Monday, August 31, 2009
Amazing! "Psychology Today" has printed a condemnation of the lockstep Leftism among academic psychologists
I know it well from personal experience. An excerpt below reflecting on a one-eyed talk given at a psychology conference:
How can Drew Westen, a remarkably intelligent man, make the kinds of one-sided statements he made, and why did no one in the room question the sheer inanity of what was being presented?
My theory—call it the “Oakley effect”—is that really smart people often don’t know how to accept and react constructively to criticism. (A neuroscientist might say they “have underdeveloped neurocircuitry for integrating negatively valenced stimuli.”) This is because smart people are whizzes at problems that only need one person to figure out. Indeed, people are evaluated from kindergarten through college prep SATs on the basis of such “single solver” problems. If you are often or nearly always right with these kinds of problems, your increased confidence in your own abilities would be accompanied by an inadvertent decrease in your capacity to deal with criticism. After all, your experience would have shown that your critics were usually wrong.
But most large-scale societal issues are not single solver problems. They are so richly complex that no single person can faultlessly teach him or herself all the key concepts, which are often both contradictory and important. Yes, smart people have an advantage in dealing with such problems, because they’ve got natural brain-power that allows them to hold many factors in mind at once, bringing formidable problem-solving skills to bear. But smart people have a natural disadvantage, too: they’re not used to changing their thinking in response to criticism when they get things wrong.
In fact, natural smarties—the intellectual elite—often don’t seem to learn the art of soliciting the criticism necessary to grasp the core issues of a complex problem, and then making vital adaptations as a result. Instead, they fall in naturally with people who admire, rather than are critical, of their thinking. This further strengthens their conviction they are right even as it distances them from people of very different backgrounds who grasp very different, but no less crucial aspects of complex problems. That’s why the intellectual elite is often branded by those from other groups as out of touch.
Obama's Summer of Discontent
The politics of charisma is so Third World. Americans were never going to buy into it for long
By FOUAD AJAMI
So we are to have a French health-care system without a French tradition of political protest. It is odd that American liberalism, in a veritable state of insurrection during the Bush presidency, now seeks political quiescence. These "townhallers" who have come forth to challenge ObamaCare have been labeled "evil-mongers" (Harry Reid), "un-American" (Nancy Pelosi), agitators and rowdies and worse.
A political class, and a media elite, that glamorized the protest against the Iraq war, that branded the Bush presidency as a reign of usurpation, now wishes to be done with the tumult of political debate. President Barack Obama himself, the community organizer par excellence, is full of lament that the "loudest voices" are running away with the national debate. Liberalism in righteous opposition, liberalism in power: The rules have changed.
It was true to script, and to necessity, that Mr. Obama would try to push through his sweeping program—the change in the health-care system, a huge budget deficit, the stimulus package, the takeover of the automotive industry—in record time. He and his handlers must have feared that the spell would soon be broken, that the coalition that carried Mr. Obama to power was destined to come apart, that a country anxious and frightened in the fall of 2008 could recover its poise and self-confidence. Historically, this republic, unlike the Old World and the command economies of the Third World, had trusted the society rather than the state. In a perilous moment, that balance had shifted, and Mr. Obama was the beneficiary of that shift.
So our new president wanted a fundamental overhaul of the health-care system—17% of our GDP—without a serious debate, and without "loud voices." It is akin to government by emergency decrees. How dare those townhallers (the voters) heckle Arlen Specter! Americans eager to rein in this runaway populism were now guilty of lèse-majesté by talking back to the political class.
We were led to this summer of discontent by the very nature of the coalition that brought Mr. Obama, and the political class around him, to power, and by the circumstances of his victory. The man was elected amid economic distress. Faith in the country's institutions, perhaps in the free-enterprise system itself, had given way. Mr. Obama had ridden that distress. His politics of charisma was reminiscent of the Third World. A leader steps forth, better yet someone with no discernible trail, someone hard to pin down to a specific political program, and the crowd could read into him what it wished, what it needed.
The leader would be different things to different people. The Obama coalition was the coming together of disparate groups: the white professional liberals seeking absolution for the country in the election of an African-American man, the opponents of the Iraq war who grew more strident as the project in Iraq was taking root, the African-American community that had been invested in the Clintons and then came around out of an understandable pride in one of its own.
The last segment of the electorate to flock to the Obama banners were the blue-collar workers who delivered him Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana. He was not their man. They fully knew that he didn't share their culture. They were, by his portrait, clinging to their guns and religion, but the promise of economic help, and of protectionism, carried the day with them.
The Obama devotees were the victims of their own belief in political magic. The devotees could not make up their minds. In a newly minted U.S. senator from Illinois, they saw the embodiment of Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. Like Lincoln, Mr. Obama was tall and thin and from Illinois, and the historic campaign was launched out of Springfield. The oath of office was taken on the Lincoln Bible. Like FDR, he had a huge economic challenge, and he better get it done, repair and streamline the economy in his "first hundred days." Like JFK, he was young and stylish, with a young family.
All this hero-worship before Mr. Obama met his first test of leadership. In reality, he was who he was, a Chicago politician who had done well by his opposition to the Iraq war. He had run a skillful campaign, and had met a Clinton machine that had run out of tricks and a McCain campaign that never understood the nature of the contest of 2008....
Now that realism about Mr. Obama has begun to sink in, these iconic figures of history had best be left alone. They can't rescue the Obama presidency. Their magic can't be his. Mr. Obama isn't Lincoln with a BlackBerry. Those great personages are made by history, in the course of history, and not by the spinners or the smitten talking heads.
In one of the revealing moments of the presidential campaign, Mr. Obama rightly observed that the Reagan presidency was a transformational presidency in a way Clinton's wasn't. And by that Reagan precedent, that Reagan standard, the faults of the Obama presidency are laid bare. Ronald Reagan, it should be recalled, had been swept into office by a wave of dissatisfaction with Jimmy Carter and his failures. At the core of the Reagan mission was the recovery of the nation's esteem and self-regard. Reagan was an optimist. He was Hollywood glamour to be sure, but he was also Peoria, Ill. His faith in the country was boundless, and when he said it was "morning in America" he meant it; he believed in America's miracle and had seen it in his own life, in his rise from a child of the Depression to the summit of political power...
In contrast, there is joylessness in Mr. Obama. He is a scold, the "Yes we can!" mantra is shallow, and at any rate, it is about the coming to power of a man, and a political class, invested in its own sense of smarts and wisdom, and its right to alter the social contract of the land. In this view, the country had lost its way and the new leader and the political class arrayed around him will bring it back to the right path...
Those protesters in those town-hall meetings have served notice that Mr. Obama's charismatic moment has passed. Once again, the belief in that American exception that set this nation apart from other lands is re-emerging. Health care is the tip of the iceberg. Beneath it is an unease with the way the verdict of the 2008 election was read by those who prevailed. It shall be seen whether the man swept into office in the moment of national panic will adjust to the nation's recovery of its self-confidence.
Speaker Of Lies
Public Trust: What did the speaker know, and when did she know it? With CIA documents contradicting Nancy Pelosi's claims on classified briefings, will a death watch begin on her leadership?
The newly declassified CIA report on the interrogation of Islamist terrorists notes "in the fall of 2002, the agency briefed the leadership of the Congressional Intelligence Oversight Committees on the use of both standard techniques and EITs (enhanced interrogation techniques)." The CIA, according to the report, "continued to brief the leadership of the Intelligence Oversight Committees on the use of EITs and detentions in February and March 2003."
And here's the zinger: "The general counsel says that none of the participants expressed any concern about the techniques or the program . . . ." For months, Speaker Pelosi has claimed she and other high-ranking Democrats in Congress who were briefed by the CIA during President Bush's first term "were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation techniques were used."
Others present with her at CIA intelligence briefings, like former House Intelligence Committee Chairman and CIA director Porter Goss, say otherwise. Her credibility was also rattled by the revelation that Rep. Jane Harman, the California Democrat who succeeded Pelosi as ranking Democrat on the House intelligence panel, sent a classified letter to the CIA in February 2003 objecting to EITs.
Speaker Pelosi's behavior reeks of the kind of cynicism and hypocrisy Americans have become used to seeing in Washington. Her liberal instincts were to object to the CIA's tough interrogation of terrorists. But those briefings took place not long after the 9/11 attacks; the war in Afghanistan, home to al-Qaida and shelter for Osama bin Laden, was going well; and the Iraq War had not yet begun. So there was no way for an ambitious politician like Pelosi to know which way the political winds would end up blowing.
At the time, President Bush was basking in popularity, and the nation was in lockstep behind his aggressive approach to waging the global war on terror — including in Iraq. For all Pelosi knew, it might stay that way for many years to come. So she stayed quiet, keeping her options open. Now, with Democrats running the whole show in Washington and a Justice Department poised to criminalize CIA interrogators in a politicized national security witch hunt, she has chosen to revert to those liberal instincts.
That means condemning a successful strategy of harsh interrogation that gleaned valuable information from high-ranking al-Qaida detainees and foiled numerous terrorist attacks. It also means turning hero interrogators, and the architects of the interrogation strategy, into scapegoats. We have long warned that the revelations of this deceit, now fully confirmed by CIA documentation, mean there's a cancer growing on the speakership. The question now is how long it will take other Democratic leaders to get out of denial and do something about it.
A hypocrite writes to the Pope: "The contents of the letter from Senator Ted Kennedy delivered to Pope Benedict XVI by President Barack Obama in July were made public at Kennedy's burial today. Former Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick read excerpts from the letter and a response from the Vatican during the burial service. Despite his advocacy for abortion and homosexual 'marriage', Kennedy told the Pope: ""I have always tried to be a faithful Catholic, Your Holiness, and though I have fallen short through human failings, I have never failed to believe and respect the fundamental teachings." Kennedy also wrote that he opposed the death penalty and also that he supported conscience rights in the healthcare bill which would permit Catholic doctors to refuse to participate in abortion without sanction. "I believe in a conscience protection for Catholics in the health care field and will continue to advocate for it as my colleagues in the Senate and I work to develop an overall national health policy that guarantees health care for everyone," he wrote."
Obama admin kills investigation into corrupt NM Democrat: "Gov. Bill Richardson and “former high-ranking members of his administration” won’t be charged following the federal investigation into allegations of pay-to-play in his administration, the Associated Press is reporting today. “It’s over. There’s nothing. It was killed in Washington,” the AP quoted “a person familiar with the investigation, who asked not to be identified because federal officials had not disclosed results of the probe. The decision to kill the case was made by “top Justice Department officials,” that person told the news service. Richardson’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the AP report. The governor, who is in Cuba on a trade mission, has said all along that he and his administration did nothing improper"
Israel surging ahead: "Almost every day during the six weeks that I spent in the country this summer, I experienced the vibrancy of an amazingly successful society that, in Gilder’s estimation, not only towers over all of its neighbors but invites a more ambitious comparison: “Dwarfing Israel’s own wealth is Israel’s contribution to the world economy, stemming from Israeli creativity and entrepreneurial innovation. Israel’s technical and scientific gifts to global progress loom with similar majesty over all contributions outside the United States.” Gilder makes a convincing case that American political and military support for Israel should not be seen merely as a generous gift bestowed on a deserving country that shares our democratic values. Rather, Israel is now one of America’s most indispensable allies, contributing to our own economic growth and providing critical technology breakthroughs for the U.S. military." [See also here]
Why rich kids get higher SAT scores: "The NY Times Economix blog offers us the above graph, showing that kids from higher income families get higher average SAT scores. Of course! But so what? This fact tells us nothing about the causal impact of income on test scores. (Economix does not advance a causal interpretation, but nor does it warn readers against it.) This graph is a good example of omitted variable bias, a statistical issue discussed in Chapter 2 of my favorite textbook. The key omitted variable here is parents' IQ. Smart parents make more money and pass those good genes on to their offspring. Suppose we were to graph average SAT scores by the number of bathrooms a student has in his or her family home. That curve would also likely slope upward. (After all, people with more money buy larger homes with more bathrooms.) But it would be a mistake to conclude that installing an extra toilet raises yours kids' SAT scores."
Bush Volunteered for Vietnam, CBS's Mapes Knowingly Omitted from Story: "On Tuesday, FNC's The O'Reilly Factor hosted FNC analyst Bernard Goldberg as the former CBS News correspondent highlighted a story recently posted on his Web site, BernardGoldberg.com, in which he complains of how little mainstream media attention was given to the fact that former President George W. Bush had volunteered to go to Vietnam as part of his service in the Texas Air National Guard, but that he was turned down because other pilots were more experienced, and that CBS News producer Mary Mapes, even though she knew this part of the story before the report aired, did not include this important angle in the infamous piece by Dan Rather that used forged documents to paint Bush as trying to avoid Vietnam War service."
My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena
List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here
The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
Posted by JR at 12:04 AM