18 November 2008
In today's paper, the NYT reports on an interesting debate between two groups of researchers regarding studies on unconscious racial bias (``In Bias Test, Shades of Gray''). The discussion centers around the usefulness of an online test, the Implicit Association Test, which measures how quickly respondents associate ``good'' or ``bad'' words with blacks or whites. How useful are such tests? It does seem crude as metric for racial bias (try it yourself here). But I suspect that they have raised awareness and deserve credit for involving a wide audience. Yet despite its timid recommendations and disclaimers when the results are displayed the test could also be misleading: what if you're characterized as racially bias (but are not)? What if you're characterized as unbiased (but are and should be told)?