Sunday, July 31, 2005


I am not sure that this summary of a commentary by Arne Ohman, of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden is really worth mentioning but the final sentence in the extract below could mislead:

"By treating men and women like Pavlov's dogs, and giving them electric shocks while they looked at pictures of black and white men, researchers have unravelled our innate and learnt reactions to race. We have evolved to fear people from a different group to our own, in the same way they we fear spiders and snakes, it was found. But close contact can help counter this inherent fear."

Both the things found were rather like proving that grass is green. 1). That people still have some tribal tendencies and tend to be most at ease with people similar to themselves is uncontroversial. 2). The actual second finding about "close contact" was simply that New Yorkers who had dated someone from another race were less fearful of other races. How surprising! Asserting that the dating influenced the attitude rather than the other way around is is absurd.

The original research referred to by Ohman is here. There is a better summary of the work here


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