December 28, 2010
Political PsychologyBy Deborah C. Tyler
To understand why liberals have lost the presumption of decency in Americans -- after all, they're constantly calling us racists, bigots, homophobes, xenophobes, religious clingers, and stupid -- you need look no farther than the American Psychological Association (APA). For the last sixty years, the APA has been cooking up an atheist/humanist vision that contradicts traditional American faith and values -- and using the banner of science to do it.
An earlier article for American Thinker, "Profiling the Psyclops," looked at the philosophy underlying the APA's mission to "re-norm" America to atheistic/humanistic values. This article looks at one way in which the APA is trying to implement that mission.
Beginning in 1950, the APA began issuing public policy statements and resolutions. Although presumably a scientific organization, the list of those proclamations reads like a libretto of politically correct shibboleths: the benefits of abortion, the need for sex education in public schools, the need for affirmative action, the evils of cultural insensitivity, the virtues of everything LGBT, the blessings of needle exchange programs for mainlining addicts, the psychological nourishment of diversity, the insensitivity of English-only initiatives, the repressiveness of white majorities -- and on and on and on and on.
Two trends can be seen in APA public positions: 1) the misuse of science, and 2) the devaluation of people who hold different moral and spiritual views -- in effect, making infidels of those who disagree. The APA's resolutions are scattered throughout its vast website, but partial lists can be found here and here.
Misuse of Science
As a specialist in forensic psychological evaluations, I am acutely aware of confirmatory bias. In this phenomenon, investigators or researchers find data that conform to their own beliefs and values while ignoring contradictory evidence. The misuse of science in this way is endemic to APA resolutions, policy statements, and amicus briefs. A quick look at three topics gives a flavor of APA resolutions.
LGBT Over the last forty years, the APA has devoted more words, bureaucratic structures, legal attention, intellectual energy, and manpower (sorry, personpower) to LGBT issues than to any other. The term "LGBT" and its constituents -- lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered -- have made their way into numberless APA documents: amicus briefs, articles, advocacy letters, brochures, pamphlets, guidelines, newsletters, blogs, editorials, reports, briefings, research papers, ad infinitum. LGBT concerns are addressed in nineteen official resolutions (in second place is HIV/AIDS, with nine resolutions), which include some 240 references.
Is it possible that all research worthy of citation in APA resolutions, and literature in general, on individual and societal aspects of homosexuality over the last four decades supports the normalization of homosexuality? From the benefits of teaching first-graders about "my two daddies" to the evils of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in the military, APA-cited research uniformly finds a prejudicial society and discriminatory heterosexuals to be the source of psychological problems for LGBT people.
Abortion APA support for abortion has been aggressive and tenacious, beginning with their first pro-abortion resolution in 1969. The ghoulish justification -- that abortion is "clearly a mental health and child welfare issue" -- appeared in the first resolution and is often quoted in APA documents as a kind of precedent. Recall (from the Vietnam War) "we had to destroy the village in order to save it"?
Intelligent Design In a 2007 resolution, the APA asserted that "Intelligent Design Theory poses a threat to the quality of science education in the United States." This resolution is notable for its dull-witted conflation of intelligent design with creationism, a religious view that is antithetical to much current scientific knowledge. Intelligent design, on the other hand, is a frame of reference that acknowledges the possibility of purposiveness, rather than pure randomness, to evolutionary events. Intelligent design encompasses rigorous scientific inquiry by researchers (they even have Ph.D.s!) in numerous fields. Intelligent design research and perspectives no more threaten the quality of science education or the theory of evolution than Newtonian equations threaten the statistical nature of quantum theories in physics.
A fertile area of intelligent design research is the mystifying relationship between the information-carrying capabilities and protein structures of DNA molecules. Another branch of intelligent design inquiry is concerned with gaps in the fossil record that, if augmented, could help explain inter-species evolutionary leaps.
The most troubling aspect of the APA's 2007 resolution against intelligent design is not that it misleadingly asserts that "[w]hereas: intelligent design proponents dismiss contemporary evolutionary theory as scientifically invalid," but that it seeks to suppress teaching intelligent design in science classrooms. This is at odds with the APA's calls for the free exchange of scientific information. Are science teachers who dare to mention intelligent design to be prosecuted like John Scopes in 1925? After all, the APA, with a robust history of legal activism, declares intelligent design "unscientific" and advocates that it be banned from classrooms.
The words "condemn," "deplore," and "decry" are used repeatedly in APA resolutions. I have counted thirty instances thus far. These denunciations are targeted at people and policies that disagree with the APA's positions. They diminish people who hold divergent religious and spiritual views, particularly on homosexuality and abortion. Should a person be condemned for believing that the Boy Scouts have a moral and/or legal right to want troop leaders to be heterosexual? Is it deplorable to oppose needle exchange programs or sex ed in public schools? Should those who oppose abortion on religious grounds be decried?
Shrill language undermines the APA's claim to be an unbiased broker of science operating purely in the public interest. Scientists have always disagreed on just about everything. Ultimately, science moves forward and helps humanity through the accumulation of knowledge based on replicated proofs of plausible theories...not by name-calling.
Many of the APA's atheist/humanist positions are not just scientifically suspect, but they also presuppose that Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, Muslims, and Orthodox Jews -- in short, billions of people on the planet -- hold beliefs that have no scientific, psychological relevance, and that the teachings of theistic religions have been scientifically proven false.
To correct these mistakes, the APA can do several things. It can acknowledge that many of its resolutions and policies ignore the convictions of billions of people regarding the best ways to please God in this life and to triumph with respect to experiencing afterlife. It can acknowledge when its conclusions may be valid only in populations of people who have the same spiritual beliefs. And it can stop pretending that fundamentally spiritual questions about the significance of life are scientifically reducible through cherry-picked data.