thankfully in a less violent way.

RĂłnĂĄn Davison-Kernan
RĂłnĂĄn Davison-Kernan
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Excellent analysis. I’m not sure who said it, originally: “The left seek traitors, the right seek converts.”
Speaking as a left-of-centre type who is sick of divisive identitarian purist woke leftism.

Caitlin McDonald
Caitlin McDonald
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

I think Alison meant ‘liberal’ in the American sense; leftist.

RĂłnĂĄn Davison-Kernan
RĂłnĂĄn Davison-Kernan
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

I’m honestly not sure if that is meant to be satirical or not, but I’m going to bite.

How are white charity workers a majority group in these third world countries? and what on earth is a ‘majority minority community’?

“Ultimately liberalism always leads to the exploitation and subjugation of women and girls.”

Ah, but surely the unconscious bias of women towards men and against other women is because they see them as being people on whom they can rely and in whom they trust. After all this [male] community is the one that gave their antecedents refuge and sanctuary, or provided them with employment, at a time of crisis for them!

Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
3 years ago

“How are white charity workers a majority group in these third world countries?”

They’re not. Alison said that the natural instincts favour the majority, it’s when they turn from those instincts that women get hurt.

“and what on earth is a ‘majority minority community’?”
It’s a term used for the largest minority group. In the case of the UK, Pakistanis. In the US, that may be Hispanic people.

mark taha
mark taha
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

It’s natural for people to prefer their own kind. It’s time those in power had the guts to give the PC brigade the same treatment they’ve been dealing out to “racists” and others all these years-let them be hounded from their jobs.Keir Starmer has proved himself to be a gutless PC creep.

Stephen Lloyd
Stephen Lloyd
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

“… Britain is slowly getting less prejudiced, we can probably all agree that it’s not happening fast enough.” How slow is “slowly”? How fast is “fast enough”? Could we possibly define some of these cloud-woolly terms? And above all — “Compared to what?” as Thomas Sowell constantly adjures us to ask. Exactly how fast are societies expected to change, and what is the gold standard on this? Answer these questions, and you just might start getting somewhere. .

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago
Reply to  Stephen Lloyd

I think it’s difficult because prejudice is such a subjective term.

Caitlin McDonald
Caitlin McDonald
3 years ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

And prejudice done right is inductive reasoning. We learn from experience and apply our experience to present and future situations.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Stephen Lloyd

We are the Gold Standard, but we must remember that ‘self praise is no recommendation’, must we not?

Brian Hurst
Brian Hurst
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

Wow what a great explanation, really got me thinking, thanks

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

Spot on, well done!
How on Earth did we ever get beyond the Neanderthal Valley without a bit of of prejudice?
What was “we happy few, we band of brothers” all about?

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

I sort of get what you are saying but sometimes it just seems to come down to periodic outbursts that have happened down the centuries. In recent times they’ve been *student riots* or *proletarian revolution* and the absence of any absolute metrics to measure progress.

Yanking this idea up to date and the racial bias thing… in the past racial bias could mean the great Khan massacring entire cities, or British soldiers shooting unarmed people in Amritsar, or today, near 1,000 people a year being killed by Police in the USA and here it’s 3 or 5 or 2 a year.

These things aren’t comparable.

Basically things are getting better in the UK, for all ethnic minorities, men, women and indeed the LGBTQetc people. That’s just the reality.

Of course on any close look there are biases, things still to do and work on, but the millenarian type rhetoricwe regularly hear around racial bias, BLM etc is setting things back.

Barbara Marinakis
Barbara Marinakis
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

Alison, it’s true that some cultures have very authoritarian and illiberal views and customs. But is caution in the face of those facts actually prejudice? To be aware that an immigrant from such a culture might pose a danger to a female is not the same as assuming he *is* a danger. That is, it doesn’t mean that you pre-judge him as dangerous. You judge him as an unknown. And when you don’t know someone, you should take precautions until you do know him. With someone is from a culture known to have clashes with your own, you might want to take a longer time to get to know that person before you ease your guard.

Many a young white woman who has gone on a date with some white guy she admired from afar, maybe even a guy with a master’s degree and talent, and has been raped by him, knows that prejudice in favor of a race is not safe, even if he’s from your own race and culture Not even prejudice in favor of his master’s degree is enough, if you don’t know his character well below the surface. The same rule applies in both situations – you have to know well the character of the individual you’re dealing with before you ease your guard.

Robert Forde
Robert Forde
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

The idea that it’s natural to be prejudiced in favour of the majority doesn’t really work in the case of, say, Ghana. I have mixed-race relatives there who tell me that Ghanaians are generally very aware of skin colour, and that pale skin is regarded as a high-status attribute, even though vastly outnumbered by darker shades. The reason is probably historical: the Danes, the Dutch, and the British all took turns at occupying the region, so it may be associated with a sort of “governing class”. But it’s hardly racism, or indeed anti-racism.

And this is part of the problem: these issues are complex and nuanced, and reducing everything to one binary distinction (whoever does it) is not helpful.

Caitlin McDonald
Caitlin McDonald
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

Excellent comment. Only thing I disagree with is your use of the term liberal to mean (I assume) leftist.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

Even by Channel 4’s appallingly low standards this show sounds despicable and cruel. (I haven’t seen it as I don’t have a TV). And yes, all this anti-racism stuff is actually creating more racism, on all sides. But we have known that for some time.

Jo Jones
Jo Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I didn’t see the programme, but I read about one child (white, red haired, Henry) who got very upset, crying. He seemed a very decent, gentle boy, and I was concerned for his well-being. Despicable and cruel indeed.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Jo Jones

Yes, he was featured very prominently in the Daily Mail.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

God’s teeth teeth why are you reading MSM?
Hypocrite?

Alan Meekings
Alan Meekings
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Hello Fraser Bailey, is the Daily Mail your sole window on the world? You confess, above, that “I haven’t seen it as I don’t have a TV”. So what entitles you to comment on it? Please find some way to watch it (for instance on online catch-up TV) before you pontificate about it.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Meekings

Where did Fraser say the DM was his sole window on the world? And if you read his comment more closely you’ll discover that he said the program “sounds” despicable and cruel.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I think you mean the Daily Fail

Alan Meekings
Alan Meekings
3 years ago
Reply to  Jo Jones

Hello CJ, you confess , “I didn’t see the programme” So how can you sensibly comment on a TV programme that you haven’t even watched. Please do watch this two part-programme and then tell us your thoughts. Meanwhile. please don’t tell us your thoughts about something you currently know nothing about.

Jo Jones
Jo Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Meekings

Hello Alan, have only just seen your comment. I should have said I saw a trailer (admittedly probably not representative of the whole programme), and the child’s parents responses. I don’t watch C4 as a rule, I find it a bit too extreme these days. Take your point, I shouldn’t have judged the whole programme on a section of it. I’d be grateful for your analysis, if you’d reply? Thanks.

Paul Wright
Paul Wright
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

And yes, all this anti-racism stuff is actually creating more racism, on all sides. But we have known that for some time.

The article does not claim that, so I’m not sure why the “and yes” is there, as if you’re agreeing with something Tom Chivers said. What is your evidence for your claim?

john.sullivan
john.sullivan
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Wright

“… even to the point that we can be sure they’re not doing more harm than good …”

Paul Wright
Paul Wright
3 years ago
Reply to  john.sullivan

The harms we have good evidence for here are upsetting kids and wasting time and money on stuff which doesn’t work, not “creating more racism”. The 2019 meta-analysis found no evidence of backfire, and the backfire effect is yet another psychological result which doesn’t reproduce very well (The Elusive Backfire Effect: Mass Attitudes’ Steadfast Factual Adherence by Thomas Wood & Ethan Porter (January 2018) Political Behavior pp. 1-29. doi:10.1007/s11109-018-9443-y.).

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I think that’s the point. If this manufactured racism were to end today, a lot of people would be out of a job.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

Precisely!

Linda Baddeley
Linda Baddeley
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I posted earlier and got the message that my post was awaiting ‘moderation’. I assume that Unherd didn’t like my opinion that what the children were subjected to amounted to abuse – yet a few posts down from here, William Gladstone has said the same.

Alan Meekings
Alan Meekings
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Hello Fraser Bailey, How can you sensibly comment on a TV programme that you haven’t even watched. Please do watch this two part-programme and then tell us your thoughts. Meanwhile. please don’t tell us your thoughts about something you currently know nothing about.

Giulia Khawaja
Giulia Khawaja
3 years ago

I watched this programme and found it quite appalling. The visit to the National Portrait Gallery was done solely to demonstrate how racist white people are. The organiser achieved this by taking the students to a 18th/19th century gallery filled with paintings of white people and only one of a black person. They did not explain that this was because-
A. The country was probably 99% white at the time
B. That these were the affluent people who could afford to have their portraits painted.
C. The vast majority of white people are not represented here either because they couldn’t afford it.
Neither did the organisers appear to mention that the NPG has several Diversity exhibitions and study days for schools.

The result was a boy said at the end “this place is dead”
Congratulations to the organisers, he has probably been put of art galleries for ever.

I am suspicious about “unconscious racism”. The West has legislated and worked to be inclusive over the last several decades. It may not yet be fully achieved but overt racism is surely not seen to the degree it was in the past. However, we are not yet out of the woods, “unconscious racism ” is apparently lurking in the shadows and must be expunged by all means possible.
How will we ever win? Martin Luther King was wrong because, he advocated being “colour blind”. According to one of the organisers this is wrong because we are ignoring a black persons history.
Evidently it’s fine to try and wipe out our history.

john.sullivan
john.sullivan
3 years ago
Reply to  Giulia Khawaja

You are trying to rationalise the irrational. You won’t succeed, but you will drive yourself mad.

Just keep it simple. Call out the woke leftard idiots for what they are and move on.

But, if you have children in education, make sure you remain vigilant because a feature of most – if not all – cults is that they turn people against their families. We saw this very explicitly towards the end of the C4 programme when one young lad told his Ghanaian mother “you just don’t get it”.

David Slade
David Slade
3 years ago
Reply to  Giulia Khawaja

Very true. Apologising and self reflecting as an act of solidarity (even if not warranted) is fine if those on the receiving end have the magnanimity to accept it. It’s clear many of the West’s critics merely have the sadism to exploit it though, as ‘experiments’ like those mentioned in the article suggest.

Alan Meekings
Alan Meekings
3 years ago
Reply to  Giulia Khawaja

Hello Giulia, It’s now clear to me that this is a forum for people who don’t even begin to understand the concept of ‘unconscious bias’. So, doubtless you’ll all be delighted to hear I won’t be commenting again on this forum. So, carry-on sharing your nasty views about race and eugenics in this particular ‘echo chamber’.

mattpope145
mattpope145
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Meekings

You keep telling people to watch the programme and then one does and what they say about the programme is legitimately damning but as you found value in the programme cannot accept it being so criticised.

You know quite well that nothing that might in any way push eugenics has been put forward. You can present yourself as reasonable but unfortunately you come across as too far within your own echo-chamber to see the merit of anything without it. THIS is UNCONSCIOUS BIAS. It affects us all don’t pretend to be above it.

David Probert
David Probert
3 years ago

This is such a fatuous debate – it reads like one of those useless endless sociology dissertations nobody ever reads but somehow gets a 2/1 for boredom.

Racial difference is a part of being human – people notice it when they meet others, just as they notice accents, people tend to collect together in tribal and like-minded, similar appearance groups, initially for security and recognition and they also mix with people of different social, ethnic and linguistic groups out of curiosity and attraction to ‘the other’- it has been part of human existence for millions of years and will remain so .
This whole debate is a total waste of time. The real issues are socio-economic, cultural and lifestyle choices or lack of them – not race. The most educationally and economically deprived group in UK are now young, white, working-class males and have been for some years.

As other have said, ‘anti-racism’ (whatever that actually means in reality and that is not clear – at present it means attacking “white privilege” (?) burning flags, daubing slogans and pulling down statues) will breed real , deeply resentful racism – as self- defined ‘underprivileged’ groups demand er… “privileges” and the privileged resist The duped woke luvvies should be careful what they wish for . Is this all really any more than a “power grab”?

The whole nonsense of this ‘culture war’ is very ugly, dangerous and inflammatory.

(Just for the record ,where is the open debate and woke hand 9-wringing about the open “racism” and “sexism” involved in the abuse and grooming for sex of young white girls by groups of Asian Muslim males ? Let’s hear it!

john.sullivan
john.sullivan
3 years ago
Reply to  David Probert

“This whole debate is a total waste of time”.

Of course it is. The Marxist subversives behind it don’t intend for it to be constructive. It absolutely is meant to be a “power grab”, but the wokies are so fragmented that it is just heading for complete anarchic chaos.

Alan Meekings
Alan Meekings
3 years ago
Reply to  john.sullivan

Hello John Sullivan, You say, “the Marxist subversives behind it don’t intend for it to be constructive. It absolutely is meant to be a “power grab”, but the wokies are so fragmented that it is just heading for complete anarchic chaos.” What does this mean in ordinary language?

Alan Meekings
Alan Meekings
3 years ago
Reply to  David Probert

Hello David Probert, You say, “Where is the open debate and woke hand 9-wringing about the open “racism” and “sexism” involved in the abuse and grooming for sex of young white girls by groups of Asian Muslim males?” Personally, I totally condemn the abuse and grooming of girls by anyone, regardless of their ethnicity. Do you, David, not recognise that many white-skinned people have abused young, vulnerable girls. If so, please explain to me your defence of Jimmy Saville.

mattpope145
mattpope145
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Meekings

This response misses the point, which is that however you feel about it Alan there are cases (Rochdale) when authorities under pressure from a woke-culture have turned a blind eye. This is a symptom of an obsession with racism and a fear of ever being branded as racist or islamophobic, essentially of being painted with a broad brush by a culture comprised of individuals complacent towards the actual substance of the new moral tide.

gary.mcghee
gary.mcghee
3 years ago

Yes, agree Alison. Whenever someone says that ‘we’ can probably all agree,’ my BS detector flashes. Racism is a damn sight less prevalent than it used to be, other wise the implication is that all these efforts over the years in all walks of life to address racism and raise the general level of consciousness around it have failed. They certainly haven’t. Just because there are some recidivist racists with brains the size of a pea, does not mean that great strides have not been made with the vast majority. Ditto homophobia and misogyny, Also there is nothing wrong at all with people of all ethnicity being more comfortable with their own tribe. Most people are. This is only seen as problematic when it’s white people, and that smacks of ideologically-driven prejudice against white people. Best to ditch the hierarchy of oppression ideology and stop putting people into groups and categories, treat them as individuals with individual human agency.

Julia Whitaker
Julia Whitaker
3 years ago

I watched this with my 13 year old daughter who perceptively observed that most of the one-to-one interviews were done with just two of the girls, one very articulate, the other both articulate and physically attractive: “That’s bias for you … they focus on the clever one and the pretty one. What about everyone else.”
I thought this programme was apallingly exploitative of the children’s emotions and seemed to create more division in what appeared at the start to be a well-functioning group. Any exercise that makes children feel bad about themselves goes against all ethical standards.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago
Reply to  Julia Whitaker

Creeps me out when people use children to make points in this manner – such as in the photo on this article.

You can brainwash a child to say anything – there’s a reason why fascist and communist organisations had youth movements.

What’s even more creepy? Other people seeing the child/children made to chant the slogan or carry the sign and thinking it’s somehow so powerful and important – purely because it’s pushed all their emotional buttons and not the rational ones.

Caitlin McDonald
Caitlin McDonald
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Yup! Gender ‘theory’ is said by the gender theory set to be so evidently true that ‘even children’ understand it. The layers of manipulation in that condescending insult shock me.

Glyn Reed
Glyn Reed
3 years ago

Stop the world, I want to get off. It is becoming increasingly Orwellian by the day. Truly disturbing.
When I worked as a teacher I saw absolutely no racism amongst the children, although one day I did witness one little boy, parents from Nigeria, teased for being a Christian by another little boy whose parents hailed from a different African country.

Neil John
Neil John
3 years ago
Reply to  Glyn Reed

Teased at school then, likely to be targeted/killed on the street now, as so many by being colour and religion ‘blind’ have enabled and strengthened the hand of those who do not share ‘our’ British heritage and tolerance and will turn it against those that are not of their heritage.

Simon CHee
Simon CHee
3 years ago

Good article, sadly this bogus type of analysis now seems to be appearing in schools anyway with `earnest teachers’ eager to do the right thing. My 10 year old had a test question, which I even told him was specifically designed to get the answer they wanted so they could discuss his prejudices..His only information was 1 of the 4 people in the pictures committed a crime (no other information). there were 3 pictures of women, a smiling happy white person, a smiling lady in Hijab and a couple of girls in Burka finally there was one man perhaps omani based on his head gear, he looked quite steely and determined but to my son quite firece. Told him to pick the smiling white lady, being 10 he chose fierce man and of course discussion of unconcious racial bias followed. no thought that he chose the only male in the set, the only one not smiling etc.. nope because he didnt choose the one white person we must discuss racial bias. Obviously the question was designed to lead to that one outcome, which is where i agree with the article. I dont say racism doesnt exist, but would question the article title. I think it is more that parents teach their child to be racists rather than children needing to be taught not to be. Oh did I mention that my son with his obvious unconcious racial bias based on a single question is mixed race…….

Paul Blakemore
Paul Blakemore
3 years ago

I too have no TV but I made a point of watching some clips of this online: and was truly appalled. The point in the article about ethics and the guidelines of the British Psychological Society seems to be key to challenging this; and it most certainly needs challenging.
I do not dispute that ”racism is real, unconscious bias is real. We really do want to reduce prejudice against ethnic groups”, but as a child I learned that issues of ethnicity and race are far from black and white. I certainly saw overt racism from ‘whites’ growing up in the 70s, but also the kiddie version of the Indo-Pakistani war that broke out in the school playground in 1971. Names were called, a few kiddie fights broke out. No-one was seriously hurt. We sang hymns in school assemblies but were also told the stories of the Gurus, which I vaguely remember were pretty bloodthirsty in places. Perhaps the closest we got to the IAT was singing that song: ‘The ink is black/the page is white/together we learn to read and write’. Not sure what modern ‘progressives’ would make of that; doubtless it’s evil. It’s actually less cringe-worthy than some of the stuff I saw at school assemblies in the 90s.
I was into Rock Against Racism by the late 70s and The Specials were the best thing ever to come out of Coventry, it seemed it to me. I grew up with Asian kids who grew up in Uganda who had suffered appalling racism; Indian kids whose families came from Punjab who hated Muslims; Jamaicans and Nigerians who did not like each one bit; children of a Polish diaspora who probably weren’t too fond of Russians. Most of this can, I suppose be blamed on ‘the Empire’ if it suits; which of course relies on ignoring the empires that came before Britain’s. The nastiest fight I ever saw was between a Sikh kid and a Muslim kid. I can still make a Hindi speaker blush with some of the fruitier terms of abuse I learned back then.
The ethnic composition of our inner city schools has become infinitely more complex than what existed in my youth. I feel certain that patterns of racism, unconscious bias and prejudice must have become equally complex; and today’s youngsters must be as aware of this as I was.

Adam Huntley
Adam Huntley
3 years ago

We had this unconscious bias training at work. At the end we had the inevitable evaluation and were invited to comment on what you think you learned. I stated that I learned how surprised I was that so many people believed it had any validity. It seems I was right.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Adam Huntley

Every day I am grateful that I have been freelance for 22 years and do not have to attend any such training. The modern (corporate) workplace is surely a hell on earth.

john.sullivan
john.sullivan
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Yes, the key word there being ‘corporate’ – the large companies with bureaucratic managers who are not spending/risking their own money.

The increasingly ridiculous obsession with health & safety (&, latterly, ‘sustainability’ – whatever that means in a corporate environment), over several decades, tells you all you need to know. It’s even got the authoritarian cultist element now; encouragement to “challenge” anyone not holding the hand-rail…

Of course, the quango’s (HSE, Ofcom etc.) all deny that the nonsense is anything to do with them – just more leftist dishonesty.

Ian Pitt
Ian Pitt
3 years ago

We had a golden retriever (a big softee) who was very relaxed about our African friends, but who snarled and backed away any time a visitor came with a black labrador, or if we met a black dog when out walking.
Innate canine racism?

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Pitt

Dogs are supposed to be colour blind, are they not?
It probably had something to with smell or posture, or something we just don’t understand yet.

Caitlin McDonald
Caitlin McDonald
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

But not shade blind. If they didn’t see shades of black and white the wouldn’t see at all.

Robert Flack
Robert Flack
3 years ago

This was just another lefty, anti-white racist programme. It bordered on peadophilia. None of this anti-white racist bullying will work. It will just make for more resentment and division. Perhaps any of the woke on here would like to tell me if it is a civil war they crave?

pirh zapusti
pirh zapusti
3 years ago

It’s true, internalized misogyny is real. The patriarchy taught me to hate women who laugh about raping children, support sexually abusive men, kill others through their own negligence, use vast networks to cover up their corruption, syphon millions of dollars for their own personal gain under the guise of helping others, and wear ugly pantsuits. Clearly all women do this, and this is why I didn’t vote for Hillary, because her characteristics are those of literally all women, everywhere, all the time, who use their devious double-X chromosomes to cause disaster everywhere they go. I, as a woman, am completely incapable of thinking for myself, so I just blindly accept this patriarchal narrative of what all women are like, despite it having no resemblance to myself or many women I know, and judge the rest accordingly, and how dare I.

William Gladstone
William Gladstone
3 years ago

It just looked like child abuse to me. Channel 4 and the witch finder woman who I am sure is rolling it in should be prosecuted or at least sued for every penny they have.

Also we long have had tools to reduce bias, they are called objective measures and secret ballots. The fact that we don’t use these tools in unconscious bias says to me that this is more about brain washing and giving cash to your friends than actually fixing the problem.

Alan Matthes
Alan Matthes
3 years ago

People are tribal, it’s natural and it always will be. As far as reducing to a minimum racial prejudices, the best thing that any non-white can do is smile, be friendly, be responsible, obey the law and express a love for the country and people that live in it and most of them will treat you well. (Oh! and don’t winge about racism!) It might sound like simplification but I think it is that simple.

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago

Ah, right-o…just like the anti-gayness conversion training …take the training and hey-presto, no more being gay.
Simple, what could go wrong with anti-racist training….

Warren Alexander
Warren Alexander
3 years ago

Mr Starmer’s decision to undergo this training is cynical and political.

Linda Baddeley
Linda Baddeley
3 years ago

And reflects his party’s lack of understanding and/or acknowledgement of the concerns and needs of traditional Labour voters, many of whom demonstrated their disillusionment with Labour in the last election.

Mark Anderson
Mark Anderson
3 years ago

I worked in social service settings since 1991, and believe me, I’ve attended every type of bias training you can imagine, and over the years I’ve gone from interested in these trainings to bored to resentful and, finally, to bitter. So these trainings do work, but maybe not in the intended manner.

Gerry Fruin
Gerry Fruin
3 years ago

This reminds me of a headline story many decades ago. It was a test given to 14 year old boy’s by a new wave teacher. A ‘free thinker’. At that time male teachers wore a suit and tie and polished shoes. Female teachers wore frocks/dresses or skirts. Never slacks. ‘This ‘with it’ (woke?) teacher wore an open neck shirt and jeans, strewth!
The question asked was what did they think of girls. The result was mostly unprintable even in The News of the Wold. The world fell apart. What was not revealed at the time was it was all on a single sheet of paper. Imagine, boy one writes something a bit daring. Boy two not to be outdone writes…. Twenty boy’s later! You get the picture.
The star teacher proves boys have naughty thoughts. Well slap my a*** and call me Sally. Strange girls were not given a similar chance.
So we have moved on, mmmm….!

sublime5456
sublime5456
3 years ago

in short, yes you can teach them anti-prejudice attitudes once prejudiced attitudes are formed (but behaviour might not follow anyway), because prejudices are learnt – but humans aren’t pavlovian dogs. Those pushing implicit bias training make the assumption that magical mysterious processes are controlling behaviour, and how could we possibly know if its subconscious; its like a ghost in the machine to borrow this popular metaphor. This is danger of popularising psychology studies that show “amazing” findings in journals, that later turn out to be far more dubious. But, its too late the message is out and psychology studies have been given away to consultants, trainers and teachers to include in curricula without criticism – how can we question the evidence?. In short, training children who end up learning prejudice attiudes from mimicking adults and mirroring status qou tells me its the adults who are the problem not kids – I guess the assumption is when they grow up future generations wont have these attiudes because our ghostly processes wont be prejudiced, and there will be only us bigoted old folk who will be scoffed at like we did to our grandparents. But I am pretty sure I’ll hate everything and anyone, including myself by the time I am 80 due to being exhausted from all the implicit bias training telling me I am so many things I didnt know 😼

Craig Berg
Craig Berg
3 years ago

Out of interest, I wonder if unconscious bias played a part in the election of Starmer as Labour leader? After a low-key campaign and arguably better campaigns from Long-Bailey and Nandy, perhaps Labour’s members ‘unconsciously’ voted for the candidate who, ‘appears’ most leader-like. Just a thought…

Michael Butcher
Michael Butcher
3 years ago

Perhaps a less direct approach could help? https://youtu.be/dLAi78hluFc

Linda Baddeley
Linda Baddeley
3 years ago

This is not a link to Youtube. Is the full stop between ‘youtu’ and ‘be’ a mistake? I advise people not to click on this link until this has been clarified,

andrewdevinerattigan
andrewdevinerattigan
3 years ago

“I RECENTLY watched the baffling and infuriating two-part Channel 4 documentary, ‘The school that tried to end racism’. From the trailer and the fact that it was being aired on Channel 4, I took a wild guess that there would be very little racism that needed eradicating in the school. Sure enough, from the very start C4 excelled in meeting my low expectations.

The show introduced us to a year seven group of multi-ethnic 11-year-olds who mixed freely and stated that they don’t care about ethnicity or skin colour and that they see everyone as equal. Nothing to see here, you might conclude, but as we were about to learn, not caring about skin colour is in itself a form of racism. Clearly, these little bigots were in need of some serious moral instruction to help them overcome the racism they couldn’t see in themselves….click below to read on.
https://conservativewoman.c

Barbara Marinakis
Barbara Marinakis
3 years ago

I’ve always been an individualist. By that I mean that I love thinking into things for myself, exploring information and ideas and coming up with questions, and working out *my own way of looking at things.* And I love having the freedom to openly challenge dogmas and engage in a benevolent and thoughtful discussion with others who are just as interested in exploring. I think of myself first as a mind. All the other identifying stuff is sort of interesting, race, sex, etc. But it’s not core.

As a result I’m interested in individuals, how they think – I mean how they go about processing information, what they believe and why, what their strengths and weaknesses and talents are, and their life stories. All of it is one-to-one when it comes to knowing an actual human being. Assumptions aren’t good enough. I want to know what’s real (in as far as a person is willing to reveal it).

From the time I was a little kid I’ve thought of each person as being like a storybook. And you don’t know what’s in the book until you read it.

There’s no room for racism in a mind that works like that. Any prejudice that appears in such a mind won’t last long in the face of evidence. An explorative and questioning imagination can see possibilities beyond common assumptions and wants to find out what’s actually true. So maybe what we need is to give children opportunities to develop an individualist way of using their minds – individualist in the sense that I describe above.

Robert Forde
Robert Forde
3 years ago

There is a lot of gibberish among the comments (no offence to those of you who hail from Gibber), but I must correct one point in your article. There is no such thing as “test-retest validity“. It is test-retest reliability. Reliability is the extent to which the test consistently measures the same thing, and retesting is one of several ways to estimate this. Validity is the extent to which it measures the thing it claims to measure.

Tests can be highly reliable without being valid (eg, if a test consistently measured anxiety while purporting to measure extraversion). But if a test’s reliability is low, it cannot be valid (if it can’t consistently measure the same thing, it certainly can’t consistently measure the right thing.

As for the implicit bias training, I think it’s probably a lot of hokum. There are many types of training or alleged “treatment” that set out to change attitudes in the belief that this will change behaviour. There is little evidence that any of them work, or could in principle work. There is clear evidence that in some cases they make the targeted behaviour more likely, not less.

The trouble is, we are dealing with expressed attitudes. People can, relatively easily, be pressured to change the ideas they express. What underlies these attitudes, and their expression, is not directly observable and therefore not directly measurable. Also, there is often a huge gap between intention and behaviour. In a classic experiment in this field, a US researcher phoned restaurants and asked if they would refuse to serve a Chinese couple if he brought them for a meal (this was legal then). Of those who said they would refuse, hardly any actually did when the trio turned up in person. Binary thinking doesn’t cover this sort of situation (ie, real life).

Tom Hawk
Tom Hawk
3 years ago

My neice (English) sent a whatsapp photo of her five year old son walking hand in hand his best friend, (black).. Lovely how children behave.

On the surface a shining example of how children do not recognise colour and indeed learn racism from adults.

Except and it is a huge except… my neice lives in Paris. Her son is the “Anglais” in school. He is not French. His spoken French is a second language. He in not one of the native tribe.. he is an outsider. His black friend is also not native white French. He to is an outsider.. That two outsiders become friends with each other is hardly surprising. But underneath one needs look at human behaviour. Why do people seem to want to be part of a group of who share similar characteristics?

Look at children leaving the school/university gates. The good looking girls/boys will be walking with other good looking children. The awkward ones will be in another group. The sporty ones will be running. The whole school will be gathered into groups of similar types of children. Children do not move between groups.The geeks do not turn into cool good looking children by joining the cool good looking circle. Indeed they are likely locked out of that group for not being “cool” enough.Once they have settled into a circle of friends they will not change much. Lessons about making friends and behaviour learned at school/college last through life.

How can the powers that be stamp out racism if children make friends with similar children? Perhaps the more sensible way forward is to accept human nature and work with it instead of trying to fight it?

Terry Hopkinson
Terry Hopkinson
3 years ago

Those of you old enough may remember a song in 1964 by The Serendipity Singers called Beans In My Ears. If not look it up on YouTube. It epitomises what this is about.

Alan Meekings
Alan Meekings
3 years ago

Hello Tom Chivers, I’m now left wondering if you actually watched the same two programmes on TV that I did. Do you, perhaps, have some sort of ‘agenda’ that seeks to deny the importance of unconscious racial bias? If so please let us all know the evidence that supports your view.

Bronwen Saunders
Bronwen Saunders
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Meekings

Hello Alan Meekings. That unconscious racial bias is a predictor of racist behaviour and hence a contributing factor to unequal outcomes is only a hypothesis for which there is no conclusive evidence. Nor can its importance relative to other variants (cultural factors, for example) be measured. That being the case, disagreement regarding the importance of unconscious racial bias is completely legitimate and does not warrant the use of loaded terms such as “deny” and “agenda”.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
3 years ago

The only training that is needed is to explain why humans have unconscious / subconscious reactions to situations – they are essential to our survival in the past and still are now. Once that realisation dawns, the next step of the training is to engage the conscious brain before speaking / acting. This sort of training would be very useful for the woke thought police before they cancel anything that does not follow their strict dogma on an issue, but that does presuppose they have functional conscious brains left to train in the first place.

william83
william83
3 years ago

Old wisdoms:
“Birds of a feather flock together,”
“Like cleaves to like.”
These are the ancient and long established realization that it is “natural” for people to form associations with those that they see as representing themselves. No amount of education can effectively educate the eradication of natural impulses.

666bobtodd
666bobtodd
3 years ago

uncle tom starmer is to undergo brain washing for wacism what about topsy the hippo she has made racist comments in the past ?

invinoveritas7
invinoveritas7
3 years ago

In order to possess so-called “white privilege” (WP) there has to be some non-whites around, and the more there are the better from the logical viewpoint that WP is something worth having. After all, privilege of any sort is a good thing to have is it not? Ergo, a white person would be deprived of WP in an all-white country or community. Similarly he/she cannot “practice” racism when there are no non-whites around to be racist towards. True, a racist can think bad thoughts about them when on TV they see non-whites in culturally-enriched places rioting and looting and calling for the ending of WP and/or toppling statues that allegedly “glorify white supremacy”. But, since the non-white and the privilege-deprived whites rarely if ever come into contact, surely such thoughts can cause no harm or trauma to non-whites? Unless of course racism is some kind of invisible miasma that wafts through the atmosphere causing hurt and offence and lifelong trauma to non-whites in distant places? Which, of course, needs to be investigated by C4 and others in the great and good industry of social justice. But, excepting that possibility, my point and conclusion is a simple and very elegant one. The cure for racism is racial segregation.

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
3 years ago

This dreadful obsession with cleansing and purging humanity continues apace.

Me The first
Me The first
3 years ago

What a cruel and nasty experiment to play on children

M Blanc
M Blanc
3 years ago

Those who rule us aren’t interested in combatting “racism”, whatever “racism” might actually mean. They are interested in undermining the majority populations in Europe and the European settler nations, in order to further their globalist plans (export of capital to low-wage countries and import of low-wage workers of non-European ethnicity). Anything else is simply a smokescreen.

hereticsandholymen
hereticsandholymen
3 years ago

I think it has been shown time and time again that psychology and those who do the work of psychology use it to gain control over people the same way religions do. People are fallible and often do terrible things. What could explain it? Original sin and a sinful nature inherited from Adam. What can help it? Believing in Jesus. The evidence for both the religion of Sin and the psychology of Racism is primarily metaphysical.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
3 years ago

Good unconscious bias training should cover the facts:

We have unconscious parts of our brain that do things for us automatically – we need this to survive as the conscious brain cannot do many things at once. The unconscious brain can be trained – it is how we are able to learn to drive as we don’t need to think about how and when to change gear any more, because we just do it and can therefore use the conscious brain to do other things. The unconscious brain is what alerts us “out of the corner of the eye” to the child about to run out in front of us.

During our evolution one of the key things our unconscious brains alerted us to was people who looked different because they were from a different tribe and probably wanted to rob and kill us. Very useful. Thus these unconscious reactions have been ingrained in our species for millennia. You should not worry about it though, because what you need to do is be aware that it why you get the instant feeling when you see someone different. All you need to train yourself to do is to properly engage your conscious brain before engaging your mouth or fists.

I don’t see why a long course is needed to get this.

anonisignup
anonisignup
3 years ago

Your unconscious perception of racism as a disease is a bias, maybe. At least at the individual level. It could be considered a disease of society, I guess. We, as many species, identify as members of groups (of various sizes and types) for historically sound reasons, evolutionarily speaking. If they are still appropriate, and by that I mean useful, to us today is an open question.