Do you trust a mechanic?  A look at the subtle bias of 'cognitive injustice'

Do you trust a mechanic? A look at the subtle bias of ‘cognitive injustice’

The team is bent over the test paper. Mary knows the answer.

“It’s cheetahs,” she says confidently. Keegan, holding the pen, makes an uncertain noise. Marie frowns. After a few long and awkward moments, Nick walked out.

“I think it is actually he is Panthers,” he says.

“you are right!” Keegan says it and writes it. Mary snores with quiet anger. This isn’t the first time this has happened and it won’t be the last. But she swallows her bitter comment. After all, she’s used to it now.

This is an example of what Miranda Fricker does calls Cognitive injustice.

selective deafness

There are many ways to express bias. It may be physical abuse, but it can also happen when you make fun of, belittle or insult someone. It can happen when we deny opportunities for X that are given to Y. For Fricker, one of the more subtle ways we engage in bias is when we refuse to respect someone else’s opinions or testimony, without a good reason to do so.

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For example, a sexist might say to his wife, “Marge, there’s a female intuition, then there are facts,” or a white racial judge might give more weight to a white eyewitness (consciously or unconsciously). Former Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, referred to as “designed between the sexes”, a place where “if you were the only female voice in the room, [men] He just doesn’t seem to hear you.”

Cognitive injustice underestimates, underestimates, or completely ignores what someone says based on what they say irrelevant informationsuch as their gender, race, religion, wealth, etc.

The problem is that when we deny the authenticity of someone’s voice, we shrink and reduce it. When strict Islamic law, for example, states that a woman’s testimony is equal to half that of a man, it means that it is less important. As Immanuel Kant argued, when we believe and listen to another person, we show our respect for him.

You Shell!

While Fricker coined the term “cognitive injustice” to apply to those who are usually marginalized and discriminated against in society, it is something that also appears in much of the everyday criticism of some research.

Let’s take an example: “Big Pharma.” It is not uncommon to turn down a study or trial because it is funded (in part or in full) by some type of large corporation – usually in the pharmaceutical, food and consumer industries. When we read, “Yes, this research is funded by Big Pharma,” or “Well, you Will be Say that, you’re pushed by them, “Not only are we committing a cognitive injustice, but we’re rejecting a source-based argument: what’s usually called an ad hominem attack.

Of course, sometimes the search is “industry sponsored” he is prevarication. ‘Participants’ may be selected to make a particular outcome more likely, such as excluding men or women for no apparent reason. A drug may be tested against a weaker, outdated alternative (“See, my drug is much better than alternatives*”). So, no, “industry sponsored” does not mean “perfect.”

But these are problems with All scientific reseach. A research graduate, hoping to make a name for himself and/or land a great job, is likely to engineer an outcome like a company’s paralysis. “Independent researcher” doesn’t mean that they somehow pin all pre-existing prejudices at the door. Some studies are flawed and some research is skewed. It doesn’t have to matter who the author is: we need to view the study as a study.

What’s more, a Mega meta-analysis from Johns Hopkins University and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center of 245,999 clinical trials concluded that industry-sponsored studies were generally faster and better. “Increased industry funding for larger randomized clinical trials may be warranted to inform clinical decision-making and answer important clinical and health policy questions,” they added. with the estimated 70% Of all the industry-funded clinical trials, it’s silly to exclude so much important research.

Avoid cognitive injustice

The problem with cognitive injustice, as Fricker imagined it, is that it lies too closely with our unconscious biases. Each of us has, somewhere in our psyche, the idea of ​​a “knowledgeable person”. From our childhood, through our education, as well as in our jobs, we carry the image of some model of truth that we respect and listen to above all else. Thus, most of us have likely witnessed, or even guilty, undervalued someone’s testimony at least once.

Of course, this does not mean that “everyone’s opinion is equal”. If I had a problem with my car, I wouldn’t rely on Tipsy Tony from the local pub. I’ll call a mechanic. But even if we think that some sounds have more weight than others, judging them on the basis of stereotypical and irrelevant factors is simply bias. Cognitive justice means that if your mechanic is male or female, black or white, you will take their opinion the same way.

Johnny Thompson teaches philosophy at Oxford. He runs a popular account called little philosophy And his first book is Small Philosophy: A Little Book of Big Ideas.

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