Earlier this week I posted on Psy Today’s Ideological Animal from the point of view of whether the article addresses if there is a real threat (which it doesn’t) and how fear, in my experience, didn’t provoke my change.
Neo-neocon, one of the people who were interviewed for the article, posted about it yesterday.
I’ll start by disclosing my personal association with the article. Back in July, I got an email from an intern at the magazine, inviting me to be interviewed for a piece on political conversions. According to the email, the article was be entirely even-handed and nonpartisan, and would incorporate stories from both sides of the political spectrum about people whose viewpoints had changed. It sounded like fun, and definitely right up my alley.
But if you read the finished product, it turns out that the “change” stories have boiled down to just one, that of journalist and blogger Cinnamon Stillwell, plus four short and superficial blurbs containing a couple of sentences apiece about four famous “changers” (yes, this part was an attempt at even-handedness, at least by the numbers: there were two righty-to-lefties and two lefty-to-righties: Brock, Huffington, Reagan, and Hitchens).
During my rather lengthy telephone interview with author Jay Dixit, he asked me many times whether my post-9/11 political change had been motivated by fear. I repeatedly explained that it had not, referring to my blog articles on change, and describing the process involved in some detail.
As I mentioned to Neo-neocon, to have this article try to pass itself off as related/pertaining to a “scientific” study of any sort is absurd. Back in the year dot when I was in college (double major: economics and marketing) I had to collect, quantify, and explain in mathematical terms how I analyzed my data – and economics is a social science. Incidentally, a commenter at Neo’s managed to squeeze in a taunt at me for making that remark; when a person who disagrees with a “conservative” has no substantial argument, the personal attack serves as a release, I guess. For some, it’s all about feelings, and how valid it is to express them, but I digress.
The “study” is a series of observations custom-cut to fit a preordained outcome. To even talk about that study in scientific terms is like referring to the Grimm brothers tales as history.
However, this “study” is only one instance where “science” isn’t science. Read Neo-neocon’s commenter Sergei’s post, Mathematics as a tool of deception and self-deception. As Sergei commented at Neo’s post,
Psychology is not the only domain where junk science thrives; any other field where exact knowlege is still impossible or never will be possible, became a playground of pseudo-scientific speculations. But there is one all-important factor, beside immaturity of field, which foster pseudo-science: this is politization. After some problem became a hot potato in political or ideological clashes, any chance of objective, impartial study is irrevocably lost. In my memory this calamity has spoiled racial anthropology, eugenics, climatology, gender studies, many fields in history and brain research.
Last night I watched Smoke Screen: Hezbollah Inside America. I’ll try to find out when it’s going to air again – this is a must-see.
Dan Riehl‘s going to appear today at 10AM in CNN’s Reliable Sources
This week’s Carnival of the Insanities is ready and waiting for you,