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Great New Reads: Blindspot

By: Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald

February

Delacorte; $27

Anyone who’s taken a standardized test has probably encountered a “mindbug,” a kind of visual or cognitive dissonance that alters the way we interpret information. A prime example is that ubiquitous “which geometric shape is bigger than the others” question. We perceive that one figure is bigger based on faulty thinking, when in fact all are equal. That’s a mindbug. In our daily lives, mindbugs can play a more onerous role, influencing our unconscious or subconscious attitudes toward certain people, races and ethnic groups. In Blindspot
, Harvard professor and psychologist Mahzarin R. Banaji and University of Washington sociologist Anthony G. Greenwald invite readers to take a series of tests designed to reveal the buried biases that belie our conscious convictions. The results of these tests will probably surprise and perhaps dismay readers who firmly believe they are free of racial and ethnic stereotyping and intolerance. The biases, though maybe outside our conscious awareness, come from our experience with social groups, including age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, social class, sexuality, disability status and nationality. The authors admit they have no antidote for these mindbugs, but surely the first step is to bravely face our biases so we can begin to alter our conscious responses.

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