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Sep 26, 2023Liked by Paul Bloom

Fascinating, thank you

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Hi Paul. I reject the reasonableness of defining an "association" as a bias. Indeed, defining "bias" is pretty tricky. Sometimes, it is mere preference. Other times it is deviation from normative stat model. Yet other times it, it is some sort of systematic error. Yet other times, it is two people judging the same stimuli differently. Associations are none of these things. Associations may predict some of these things some of the time, but: 1. That is an empirical question each time; 2. If A (associations) predict B (preferences, behavior, judgments) then A and B must be different things. Put differently, I associate ham with cheese. To refer to this as any sort of bias (not that you did, but it is an association which you did state is a bias) strikes me as unjustified. Then you get the nasty downstream effects, where by A is amply demonstrated (association) and then simply presumed to constitute some sort of nasty bias (e.g., racial prejudice or stereotypes). Very motte (there is an association!) and bailey (look how racist they all are!).

It then goes downhill from there. Even when associations predict some outcome, it does not necessarily constitute the bailey. Say IAT scores predict discrim, r=.2 or so. This can occur because high racism iat scores correspond to racist behavior, 0 corresponds to egalitarian behavior and negative scores to anti-White behavior. Or it can occur because high "racism" IAT scores correspond to egalitarian behavior and ones near zero to anti-White behavior. For a real example, see Blanton et al 2009 JAP.

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