Race-blind Prosecutors, the Myths of Policing, plus more weekly links


A selection of recent behavioral science news, articles, and resources of note:

  • In the United States in 2010, Blacks made up 12 percent of the national population, but 38 percent of the prison population. The disproportionate imprisonment of Blacks is not simply due to higher rates of criminal behavior. Racial bias, implicit and explicit, and present throughout the criminal justice system, plays a large role. In the latest issue of Behavioral Science and Policy, Sunita Sah and colleagues argue that obscuring the racial identity of the defendant during the prosecution process could ensure that prosecutors’ decisions are based on a defendant’s behavior, rather than race. (Behavioral Science and Policy)
  • Police, it seems, are no better than the general public in distinguishing the myths of their profession from fact. Police officers and non-police officers judge myths like, “Police can tell if a suspect is lying” and “People confess only when they have actually committed the crime they are being charged with” to be true at remarkably similar rates, 39% vs. 37%. (Aeon)
  • As women take over a male-dominated field, the pay drops,” writes Claire Cain Miller in the New York Times. Women are gradually outpacing men in educational attainment and career ambition. Yet, numbers show that they are still getting paid less across the board. So what’s the catch? (New York Times)
  • Work is becoming an increasingly larger part of our lives—encroaching on all aspects of it, from our children’s bedtime routines to time spent in the garden on a weekend afternoon. For the Economist’s Senior Editor Ryan Avent, there is no separation between his work and personal life. Avent explores how perfection of the professional life has coincided with increasing demands on personal time, making work his main source of identity, community, and pleasure. (1843 Magazine by the Economist)
  • How happy are you? According to the World Happiness Report, if you live in Denmark you’re probably pretty happy, right alongside residents of other Scandinavian countries. War-torn countries like Burundi and Syria came in last. The U.S. moved up two spots since last year’s report, from 15th to 13th. (New York Times)
  • Tuning in or tuning out? The Silent Disco, an event where attendees put on earphones and dance in the company of others who do the same, has been described as “shared isolation.” Though some may say those little earbuds create distance, research shows that “when you listen to music, you’re never really alone.” (Nautilus)
  • Can a nationwide sugar tax help reduce obesity? In 2018, the UK aims to find out, when a new “soft drinks levy” goes into effect. The Behavioral Insights Team takes a look how this tax could affect producers and consumers. (Behavioral Insights Team)
  • Brain damage is no joking matter, except in the case of Witzelsucht—an addiction to wisecracking. (BBC Future)


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