All posts filed under: Top Stories

How Social Constructionism Created the Sex Addiction Model

Imagine it is the year 1965, in frozen Winnipeg, Manitoba. Two twin boys are scheduled for routine circumcisions. Using an unconventional practice known as cauterization, one of the boy’s penises was accidentally burned beyond repair. Dispirited and confused, the boys’ parents were watching late night television one evening when a charming, well-spoken psychologist appeared on the air.  Sexologist John Money claimed he had discovered, through his “theory of gender neutrality,” that gender was a complete social construct, created entirely through social learning. Emboldened, the parents contacted Dr. Money, who ordered sex reassignment surgery for the injured boy, and instructed his parents to raise him as a girl. Because this surgery occurred at such as young age, the (now) girl would never realize she had once been a boy and would live her life as a normal female. Money touted the success of his work, publishing extensively on his triumphant results. However, eventually the truth came out. The young boy never acclimated to being a girl, and eventually as an adult sought to transition back to being a …

Yassmin Abdel-Magied: The Woman On Whom Everything Is Lost

Last week on ABC’s Q&A, Yassmin Abdel-Magied declared Islam to be “the most feminist religion.” It’s a strong field, but this may well be her most idiotic statement yet. As The Australian reported, last year Abdel-Magied took a taxpayer-funded jaunt across the Middle East. The #YasMENAtour, as it was called (her words), took her to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Sudan, and other countries with atrocious records in women’s rights and legal systems that just happen to mention Sharia and its virtues. Unfortunately for Abdel-Magied, none of this led her to an outbreak of coherent thought. On the Q&A program, she spoke highly of Sharia and wouldn’t stand to be told about its faults. In her reading, it’s all about justice and equality, a few optional prayers, and spiritual merry-making. That sounds swell, and who could disagree with it? Well, probably a vast majority of the world’s Muslims, for starters, as well as more than a few Islamic scholars. There may be perfectly benign elements to Sharia, but it also undoubtedly has something to do with the …

The Runaway Executive

When I was a pupil barrister in Rockhampton, the Director of Public Prosecutions had their offices in the courthouse, and my pupil master didn’t like it. ‘It looks bad,’ he said, ‘to have the executive sharing an address with the judiciary’. The DPP could see judges in chambers and file documents by the simple expedient of climbing a flight of stairs. They even drew on the same resources. From time-to-time I’d run into one at the photocopiers thereabouts. ‘Everyone else has to march up East Street in the heat,’ he’d go on, ‘or make arrangements with my pupil’ (that pupil was me). ‘Why shouldn’t they?’ Although – like all young lawyers – I’d studied the separation of powers at university, my pupil-master’s disquiet was an early lesson in its practical application. Giving the State any sort of leg-up in a fight against the People – even if only a sweaty walk up a long street – doesn’t just look bad. It is bad. It’s bad because we tend to forget – in the peaceful and …

The Battle over American “Carnage”

Referring in his Inaugural Address to the crime and gangs plaguing American cities, President Trump declared that “This American Carnage stops right here and stops right now.” How should we understand this statement? Anguished responses to Trump have flooded in. Slate Chief Political Correspondent Jamelle Bowie writes that “`[T]here is no broad `American Carnage.’” That notion is a “fantasy” whose purpose is “to demonize groups and protest movements organized around police reform.” Bowie goes on to report that violent crime has generally gone way down in the United States, although the murder rate rose 17% in the 50 biggest cities in 2015, with the greatest increases recorded in Baltimore, Chicago, and Washington, D,C,. In historical terms, Bowie concludes, “American cities are safer now that at any point since the 1960s.” A New York Times article describes an irenic environment for many black residents of Philadelphia. “Our streets are always clean,” reports one of these, “Our neighbors in our community, we know each other, and we get along. . . We got backyards, man. We go …

The Deal Trump Should Strike with Putin

The standoff between NATO and Russia is increasingly perilous, but there is a way out. On January 26th of this year, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists reset the Doomsday Clock from 11:57 to 11:58:30 — thirty seconds closer to midnight (a metaphor for planetary catastrophe), indicating a degree of peril for humanity unseen since 1953 and the testing of the first hydrogen bomb by the United States in November of the previous year. In a statement accompanying the move, the Bulletin declared that “The United States and Russia . . . remain at odds in a variety of theaters, from Syria to Ukraine to the borders of NATO” and cited, as another reason (of several more) for the clock’s adjustment, President Trump’s “disturbing comments, made on the campaign trail, about “the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons.” A prominent former Democratic senator would certainly concur with the first point. Sam Nunn, leader of the nonpartisan group Nuclear Threat Initiative, warned that “Russia and the West are at a dangerous crossroads,” and in “a state of …

Infantilizing Students Post-Election

How to explain the babying of students increasingly practiced by college administrators, student-life staff and faculty? Last fall, dozens of institutions publicly “reached out” to comfort students after the surprise election of Donald Trump. At Berkeley, for example, The American Cultures Center posted the following notice: The election results have elicited anxiety, fear, and grieving for some of our community members. As we proceed with the rest of this week and semester, it is crucial to acknowledge the trauma that is felt on campus. For this reason, we want to make you aware of some post-election teaching resources and several healing spaces that have been made available. The attention these letters, Tweets and web postings lavish on student emotions is remarkable, as is their distressingly slight engagement with civics and their outright disregard of political history. The fact that Trump ran an ugly campaign and has gotten off to a blunder-riddled start to his presidency is irrelevant to the troubling meanings to be gathered from these letters. At the most extreme one finds authorities assuring students …

Dealing with the Reality That Not Everyone Can Succeed

As a society, we’ve failed to confront a reality that has emerged time and again from psychological research. Two traits — general intelligence and self-control — are perhaps our best individual level predictors of living a successful life. More on what “successful” means momentarily. However, failure to appreciate the reach of intelligence and self-control, though troublesome in the past, will become increasingly problematic as our modern American economy becomes ever more technological and our economy ever more global. In fact, had we appreciated the importance of these traits more fully in the decades leading up to now, we might have foreseen more clearly the rise of a Donald J. Trump style presidential candidate. What does it mean to live a successful life? Quite frankly, it can mean a lot of things. I’m not referring in this case to having any particular occupation, level of education, income, or living in any particular region of the country. By “living a successful life” I mean that when possible, avoiding the many negative occurrences that can creep up. Avoiding …