A Riddle

"Do not pretend, if you live in LA or in New York, that just because you live in a diverse city that you are now protected. In fact, you may be worse off because you see things every day. Your brain has to notice [biases]."

Thoughts from On Being – The Mind is a Difference-Seeking Machine (Transcript)

In her talk with Krista Tippett, Dr. Mahzarin Banaji presents many hidden biases within our culture and ourselves. From how we view people differently on Airbnb based on the the spellings of their names to analyzing political events in terms of the human condition, Dr. Banaji wants us to learn from others’ perspectives.

With some context, during in the conversation Dr. Banaji presents a riddle:

“The riddle goes like this: a father and his son were in a car accident. The father dies at the scene. The boy, badly injured, is rushed to a local hospital. In the hospital, the operating surgeon looks at the boy and says, ‘I can’t operate on this boy. He’s my son.’ How can this be if the father just died?”

Think about it for a moment.

 

80 percent today of people who read this riddle do not know the right answer.

 

Got it?

 

Leaving it to Dr. Banaji, “the surgeon is the boy’s mother … Duh”

Think it was the boy’s stepfather? At first, Dr. Banaji did as well. Unconscious bias is everywhere, the trick is learning to recognizing it.

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