Books

Book Review: Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People by Mahzarin R. Banaji, Anthony G. Greenwald

I don’t know if I have ever mentioned that I studied Social Psychology at the University. Nevertheless, I did. I judged this book as someone familiar with all the concepts introduced in there and almost all the experiments used as examples. Boring start, I know, but what I’m trying to say is due to my education I can honestly say: “Read this book!” Everyone should know how our unconscious mind affects our actions and thus the society.

There are so many cultural beliefs and psychological tendencies (familiarity influencing preferences and our habit of categorizing) which makes our societies that much harder for some: blacks, elderly, overweight, women to name a few. Then there are those who find it a lot easier to function in our societies, those with stars on their bellies (read the book.) And it’s not just that, the trouble is those who confront biases every day began to internalize them, taking the attributes given to them as something coming in, and that is bad, believe me.

If those kinds of revelations about yourself, others, and our societies make you scared to open the book, I say stop being such a coward as not all hope is lost. That is the point of the book, we have to acknowledge the biases hidden inside us before we can do something about them. (Read the book!)

Even when the book’s concepts were familiar, it was a good read. More than often enough it’s beneficial to remind oneself of these factors. Not to forget how my own choices in life have come to be and how they have been influenced by my upbringing, TV-shows I have seen, who my neighbors are, and what I see in the mirror for starters. (Read the book! Now I’m annoying you. Good. At least you will remember it and might accidentally on purpose pick it up. If that happens, please forget that I even existed and caused any discomfort.) And I did learn something new. I love the fact I know why ducklings can consider wellies to be their mother. Not a very important factor to take out of this book, but something new at least and possibly can be used to take over the world. (No, there is no guide to that in Blindspot, just my sick mind playing tricks.)

So, what is my conclusion? You might guess it. Mentioning it the fifth time might make you break your screen or do something else as drastic. We don’t want that. I listened to the book. The audiobook version offers a PDF attachment to do the test in it. There are tests! Did I forget to mention that? Anyway, the studies in the book are sound (at least for now, until proven wrong.) I found its argumentation to be compelling. This is a great stepping stone to dive into the matter of the biases we have towards other people and groups. Also, it is an important book more so now than ever. (Okay, there might have been a time when the world desperately needed it, and if I ever invent a time machine, I’m sure to send a copy of the book to that era. I’m not rich enough to do that, yet.)

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