My longtime friend, artist Tomas Karkalas, e-mailed me yesterday about an organization that promotes tolerance. Tolerance.org is a web project of the Southern Poverty Law Center begun to “fight hate and promote tolerance.” The word tolerance “embraces the broad range of skills we need to live together peacefully.” The organization views tolerance as “a way of thinking and feeling — but most importantly, of acting — that gives us peace in our individuality, respect for those unlike us, the wisdom to discern humane values and the courage to act upon them.” The Web site seeks to create a national community committed to human rights. Its goal is to awaken people of all ages to the problem of hate and intolerance, to equip them with the best tolerance ideas and to prompt them to act in their homes, schools, businesses and communities.

A part of the Tolerance.org site offers tests designed so that one can test for hidden bias. Recent scientific research has demonstrated that biases thought to be absent or extinguished remain as “mental residue” in most of us. Studies show people can be consciously committed to egalitarianism, and deliberately work to behave without prejudice, yet still possess hidden negative prejudices or stereotypes. So even though we believe we see and treat people as equals, hidden biases may still influence our perceptions and actions.

Psychologists at Harvard, the University of Virginia and the University of Washington created “Project Implicit” to develop Hidden Bias Tests — called Implicit Association Tests, or IATs, in the academic world — to measure unconscious bias. Take a test at Project Implicit’s website and see what may be lingering in your psyche. After taking a test, read Tolerance.org’s tutorial to learn more about stereotypes and prejudice and the societal effects of bias.

Emphasis mine.

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In addition, Tomas Karkalas left this message:

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Tolerance is the application of our nice dreams to the practice of our daily walk. I would say that’s the definition of art therapy that blossoms out with the recognition of oneself in the other. In the light of the above, tolerance makes the foundation of blogging and supports the editing of Modus Vivendi on a voluntary basis.”

A big hat tip to my friend Tomas