Doctors may be missing fatal illnesses because medical textbooks are biased toward white skin.
- A medical student in the UK recently created a handbook to help trainee doctors recognize life-threatening conditions on black and brown skin.
- "Mind the Gap" includes images that display how certain illnesses appear on both darker and lighter skin tones.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated problems with suspected coronavirus patients being asked if they are "pale" or if their lips "turned blue".
Mind the Gap<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUwMzY4MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NDA2MjE4N30.LtHZlsQNOQdcpPiCKiFs-ooHpJS5fd9ZuzGt3gyR7dA/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C1605%2C0%2C1605&height=700" id="392c0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bce1d08be9de55c4f969d605723bec67" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt=""Mind the Gap" handbook" />
Photo Credit: St George's University of London<p>Mukwende has been working with Senior Lecturer in Diversity and Medical Education, Margot Turner, and Clinical Lecturer in Clinical Skills, Peter Tamony on the handbook "Mind the Gap" as part of a <a href="https://www.sgul.ac.uk/for-students/student-experience/student-staff-partnership-grants" target="_blank">student-staff partnership project</a> looking at clinical teaching on black and brown skins.</p><p>According to the <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m2578" target="_blank">British Medical Journal</a>, Mind the Gap aims "to teach medical students and other health professionals about the importance of recognizing how some conditions can present differently in darker skins."</p><p>The book includes images that display how certain illnesses appear on both darker and lighter skin tones. Additionally, it includes suggestions for appropriate phrases and vernacular for doctors to use with their patients. </p><p>"It is important that we as future healthcare professionals are aware of these differences so that we don't compromise our care for certain groups," said Mukwende in a St George's University press release, noting that medical textbooks contain a 'white skin bias,' which has put the health of those groups at risk. </p><p>Though Mind the Gap is not currently published or available for distribution, discussions with potential publishers are ongoing according to St George University's statement. </p>
Coronavirus and need for change<p>Mukwende explained that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated problems with suspected coronavirus patients being asked if they are "pale" or if their lips "turned blue".</p><p>"These are not useful descriptors for a black patient and, as a result, their care is compromised from the first point of contact," said Mukwende. "It is essential we begin to educate others so they are aware of such differences and the power of the clinical language we currently use. We will be hosting a training session for clinical skills peer tutors which will take place in July 2020."</p><p>He pointed out that conversations currently taking place regarding health disparities in the United Kingdom are pressuring universities to take real action to address those concerns. For example, at St George's there <a href="https://www.change.org/p/gmc-medical-schools-must-include-bame-representation-in-clinical-teaching" target="_blank">was a petition</a> calling for teaching clinical skills on black and brown skin. </p><p>"The petition, Covid-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement all illustrate there is an urgent need for change," said Mukwende. </p>
Monuments are under attack in America. How far should we go in re-examining our history?
- Historical American monuments and sculptures are under attack by activists.
- The monuments are accused of celebrating racist history.
- Toppling monuments is a process that often happens in countries but there's a danger of bias.
Mob pulling down the statue of George III at Bowling Green, New York City, 9 July 1776.
Painting by William Walcutt. 1854.
People in Rome tear down the statues of Mussolini. July 25, 1943.
Photo by Fototeca Gilardi/Getty Images.
Statue of Lenin in Berlin, Germany On November 13, 1991.
Photo by Patrick PIEL/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Statue of Lenin taken down in Ulan Bator, Mongolia. October 2012.
Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
Repeating lies makes people believe they are true, show studies.
- Two recent studies looked at the illusory truth effect.
- The effect describes our propensity to start believing untrue statements if they are repeated.
- The phenomenon is a universal bias linked to cognitive fluency but can be counterbalanced.
How to stop fake news<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="YXfNZslk" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="c37a79c8ee5c96749923fe44c2549f2c"> <div id="botr_YXfNZslk_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/YXfNZslk-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/YXfNZslk-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/YXfNZslk-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
The development of implicit biases starts at a young age and then they get reinforced over time.
- Awareness of your implicit biases can lessen their effect.
- In the classic "Draw-A-Scientist Test" young students overwhelmingly drew similar representations of a scientist.
- Teaching young people to become aware of the idea of their "implicit biases" could help them better understand their peers.
Conscious awareness of bias<p>The French study leaves us with the encouraging idea that conscious awareness of our hidden biases can lessen their effect. While we might not be able to overcome our biases completely, we can get rid of the "hidden" factor. </p><p>The study reviewed the awards handed out during competitions for elite scientific research positions. They reviewed the 414 members of the committees, who were responsible for reviewing and picking the candidates. The researchers' assumption was that the decision made by the group would be representative of their internal makeup — that is, the members' decisions would reflect their own group bias.</p><p>Committee members were given <a href="https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html" target="_blank">Harvard's Implicit Association Test (IAT),</a> which determined that there existed implicit gender biases among the committee. After the members were made aware of these biases, awards given out were less likely to be influenced by prejudiced notions and more women, subsequently, were promoted. </p><p>It's important to note that there were some lapses in the study. For instance, the committee members may have been prompted to promote — or be more proactive to promote— women because they felt like they were being called out. The study was also by no means comprehensive, however, the researchers' conclusion do give us a baseline to consider the role implicit bias plays in judging others, even in as real-world situations as job promotions.</p>
Learning about implicit biases<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9abfbb89d77de706643183d25ffab2fe"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/epALi4ET3PY?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Caroline Simard, Research Director at Stanford's Clayman Institute for Gender Research <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epALi4ET3PY" target="_blank">spoke with UC Berkeley Lab</a> about implicit bias in science and how it affects us throughout our lives and what we can do about it.</p><blockquote><em>Our brains look for shortcuts to make quicker snap decisions, stereotypes are one of the ways we shortcut the decision-making process.</em></blockquote><p>Simard gives a classic example from a famous study called the Draw-A-Scientist Test<em>.</em></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"If you ask kindergarteners to draw a scientist you're going to have about half of them draw a male scientist, half of them draw a female scientist. By third-grade 75 percent draw a male scientist and if you look at the drawings they all start looking eerily similar. They're starting to look like the stereotype: it's a middle-aged man with the white lab coat, the little pencils in the pocket, glasses, and very interesting hair patterns. This stereotype essentially evokes Einstein."</p><p>David Wade Chambers, who first <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/sce.3730670213" target="_blank">published this research in the 1980s,</a> was able to show that children quickly began to develop stereotypical biased views of scientists at a very young age, while finding that the bias was progressively reinforced as they got older. This translates over to a great deal of other biases as well. Simard adds: </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Media images have a big role to play and, unfortunately, what research shows is that children's shows and children's cartoons are especially good at reinforcing stereotypes. But the opposite could also be true, you could reinforce the other stereotype by including more diversity in the media images."</p><p>Indeed, Simard believes there's a direct way to counterbalance implicit bias: While it's being reinforced through the media, educational awareness may dim it's influence, as suggested by the results of the French research committee study. </p><p>Some universities have started offering courses to mitigate this. The Berkeley Lab's <a href="https://diversity.lbl.gov/implicit-bias-awareness/" target="_blank">UC Managing Implicit Bias Series</a>, for instance, is an online course that's designed to increase the awareness of implicit bias in hopes of reducing its impact at the university community. "And just about everyone is prone to biases, whether you're male or female, white or non-white, scientist or not," says Simard.</p>
Do you know the implicit biases you have? Here are some ways to find them out.
- A study finds that even becoming aware of your own implicit bias can help you overcome it.
- We all have biases. Some of them are helpful — others not so much.
How we can curb the effects of implicit biases<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTA3MDgyNS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzOTczNzk1MH0.WrHhXZnq_IEuhwWCqj542Yj_Ny9OyS69eeSgtIbKCtE/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C130%2C0%2C130&height=700" id="c8c5b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="37cbee2b5fecb9415542a2f9b256aa21" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Radachynskyi Serhii / Shutterstock / Big Think<p>New research, <a href="https://go.redirectingat.com/?id=66960X1516588&xs=1&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nature.com%2Farticles%2Fs41562-019-0686-3" target="_blank">published</a> in <em>Nature Human Behavior </em>on August 26, suggests the gender bias, which continues to prevent women from advancing in science, has a lot to do with its hidden underbelly — human blindspots. During the study, French researchers discovered that more women were promoted after the scientists in charge of awarding research positions became consciously aware of the impact of their implicit bias. </p><p>When it was no longer being highlighted, their biases discriminatory effect re-asserted itself, with award grants regressing to their traditional, pro-male pattern. Other research suggests that diversity training <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/on-leadership/wp/2016/07/01/to-improve-diversity-dont-make-people-go-to-diversity-training-really-2/" target="_blank">doesn't really help</a> and may even exacerbate the problem it seeks to address. </p><p>We can glean a new approach, though — one that could result in better outcomes — from the new research.</p>
About the study<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTA3MDQ3Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMzAyOTM3NX0.g6-J9vIM86-oD9uvA6hI7fWstSf4T6l-x1Or7vYoNC4/img.jpg?width=980" id="90426" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7e0f4d9453c682b9d09aa0cab90e1e34" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Tartila/Shutterstock/Big Think
How do I know if implicit bias is affecting my judgement?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTA3MDg0OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMjEwNTk4Nn0.gNTCpjO6Y2-wVfA3TzKHT1k75RJbGrvF6Wkl6VZLaOA/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=237%2C51%2C237%2C51&height=700" id="1e62b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8a541cecc5949ab591f2fe9e50bdabfc" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: AlexandreNunes / Shutterstock / Big Think<p>While the study looked at gender bias, of course, it's not the only variety to be concerned about, others pervade our culture: race bias, ethnicity bias, anti-LGBTQ bias, age bias, anti-Muslim bias, and so on. There are a couple of online methods available for sussing out our own. Note that if the researchers are correct, then just making yourself aware of your implicit biases can help you combat them.</p><p>The IAT mentioned above is one widely used way to identify your own bias issues. <a href="https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/index.jsp" target="_blank">Project Implicit</a> — from psychologists at Harvard, the University of Virginia, and the University of Washington — offers a <a href="https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html" target="_blank">self-test</a> you can take. Be aware, though, that the IAT requires multiple tests to produce <a href="https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/the-iat-how-and-when-it-works" target="_blank">a meaningful result</a>.</p><p>If you're willing to invest a little time, there's also the <a href="http://www.lookdifferent.org/what-can-i-do/bias-cleanse" target="_blank">"bias cleanse"</a> offered by MTV in partnership with the <a href="http://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/" target="_blank">Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity</a>. It's a seven-day program aimed at helping you sort out implicit gender, race, or anti-LGBTQ biases you may be harboring. Each day you receive three eye-opening email thought exercises, one for each type of bias. </p><p>Side note: Did you know that more people die in female-named hurricanes because they're typically perceived as less threatening? We didn't.</p>