Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Friday, May 13, 2005

The thought-police are on patrol in Scotland

In Scotland, it's not what you do, it's what you think that determines whether you can be a policeman. In an article that reads like a bad futurist science fiction novella (a la The Minority Report), we learn that applicants are going to be subject to a "scientific" test aimed at proving subliminal racist beliefs:

Police are to introduce complex psychological tests to stop racist applicants joining the force, The Scotsman can reveal. The move comes amid fears that racism within the police has been 'driven underground' due to heightened awareness of the issue. Scotland’s police chiefs commissioned the new psycho- metric tests in response to the BBC’s Secret Policeman documentary, which exposed racism among several trainee police recruits in October 2003. The programme, which showed a recruit at a Greater Manchester Police training college wearing a Ku Klux Klan-type hood, led to separate reviews of the police and race relations in Scotland and England. The Commission for Racial Equality Scotland is due to report its findings in the summer and sources have told The Scotsman that several 'areas of concern' will be raised. The new tests will allow interviewers to detect under-lying racist attitudes more effectively than the current, more direct question-and-answer approach, which police admit racists can too easily dodge. The project, which is costing �55,000, is being developed by the clinical psychology department at Strathclyde University and will be introduced to all eight Scottish police forces in the autumn. Under the new tests, candidates will be presented with a selection of policing scenarios to which they will be asked to respond. By comparing answers, police will hopefully be able to expose racist views which candidates would otherwise try to hide.
If you go here, you can see how some of those tests work. I was not impressed with the tests' methodology, which focuses as much as anything on reflexes and memory. If you can pat your head, rub your tummy and chew gum at the same time, you'll be able to affect the outcome. I can't quite explain the analogy, but these self-serving tests remind me of the recovered memory people who say that if you admit that your father abused you, your correct, and if you deny that your father abused you, you must be suppressing the memory of that abuse. There is no possibility that there was no abuse. Or to put it another way with these tests that purport to show that typographical errors reveal hidden biases, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.