In support of free speech

Creating an APA Facebook page was a good idea. APA staff deserves credit for this. I have been blogging my comments on facebook/apa.

However, the Facebook community is not the entire APA membership community. What the APA needs is a free-speech, free-press column. To complete its democracy, a small space is needed in which APA members could communicate to each other free from any editorial intervention. Communications would be published in
the order received.

Sheldon M. Cohen, PhD
Phoenix, Ariz.

Political bias

Over my 20 years as a psychologist, I have been continually appalled at APA’s abandonment of empiricism and scientific integrity for their devotion to, and championing of, the far left agenda. This political bias is on full display in an article entitled “Psychology’s take on the Arizona law” in the September issue. It is an opinion piece posed as a scientific examination. It is sadly ironic that an organization whose very ethical guidelines, and in fact its fundamental nature, require their practitioners to approach our clinical and research work with objectivity and openness, not a priori conclusions to echo one’s personal political agenda.

Alan Zimmerman, PhD
Centennial, Colo.

Unfortunately, the Monitor’s treatment of psychology’s take on Arizona’s immigration law, an attempt to deal with the serious social problem of illegal immigration, does little to buttress respect for psychology as a discipline devoted to the science of human behavior. The article seems to be entirely based upon predisposed prejudices.

Here are the issues the article neglected to address:

  • Are the selective findings of a few social scientists a reliable foundation for making judgments about social policy? As Jim Manzi has recently written, “At the moment, it is certain that we do not have anything remotely approaching a scientific understanding of human society. And the methods of experimental social science are not close to providing one within the foreseeable future. Science may someday allow us to predict human behavior comprehensively and reliably. Until then, we need to keep stumbling forward with trial-and-error learning as best we can.” 1 There wasn’t anything one might call tentative in the Monitor’s discussion.

  • Are the majority of American citizens and the growing number of state legislatures now in favor of laws like the one passed in Arizona simply seeking empowerment “to use their stereotypes and prejudices to characterize someone as undocumented, and feel justified in performing acts of discrimination by calling the police”? If so, what has occasioned the alarming wave of American bigotry?

While the foundation for any scientifically warranted claim that the Arizona law would give rise to the unintended consequence of indiscriminate racial profiling undermining our cherished tenet of equal justice for all seems especially suspect, where is there any consideration given to the unintended consequences of existing social policies and enforcement procedures which, having been so grossly exploited by those entering this nation illegally, arguably undermine the fabric and economic well being of our society?

Paul I. Munves, PhD
Dallas, Texas

1 What Social Science Does — and Doesn’t — Know Our scientific ignorance of the human condition remains profound. Jim Manzi. City Journal, Summer 2010, Vol. 20, No. 3, The Manhattan Institute.

Please send letters to Sara Martin, Monitor editor. Letters should be no more than 250 words and may be edited.