The outrage at Microsoft’s photo-editing blunder has sparked allegations of racism. What is surprising is Microsoft’s response in admitting that it took four people to replace the head of a black man with a white man in a photograph and forget to replace the hands! Apparently all four people are no longer with the company. I’m not surprised. However the spokeswoman also goes on to state “We are a multiracial company and there isn’t a chance any of us are racist.” But how can she possibly know this? What are the chances that it would take four people to edit one photograph very badly and cause an international outcry? I’m sure she wouldn’t have predicted that. Microsoft is a huge company and surely there’s a chance that one person in the company is a ‘teensy’ bit racist. So the ‘head-swap’ blunder is quickly followed by an an unsupportable platitude. And if Microsoft is ‘multiracial’ (which I’m sure it is) then why was it deemed necessary to prevent the Polish demographic from seeing it? Did someone make the decision that seeing a Black person in an advertisement would be bad for Polish business. If so, isn’t that racist? It may not be an outright sin of commission, but it certainly is a sin of omission.
I was invited to offer my thoughts on the recent news story regarding gender differences and the seven deadly sins for a short piece on BBC Radio Leicester’s morning show.
I hadn’t heard about the story and was surprised to learn that the ‘research’ came from The Vatican. Apparently the ‘researchers’ had collected statistics from the confessional booth.
Now I don’t know much about the ‘ins and outs’ of the confessional booth but a key principle of research is informed consent. I wonder if the people entering the booth were told that their confessions would form part of a headline grabbing bit of research. I assume not.
Aside from this ‘cardinal research sin’, there’s a big question over how the sins were defined. Was ‘pride’ for women comparable to that of men? Who decided which confession should be lumped into which ‘deadly sin’. All in all it’s not really research at all but sadly it’s more likely to get into the newspapers than the real stuff.