If there’s one thing we should all be able to agree on, it’s that all human beings belong to the same species, Homo sapiens.
But a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) on Monday has found a yawning gap between what people claim to believe and what they actually hold true.
A team from Harvard and Tufts gathered data from more than 60,000 subjects who took part in 13 experiments that tested their implicit biases.
An overwhelming majority — over 90 percent — explicitly stated that white people and non-white people are equally human.
But on an implicit measure, white US participants, as well as white participants from other countries, consistently associated the attribute “human” (as opposed to “animal”) with their own group more than other racial groups. Conversely, Black, Asian and Hispanic participants showed no such bias, equally associating their own group and white people with “human.”
“The biggest takeaway for me is that we’re still grappling in a new form with sentiments that have been around for centuries,” said first author Kirsten Morehouse, a PhD student at Harvard University.
Throughout history, the dehumanization of other races has been used as a pretext for unequal treatment, ranging from police brutality all the way to genocide.
IMPLICIT ASSOCIATION TEST
The research relied on the Implicit Association Test (IAT), a tool developed in the 1990s and now widely used in the field.
A computer-based measure, it tests the strength of associations between two concepts — for example Black and white people or gay and straight people — and two attributes like good or bad.
The idea is that easier pairings, as measured by faster key responses, are more strongly associated in the mind than difficult pairings, as measured by slower responses.
Researchers believe IAT tests reveal attitudes that people would be unwilling to state publicly, or might not even be aware of on a conscious level. Across all the experiments, 61 percent of white participants associated white people more with “human” and Black people more with “animal.”
An even greater number — 69 percent of white participants — associated white participants more with humans and Asians more with animals, and the same result occurred for white people taking a white-Hispanic test.
These effects held true across age, religion and education of participants, but did vary by political affiliation and gender. Self-identified conservatives and men expressed slightly stronger implicit “human = white” associations.
Non-white people did not show an implicit bias in favor of their own racial groups compared to white people.
But they did show a bias towards whites as more human when the test was between white people and another minority group, for example Asians asked to take a test that assessed their attitudes towards white people versus Black people.
Morehouse attributed these findings to the fact that white people are socially and economically dominant in the US, where 85 percent of the participants were from (8.5 percent were from Western Europe).
She theorized that while you might expect all races to be more biased in favor of their own “in-group,” such sentiments might be canceled out by their lower standing in American society, resulting in overall neutrality.
The fact that “third party” participants were biased in favor of white people when assessed against another race “demonstrates how powerful these social hierarchies are,” she said. Similar tests to those used in the experiment are available to take at: implicit.harvard.edu.
Morehouse said that while the results could be uncomfortable for some, awareness was a first step that could help individuals break patterns of stereotyping.
Buffeted by earthquakes and the potential of conflict with China, Taiwan’s leaders want to accelerate plans to make the island more resilient to communications breakdowns and direct attacks on its digital infrastructure. It could be an impossible task. Audrey Tang (唐鳳), the head of the Ministry of Digital Affairs, says she wants the country’s US$740 billion economy to be able to handle the possible collapse of all its communications in the event of an emergency by the end of next year. The threat isn’t theoretical: the Matsu Islands found themselves digitally adrift after two of their submarine internet cables were severed by boats
May 28 to June 3 Taiwan provincial governor Chen Cheng (陳誠) was adamantly opposed to the state-run Central Daily News (中央日報) moving from Nanjing to Taipei in 1949. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) already had a mouthpiece in Taiwan, the China Daily News (中華日報), and he argued that the relocation of the Central Daily News “would have absolutely no function besides affecting the morale of the people,” according to the book 1949: An Earth-Shattering Year (1949: 石破天驚的一年) by Lin Po-wen (林博文). Chen likely had a grudge against the paper too. Despite editor-in-chief Tao Hsi-sheng’s (陶希聖) “central first, then daily” policy prioritizing the
A fine-grained opinion piece in United Daily News (UDN) in December was packed with data that tells the story of the coming voter shifts in this election. The piece cited another UDN poll from early last year that surveyed residents of the six municipalities. The overall data identified four areas of major concern: housing prices (named by 50.6 percent), low salaries and insufficient career opportunities (32.2 percent), transportation problems (26.5 percent) and air pollution (25.1 percent). The next more important issue was public order at 10.1 percent. None of these issues have become a signature issue for any of the presidential
A while back, I came up with a ratio to determine whether it’s worthwhile to visit a particular location, what I call the transit-to-travel ratio. It’s simple: at a minimum, only one-tenth of the time should be spent in transit — car, bus, plane, train. A 20-minute MRT ride to Taipei’s Elephant Mountain, for example, and then a four-hour hike on the Taipei Grand Trail, counts as “making the ratio.” A High Speed Rail trip down to Kaohsiung and back and then several hours driving to and from the base of Jade Mountain to hike for one day is the