Monday, December 24, 2007

Discrimination Hides Its Ugly Head

Discrimination Hides its ugly head. People tend to hide their discrimination because it is presently unfashionable according to PC international rules. However, it still exists, it is just hidden in the present climate.

I'd like to quote from "Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything" by Levitt and Dubner. Begin page near bottom of page 78, "---it has become so unfashionable to discriminate against certain groups that all but the most insensitive people take pains to at least feel fair minded, at least in public. This hardly means that discrimination has ended---only that people are embarrassed to show it. How might you determine whether the lack of discrimination against blacks and women represents a true absence or just a charade? The answer can be found by looking at other groups that society doesn't protect as well. Indeed, the "Weakest Link" (a TV program) voting data do indicate two kinds of contestants who ARE consistently discriminated against; the elderly and Hispanics.

Among economists, there are two leading theories of discrimination. Interestingly, elderly "Weakest Link" contestants seem to suffer from one type, while Hispanics suffer the other. The first type is called taste based discrimination, which means that one person discriminates simply because he prefers not to interact with a particular type of other person. In the second type, known as information-based discrimination, one person believes that another type of person has poor skills, and acts accordingly.

On the "Weakest Link", Hispanics suffer information-based discrimination. Other contestants seem to view Hispanics as poor players, even when they are not.The perception translates into Hispanics' being eliminated in the early rounds even if they are doing well and not being eliminated in the later rounds, when other contestants want to keep Hispanics around to weaken the field.

Elderly players, meanwhile are victims of taste-based discrimination:in the early rounds and late rounds, they are eliminated far out of proportion to their skills.
It seems as if the other contestants--this is a show on which the average age is thirty-four--simply don't want the older players around.

It is quite possible that a typical "Weakest Link" contestant isn't even cognizant of the discrimination toward Hispanics and the elderly,(or, in the case of blacks and women, his lack of discrimination). He is bound to be nervous, after all, and excited, playing a fast-moving game under the glare of television lights. Which naturally suggest another question: how might that same person express his preferences--and reveal information about himself--in the privacy of his own home?"
End quote now end of page 79.

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