- Unconscious/Implicit Bias. 12 reasons to be skeptical.
- Diversity. A paper on the lack of ideological diversity in the discipline of philosophy and worries about its implications for reliable belief formation.
- Academic freedom. A recent Canadian university cancelation and two articles concerning academic freedom. One provides a brief history, the other illustrates the risks scholars across the globe accrue by its exercise.
- Anti-racism. An example from the University of Alberta. And two pertinent videos on the subject of anti-racism raising worries about certain aspects of this trend and what might be done to better lives instead.
1.UNCONCIOUS BIAS/IMPLICIT BIAS
Jussim, Lee. “12 Reasons to Be Skeptical of Common Claims About Implicit Bias,” Rabble Rouser, Psychology Today, March 28, 2022, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/rabble-rouser/202203/12-reasons-be-skeptical-common-claims-about-implicit-bias, accessed February
- “Limitations in implicit bias research aren’t always communicated to the public.”
- “Key Points:
- There is no consensually-agreed upon definition of implicit bias. This makes communicating about implicit bias quite difficult.
- The Implicit Association Test (IAT) is the most common method for measuring implicit bias. Yet it has several flaws and limitations.
- Those limitations, which are well-known among psychological scientists, are rarely acknowledged to the wider public, including students.”
Uwe Peters, Nathan Honeycutt, Andreas De Block & Lee Jussim (2020): Ideological diversity, hostility, and discrimination in philosophy, Philosophical Psychology, DOI: 10.1080/09515089.2020.1743257, https://doi.org/10.1080/09515089.2020.1743257, accessed February 16, 2023.
- Abstract: Members of the field of philosophy have, just as other people, political convictions or, as psychologists call them, ideologies. How are different ideologies distributed and perceived in the field? Using the familiar distinction between the political left and right, we surveyed an international sample of 794 subjects in philosophy. We found that survey participants clearly leaned left (75%), while right-leaning individuals (14%) and moderates (11%) were underrepresented. Moreover, and strikingly, across the political spectrum from very left-leaning individuals and moderates to very right- leaning individuals, participants reported experiencing ideological hostility in the field, occasionally even from those on their own side of the political spectrum. Finally, while about half of the subjects believed that discrimination against left- or right-leaning individuals in the field is not justified, a significant minority displayed an explicit willingness to discriminate against colleagues with the opposite ideology. Our findings are both surprising and important because a commitment to tolerance and equality is widespread in philosophy, and there is reason to think that ideological similarity, hostility, and discrimination undermine reliable belief formation in many areas of the discipline.
“CAUT: University of Lethbridge was wrong to cancel campus talk,” News Article, Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), February 1, 2023, https://www.caut.ca/latest/2023/02/caut-university-lethbridge-was-wrong-cancel-campus-talk , accessed February 17, 2023.
- Frances Widdowson was scheduled to give a public talk entitled The Woke University at the University of Lethbridge on February 1, 2023. While the university administration initially upheld their stated commitment to academic freedom in the face of calls to have Widdowson’s talk cancelled, they later reneged on that commitment and canceled the event. CAUT verbally reprimands the University of Lethbridge for cancelling Widdowson’s talk.
‘Safety and harm’ emerges as a predominant reason why people agitated to have Widdowson’s talk canceled, based on what she has said — or, in most instances, on what she is said-to-have-said — in the past rather than on the talk she was slated to give.
I worry about these objectors’ moral myopia. Cancel Widdowson, tomorrow it’s you — the political winds, cf Thomas Hobbes, change with the alacrity of the weather.
It seems that so many, if not most, people — students, the public, and a good number of faculty — don’t seem to have a grasp on what academic freedom is and why it’s an important value to uphold. I’m writing an essay on the topic, but, until it’s complete, I leave you with the following two entries:
- Dea, Shannon. “A brief history of academic freedom,” Dispatches on Academic Freedom, University Affairs/ Affaires universitaires, Oct 9, 2018, https://www.universityaffairs.ca/opinion/dispatches-academic-freedom/a-brief-history-of-academic-freedom/ , accessed February 17, 2023.
- Scholars At Risk (SAR) Network. “Protecting scholars and the freedom to think, question, and share ideas,” https://www.scholarsatrisk.org/about/, accessed February 17, 2023.
- “Scholars at Risk protects scholars suffering grave threats to their lives, liberty and well-being by arranging temporary research and teaching positions at institutions in our network as well as by providing advisory and referral services.”
The Commitment to Action Against Racism by the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta states the faculty has developed a zero-tolerance policy for racism. According to whichever faculty representative(s) developed this anti-racism commitment webpage, “Racism exists everywhere and is pervasive.” But a quick Google search reveals that anti-racism exists everywhere and is pervasive, including at Canadian universities.
- Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry. “A commitment to action against racism at the University of Alberta,” About Us, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, Social Accountability, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, https://www.ualberta.ca/medicine/about/social-accountability/diversity/anti-racism/index.html, accessed February 17, 2023.
I include below two You Tube videos of panelists speaking at a recent conference in the UK who so eloquently explain why people should worry about certain aspects this anti-racism trend, and what might be done to better lives instead.
McWhorter, John. Keynote speaker, The Equiano Project, “Understanding the New Politics of Race,” You Tube, January 27, 2023, accessed February 17, 2023.
- “Towards the Common Good: Rethinking Race in the 21st Century conference, hosted by The Equiano Project Emmanuel College and King’s College, Cambridge.”
- “Despite the success of the civil rights movement in the 1960s in transforming the lives of black people, race politics in the US at the start of this century seems more polarised than ever. Racial inequality persists but there are fierce debates over the causes and solutions. Rather than seeking to realise the liberal ideal of a ‘colour-blind’ society, a new anti-racism politics wants to raise consciousness about race and the ‘problem’ of whiteness. Is this leading to more equality and progress or not? How should liberals approach this question? Crucially, how is the US experience influencing what happens in the UK and what can we learn from it?”
Sir Trevor Philips, Professor John McWhorter, Dr Alkha Seghal Cuthbert, Chair Samir Shah. “The Meaning of Racism and Equality,” The Equiano Project, January 29, 2023, accessed February 17, 2023.
- “Race and anti-racism have moved increasingly centre stage in public life and institutions, even before the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. But today’s anti-racist movement, placing increased emphasis on racial difference, seems to contrast with the universalist character of the 1960s civil rights era. This change of emphasis is significant, yet it has received little pushback from institutions. What is new and different about today’s anti-racist movement? What, if anything, has contributed to this change? And to what extent can liberal values continue to give meaning to the notion of equality?”