Quickies: Unconscious bias, black feminists vs. the alt-right, and the science of traffic

Quickies: Unconscious bias, black feminists vs. the alt-right, and the science of traffic

  • Unconscious bias is running for President – “I’ve just spent a month watching white male people in particular arguing about who has charisma or relatability or electability. They speak as if these were objective qualities, and as if their own particular take on them was truth or fact rather than taste, and as if what white men like is what everyone likes or white men are who matters, which is maybe a hangover from the long ugly era when only white men voted. It’s a form of self-confidence that verges on lunacy, because one of the definitions of that condition is the inability to distinguish between subjective feelings and objective realities.”
  • Why a traffic flow suddenly turns into a traffic jam – “Besides being an important mathematical case study, the phantom traffic jam is, perhaps, also an interesting and instructive social system. Whenever jamitons arise, they are caused by the collective behavior of all drivers—not a few bad apples on the road.”
  • The black feminists who saw the alt-right threat coming – “In 2018, a New Knowledge report commissioned by the Senate described how Russian agents specifically “focused on developing black audiences and recruiting black Americans as assets,” a campaign honed in the depths of 4chan. “It should be validating,” Hudson said, to be proved right about what she calls the “toxic white manosphere.” “But instead it’s been upsetting and alarming. Nobody wants to be right about how much real peril we’re all in, even if you saw it coming.””



Amanda works in healthcare, is a loudmouthed feminist, and proud supporter of the Oxford comma.

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  1. Brings back fond memories of wasting a couple of hours over breakfast every morning! Three interesting articles.

    Not long ago, I saw an article providing quotes from various people (i.e. white men) saying Elizabeth Warren is unlikable along with previous quotes from the SAME people saying how likable she was. Apparently, she’s only likable if she isn’t running for President.

    I don’t totally understand the traffic jam article. If you see a jamiton (the physicist in me loves that term for a traffic jam as a virtual particle, like a soliton or a phonon) in front of you, are you supposed to slow down early and gradually and if everyone did that, the jamiton would dissipate, as opposed to what everyone does in real life which is to approach it as fast as possible, jam on the brakes at the last instant, and try to bull your way through as quickly as possible? Or is it hopeless and you just need to ride it out? Also the article says that jamitons emerge even without drivers doing obvious bad things like weaving and tailgating and last-instant lane changes. But it doesn’t say if bad driving increases their frequency.

    Congratulations to the #YourSlipIsShowing women for recognizing and fighting trolls. I hope we all learn some lessons from their achievements and they can carry on and inspire others.

  2. I saw a video a few years back in which the creator described his own experiences with another traffic issue, offramp merging backups. He employed similar tactics as described in the article here, maintaining a lot of space and adjusting his speed as needed, to help reduce the overall impact. I can also personally vouch for something else he mentions in the video: when I consciously choose to drive more considerately, allowing room for people to merge and not pushing forward or jockeying for position, I finish my drive much more relaxed and in a more positive frame of mind.
    Video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGFqfTCL2fs

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