Sonia Sadha Doesn’t Understand What Bias Is


Sonia Sadha wants to tell us that people should be selected for their jobs by lot. Except, well, maybe not, only those qualified for the job should be so selected. Which gets a bit difficult as the process of qualifying people is to select them in the first place, isn’t it?

But in her discussion she says this:

There are the obvious implicit biases – sexism, racism, ageism, class discrimination – but others also exist. According to psychologist Ron Friedman, we tend to perceive good-looking people to be more competent, tall candidates as having greater leadership potential and deep-voiced candidates as more trustworthy.

To take just the one of those, taller. This is to revisit that old economists’ distinction between taste discrimination and rational such. The essential point of which is that selecting upon attributes often enough makes sense.

We might have made it illegal but selecting those without wombs to work for you does save on maternity pay. Hiring your accountant by skin colour would be irrational discrimination and thus that taste kind. Not hiring your accountant at the prison release gate for fraudsters sounds pretty rational.

The attributes you look for or not depend upon what is being hired for that is.

And height and leadership? Well, that’s rather how humans work. “I look up to him” is not just about height even as it does incorporate that idea. Saying “She’s tall therefore she’ll be a good leader” is incorrect. Noting that humans do follow the tall rather more than they do the short is not.

That is, tall candidates as having greater leadership potential is not bias nor prejudice it is observation of how humans work. But then all those theories of how humans should work do rather fail at that fence of how they do, don’t they?