What I Learned This Week

We were recently reminded of an old brain teaser.

A man and his son get into a car accident. The man dies, and the son is badly injured. The son is taken to the hospital for emergency surgery. The distinguished surgeon takes one look at the boy and says, “I can’t operate on him! He’s my son!” How the riddle asks, can that be? Even today, 40% to 75% of people can’t figure out the answer—the surgeon is the boy’s mother. The riddle is a reminder that, like it or not, humans are unconscious inegalitarians. Just as the human eye has a blind spot in its field of vision, our unconscious minds can contain hidden biases that can guide our behavior. The study of unconscious bias was pioneered by Harvard psychologist Mahzarin R. Banaji. Banaji arg…

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