Anonymity, Implicit Bias &

I recently took up a new post in the USA and was looking forward to using’s handy online grading system (as I had in the UK). For those who don’t know, it’s a tool that allows you to go totally paperless in your grading and integrates with your preferred online Learning Management System (Blackboard, Moodle, etc.). Thus far, it’s a system my students seem to appreciate, since it saves them a lot of money and hassle with printing, and it has a fairly reassuring interface (you can actually see that your paper has been uploaded to the site – no worries about emails not being sent/arriving, etc.). For those unfamiliar, there’s a promo/instructional video here. (I can’t resist the standard BBC disclaimer: other online grading sites are available!)

The problem is that while TurnItIn UK allows anonymous grading, TurnItIn USA does not. I’m guessing this is due to a lack of demand for it in the USA, although that’s mere speculation on my part. This means I’m only able to preserve anonymity for my students (and combat the effects of implicit bias) using strategically placed sticky notes on my computer screen, which is sort of absurd and definitely not 100% effective. I’ve tried lobbying the company via email to no avail. This morning I got an email soliciting feedback on the service. I used the online survey form to send a plea for anonymous grading, and I realized it might be good to post the link here so that others who use or are interested in using the service can do the same.

So if you have a spare 5 minutes, please consider following this link to their online survey, and specifically request anonymous grading (you’ll need to check ‘Other’ and fill in the box). I also entered a comment under ‘Challenges using GradeMark’ explaining why anonymization is important for preventing implicit bias from shaping our assessment of student work, particularly that of our female and minority students. I figure if we can mobilize enough FP readers to request the service that might prompt some positive action and raise awareness about the problem. I hope so anyway.

USA National practice alert on Nov. 9, at 1 pm CST?

I just received a phone message from what certainly seems to be an official source, though one local to my little municipality, that says there is going to be a full practice alert across the United States today. This will mean that all radio and TV stations are given over to the alert.

I am supposing this will happen, but I don’t see anything about it on the usual web sites.

Given prevailing senses of doom and gloom, some people may panic out, myself included had I not had the warning. The message particularly warned against phoning 911, for the obvious reason that swamped switchboards can miss important calls for help.

Fertilized eggs lose the right to vote!

Perhaps the title is a bit hyperbolic, but at least Mississippi rejected the idea that they are legally full human beings. The link above also discusses the fact that Ohio rejected a conservative anti-union measure similar to the one Wisconsin has fought over.

And here I was thinking that the USA was having a national mental breakdown, as I’ve heard commentators remark. Two areas of sanity can now be considered sighted.

Any more good news from yesterday’s elections in the US? Bad news?

Critical Thinking, as long as it doesn’t disrupt identity

From a reader, to whom I’d like respond: Yes, feminist philosophers teach critical thinking! And I’ve long been frustrated by the ‘selection’ of texts in critical thinking and informal logic.  I appreciate Wanda Teays’ work, but I’d prefer to have multiple choices of texts connecting critical thinking with these urgent sociopolitical questions, rather than having to choose either Teays’ work or something so broadly written that we’re primarily batting around the probability that you picked a white block from a box with white and black blocks. I loved stats, I still do, but surely we can do other crucial sorts of work in the same texts? Request for readings and company follows

I just wondered if people are as frustrated as I am at the selection of texts in critical thinking and informal logic?  I keep getting new titles from publishers that encourage students to “think about weird things” and find “The two errors in the title of this book” — there is almost nothing about social identity, intersectionality, white privilege, or residual and implicit bias.  I proposed such a book to a major publisher but the response was “that would really just suit a niche market in ‘urban’ schools!!”  Aside from Wanda Teays “Critical Thinking from a Multicultural Perspective” there is little out there.  Are many feminist philosophers teaching Critical Thinking or Informal Logic?


CFP: Beauvoir Society

The University of Oslo (Oslo, Norway) and The University Of Science And Technology (Trondheim,Norway) are pleased to host

The Twentieth International Conference of the Simone de Beauvoir Society

Simone de Beauvoir: Philosophy, Literature and the Humanities

OSLO,NORWAY, JUNE 20 – 23, 2012

The 20th International Conference of the Simone de Beauvoir Society will take place at the University of Oslo, Norway, from June 20-23, 2012, hosted by the Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art & Ideas in cooperation with The Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim.

We welcome submissions on Beauvoir’s life and works from a broad range of perspectives, disciplines and locations, addressing the impact in her own time as well as her significance for the 21st century.

Also welcomed are perspectives, interpretations, analyses and discussions on how Beauvoir can shed light on the interaction between theory and practice, between academia and contemporary society. In particular, we encourage presentations exploring how Beauvoir’s works can contribute to recent discussions on the values and utilities of the humanities.

To submit your proposal, please send an abstract of no more than 800 words in English, French, Norwegian, Danish or Swedish, and a short Curriculum Vitae including your contact details and institutional affiliation, if any, to both conference organizers: Associate Professor Annlaug Bjørsnøs, ( and Professor Tove Pettersen, UiO ( by April 1st, 2012.