Apr, 2020

Biased by Jennifer Eberhardt

The Big Idea: You don’t have to be racist to behave with subconscious racial bias.


  • This book is an examination of implicit bias.
  • Implicit bias is not a new way of calling someone a racist.
  • One of the strongest stereotypes in American society associates blacks with criminality.
  • Knowing that a disproportionate amount of violent crime is committed by young black men can bias judgments about black people.


  • Other Race Effect is a universal phenomenon.
  • Brains react more strongly to faces of their own race than to faces of people unlike them .
  • The brain is not a hardwired machine. It’s a malleable organ.
  • A region known as the fusiform face area, buried deep near the base of the brain, helps us distinguish the familiar from the unfamiliar, friend from foe.
  • Race might influence FFA functioning.
  • FFA was responding more vigorously to faces that were the same race as the study participant.
  • The challenges of cross-racial identification are as well known to law enforcement officials as they are to scientists.


  • We reserve our precious cognitive resources for those who are “like us.”
  • Racial categories are so significant that knowing a person is black or white, for example, can shape how we see that person’s facial features.
  • Categorization can be a precursor to bias.
  • At the same time, categorization is a fundamental tool that our brains are wired to use.
  • Our beliefs and attitudes can become so strongly associated with the category that they are automatically triggered.
  • The concept of stereotypes dates back to the time of Plato.
  • Confirmation bias – people tend to seek out and attend to information that already confirms their beliefs.
  • Confirmation bias is a mechanism that allows inaccurate beliefs to spread and persist.
  • “There is economy in stereotyping.”
  • Just like categorization, the process of stereotyping is universal. We all tend to access and apply stereotypes to help us make sense of other people.
  • Stereotypes is culturally generated.
  • Preschoolers are able to pick up on how adults view other people.
  • Is clutching your purse when you see a black man a reflection of prejudice? Is presuming a Latino doesn’t speak English logical or ignorant?


  • Implicit bias can shade police interactions with the communities they protect and serve.
  • Bias, even when we are not conscious of it, has consequences that we need to understand and mitigate. The stereotypic associations we carry in our heads can affect what we perceive, how we think, and the actions we take.
  • The relentless loop of police-shooting videos leaves some people angry and introduces others to the challenges faced by police.
  • Only a tiny fraction of officers involved in questionable shootings are prosecuted, and it’s rare to get a conviction.
  • Ask whether the association between black people and crime is so powerful in the minds of Americans that it can influence what we see and what we ignore.
  • Our attention can be driven by stereotypic associations that we are not even aware are operating on us.
  • Black faces are much more likely to capture the attentional systems of those who have been induced to think about crime than of those who have not.
  • Reams of studies demonstrating that blacks are perceived as threatening.
  • Study participants consistently rated black men as taller, heavier, and stronger than white men.
  • White participants rated black men as more capable of doing harm than white men of the same physical stature and size. Black participants exhibited no such bias.
  • 42 percent of whites who shoved blacks were deemed to be simply “playing around” — but only 6 percent of blacks who shoved whites were categorized in that benign light.
  • The stereotypic association between blacks and crime influences not only how we see black people but how we see guns.
  • Participants were even faster to respond “shoot” to a black person holding a gun than they were to a white person holding a gun. They were also more likely to mistakenly “shoot” a black person with no gun.
  • Officers who work in bigger cities, with larger black populations and higher crime rates, tend to exhibit the greatest racial bias in reaction time.
  • When the police kill unarmed black suspects, those deaths are associated with a significant dip in the mental health of blacks across the entire state where those killings occurred.


  • Stop-data collections have been occurring in police departments around the country for years.
  • Relying on racial disparities to gauge the quality of policing can be a double-edged sword. The same disparities that community leaders view as proof of racial profiling can be cited by police officers as proof of who is most likely to commit crimes.
  • Officers — or anyone else — can be immersed in an environment that repetitively exposes them to the categorical pairing of blacks with crime and not have that affect how they think, feel, or behave.
  • If officers act in accordance with four tenets — voice, fairness, respect, trustworthiness — residents will be more inclined to think of the police as legitimate authorities and therefore be more likely to comply with the law.
  • The “invisible gorilla” study reminds us of how selective our social perception may be.
  • “Growing up there, some of the most violent people I’ve seen were actually police officers, ” Armstrong told me.
  • The sense of “protecting the community” was strong among even the most hard-nosed cops. But too often they couldn’t tell bad from good, so everyone was treated like a suspect.
  • When he stopped white men, there was a completely different pattern, he said. Often, they would be defiant and challenge him: “What did you stop me for ?”


  • Stopping drivers for equipment-related issues — a broken light, an expired tag, a faulty turn signal, an unfastened safety belt — is a time-honored way to investigate who these drivers are, what they are doing, where they are going and why.
  • Body cameras worn by police officers are giving us access to how these stops unfold in real time.
  • Officers were professional overall. But when officers were speaking to black drivers, they were rated as less respectful, less polite, less friendly, less formal, and less impartial than when they spoke to white drivers.
  • An officer’s language and the attitude it conveys could decrease a black driver’s inclination to cooperate. That increases the likelihood that the interaction might escalate.
  • The inherent unfairness of the bail system has led to calls for reform.
  • Being behind bars for months awaiting trial can unravel a life: the accused can be fired from a job, be subject to eviction, incur debt from being unable to pay bills, lose custody of children. Many defendants are so desperate to be free that they bargain for a short sentence or immediate release by pleading guilty.
  • The plea-bargaining system is a clear example of how institutional practices can directly affect the mental connections we make.
  • 94 percent of cases involving criminal charges never go to trial; they are settled when the defendant agrees to plead guilty.
  • The United States has the highest incarceration rate of any industrialized nation in the world.
  • In Oakland, for example, although blacks make up less than 28 percent of the population, 70 percent of those on probation and 61 percent of those arrested are black.
  • A prison record can stifle earning potential, limit housing options, and derail educational aspirations.
  • White applicants with criminal histories were much more likely to be interviewed by employers than blacks with similar records.
  • Even the decline in the marriage rate among African Americans can be attributed in part to racial disparities in the era of mass incarceration.
  • San Quentin is the oldest and most notorious penitentiary in the California prison system.
  • Only about one-third of American prisons offer education or job-training programs.
  • Blacks make up just 12 percent of the U.S. population, nearly 40 percent of the nation’s prison inmates are black.
  • Nearly 60 percent of black male dropouts born in the late 1960s wound up in prison, compared with 11 percent of similarly situated whites.
  • The “war on drugs” imposed harsh penalties on hapless crack addicts.
  • “Three strikes” sentencing schemes.
  • “More and more black people are getting trapped in the system, but nobody sees a problem with that, ” one student said.
  • The United States is one of only four industrialized nations in the world — along with Japan, Singapore, and Taiwan — that still executes criminals.
  • The trial jury decides who lives and who is slated to die.
  • In the United States, racial disparities in death sentencing.
  • Murderers of white victims are significantly more likely to be sentenced to death than murderers of black people.
  • Looking “more black” more than doubled their chances of being sentenced to death.


  • As the slave trade to Europe and the Americas became a flourishing economic system, the subjugation and brutalization of millions of Africans was rationalized by science with theories that decreed the dark-skinned captives less than fully human.
  • For decades, IQ testing helped to map and tally supposedly inherent differences between ethnic groups.
  • The implicit association between blacks and apes was much stronger than the black-crime association.
  • Marginalized groups in countries all over the world are often discredited through animal imagery.


  • Black and white Americans are still likely to wind up in separate neighborhoods.
  • The federal government played a direct and deliberate role in creating segregated spaces: refusing to back mortgage loans in racially mixed neighborhoods, subsidizing private development of all-white suburbs, and restricting GI Bill housing benefits so that black military veterans could buy homes only in minority communities.
  • Zoning regulations in many cities forbade blacks to move into white neighborhoods.
  • Forcing black families to crowd into undesirable areas where amenities were few, the housing stock was often decrepit or cheaply built, and the streets were lined with factories spewing industrial pollution.
  • African Americans are more likely than any other group to live in segregated neighborhoods.
  • More than half of whites say they would not move to an area that is more than 30 percent black, because they believe that the housing stock would not be well maintained and crime would be high.
  • Stereotypic images of black spaces, buttressed by historical and current-day racial inequalities, led our study participants to imagine black space as polluted.
  • Across history and around the world, immigrants have borne the burden of that sort of place-based prejudice that presumes that the stench of squalid places clings to human beings.
  • In Europe, immigration is being framed as a security risk as waves of people from Africa and the Middle East pour into once largely homogeneous nations.
  • Immigrants aren’t the only group viewed through the lens of bias as diseased outsiders. Homeless people are even lower on the sociological totem pole.
  • The “dirty Jew” rhetoric that powered persecution of Jews since the Middle Ages had begun to penetrate the newspapers, pamphlets, and everyday conversations.
  • Part of the stigma of black skin has to do with cultural associations that mark white as a sign of purity.
  • This is how bias operates. It conditions how we look at the world.
  • What made the South so difficult for blacks was more than the constant reminders of second-class citizenship: the separate drinking fountains, schools, restaurants, restrooms, and areas for waiting, sitting, standing, and healing. It was the ever-present threat of violence, without protection or redress.
  • Lynchings — unprosecuted murders by mobs of unidentified people — occurred all across the United States from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century but were concentrated in the South, particularly in Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama.
  • Space can also liberate. When people leave an oppressive physical space, they are often driven by the rudiments of life: they want better schools, more jobs, safer streets.
  • As blacks migrated by the millions to the North in the 1930s and 1940s, they were viewed as an ugly invading force, and northern cities had to be reshaped and fortified.
  • Surveillance cameras have gone mainstream, guarding our front doors.
  • Residents can circulate photographs of “suspicious” strangers to neighbors and police with the touch of a button and without any evidence.
  • Sarah Leary, one of the founders (with CEO Nirav Tolia) of Nextdoor, an online social networking.
  • The platform exposed raw racial dynamics that generated hurt feelings, sparked hostilities, and fueled fierce online arguments.
  • They developed a checklist of reminders that people have to click through before they can post under the banner of “suspicious person”.
  • The posting process was changed to require users to home in on behavior, pushing them past the “If you see something, say something” mindset.
  • Research shows that talking about racial issues with people of other races is particularly stressful for whites, who may feel they have to work harder to sidestep the minefields.
  • Airbnb provides a platform for sharing our homes with distant travelers.
  • Complaints began trickling in from minorities who felt they’d been discriminated against.
  • The primary problem is not that “people on the platform say, ‘Look, I don’t want any African Americans,’ ”Laura said. “The biggest problem to me is the unconscious bias.”


  • Both black and Latino students do better academically when they attend integrated schools.
  • Integrated schools in middle-class and affluent areas tend to be better resourced.
  • People of all races who attended racially diverse schools are more likely to have friends of other races, choose to live and raise their children in integrated neighborhoods, and have higher levels of civic engagement than those who did not.
  • Many schools still fall short.
  • When we’re faced with a common enemy, research has shown, our biases can temporarily dissolve by the urge to band together and survive.
  • Integrated schools promise to turn us into global citizens, appreciative of cultural differences, skilled at navigating diversity.
  • Integrated spaces can also heighten the threat of becoming the target of bias.
  • And despite the stumbles, progress is being made.
  • But in the last twenty years, school segregation increased as legal rulings whittled away options.
  • Americans still appear to believe in the value of integrated education.
  • The number of intensely segregated schools — where less than 10 percent of students are white — has more than tripled in the past thirty years.
  • Segregation is nearing epidemic levels in the central cities of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas.
  • Black students are nearly four times as likely to be suspended from school as their white peers.
  • Black students are significantly more likely to be disciplined for relatively minor infractions than any other group.
  • Teachers commonly perceive black students to have more negative demeanors and a longer history of misbehavior than whites.
  • Decreasing racial disparities in discipline will require both teachers and students to focus on the relationships they have with each other.
  • During the empathy exercise, teachers learned about the kinds of experiences and worries that could lead to mistrust and misbehavior.
  • Our brains, our culture, our instincts, all lead us to use color as a sorting tool. And yet the color-blind message is so esteemed in American society that even our children pick up the idea that noticing skin color is rude.
  • When we’re afraid, unwilling, or ill equipped to talk about race, we leave young people to their own devices to make sense of the conflicts and disparities they see.
  • Color blindness promoted exactly the opposite of what was intended: racial inequality.
  • It takes more than interpersonal connection to break the bonds of institutional bias and promote the sort of equality that allows us all to thrive.
  • 22 percent of young Americans who came of age in the twenty-first century said they never heard of the Holocaust.
  • Survey of high school seniors and social studies teachers in 2017 found students struggling on even basic questions about the enslavement of blacks in the United States.


  • College students’ commitment to activism and civic engagement is higher than it’s been at any time in the last fifty years.
  • The 2016 election of Donald Trump galvanized liberal students and emboldened right-wing fringe groups.
  • The changing status of whites in America is tinder for the fire of white nationalism.
  • By the middle of this century, white people are likely to be a minority in this country.
  • Feeling outnumbered can signal a threat to the legacy of dominance and the white privilege that affords.
  • The summer of hate began with white nationalists who came to Charlottesville to protest a plan to remove the statue of General Lee from a park in the city’s historic downtown core.
  • “In their minds, to dishonor Robert E. Lee was to dishonor them, was to strike at the soul of their being.”
  • “Jews will not replace us!”
  • Twenty-one-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. — a self-professed neo-Nazi from a small town in Ohio — was convicted of murder by a Charlottesville jury that recommended prison, plus 419 years.
  • The Unite the Right rally was the largest public gathering of white supremacists in a generation.
  • Experts who study hate groups say their ranks are growing as social media makes connecting easier and the guardrails that reined in overt displays of racism have begun to come down.
  • “If you’re a liberal white person in the South, then you can’t not grow up constantly wrestling with and thinking about issues of race.”
  • Research shows that black parents talk to their children about race much earlier and more often than white parents.
  • Some felt the university was a champion of constitutional rights, and the students’ emotional wounds were mere collateral damage.
  • But you can condemn what people say without condemning their legal right to say it.
  • The Unite the Right rally might have been the largest public gathering of white supremacists in a generation. But it didn’t come out of nowhere. And it could have been reined in before someone died.
  • Many white counterprotesters felt so unsafe and unprotected by police at the march that they got a hint of what it’s like to experience the world as black people often do.
  • Jefferson built UVA with black enslaved labor.


  • Today, the unemployment rate for black teens and young adults is about twice as high as it is for whites.
  • Many factors contribute to these disparities, including the quality of the applicant’s social networks marshaled to secure employment as well as the level of education, skills, or experience certain jobs require.
  • Racial bias is also a factor that influences the choices employers make.
  • This particular practice of fitting in is so widespread that it even has a name: Whitening the Résumé.
  • Students were employing what legendary social scientist Erving Goffman called an “assimilative technique.”
  • Companies want to check the boxes but not change their culture.
  • More than half of white Americans — 55 percent — believe there is discrimination against white people in the United States today.
  • Even in the high-stakes world of entrepreneurial markets, minorities and women are held to higher standards than white men in competing for investment dollars.
  • Scarcity of minorities at the helm of powerhouse corporate entities.
  • Black people regularly encounter racial bias in all types of businesses and in all types of routine interactions. They attract outsized attention from sales and security personnel.
  • Starbucks also did what no other company had done before: it held a nationwide training on implicit bias for all its 175,000 employees.
  • The store closures were estimated to cost Starbucks $12 million in lost revenue, but were hailed as a smart business move for the brand.
  • “Bias training” is the new watchword in human-resource programs.
  • But implicit bias can be layered and complicated. It’s simple to explain, but not so easy to see or to rectify.
  • Bias training is a fast-growing for-profit business, and finding fault with results could affect the bottom line of the trainers. Better to just check the box that says “Yes, we’ve trained our employees” and call it victory.
  • For businesses, there are big upsides to training. But there are also downsides.
  • We may not ever know whether the training Starbucks offered to its employees was effective.
  • When we are forced to make quick decisions using subjective criteria, the potential for bias is great.
  • Bias is also more likely to flare up when our decisions are left unmonitored.
  • Monitoring certainly helps.
  • Personal connections can override the power exerted by implicit bias.
  • Research shows that close attachments between people from different groups can puncture holes in stereotypic beliefs and negative attitudes.
  • Science has shown that intense relationships that cross racial, religious, or ethnic boundaries can quickly undo fundamental associations that have built up slowly over time.
  • Resetting norms isn’t easy, for a country or a company.
  • Curtain interviews have become the norm.
  • The founder of the Papa John’s pizza chain was forced to step down from the company he built for using a racial slur.


  • The Oakland Police Department was an early adopter of body-worn cameras.
  • The role of obvious racial disparities can’t be overlooked.
  • Every society has disadvantaged groups that are the targets of bias.

Build a Better World In Your Backyard by Paul Wheaton

The Big Idea: Small scale permaculture is the solution to most environmental problems.

Ch 1: A Different Approach to Solving World Problems

  • Nearly all environmental problems are mostly solved with a combination of homesteading and permaculture.

Ch 2: Environmentalist vs “Environmentalist”

  • Most people who call themselves “environmentalist” are probably very wasteful of natural resources.
  • Energy use is the best metric for defining an environmentalist.
  • The average American adult spends $83 a month on heat and electricity.

Ch 3: The Wicked Lies About Light Bulbs

  • The LED light bulb is a good metaphor for environmental thinking.
  • It sounds environmentally friendly, but mathematically, the incandescent bulb is better (lower toxicity, more efficient for those in cold climates, better light quality.)

Ch 4: Carbon Footprint

  • The average American adult generates 30 tons of annual carbon emissions.
  • Focusing on 80/20, the big winners are to reduce your heat usage in cold climates and to grow your own food.

Ch 5: Petroleum Footprint

  • The unsubsidized price for a gallon of gasoline is actually three times higher.
  • Lots of ways to reduce fuel consumption.
  • 80/20 says to telecommute and to grow your own food.

Ch 6: Toxic Footprint

  • Sources of toxins that probably cause cancer and other diseases: sugar, high fructose corn syrup, plastic with BPA, aspartame, sucralose, saccharine
  • What to do: stop using toxic soaps and shampoos, stop using toxic household cleaners, don’t drink chlorinated water, stop using teflon, stop using plastic containers, live in a home built with toxin-free materials, avoid city pollution

Ch 7: The Wheaton Eco Scale

Ch 8: Moving Way Beyond Recycling

  • There is no such thing as waste in nature. Everything is recycled.
  • Even better than recycling is not using packaging in the first place. Grow as much of your own food as possible.

Ch 9: Vote with Your Wallet

  • Stop buying traditional, industrial-grown food.
  • “If you think organic food is expensive, have you priced cancer recently?”

Ch 10: Radically Deviant Financial Strategies

  • If your life doesn’t change if you had a million dollar, then is it fair to say you’re living the life of a millionaire.
  • Want to learn how to live without a mortgage? Read Rob Roy’s book Mortgage Free.
  • Jacob Lund Fisker has a blog “Early Retirement Extreme” which says basically live frugally and save 75% of your income.
  • An alternative is to build one or multiple side businesses.
  • Another alternative is to try community living and pool your resources.

Ch 11: Organic vs Local

  • Permaculture >> organic >> local

Ch 12: Vegan vs Omnivore vs Junk Food

  • Veganism is a noble path.
  • In terms of impact, polyculture/permaculture >> vegan >> junk food.
  • Cowspiracy stats are a load of manure.
  • The lowest-impact and most healthy source of food is your own backyard.

Ch 13: Really Reducing Home Energy Usage

  • Nearly all war and pollution is related to energy usage.
  • Most energy usage is related to heating and cooling, including heating water.
  • Use more blankets, insulate your home better, take shorter showers, use a toaster oven, get a smaller house.

Ch 14: More People Living Under One Roof Without Stabbing Each Other

  • Keep the common areas clean by charging more rent and hiring a cleaning service.

Ch 15: Toxic Gick vs 20 Years of Your Life

  • As a cleaner, water alone is enough 90% of the time.
  • Vinegar and baking soda can clean most surfaces fine.
  • Cast iron >> teflon.
  • Use diatomaceous earth for insect control.

Ch 16: The Huge Link Between Food and Global Footprint

  • Learn permaculture concepts to grow your own food with minimal effort.

Ch 17: Double the Food with One Tenth of the Effort

  • Direct seeding >> transplanting.
  • No-till >> tilling.
  • Hugelkultur raised beds.
  • Perennials >> annuals.
  • Chop-and-drop is an ideal approach to mulching.
  • Incorporate deciduous trees in your permaculture design.
  • Polyculture is required.
  • Include mushrooms for diversity and resiliency.

Ch 18: The Dark Side of Native Plant Enthusiasm

  • Better understanding of horticulture >> blind advocacy for native plants.

Ch 19: 20 Things to Do with the Twigs That Fall n Your Backyard

  • Mulch, hugelkultur, brush piles.

Ch 20: Not Composting

  • Instead of composting, feed kitchen scraps to your chickens.

Ch 21: Better Than a Solar Panel – A Solar Food Dehydrator

  • Properly dehydrated food can last for years.

Ch 22: Breaking the Toxic Water Cycle with Greywater Recycling

  • Read Create an Oasis with Greywater by Art Ludwig.
  • Build a laundry-to-landscape system, and use environmentally friendly laundry detergent.

Ch 23: Harvesting Electricity in Your Backyard

  • Going off-grid forces to you question your energy usage.
  • The best off-grid power source is micro hydro.

Ch 24: The Conventional Lawn vs a Mowable Meadow

  • Mow higher and always leave the clippings.
  • Water deep and less often.
  • Build earthworm towns once and pile on organic matter regularly for them to eat.

Ch 25: How Vegans Benefit from Caring for Farm Animals

  • If you’re a vegan, either your farm animals do the work, or you do the work.
  • Pamper your animals with a movable paddock shift system.
  • Get a livestock guardian dog.

Ch 26: Replacing Petroleum with People

  • Try to incorporate people and hand tools when possible.

Ch 27: Wrestling with Poop Beasts and Peeing in the Garden

  • Build a dry outhouse on an elevated mound.
  • Urinate near plants or use a urine diverter and use diluted urine to fertilize plants.

Ch 28: The Solutions to Colony Collapse Disorder are Embarrassingly Simple

  • Organic beekeeping >> conventional beekeeping.

Ch 29: Destroy Your Orchard to Make a Food Forest

  • A monocrop orchard is not permaculture.
  • Trees from seeds >> trees grown from starters.
  • The bottom third of a fruit tree is for critters, the middle third is for humans, the top third is for birds.

Ch 30: A Building Design that Solves Almost Everything

  • A straw bale house has walls made from natural materials, but is otherwise the same as a conventional house, only with thicker walls and more expensive.
  • A cob house is similar to a straw bale house, but more labor intensive, and, maybe more fun and beautiful.
  • The ideal permaculture home is an underground home, in the style of Mike Oehler – a wofati.