UChicago endorses Harvard's 'flawed' 'Implicit Bias' test

The University of Chicago’s biological sciences department endorsed Harvard University’s "flawed" “Project Implicit” following a diversity training.

Project Implicit has been criticized for its lack of reliability and allegedly flawed methods of data collection.

The University of Chicago’s biological sciences department hosted a diversity training, which endorsed Harvard University’s “flawed” “Project Implicit.”

In an email provided to Campus Reform, Alyssa Chavez of the department’s Diversity and Inclusion committee thanked participants for their attendance. Chavez confirmed to Campus Reform that she was indeed the author of the email.

She told participants that “one of the many things we discussed during this training was the Project Implicit by Harvard.” Chavez reminded participants that “this website offers a variety of different quizzes you may self select on different topics to help in identifying your own implicit biases.” 

She then recommended that participants allocate time to taking some of the quizzes.

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“Project Implicit” has been the focus of regular criticism by some researchers.

A 2017 report by statistician Althea Nagai said that “there are many scientific critics of this test, and it is far from settled science.” Nagai wrote that an individual’s score may vary from trial to trial, pointing to its lack of reliability. Room for error is introduced when test data is measured in milliseconds, which points to a “wide variety of other explanations” for differences in scores.

Plus, “the IAT could tap into a fear of being called a racist instead of being an unconscious racist” for some test takers.

Despite these issues with Project Implicit, academics have relied upon it for a wide variety of studies and research projects. In December, Campus Reform reported that two Texas A&M University researchers used Project Implicit data to allege a link between “implicit” racial attitudes and higher COVID-19 death rates among African-Americans.

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Chavez also recommended that participants who missed the training take two implicit bias quizzes and watch an unconscious bias course. 

“We’re all biased,” reads the course description. “Our experiences shape who we are, and our race, ethnicity, gender, height, weight, sexual orientation, place of birth, and other factors impact the lens with which we view the world.”

“Diversity expert” Stacey Gordon helps participants “recognize and acknowledge your own biases so that you can identify them when making decisions, and prevent yourself from making calls based on a biased viewpoint.”

She further “outlines strategies for overcoming personal and organizational bias.”

Campus Reform reached out to the University of Chicago for comment; this article will be updated accordingly. Harvard University did not respond in time for publication. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft