Monday, February 27, 2012

People with Blue Eyes are Smarter

I'll bet you didn't know that fact about blue-eyed people.  To find out more, I encourage you to watch this PBS Frontline episode.  This TV show reviews the famous experiment in racism that was conducted by a third-grade teacher in Iowa shortly after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.  Some of you may have seen the film (Eye of the Storm) that was made about Jane Elliot's (the teacher) eye color experiment and the dramatic effect it had on her pupils.  This PBS show revisits her students many years later as adults to see what impact it had on their lives.  Equally impressive is the latter part of the show in which Jane Elliot conducts a similar experiment with the employees of a US correctional institute (prison).

If you watch this, pay particular attention to how those people who've never experienced real prejudice react to being treated unfairly (and keep in mind that they only experienced bias for a few hours...imagine a career or a lifetime of biased treatment).  In the last post, I talked about how men often were unaware of the various (sometimes subtle) biases that women in science face.  It may not occur to them that such bias even exists, never having experienced it themselves. They may even deny it exists or believe that the problem lies in an overreaction by women to slights that men just shrug off.  It would be an interesting experiment to put scientists through an exercise like the one designed by Jane Elliot (but emphasize the biased treatment that women typically experience).

Photo Credit: Still image from Eye of the Storm (1968)

1 comment:

River Mud said...

I first saw this in a sociology class in college, around 1994. Heartbreaking.