Monday, June 7, 2021

Intellectual Dishonesty by the ABA Journal

Last week, the ABA Journal published an article on its daily site that was intellectually dishonest. 

7 tips to strengthen the mind through identifying and overcoming implicit bias by James Gray Robinson.

Intellectual dishonesty: "[T]he advocacy of a position which the advocate knows or believes to be false, or is the advocacy of a position which the advocate does not know to be true, and has not performed rigorous due diligence to insure the truthfulness of the position."  (here)  "IntellectualDishonesty doesn't necessarily mean lies or otherwise morally wrong deeds. However, in pursuing an intellectual endeavour one has to commit oneself to higher standards."  (Id.)  "Intellectual dishonesty is a failure to apply standards of rational evaluation that one is aware of, usually in a self-serving fashion. If one judges others more critically than oneself, that is intellectually dishonest. If one deflects criticism of a friend or ally simply because they are a friend or ally, that is intellectually dishonest. etc."  (here)  Professor Brian Leiter has recently declared, "Before imposing a requirement like this [bias and racism training for law students], the burden should be on the ABA to establish, and not simply assume, that such training is possible and efficacious."  (here)

The article states, "Implicit bias, which is a relatively recent concept in the psychiatric field, attempts to describe the unconscious prejudices and stereotypes we form without conscious awareness. It is human nature to have biases, whether we want to admit to them or not."  It continues, "The term “unconscious bias” was first used in 1995 by psychologists Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald, when they argued that behavior is affected by unconscious associations and judgments. Biases are formed through our education and experiences, as well as our cultural history. Ironically, intelligence has nothing to do with it. In fact, the more intelligent one is, the higher the likelihood that they have implicit bias.

There is a test available online known as the Implicit Association Test, developed by Greenwald and Banaji, that has torn the cover off implicit bias. It demonstrates that our concepts of “good/bad,” “right/wrong” and “like/dislike” are the result of implicit bias, and no one is free from bias."

What is intellectually dishonest is that the article fails to note that their is a ton of evidence that disputes implicit bias theory and the implicit bias test in particular.  (Adam Lamparello, The Flaws of Implicit Bias -- and the Need for Empirical Research in Legal Scholarship and in Legal Education; American Psychological Association, IAT: Fad or fabulous?; The seminal article that questions implicit bias theory:  here; here; here; here; and many, many more.

Professor Leiter has asserted, "“It [the IAT] doesn't measure implicit bias, and what it does measure doesn't correlate with discriminatory behavior. It's now well past the point where philosophers should be embarrassed to still be trafficking in this pseudo-science.”  (here)

APA article: "The IAT is not yet ready for prime time," says the University of Virginia's Greg Mitchell, PhD, JD, a Berkeley-trained social psychologist turned law professor. "I think this research is important research and the people doing it are very good scientists with noble intentions. But noble intentions don't make good public policy."

APA article: "Another reason IAT critics think that the Web site shouldn't provide feedback is because the measure is quite sensitive to the social context in which it's taken: In fact, people's scores often change from one test to another."

"What all these numbers mean is that there doesn’t appear to be any published evidence that the race IAT has test-retest reliability that is close to acceptable for real-world evaluation.”
“The second, more important point to emerge from this years-long meta-analytic melee is that both critics and proponents of the IAT now agree that the statistical evidence is simply too lacking for the test to be used to predict individual behavior.”  (here)

Adam Lamparello: "Specifically, recent empirical studies by social psychologists strongly suggest that implicit bias is not predictive of biased behavior. In fact, the science regarding implicit bias’s connection to biased behavior is so flawed that social psychologists doubt its validity and question the utility of policies that attempt to link implicit bias to biased behavior. You wouldn’t know this from reading the many law review articles concerning implicit bias, or from the orientation sessions where law students are taught to believe that implicit bias is the sine qua non of biased behavior."

In sum, my point is that those who have studied implicit bias and the implicit bias test strongly disagree about the test's validity.  In no way can anyone argue that the validity of the implicit bias test has been established.

Mr. Robinson is guilty of intellectual dishonesty because he hid the evidence and scholarship that is contradictory to his position.  His article implies that the implicit bias test is firmly established.  It isn't.

The editors of the ABA Journal are equally as guilty.  At best, they are sloppy.  At worst, they also are being intellectually dishonest.  I find it hard to believe that the editors of The ABA Journal were not aware of the strong criticisms of the implicit bias test.

The ABA Journal needs to publish an article that gives the criticisms of implicit bias theory.  Otherwise, they are just hacks, like on Fox News.

(Scott Fruehwald)

 


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