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June 13, 2005 10:00 AM   Subscribe

It was just horrifying how quickly they became what I told them they were. The day after Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered in 1968, Jane Elliott, a elementary school teacher in Riceville, Iowa, conducted her Blue Eyes Brown Eyes exercise with her students, dividing them by eye color to ilustrate prejudice and racism. Since retiring from teaching in the early 1980s she's repeated the exercise for adults in corporations, at colleges, and on Oprah.

PBS's 1985 documentary A Class Divided is viewable online [Real and Windows Media], as are parts of the 2002 documentary Australian Eye [QuickTime and Windows Media]; both feature participants' reactions. (Related: different reflections by a participants in similar exercises; and a program evaluation and transcript of the exercise.)

Ms. Elliott recently said, "What is distressing is that I get the same results today with adults that I got using the exercise with children in 1968."
posted by kirkaracha (64 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's political correctness gone mad that our ethics committees prevent us from experimenting with children this way anymore.
posted by biffa at 10:14 AM on June 13, 2005


Typical.
--
Of course, I have green eyes so I'm an 'outsider'. Just lucky I guess. In Orwell's Animal Farm, I always liked the cat's perspective.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:20 AM on June 13, 2005


"Political correctness" has nothing to do with it -- the term "political correctness" is largely a strawman anyhow. If the goals of the research were a more "politically correct" society, the experiment would be mandatory, not forbidden.
posted by trey at 10:20 AM on June 13, 2005


It sounds like a very interesting exploration of racism, but I don't entirely believe everything (and not just because as well all know it's the people with Blue eyes who are superior).

Dyslexic kids suddenly gaining markedly improved reading skills because of a one day change of expectations? Adults, who have to see what the point of the exercise is in advance, actually mirroring racist behaviors?

I don't know, it just sounds like experimenter bias coloring anecdotal results to me. I would really like to see it in action though because it sounds fascinating.
posted by willnot at 10:23 AM on June 13, 2005


Well, willnot, watch the Frontline video in full and you'll see it in action, kids and adults both. I'll watch it tonight when I get home from work, myself.
posted by linux at 10:27 AM on June 13, 2005


I saw a program by this lady some years ago and was amazed. Ms Elliot's endeavours are commendable and instructive. She deserves a medal or 3.
posted by peacay at 10:33 AM on June 13, 2005


Yeah, linux. I just noticed the links in that second (and third) paragraph, and I'm definitely going to watch it when I get home.
posted by willnot at 10:34 AM on June 13, 2005


I remember this from undergrad psych. Very interesting, and not all that surprising given the Milgrim experiment, the (aborted) Stanford prison experiment, etc.

The Oprah viewers would have been better educated watching the original footage, or Frontline, though. It's not a magic trick.
posted by dreamsign at 10:34 AM on June 13, 2005


Does anyone know where/how I could get this on QuickTime? I'm a middle school teacher and this looks like it would make for a nice way to spend a period at the end of the year.
posted by alphanerd at 11:04 AM on June 13, 2005


It's political correctness gone mad that our ethics committees prevent us from experimenting with children this way anymore.

Hahah. As someone who's taken a couple psych classes, you'd notice that this woman's experiment was way, way outside the ethical guidelines for psychological experiments.

Oh well.
posted by delmoi at 11:11 AM on June 13, 2005


Actually, I found a torrent of it in DivX. It's pretty easy to find (*cough* isohunt *cough*).
posted by linux at 11:13 AM on June 13, 2005


"Its political correctness gone mad"

Now there's a new phrase that I'll trot out once in a while. Maybe it'll stick.
posted by Sk4n at 11:25 AM on June 13, 2005


Actually, I found a torrent of it in DivX. It's pretty easy to find (*cough* isohunt *cough*).

It must be nice having a computer other than a district-issued MacIntosh and being able to install applications without hunting down your technology supervisor.
posted by alphanerd at 11:35 AM on June 13, 2005


Am I the only one who got that biffa was joking, or am I just being especially dense this afternoon?
(Treat that as an inclusive "or" if it makes yer potshots easier.)
posted by joe lisboa at 11:35 AM on June 13, 2005


They did a half-assed version of this when I was in elementary school, split along straight-hair/curly-hair lines. Through some variation of the "one drop of blood" principle, my wavy hair left me in the curly group. It was basically a waste of a day, as the message was not "See how easy it is to treat people badly if you're told they're inferior," but "See how crummy it feels to be a second-class citizen." So, yeah. I told you it was half-assed.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:44 AM on June 13, 2005


You can always download it from home and convert it to QuickTime so you can play it on the school computer, alphanerd.
posted by linux at 11:44 AM on June 13, 2005


I think biffa, kidding or not, is right about this. Elliott's "findings" don't prove racism, they prove that people given power will abuse it. She then, without any basis, extrapolates this to mean that racism is inherent in all whites. How does she arrive at that? dreamsign mentioned the Milgrim experiment, the (aborted) Stanford prison experiment, etc, which I also immediately thought of when I read these articles. I'd really like to know how she justifies her conclusion that racism is a "White attitudinal problem," when these other experiments show that any person, regardless of race, tends to abuse power when they get it. Her baseless conclusions smack of the kind of racial guilt-trips that get the label "political correctness". Take this paragraph from the first article:

"Elliott emphasizes this point in her speeches on college campuses. She aims to educate college kids about the realities of life and schooling in America. For example, Elliott contests our use of the traditional world map. She argues that on the maps we are most familiar with, "All the White countries in the world take up half the land, which isn’t true. This is racist teaching." Elliott urges that we reject this map and use in its place the Peters Projection Map. While the Peters map distorts the shapes of the countries, it remains true to their sizes. And, as we all know, size matters."

What? Is there any evidence at all that the types of maps we use have anything to do with race, beyond her personal beliefs? It's ridiculous.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:45 AM on June 13, 2005


Baaaaaaaah!

Meaning, people are sheep.
posted by fenriq at 11:54 AM on June 13, 2005


All of this is reminiscent of "The Wave" which was predated by brown eye / blue eyes. The Wave was a classroom demonstration of how Nazism could take hold on a population.

I remember the after-school TV special - it was a trip.

Both experiments are interesting and perhaps serves as a cautious reminder on many levels.
posted by gnash at 11:54 AM on June 13, 2005


Yeah, this seems a little bogus. If people are told another (or even their own) group is inferior in a roleplaying experiment, of course they're not going to find it hard to comply for that period. The assumption given that blue-eyed people are inferior is set up explicitly in the exercise, not like in real society where it's merely an assumption that can be disagreed with. Prejudice isn't being mean to a group that's actually inferior (though that's bad too), it's incorrectly assuming a group is inferior in the first place.
posted by abcde at 12:00 PM on June 13, 2005


The assumption given that blue-eyed people are inferior is set up explicitly in the exercise, not like in real society where it's merely an assumption that can be disagreed with. Prejudice isn't being mean to a group that's actually inferior (though that's bad too), it's incorrectly assuming a group is inferior in the first place.

Hmm, this makes no sense, abcde. Racism in a America most definitely used to involve telling people that blacks were inferior. Your definition of prejudice seems very forced to me.

It's irrelevant to the exercise, too. I'm sure white school kids in Geogria in 1910 had no trouble believing that blacks were inferior, generally. If anything, that is something that holds this experiment back. It's going to be much harder to sell blue-eyes as inferior, as it has no backing from the society at large.

The truth or lack thereof of the inferiority claim has no bearing.
posted by teece at 12:09 PM on June 13, 2005


"I'm a middle school teacher and this looks like it would make for a nice way to spend a period at the end of the year."
Wow. I hear that and I'm SO thankful for my suburban education.
I hear a lot of older teachers complain about funding & things have gotten worse in schools - etc.
I watched whole series on this and the Milgrim experiment and the Stanford prison experiment (etc) - in Jr. High. Again, pretty lucky.
I think you'd be doing your students a great service. I remembered these lessons all my life.

"Elliott's "findings" don't prove racism, they prove that people given power will abuse it. "
Sangermaine, racism is about power.

"She then, without any basis, extrapolates this to mean that racism is inherent in all whites."
Inherent in everyone really. But the emphasis is on whites because it is those folks with that skin color that currently hold the power.
This is more about exposing unconscious attitudes.

"Is there any evidence at all that the types of maps we use have anything to do with race"
Plenty. Again, unconscious attitudes. But the map thing is more of a function of that that simply reinforces those attitudes as opposed to something that generates it.
First of all - why is north always up? Why is north america usually the center of maps in classrooms?
She's simply using an easy metaphor for something we never really consider to point out our unconscious attitudes.
But really - why are there no truly powerful nations of color depicted as such?

I've always found it ironic that those who label things "political correctness" most often are typically the ones most vehemently arguing in favor of imposing limits on the scope of thought and the range of public debate.

Not that I think biffa is wrong about the ethics here. It certainly is questionable to do something like this to kids. I don't know.

But the bigger question would be - if racisim is an artifice (and it is) and it can be eliminated, then why does it continue?
Call me a thoughtcriminal here, but I can think of a number of reasons some people might have an interest in keeping people divided against each other.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:18 PM on June 13, 2005


I think biffa, kidding or not, is right about this. Elliott's "findings" don't prove racism, they prove that people given power will abuse it. She then, without any basis, extrapolates this to mean that racism is inherent in all whites. How does she arrive at that?

I'm familiar with her work and I've never heard her say anything like that (racism is inherent in whites). Her point was a little more nuanced then "people in power will abuse it" but in a society where people really are seperated racialy all the time, like America had been then it is self-reinforcing for both parties.
posted by delmoi at 12:22 PM on June 13, 2005


Meaning, people are sheep.

Not you, you're special.

Nothing personal, fenriq, but that kind of bleating drives me nuts.
posted by jonmc at 12:33 PM on June 13, 2005


Historical curiosity - the Australian composer Percy Grainger believed that only blue-eyed people could become true composers.
posted by QuietDesperation at 12:46 PM on June 13, 2005


Not you, you're special.

Nothing personal, fenriq, but that kind of bleating drives me nuts.


There's no High Horse like the Meta High Horse, is there, jonmc?
or the metametahigh horse, eh sonofsamiam? ...maybe it should have been "higher-order high horse"...
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:05 PM on June 13, 2005


She then, without any basis, extrapolates this to mean that racism is inherent in all whites.

That's right. Blue-eyed people are no worse and no more culpable than anyone else regardless of eye color. Let's make it very, very plain that those damn brown-eyed people are in no way better.
posted by fleacircus at 1:11 PM on June 13, 2005


Human beings very easily adopt a group identity, and start believing that all the other groups are inferior.

After all, isn't this the best of the web here, far superior to Fark?
posted by breath at 1:22 PM on June 13, 2005


i always thought the results of experiments like this (including Milgram) was not that people with power abuse it, but that people will tend not to question authority, even in the abuse of power, particularly if their own interests are served or if they are members of the privileged group.

to my recollection from news stories of years past, Jane Elliott presents a rather authoritative presence, particularly in a room of school children, and those (even in the privileged group) who refuse to take part are reprimanded.

anyway, i've always thought it was an interesting illustration given too much weight by the media, when the story flares up again every few years, in part because the coverage of it echoes what i feel is the primary finding of the experiment itself; the viewer tends to accept the authority of the press in its coverage, and the reported interpretations as valid, and--as is typical in news coverage--the consumer is comfortable that the information provided is sufficient to make a valid conclusion or generalization. i've always seen the coverage of the experiment and reactions to it as an extension of the experiment itself.
posted by troybob at 1:29 PM on June 13, 2005


On re-view, I think biffa was serious.
Well don't that just turn my brown eyes blue.
posted by joe lisboa at 1:30 PM on June 13, 2005


I remember during the tech boom, I could read words I knew I couldn't read. Now, I'm like, somedays it's a bit of a strain to focus on work.
posted by nervousfritz at 1:37 PM on June 13, 2005


"There's no High Horse like the Meta High Horse"

*bass line*
There aint no party like the Meta Filter Party 'cause a Meta Filter Party don't stop.
*repeats 1500 times*
posted by Smedleyman at 1:46 PM on June 13, 2005


One of the most important corrollaries to the idea that an oppressive system can be manufactured and internalized rapidly is that students seem to conform to the expectations of their teachers. This is troublesome to me given the frequency with which I see my colleagues (and myself at times) writing kids off either academically or behaviorally.
posted by alphanerd at 1:52 PM on June 13, 2005


troybob really nailed it, at least for me:

"i always thought the results of experiments like this (including Milgram) was not that people with power abuse it, but that people will tend not to question authority, even in the abuse of power, particularly if their own interests are served or if they are members of the privileged group."
posted by Sully6 at 2:14 PM on June 13, 2005


Saw this years ago on PBS. One of the better documentaries ever produced. Very sobering and heart-breaking. It simultaneously instills hope and dashes hopes. Human beings are capable of irrational behavior and sheep-like tendencies, but we also have the capacity to rise above this. Jane Elliot has become an icon of teaching. She deserves more celebratory accolades than she shall ever receive, but then all teachers deserve more rewards than society can afford.

Will AFI ever make a list of the 100 best documentaries? I'd put this one on that list.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:21 PM on June 13, 2005


Remember Animal Farm? "All animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others." Same lesson? It would help explain racism if a child is brought up being told they are better than other people. I don't see how it is relevant to people who were not brought up that way. Believe me, I am not saying there are not people brought up like that - but I certainly wasn't and I dare say the vast majority of people I know were not either.

I refuse to believe that the majority people automatically cave into "group think." I believe all this proves is that people are timid about acting up in a seminar (or children in a classroom) and having it reflect badly on them after the fact.
posted by dindin at 2:22 PM on June 13, 2005


This is an example of the Tajfel Effect (a.k.a. intergroup discrimination) after researcher Henri Tajfel's work, especially his classic paper "Cognitive Aspects of Prejudice."

People divided into groups, even by a process as obviously arbitrary as a coin flip, start to identify very quickly both with their "in-group" (we're all great, and unique) and against the "out-group" (they're all bad, and the same).

It's worrisome, but it seems to be innate.
posted by gottabefunky at 3:06 PM on June 13, 2005


When my class studies apartheid and resistance to it, we do an exercise where tape off 13% of the floor area of the classroom and call them the homelands. Then we consign 84% of the class to the homelands and make just 16% the privileged minority. The disadvantaged majority can only "win" if they make enough money to survive, but the only way they can earn money is to do jobs for the elite minority, and even then only under strict supervision.

This is a good group of kids. Few kids in this class have any bullying tendencies; they're kids who tend to work together toward common goals despite huge differences in background and class. And even so, the "homeland activity" is like the Lord of the Flies.

This year I chose three kids to be in the privileged minority - and chose them because I thought they could handle the roles without going over the top and genuinely pissing off their classmates. And yet, when they were given power, they started to abuse it - even these "nice" kids.

The real heart of the exercise is the writing and reflection that comes afterward, where they write about what went through their minds and why they think the game happened as it did. The kids who were in power (this year and in past years) tended to write that they acted the way they did because they thought that was the way they were "supposed" to act in such a role. And every year, 5 or 6 kids write that they wondered why they even followed the rules of the game since they were so demonstably unfair - and they all concluded that they were supposed to play the game the way I told them to. No child has ever seriously tried to start a revolution.

It's a lesson in their power over each other, to be sure, but it's also a lesson in my power over them, and their willingness to do what I tell them even when what I tell them is something they know to be unfair. It's one of the things I ask them to think about and talk about in the discussions afterwards.
posted by Chanther at 3:49 PM on June 13, 2005


So it's too late to be bringing up Hannah Arendt and _Eichmann in Jerusalem_, right? 'Cause I'm way too tired for that.
posted by dilettante at 4:53 PM on June 13, 2005


Remember Animal Farm?

Nope, never heard of it.

(hehe)
posted by davejay at 4:58 PM on June 13, 2005


Best New Order song ever.
posted by Jimbob at 6:51 PM on June 13, 2005


It's political correctness gone mad

You can't say that. You have to say "It's political correctness gone mentally challenged."
posted by bunglin jones at 6:53 PM on June 13, 2005


What? Is there any evidence at all that the types of maps we use have anything to do with race, beyond her personal beliefs?

Like Smedleyman said, there's plenty of evidence pointing to this. We subconsciously associate things that are higher to be greater. The positioning europe and America at the top of the map place it in a superior position. The map's distortion also mess up our perception, since bigger is also associated with greater.

There's been a movement lately to promote a better conception of the Earth's geography using alternative projections. One is the McArthur Universal Corrective Map and another (and my preferred) is the Fuller Projection Map. Cartography is fascinating an reflects a lot more about us as some people'd like to think.
posted by piratebowling at 6:56 PM on June 13, 2005


Becoming Evil
posted by troutfishing at 8:18 PM on June 13, 2005


It would help explain racism if a child is brought up being told they are better than other people. I don't see how it is relevant to people who were not brought up that way. Believe me, I am not saying there are not people brought up like that - but I certainly wasn't and I dare say the vast majority of people I know were not either.

where were you brought up--Mars? seriously though, just because you are not explicitly raised to be racist (and most Americans aren't) doesn't mean that you aren't influenced by the institutional racism which is still embedded in our social/cultural construct and governmental institutions. it might be leftovers, but them's some pretty entrenched leftovers.

these leftovers leave the dominant culture feeling superior even by virtue of the fact that they don't have to think about it. they are on top, and therefore deserve to be (because it's painful to think about having privileges you didn't earn), and because they deserve to be, those who aren't granted those automatic privileges must not deserve to be (because it's painful to think of people being treated unfairly).

it's not conscious. it just is. there are unbidden thoughts that rise up that have been instilled in us by the figurative air we breathe.

if we are granted the explicit invitation--even community obligation, because to step outside the power position, to betray it by rejecting it, puts you outside the protection of that class--to welcome and even celebrate those thoughts of superiority, then we behave as the children in the experiment. witness nazism. and the overt racism practiced until just a few years ago. it was considered your patriotic duty as a white person to keep the black folks down. in slavery times, that meant riding in the slave patrols. (a community obligation, in the South. not voluntary.) in the early part of this century, that meant celebrating the lynching of the sexual monster/black man. (speaking out against it was nearly unthinkable, except in terms of law and order.) in the sixties, that meant beating up the "forcible integrators," or if your own hands weren't bloody, there were juries to man and neighborhoods to keep white. today, most of the overt racist segregation duties are handed off to the police and other institutions. they are the ones expected to keep "those people" out of my neighborhood. that way, nobody has to feel bad. (oh, except "those people...")

I believe all this proves is that people are timid about acting up in a seminar (or children in a classroom) and having it reflect badly on them after the fact.

but this is an exact parallel to how racism works. whites/the dominant group don't want to act up and reject the system, because that calls into question one's willingness to play the game. your willingness to play the game (if you're white) is about accepting your "whiteness," i.e. accepting the privileges that aren't due you, but are nice enough. (why, after all, say no?)

if one rejects the game/racism, one is rocking the boat. an example might be the 60s white hippies, who attempted to make overt their rejection of the status quo with dress and values. when the chips were down, it was easy enough for a hippie to blend back in, and thus they were often seen as middle class slummers, right? but when they were overt in their rejection of the dominant culture, they suffered the consequences. (arrest, FBI files, prejudice.) in other words, they fell off the privileged plane, and were demoted to the level of black/brown folks. if you reject the privilege, then you also have to accept the consequences--attracting the undue attention of police, having to live in a worse neighborhood, being deemed a suspicious and nigh unamerican sort by those who are comfortable in their dominance.

most whites have a hard time seeing the point of rejecting privileges just because they didn't earn them. in fact, they'll do all they can to justify and act on that unearned dominance. that might not make you the Grand Dragon, but it might make you the stooge who says nothing and serves cookies at the cross-burning.
posted by RedEmma at 8:52 PM on June 13, 2005 [1 favorite]


it's not conscious. it just is. there are unbidden thoughts that rise up that have been instilled in us by the figurative air we breathe.

If I may suggest, I think this goes deeper than institutional racism. I see this -- and the Stanford experiment -- telling us that small differences between people can become, in an instant, an excuse for discrimination. We seem to be hard-wired to distrust what is different. (yes, Milgrim was more -- entirely, really -- about compliance with authority -- absence or presence (and closeness) of the authority figure was an independent variable. I mentioned it because I think it also illustrates how easily our "humanity" can go astray).

If you've seen the footage, either second or third-hand, you'll know that some of these kids really get into it. It's not just going along with the class experiment. It really is quite fascinating in a horrible way. Like slow-motion mob mentality, and it starts with basic dehumanization. Such-and-such people aren't as smart. They just don't do well, you've noticed, haven't you? Just look at them. It also demonstrates nicely how the attitudes of those in authority can filter down to encourage some really nasty behaviour. And of course, the randomness of it -- eye colour -- hits the point home for the viewer. The difference can be anything.
posted by dreamsign at 9:28 PM on June 13, 2005


most whites have a hard time seeing the point of rejecting privileges just because they didn't earn them. in fact, they'll do all they can to justify and act on that unearned dominance. that might not make you the Grand Dragon, but it might make you the stooge who says nothing and serves cookies at the cross-burning.

Errr, or it might make you some white guy who's not racist.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:51 PM on June 13, 2005


Chanter- we did an experiment very similar to that at my middle school (seeing that you're from MA, I wonder if you teach at the school I went to). I was part of the majority and willfully broke the rules. I really saw no reason to follow them, as they seemed stupid and I saw no reason why I should be stuck on a small parcel of classroom space. I only really behaved when the teacher asked me to, he ended up creating a jail, and I was fined three or four M&M's (which we were using as currency). I behaved after that, but was rather perplexed as to why I was the only one who had thought to break the rules.

From what I remember, the kids giving out the M&M's (in the minority) were pretty decent, but that may just be that one of my best friends was in that group and thus cut me some slack.

It's odd, hearing about it, I figured that there were kids like me in every year of the experiment. I also tend to be the first one (and sometimes one of a few by the end) to admit that I could see myself getting caught up in a Milligan-like experiment. I wonder if I had some for of self awareness that kids in six grade tend to lack, or if I was just being a smarmy brat.
posted by Hactar at 10:15 PM on June 13, 2005


I teach at an alternative boarding high school. A few years ago we did this experiment with the entire campus (about 90 students), except we didn't tell the kids what was going on. During morning classes, the "majority" kids were sharing their candy with the "minority" ones. In the afternoon, the kids walked out of class in protest. It was a great experiential learning activity for the whole campus, and I've never been more proud of my so-called "troubled" students.

Yes, you can do some pretty cool things when you work at a private school without an ethics committee and no PC concerns. This activity can be very powerful.
posted by Lossewen at 10:54 PM on June 13, 2005


I watched this video as a student, and ever since it has been a running joke amoung my friends and I. Continually insulting each other on the grounds of eye color alone... :)
posted by woil at 11:15 PM on June 13, 2005


We did a similar experiment when I was in junior high school. (And that "junior high" phraseology will tell you just how long ago that was.) Anyway, for one week as part of our social studies class, all the blonde haired, blue eyed students were "inferior" (I fell into the inferior group.) We could only drink out of one particular water fountain, could only use one bathroom (the creepy one on the far side of the building) but only while accompanied by a dark hair. Had to be at the back of the lunch line, and could only sit a certain tables.

Of course, we thought this was fun, and really didn't learn a thing about discrimination. Probably because we knew it would end in a week.
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:48 PM on June 13, 2005


kirkaracha, thanks for this post.
posted by peacay at 11:57 PM on June 13, 2005


This tends to prove why teachers should be paid more than lawyers.
posted by deusdiabolus at 1:16 AM on June 14, 2005


Metafilter: Political correctness gone mad

Metafilter: Political correctness gone mentally challenged


posted by beelzbubba at 1:24 AM on June 14, 2005


It's astonishing what people will extrapolate from one throwaway comment.
posted by biffa at 4:13 AM on June 14, 2005


that peter's projection map thing is quite shocking, really.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 4:17 AM on June 14, 2005


We did the eye-colour exercise in school when I was about 10 years old. The children from less privelidged households enjoyed the name calling and new found superiority, with a note of humour. Some people complained at the inherent unfairness of the exercise and some guessed the point of the exercise immediately and reacted by not taking an active part. It was a pretty effective exercise, considerig I still remember it now!
posted by asok at 4:28 AM on June 14, 2005


It's political correctness gone mad!

You can't say that. You have to say "It's political correctness gone mentally challenged."



No, No! It's political correctness gone mentally differently abled!


Seriously though, what gottabefunky said about the Tajfel Effect says it all. You can consider the prejudice and discrimination based on nationality, political affiliation, religion, gender, race, ethnic group, social class. Whatever. This explains all of them - it's writ into our psyches and cultures as a survival mechanism from way, way back.
posted by darkstar at 5:38 AM on June 14, 2005


Darkstar: No, it's written on your psyche. Our psyche has none of those flaws found in lesser races.
posted by klangklangston at 6:07 AM on June 14, 2005



MetaFilter-eyed people.


Fark-eyed people.
posted by insomnia_lj at 8:55 AM on June 14, 2005


It's astonishing what people will extrapolate from one throwaway comment.

It's astonishing what people will refrain from saying in an attempt to appear "deep."
posted by joe lisboa at 9:35 AM on June 14, 2005


"It's astonishing what people will extrapolate from one throwaway comment.
posted by biffa at 4:13 AM PST on June 14"

What I think biffa is referencing here is the experiment at my high school like in the above comments in freshman psyche class. Like Hactar, as biffa implies, I didn't much care for it, so I just went to the bathroom and read. I was on the football team and wrestling team (etc. etc.) in a high school that truly prized athletics so I got away with it. Good teacher though, he figured out I wasn't having gastrointestinal issues and asked me why I didn't participate. I said I didn't want to get kicked out of school for upsetting the program. (We talked about that for a bit) He also asked what I was reading during that period. It was The Motorcycle Diaries and the Anarchist Cookbook (which it was cool to have at the time, I was also reading Hobbes' Leviathan, but I didn't show him that one).
He let me go.
These days of course I'd've been expelled or taken to a special school, etc.
I think - concerning that point of privilege - if you criticize the program too openly from whatever position, EVERYONE jumps on you, as biffa suggests.Even the oppressed.
If you cut from the program - game, as has been said - completely though, you can get away with it. The position of certain clerical types come to mind (Taoist monks, etc.)
Which is why I think the cat gets away with not plugging in, in Animal Farm. She's not looking to have it both ways and is self-sufficient outside the game.

Concerning troutfishing's post jusxtaposed with Lossewen's comments, I'm curious how people - who are 'evil' or participating in it, become 'good'.
I was an evil bastard for some time. My philosophy has reformed, but I've always been a bit detached from these games, so I'm perhaps more able to update my ethos.

How does someone who is connected to a game reverse course?

I don't see a lot of work in this direction. People seem very interested in evil - etc. Dante is known more for the Inferno, just 1/3 of an overall work than the Divine Comedy itself. When I read Paradisio my mind was exploding with connections, it was truly heaven.
Why then do people get bogged down in this morbidity? And further more why isn't there more work - more research - on how to get unstuck?
Not to take anything away from Elliott & her cohorts, but it does seem like a lock - countless examples from our history, from the inquisition to the nazis, etc. etc.
So, why not focus on a solution? I only pulled it off because I spent time in the john reading philosophy. Those folks in the middle - call them sheep if you will - need a workable method to pull out of it.
It would certainly help us all. Who wants stormtroopers poking through their drawers just because some schmucks want to feel superior? (as biffa so elequently put it)
posted by Smedleyman at 10:51 AM on June 14, 2005


Focusing solely on race and only trying to eliminate that bias is like a doctor treating a symptom (say, coughing) and ignoring the underlying cause (throat cancer). Along with intelligence, one of humanity's greatest gifts is our ability to socialize and work together to better our position. However, the same neural networks that create the "us" also results in "them." It doesn't matter whether the us and them is based on race or something else, human beings appear to be hardwired to discriminate.

Unless we address our inherent tendency to discriminate, it doesn't matter if we eliminate racial prejudice or not, something else will just replace it. I can see a future in the US where education becomes the arbiter of who belongs and who doesn't. Education is insidious because most people would say that educational levels aren't immediately obvious, but a person's education and class are more obvious than we think.
posted by hellx at 1:18 PM on June 14, 2005


Smedleyman, I couldn't have put it better myself (even if I apparently did)! Very amused.
posted by biffa at 3:13 AM on June 15, 2005


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