Tuesday, June 9, 2015

I watched this and now when I look in the mirror, I feel sick.

No, not because I'm not wearing any make up.  Watch it, then read my painful, community relevant confession:

So here it is:  I look at the left half and think "Boring pain in the ass", I look at the right and think "She's so nice".

I reverse discriminate.  I didn't know.  I really didn't know until I saw that this is literally the same person and how she looks affects my perception of her.

Lots of college girls do this.  Lots of my students like doing this.  I have half a dozen girls that look like the left in every single class I have.  Sure, some of them are so great they rise to the top, but how many were just average until something I did subconsciously, made them disengage?

I'm horrified.

It gets worse.  How many needed my help and didn't get it?

I might cry.  Or throw up.


  1. Don't feel bad Wombat!
    One of the benefits of studying humanity at its most vile and debased ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H management is realizing that none of us is free of bias. This isn't your fault; it's the result of everything you've seen and heard since the day you were born.

    The best you can do is make yourself conscious of your own bias, which can (as you well know) be a painful exercise.

    I highly recommend that everyone try the implicit test. Instead of asking "are you prejudiced?" or "do you believe that certain groups of people are generally inferior?" (Of course not!) it asks you to make associations as quickly as you can. The speed of your responses indicates how automatically you make certain associations. A response that takes a little longer indicates that you've had to override or edit your first impulse.

    I have my students take this. It can be eye-opening.

    1. Thanks!

      I think this would be a great exercise for my "Freshman Seminar" class. I will probably share the Implicit Test with my colleagues who teach the class, but I'll probably hold off a semester myself. I have less experience with the course in general, and I should probably reflect on my own bias-epiphany before trying to give my students a chance to have one. (Also, I'm a physical scientist. Most of the people teaching freshman seminar have backgrounds in humanities or social sciences. They're braver about such topics.)

  2. I'm going to take that test.

    I'm asking myself now, how much do I factor attention to personal appearance into my assumptions about intelligence or motivation? I take some solace in a belief that I reserve judgment till interactions with that person can truly inform it, and of course I have my color-coded spreadsheets to fall back on. But still....

  3. There are advantages to having very poor facial recognition skills...

    Although I have to admit I find it really really really hard to actually listen to the words of students with lip piercings. The bobbing shiny metal is soooooo distracting, and I worry a LOT about what it does to their teeth, enough that my teeth start sympathetic aching... And those ear stretchy things on random local students... I just don't get the why of it, and again I find it really hard not to start wondering how they age, and what happens if a baby grabs the loop of ear rather than just the earring, and...


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