A Bias Challenge at the Exploratorium

A Bias Challenge at the Exploratorium

Can you get past assumptions of what a drinking fountain should look like? The Exploratorium, a science museum in San Francisco, has a sign saying both fountains are safe. Which one would you sip from?

Most people pick the traditional fountain. The exhibit invites people to notice that we all have internal biases, even ones we didn’t know about like fountain bias. Overcoming fountain bias is hard, but people can, And do, shed old assumptions.

Descriptive Transcript

(I’m standing between two fountains. One has a small, metallic-looking basin below a water tap. The other is a porcelain toilet with a water tap attached to its seat. A sign behind me says, “A Sip of Conflict,” and additional text too small to read. I’m signing for part of the video. My guide dog Mylo is standing in front of me, looking around the museum.)

Haben: Are you thirsty? Do you want water from a traditional fountain or from a toilet-shaped fountain?
(Close up of the toilet-shaped fountain.)
Haben: Both of these water fountains dispense perfectly clean water. The porcelain toilet is unused. The question is…
(Standing between the fountains, I raise both hands up in a questioning shrug.)
Haben: Can you flush out bias?
Haben (voicing audio description): A man leans over and drinks from a water fountain shaped like a toilet.