Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2003/11/24/racism_makes_you_thick_official/

Racism makes you thick – official

Sadly, no PDA-based cure for this one

By Lester Haines

Posted in Bootnotes, 24th November 2003 09:59 GMT

Following our report last week that low self esteem can shrink your brain, we have been informed of another threat to IQ - racism.

According to the Seattle Post Intelligencer, researchers at Dartmouth College in the US have found that "interracial interactions are cognitively demanding". In short, racism makes you thick.

To summarise, the Dartmouth team found that a white brain is so tuckered out by the demands of a five-minute conversation - during which it struggles not to do or say anything offensive - with someone from another race, that it flounders in subsequent tests of cognitive ability.

This was apparently demonstrated by a combination of "functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which measures brain activity, with other behavioral tests common to research in social and cognitive psychology to determine how white individuals respond to black individuals".

In reality, these tests may not lead to a reliable indicator of racism at all. According to Dartmouth's Jennifer Richeson, Assistant Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences: "Most people find it unacceptable to behave in prejudiced ways during interracial interactions and make an effort to avoid doing so, regardless of their level of racial bias."

Not that this admission has dampened the scientific community's enthusiastic response to the findings. Stanford University's John Gabrieli offered the distinctly definitive: "Just having a prejudice makes you stupider. It is really interesting."

Well, this remains to be seen. As for us, we reckon there's a bit of a chicken/egg debate to be had here: does racism make you stupid, or are racists thick to begin with? Or is it a little bit of both? ®

Related links

Further details of the Dartmouth College experiments can be found here.