April 20, 2021 - 11:36am

Jesse Singal is a far cry from the trans-hating monster that parts of the Internet portray him to be. In person, he is a softly-spoken, amiable Obama liberal whose politics, in a pre-social media world, might even be described as boring. But we do not live in such a world anymore, and since he published two trans-related articles for The Atlantic and New Yorker, the transphobic cloud has hung over Jesse for years. Though Jesse is frustrated by the persistent misrepresentations of his work (he says he’s fighting ‘ghost versions’ of his pieces), it has not deterred him from writing about topics that might land him in hot water with the hyper-liberal Left.

A key theme in all of Jesse’s work is challenging groupthink and tribalism, which is reflected in his new book, ‘The Quick Fix: Why Fad Psychology Can’t Cure Our Social Ills’. There’s a full-length review of the book by Sarah Ditum and a podcast interview with Jesse in UnHerd today, which you can listen to above. One of the fads he discusses in his book, implicit bias training, may stand out to readers for the way in which it has taken hold in the US (and much for the Western world) over the years. Politicians, employees and sports clubs subjected themselves to versions of the training, but the science behind it, Singal says, is dubious:

We have this concept of implicit bias where you can take a test and it’ll reveal how implicitly biassed you are or how unconsciously biased you are. The theory goes that if we could just fix individual levels of implicit bias, our race gaps would go away. And my critique of these ideas is that they obscure how deeply rooted and complicated these problems; for example, racial discrepancies and racism in America trace back centuries…The question of whether we can measure implicit bias accurately or do anything about it is where I’m sceptical. It’s part of this idea that there’s some psychological intervention to fix complicated problems like racism, and there’s effectively no evidence for that. We’ve probably spent billions of dollars on that false idea.
- Jesse Singal, UnHerd

Hopefully books like these will add a much-needed dose of realism to the public debate. We really enjoyed meeting Jesse and thanks to him for his time.