The change we need…

…in the UK too (hopefully). The Observer reports here:

‘Minister for Equalities Harriet Harman vowed the government would press ahead with its plans to scrap the ancient defence of provocation, controversially used by husbands who kill their wives to claim they were provoked by their partner’s infidelity or nagging, despite the misgivings expressed by the Senior Law Lord last week. Ministers argue the change is necessary to send a message that domestic violence is not tolerated within the law and wives are not chattels to be controlled by their spouses.’

 She also argues (against Peter Mandleson) that the economic downturn should not alter plans for more flexible work rights.


‘The reforms are among a number of proposals to reduce violence against women likely to be highlighted in the run-up to next month’s Queen’s Speech. ‘

Positive news!

An new implicit association test: on policy

The test is a new use of the implicit association techniques, and I think it may raise questions that the others (at least those I’ve taken) do not.  It would be great if some of our readers take it and share their reactions.

The question of policy is really about whether you think having a free market is better than having government  regulations.  The method is like that on the European-African faces test; that is, it involves associating  words for  good and bad things with each and measuring respective times.  (The test for women and science is different, by the way.)

The thing that struck me is that it seems possible to believe firmly in government regulations in a way that guides  one’s actions and votes and yet have negative associations with the words used to characterize the regulation side.  In fact, after the last 8 years in the States, it might seem natural to have bad associations with the term “government,”  and I’d be surprised if many people think positively when presented with the word “bureaucrat.’

Or a different example:  one might have bad associations with “government regulation” and yet vastly prefer a society which has enough of them to secure medical care, education and a decent infrastructure for all its citizens. 

Perhaps this is just to say that the link between thinking better of whites and being quicker  to associate good words with them is much tighter than the link between thinking government intervention is absolutely necessary for a modern society and being quicker to associate good terms with words for regulations, etc.

It is in fact very possible that the designers of the test are asking themselves just the sort of question I am raising, because they appear to want to see how scores on the test fit with conscious attitudes on a  wide range of things.

So do think of taking the test and letting us know what you think. 

A nice discussion of the test and IAT tests in general is here.  And the policy test  itself is here.

At the bottom of the first link is a series of links to discussions about the IAT, which you might find interesting.

Fun stuff on the election

So much to read, so much to say, and so little time to catch up on work and sleep! But a few links and teasers for you:

Katha Pollitt on Palin:

Palin’s presence on the Republican ticket forced family-values conservatives to give public support to working mothers, equal marriages, pregnant teens and their much-maligned parents. Talk-show frothers, Christian zealots and professional antifeminists–Rush Limbaugh and Phyllis Schlafly–insisted that a mother of five, including a “special-needs” newborn, could perfectly well manage governing a state (a really big state, as we were frequently reminded), while simultaneously running for veep and, who knows, field-dressing a moose. No one said she belonged at home. No one said she was neglecting her husband or failing to be appropriately submissive to him. No one blamed her for 17-year-old Bristol’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy or hard-partying high-school-dropout boyfriend. No one even wondered out loud why Bristol wasn’t getting married before the baby arrived. All these things have officially morphed from sins to “challenges,” just part of normal family life. No matter how strategic this newfound broadmindedness is, it will not be easy to row away from it. Thanks to Sarah, ladies, we can do just about anything we want as long as we don’t have an abortion.

Jonathan Raban, “He tried his best to veil it, but Obama is an intellectual”:

…he has rescued the White House… and restored it to the realm of common reason. It’s a measure of the madness of the last eight years that, for this seemingly modest contribution to the nation’s welfare (and not just this nation’s), grown men and women wept in gratitude on Tuesday night.

Frank Rich:

The same commentators who dismissed every conceivable American demographic as racist, lazy or both got Sarah Palin wrong too. When she made her debut in St. Paul, the punditocracy was nearly uniform in declaring her selection a brilliant coup. There hadn’t been so much instant over-the-top praise by the press for a cynical political stunt since President Bush “landed” a jet on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln in that short-lived triumph “Mission Accomplished.”

Got links? Send ’em in!