Posts Tagged ‘Psychology’

Two of our favorite people, Dr. Helen and Barbara Oakley (of Evil Genes fame) discuss the politicization of the American Psychological Association in this video Diagnosis Liberal: Most Psychologists Suffer From Acute Liberal Derangement Syndrome from PJTV.

Many people do not trust psychologists and with good reason. They exclude half of the population or more due to their leftist politics.

Barbara Oakley, Ph.D., P.E.,  was previously featured in an earlier post, Kiss My APA!

Is the APA a non-partisan 501(c)(3) or an organization of partisan hacks? Listen to the show and decide for yourself.

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Kiss My APA!

Barbara Oakley has an article at Psychology Today about smart people who are so smart they are incapable of realizing when they are being stupid. As loyal readers, you may have detected a slight hint of snark about APA lecturer Steven Blair’s statements which surfaced in an earlier post.

The rot at the American Psychological Association runs deeper than we thought. Professor Drew Westen, from Emory University, spoke at the same APA conference in Toronto as Steven Blair.

The introduction to Westen’s session was a real eye-opener.  The moderator was so confident everyone in the room was a staunch Democrat that he jokingly interrupted his disclaimer that the APA couldn’t be seen as endorsing any particular political party with repeated exhortations of “Barack!”  (You might think I’m kidding, but I’m not.)  Party unity thus assured, the session began.

Alright, the moderator may have been acting out of line and should have been corrected. However, it should not reflect poorly on Professor Westin… right?

The heart of Westen’s presentation consisted of an uncritical compendium of Democratic talking points—he might as well have been speaking at party headquarters.

Smart people can be easily blinded because of an inability to accept criticism (which we will now refer to as the “Oakley effect”). It is especially problematic when trying to find solutions for large scale, complex societal issues.

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.

The real crime in this particular case is the fact that the APA is supposed to be a non-profit organization, and blatant politicking at a conference makes a mockery of its status. Why should any clear thinking psychologist or mental health facility associate with an organization so ethically challenged?

…it’s a sad commentary on the lack of critical skills, blind inability to apply their own theories, and utter uniformity of thinking among today’s psychologists that not a single person in that room took issue with the extraordinary bias in Westen’s presentation, which literally made a joke out of profound violation of the APA’s not-for-profit status.

Barbara Oakley, Ph.D., P.E., is a Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineers and an engineering professor at Oakland University. She is also the author of Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother’s Boyfriend.

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Speaking at APA’s 117th Annual Convention, Steven Blair, PED, called Americans’ physical inactivity “the biggest public health problem of the 21st century.”

Quick, raise your hand if you snickered when you read the word biggest because you were picturing just how big and fat Americans are. Now take your raised hand and slap yourself across the face for being so insensitive.

We kid.

Really though, there are surely much bigger global problems relating to health, especially in regards to disease control, access to clean water, nutritional deficiencies, etc.

Research has shown approximately 25 percent to 35 percent of American adults are inactive, Blair said, meaning that they have sedentary jobs, no regular physical activity program and are generally inactive around the house or yard. “This amounts to 40 million to 50 million people exposed to the hazard of inactivity,” Blair said in an interview.

Putting the hyperbole aside, it is an often accepted and mistaken bit of common knowledge that weight can determine a person’s health. Many young men and women diet and exercise with the goal of changing their weight to a particular amount, and are occasionally briefly successful. Others do not exercise, or do so rarely, but are not considered overweight so it is assumed that they are healthy.

One follow-up study of 40,842 longitudinal study participants showed poor fitness level accounted for about 16 percent of all deaths in both men and women. The percentage was calculated by estimating the number of deaths that would have been avoided if people had spent 30 minutes a day walking.

The reality is that everyone should make it a goal to be physically active to at least a moderate level. Cardiovascular exercises in particular seem to be strongly correlated with longevity and better health, physical and mental,  well into old age. Most people should stay away from exercise extremes such as marathon running because the damage incurred (to the joints, for example) and risk of injury are not worth the health benefits.

Blair also highlighted the benefits of exercise on the mind, referring to recent emerging evidence that activity delays the mind’s decline and is good for brain health overall.

Diet alone cannot make a person healthy. Appetite control is regulated in a complex way by the body, and is very difficult to fight against for any reasonable period of time. Should you be one of those people with a slow metabolism and a hearty appetite, make sure you put extra time and effort into exercising.

Obviously, since this was presented at an APA function there was a role in all this for psychologists.

“I believe psychologists can help develop better lifestyle change interventions to help people be more active via the Internet and other technological methods.”

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