More on the cognitive unconscious
Todd Zywicki responds further to the critics of his criticism of the Implicit Association Test. When it was suggested that he dislikes the IAT because of an unconscious bias agasint the idea that he has unconscious biases, he replied:
And if it is the case that our views on the usefulness of Project Implicit are little more than a reflection of our subconscious, wouldn't it be pointless to have a conversation trying to persuade me to use my conscious mind to revise my supposed subconsciously-biased negative opinion of Project Implicit itself?One suspects that political propagandists throughout the ages have come to the same conclusion.
On a less flippant note, Chris of Mixing Memory responds to Todd better (and more, ah, bluntly) than I could, at the bottom of his original post on this topic. Main points: even if most mental processes aren't accessible to consciousness, that doesn't mean they can't be influenced by conscious processes - for example, arguments using empirical evidence and reason about the nature of the cognitive unconscious. It just means that the translation from conscious perception to belief is pretty complex and is mediated by lots of mental processes that we aren't aware of, that exert their own influence on the end result. In any case, the cognitive unconscious can be pretty sensible, even rational. So the cognitive unconscious need not lead us to rush into a nihilist epistemology.
Note: This is a follow-up to this previous post about the cognitive unconscious.