Lecturer covers dangers of subconscious biases

Caption: Shankar Vedantam, host of Hidden Brain, on a UAF centennial panel discusses unconscious bias with the audience at Hering Auditorium.

A lecture on our subconscious biases and how they shape and change our view of the world around us, and those in it, was given by Shankar Vedantam, an American journalist and NPR correspondent. The University held the lecture, on August 25 at Herring auditorium. Vedantam covered many topics including biases in the workplace, in the community, and gender biases. Herring auditorium was packed full of people from around the community. Vedantam took some time to answer many different questions, from audience members, at the end of the event. One such question asked was how to deal with the fact that we may have these biases we may be unaware of.

“Merely knowing that a bias exists, is usually not sufficient to overcome it,” Vedantam continued, “The problem with many of these biases is much of the time we don’t even know they exist. You hire someone, you fire someone, you give someone a raise, you don’t know if what’s happening is a result of deliberate, rational choice or whether its a result of bias, the only effective way is to measure it.”

Vedantam is an American journalist and correspondent for National Public Radio or NPR. His book “The Hidden Brain: How our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars and Save Our Lives,” was published in 2010 and his podcast, “The Hidden Brain,” has been featured on NPR since September of 2015.

“Its outstanding, I don’t know if you have listened to ‘The Hidden Brain’ or watched Brain Games, but it is, as I mentioned in opening remarks, an opportunity for us to understand how we behave, how the world behaves, and maybe do better,” Chancellor Dan White said.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks will be holding lecture series events as part of their centennial celebration this year. Mark Hamilton former UA President, Dana Thomas former interim UAF Chancellor, and Wendy Redman former UA Vice President, are among those who have been featured this summer.

Matt Mertes

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