EppsNet Archive: Bias

Teaching Computer Science: All Are Welcome

I’m volunteering a couple mornings a week in a high school computer science class . . . “Computing,” I tell the class, “is like most professions in that some groups are under-represented and some groups are over-represented. You may have heard that the reason some groups are under-represented is because computing as a profession is more welcoming to some people than others. “I haven’t found that to be the case and I’ll tell you why. “My perspective on this is that if you walk through the workplace at a typical technology company, you won’t see people who look like me. I’m too old and I’ve been too old for quite a while now. At this point, I’m usually old enough to be the CEO’s father. “So to the extent that people want to work with other people who look like them and people who fit into the group, that doesn’t… Read more →

See You in Hell

[See You in Hell is a feature by our guest blogger, Satan — PE] A woman was sucked out the window of a Southwest Airlines plane . . . not a black woman, fortunately, so Southwest won’t have to shut down for racial bias training. In other news, David Hogg is telling his Twitter followers to boycott the BlackRock and Vanguard investment firms. “David Hogg’s Twitter followers” . . . I’m rolling that phrase around on my tongue. “David Hogg’s Twitter followers.” Might be a good name for an improv group. When I think of all the great men — Nietzsche, Van Gogh . . . you can think of your own favorite examples — who lived as anonymous failures and died as broken-down loonies, the thought of people actively tracking the musings of David Hogg amuses me greatly. See you in Hell! Read more →

Women in STEM: It’s Ambiguous but You’re Still Wrong

The Dartmouth student newspaper reports on a study finding that gender affects an individual’s perception of women’s anxiety in STEM disciplines. Men are more likely than women to attribute this anxiety and self-doubt to internal factors, while women usually attribute such emotions to external factors. Participants in the study read one story, among a selection, about an undergraduate woman taking a STEM class. In the stories, based on the experiences of actual undergraduate women in STEM, the female main character expressed having anxiety or self-doubt. It was ambiguous whether the instructor in the stories harbored any biases against women. According to research team leader Mary Flanagan, “Women identify the problem as something that is familiar and men identify the problem as something that is a particular student’s problem. Men are not seeing the systemic biases as much as the women are. That is something that we need to address in deeper… Read more →

And That’s the Truth: Modern-Day Sexism

[And That’s the Truth is a feature by our guest blogger, Sojourner Truth– PE] I heard a gal talking about being snubbed in a social setting where she was the only woman. She says it was “modern-day sexism.” I guess “old-fashioned sexism” was you can’t vote. Modern-day sexism is “unconscious bias,” which means I ain’t gonna ask you why you did that, because you don’t even know why you did it, but I know why you did it, and that is because you are sexist. These gals are all a bunch of voodoo mind readers. They got one explanation for everything that happens in the world. If I had me a dollar for every time someone just knowed why I did something without asking me and they was dead wrong, I could quit blogging and retire. And that’s the Truth! Read more →

Fighting Fascism With Mob Violence

Here’s how different media outlets covered yesterday’s Berkeley rally . . . USA Today and the Sun-Sentinel, a Florida paper, play it straight up, telling us what happened and who was responsible: Black-clad anarchists stormed the rally, fighting against hate by kicking and punching people until police intervened. Even the Washington Post, the most left-wing, anti-Trump paper in America, which recently informed readers that there is no political violence on the left, got this one right. The Daily Mail uses the same photo as USA Today but reports only that violence broke out between the two sides. If they know any more about who was responsible, they’re not saying. Finally, NPR reports that scattered violence between left and right marred an otherwise peaceful protest. NPR notes that a radio host tried to protect a man he was afraid would be beaten to death by “a group of protestors.” If you… Read more →

An Insignificant Number of Confused, Poorly Organized Losers

News networks have been running a two-week-long (with no end in sight) infomercial on white supremacists and white nationalists and neo-Nazis as though they represent a powerful force that has to be reckoned with, a vast army of domestic terrorists, which they don’t. The most important thing to know about white supremacists and neo-Nazis is that there are actually not very many of them. The leading white supremacist organization is the Ku Klux Klan. How many members do you think the KKK currently has? Take a guess. Keep in mind we live in a country of more than 320 million people. Estimates of current KKK membership run between 5,000 and 8,000 members. Is that less than you thought? As for neo-Nazis, the New York Times ran an article a few years ago on the National Socialist Movement (NSM), which they identified as the largest neo-Nazi group in the country. Take… Read more →

One Thing I Can’t Tolerate is Intolerance: The Google Memo

The now-famous Google memo was first published by Gizmodo under the headline Here’s The Full 10-Page Anti-Diversity Screed Circulating Internally at Google. If you’re interested in the topic, you should read the memo yourself, otherwise you’re going to get a terribly slanted second-hand judgment, e.g., “anti-diversity screed.” I’ve read it and I don’t think it’s “anti-diversity” and it’s definitely not what I’d call a screed. I’ve seen that word — screed — used by multiple sources. That’s one way of dismissing and declining to engage with an opinion you don’t like: give it a label like “screed,” suggesting that the author is angry and irrational and not fit to have a discussion with. In my reading though, I found the original memo to be academic and clinical, much less screed-like than the responses I’ve seen. As usual (in my experience), the most intolerant people in the mix are the ones… Read more →

Big Losers

I saw this headline on an AP story today — Poor and disabled big losers in Trump budget. The story includes a photo of the budget (see below), so I think it’s safe to say that the AP writer didn’t read the entire thing before announcing who the “big losers” are. He’s just flogging his own agenda. (See also Harvard Study Says Media Are Very Biased Against Donald Trump) “Trump’s plan for the budget year beginning Oct. 1 makes deep cuts in safety net programs . . .” the story says. What’s the difference between a “cut” and a “deep cut”? The latter sounds mean and scary. Why not just say something factual like “10 percent cut” or “50 percent cut” and let readers put their own characterization on it? “Safety net programs” is also a loaded expression. “Trump’s budget would cut the food stamp program by $191 billion over… Read more →

Harvard Study Says Media Are Very Biased Against Donald Trump

According to a Harvard University study, the mainstream media are very biased against Donald Trump. Here’s a chart from the study, showing that the tone of some news outlets is negative in as many as 98% of reports: I’ve noticed that even our local news station is about 90-10 negative on Trump coverage. We have to look at the way the media handled Trump before he was elected. How many newspapers in the entire country endorsed Trump for president? I don’t think the number is zero but it has to be very close to zero. Some newspapers — The Washington Post and New York Times come to mind — were virulently anti-Trump on the editorial page, which bled over into the news coverage. Every news network except Fox was anti-Trump, the only positive news being that he was most definitely not going to be elected. Well, actually it was that… Read more →

More People I’m Sick Unto Death Of

New poll finds 9 in 10 Native Americans aren’t offended by Redskins name — The Washington Post Man, am I sick of people who get offended on behalf of a group they don’t belong to, projecting their own phony outrage on the group members and their own biases on non-group members. In light of the poll results, non-Native American opponents of the Redskin name seem to have changed their position slightly to say that Native Americans are in fact being offended but are too dumb to realize it. Read more →

What Is the Evidence for Unconscious Bias?

What is the evidence for “unconscious bias,” since it’s, you know, unconscious? "Unconscious bias doesn't just affect women. It affects all constituencies." https://t.co/CjVw1F89mv @MITSloanWomen pic.twitter.com/qcjpr6dx8b — MIT Sloan (@MITSloan) February 22, 2016 Read more →

This Sounds Familiar

Bias is particularly an issue on cross-boundary initiatives, where multiple groups of stakeholders work together on a project. Each stakeholder group has particular goals and is judged against metrics that may be unique to that group. Bias tends to be a substantial driver of project disruption in organizations where goals or metrics across groups are in conflict. — “Behavioral economics: The IT failure domino effect” Read more →