Katharine Hepburn, Discrimination and Liberal Psychologists

Despite the great potential for diversity to serve as a clarion call to break down harmful boundaries between people, there still exists as part of the human condition a longing for the familiar and the comfortable. We find people associating with one another based on common tasks, beliefs or opportunities. The field of psychology takes the entire realm of human experience and behavior as its topic matter, and hence one would expect an openness and desire to study all things human. An illuminating and some might say embarrassing moment occurred last week, the New York Times reported, at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology's conference where topics such as racial prejudice, homophobia, sexism and unconscious bias against minorities were studied. Professor Jonathan Haidt brought to everyone's attention an interesting skew of the political leanings of the attendees:

"He polled his audience at the San Antonio Convention Center, starting by asking how many considered themselves politically liberal. A sea of hands appeared, and Dr. Haidt estimated that liberals made up 80 percent of the 1,000 psychologists in the ballroom. When he asked for centrists and libertarians, he spotted fewer than three dozen hands. And then, when he asked for conservatives, he counted a grand total of three.

“This is a statistically impossible lack of diversity,” Dr. Haidt concluded, noting polls showing that 40 percent of Americans are conservative and 20 percent are liberal. In his speech and in an interview, Dr. Haidt argued that social psychologists are a “moral community” united by “sacred values” that hinder research and damage their credibility and blind them to the hostile climate they’ve created for non-liberals.

“Anywhere in the world that social psychologists see women or minorities underrepresented by a factor of two or three, our minds jump to discrimination as the explanation,” said Dr. Haidt, who called himself a longtime liberal turned centrist. “But when we find out that conservatives are underrepresented among us by a factor of more than 100, suddenly everyone finds it quite easy to generate alternate explanations.”

Now one explanation for this might be that psychologists work in universities and in this environment it is known that the majority of professors opt for left-of-center political viewpoints. This begs the question: Why does this shift occur in universities? One Times respondent noted that professors working with a secure job in an atmosphere different from the demands of the business world where marketplace capitalism and simple economics set up a different set of daily demands. While one might question the generalizability of this "hands up" study, it is good to point out that a review of the political leanings in the journal of a large national psychological association indicated over 90 percent of the articles had a predominant liberal bent. Now some might see this as an opportunity to make claims of bias or prejudice but before doing so it is good to remember St. Ignatius's caution that "every good Christian ought to be more eager to put a good interpretation on a neighbor's statement than to condemn it." So we recall that the psychologists have ethics that teaching psychologists must always strive to present all sides of a topic and let's hope in good faith that this is happening.

Dr. Haidt had some intriguing advice for psychologists who might have inadvertently (again, a presupposition of Charity) found themselves easing toward one end of the normal curve on political doctrine and that was to consider reading National Review or Thomas Sowell. For psychologists who practice in clinics, schools or hospitals this advice is also important for many of the clients who come to psychologists for assistance will partake in the ideas described and developed in these sources. If not out of respect, it is good to understand these viewpoints because of a practical or business sense. One might even wonder if a similar phenomena of polarization of viewpoints occurs within another realm—say, the study and discussion of religion and theology. If so, the fields of psychology and religion may face similar challenges.

There are several approaches to this problem. One may build bridges or one may clarify strong boundaries, for as Robert Frost said, "Good fences make good neighbors." I like taking Katharine Hepburn's words, applying them not to the sexes but in a metaphorical way to getting along with those who think differently than oneself. "Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other," said Hepburn. "Perhaps they should live next to each other and visit now and then."

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Vince Killoran
7 years 5 months ago
I know what Cosgrove means-as a socialist I am forever frustrated by liberals!  Why won't people see things my way?

Back in '05-'06 some conservatives in the Pennsylvania legislature (urged on by folks like David Horowitz) had hearings to determine whether liberal bias had unfairly affected conservative students in the classroom.  They found very little, and nothing to warrent a change in policy.

I've exceeded my self-imposed posting limits for today.
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
David,

I think a great deal of argument could be given that politics is indeed a "belief" system, as Alyssa states.

It is indeed possible for two rational individuals, studying a given political topic, to come to totally different conclusions. And each is an honorable one. Without going to the dictionary, I would call each of these e belief.

One practical benefit of this might be that we would shift into the kind of dialog that we use when discussing other people's "beliefs"-kinder, an attitude of wanting to learn more ABOUT the person's belief, why they have chosen it, what it does for them in their life, how long they have held it, doubts they have about it, etc. As it stands, when a person expresses a political stance, too often we don't want to learn more about it but simply get into the argumentative mode.

I am not a Tea Party member but i think it is important to know more about it. Why are people choosing to leave the other parties? When has this happened in the past (it has!). What can the other political parties learn from this. Etc. etc. Perhaps shifting into the mode of understanding and trying to develop insight that Thomas Merton used when examing the political work of someone like Malcolm X in the 60s.

On thse blogs do we give the same respect to someone's political stance that we often give to the "beliefs" of many other relgiions (mid-Eastern, Eastern, Carribean, etc.)?

Or when we learn a new langauge, we try to learn ABOUT the culture rather than nit-pick it.

So I put this thought out. I think Alyssa has made a great point and you have verbalized something that is an unexamined opinion here, one which deserves to be brought into the open. And we have done so together. Thanks for all your good postings, I am evolving some mkind of new style in the response part of the blog with my teaching responsibilities. best, bill
Kayna Pfeiffer
7 years 5 months ago
First off, what a well written article! I never thought of psychology from a liberal or conservative point of view until viewing this. Putting this into perspective, it makes sense that the field of psychology and academia would be made up of a majority of left wingers. This is because the field of psychology encompasses so many different subfields that it requires a person to be open and tolerant of others and their lifestyles even if it different from their own.

This viewpoint is reflective of liberalism. Liberals are progressive just like the majority of psychologists. They are always open to reforms just as psychologists are open to trying different alternatives and methods to treatment. Also, liberals are pro change and for the protection of civil liberties. This can be seen through their stance on abortion, pro-choice. Psychologists share these beliefs and this can be shown through the confidentiality policies shown to clients. Psychologists have an obligation to protect the civil liberties of their clients and ensure that what is said to them remains in confidence unless ordered by court or through a serious threat to harm oneself or others.

I think that psychology is one of the most progressive fields because its theories and treatments are ever changing based on technology and experiments. Many other fields, such as the business profession are less progressive because their policies are more static and closely tied to the economic system of capitalism. Capitalism promotes individualism and competition. Psychology does the opposite, it promotes people working together and a sense of community. Thus, the basic principles of a field may hold a clue to the type of people employed in that field and their political background. 
7 years 5 months ago
Dr. van Ornum,


My apologies to Ms. Pfeiffer.  However the opinions must be coming from some place and maybe the lesson to learn is to be careful of the attitudes fostered in college these days.  I was very liberal according to today's standards when I graduated from college and it had nothing to do with my Jesuit education but with a attitude engendered by all my Catholic education of love ''thy neighbor.''  As years went on I gradually started to understand more how the world worked and my political philosophy changed dramatically but my concern for ''thy neighbor'' has not changed.  Just how it should be accomplished.  The lesson Ms. Pfeiffer should take away from this is that conservatives may actually care more about ''thy neighbor'' than liberals and not assume they are close minded, heartless or whatever other stereotype the liberals try to stigmatize them with.


 
''is lifted directly from Glen Beck's talkiing points-almost word for word'' 


I am glad to see that Glenn Beck is reading my words.  I never watch his show except for the one time on this site when someone referenced it.  I never heard his radio show except for one time in the car a few years ago on the way to Washington.  Has he written anything?  Cause I have not read anything he wrote or if he has a web site been on it.  So it must be that Beck is reading what I write which isn't much or we read similar sources.  But anyway I can back up everything I say.


I also find it funny that some here know a lot about Glenn Beck's talking points.  I know little about him other than what others have said.  He has had a rapid rise from a despair that led to alcoholism and that he is a Mormon who once was a Catholic.  I know he is controversial, is generally conservative but turns many conservatives off and that his ratings have declined recently but that is all.   Oh, yes I know he has been a target recently of liberals because he attacked Frances Piven.
7 years 5 months ago
Great article, Bill.

Although it is hinted at it in the post: I wonder what the lack of conservative/traditionalist contributors/editors to the America Magazine says about it?

I wonder if the same logic applies: (it will) "hinder research and damage their credibility and blind them to the hostile climate they’ve created for non-liberals."
7 years 5 months ago
''I wish Americans could get away from referring to people's politics as either 'liberal' or 'conservative', as though individuals were capable of thinking in only one of two narrow channels.  The life of the mind should be so much richer than that.''


Actually a true conservative will consider everything.  They accept what works and expect constant change in society and culture so change is not an issue.  I have no problem with many of the objectives of liberals and socialists and libertarians (I do strongly reject equality of results as an objective but embrace many form of equal opportunity.)  I just do not think that most of their ideas work and as such accept what proves useful and reject the rest.  This seems to be the position of most conservatives I know and see in the popular arena.


Conservatives in the US are essentially classic liberals but the term got co-opted by the progressives in the 1920's to refer to their positions and paper over the bad image of progressives at the time.  Roosevelt then endorsed the term in a big way and we have had this odd distinction in the US since.


Another misnomer is that conservatives are essentially pro business and anti government.  To some extent this is true but as Paul Ryan recently pointed out it is not pro business that is the objective but pro market.  He was making the point that a lot of business is in bed with the government as as such is anathema to a true conservative or classic liberal position.  But a conservative will recognize that unbridled free markets can sometimes have negative consequences and recognize the need for some regulation limiting some practices.
Casey McGowan
7 years 5 months ago
While I do believe we should strive for more balance in the field of psychology, I think that part of the phenomena noted by Dr.Haidt is due to the nature of the career. People are drawn to professions that emphasize their own ideals so with an area like social psychology that is very concerned with inequalities in society, the job itself may be more in line with a liberal political attitude and have a greater appeal to individuals with similar ideals.
 As you mentioned in the article, many social psychologists are college professors who, as a whole, are a liberal leaning group. The same can be said for teachers in general, at least in the Northeast United States. At the time of the last presidential election I was a high school senior and our school held a mock election. When the results were announced, President Obama had won a majority of the students' votes (about 60%), but the teachers overwhelmingly favored Obama (if I remember correctly it was around an 85%-15% split). This of course only represents one school out of thousands, but I believe that this is a fairly typical result among teachers. 
In order to create a more even representation of the population in the field of social psychology and other areas that face similar problems, it is vital that those already working in those careers remain open-minded. Especially in times of such extreme political polarization like we are facing now, professionals need to be willing to put their differences aside for the sake of bettering their fields. Whether a certain career is dominated by liberals or conservatives, I firmly believe that it is never a bad thing to add in more diversity and bring in differing viewpoints.  
Vince Killoran
7 years 5 months ago
Cosgrove's last paragraph is lifted directly from Glen Beck's talkiing points-almost word for word.

It's a seriously wrong characterization of the Progressive Movement put into play to craft conspiratorial politics (as is his fanciful notion that businesses are some beloved community).

Here's a question: why do clerics vote the way they do? Business types? etc.

Vince Killoran
7 years 5 months ago
Did Dr. H. provide evidence that the scarcity of self-identified conservatives "hinder[ed] research and damage their credibility and blind them to the hostile climate they’ve created for non-liberals"?

Wouldn't it be ironic if conservatives embraced affirmative action programs with numerical goals on the basis of political affiliation?   
david power
7 years 5 months ago
Yes, a great article Bill.
Thanks for posting it.  One of the most important of all Ignatian teachings is that on "discernment" which makes the sometimes bias of Jesuits on America all the more frustrating.However, there have also been many examples of the contrary. I recall in particular Fr John Kavanagh who has written very insightful postings.
Vince Killoran
7 years 5 months ago
Let's widen the consideration of "balance" to the world of Catholic blogs and websites-how does AMERICA fare? In an age of niche media I appreciate the wide range of articles, and there is a fairly open policy regarding posting responses. Heaps of conservatives contribute to the comments section.  I don't see the same thing on other Catholic websites (and certainly not in most parishes where "discernment" is practically nil).

The whole "balance" argument seems to boil down to this: "Since I don't agree with the general perspective of the editorial staff your publication is flawed." The responsibility is on us to watch, listen, and read widely, and to lobby our government to stop media conglomeration so a wider array of perspectives get heard.
7 years 5 months ago

I have a few comments.
 
Katherine Hepburn was a famous actress in her day and very much a leading lady.  My mother also told me she was scandalized by her supposed relationship with Spencer Tracey who was married and also supposedly a good Catholic.  Then in a recent movie, The Aviator, about Howard Hughes, it portrayed her as a lesbian.  And apparently that is what she mainly was.  Hence the comment at the end of the post. 
 
My children all self identify as liberal and my wife and I as conservative.  We have great family get togethers, the most recently last Sunday  but we never discuss politics.   At my reunion in October I spent more time with the most liberal guy in our class than anyone else.  In other words, liberals and conservatives can get along socially just fine.
 
The hostility toward conservative positions in academia is well known and this has two effects and maybe others.  When interviewing one looks for others of a similar persuasion politically whether consciously or unconsciously.  Consequently those who get the job offers are more likely to be politically similar.  Second, knowing that such a climate exists, will limit who applies for the job.  If the school is likely to only have a few conservatives on the faculty, then why bother applying or why bother even entering the field.  
  
Specifically in social psychology, I remember my year at City University with three nationally known professors as my instructors and I was the only one in the class who was a conservative.  Some of the stuff presented I thought was absurd and it was in the curriculum only because of its political agenda.  There was actually a study presented for us to analyze which labeled liberals as open minded and conservatives as close minded.  And all I could think of during these discussions what this was an extremely closed minded set of people authoring these articles and conducting the lectures and if I challenged them too loudly, my grades would suffer.  My only soul mate was a black single mother trying to get her Ph. D. who used to talk about the lack of practicality in what was being presented.
 
Last, Jesuits, more than any other order are associated with universities.  And these universities are essentially pools of liberal thinking.  So it is easy to see why the Jesuits are liberal too.  It would be difficult to run these universities while proselytizing a different ideology.  But they should know as Dr. van Ornum and the Dr. Haidt have pointed out.  The liberal ideology does not ring true with most Americans and for all their supposedly superior intellects I have not seen any good defense of liberal positions by the liberals.  They are just held and assumed correct and felt that they are not necessary to defend.  My observation this type of arrogance is always accompanied by ignorance.
7 years 5 months ago
When I saw the title of this piece, I hoped Dr. Van Ornum was going to allude to Prof. Haidt's comments which I've seen in (interestingly) only conservative sites like National Review Online (wonder why). And it hits very close to home for me who spent some time in academia working on an advanced degree at an Ivy League University and it is precisely because of that experience that I became more conservative in my thought and politics.  To say that academics lean left or "opt" for liberalism is the understatement of a lifetime.  Expressing standard liberal opinion is a right of passage into academia, and hints of un-orthodox, i.e. conservative thought, are not only dismissed but verily derided and scorned.  I can recall numerous experiences from my graduate work where conservative thought was dismissed as inferior, as intellectually unworthy, and where people expressing conservative thought were outright ridiculed, even scorned, by professors and students alike.  Indeed in some ways it takes on the form of a hazing wherein you have to prove your worthiness to belong.  One example- I remember being scorned from a Catholic group of faculty and students at the Catholic center when I publicly disagreed with one older professor's characterization of Pope John Paul as a "mysognistic, homophobic, fraud", suggesting we keep the conservation to an examination of Catholic thought rather than name-calling.  Indeed in my experience, name-calling makes up a large part of liberal argument (the Bush years were particularly notable for its crudeness, which everyone ignores now when Pres. Obama is called an ugly name), and it has made me incredibly sensitive to ad hominem attacks in comments on this post.  We frequently see comments like conservatives "don't love poor people" or are "greedy" or "racist", we see conservatives often labelled as apologists for "pedophilia or child abuse".  I applaud the recent posts on America generally more sympathetic to conservative thought.  I hope we can all choose to see the "other" and try to understand him or her rather than simply name-call it away.  Conservatives remain about the only people concerned about the state of higher education, not primarily because they are systematically ignored, but because a case can be made that such pervasive liberalism (I love the term above - "statisically impossible") has done real damage to higher education, particularly the notion of a liberal education.  Hopefully more academics wake up to this danger.
7 years 5 months ago
''I wish Americans could get away from referring to people's politics as either 'liberal' or 'conservative', as though individuals were capable of thinking in only one of two narrow channels.  The life of the mind should be so much richer than that.''


Actually a true conservative will consider everything.  They accept what works and expect constant change in society and culture so change is not an issue.  I have no problem with many of the objectives of liberals and socialists and libertarians (I do strongly reject equality of results as an objective but embrace many form of equal opportunity.)  I just do not think that most of their ideas work and as such accept what proves useful and reject the rest.  This seems to be the position of most conservatives I know and see in the popular arena.


Conservatives in the US are essentially classic liberals but the term got co-opted by the progressives in the 1920's to refer to their positions and paper over the bad image of progressives at the time.  Roosevelt then endorsed the term in a big way and we have had this odd distinction in the US since.


Another misnomer is that conservatives are essentially pro business and anti government.  To some extent this is true but as Paul Ryan recently pointed out it is not pro business that is the objective but pro market.  He was making the point that a lot of business is in bed with the government as as such is anathema to a true conservative or classic liberal position.  But a conservative will recognize that unbridled free markets can sometimes have negative consequences and recognize the need for some regulation limiting some practices.
Bill Mazzella
7 years 5 months ago
It is true that some liberals are intolerant of those who disagree with them. Having said that I find it startling that those on this blog who admit to being convervative see themselves as better at dialogue. When Jim Martin referred to some of the comments as being pretty nasty, many conservatives here discounted that sentiment by writing that they were only trying to counter a liberal viewpoint or better correct it. I get it so you can be nasty when someone disagrees with you. Secondly, you will not find a consevative blog that tolerates the contrary opinion as the monitors on this blog tolerate all kinds of opinions. 

Gettting to the point of this thread we should be careful to declaring how many Americans are conservative. If that were true Roe vs Wade would have been overturned long ago. As everyone knows fighting Roe vs Wade is the conservative calling card. Talking about venom are there any places more intolerant than the conservative leaders like Limbaugh and Hannity. Not to mention O'Reilly. How about the Catholic League which does its share of nonsense. 

At any rate, do this litmus test. Show me a conservative blog or site which tolerates diversity of opinion the way this blog does? I rest my case. 
7 years 5 months ago
Dr. van Ornum or an editor,

Please delete one of my double comments just above and obviously this comment.  The site said error when I posted the comment so I hit the button a second time.
7 years 5 months ago
''Show me a conservative blog or site which tolerates diversity of opinion the way this blog does? I rest my case. ''


I know of no conservative blog that doesn't accept contrary opinions.  Try going to  

http://pajamasmedia.com/

which is mostly conservative posts.  Go to the comments and you will see a wide variety of political viewpoints posted.  I have never seen one that limits comments.  There may  be some but I have never experienced one personally. 
Bill Mazzella
7 years 5 months ago
" Then in a recent movie, The Aviator, about Howard Hughes, it portrayed her as a lesbian.  And apparently that is what she mainly was." 

There is really no proof of this.
Marie Rehbein
7 years 5 months ago
Fill in the blank:  bleeding heart _________________, hard nosed ________________.

The terms liberal and conservative have become synonymous with these modifiers.

Why?  And, are we stuck with these images?

It seems that liberal and conservative can mean those who are socially liberal or economically liberal and those who are socially conservative or economically conservative.  I think it is possible for someone to be socially liberal and economically conservative and someone else to be socially conservative and economically liberal.  Where would these hybrids fall in the political classifications of liberal and conservative?

Finally, self-identification as liberal may not actually play out in terms of personal choices, either with regard to personal conduct or voting.  Has anyone checked to see if this self-identification reflects reality or if it is simply answering a different question like which do you think is superior, liberal or conservative?
Crystal Watson
7 years 5 months ago
If there are more liberals in psychology and teaching in universities, I don'ty think it's because doing psychology or doing university teaching turns one into a liberal, but it's because liberalsmore than conservatives  are attracted to the careers of psychology and university teaching .... perhaps this is because both the doing of psuchology and the teaching at university require an open mind.
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
Thanks to everyone for responding. As I am now off sabbatical and have four classes to teach, I'm needing to give my students full attention si I'm trying to figure out a way to still respond to blogs. I enjoy writing each one and look forward to your comments! It is a great privilege to be able to do this for AMERICA which is known for the high level of quality of its subscribers! amdg, bill

david power
7 years 5 months ago
Crystal, I think the point underlying all of this is the ability to see the merits in the other sides point of view. What is open-minded? Are you for Polygamy or incest?If not is it a result of the closing of the mind? 
If I said something like all Mexicans should be deported from the USA how would you react?99% of liberals would go onto a rant in a milisecond. An open-minded person would (assuming he didn't think I was an idiot!) ask why?
He/She would listen with an openmind and then come to a decision which in politcal parlance be termed conservative/liberal.Maybe it might be fairer to say that teaching at a University today requires having a liberal mindset. Delphlike that could be read in two different ways and one of them is not so complimentary to liberals .
The herd instinct is wired into us all even if we delude ourselves otherwise.
Bill , the posting was a challenge and I hope that your lessons have the same effect.
Crystal Watson
7 years 5 months ago
David,

By open minded I don't mean liberal, I mean what you mean  ... the willingness to consider all the possibilities.   I don't think teacing at university requires a liberal mindset - look how well Professor John Milbank is doing at Nottingham University.  The oracle at Delphi was hard for listeners to understand correctly, but what she meant was unequivocal  :)
7 years 5 months ago
"Having said that I find it startling that those on this blog who admit to being convervative see themselves as better at dialogue. When Jim Martin referred to some of the comments as being pretty nasty, many conservatives here discounted that sentiment by writing that they were only trying to counter a liberal viewpoint or better correct it. I get it so you can be nasty when someone disagrees with you. Secondly, you will not find a consevative blog that tolerates the contrary opinion as the monitors on this blog tolerate all kinds of opinions. "

I don't think I (or anyone that I've read so far - they can correct me) ever said or implied that conservatives are better at dialogue.  I was speaking about my own experience at a very prominent Ivy League school, one that has produced more presidents and leaders than any school in the nation.  Liberalism is dominant, and any conservative thought, again in my own experience, was dismissed and or ridiculed.  In my own experience, one of the hallmarks of conservatism is the willingness to examine IDEAS and arguments.  I remember WIlliam Buckley in his later years made a visit to school and held a tea.  He was inundated with attacks, people calling him racist, expressing outrage at his support of George Bush, etc.  He sat there and listened and made a few points.  It really impressed me.  That's not to say that every conservative is teh same or has the same tolerance for diverse thought; its just my own experience.

You throw out names of shock jocks - they exist on the left too.  Their job is to get listeners and viewers first.  I hope you know that the number of Americans who oppose Roe is actually quite high - near a majority if not more.  That has nothing to do with overturning Roe, of course.  Only another vote on the Supreme Court will do, and they do not poll the populace. I'm afraid I don't get your argument.

Finally, in my earlier comment I lauded what I viewed as this blog's efforts to incorporate more diverse thought.  It was interesting to see Fr. Malone savaged from the left for his comments about Justice Scalia; Dr. Van Ornum has frequently posted thought-provoking pieces that raise some conservative ideas.   I appreciate it all.
7 years 5 months ago
A great, thought provoking article and blog.  Dr. Haidt could just as well have been talking about the field of social work from which I'm retired after a career of many years.  I think he is correct in saying that the fight for civil rights and against racism became "the sacred cause unifying the left throughout American society and within the academy.....this shared morality both binds and blinds."  The universities I attended in the sixties were definitely in this mold.  I considered myself a liberal at that time but as I had years of experience I found myself working with the "unintended consequences" of some progressively inspired program......my clients.  To this day I am waiting for liberals to join with conservatives in honestly evaluating these and newer versions of social programs.  For a centrist or conservative to question liberal programs is to invite scorn, ridicule and name-calling.  I've experienced all of it.  Some on "America"s comment section.  I agree that a great deal of Christian charity and discernment are needed for people of all stripes (and as Marie pointed out some of us are hybrids) to tackle the problems that are causing so much suffering in our society.
Just saying:  I'm for Social Justice and compassion doesn't mean much unless we flesh out what these terms mean.

To go back to the profession of social work.  The National Assoc. of Scholars conducted a study in 2007 of 10 public university programs of social work education,  A follow-up article on 7-23-10 titled "The Scandal of Social Work Education:  The Scandal Goes On" blasts the profession for its mandating an ideological orthodoxy to which students must subscribe concerning "social justice" and "oppression".  Students have been dismissed or left schools of social work for having opposing views.  A student who is pro-life  or in any way socially conservative would not last.  Social work education is thoroughly politicized, dogmatically liberal and coercive of students' thinking. Conservatives need not apply.
Alyssa Cariani
7 years 5 months ago
On move-in day at the start of my undergraduate career at Marist College, I was especially concerned with meeting my roommate. I wanted desparately to have a close relationship with her, at very least to avoid experiencing the horror stories I heard from my friends who were ar year older. Although her firm handshake upon our first encounter scared me, I was pleased with the first conversation we had.
For some reason, as if she felt she needed to give me a disclaimer, she looked at me and informed me that she was a Conservative. My dramatically Liberal 18-year-old self was horrified. I immediately began catastrophizing about how we would never get along and how we wouldn't even be able to even be cordial. We both agreed to never speak about politics so that we could be friends.
We got along splendidly, and decided to live together Sophomore year as well. As we had known each other for a year, and because Presidential elections were approaching, we became more comfortable talking about political issues. When we felt particularly impassioned with something, we discussed it together. Our discussions included rants about her being unfairly treated by a Liberal professor, or the blatant discrimination she experienced being one of the leaders of Marist's Republican club, and even abortion and immigration. At first, we were so afraid of getting into arguments, our discussions consisted of one person ranting and the other nodding their head until she was finished, when the subject was immediately dropped. My fear forced me to actually listen. Surprisingly, my intense stubbornness began to lessen as I heard her thoughts, and I believe she did the same thing. To my disbelief, she often times made sense.
At the start of this year (our Senior year), we nostalgically discussed our first night together and joked about our fear of political discussion. We then admitted to each other that since we became friends, we had become a lot less extreme in our views because we learned how to listen to each other.
I think this is something that our current political system (and even educational system) needs to learn as well. Everyone is different. Everyone has reasons to believe what they do. Nothing is ever going to be accomplished with a closed mind. I know it sounds simplistic, and I never would have thought this in my life beforehand, but we just need to stop, put our egos aside, and listen.

Brian Gallagher
7 years 5 months ago
because that's what social science is, duh.

Social sciences research how we are not atomistic moral agents but part of a larger society deserving of study.

Margaret Thatcher, conservative: ''There is no such thing as society.''

I doubt you'll get very far in the social sciences with that attitude. Same for social work.

Even the study by Cornell researchers cited in the Times article concluded that, ''instead of presuming discrimination in science or expecting the sexes to show equal interest in every discipline, the Cornell researchers say, universities should make it easier for women in any field to combine scholarship with family responsibilities.''

Now show me the conservative who's crusading for paid maternity/paternity leave.
ed gleason
7 years 5 months ago
The Pew survey says 31% of Republicans think Obama is a Muslim, 39 % are 'not sure' 20 percent say he is a Christian 10 don't have an opinion.
So lets give all the conservatives a break when they have make believe data forming their opinions. [sounds like teenage logic to me.] Check out Fox News Lund's focus group of Iowa repubs.
Brian Volck
7 years 5 months ago
Thank you, Alyssa.
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
Yes, Alyssa, beautiful job and thank you! Yours is a model post for any blog of this nature!

This gives me hope that your generation can use the Internet as a positive tool for discussion and community building.

i and other readers greatly appreciate the amount of time, respect, and sincere thought that went into your writing.

best, bvo
Alyssa Cariani
7 years 5 months ago
Respectfully, I find it upsetting that throughout these posts, we are doing exactly what our government is doing:  bashing each other based on nothing but a title.

We as social scientists should be especially aware of this discrimination and stereotyping. We are taught to look at the individual-their thoughts, experiences, and relationships-before we make any type of judgment. It certainly must apply with our clients, but why not with each other?

Call me idealistic, but i BELIEVE this needs to change, or else we will go nowhere, as both a field and as a country.
7 years 5 months ago
Dr. van Ornum,


I believe that people's beliefs affect their political judgments.  However, in politics we have a lot more data to apply then we do in religion.  I personally am willing to use all the data both in religion and politics or in any other aspect of our lives.  I could make a logical case for Catholicism or a particular political stance.  The difference is in the former there is a lot less data than in the later where I can access lots of data to either confirm or contradict my beliefs and in the process change my beliefs over time.  So belief is much different factor in religion where there is less data.  It certainly is not less important.  In each there is uncertainty and when there is uncertainty belief enters the equation.


I have been to Tea Party rallies, have met some people there.  I have also followed their activities on one of the main sites covering their events.  So I have data on the movement that one does not have who just reads the NY Times and similar anti Tea Party media.  Thus, my beliefs will be different because of the data I have and also because I have a basic sympathy for their objectives.  But I have data that can confirm or contradict my basic beliefs that many others do not have so my beliefs will be different.


My experience is that politics has become the new religion for many people and for these people their identity is very much based on this new ideological allegiance.  Several years ago the main allegiance for people was their religion but that has changed and my experience is that for many who say they adhere to a religion, there is even a stronger allegiance to a political ideology and the religion must then conform to the stronger ideology.
Marie Rehbein
7 years 5 months ago
"...politics has become the new religion for many people and for these people their identity is very much based on this new ideological allegiance."

I totally agree.
7 years 5 months ago
I truly wish Prof. Van Ornum would have stated in his original post how he would have raised his hand at the meeting.
I think it's easy to slip into generalizations about liberal or conservative bias about hot button issues and especially in academe or the media without  coming to a more reasonable conclusion. This is especially true in blogdom (I always laugh when I see America magazine portrayed as a great liberal magazine.)
I also think that political theology often shapes our view then in so called hot button issues and I find that unfortunate: it underscores the need in society to recover a better sense of the common good, not just our idea of what's good, and better  both in terms of listening and self diclosure.
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
None of the above

Split ticket.




7 years 5 months ago
"I think it's easy to slip into generalizations about liberal or conservative bias about hot button issues and especially in academe or the media without  coming to a more reasonable conclusion."

There are reams of research documenting this bias; the most telling, of course, is to see where the money goes.  Surveys of university faculty, particularly at elite institutions, shows overwhelmingly that they contribute exclusively to Democrats, and frequently to the most liberal Democratic candidates.  But the real question to me is what effect this, again, "statistically impossible" lack of diversity is having on higher education.  I saw recently where Brown is intentionally starting a course on "Modern Conservatism" where the students will read the leading lights of conservatism.  A more interesting question is how Catholic universities fit into this.  I suspect that the results are more mixed, often with certain faculties being more liberal than the students they teach.
Vince Killoran
7 years 5 months ago
To Jeff's point about "where the money goes": at institutions of higher learning research $$ mostly goes to the sciences and engineering. The results then serve private corporations. Some corporations intervene directly with their $$ and attempt-sometimes successfully-to compromise academic freedom.


The liberal professors over in the humanities get a few thousand dollars here & there while their colleagues in the new shiny buildings are raking in millions in big grants.
Beth Cioffoletti
7 years 5 months ago
" ... we had become a lot less extreme in our views because we learned how to listen to each other ...?"

I read this comment from Alyssa yesterday and have been chewing on it all day today.

It is a simple, and profoundly wise observation.  Could it be that we are such a partisan country now because we have lost the ability to really listen?  Or to be still so that we can listen?

Anyway, thanks to Alyssa and Bill for moving me again away from my rigidly held opinions.  I'm not sure if I'm getting closer to center, but I do know that I'm more willing to be quiet and hear what someone else has to say without having to say my piece.  This is progress!
Crystal Watson
7 years 5 months ago
I agree it's important to listen to all sides of issues, and to be able to have friends that don't believe exactly what you do.  But is anyone here really saying that, for instance, they're willing to change their minds about abortion, immigration reform, women's ordination, same-sex marriage, that the reasons they so disagree with the other side on these issues is just because they haven't really considered the other side's talking points?   I agree it's nice to be nice, but I think we usually don't make serious  ethical decisions based on a lack of information from the other side, but because of our own deeply held beliefs.
Crystal Watson
7 years 5 months ago
David,  I agree with you.

Sometimes my head just hurts trying to  figure out why I believe what I do.  Facts in a way almost don't matter since you can usually find facts to back up even diametrically opposed beliefs.
7 years 5 months ago
There are so many things wrong with comment #43 that I could write a short essay refuting it.  But to get to some quick points.


Business is a cooperative enterprise.  Theoretically everyone in it is working toward a common objective.  One business competes with another but within business the primary culture is one of cooperation.  Given that, there is obviously competition for advancement of one's career or ideas just as there is within the university setting.  I have seen more cooperation within a business setting than within a university setting as one's egos are extremely important within the university.  When I first started to teach.  One professor told me to watch out for egos.  It is all they got and they will go after you if you are a threat.  So try to keep under the radar.


I once had courses with some top social psychologists in the country.  I had an MBA at the time and was taken doctoral level course for a Ph.D.  We reached a topic on the psychology of people in organizations.  The lecture presented by the world famous social psychologist ignored the largest literature in existence on the topic, namely the behavior of people in business and government organizations which had been developed by the business community.  What these top people presented was so naive that it was embarrassing for a student to inform this professor that there existed a much more extensive literature.  The reaction was not to thank me but one of condescension that it probably was not as relevant.  Hello, research from the people who make money based on how efficient their organizations are and it was not relevant.


So when someone says that liberals have an open mind, I find this a closed mind point of view.  My own personal experience is that liberals are very closed minded and even on this site they rarely admit when their knowledge and opinions are wrong.


Progressivism as a political philosophy has fostered eugenics, racism, communism, fascism, the Great Depression, our current economic crisis, 70% illegitimacy amongst African Americans, 50 million abortions in the US alone, Detroit and many other social blights in our cities.  The list of negatives that flow from progressivism is very long and devastating.  So do not tell me that progressivism is a sign of an open mind.
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
#43 is a student and I think eloquently expresses what things look like from that perspective. Again, how many readers here were putting out their thoughts at the age of 20 or 21 to be read and commented upon by those much older, who have advanced degrees and decades of life experience or thousands of blogposts?...."Correcting" and "writing short essays of refutation" are good things to do at times but true "critical thinking" involves understanding, clarifying, showing understandiong by summarizing, extending, applying, or simply reading and saying "thank you" for joining us.

Oxford English Dictionary trumps Wikpedia and #43 is using the English langauge with precision and clariity regarding what "progressive" means.

Perhaps this exchange is indicative of one reason young people are not staying in the Church? No one likes to be corrected when simply stating their point of view.

C'mon folks...maybe you will see a name here you haven't seen before. How about saying something like, "Hey, #43, gld to see you posting here."

Reminds me of a time I went to a meeting of a group I was thinking of joining and the first things someone said was, "DO YOU support the Magisterium." So I'm thinking like, "hey, don't you want to know my name, learn that I took a two hour ride to come here, and maybe even offer me coffee or something."

#44 and #45, I treaure all your good positings and readership, but please, a little more kindness toward my students who are being invited to participate. And #45, I like the idea of an AMERICA get-together sometimes. One of the other mags has these occasionally.

Yours,

#29

p.s. I am on other bulletin boards and often when responders see a new name they will welcome that person, say something about themselves, look for a common experience, and encourage futute comments, or even offer their own email for a pm (private message). Perhaps this could occur here sometimes?
Michelle Russell
7 years 5 months ago
I sometimes feel I am stepping into a hornet's nest when I respond to certain posts, hence my oft silent participation.  I think sometimes we may not realize how our words may affect someone else and may not understand how our response may seem like an attack on someone else when all we are trying to do is clarify our own position. 

So, "Hello" #43, Kayna, and welcome to the hornet's nest.  Thanks for taking that first brave step!

I think it was Winston Churchill who said: "If you aren't a liberal at 20, you don't have a heart.  If you aren't a conservative at 40 you don't have a brain."  I personally smiled while reading Kayna's response, reminiscing about days when life was much simpler and I didn't realize how much I didn't know.  Weren't we all there once?  Let's not forget our hearts, for they are just as important as our brains:  you need both to live. 

And more to the point of this post, it does seem that the culture of many universities (and perhaps psychological groups as well- I don't know) leans decidedly left.  And this left lean is further enhanced because the professors are surrounded by those of like mind, constantly re-inforcing the validity of an already formed political ideology.  It would be good, and quite mature, of everyone (left or right) to take the time to stop and really listen - just like Alyssa way back at comment #22 stated so well.  We don't always have to be "right" (meaning correct), and stepping outsidde of our comfort zone to listen and hear points of view opposed to our own might well allow us to grow and learn and perhaps find some of that "heart" we possessed when we were younger than we are now. 

7 years 5 months ago
Ms. Pfeiffer,


I apologize for the directness of my comments.  As a conservative on a generally liberal site, I sometimes lose some cordiality in my responses.  I hope you and more of your classmates will come here and comment.  That way we all can learn.


Good luck in your studies. 
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
Thanks to all for their good thoughts. I enjoy each blog and even more I enjoy the good discussions that follow. I hope everyone is having a good weekend. peace, bill
we vnornm
7 years 5 months ago
David and Mr. JRC:

Do you keep up with "Phi Beta Cons"? It certainly does present an interesting view of college life in the USA.

There is an intriguing posting on 2-10-11 on CS LEWIS:

http://www.nationalreview.com/phi-beta-cons



bill
Kayna Pfeiffer
7 years 5 months ago
Hello,

I'd just like to take the proper time to introduce myself. I am a 21 year old senior psychology and criminal justice major, and a student of Dr. Van Ornum's. I apologize if my blog response offended anyone. I appreciate everyone's responses and opening up my eyes to different view points. I respect academia greatly and all of the hard work that professors do to prepare students for the real world. I have had many brilliant professors over the years and I only hope that someday I can obtain half the knowledge they have. I have the utmost respect for teachers because they do so much work and should be rewarded so much more than they are for their hard work.

The response to my blog has become a great learning experience for me and I appreciate everyone's feedback. I know that I have a lot to learn and I look forward to the challenges that lie ahead. I never meant for my blog to make a political statement instead I was only looking to make a connection between the field of psychology and as to why so many in this field happen to be liberals. I look forward to reading more of your blog responses and the view points different from my own. Thanks!

-Kayna 
7 years 5 months ago
Dr. van Ornum,

I wasn't aware of this NR blog.  I will have to add it to my list to consult which already takes too much time.


As for the Lewis excerpt.  If I had my way, I would do away with public education and issue vouchers to the parents.  I know the potential problems with this approach but too many kids are getting a bad deal by the system. You should watch the documentary, ''Waiting for Superman.''  The end was gut wrenching as kids' futures were based on the physics of ping pong balls.  There is a psychological lesson in there somewhere for your students.


One of the potential Republican presidential nominees is Mitch Daniels who is the governor of Indiana.  He has a major voucher program before the state legislature at the moment.  Also I brought this up before but there is a study on the economic effect of a good teacher.  Here is a podcast I heard today which talks about this.


http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/01/25/133215055/the-tuesday-podcast-how-much-is-a-good-teacher-worth 


The link to the podcast is at the top 
Vince Killoran
7 years 5 months ago
Some of these posts have become a dumping ground for aimless political observations.


It doesn't really matter to me whether Cosgrove has listened or watched Beck. My point was about his seriously incorrect take on the Progressive Movement. I hate it when Beck churns out bad history and I didn't want to let it pass on this blog either. 


Ditto for the smear job on public education but I'm going to ignore the partisan noise and stick to the good parts of the discussion.
7 years 5 months ago
''But although it's natural, I think that we do well never to lose sight of the inclusion and exclusion that occur when we indulge our desire to join a group, because it tends to involve a suspension of one's critical faculties in areas that touch on what's central to the identity of the group.''
 
A couple of lessons from the psychology of groups I learned in business school.  There was an experiment where a researcher took two groups chosen at random and separated them but kept them physically visible to each other over a period of time but let no interaction between them.  After a short time each group started to form opinions of the other group most of which were negative and based on false perceptions of just what they thought the other group was doing.  I believe academics have created their own little groups with little interaction with others that are not like themselves.  It is not just psychologists that would raise their hands in the same way as the group did in San Antonio but most academic disciplines.  So the self selection by much of academia leads to closed minds.  It would be similar if conservatives self selected the same way.
 
Second, there was another study that I read about several years ago that showed one learned more from weak ties than strong ties.  What I mean by this is that strong ties are those with whom one associates with frequently due to culture, social, political or occupational reasons.  People tend to interact mostly with others of similar background.  But less learning takes place when such a situation takes place.  More learning takes place when you start to interact with those you have weak ties with.  So a lesson for students and academics is that they should actively seek out those who are not like themselves especially politically these days.
 
So be careful of any group to which you belong that thinks alike.  It may turn out that there is a lot of the world that you are missing like my renowned professor who had no awareness of the far bigger field of study that was in the business literature than in her own social psychology literature. 

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