So, good news: now that the Department of Justice can’t find evidence that people are acting according to racial motivation, they’ll be delving into the unconscious of their employees. Reuters reports that “more than 33,000 federal agents and prosecutors will receive training aimed at preventing unconscious bias from influencing their law enforcement decisions, department officials told Reuters. [The] bias prevention plans [follow] a spate of shootings of unarmed black men by white police officers.”
Of course, there is no evidence that such shootings were driven by race – in fact, as Peter Moskos of John Jay College found, white suspects in violent confrontations with police are more likely to be shot by police than black suspects.
But “implicit bias” is the new left-wing buzzword.
What, pray tell, is “implicit bias”?
It’s bias you didn’t know you had – unconscious bias. Usually, leftists trot out studies that suggest that white people and black people both respond more quickly to word association/picture associations matching criminal words with black faces; these are known as Implicit Association Tests (IATs). But those studies are not particularly reliable, have a relatively small sample size, and also find no significant correlation between implicit bias and behavior in the real world. Texas A&M psychologist Professor Hart Blanton rightly points out that scores on the IAT – and particularly exceeding supposed bias cut-off scores – mean virtually nothing. “There’s not a single study showing that above and below that cutoff people differ in any way based on that score,” Blaton explains. Social psychologist Russell Fazio of Ohio State University says, “as traditionally implemented, [the IAT] really has problems.” Even advocates of the IAT such as creator Professor Anthony Greenwald admit that IAT findings are simply not appropriate for settings such as courtrooms. In fact, at least one major study has found that “being alerted to potential bias and limited response control through a direct personal experience such as that provided by the IAT…can lead to worse rather than better behavioral regulation.” Actually, statistics show that the correlation between IAT and political preference are stronger than racial preference. And there’s good evidence to suggest that the IAT measures in-group, out-group implicit bias rather than racial bias per se – if you’re told which group is in your group, you associate good things with that group off the bat. It’s even possible that the IAT measures intelligence – how quickly can you overcome your implicit reaction to particular pictures? Are you more biased if you’re slower to hit the right key on the keyboard?
In other words, the DOJ is pushing nonsense.
So naturally, the DOJ is using implicit bias training for people whose main function is court-related.
This isn’t science. It’s an attempt to cram down a vision of the world based on shoddy evidence on employees of the federal government. And what’s more, it’s unfalsifiable: if crime statistics continue to be insufficiently satisfying to the left, they can always claim that implicit bias hasn’t been alleviated enough. Back to the Training Camps with you!
But of course, the best way to police bias is to actually show evidence of bias, not ghost-hunt for unconscious bias. But the left isn’t interested in policing actual racist behavior. They’re interested in the continuing polarization of the country along racial lines. And what better way to do that than suggesting that you’re racist and you don’t even know it?