why science fails

So Liz linked to this game on her blog:

racism game

(Here’s the NYT article about it if you want to read about it:

“Our Racist, Sexist Selves”

Anyway, the gist of the game–which is a scientific research project, in reality–is that you use one key to shoot at a bad guy and a different key to holster your gun and NOT shoot a good guy. They show you a bunch of pictures (120) of men holding either guns or cell phones. All you have to do is shoot the ones with guns, but not the ones with phones. Easy enough, right? Not really. Because they go by really quickly and if you’re too slow you lose points.

Apparently, the study found that subjects consistently shot at the pictures of black men more quickly and took longer to holster their guns for black men than when the photos were of white dudes.

My results didn’t back this up–they were mixed. I was slower to shoot black men than white ones. However, I was quicker to holster my gun for unarmed white guys than black guys.

What does this mean?

Two things:

* There is a reason I do not own a handgun. As Liz reflected when she took the test, it really doesn’t matter what race my assailant might be–I’m dead anyway because I am too slow.

* I shot a lot of good guys. Is this because I’m paranoid or violent? No, it’s because I can’t remember which key is which. This is why science is flawed. It can’t account for idiocy that affects the experiment.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by liz on April 19, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    you know, i also had the forgetting which key is which problem. maybe the test is flawed, and there is no way to coax out our hidden racists after all.


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