Author: Claire Lehmann

On Meaning, Identity Politics and Bias in the Academy — An Interview with Clay Routledge

Meet Clay Routledge, a social psychologist and Professor of Psychology at North Dakota State University. Professor Routledge studies such things as intergroup relations and how people create meaning in their lives. He has over 90 scholarly papers and has authored the book “Nostalgia: A Psychological Resource.” I discovered Professor Routledge on Twitter, where he tweets interesting observations about the state of orthodoxy on campus and in the broader culture. I thought it would be useful to capture some of his insights in a more in-depth form — what follows is an interview with Professor Routledge for Quillette. Hi Clay, thanks for chatting to Quillette. Before we get into other topics, what do you research and how did you become interested in that area? I mainly study psychological motives. And much of my work is on the meaning motive. A considerable amount of empirical research indicates that perceiving one’s life as meaningful is important for psychological, social, and physical health. People who feel meaningful are happier, more motivated, more productive, less vulnerable to mental illness, better able to cope with …

Interview with Debra W. Soh, Sex Neuroscientist

Meet Debra W. Soh, a sex researcher and neuroscientist in Toronto, Canada. I learned about Debra through reading her LA Times op-ed on the futility of gender neutral parenting. I got in touch with Debra because I wanted to learn more about her field of sex neuroscience, her own research and her thoughts on studying sex differences in the brain. Because the study of sex and sex differences is often fraught with political roadblocks, I also wanted to get a picture of how a neuroscientist-sex researcher approaches some of these contentious issues. Hi Debra, thanks for chatting to Quillette. Can you briefly tell us who you are — where you studied, who was your supervisor and what made you interested in neuroscience, in particular sex neuroscience? I am a sex researcher at York University in Toronto and I write about the science of sex for several media outlets, including Playboy. For my PhD, which I just defended, I worked with Dr. Keith Schneider, who has pioneered new methods in high-resolution fMRI and is the Director of …

Help Us Build Our Platform for Free Thought

Dear reader, Quillette has been proud to offer an independent source of unorthodox commentary since November 2015. With your support we wish to increase the frequency and variety of commentary available to you. Jerry Coyne has described us “as a site you should be bookmarking. Think of it as Slate, but more serious, more intellectual, and without any Regressive Leftism.” We’ve hosted distinguished writers such as Jamie Palmer, Brian Boutwell, Jeffrey Tayler, Toni Airaksinen, Brian Earp, Cathy Young, Sumantra Maitra, W. Kevin Campbell and Heather Mac Donald. We’ve published articles on a range of challenging political issues including free speech, political correctness, Islam, immigration, feminism, foreign policy, and crime. And we’ve published a number of expert articles on scientific topics such as genetics, evolution, psychology, Bayesian statistics and technology. An open-minded readership has found Quillette and we are grateful to you for your loyalty and feedback. But we are now asking for small contributions to grow and improve the website. And we would also like your input. We would like to know what works and what doesn’t, and …

Stop Calling People “Low Information Voters”

A pernicious term used for those who voted for Trump and Brexit is the “low information voter”. Most likely uneducated, the low information voter doesn’t know much about “the issues”. He votes according to his gut feeling. He sabotages delicate democratic systems with the blunt exercise of his democratic rights. Bob Geldof calls Brexit voters the “army of stupid”. US philosopher Jason Brennan describes Trump voters as “ignorant, irrational, misinformed, nationalists.” In the Washington Post, the low information voter is defined as one who is more likely to respond to emotional appeals about issues such as the economy, immigration, Muslims, race relations and sexism. The Post goes onto explain: Low information voters are those who do not know certain basic facts about government and lack what psychologists call a “need for cognition.” Those with a high need for cognition have a positive attitude toward tasks that require reasoning and effortful thinking and are, therefore, more likely to invest the time and resources to do so when evaluating complex issues. In other words, low information people …

Daily Life’s Boy-Bashing Clickbait Reaches New Low

When Daily Life came onto Australia’s media scene in 2012, I used to read it with bemusement, sometimes morbid fascination. About a year after it launched I started blogging in response to some of its articles, but since 2013, I’ve mostly ignored the publication. One gets tired of clickbait. Tabloid magazines have been around for a long time and yellow journalism dates back to the nineteenth century. Daily Life has certainly not created anything new. It is also understandable that The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age need to bolster their dwindling readership with cheap and easy commentary on the latest “hot topics”, including those that involve gender and feminism. In the context of the disruption caused by the Internet, it is not a scandal that a media company would do this. Yet since the public relations fiascos of 2014 and 2015, such as Shirtstorm, and the Tim Hunt affair, it’s also increasingly difficult to become animated by gender politics. From where I sit, the culture war is largely over. No-one serious pays any attention to …

Thiel vs Gawker: Why a Defensive Media is the Real Threat to Free Speech

In March this year, Terry Bollea (Hulk Hogan), was awarded $140 million in damages in an invasion of privacy lawsuit against Gawker Media. Gawker Media is an online media company owned by Nick Denton, based in New York City and incorporated in the Cayman Islands. It is the parent company of several different blogs including the infamous pop-feminist rag Jezebel and the much maligned Valleywag and Kotaku. Gawker Media has tormented both powerful and not so powerful people for some time now. In 2015, The Daily Beast reported that the online magazine belligerently hounded actor James Franco for years even going so far as to accuse him of being a “gay rapist”. Less than a year ago, Gawker ran a bizarre expose about a thwarted tryst between an unknown business executive and a male escort. It turned out that the escort had attempted to blackmail the executive. When that failed, he went to Gawker, and Gawker ran the story. In Hulk Hogan’s court case, details emerged of Gawker’s editor-in-chief Albert J Daulerio mocking a college …

How a Rebellious Scientist Uncovered the Surprising Truth About Stereotypes

The Sydney Symposium At the back of a small room at Coogee Beach, Sydney, I sat watching as a psychologist I had never heard of paced the room gesticulating. His voice was loud. Over six feet tall, his presence was imposing. It was Lee Jussim. He had come to the Sydney Symposium of Social Psychology to talk about left-wing bias in social psychology. Left-wing bias, he said, was undermining his field. Graduate students were entering the field in order to change the world rather than discover truths.1 Because of this, he said, the field was riddled with flaky research and questionable theories. Jussim’s talk began with one of the most egregious examples of bias in recent years. He drew the audience’s attention to the paper: “NASA faked the moon landing – therefore (climate) science is a hoax.” The study was led by Stephan Lewandowsky, and published in Psychological Science in 2013. The paper argued that those who believed that the moon landing was a hoax also believed that climate science was a fraud. The abstract …

What Next After Paris?

The Paris attacks have been declared by Francois Hollande as an “act of war” by the Islamic State. The military have been mobilized, and Hollande has proposed changes to the French Constitution. This national state of emergency has occurred less than a year after the killings at Hebdo and the worldwide campaign of #JeSuisCharlie. Much has been said about the attacks that does not require repeating. Yet it is worth bearing out that the Paris attacks may indeed be an inflection point in this century’s history. One week later and the world still grieves. Many of us felt like something was burned, slashed and broken in the hours and days after we heard the news. We can all imagine ourselves at a rock concert, eating at a café, or attending a football match, having a good time. I have visited Paris only once, but my memories of the city flooded back, mixed in with the horrified knowledge that the people who were shot were just like me. We do not know to what extent the …

Western Leaders Can No Longer Ignore Saudi Atrocities

“I believe men and women should be treated equally,” said David Cameron in 2013. “If that’s what being a feminist is, then yes I’m a feminist”. It is ironic that Cameron uttered these words in 2013, as it was the same year in which the UK made a secret pact to elevate the most misogynistic regime in the world to the UN Human Rights Council. Saudi Arabia has an abominable record of oppressing women. The World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index in 2012 ranks Saudi Arabia 131 out of 135 countries. Yet cables obtained by Wikileaks show that the UK and Saudi Arabia traded votes in order for each country to secure a position on the Human Rights council as recently as 2013. The House of Saud’s scandalous position within the Council was again brought to the media’s attention by the recent election of Faisal bin Hassad Trad – the Saudi Ambassador to the UN – to the chair of a panel of independent experts on human rights. UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer has …

The Paradox of Female Happiness

Women are about 75 per cent more likely than men to report having recently suffered from depression. Women are also about 60 per cent more likely to report an anxiety disorder. These sharp discrepancies observed by Oxford professor Daniel Freeman, were found in eight of 12 nations from which statistics were taken. They also support a study which found that women reported higher levels of happiness than men in the 1960s but that this gender gap has now reversed. Why the change? What does this mean when women are healthier, better educated, enjoy more economic freedom and more opportunities than we did 35 years ago? Since the 1960s it has become socially acceptable to leave unhappy marriages. The stigma that once existed around free expression of female sexuality has softened. Legislation is in place to protect women from sexual harassment. By many objective measures, women in the West have never been more liberated. For all of this improvement many women are unhappy. Freeman, a clinical psychologist, noticed a gap in the literature on sex differences in …