A study on doctors treating patients differently is a reminder for all of us about implicit bias.

In a recent study from the Journal of the American Medical Association's JAMA Pediatrics, researchers found something that should make us all stop and think.

Pediatricians, it seems, might treat their young patients differently based on the color of their skin. At least that was the case for the doctors in this study when it came to the way they administered pain medication to children with appendicitis.


Image by iStock.

In short, the study concluded that black children with appendicitis were less likely to receive painkillers than white children with appendicitis, even when the doctors perceived the children's pain levels to be similar.

This wasn't a small study either. It spanned seven years — from 2003 to 2010 — and involved more than 900,000 cases of appendicitis.

So what happened? Why did so many doctors treat black children differently?

"If there is no physiological explanation for differing treatment of the same phenomena, we are left with the notion that subtle biases, implicit and explicit, conscious and unconscious, influence the clinician's judgment," Dr. Eric Fleegler and Dr. Neil Schechter of Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School explained.

We'll come back to this particular study in a minute, but in case you're thinking, “How does this affect me?!" let's get right to one of their points: bias. And more specifically, implicit bias.

There's a type of bias that almost every single one of us has, no matter how much we love all of our fellow humans, no matter how accepting we are, and no matter how hard we work to treat everyone the same: implicit bias.

People tend to shut down when we talk implicit bias as it relates to race because the immediate response is “I'm not racist!"

I hear you. I'm not racist either.

I'm so white I'm nearly translucent. My children — the people I love most in this world — are African and Asian. The sun rises and sets over them as far as I'm concerned.

My kiddos and me a few years ago.

I work hard every single day to spread anti-racist messages because I want the world to be better for my kids. My commitment to reducing racism is the reason I found my way into the job I have and love.

And still, no matter how much I love them and how hard I work, I have implicit biases. I know I do. I may not know what they are, but they're there – entrenched in the recesses of my mind after a lifetime of media messaging and personal experiences.

And guess what? You have them, too.

I reached out to Dr. Isaiah Pickens, a New York City-based licensed clinical psychologist and writer, to talk about implicit biases — what they are and, more importantly, what we can do about them.

Here's how he explained implicit bias to me:

Implicit biases are attitudes and beliefs that are skewed in a particular direction but are outside of our awareness."

He says that we can develop attitudes and beliefs that influence how we understand and interact with others as well as the decisions we make. And this happens involuntarily — totally not on purpose. We don't even know we're doing it.

Implicit biases aren't things you're aware of, which means you can unintentionally discriminate against others because of them.

Also, take this in for a minute: Our implicit biases aren't all negative. They can be both favorable and unfavorable. An example of the former could be the lifelong impression a person forms — "Asians are so smart!" — after having an Asian classmate who was a great student back in fifth grade.

Here's the crux of the issue, though, and the reason we need to care about implicit biases: We don't know we have them, and because of that, Pickens says, we "unintentionally discriminate against others."

Implicit biases don't mean we're all a bunch of racists.

We need to really understand what Pickens is saying because so many people are unwilling to acknowledge they have implicit biases for fear of being labeled a racist.

Does unintentional discrimination mean that a person is racist? No," he says. But when we fail to admit we have them, we don't do anything about them. And we we don't do anything about them, "people of color experience racism from others who may truly believe their actions are innocuous."

That last part is the whole point of talking about this. It's the human resources manager who unintentionally skips over a resume because the person has an ethnic-sounding name. It's the school administrators who care about all of their students, but unwittingly more harshly punish black students because they perceive them as older than they actually are.

Photo by iStock.

Pickens gave me another example: It's "a teacher professing to be colorblind often calling on white students … [because] the teacher doesn't want to embarrass 'other' students because he thinks they didn't do their homework."

How'd we end up with these implicit biases?

We develop implicit biases from all of the messaging we've been getting since we were old enough to absorb it — our families, society, our social networks (both in person and online), and the media. And these messages, Pickens says, are reinforced by our experiences in life.

Image by iStock.

We develop biases for honorable reasons, too: “To better navigate the world and keep ourselves and those we love safe," he explains. “If we think someone is a potential threat, then we may avoid that person or become preemptively combative to ensure that person doesn't physically harm us, take our job, or challenge our value system."

Fair enough. But here's where we unintentionally go wrong: “A couple of experiences supporting these beliefs may lead us to automatically respond with unconscious bias toward most people who appear similar to the person we think is threat," Pickens concludes.

I asked Pickens how we stop these biased thoughts. Because if we don't even know we're having them, how can we keep from having them?

It turns out that it's more about opening ourselves up to a bigger world than making an effort to stop unknowingly thinking certain things. Experiences and an open mind are the best ways to fight implicit bias.

He suggests the following useful and somewhat surprising tips:

1. Do not strive to be color-blind. Color-blindness in the context of race describes the way of viewing all people “the same" — saying we don't see skin color. That's silly, though, because every person who has sight does see skin color. “No one is color-blind," Pickens says bluntly. He says we should see differences — and celebrate them — while at the same time acknowledging that sometimes differences can lead to unfair treatment.

Most importantly, he emphasizes the cold, hard reality of insisting we're color-blind: “When we pretend that we do not see these differences, we often reinforce the implicit biases we outwardly stand against." We may be doing the very things we say we're against because we're not acknowledging our implicit biases.

2. Connect directly with people who are different in meaningful ways. The more positive interactions we have with people who look "different" than ourselves, the more we combat our implicit biases.

Photo by iStock.

Humans tend to spend their time around people who look like them, so it can feel awkward to intentionally seek out interactions, connections, and friendships outside of our circles, but we need to do it. Pickens suggests working on a shared work project with someone or attending a community gathering you might not otherwise choose to join. It's important, he explains, to begin by “admitting your limited connection with others — and subsequently, limited knowledge — then being willing to learn more."

3. Train yourself to be more mindful and aware. Focus on "others' perspectives, experiences that counter stereotypes, and our personal susceptibility to have biases outside of our awareness," Pickens says.

I also came across this tool by Harvard University to help you discover your implicit biases. It covers many areas, such as race, gender, and sexual orientation.

So what about those pediatricians who treated their patients differently based on the color of their skin?

Pickens says it's apparent to him that they're biased, but “whether implicit beliefs about race are the driving force for differential treatment is harder to decipher."

He explains that implicit biases and treating people differently occur together — but it's hard to know why. "[U]nconscious beliefs likely play a major role in differential treatment, but how and why implicit biases arise remains an area that requires further exploration," he explained to me.

So until we figure that part out, the best course of action for us is to acknowledge that we have implicit biases — even though we may not know what they are — and keep that fact in mind as we move through life. It might positively affect how we interact with and treat others every day.

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In 1945, the world had just endured the bloodiest war in history. World leaders were determined to not repeat the mistakes of the past. They wanted to build a better future, one free from the "scourge of war" so they signed the UN Charter — creating a global organization of nations that could deter and repel aggressors, mediate conflicts and broker armistices, and ensure collective progress.

Over the following 75 years, the UN played an essential role in preventing, mitigating or resolving conflicts all over the world. It faced new challenges and new threats — including the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, a Cold War and brutal civil wars, transnational terrorism and genocides. Today, the UN faces new tensions: shifting and more hostile geopolitics, digital weaponization, a global pandemic, and more.

This slideshow shows how the UN has worked to build peace and security around the world:

1 / 12

Malians wait in line at a free clinic run by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Mission in Mali in 2014. Over their 75 year history, UN peacekeepers have deployed around the world in military and nonmilitary roles as they work towards human security and peace. Here's a look back at their history.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

Maybe before the events of 2020, you were taking your toilet paper for granted. But chances are, you aren't anymore. But aside from the shortages earlier in the year, there are larger problems with traditional TP. Specifically, it's pretty bad for the environment. That said, thanks to a company called Reel, it doesn't have to be. That's because their toilet paper is made from bamboo stalks and designed with environmental sustainability in mind.

If you've had any experience with environmentally friendly toilet paper in the past, you might be tempted to stop reading. But contrary to the prevailing stereotypes about eco-conscious TP, Reel is renowned for its quality and comfort -- so much so that the brand has sold more than a million rolls of the stuff and counting. And it's done so without contributing to the monstrous devastation of forests that's associated with the traditional toilet paper industry.

Every roll of Reel toilet paper is made from 100-percent bamboo, and 0 trees. But that's not where the brand's environmental consciousness ends. It even extends to the packaging, which is plastic-free, right down to the tape. No dead trees, no environment-choking plastic, no inks, no dyes, and none of the infamous synthetic compound bisphenol A. Best of all, if you use it, there's no TP-related guilt about the damage your daily bathroom habits might bring to the planet.

Why is using bamboo to make toilet paper better than using trees? For starters, it's the fastest-growing plant in existence, and can grow as much as three feet in just 24 hours. It's harvested once a year and never needs replanting, making it an essentially infinite resource compared to trees, while also using up 30-percent less water. And as you'll feel for yourself once you give Reel a try, bamboo paper is much softer than other papers made from recycled paper or wood fiber, while also retaining bamboo's natural tensile strength, which is said to be even stronger than some types of steel.

Reel Premium Bamboo Toilet Paper

Reel

Reel even has ply-counters covered, too. If you were worried that bamboo toilet paper doesn't give you the thickness and quality you're accustomed to in TP, think again, because each role is generally proportioned with three ply for extra softness. In other words: you're not having to sacrifice comfort for the good of the planet, at least not as far as your toilet paper is concerned.

And Reel's environmental friendliness isn't the only good reason to make the switch. The brand also cuts off a slice of their profits for the funding of sanitation projects in developing nations, so you're helping that important cause with each roll you buy (in addition to helping reduce deforestation and pollution).

Each 24-roll box of Reel premium bamboo toilet paper costs $29.99, but if you're paranoid about running out, they also offer a subscription service that sends a new box to your door automatically every four weeks, eight weeks, or 12 weeks, depending on how often you usually buy. Customers have also reported that each roll of Reel lasts longer than regular toilet paper since it gets the job done with fewer sheets -- another point in favor of bamboo paper..

Your toilet paper doesn't have to kill trees or choke the environment with bulky plastic packaging. There is a better way. To find out more, check out Reel at its official site, and say hello to a new era of environmentally friendly toilet paper that's also comfortable, durable, and a pleasure to have around.

*Upworthy may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through affiliate links on our site.

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In 1945, the world had just endured the bloodiest war in history. World leaders were determined to not repeat the mistakes of the past. They wanted to build a better future, one free from the "scourge of war" so they signed the UN Charter — creating a global organization of nations that could deter and repel aggressors, mediate conflicts and broker armistices, and ensure collective progress.

Over the following 75 years, the UN played an essential role in preventing, mitigating or resolving conflicts all over the world. It faced new challenges and new threats — including the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, a Cold War and brutal civil wars, transnational terrorism and genocides. Today, the UN faces new tensions: shifting and more hostile geopolitics, digital weaponization, a global pandemic, and more.

This slideshow shows how the UN has worked to build peace and security around the world:

1 / 12

Malians wait in line at a free clinic run by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Mission in Mali in 2014. Over their 75 year history, UN peacekeepers have deployed around the world in military and nonmilitary roles as they work towards human security and peace. Here's a look back at their history.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

It sounds like a ridiculous, sensationalist headline, but it's real. In Cheshire County, New Hampshire, a transsexual, anarchist Satanist has won the GOP nomination for county sheriff. Aria DiMezzo, who refers to herself as a "She-Male" and whose campaign motto was "F*** the Police," ran as a Republican in the primary. Though she ran unopposed on the ballot, according to Fox News, she anticipated that she would lose to a write-in candidate. Instead, 4,211 voters filled in the bubble next to her name, making her the official Republican candidate for county sheriff.

DiMezzo is clear about why she ran—to show how "clueless the average voter is" and to prove that "the system is utterly and hopelessly broken"—stances that her win only serves to reinforce.

In a blog post published on Friday, DiMezzo explained how she had never tried to hide who she was and that anyone could have looked her up to see what she was about, in addition to pointing out that those who are angry with her have no one to blame but themselves:

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Growing your own organic herbs, vegetables, and fruits is a great way to eat healthier and, at the same time, do something good for the environment. Unfortunately, a lot of people assume they can't grow a garden because they don't have enough space, time, or know-how. But that's not actually the case. Or at least, it's not any more. Thanks to an amazing high tech gadget called the Click & Grow Smart Gardens, these days anyone can grow their own organic produce with the touch of a button, no matter where they live.

Fully Automated Gardening? Yes Please

What exactly is the Smart Garden? Click & Grow calls it the Keurig of plants. And that's actually a pretty great description.

The Click & Grow Smart Garden is a fully automated gardening system that lets anybody grow herbs, fruits, vegetables, and flowers year round, in any environment, with absolutely no effort or horticultural knowledge. Like a Keurig coffee maker, all you have to do is insert a pod, fill the tank with water, and press the button. Technology takes care of the rest.

Click & Grow has over 50 different pre-seeded 100-percent biodegradable plant pods to choose from, including tomatoes, peppers, arugula, green leaf lettuce, basil, chives, cilantro, petunias, pansies, lavender, and so much more. You can also buy "blank" smart soil pods and use your own seeds to create your own custom plant pods. The possibilities are almost endless.

You don't have to know anything about gardening to use the Click & Grow Smart Garden. However, if you'd like to learn, the Click & Grow companion app can make you a plant expert. Simply check in with the app daily and it will explain exactly what's happening during each stage of the growing cycle.

How Does It Work?

The Click & Grow Smart Garden uses advanced horticultural technology specifically designed to speed up growth and maximize yields. This technology includes:

  • Biodome Sprouting: lids cover the seed pods during the initial growing phase, creating a greenhouse effect that induces faster sprouting.
  • Grow Lights: professional grade LED grow lights with enhanced light spectra bring about faster germination. These lights turn on and off automatically to mimic the natural light cycle, making sure plants get the exact amount and type of light they need to thrive.
  • Automatic watering: sensors detect moisture levels and automatically water your plants when needed, with each reservoir tank refill lasting about one month.
  • Smart Soil: instead of regular soil, Smart Garden seed pods use a proprietary nano material created by Click & Grow. This material keeps soil pH balanced, automatically releases nutrients in sync with the plant life cycle, and contains micro oxygen pockets to give plants ample breathing room and nutrients when the smart soil is wet.

All this tech wouldn't be very appealing if it cost an arm and a leg to run. Luckily, the Click & Grow Smart Garden is incredibly efficient. It uses 95-percent less water than traditional agriculture, while producing faster growing cycles without toxic pesticides or fertilizers. Meanwhile, the Smart Garden's efficient LED grow lights cost roughly $5 to $15 per year to operate. That's probably less than you'd spend on gas going back and forth to the nursery to get supplies for a traditional backyard garden.

Of course, not every prospective indoor gardener has the same needs. Some people just want a minimalist countertop unit to grow their favorite herbs. Others want a full-blown indoor farm. That's why Click & Grow created several different Smart Garden models with variable grow capacities.

Click & Grow Smart Garden 3

As the name suggests, the Smart Garden 3 is capable of growing three plants at a time. Measuring just 12 inches wide and 5 inches deep, with a max height of 19 inches, this model fits almost anywhere. That makes it perfect for anyone with extremely limited space, or who isn't quite ready for a bigger indoor garden.

At just $99.95, the Smart Garden 3 is the most affordable of Click & Grow's automated gardening systems. It's available in four different colors and comes with the companion app as well as a complementary set of three basil plant pods.

Click & Grow Smart Garden 27

For those who live by the motto "go big or go home" there's the Smart Garden 27. Though, in this case, "big" is a relative term. Consisting of three Smart Garden 9 units plus a stylish pine plant stand, the Smart Garden 27 is capable of growing a whopping 27 plants at a time. However, it barely takes up any room. The entire system has a footprint of 26 inches by 10 inches, and it stands just 47 inches tall. So it's roughly the size of a small bookcase.

The Smart Garden 27 is certainly a more significant investment than the Smart Garden 3. However, if your household consumes a lot of fresh organic product, it won't take long for the Smart Garden 27 to start paying for itself. It's available in three different colors and comes with the companion app as well as a complementary set of nine basil plant pods, nine lettuce plant pods, and nine tomato plant pods.

Good For You AND The Planet

Eating local and organic helps you reduce your carbon footprint and cut back on the amount of harmful chemicals that wind up in our watershed. And that used to be pretty expensive. But thanks to the Click & Grow Smart Garden, we can all grow affordable organic produce right in our own homes with just the touch of a button.

If that sounds good to you, click here to learn more about Click & Grow Smart Gardens, today.

*Upworthy may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through affiliate links on our site.