Screen design

I much enjoyed reading the Monitor article on typography and reading on screen (Monitor, Vol. 41, No. 10, p. 28). It demonstrated clearly the need for typographers, psychologists, reading experts and readers to work together. Unfortunately it also demonstrated that psychologists are mainly concerned with issues concerning type-faces and type-sizes. Agreed, these are important, but they are not the only variables that matter. The most important variables, I submit, are those that determine how the on-screen text is going to be read/scanned/searched. Variables such as these determine how the text is to be displayed on the screen, using spacing (and color) to show the text’s underlying structure. Decisions about these major issues must come first, before those concerning tiny details of type-sizes and type-faces.1

1Hartley, J. (2004). Applying psychology to text design: A personal view. Information Design Journal, 12(2), 91–100.

James Hartley, PhD
Keele University, Staffordshire, England

Another historical nugget

Though I thoroughly enjoyed the November Monitor article, "The veterans who transformed psychology," I think it is worth noting an additional contribution to the field of psychology from the military. The late psychologist Robert Yerkes, founding father of military psychology, served as a U.S. military officer for over five years. Though his contributions to psychology are bountiful, he is perhaps best known for his work in intelligence testing. As APA’s 1917 president, Yerkes began several programs devoted to the war effort in World War I, including the development of the Army’s Alpha and Beta Intelligence Tests, the latter of which were the first nonverbal group tests to measure intelligence in a group format. The tests were adopted for use with all new military recruits and were ultimately given to nearly 2 million soldiers during the war.

Interestingly, data analyses revealed that the average recruit had a mental age of around 13 — a mild level of retardation — likely due to a low level of education rather than low intelligence. However, Yerkes concluded incorrectly that the intelligence deficit was real. He might have been surprised to learn that decades later, approximately one-third of military veterans used GI Bill funding to obtain higher education. A man who spent years working his way out of debt incurred from graduate studies, Yerkes certainly would appreciate the academic successes of soldiers afforded by the GI Bill decades after his military work.

Niall Kavanagh
Pacific Graduate School of Psychology at Palo Alto University

Restrictions on CE

In response to your November article, "More CE for you," I would love to take advantage of the additional CE opportunities offered through APA, but my state severely restricts CE credit for any type of learning other than in-person. Since I need to fulfill those requirements first, I find myself primarily relegated to the same old courses, rather than the more exciting ones offered through APA. Still, I supplement where I can and look forward to at least a small sampling.

Beth Cullen Dzaman, PhD

Blaming the victim?

In response to the article "Uneasy in America" (October Monitor), the explanatory hypothesis offered for the findings of Anisah Bagasra’s findings is, in the words of the opening sentence, "The post-9/11 backlash against Islam may be leading Muslim Americans to identify more strongly with their religious values and less with the culture of their adopted home." As usual, it appears that academics are blaming the victim — as if it is the fault of non-Muslims for the inner struggle Muslims are reporting between "conforming to American social norms and maintaining a strong Islamic identity."

Where is the pre-9/11 study indicating that Muslims in America did not have this inner struggle?

Marsha J. Lomis, PhD
Kleinburg, Ontario

A letter on a letter

Dr. Robert Perloff, in his letter in the November issue on my letter in the September issue, argues that corporations have constitutional rights, whereas I had stated that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling of Jan. 21, 2010, declaring their constitutional rights was an "infamous" ruling.

Corporations are not mentioned in the Constitution. Its framers had tolerated enough oppression by the King and his chartered corporations. Cases before the high court bearing on this issue date back at least to 1819 when Chief Justice John Thurgood Marshall declared that "A corporation is an artificial being invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law." Then along came the notorious 1886 case, Southern Pacific Railroad Company v. Santa Clara County, California, that was presided over by Chief Justice Harrison Waite. He told his colleagues before the formal deliberations began that since it was an obvious fact that corporations had constitutional rights, it would not be deliberated. Afterwards, he let his court recorder, who had railroad interests, insert in the record that "fact."

While Dr. Perloff brushes aside the "financial muscle" and "even overwhelming influence" of corporations as "beside the point," I cannot do so. America is a corpocracy of corporate rule with a captive government in tow, not a democracy of self rule. I have concluded from years of research, as have many other researchers and writers before me, that the corpocracy is ruling and ruining America.

Secondly, Dr. Perloff misreads my letter in stating that I affirm the Second Amendment’s right of individuals to bear arms. I absolutely did not. I have always opposed the right of individuals to bear arms.

Gary Brumback, PhD
Palm Coast, Fla.

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