Things you never knew about yourself.


Do you prefer white people?  Or black?  Or are you proudly “colour-blind”?

Last week I subjected myself to an Implicit Association Test (IAT) run by some people at Harvard.  It was a most fascinating test, and I have never taken one like this before.  It flashes pictures of faces of white and black people, and asks the subject to group these pictures together with some positive and negative words, such as “good” and “bad”.

Then what I think the test does is measure and compare the amount of time it takes for the subject to group faces of whites to positive words and faces of blacks to negative words in one section of the exercise, with the times it takes to group faces of blacks to positive words and that of whites to negative words.  Then it declares to the subjects face that he/she has a mild/moderate/strong preference for European-American people or African-American people.

According to Freud, the unconscious mind wields great influence over our behaviour, even though we are unaware of its underlying effects.  Think of our minds as icebergs—the small tip is what we see; the unconscious part is the submerged portion that even we ourselves don’t see or are not even aware of.  The unconscious, Freud quotes Le Bon as saying, is even more prevalent in groups, where we see “the disappearance of the conscious personality, the predominance of the unconscious personality.”[1]  (The stuff Freud and Le Bon talk about in group psychology makes for scary reading, but that’s for another post another day).

So give this IAT a try.  Confront your unconscious mind, see what it’s about, find out whether it is making you more prejudiced than you think is right.  Think about how it is holding you back as a decent human being and why. (I won’t say how to resolve those knots in your unconsciousness, you’d need a shrink for that, don’t wanna mess people’s heads up.)

So what was the result of my IAT?  It says that I have a moderate preference for European-Americans compared to African-Americans.  Sobering.  Apologetic to my African-American friends.  And some self-reflection is in order.



[1] Freud, Sigmund. “Group psychology and the analysis of the ego.” (1920).

Lion (Dance) in Winter


You gotta give it to the Chinese, calling the start of spring in such unspringy conditions.

It was also quite a novelty seeing lion dance performances in C-town Boston. Why? Because:
1. I’ve never seen a Chinese lion in unmatched tops and bottoms. E.g. Red lion with green legs.
2. Even better, red lion with black The North Face track pants.
3. Lion dance backup music without drums (no-bass amateur mix, I think that’s what they would call it).
4. And finally, a truly cosmopolitan troupe, with a Hispanic as 大头娃娃 (scary bald man with oversized head of plastic fanning himself incessantly even in the freaking cold New England winter) and with 鬼佬 on drums. To their credit, they both performed quite well. 鬼佬 probably a drummer in a college band on minimum wage or something.

And yes happy Chinese New Year (aka Spring Festival to some wacky Chinese). It’s good to be back.