Days of anthropology!

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2019

In search of the capacity for even the simplest logic:
To what extent are we the humans gifted with the capacity for even the most basic logic?

To answer your question, let's consider a lengthy report from yesterday's New York Times.

The report in question dominated the front page of yesterday's Thursday Styles section. It appeared beneath these headlines:
The Business of Unconscious Bias
Want to avoid racism, sexism and misgendering? Consultants are standing by.
The lengthy report concerns companies which work within the growing "diversity, equity and inclusion industry (D.E.I.)." That said, we aren't concerned with the quality of any particular company's work. We're concerned with the peculiar logic, or lack of same, at the start of the front-page report.

The report received a very high profile in yesterday's Times. That said, for whatever reason, it started out like this:
ZELEVANSKY (11/21/19): Recently, a story circulated within the diversity, equity and inclusion industry (D.E.I.), one that somehow didn’t go viral on social media: At an unnamed company, co-workers were taking their seats before a sensitivity training workshop began, when some white male employees entered as a group with targets pinned to their shirts—a sartorial statement about their anticipated persecution.

Apocryphal or not, “the story is powerful for two reasons,” said Laura Bowser, the board chair and former C.E.O. of TMI Consulting Inc., a D.E.I. strategy company in Richmond, Va., named for its two founders, but also the abbreviation meaning “too much information.” “One, it shows that there is still an utter lack of empathy and understanding about privilege and power dynamics. Second, it demonstrates how many diversity and inclusion trainings in the past have failed.”
Does that make any sense at all? No, really—does that make sense?

As you can see, the report began with one of those "perfect stories." In this case, the story didn't exactly have a perfect hero or villain.

Instead, it featured what might be called a group of "perfect oafs." The moral of the story might be, There go those white males again!

As we've noted again and again, large chunks of modern "liberal" discourse are built around such perfect stories. In this case, though, we seem to learn, in the second paragraph, that the writer of the Times report doesn't know if the story is true.

The writer doesn't seem to know if the events in question actually happened. It isn't clear whether Laura Bowser knows either.

That said, so what? The writer seems to quote Bowser saying that the story "is powerful," and "shows" us several things, whether it's true or not. But how could the story "show" or "demonstrate" various things if it never happened?

As noted, this was the opening passage of a lengthy New York Times report. We're told that a story which has been making the rounds can show and demonstrate several things, but we seem to be told that no one knows if the story actually happened.

Our question:

What kind of editor thinks it makes sense to start a long report this way? And on what basis did such a person get hired at the Times?

As a matter of basic logic, this passage doesn't seem to make any sense. But such material appears in the Times on a daily basis. In this case, the material forms the start of a lengthy report which sits atop one section's front page.

To what extent are we the humans gifted with the capacity for even the simplest logic? We ask that question every day as we peruse the Times.

And now for the rest of the logic: For advanced logicians only, how much could this story demonstrate or show if we knew the events in question really didhappen?

Such a story would be an "anecdote." It would concern a single event which happened in just one place involving a handful of men.

What can we learn from such an event? Discuss. Compare and contrast!

Tomorrow: Good God! Also in yesterday's Times, this instructive book review...

33 comments:

  1. "Recently, a story circulated within the diversity, equity and inclusion industry (D.E.I.)"

    They are, as my British friend say, taking the piss, right, Bob? Please tell me they're taking the piss.

    Don't get me wrong, dear Bob, I don't doubt for a split second that your zombie comrades consume this shit with all seriousness, but the dembots who produce it, they have to be laughing, n'est ce pas?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can take MY piss any time just by opening yer Trumptard mouth.

      Delete
  2. “There go those white males again!”

    And...that really isn’t the point. It isn’t about attacking or ostracizing white males; it’s about promoting greater diversity in the workplace, including in the boardrooms. It just so happens that the majority of corporate leadership are still white males, as they have always been.

    And it isn’t a strictly “liberal” concern, since a growing number of companies, including Fortune 500 companies, are deliberately making an effort to diversify.

    Whether or not the approach discussed in the article gets results, or is just another scam to take advantage of companies desperate for solutions, is unknown.

    But more and more corporations are realizing that is in their best interests to hire and promote a more diverse workforce.

    It’s just a fact.

    And a white male who bristles at this as if he is being attacked or belittled is acting like a self-centered snowflake.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Unconscious bias is a great business to be in. Since the alleged bias is unconscious, the "experts" can define it and measure it however they feel like.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So, now David wants to suggest that racism is all in the minds of certain "experts" and not a real phenomenon at all.

      Social psychologists have been measuring unconscious bias since discovery of the Stroop effect, and documenting effects of racism on behavior since the mid 1900s. David's suggestion that diversity trainers make it all up as they go along is an affront to psychology. It is easy to show the impact of racism on reaction times, easy to do studies comparing decision-making choices, and none of this is left up to the people conducting diversity classes in big companies. Further, unconscious bias is a lot like conscious bias, which many bigoted people make no attempt to conceal. Diversity courses are often about teaching white people how to keep from getting themselves and their firms in trouble by mistreating others. This isn't particularly subtle.

      These companies don't try to eliminate unconscious bias in the minds of individuals. They try to make it explicit so that it can be eliminated from the policies, procedures and behavior of employees. That way they avoid lawsuits and bad press that arises when some idiot does something flagrant to harm a diverse person attempting to participate in a companies services just like white folks do without concern.

      Mistreatment of diverse customers and employees occurs so regularly and is a cost factor that companies obviously want to avoid. It isn't some elusive non-existent quality to be defined by diversity consultants. The alleged bias is revealed in actions that are usually illegal and always embarrassing to the business, making it worth paying someone to teach clueless staff how to stay out of trouble, including those perhaps-apocryphal white guys who thought their targets were funny or appropriate for such a meeting.

      Delete
    2. @10:59 - I think racism is very real. However, I doubt the ability of so-called experts to end racism. IMHO we should focus on bigoted behavior. An organization can demand that its employees not treat minorities in a bigoted manner, but the organization cannot fix people's minds.

      Delete
    3. "An organization can demand that its employees not treat minorities in a bigoted manner"

      What does it mean, exactly? Also, what is this 'minority', and why only they are entitled to not to be treated "in a bigoted manner" (whatever the hell that means)?

      ...eh, okay. What I'm getting at is this: wouldn't it make more sense to simply instruct your employees to behave in a polite, respectful, and considerate manner towards each other.

      Delete
    4. David, as I said, the goal isn't to end racism. It is to mitigate racist behavior. That is all diversity training does. It teaches people how to avoid doing and saying racist things that hurt other people.

      It is in employees interests to take diversity training seriously because they can and will be fired for engaging in the kinds of things that used to be commonplace. You wouldn't want that to happen to someone without them being warned about it. Diversity training is that warning -- racist behavior will not be tolerated by a company because it interferes with business in a monetary sense.

      You seem to think that a bigoted person will just know how to conceal their bigotry. That isn't true. They need to be taught what will get them into trouble.

      Mao asks what bigoted behavior is. He illustrates my point exactly.

      Not only must people be considerate towards each other but they also need to stop following black customers around the store to prevent them from stealing, and assuming that black customers are not seriously interested in buying something expensive, and throwing them out because you think their talking or laughing is too loud, and asking them to move to a different table because a white customer doesn't want to sit next to them, and so on. This goes beyond politeness to the underlying assumptions people make about others based on skin color or ethnicity.

      And notice that Mao doesn't think polite and considerate behavior toward customers is needed -- just toward other employees. He would flunk diversity training for that assumption.

      Delete
    5. David,
      Racism? You're soaking in it.

      Delete
  4. 'What can we learn from such an event?'

    We can learn that TDH is a Trumptard, whose speciality is attacking liberals and defending DJT and Roy Moore.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. How can we learn what we already knew? ;)

      Delete
    3. That's reductive enough to make you a cable news millionaire!

      Delete
  5. The anecdotal story is perfect for me. It perfectly exemplifies the attitudes, expressed explicitly and often, among my white male coworkers regarding diversity presentations. I, too, am white and male and love the subject of diversity and inclusion, so much so that I read books on my own free time about the subject. However, I also have asked myself many times whether or not the way in which corporate America chooses to remediate bias and inequity in the workplace. I have also felt upon occasion that my coworkers came out of such attempts a remediation angrier and with more bias than when they went in.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The point of diversity training is to make clear to white employees that the company will not tolerate racist behavior toward customers or coworkers. It isn't to change hearts and minds, since that doesn't work. It is to protect the company from liability and make it clear that any employees engaging is discrimination is on his own. It isn't supposed to be fun. Bias and inequity cannot be "remediated" and firms are not in the business of doing so anyway. They are protecting their bottom line and that is all they are doing.

      Delete
    2. "...came out of such attempts a remediation angrier and with more bias than when they went in"

      Why, that's the whole purpose of liberal identity politics, dear. Divide and rule.

      Delete
    3. Conservative identity politics focus on money and religious affiliation, as well as race.

      That's why you see so many MAGA hats and special t-shirts proclaiming identity.

      One of the witnesses last week said that divisiveness is a Russian tactic for undermining American unity. Every hat sold at a Trump rally does that, as he pits his supporters against the left and minorities and everyone else, doing Russia's dirty work.

      Remember Hillary's slogan -- stronger together. But Mao thinks it is the left driving people apart. The right only thinks that because their mantra is to exclude anyone not like them. Whereas Liberals affirm diversity and include it.

      Delete
    4. Mao's taking the piss out of ya. No one is stupid enough to believe what he writes. He's like Newt Gingrich, except Mao once made a good faith argument.

      Delete
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    ReplyDelete