How Scientists Could Use Brain Scans to Detect Whether You Are a Racist

Damien Gayle, Daily Mail (London), January 18, 2013

Brain scans could soon be used to detect whether or not people are racist, scientists say.

Researchers found that brain scans were able to pick up on differences in the way that people with implicit negative racial attitudes viewed black and white faces.

Racial stereotypes have previously been shown to have subtle and unintended consequences on how we treat members of different race groups.

But the new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, shows race biases also increase differences in the brain’s representations of faces.

Psychologists Tobias Brosch of the University of Geneva in Switzerland and Eyal Bar-David and Elizabeth Phelps of New York University examined activity in the brain while participants looked at pictures of White and Black faces.

Afterwards, participants performed a task that assessed their unconscious or implicit expression of race attitudes.

By examining patterns of brain activity in the fusiform face area—a brain area involved in face perception—the researchers were able to predict the race of the person that the participant was viewing, but only for those participants with stronger, negative implicit race attitudes.

This, the researchers said, implies that people with stronger, negative implicit race attitudes may actually perceive black and white faces to look more different than others who held no such prejudice.

Dr Brosch said that ‘these results suggest it may be possible to predict differences in implicit race bias at the individual level using brain data.’

However, Dr Phelps said further work would be needed before the technique could reliably detect whether people really were racists.

‘Although these findings may be of interest given the behavioural and societal implications of race bias, our ability to predict race bias based on brain data is relatively modest at this time,’ she said.

The new study further deepens the scientific understanding of the processes in the brain that lie behind the racist attitudes that some people hold.

Previous research by Dr Phelps has claimed that racism could be ‘hard wired’ into the brain, since the neural circuits which allow people to recognise ethnic groups overlap with others that drive emotional decisions.

Because of that, the researchers claimed, it’s possible that even people who believe themselves to be egalitarian could harbour racist attitudes without knowing.

The findings published last summer in the journal Nature Neuroscience could lead to fresh ways of thinking about unintended race-based attitudes and decisions.

Dr Phelps and colleagues reviewed previous brain scanning studies showing how social categories of race are processed, evaluated and incorporated in decision-making.

They showed a network of brain regions called the the amygdala, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex are important in the unintentional, implicit expression of racial attitudes.

The researchers said the brain areas themselves—as well as the functional connectivity among them—are critical for this processing.


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  • LastBastionOfHope

    What can blacks blame all their shortcomings on if this turns out to prove most whites are not racist and that whites can’t stand blacks because of the content of their character rather than the color of their skin?

    • Libearlsuck

      Blacks and liberals will still claim we are earning residual unearned privileges because of a ‘racist system’ that white people set up hundreds of years ago. Go figure.

  • a multiracial individual

    This stuff is not going to stick. It will be viewed as a violation of “cognitive liberty.”

    • OlderWoman

      The UN and New World Odor would love it. They’d probably get a Nobel Prize for this.

  • pcmustgo

    Yeah, but EVERYONE, Black, Latino, White, Asian, Indian would fail this test. Everyone, most aware adults are “racist” to some extent in terms of formulating opinions about other groups. They did that study recently that said negative stereotypes about Blacks exist explicitly at 60% or so and inexplicitly/subconsicously among White LIberals at about the same rate.

  • I’ll save you the trouble: ‘Nice to meet you. I am a Racist.’ There, I just saved you a lot of time and research. You can thank me later.

  • JackKrak

    God knows what the standard will be for being “racist”….

    • I’m not gonna give away the ending for those who haven’t read the book or seen the movie yet, but it starts with White and ends with White.

      • JackKrak

        Yep. They can save their time on me, though. I think I would just go ahead and tell them that scanning my brain might make their computer explode.

        • OlderWoman

          Mine as well. I learned over the years through multiple experiences. I haven’t even addressed them all on this site.

    • SintiriNikos

      Do you think Obama is a good President? If no, then racist.

  • Tim

    Save yourself the $12,000 cat scan and just look at the bumper stickers on my car…

    • The__Bobster

      They could just use a colorimeter on the subject’s skin instead. If the readout is “white”, you’ve got yourself a racist. I’m not sure what would happen in the case of Sammy Sosa or Al Jolson, though.

      • JohnT

        I’d sincerely appreciate knowing, what, if anything, would be practical for a white
        like myself to coat the skin (and hair ) in order at first glance to be taken for Black.
        Get the Black look, and you are protected from any scanner. Then roll your sleeves up to reveal what’s what–play it for laughs at their expense.

    • Zora-Nitshe

      Notice how these stupid pseudo-“scientists” implicitly assume that only Whites can be racists. I am sure they would not run their test on Asians for example. So the scientists are racists themselves, more than anybody else. All this is not surprising since in modern big media ideology, “racist” means a person supporting the idea of preservation of White Race. And anti-racists would be a person desiring that White Race disappears one way or another.
      “Anti-racist is the code word for anti-White.”

      • Tim

        Reminds me of the scene where the street wise Billionaire tells the Eggheads in When Worlds Collide, “You`ve been staring at the stars too long”… The head PHd. says, “He may be right! We better break out the guns…”

      • liberalsuck

        The money is to be found among white people. That’s why all the accusations of racism are directed at us. Force us through taxes or con us out of our money by making us feel sorry for blacks.

  • SintiriNikos

    If it detects a black who hates hispanics, the circuitry gets fried.

    • As soon as blacks and Hispanics (et. al.) are hooked up and it shows how racially aware they are, the system will be scrapped.

      • SintiriNikos

        Or, more likely, they’ll program it to record flat line for a non-white subject.

      • OlderWoman

        I’d doubt they’d ever use it on their ‘preferred’ races. Blacks and Hispanics are a protected group. These are probably leftist inventors. They’d protect their politics at all costs.

      • Joseph

        No, an aversion response would only serve to confirm that white privilege and discrimination has altered their natural, peaceful, accepting, rainbow perception.

        No matter WHAT response is elicited in coloreds, whites will somehow end up losing to this marvelous new “tool” of progressivism.

        • I agree.

          As soon as any non-white registered a racist response, there would be scores of new theories to explain why, all of which focused on the white man and the white man’s racist attitudes infecting the minds of innocent minorities.

          As I always say, when dealing with minorities, it’s always a lose-lose outcome.

      • liberlsuck

        that assumes they will test blacks or hispanics and it assumes they won’t blame any anti-black or anti-Hispanic feelings they have on white people.

  • I don’t need some fancy schmancy scanner to tell me White people are RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACISSSSS!

  • Bernie

    “Racism” is a social construct and not a scientific term. Therefore, a test to see who is a “racist” who be the ultimate example of junk science.

    An old white lady who has been robbed by blacks will likely be revealed as a “racist” in her brain scan. The blacks who robbed her would be wonderfully free of racism in their brain scans.

    As always, this will only be used against whites since only whites can officially be “racist.”

    • Barrack Osama

      Nah. I’m sure those blacks would also have a negative reaction to black faces.

      • OlderWoman

        Remember black children prefer white dolls.

        • David Ashton

          So do many black adults (male) nome sane.

        • liberalsuck

          True, but they will blame that on whites.

  • The science behind this is simple, if the scanner detects a brain and determines that the IQ is 100 or more, the the subject is identified as racist

    • That would mean 15% of US blacks are racist

      • Skincognito

        That sounds about right. Didn’t Rev. Jackson admit as much with his quip about feeling relieved upon seeing a White face behind him on the street at night?

      • Sounds like the test to detect racism is racist. It needs to be race-normed so black at least make 50%.

  • GM (Australia)

    Apart from the Thought Police, University admission criteria and government job applications who would really want to know this stuff?

    • David Ashton

      Engelman’s beloved ADL (not to be used on subscribers, of course, only suspected “wrong”-doers).

  • a multiracial individual

    Since most cognitive scientists do not believe in free will anymore, how does it make sense to hold people responsible for the next though that comes crashing through their head?

    • Enar_Larsson

      They don’t want to hold us responsible. They want to “cure” us by altering the way our brains work.

      • StillModerated

        It’s so much more humane than either gulags or re-education camps. The cure will involve psychotropic drugs and deep brain stimulation. Ve haff vays of making you conform.

  • NorthernWind

    What a handy tool. Why don’t we start by testing it on Black people before we get to White people, because we already know that they are all massive repressed racists who sabotage Blacks at every opportunity.

    Holder first.

  • razorrare

    So what if the scans show that a majority of Whites taking a part in the test show racism against their own race(self-Hate)…what then? Will they say that is a positive result.Psychology…another field dominated if not created by Jews who favor policies that support the genocide of Whites.

    • liberalsuck

      If they find most whites are “racist” against blacks or illegal mexicans, they will say, “See? We still have more work to do…” which translates into, “We still haven’t conned enough white people in an attempt to squeeze more money and freedoms from them.”

  • Again, they confuse innate racism with learned reality.

    Example: New York cab drivers are often deemed ‘racist’ for refusing to do business with black would-be passengers. Call it ‘spur of the moment Jim Crow.’

    The cabbies are making their decisions based solely on (1) the color of the prospective customer’s race and (2) their past experiences with non-paying and sometimes violent black passengers.

    Sociologists focus on (1) and ignore (2).

    So, yes. The visual test accurately assesses a bias against blacks. But the prejudice is not innate racism, but learned.

    • IstvanIN

      This is includes the black Hispanic head of the taxi union, Fernando Mateo!

  • Lewis33

    Eyal Bar-David and Tobias Brosch? Really? This is such low hanging fruit I’m just going to let it hang…

    • David Ashton

      Should be quite useful in the West Bank.

    • gemjunior

      LMAO big time

    • OlderWoman

      Phelps as well. I looked it up. The odds of Phelps being…. well, you get the picture.

  • A scan to prove you have a normal-working, healthy brain?

  • David Ashton

    Years ago the English satirist “Peter Simple” (Michael Wharton) invented the Prejudometer, a hand-held device like a Geiger-counter, which measured the degrees of “racism” in white brains. How fiction anticipates fact!

  • So CAL Snowman

    What happens when it scans my brain as I’m looking at a liberal white feminist or a picture of Joe Biden or Chris Matthews?

    • jane johnson

      What happens when it scans a liberal white feminist’s or Chris Matthews’ brain as they’re looking at YOU? Or better yet, as they’re looking at Jeremiah Wright or Farrakhan. I’d love to know what they really think. The scanner does sound like junk science, though.

  • Andy

    I do not think these “implicit bias” tests work. I consistently score “high-grade anti-racist” and “high-grade non-homophobic” on them. Now it could be possible that, despite the Left’s assertions, it is possible to hold opinions such as “homosexual sex is wrong” and “white people are smarter than average than black” without *hating* anyone, or maybe their tests just aren’t good at locating the hatred. (More than half of Americans score racist on these things.)

    • anonymous_amren

      My implicit bias test showed I have a subconscious preference for Asians over Whites, a subconscious preference for whites over blacks, and a subconscious preference for blacks over Hispanics. Which is reasonably accurate for my implicit biases. My explicit biases are strongly in favor of white people though.

  • RaymondWalnuts

    Save the money and just question anything Obunghole is doing. The word means nothing anyways.

  • This is junk science, I’m pretty sure most liberals are merely duped, if they really looked innto the evidence as to what is going on, they’d object too, so first they’d start off as non racist, then upon doing some research, decide, you know what, I agree with Amren, I think what’s going on is wrong. So now, they’re racist ? This is junk science, like the global warming scam, no doubt it will only be applied to whites.

    • OlderWoman

      I agree. Only Whites would be tested.

      • Liberalsuck

        Yep. Just like only whites are punished for a “hate crime” or for “violating the anti discrimination laws.”

  • MekongDelta69

    This will of course ONLY be used on the brains of blacks, browns and Muslims…

    Oh wait – this ‘research’ came from ‘higher academia'[sic]…

    Never mind…

  • annoyinglylongname

    They call it an IQ test, most folks with any intelligence are realists…

  • JohnEngelman

    What i would like would be a brain scan that detected those with criminal inclinations. I suspect that those who test positive would tend to be the same kind of people who reinforce white racism.

    • David Ashton

      Gene research is contributing to this already. Also observation of home environments and the behavior of children. This raises problems for “equality” doctrinaires.

  • Guest

    The “liberal” fascists never stop agitating for the next democide.

  • The Final Solution

    the race trials indeed. you don’t even know you’re a racist. did this come from the onion? you don’t fall in line and admit that everyone looks the same and you’re gonna burn. maybe they should turn this ‘racist detector’ on people who think we all look the same and put them all in a mental asylum.

  • OlderWoman

    Jewish doctors. Brosch, Phelps and Bar-David. LIBERALS.

  • JDInSanDiego

    How about inventing a brain scanner to identify criminals? We could call the database a “minority report.”

  • Formerly_Known_as_Whiteplight

    Just wait; the white score will be far below blacks, Hispanics, Asians and any other non-white there is. But once again, it will be made to only matter when found in whites.

    • Fredrik_H

      You know they will have tons of excuses for black & brown racism and racial bias, It will be the old “colonialism, Jim Crow, slavery”-mantra all over again.

  • How can they tell that the animosity is due to prejudice? It’s just as likely to be due to postjudice. Of course, blacks and Hispanics would be exempt.

  • Moondoggie

    Engleman, you are truely a piece of work. I have read many of your comments. I found your ideas and opinions repetitive and exasperating and yet sometimes interesting and thought provoking. But when you indicated that Paul Krugman was your favorite columnists, I know now what you are. Krugman is a communist idiot and anybody with any sense of economic understanding should know this. I thought you were a relatively smart but misguided soul with a quirky and odd personality that affected your worship of asians. I am going to skip reading your comments from now on. I think it best you get tutored by some of your business oriented asian friends on how an economy really works.

    • Joseph

      Now Krugman?!

  • guest

    All of these scientists could be working on finding cures for the most dangerous diseases in the world, like cancer. Instead they want to invent a brain scan to detect racism? For something that’s said to be a social construct that doesn’t exist, race is the only thing these race deniers and “anti-racists” are obsessed with. They always want to look for racism in everything.

  • Tom in MI

    This sounds like the kind of “science” that was done in Nazi concentration camps.

  • SoCal LoCal

    All people are racist it is a human characteristic.I suppose they willl just redefine the term to apply to whites only. This ironically is not racist, as whites are the evil racist oppressor class.

  • Epiminondas

    Egad. How have we gotten ourselves into such conversations? Are we collectively losing our minds?

  • freddy_hills

    I wonder how Morris Dees and Tim Wise would score. I bet they’re either racist against whites or racist against blacks and being hypocritical. There’s no way they’re neutral. But they’ll never agree to be tested. Neither will Jackson or Sharpton or any of the other hustlers.

    • Liberalsuck

      if whites don’t volunteer to be tested, they will be forced either by job loss, higher taxes or imprisonment. Think I’m paranoid? I’m more worried that most whites won’t aggressively stand up to something like this.

  • Michael_C_Scott

    Nobody would need a gadget to know I am a racist.The truly amazing aspect to this is someday it will probably be cool to have been an old-school racist. I can imagine my daughter talking with her friends about how I used to chat online with Margaret and South Buffalo Native and John P.M. and them all saying “They don’t make racists like that anymore.”

  • LHathaway

    Science expands and expands only to find another test blacks can flunk. . .

  • falsedawn

    They don’t need a scan for me. If anyone inquires, I tell them I despise the KKK. That my local Klavern just sent my latest membership application back to me torn to pieces. That they didn’t want radicals like me in their Klavern and didn’t want me to apply for membership ever again…

  • rebelcelt

    This would be a dream for liberals.The joy of being able to pry open the very mind, then destroy thought that you did not like.

  • Tolerance Myarse

    This idea will be dropped very quickly when they see what shows up when they scan african brains. When they show a pictures of peaceful, productive, happy white people, I suspect the black brain will indicate something very dark, probably not gratitude, love and admiration.

  • brengunn

    I’ve no problems with scientists testing the brain, discovering how it works and how it’s wired. I’m sure these tests will add to that knowledge, so it’s a good thing.

    It’s more how the technology is used which I would agree or disagree with. As the heading implies, any screening of citizens for racial biases (for anything other than scientific purposes) would not be welcome at all.

    OTOH, maybe a widespread examination of peoples brains would expose that everyone, on some level, is a racist, forcing a more honest public debate about racial issues.

    Just no witch hunts.

  • Sloppo

    Fascinating technology! Here are a couple of suggestions for the scientists in charge of this project. A good way to calibrate this machine would be to first measure people who have read USDOJ crime statistics. That range of readings would definitely be “racist”. Then they could measure people who develop their perceptions of reality by watching TV dramas. That range of readings would be “not racist”. I hope this helps.

  • Bill

    There is NOTHING subtle or unintended in the way I feel about blacks. It comes directly from 50 years of direct observation of the savage species.

  • whitepony87

    This gives a whole new meaning to the term “Thought Police”

  • Angry White Woman

    Why do they need this machine anyway? They’ve already done tests on newborn babies and concluded that all white babies are racist at birth. Since they “know” we’re all racists from the moment we draw our first breath, and they will act against us accordingly, they might just as well save themselves the money this gadget will cost. After all, it *might* tell them something they don’t want to know. (Whereupon no one will ever hear about it again.)

  • Liberalsuck

    Let me guess: the only people they will detect for ‘racism’ are white people and in the event they find a, let’s say, Mexican who hates blacks or a self-hating black person, somehow they will place the blame on white people. For a people that is less than 10% of the world and shrinking at the moment, we sure do get held accountable all the problems and unhappiness in the world, don’t we?

  • Does it detect anti-Whites too?

  • cursed race

    They need a racist meter for the African negroid race brain especially the spoiled rotten mouthy selfish ungrateful brats in America where the catastrophic mistake of slavery was miscalculated from the git go and should have never occurred plus never needed in a million years even though the white elite were saviors for those lucky rejected ones sold off by their tribal chieftains to purge their continents of their runts weakling and inferiors. To say whites were of the utmost ignorance and stupidity for undertaking and sustaining the colossus error notwithstanding it being the worst possible of economic systems is putting it mildly while shooting themselves and their entire race in the foot.
    Using the balance of the scales it is difficult to imagine how African slavery lasted 250 years in the west and even most of the Founders were still alive to witness the horror of the original African slave revolt on the wealthy clean elite Santa Domingo aka Haiti in 1800 where 60k French whites were brutally all slaughtered and none spared death with reports of being cannibalized and of course within a short time the once Caribbean paradise because a rotting 3rd world hellhole with death and destruction from natural occurrences such as hurricanes, earthquakes etc not to mention poverty disease corruption and general mayhem that continues to this day 213 years later.
    Even Regency University attorney owner developer Pat Robertson in Virginia Beach who has sent millions in aid over the years and assisted calls the place cursed due to atrocities and been labeled a racist bigot by the liberals in America who refuse to allow any negroid nation be degraded in any form even if the truth is told.

  • I Forgot

    How Scientists Could Use Brain Scans to Detect Whether You Are a Racist
    How about I just admit it and save them the trouble?

  • zone

    Just as now, when drivers can be coerced to submit to breathalyzers, can see future times when brain scans could be similarly used to help prove
    a hate crime charges.

  • Karin

    The saddest part is that the designers of the contraption are likely to be White God-fearing Protestants, as American/British as apple pie and probably a neighbour

  • Kaffirsmasher

    If this device works as they say it should, over 90% of minorities will register as “racist”. What will they do then? Will they only use this device on whites in fear of achieving above-mentioned result? Will they feverishly work on isolating differences in brain function between white and non-white races, and then implement them into the device so only whites register as “racist”?

    And what about whites who were brought up having liberal pro-diversity “values” pumped into our brains while we were young, but gradually discovered through life experience that they were wrong? How would the device read them?

  • StillModerated

    This is only Phase 1. Next will be a Male chauvinist pig scanner, then a homophobia detector, a retrograde Christian differentiator ….

  • tim

    this is all horse doo doo. jewish and liberal bias propaganda. being a racist under legal definition does not mean negative, but a means of proudness. the politically correct term would be bigot. How ever , if that “group” were to demonstrate against a another group in which much of their life were around a single group and generation. then would show difference obviously, how ever if you had 1 person living his/her whole life in a neiborhood which included all walks of life, that too would show another sign. but thirdly, if that group or person lived in a mixed Neighborhood but would often have to defend him/herself from the ruthless of the minority group,. then their reaction too!, would show .But it has nothing to do with being a bigot!.

    This article is flawed! and full of unanswered liberal propaganda and too quick to judge or show