Thursday, July 31, 2003

Academia Nuts, cont'd

You may have noticed that I have been missing in action for a couple of weeks now. The simple truth is I didn’t think I had much to say. I was also thought that, while people often need to be reminded of the truth, they don't necessarily need to be reminded by me. I was struggling with the fact that posting sometimes not really well thought out ideas on the world wide web for all, or at least a few, to read, smacks of a certain self-confidence, if not arrogance. Steven's post of yesterday was a great help in that regard.

And there is something to say, at last.

As you have probably have heard, the American Psychological Association has studied those of us who hold to conservative principles and determined that we are, in a word, nuts. My first reaction was, "Well, it takes one to know one." I soon realized, however, that this reaction might need to be fleshed out a bit, that you, my reader, might wish for some further elaboration.

This study comes out of Berkeley, you know, the place of which Dorothy Parker once said, "There is no 'there' there." There still isn't.

This Berkeley study is the product of so-called "scholarly" psychological research; I place it at the scholarly level of a fourth grader who is barely squeaking by. These scholars don't know that there is a difference between, on the one hand Hitler and Mussolini, and on the other Ronald Reagan. They seem not to realize that Hitler and Mussolini were not only not conservatives, they were leftists, National Socialists to be exact. It seems to me this error displays a rather abysmal knowledge of history, if not psychology. To put the difference in practical terms, Reagan would have laughed at these "scholars", Hitler would have shot them.

The study does conclude with the point that although conservatives are less "integratively complex" than liberals "it doesn't mean they are simple-minded." No, but these scholars are.

Yet, there is a caution that the appearance of this study raises in my mind -- for the word "conservative" substitute "Christian" and think of the gulags. For the first time, there is an attempt, a laughable attempt, but an attempt nevertheless, to classify a set of political and social beliefs as a mental illness. I have a feeling there will be more such attempts, and once society has acquiesced to the idea that conservatism is a mental illness, the next set of beliefs to be attacked will be religious. Who, ten years ago, would think that anyone would consider a political viewpoint to be subject to the study of psychologists? Who, today, is willing to take seriously the idea that ten years from now, Christian faith will be the subject of study of a bunch of Berkeley psychologists?

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