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Motivated Reasoning Is Disfiguring Social Science

On February 15, the American Psychological Association (APA) Council of Representatives voted for a resolution opposing parental spanking (full disclosure: I serve on the APA Council of Representatives but speak only for myself). The resolution statement presented spanking research as if data conclusively links spanking to negative outcomes in children such as aggression or reduced intellectual development. I happen to do some research on spanking’s effects on children. Although I am by no means a spanking advocate, I was alarmed by the way an inconsistent, correlational, and methodologically weak research field that routinely produces weak effect sizes was mischaracterized as consistent and strong. Unfortunately, this resolution is part of a larger bias among professional guilds such as the APA, wherein messy science is laundered for public consumption, presenting it as more impressive than it actually is.

Many people in the general public believe that organizations such as the APA or American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) are neutral, objective scientific organizations or that they are even part of the government. But they are largely professional guilds wherein members like me pay dues to support their profession (both, but particularly the APA, are also publication houses). As a result, such organizations tend to market their fields much like any business markets its products. Impressive sounding science brings the field prestige, captures the attention of policy makers and helps members with grants, newspaper headlines, and career advancement. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and I certainly don’t wish to imply any bad faith. But failing to understand this basic fact may cause the general public to overestimate the degree of objectivity with which such organizations speak when talking about research.

There are good and honest arguments for why parents might choose other discipline strategies aside from spanking. Unfortunately, these were not arguments the APA made in the voted resolution. In a recent meta-analysis I conducted with several colleagues, we found that the effects of spanking on child aggression were so weak that they were best interpreted as negligible. Indeed, depending on how one looks at the data, it’s possible to make it look like spanking has either tiny negative or tiny positive impacts on children’s behavior. 

Not all scholars agree with our assessment to be sure. But the argument that spanking correlates with child aggression (and the data is almost all correlational) mainly relies on effects that don’t control for other variables, such as the child’s pre-existing behavior problems (presumably misbehaving kids get spanked more) nor more serious forms of abuse. When studies do control for such factors, effect sizes become trivial, indeed about the same size as the impact of wearing eyeglasses on suicide. Naturally, we don’t warn parents about the public health risks of children’s eyeglasses because that would be silly. But the larger issue is not the tendency to pick sides in this debate, but that the APA is pretending that no debate exists at all.

Spanking is one of those ideologically and emotionally loaded cultural crusades that is ripe for the misuse of inconvenient data. Most of the members of the APA task force that produced the resolution are long-time anti-spanking advocates, reviewing their own research and declaring it beyond further debate. This has been a consistent problem for the APA and other professional guilds such as the AAP (more about which in a moment), and they have repeatedly allowed scholars with fairly straightforward conflicts of interest to produce resolutions that might reasonably be expected to confirm their ideological biases. This process is not remotely objective. 

Ideologically loaded statements have become more common in recent years. The APA has had a particularly bad run of it. Just this past January, the APA’s practice guidelines for men and boys became a polarizing lightning rod, beloved by some cultural progressives, but largely panned in the centre and on the Right as stereotyping and arguably sexist in their portrayal of men and “traditional masculinity.” The guidelines were long on progressive terminology but relied on weak evidence and ignored entire fields of research related to the biological roots of gender. One may agree or disagree with the APA’s position on this matter, but if the guidelines were intended to help therapists understand men from backgrounds and perspectives different from their own, or to encourage men who were wary about therapy to give it a try, the guidelines clearly failed.

And then there is the long-running controversy over the APA’s 2015 resolution on violent video games. This happens to be the field I spend most of my time in, having provided testimony to former Vice President Biden’s hearings on the Sandy Hook shooting and testified before the School Safety Commission in June 2018. In 2013, over 230 scholars wrote to the APA expressing concern as the task force was just getting started. As with the other two resolutions, the task force appeared largely stacked with people who had taken prior anti-game views and portrayed a research field that simply doesn’t exist. Indeed, most scholars now agree that violent games play no role in societal violence. But the APA’s resolution has become a go-to source for politicians and the National Rifle Association whenever they want to distract the populace from talking about guns after a high-profile shooting.

Just this year a committee (which I chair) of the APA’s own Society for Media Psychology and Technology published a report documenting serious errors, biases, and misstatements in multiple resolution statements produced by the APA, AAP, and other professional groups when talking about media effects. In each case, the reports misrepresented the evidence for media effects, often simply ignoring any research that conflicted with the group’s stated position.   

The bottom line is that professional guilds such as the APA and AAP have a demonstrable track record of unreliability when speaking on matters of science. This means that parents, the general public, and policy makers may base decisions on erroneous pseudo-scientific claims that can’t be backed by good data. Perhaps the most egregious issue is when such bodies simply pretend no controversy exists in fields that are, in fact, highly controversial. This behavior, known as “citation bias,” has been described by some scholars as one of the seven deadly sins of research scholarship. As professors, we would give a student a failing grade for such behavior in an academic paper. And yet professional guilds engage in such behavior on a fairly regular basis, at least with respect to behavioral research. 

Why does this happen? There are a number of possible explanations.

The first is a lack of intellectual diversity. It’s been known for decades that the social sciences are heavily weighted with individuals who identify as sociocultural liberals or progressives. It probably isn’t just a happy coincidence that so much of social science is in lockstep with liberal and progressive social advocacy positions.

The second is the culture of institutions. From my experience and perspective, these tend to function on a corporate structure. Although they are typically non-profits, they increasingly behave like businesses rather than academic centers. As such, they do not appear to foster an appropriate level of critical thinking, skepticism, caution, or solicitation of opposing views (indeed on the spanking resolution, one skeptical scholar, Robert Larzelere, who volunteered to help was explicitly rebuffed). This is a recipe for conformity and groupthink. (Indeed, official APA policy appears to forbid scholarly special interest groups under its fold from taking public positions that differ from its own central stated positions…consistent with a business but not an academic or scholarly model.) 

Third, and related, the review processes these resolution statements undergo is obviously failing. Often, on council, advocates for a position will boast that a resolution passed through multiple boards and committees, all internal to the APA. And yet, I find myself thinking, the resolution still sucks. Indeed, the “this has been reviewed so many times before” line of argument is simply an appeal to consensus and authority, both of which expose the failure of such organizations’ review process, not any superior quality of the resultant product.

Worryingly, professional guilds are producing resolution statements with increasing frequency.  Indeed, our review of media effects policy statements found that the AAP, in particular, is producing them like a moral panic pez dispenser. Do the 2010s really require so many more policy statements than did the 1990s? I doubt it. Increasingly, they resemble products produced by a business, and so they should be treated by the general public as if that is what they are: the advertising may not always tell the full story.

As Steven Pinker argues in The Blank Slate, producing nostrums of pseudo-science to support an advocacy position is highly risky and may be counterproductive to that advocacy position in the long run. If moral arguments for equality or against corporal discipline are constructed on a foundation of faulty science, then the foundations of that morality collapse as the faults are exposed. It is far safer to ensure that moral arguments remain independent of scientific claims—to argue, for instance, that gender equality is a moral imperative irrespective of whether or not gender differences are biological, or that hitting children is wrong irrespective of whether it leads to negative outcomes for the child. 

Failing to be honest about a research field’s inconsistencies and shortcomings makes the whole project look like an instrument in a fear-mongering culture war. This was the missed opportunity of the APA’s guidelines for men and boys. It would be great to have a culturally sensitive, empathic document that encouraged therapists to understand men and boys from their own perspectives. Instead, the document became lost in progressive assumptions and jargon. Discussing patriarchy and privilege with the coal miner who lost his job and can’t feed his family is unlikely to be in his (or their) best interest. 

Advocacy efforts are always defined by their loudest and most extreme voices, and these can become detrimental to the cause over time as they become increasingly militant. Feminist Frequency achieved fame by pressing for better representations of female characters in video games (which I fully support; Alice: Madness Returns all the way) but then sacrificed goodwill by insinuating causal impacts on men’s attitudes and aggression toward women, another belief for which data is shaky at best. We might expect this from advocacy groups, but we expect better from organizations that claim to represent science. Unfortunately, we’re not getting it.

Social science is being poorly represented by groups like the APA and AAP. I recommend that, for the time being, parents, policy makers, and the public should, at best, treat resolution statements with a grain of salt and perhaps ignore them altogether. Changing this state of affairs would take a major cultural change at these organizations and, having been given a glimpse on the inside, it’s difficult to imagine this happening any time soon.


Christopher J. Ferguson is a professor of psychology at Stetson University in Florida.  He is author of Moral Combat: Why the War on Violent Video Games is Wrong and the Renaissance mystery novel Suicide KingsYou can follow him on Twitter @CJFerguson1111

Featured image by (Flickr)


  1. Tersitus says

    Having read only the title (more shortly), I just want to say, Thank God free thought lives (at least in embryo).

  2. lifeatan says

    The problem stems from linking the words social and science in the same sentence.

    • david of Kirkland says

      Indeed, psychiatric talk therapy types have nothing but stories, nothing but narratives, anything but controlled experiments with predictive qualities. What they said was insanity before, is now normal. Yet there’s zero science to back up the insanity or the normality claims.

  3. Tersitus says

    “…wherein messy science is laundered for public consumption, presenting it as more impressive than it actually is.”
    My problem is thinking of “social science” as anything other than an “aspirational claim.” They are the messy sciences.

    • Lightning Rose says

      They are messy sciences, and the vast majority of the population pays no attention to them. Once again, an amplified voice from the over-cosseted goldfish in a very tiny bowl.

      The vast majority of people live their lives just fine without ever having recourse to psychologists.

      The problem is the crap these people normalize or de-normalize, which then becomes dogma in the schools.

  4. Tersitus says

    At the risk of sounding even more cliched than normal, my question is to what extent this has become our paradigm, and what prospects for a better one lie within our horizon.

  5. Spanking of children is now unlawful in the NL, and is becoming extinct in schools and homes. However, wife (and husband) beating seems to be on the increase, though also against the law.

    • Kencathedrus says

      @dirk: How are children raised in the Netherlands? I taught there for a while, and during that time any classroom disruptions were seen totally as the fault of the teacher. Parents would also phone me up if their children failed my classes and hold me accountable. This wasn’t high school either, this was college level (HBO level, ages 18-22). I’ve taught at many colleges and it was only in Holland that I actually had to send students out for a whole range of behaviors including cussing me out, fighting each other, cheating on tests, making chicken noises. I found most of the students to be ok in general, but many of them seemed to me to lack maturity and personal accountability. I realize I’m generalizing from my own experiences and intend no disrespect to the Netherlands or its citizens. It’s a beautiful country and I do miss living there – I just found the Dutch educational system to be maddening. I felt it rewarded the most disruptive students, but neglected those that quietly got on with their work.

      I remember mentioning spanking to a Dutch friend and they looked at me in horror. They told me I was a victim of the British ‘discipline’ system (he had a point, the school I attended in Britain was a breeding ground for institutional violence). I’m actually on the fence about spanking, but as I don’t have any children of my own I probably won’t be spanking anyone soon 😉

      • Maddening yes, Ken, certainly, but did you read how it is in the US? Just see -Public education dirty secret-, here on Quillette 2 weeks ago, 643 reactions (a record, I think). Yes, it’s globally spreading, though, in NL and US probably worst. I see it as just 1 more branch (a quillette) out of the cancerous trunc of SJW and PC, the opressed of the intersections also comprises the children and pre adults of now. This is what happened last month here in the NL.

        A teacher took a more than naughty disciple (called his mother a whore and threw a chair at him) by his neck and pushed him out of the classroom . It went viral and caused an outcry, but now the hilarious, mind crushing reactions:
        – the teacher was dismissed for being unprofessional, physical
        – 1000s of reactions were almost all on the side of the teacher, and severely scorning the school for it
        – there was no solidarity among the colleagues, they all sided with the school head that dismissed him

        What the hell is brewing in the educational ambience, and why this controversy between teachers and general public??
        And what kind of adults are we creating by such permissiveness? Was Doctor Spock the cause of all this?
        And I agree that Holland is a beautiful country. This weekend I expect the first lapwing egg laid.

        • I’m a teacher. I don’t know a single teacher who would side on the side of the abusive student. As teachers many of us have been abused by students and we all have to put up with administrations and boards and the media and politicians who literally don’t care if we die or are disfigured. I myself had to go t the hospital three times last year from student attacks (none major injuries thankfully, but still.)

          You are just making stuff up to conform to your narrative. The issue is the state and politicians and the board who care more about looking good for revotes; parents who are disengaged from their students’ education for a variety or reasons; and a surrounding culture that doesn’t value education in the slightest but does value flashy clothes, money and lack of respect for authority. I’m not saying everyone is like this, at all. But it doesn’t take a genius to look at rap, popular culture, and especially urban culture, and see the impacts if you walk about an hour in the street.

          So the state looks solely look at stats of how many suspensions, how many discipline, how many explosions, and unilaterally declare these must be significantly less. Since the student behavior is appalling, this is impossible. So the solution is to not penalize the student. This leads to a lack of morale amongst the student body as students watch other student curse and mistreat authority figures and nothing happens to them. There is then a sizable minority of students who figure they can do whatever they want in school – deal drugs, curse out teachers, bully other students, do no work – and literally nothing will happen to them. This loops back into their behavior.

          This has nothing to do with teachers. We are on the ground trying to help students learn, period. There is no controversy between teachers (in general) and the public–that is made up by the state and elected officials to deflect their own role.

          • @ d: – none major injuries, thankfully-, reminds me of the horse riding Knight in the Alice book, falling of his horse again and being picked up by Alice, ” I hope no bones are broken”?
            ” None to speak of “, the Knight said, as if he didn’t mind breaking two or three of them.
            Nevertheless, what I told here (it was on TV and in all newspapers, just google ” Kennemer College, nekvel-docent”) obviously was an incident, though a notorious one. I was a teacher for three months, only good experiences, not one such horrific student in that school. As usual, we don’t here anything about the background of such disciples, not done!

          • Tersitus says

            School administration from asst principals on up to superintendents has for some time been largely politicking and resume building to climb the professional ladder. Few have more than 2-3 years in the classroom– many none at all. Few stay more than 3-4 years before moving up or moving on. It’s a PC profession, hiding behind top-down management style and faddish ed-school theoretics and the latest “research driven” mandates for classroom management. They and they’re addiction to more and more “learning technologies,” out-of-building administrative meetings, and catered in-service training suck ever greater chunks of the budget, and mandate more and more standardized classroom “strategies” to score incrementally better on standardized tests that no students, teachers, or parents with half a brain care a whit about. Many of the best teachers ignore them, shut the classroom door, communicate frequently with parents over problems, invite them to sit in and babysit their own kids when needed, and do what common sense and experience and commitment has shown them works best. If they’re lucky, they have a principal who recognizes their merit and backs them.

        • Experiences like this are encouraging home schooling and private/ charter schooling in the US, I know home schooling is illegal in Germany, or was a couple of years ago. I wonder if parents are starting to rebel?

          • I see you speak some Dutch, Dan. To be 100% correct, the plural is -kieviten-. In the Friesian dialect they are called -ljip-, this must be related to the english -lap-. I saw only 4 of them biking through the meadows yesterday, in my youth it would have been 100s. Modern agriculture and mechanical mowing early in the season is responsible. But lovely they are! And acrobatic! But…..Silent Spring is approaching rapidly!

  6. Farris says

    Conclusions and preconceived notions in search of data. Torture the data until it confirms your belief. This is what passes for science. Perhaps social sciences can focus less on improving mankind and more on understanding individual behaviors.

    • E. Olson says

      Farris – but we already have a pretty good understanding of individual behaviors, its just that Leftists don’t like the results because they don’t conform with Leftist ideology and policy prescriptions.

  7. Saw file says

    It seems that the real reason behind the various advocates within these professional organizations pushing forward resolution statements, regardless of what the science behind them may or may not ‘prove’, is so that they can be used to influence and guide public policy decisions, and (eventually) legal decisions.
    It’s easy to see how the practice guidelines for men and boys will become a tool for pushing certain public policies in certain advocated directions. It is also glaringly obvious as to how this spanking policy is going to be used by certain policy and legal advocates.
    APA and AAP are gradually picking up spead on that slippery slope from professional associations to special interest advocacy guilds.
    Maybe it’s time for some name changes? And possibly a new motto ?
    I have some suggestions, but if I started I doubt I’d be able to stop.

  8. Conner M. Steacy says

    “to argue, for instance, that gender equality is a moral imperative irrespective of whether or not gender differences are biological, or that hitting children is wrong irrespective of whether it leads to negative outcomes for the child.”

    Exactly. I really could care less what the AAP and APA say about spanking. From a moral standpoint hitting someone as defenceless as a child is reprehensible. We don’t expect this behaviour among adults (it’s illegal for obvious reasons) why should we expect something different with children.

    • Putting an adult in a crib they can’t get out of would be both wrong and illegal for obvious reasons. Is placing a child in a crib also reprehensible?

      Of all the anti-spanking arguments I’ve heard, claiming that we should only act toward our own children as we would toward adults is one of the strangest.

      • @Andrew Scott Actually, yes we do put adult criminals in cribs they can’t get out of. They’re called prisons! However, in western countries it is not allowed to spank prisoners, not even murderers and rapists. That is to say, people will do things to misbehaving three-year-olds which it is considered inhuman to do to the worst criminals…

        • Alistair says

          The analogy with criminal justice is one of the stupidest arguments against corporal punishment I’ve heard.

          You want children treated with the same rights as adults? Fine; but give me the full apparatus of adult coercion and control!

          Let the police come when your toddler throws a tantrum or refuses a lawful order to eat his vegetables. Let them hold him when he repeatedly leaves the naughty spot. Let them take a truculent teenager to jail if he breaks an xbox controller. Let the courts adjudicate who started the fight. And lets have full self-defence; should a child strike you, you may strike them back?

          The reason why adults are entrusted with wide discretion over the discipline of their children is because they love them. And because it is completely impractical to involve the full range of state coercion and control we use for adults. People say you should not hit kids: well yeah; but you can’t send kids to prison or put them in front of the courts or call the police on them when they’re naughty at 2 a.m or won’t stop screaming in a restaurant.

          if you want kids to have the same rights as adults then give the parents recourse to the same controls as adults. But if you want parents to raise kids and socialize them properly; give them the tools to do the job.

          • E. Olson says

            Speaking of vegetables and child abuse. I wonder how the psychology profession would feel about a research demonstrating the negative cognitive and physical effects caused by the increasingly popular practice of vegan parents forcing their children on a vegan diet – i.e. veganism as a form of child abuse. The statistical results would be clear cut and highly significant in supporting the veganism as abuse hypothesis, with no research design or statistical analysis hanky panky required. My guess is it would never get published due to protests by the global warming and animal rights crowds.

          • @Alistair Well, almost. I want children to have AT LEAST the same rights as adults. That means you may not punish a child with methods you may not punish an adult violent criminal with. However, you may always choose a milder punishment if that is more appropriate. And, as you say, we can’t have a full judiciary system for children so you as the parent will have to do your best to be fair.

            Also, by the analogy I used above, you can send a child to kid jail – i.e. their bedroom, the naughty step, or some other safe place. That is perfectly appropriate use of parental authority if the circumstances call for it.

            Self-defense also works better than you seem to believe. Self-defense is for the purpose of defending yourself from an immediate threat. A two-year-old is never an immediate threat to an adult, so you don’t get to strike them – but if you had a monster child who was an acute danger to you, then certainly you may strike them if no lesser means will work!

    • Saw file says

      @CM Steacy
      What is immoral is not reasonably using every tool available to prevent a child from seriously harming themselves or others.
      You can’t rationalize with a two year old who is testing their boundaries by continually trying to play with the stove while you are cooking dinner.
      You do your best verbally (no, hot,ouchy, etc.) but sometimes, with some kids, a reinforcement with a swat on the bum is required to express seriousness.
      Equating a mild swat on a toddlers diapered bottom with “hitting a child” is nonsensical.
      You are proving my point, as to the advocates end goal with this spanking polocy, by trying to make a reasonable corrective action sound like child abuse, when it is actually the opposite.

  9. Gordon Smith says

    Because you can’t reason with a two year old and sometimes a gentle smack that leaves no physical or emotional damage helps them develop understanding of boundaries Some would call this an act of love.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @Gordon Smith

      I agree. Teaching a toddler to obey their mother can save their life. No means no. But you cannot ask a toddler for moral obedience. However, a toddler will instinctively associate disobedience with pain, however mild, and when she hears ‘no’ she will stop what she is doing if she knows that not doing so will result in a spank. The kid has no problem with it, really and there is no trauma. Eventually of course it’s quite sufficient for mum to just raise her finger.

      • This is called, training by Pavlov reaction, Ray. I wonder what Doctor Spock would say of it. I also wonder, whether it’s a theory of yours, or experience (I mean, the result, the sufficiency to raise a finger)

    • K. Dershem says

      In my opinion, occasional spanking is justified for young kids who need to be corrected. However, corporeal punishment should never be administered in anger or out of frustration. When it is, there’s a very real danger of it escalating to abuse. Since the evidence in favor of the efficacy of spanking is equivocal, people who argue that physical discipline should never be used probably think it’s better for parents to avoid the risk of going too far.

      • E. Olson says

        K – the same could be said about any type of corrective action on a child. Screaming at a child out of anger or frustration, or locking them in a dark closet out of anger or frustration, or any other form of non-physical punishment when taken to an extreme due to anger or frustration could also be very harmful to the psyche of a child even if not leaving any physical bruise or welt.

        Of course much of this anti-corporal punishment advice is researched and administered by people who have never been frustrated or angered by a difficult 2 year old in the “no” stage of life, because they are not parents.

        • Ray Andrews says

          @E. Olson

          My own strongest reason for supporting spanking is that the alternatives are worse. A toddler ‘understands’ a smack, it’s instinctive. The alternatives tend to involve various forms of psychological torture that I find quite disgusting and genuinely harmful. There is also the way that no-spanking parents permit themselves to be driven half mad my their kid to the point where, if they crack, they are likely to do some real harm. Kids want limits and they deliberately set out to test them. It is a kindness to show them where they are.

          This kid is more tormented by its ‘freedom’ that it would be by any discipline.

          • @Ray Andrews Would you care to fill us in on the other alternatives you are thinking of? You’ve only given one, which is to let the child run amuck without feedback, which is obviously unsatisfactory.
            However, there are other types of feedback. Verbal feedback may sometimes be possible. It is always possible to either remove the item (you don’t get to play with that if you’re only going to break it) or to remove the child (you don’t get to play here if you behave like that), since toddlers are very small compared to their parents. In the case where the child understands the if…then reasoning, this should work just as well as hitting, as long as you’re removing the right thing. However, in the case where the child lacks the mental capacity to process the situation and understand why the parent reacted, the removal will likely cause no lasting impression while being hit for (according to the child’s understanding) no reason may cause it to become scared of its parent (this person hits me at random).

            Also: it’s rude to hit people when less violent means will have the same effect. Don’t show kids how to be rude.

        • K. Dershem says

          “Of course much of this anti-corporal punishment advice is researched and administered by people who have never been frustrated or angered by a difficult 2 year old in the “no” stage of life, because they are not parents.” E., do you have actual evidence to support this ad hominem attack? I suspect you don’t.

      • Angela says

        What creeps me out is people who still spank their 13 year old. That’s just weird. Id rather you slap him in the face then give him some fucked up sexual fetish from being spanked at 13.

        • Ray Andrews says


          “However, there are other types of feedback.”

          Sure. Spanking is the last resort.

          ” (this person hits me at random)”

          Agreed. All discipline must be measured and fair. BTW, it’s a bit of a detail, but IMHO spanking should always be done with the family’s Instrument of Obedience — in my family the wooden spoon. When I was a kid my mum had only to say: “Shall I get the wooden spoon?” to smarten me up most of the time. Yes, she has to go and get it, which gives her time to cool off and me time to reconsider my position. The toddler knows that mom’s hands by themselves are never to be feared. The wooden spoon is to be feared, and it never comes out without cause. Obedience to mom is not negotiable. Ever.

      • D.B. Cooper says

        @K. Dershem

        However, corporeal punishment should never be administered in anger or out of frustration.

        I agree. Putting aside the question of spanking (both the efficacy and moral dimension), depending on the context, I would certainly think it’s possible to do the right thing for the wrong reason; although I’m not as sure that the inverse is true. Maybe a white lie would qualify as an example, though that seems more a matter of competing interests. I’m not sure, really. I’ll have to give it some thought.

        In any case, to your point (and to Mr. E. Olson’s), punishment of any sort should be dispensed with a sober mind, and while that’s likely more an ideal than a prerequisite, I think it’s one worth holding to.

        As for my own opinion on the matter, I can’t claim to have strong feelings one way or the other, and this despite being raised in a culture that prided itself in the virtues of not sparing the rod.

        I can imagine how hyperbolic this may sound, but I don’t recall there ever being more than maybe a week that went by – at least until the age of 13 or 14 – without my brother or I getting beat for one infraction or another. I used the term ‘beat’ b/c the ‘spankings’ we received were, by any definition today, child abuse. If you haven’t experienced the displeasure of being spanked until your legs or butt or both are bleeding, I can assure you, there’s nothing to recommend it.

        But what’s most peculiar is that, if asked, I would earnestly tell you my brother and I deserved most of the spankings we got. I guess, it’s possible there’s some latent dissonance in play here, although I doubt it to be quite honest. What I can say with some veracity is that despite having no principled objection to the act, I’ve never once spanked any of my children. On reflection, this strikes me as odd.

    • I think you’re kidding yourself about the amount of damage involved, Gordon. A child in a state where words, tone, facial expression or being lifted away from the situation won’t reach them is in no state to understand a “gentle smack”. Whatever you’re using would have to be very painful for it to register in such a situation. That is why most parents intent on smacking their child instinctively target sensitive areas (the head) or use implements such as paddles.

      • @X

        Do you have children? Have your methods been successful with your children?

        • @EK You got me there. I do, however, live in a country where spanking has been outlawed for some 60 years. As far as I know the law is followed and all my observations speak for low rates of child misbehaviour in the native population. I’d say that’s a better argument than observations on one or two children with no control group…

          • You might read Plomin’s book, which holds that 50% of behavior is genetic and which reenforces Pinker’s arguments with more science.

    • david of Kirkland says

      It was very rare in our house, but it did get everyone’s attention, from the child to the parent. Abuse is abuse, but spanking isn’t abusive unless you spank abusively. If power structures didn’t matter to control societal behavior, there would be no need for the law, armed police, courts and prisons.
      What next, some words parents say when punishing will be hate crimes? Time outs will be solitary confinement?

      • @david of Kirkland I’m not sure that the slippery-slope argument works very well here. If anything, it can be applied in the other direction. It is much easier to draw a clear line between time-outs and spanking than between spanking and beating.

        Also, I imagine that words may already be criminal – if they consist of a string of vile sexual insults and fantasies. Is that a bad thing?

  10. Apart of spanking, there are many more practices, common in my youth, that are now not done any more. I mention: without food to bed, locking up in cupboard or cellar, all kinds of school punishments, standing in the corner, on your knees in front of the class, etc etc. Do we need scientific studies to get rid of them? Or may we say that new insights and practices in morals and ethics have little to do with science?

    • Angela says

      Look up all the crazy shit Korean parents due to punish their kids, and we’re talking for getting a b minus on a test.

      • Angela: seen today on TV, a Korean mother explained how she taught her kids (5 + 7 yrs old) manners, and went to the kitchen to get the stick used at such occasions. The kids were laughing. I wonder for how many kids worldwide, spanking and sticks are the normal practice to deal with the naughty ones, I guess some 90%. Boys being over represented, I think.

  11. Thanks for this informative article.

    Two quibbles:-
    The link to your meta-analysis goes to your interesting website but not to the actual meta-analysis.

    “But the APA’s resolution has become a go-to source for politicians and the National Rifle Association whenever they want to distract the populace from talking about guns after a high-profile shooting.”
    So, you blame guns. Motivated reasoning? Shooters are responsible for shootings, not games or guns.

      • Ray Andrews says


        But an assault rifle has only one purpose and that is killing people in large numbers. Killing people is not considered part of everyday life even in America. However eating is something that we all do several times every day. It is true that one should not over eat, however if one were to do so, spoons are only one of several implements that might be used — or none. If we took away people’s spoons I don’t think the change in obesity levels would be noticeable, however if we took assault rifles away, or at least very carefully regulated who could take one to school, I dare say the death toll in school massacres would go way down. As a non-American I quite understand that some of you Yanks are incapable of being rational about this, your guns are sacred to your self-identity. But it’s too bad. So much could be done with just a few drops of common sense.

        • Matt K says

          Assault rifles are already very heavy regulated. They’re Class III weapons under the NFA.

        • nathan says

          @ Ray Andrews

          This notion of America becoming unsafe for children, at least to a greater degree than other countries, was largely produced by a single researcher who used outlandishly sloppy research methods. He counted the “true” number of violent crimes in all other countries by using a police department’s non-academic database of foreign news articles about such crimes. He did not use original sources. Not only that, the database only included English-language articles! And this for a study claiming to compare American gun violence to that of largely non-English-majority-speaking countries!!

          When one researcher applied a far more rigorous methodology (though certainly not without his own opposing bias, I’m sure), this is what he found:

          “…instead of having 31 percent of the world’s mass shootings, the United States has fewer than 3 percent. The key takeaway here is that, with 4.4 percent of the world’s population, the U.S. has less than its share of mass murderers, a finding that utterly undermines the prevailing narrative.”

          • Ray Andrews says


            It’s a good example of the fact that you can find something on the net to support any position including that the earth is flat. So America is really a particularly peaceful society then? And every statistic from every source to the contrary, year after year, is either a lie or mistaken? And all the folks from presidents to dog catchers who think there’s a lot of killing are mistaken? And Sandy-hook style massacres just aren’t being reported in other countries? No, sorry I’d need more than one website to convince me that everything I’ve ever seen on the subject — all of which has been unanimous — is wrong. That website wouldn’t by any chance be affiliated with the NRA would it? Or some other gun-nut lobby? I’m open to persuasion but that didn’t do it for me. Most of what we see is propaganda, and that goes both ways of course. Is there anyone who will tell the truth?

            “Ray might have been referring to semi-automatic weapons.”

            Whatever a Bushmaster AR-15 is. It seems anybody can buy one at a gun show. It’s harder to get a dog license.

        • Saw file says

          @Ray A.
          I would be curious to know what you define as a “assault rifle”? I’ll assume the misnomer.
          Semiautomatic rifles are used in sport shooting, hunting and varmint control.
          Maybe it’s semantics, but the vast majority of shootings and mass shootings are committed with handguns.
          Handguns and many semiautomatic rifles in CDN are restricted. It’s illegal to use them outside of a gun range. The rifle used in the Quebec Polytechnic massacre is not (even now) on the restricted list mainly because of how it looks, not because of how it functions. I could go out and buy a couple hundred dollars worth of off the shelf austetic kit for it and most people would then see it as a scary black ” assault rifle “, even though it’s original functions remain unchanged. There are hundreds of thousands of these unrestricted firearms in Canada, and they are just as easy to obtain as they are in the USA.
          Shooting incidents here, with handguns, have dramatically increased. Outside of accident’s, shootings by rifle are still quite rare, and shootings with ” assault rifles” are almost nonexistent, fortunately.
          Point being, we (CDN) are highly regulated with” common sense “, and most States have regulations comparable to CDN’s. It’s not a ” assault rifle ” problem.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @ Saw file

            “the vast majority of shootings and mass shootings are committed with handguns”

            Sure. But one can at least justify owning a handgun, and taking out an entire school with one happens not as frequently as with the Bushmaster (semi?)

            “It’s illegal to use them outside of a gun range.”

            The ghosts of the kids from Sandy-hook are doubtless pleased to know that.

            “There are hundreds of thousands of these unrestricted firearms in Canada, and they are just as easy to obtain as they are in the USA.”

            I’m not sure that’s exactly correct, but it’s close enough. Yeah, we can get guns, but we don’t have the same tendency to wipe out entire theaters. Dunno, I think it’s the longer exposure to British culture. And getting a firearms permit is somewhat involved. I’ve had one. You know, that’s the crux of it. Hell, buy an artillery piece, buy a surplus T-72 from Iraq. Buy a case of phosphorus grenades at the local mini-mart, buy an Iwo Jima surplus flamethrower …. IF you have been licensed by the state as being more or less of sound mind. But no, the NRA wouldn’t like that, and the NRA owns half of your Congress. It’s quite sickening.

            “It’s not a ” assault rifle ” problem.”

            But they seem to be involved in most of your massacres. I’ll not make a count, doubtless there’s material on the web. You know, there was a certain something at Sandy-hook that went beyond the body count. There’s a certain ever so subtle difference between one gangsta shooting another gangsta in Chicago, and sending your kids to school and having them slaughtered there. The later is … well it’s hard to explain … the later is an abomination.

        • Farris says

          @Ray Andrews

          I own rifles, whether or not they could be classified as assault rifles depends on the flexible definition of that term. Not once has one of those rifles left house and killed anyone. When there is a mass shooting, the only thing that ends it is the arrival of the second gun. I could go on and on but know I’ll never convince you because you already believe in punishing innocent people for what a few maladjusted people do. Gun ownership and sports are not something you and your mates partake in. So might as well ban such ownership and recreation because you and your friends don’t care for it and are unaffected. It’s not part of your culture so to hell with it. I guess we should all just live according to the preferences and whims of Ray Andrews. Other people’s freedom can be so messy and problematic.

          • Ray Andrews says


            I’m thinking of renewing my FAC (Firearms Acquisition Certificate) and buying a rifle; Mauser M18, I think, the action speaks to me. Yes they are expensive. I’d like to learn to hunt. Mind, I hunted gophers with a .22 as a kid but that’s different. But a five-clip will do fine. What would I need a fifty-clip semi for? Not very much. Even then, if you just had to have one, as a legislator I’d probably say: Ok Farris, you just have to have an assault rifle (not to quibble over definitions … a Bushmaster or equivalent). Do you mind if we ask you a few questions first? Would that be ok with you? It seems that something like 80% of NRA members think that would be just fine, but the NRA itself is opposed (and they own the government). If you wanted to buy a tank, we might ask you a few more questions first, would you mind? And we might even ask for some character references. Hope that wouldn’t trample on the ‘2nd’. Would it? Heck I won’t even quibble if you aren’t a member of a well-regulated militia. A tiny bit of sanity would go a very long way.

          • K. Dershem says

            The vast majority of Americans support common-sense gun regulations that wouldn’t impinge on the rights of law-abiding gun owners. Unfortunately, the NRA is implacably opposed to any and all gun-control legislation. It has perfected the art of fear mongering (“Obama’s going to take all your guns!”) and punishes any legislators who dare to contradict its Second-Amendment absolutism. I’m not convinced that gun-control laws would have a significant impact on levels of gun violence in the U.S., but it seems undeniable that some lives have been lost because of the NRA’s intransigence.


          • E. Olson says

            Ray – analysis on “common sense” gun laws that “everyone” agrees are “common sense” would not have prevented any of the major mass shootings because:

            1. The gun(s) used are almost never “assault” rifles or long-guns of any kind.

            2. Large magazines are never used. The shooters always have plenty of time to reload because they always shoot up “gun-free” zones where no one can shoot back.

            3. All of the guns used were legally purchased with the required background checks.

            4. The vast majority of shootings take place in areas that already have the most restrictive “common sense” gun laws.

            5. MOST IMPORTANTLY: all the current “common sense” gun laws are rarely enforced or are incompetently enforced. It seems that most gun law violations are committed by victim minority groups, and hence when the gun laws are enforced the laws become racist. On the other hand, the Sutherland Springs church shooting was done by a man who was supposed to be on the “no gun” list, but the Air Force forgot to notify the ATF, which allowed the shooter to pass his background check and legally buy the guns he used for the shooting.

            6. The biggest school killing in US history involved zero guns (see link). If crazy people want to kill they will find a way even if they can’t find a gun.


          • Its not punishing innocent people it is making a trade off between the freedom to purchase and own guns without much regulation and restrictions versus the number killed. There is no rational argument to this it is a value judgement.

            A value judgment that is actually far more complex than this for lots of obvious reasons.

            Having lived in the US and the UK I would argue that the US should aim to move to being a low gun owning, guns are not usually carried society simply to change the nature of interactions between police and citizens. However I have no practical suggestions of how to achieve it.

        • Saw file says

          @Ray Andrews
          A bit of paperwork and an attendance course isn’t terribly trying.
          Once you have your permit, you can buy/sell/trade nonregistered firearms with other permit holders without having to register records of the transaction. Not so in many States.
          I would actually be more inclined to claim that, other than range shooting or legitimate collecting, there is much less of a use for handguns than for semiautomatic rifle’s.
          I agree. There is something different about the culture in the USA (compared to CDN),when it comes to firearms. I believe that a lot of it stems from the legacy of the revolutionary/civil wars, and ‘methods’ of colonialization.
          Canada’s legacy is quite different.
          BTW….I am Canadian.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @K. Dershem

            Calm rationality as always K.

            @E. Olson


            “High capacity magazines were used in approximately half of mass shootings.[50]”

            “Semi-automatic rifles such as the AR-15 or similar have been used in six of the ten deadliest mass shooting events.[51][52]”

            3. All of the guns used were legally purchased with the required background checks.

            This rather makes my point. A gun can be legally purchased at a gun show with nil background checks and it would seem to me that that level of ‘legality’ is demonstrated to be inadequate. You can’t drive a car without passing a drivers test. Should that change? It’s a good thing that the 2nd amendment doesn’t mention the right to drive, cuz if it did someone would be claiming that that means that driving tests are unconstitutional.

            5. MOST IMPORTANTLY: all the current “common sense” gun laws are rarely enforced or are incompetently enforced.

            Then enforce them. I want solutions. Prohibitions should be the last choice, but they are also a valid tool. You do restrict fully automatic rifles, heck why? Doesn’t that violate the 2nd? Is it your constitutional right to set up a MG-42 in the park? If not why not? If not, then why IS it your constitutional right to do the same with an AR-15? (Sorry for the exaggerations, this heats me up. Et tu, Olson?) Seems to me the purist should demand deregulation of all firearms, no? But, if some level of sanity is to prevail, then why not a wee bit more sanity? I see no hard reason why the AR-15 is ok but the MG-42 is not.

            6. The biggest school killing in US history involved zero guns (see link). If crazy people want to kill they will find a way even if they can’t find a gun.

            I’d prefer to stop all of them by whatever means are practicable. Does Sandy-hook fade into insignificance because there was once something even worse? Really sir? And if you want to take an ‘oh well, crazy people will always find a way’, attitude then what you are saying as that we may as well deregulate flamethrowers, cuz, you know, crazy people can’t be stopped so why bother trying? Pardon me, but if that Lanza kid had not had a Bushmaster in his hands, I think a lot more kids would have come home that day. Are you being quite honest sir?

          • Ray Andrews says

            @Saw file

            It’s nice not to suffer from gun madness, isn’t it? I think you’re right, the Minuteman with his musket, John Wayne with his Colt … it’s bedrock to their culture. For many of them rationality doesn’t enter into the equation. An American’s sovereignty is in his right to bear arms and if a few schools get wiped out, that’s too bad. Our icon is perhaps the Mountie, with his .44 on a lanyard. A revolver that might never be fired in an entire career and might be drawn only once or twice. In our culture it is the restraint that is prized. Down there it’s how many rounds you can get off in ten minutes. Jesus! Bump-stock nation.

        • @Ray,

          Not even the ROTC instructors can take assault rifles to school. So not sure where the idea of “carefully regulating who can take one to school” came from.

          If the security guys took them to school, it might change things drastically. Every psycho knows they are gun free zones so it’s open season. It would be great if the anti gun folks could guarantee no wacko or criminal could EVER obtain a gun. But they can’t.

          • Farris says

            @ Ray Andrews

            Good luck in obtaining your Firearm Acquisition Certificate. I truly hope the government deigns to allow you to hunt gophers. Remember when dealing with the Higher Authority bureaucrat who will determine what type of recreation for which you are suitable to say “yes sir and no ma’am” and for heaven sakes don’t forget to bow or courtesy.

          • Ray Andrews says


            “carefully regulating who can take one to school” came from.”

            I don’t help my cause with the hyperbole, but I can’t help myself. I’m trying to point out that there are LIMITS even to the fucking second amendment. Pardon my French. I push into the twilight zone to show you that there is a twilight zone … and you are already in it.

            “If the security guys took them to school, it might change things drastically.”

            Only in America. Think back to your school days. Pick … oh …. your grade two teacher, Miss Sweet: can you honestly see her shooting it out with the Columbine lads? Really? How about machinegun nests at all strategic points? Is that the best answer? If you’re the NRA it is, cuz it would increase sales.

            It goes to show you that crazy people don’t know they’re crazy. Nothing personal, it’s your culture.

        • Andrew E says

          Define “assault rifle” for me, and then we can have a discussion.

          • Ray Andrews says


            ” the government deigns to allow you to hunt gophers”

            I was thinking about elk actually. There’s almost a plague of them up here, so the season is long.

            “and for heaven sakes don’t forget to bow or courtesy”

            No more or less than when, say, getting a drivers license. Do you think that drivers should need a license? Or would that be un-American? Come to that, before you can get your FAC up here, you also have to take a firearms handling course. Imagine that! Having to demonstrate that you have some competence to handle a lethal weapon. That would indeed be un-American.

        • E. Olson says

          Ray – shouldn’t “common sense” guns laws actually stop the crimes that are the motivation for “common sense” gun laws? Sandy Hook involved a mentally ill young man using guns legally purchased by his mother to shoot up a school. What type of gun law would have stopped that? The Parkland school shooting involved a mentally ill young man legally buying a gun (which was not an AR-15 as commonly reported at the time) after a background check revealed no criminal record. You could pass laws requiring a background check for mental illness before purchase, but then you would have to get tough about the diagnosis and reporting of mental health issues to authorities, which would be legal requirements that mental health advocates would actively oppose.

          I am also not sure where you get your information, because pistols account for 80+% of shootings.

          Here is a nice little video that dispelled many of the myths regarding gun laws.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @E. Olson

            “using guns legally purchased by his mother”

            That’s just the problem. Perhaps his mother’s need for that much firepower should have been more carefully scrutinized. Perhaps if she’d been required to keep her AR-15 at a gun range or perhaps just locked securely at home. I support minimum practical measures. I don’t like prohibitions unless they are the only thing that works. No, there will never be 100% prevention, but even 10% reduction in massacres would be worth achieving if possible.

            ” a mentally ill young man legally buying a gun”

            Again you make my point for me. Should mentally ill young men be legally able to buy a gun? Surely to God the answer is ‘no’. And please sir, measures could be taken. We manage to keep lunatics from driving cars. Is the argument that you are absolutely helpless to keep maniacs from guns a sound argument?

            ” because pistols account for 80+% of shootings”

            One approaches a problem in every way possible. Pistols do not account for 80% of school massacres. One weights the pros and cons. Pistols would be harder to regulate if for no other reason than that they are so easy to hide. In a violent culture the desire to at least have the chance of protecting oneself is surely powerful so I would be inclined to understand that some lady wants to carry a pistol in her purse. But few people walk down the street with an AK over their shoulders for self protection, do they? Should they? I don’t think that’s practical. Afghanistan, anyone?

          • Ray Andrews says

            The video doesn’t work for me, I prefer data. I don’t get past the first ‘myth’. Even if one massacre could be prevented by regulating semis then regulating semis should be considered. You know, the left attempts the same fallacy all the time: we need only be concerned with the one biggest correlation. Most CEOs are male, therefore our only concern is to increase the number of women. Most black suspects that are shot are shot by white cops, therefore black suspects shot by black cops is no issue, nor is white suspects shot by anyone ever. Most child abuse is heterosexual therefore we can ignore homosexual child abuse (unless by a member of the clergy!).

        • david of Kirkland says

          @Ray Andrews – Interesting, so the police and militaries the world over only want to kill people in large numbers, never to protect from being killed?

          • Ray Andrews says

            @david of Kirkland

            Sorry David, I don’t get your point.

        • RuVaxi says

          @Ray Andrews

          In the US people buy BMWs when a Toyota Corolla does the same job. People buy large homes when they could survive in a mobile home. People eat out at restaurants for 100x the cost of splitting a large can of beans. People fly to faraway places for vacations when they could stay at home.

          They also buy assault rifles when a cheap pistol technically does the same thing at a shooting range.

          I’d bet the people where you live would do the same thing if they had the freedom.

        • Farris says

          @Ray Andrews

          Good luck with the elk. You live in some of the most beautiful country I’ve ever seen.
          I will just leave it at: Beware the data collectors. They love to trade the illusion of safety and security for information.

          • Ray Andrews says


            Yes, they do. As you Yanks like to say — and no words were ever truer — the tree of liberty occasionally needs watering with the blood of tyrants and of patriots, no? You guys know that in your DNA and I salute you for it I’m no fan of Big Sister, I like liberty. But I believe in driver’s licenses, and I believe in gun licenses too, it’s just sane.

      • Tersitus says

        And there I was thinking that people with guns kill people, and people with spoons make people fat. Silly me.

    • Most people who make public comments about guns, whether on social media or in the mainstream media, have very little knowledge about firearms (or, for that matter, about the NRA). US laws about assault rifles, for example, use criteria such as a bayonet mount to define such weapons. The NRA is strongly in favour of prosecuting and punishing the criminal use of guns, but not persons who have a gun and either use it for legitimate purposes such as hunting, target shooting, or self-defence, or (like most people in the last of these categories) never use it at all but know that if the occasion arises, the police will most likely arrive too late to protect the individual’s home and family.

  12. K. Dershem says

    This is a great article. Scientists have the right to engage in public debate about controversial issues like corporal punishment and the supposed link between violence and video games, but it’s deeply dishonest to exaggerate or misrepresent the evidence. Doing so undermines the hard-won authority of science, which is shaky to begin with in the case of social sciences. There should be an inviolable fire wall between scientists acting as citizens expressing their views and scientists reporting the results of their research. The ideological homogeneity within most fields of social science helps obscure the distorting effects of motivated reasoning, at least to the scientists themselves. Many are probably unaware that they’re smuggling value judgments into their policy prescriptions since those values are shared by nearly all of their colleagues. Viewpoint diversity is absolutely essential, as is the work of organizations like Heterodox Academy. Conservative critics of social science are unfortunately correct that many fields have become infected with partisan bias. At some point, scientists might abandon even the pretense of objectivity and openly announce their agendas like the practitioners of grievance studies. I hope disciplines like psychology and sociology can reverse course before it’s too late, because it’s vitally important that citizens and policy-makers have access to accurate and impartial data.

    • PNWmossback says

      “At some point, scientists might abandon even the pretense of objectivity and openly announce their agendas like the practitioners of grievance studies. ”

      My fear is that we are already there. The rot that is the core of the grievance studies has spread throughout our acacemic institutions, in philosophy if not institutional policy. I refer, of course, to the Frankffurt School and the entire concept of Critical Theory. There is a rejection of objective analysis in favor of the belief that all is culturally determined, and rejecting the idea that biology or genetics play a role in human behavior. I see that influence at play in the APA position papers.

  13. In any domain where we are trying to understand things, we create our own narrative to try to make sense of things. This narrative is rarely consistent: we gloss over the inconsistencies and gaps, emphasize what we think is explained well, minimize the value of competing narratives. In a strong scientific field, this will work out ok because others will address the gaps that we gloss over, but in weak fields you end up with contradictions, exaggerated confidence, and simply wrong conclusions all due to the human need for certainty.

  14. Thanks for the article. This is way out of my area of expertise but I do understand that, if you want to have a positive impact, articles critiquing findings are unlikely to have much impact except among those who already agree with you. I love you guys and hope you will recognize this as well intended vice patronizing. All organizations have an agenda. Some less honorable than others. The referenced organizations presumably have been successful in gaining some influence in the field. If not, why worry? If so, they have gained this assumed influence and agenda control because they and their patrons are willing to dedicate more time and effort and/or they are better at organizational strategies/dynamics. There are two obvious options for countering their influence. First is to gain control of the organization and insist upon “real” science. However, building from scratch is much easier than renovation. So, second is to take a lesson from the real world and establish a competing organization. With credible experts, honest methodology, real data and unbiased analysis leading to useful guidelines most of those who honestly care about the field will readily accept you.

  15. Robocrates says

    I don’t disagree with the essential point of the article, but on the topic it discusses…I find the idea that anyone would need to consult research to decide that spanking is a bad idea to be just so cold-blooded.

    “Spanking” is non-consensual battery of a child’s erogenous zones that sexually traumatizes not only spanking fetishists (who seem to be born with an inclination to that paraphilia – and I should know, because I am one of those people, I am describing my own experience) but many more people besides. It’s a horrific crime masquerading as a custom, a (usually state-sanctioned) form of battery that has no place among decent people or any social order worth having.

    It’d be like needing to consult research to decide whether biting a child on the genitals as punishment is a bad idea.

  16. You guys seem to be missing the forest for the trees. Do you want to do something about these issues or just complain about them? I find the opinions and discussion thought provoking but frustrating in that there seems to be resignation to the current state or lack of resolve to affect change. For example, the earlier APA article sponsored by 12 prominent experts would seem to be critical mass to do something beyond writing about these issues. What am I missing?

    • E. Olson says

      RA – What you are missing is the fact that a few brave “soldiers” fighting for a good cause against thousands with a contrary viewpoint will not win many battles (see Thermopylae and Alamo for examples). There are almost no conservatives in the social sciences or humanities, and the few who are tend to keep a low profile because they will end up unemployed or otherwise abused for speaking truth to power. “Objective” research or heaven forbid “Right leaning” research will face near impossible odds of getting published in leading journals, because all the editors and reviewers who make the publishing decision are Leftists, which is problematic for conservative scientist career prospects in “publish or perish” environments. And if you think University administration will do anything to correct the Left-Right imbalance on campus, you will be waiting a long time because administration tends to be even more Leftist than the faculty. But even if some department or administration “sees the light” and would try to recruit Right leaning (or even true centrist) faculty, they will find it even more difficult than trying to find black and female physics professors, because the social sciences and humanities just aren’t recruiting or training conservative doctoral students who will be the future faculty.

      This dynamic will never change until students stop applying to Leftist indoctrination schools and departments, and alumni and other interested parties stop giving donations and gifts to schools that have gone off the deep end.

      • EOlson,

        Thank you for that explanation. I am around that world daily. I am seeing hints of light at the end of the tunnel with Gen Z for whom most do not want the loan burden. The millennials didn’t even question it, for the most part.

        IMO, the institutions cannot be fixed. It’s too ingrained. But the problem encompasses more than just the indoctrination but very old paradigms for career paths.

        A few weeks ago, I met with a friend who is the dean of a large technical school. He said enrollments have doubled from college grads with degrees in social sciences and criminal justice who are competing for low paying careers with thousands. They need to pay back their loans so they figured out they need to learn how to do something with a clear path. They can go less than two years and be making 60-90 thou/ year with positions waiting to be filled.

        I find all this sad. I loved the liberal arts education path. The “whole” person, so to speak. But it doesn’t exist anymore in the realm of ideas, debate, etc. It’s now dark, political and totalitarian.

        No wonder the left is pushing for free college.

        • E. Olson says

          lydia – I’m afraid you are correct about the liberal arts, where the “liberal” has been replaced by the “Leftist” of the totalitarian variety. Technical school is certainly a better choice than a 4 year liberal arts degree for most high school graduates, with much lower costs, faster completion, and clear career paths, but if they really want the college experience the more career oriented undergrad programs that have not yet swallowed whole the Social Justice Koolaid such as STEM and Business/Management still offer a good value proposition.

          • K. Dershem says

            You’re right that some (but not all) technical degrees can provide a better return on investment, but not there’s good evidence that attending liberal arts colleges still pays off economically. In addition, a liberal arts education provides many benefits besides future earning potential.

            “The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has now released a new analysis by two economists that examines the questions of the economic payoff of a liberal arts college education. The study makes no claims that liberal arts grads outearn those in, say, engineering. But the report says the claims that a liberal arts degree isn’t worth its cost or will hurt a graduate’s career prospects prove untrue. Specifically, the report says attending a liberal arts college for most students leads to meaningful economic mobility.”


          • Ray Andrews says

            @E. Olson

            You know, I consider it so established that the universities are now lost that there’s no point in belaboring it. What I want is a battle plan. Do we let them crash and burn and then rebuild? Or would a frontal assault be worth considering? Peterson and Haidt are attacking. Saving civilization is going to be a non-trivial task. The old left — decent folks — and the center and the sane right and the reasonable libertarians — everyone but the PC/woke establishment and/or the criminally insane — are going to have to come up with a plan. Besides moaning at each other here, what are we going to DO? Pass me some ammo.

        • They can probably make more than that driving trucks in fracking fields. I started to make that suggestion to my artist daughter but thought better of it,.

        • E. Olson says

          K. Dershem – ahh the self-selection excuse. Conservatives just don’t want to be professors, because they have other priorities and interests, and perhaps they just aren’t smart enough? Mmm, where have I heard that before? Perhaps something about women, blacks, Hispanics in STEM?

          The Left has been telling everyone for years that such discrepancies could only be due to discrimination, sexism, racism, and nothing whatsoever to do with differences in interests and aptitudes. As a result, STEM departments far and wide through their own initiative or under pressure from administration and campus social justice activists have been lowering standards, redesigned courses to make them less “masculine” and “sciency”, forced faculty to take sensitivity training, offered female and minority only scholarships and other financial assistance, and hired “role model” faculty to make STEM more attractive woman, black, Hispanic or other “underrepresented” groups in STEM.

          Funny how I have never heard of any such initiatives in the social sciences or humanities to increase the number of conservative students and faculty. Haidt has his Heterodox Academy, but as far as I have seen it has done nothing tangible regarding the lack of conservative faculty and students in the social sciences. I certainly haven’t seen any SJ warriors protesting the lack of conservatives and Republicans on campus, quite the opposite.

          • K. Dershem says

            E., So you’re responding to a bad argument on the left (assuming that all disparities are due to discrimination) with an equally bad argument on the right (assuming that conservatives are being kept out of academic by a liberal cabal)? If self-selection is part of the explanation for the relative paucity of women in STEM — I think it almost certainly is — why couldn’t it help explain why conservatives are less likely to pursue careers in academia? You can blithely dismiss the selection-selection hypothesis as an “excuse,” but article I linked to provides arguments and evidence that warrant taking it seriously. I don’t see any indication that you’ve read or considered these arguments.

          • Tersitus says

            I’ve come to think of it as largely a “money and government” problem– get the government out of the “student loan guarantee” and subsidized extended adolescence business, and the self-interest of students and parents and bankers will soon enough shrink numerous department budgets and staffs– and sliding tuition, fee, and books revenues will sober a lot of self-serving university administrators and state legislators. Not to mention stopping the escalation in the student debt debacle.

          • E. Olson says

            K., Actually I’m well aware of the contradiction of my comment, but the difference is that there is substantial proof that the lack of female participation in STEM is due to a lower level of interest among women, and lower black and Hispanic participation likely due to lower IQ. Certainly it would be interesting to see more research on this topic, but Leftist dogma almost certainly thwarts research efforts to consider non-discriminatory factors such as interest and IQ as explanatory factors. Yet consideration of non-discriminatory factors as likely culprits in explaining lower participation is reinforced by the many “affirmative action” efforts over the past 20+ years to increase their participation, which have generally not been very successful.

            On the other hand, there is no evidence that conservative academics have lower IQ, or lower ability in publishing or teaching quality metrics than their liberal counterparts, but there is evidence of consistent discrimination against conservatives and conservative viewpoints, which may dissuade conservatives from graduate school and academic careers (see links). Given that most of the researchers looking at this area are likely Leftists hoping to confirm Leftist academic superiority, this is very damning evidence. These findings also suggests that conservative “affirmative action” could be relatively successful in generating more conservative PhD students and faculty.



          • Ray Andrews says

            @E. Olson

            Yabut it might have all started with a real self-selection. Conservatives are likely to go into business or the real sciences, no? The self-selection, even if very minor at first, would have formed a feedback loop very quickly, no? And as we see once the woke are in control, naturally we have open purges.

          • K. Dershem says

            I never denied that discrimination against conservatives may play some role; I’m simply arguing that self-selection may be a significant factor. Likewise, I’ve never said that liberals are more intelligent than conservatives, nor have I seen any explanations for the disparity which rely on that claim. The self-selection hypothesis is more nuanced than you suggest. Regarding affirmative action for conservatives, I think it may be warranted in fields that are egregiously unbalanced in ideological terms. However, I don’t think that it’s any more realistic to expect that half of sociologists will ever be conservative than it is to demand that half of engineers are female.


            One national experiment, by Gross of Colby College; Ethan Fosse, a graduate student at Harvard University; and Joseph Ma, an undergraduate at the University of British Columbia, employed a “secret shopper” approach to look for political bias — and didn’t find it.

            Posing as undergraduates getting ready to apply to doctoral programs, they sent email messages to graduate program directors in top sociology, political science, economics, history and English departments. The inquiries were similar in describing their academic preparation, their undergraduate institutions and their interest in applying. Some of the emails made no mention of politics, but some mentioned having previously worked on either the Obama or McCain presidential campaigns.

            The researchers then had independent (and politically mixed) observers rate the responses from the graduate directors on frequency, timing of replies, information provided, emotional warmth and enthusiasm. In a few cases, the researchers found “traces” of a political impact, but “no statistically or substantively significant evidence of bias.”

            These findings have generally been used to suggest that professors’ political lopsidedness reflects self-selection (much like the way those in finance may be more conservative than the public at large).

            Gross and Fosse, and Catherine Cheng, a graduate student at the time, contributed to a 2010 book, Diversity in American Higher Education: Toward a More Comprehensive Approach (Routledge), that built on the theory of self-selection. Their research suggested that academics tend to form their views on politics early in life and tend to have certain characteristics (aside from being academics) that are associated with political liberalism. They argued that 43 percent of the political gap can be explained because professors are more likely than others:

            To have high levels of educational attainment.
            To experience a disparity between their levels of educational attainment and income.
            To be either Jewish, nonreligious or a member of a faith that is not theologically conservative Protestant.
            To have a high tolerance for controversial ideas.
            Yet more evidence for the self-selection theory comes from a 2007 study, “Left Pipeline: Why Conservatives Don’t Get Doctorates,” by the husband-and-wife social science team of Matthew Woessner of Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg and April Kelly-Woessner of Elizabethtown College.

            Woessner and Kelly-Woessner based their findings on analysis they did from national surveys of freshmen and seniors conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles. They found that in both choices of majors and in personal values, conservatives seem to be taking themselves off the track for academic careers well before graduate school. The authors did not find evidence of statistically significant differences in grades or measures of academic performance, so most of the report is based on the premise that interests and experiences are at play, not aptitude.

            For starters, the paper finds that conservatives are much more likely to pick majors in professional fields — areas that tend to put students on the fast track for an M.B.A. (or for a job) more than a Ph.D. Only 9 percent of students on the far left and 18 percent of liberals major in professional fields, compared to 33 percent of conservatives and 37 percent of those who identify as being on the far right.

            Further, the study finds that not only (as has been reported many times previously) do students who identify as liberal outnumber those who identify as conservative, but that those who are liberal are much more likely to consider a Ph.D. The UCLA survey of seniors found that only 13 percent of all students were considering a Ph.D. But the numbers were significantly higher for those on the left (24 percent of the far left and 18 percent of liberals) than on the right (11 percent of the far right and 9 percent of conservatives).

          • Ru Vaxi says

            @ E. Olson

            The selection process starts earlier. At this point I don’t think it’s self-selecting conservatives, it’s more like like anyone with an ounce of self-respect regardless of political leanings avoids the social sciences. All that are left are the extremists.

            What is scary is that the social science ideology is rapidly proliferating in STEM. I can easily see biology hopping into the garbage chute right after psychology. My very first assignment in a course on anatomy was to watch a video about sex being a social construct and write an essay about it. Anatomy!

          • Ru Vaxi says

            @ K. Dershem

            You expect people to take any study out of UCLA seriously? This is a school where expecting proper grammar and APA instead of MLA citations are considered acts of racism. Spelling corrections are considered microaggressions. And, of course, administrators agree.


            Inside Higher Ed has it’s own extreme bias, just take a look at the progressive buffet of “Popular Now” articles.

          • K. Dershem says

            Ru Vaxi: you’re entitled to accept or reject sources as you see fit. In general, I think articles should be judged on their own merits rather than being rejected out of hand. The article I quoted includes summaries of multiple peer-reviewed studies and considers a variety of different explanations in a fair-minded way.

  17. Closed Range says

    It’s sad to see the usual European arrogance directed at our American friends. We should point out that mass shootings also happen in Europe with depressing frequency (Charlie Hebdo, Bataclan, and so on). Their ability to acquire ak 47 is shocking. Even one raid in the south of France led the police to find an RPG. I’m not overly sure there’s anything special about America with its mass shootings compared to Europe anymore once adjusting for population. Oh, and sometimes it is right that the only countermeasure to these atrocities is some other armed forces, hence why we have soldiers in full armour and assault rifle in hand patrol the Paris metro. But again, usual European condescension…

    • E. Olson says

      CR – very good point. If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have AK47s. Of course, many of those European mass killings haven’t involved any guns at all, only heavy trucks driven at high speed through shopping districts with the “European” drivers frequently yelling Allahu Akbar. Seems like it is time for a discussion on some “common sense” truck laws.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @E. Olson

        Or a common sense immigration policy? @Closed Range is very Correct in not noticing that almost all of these mass shootings involve a certain ethnic/religious group. Yes, common sense should always be our starting point, but what would common sense driving laws look like vis a vis jihad?

    • ga gamba says

      To my knowledge there are also no grenade attacks in the US.

      One more Swedish thing for the Yanks to yearn for. That country can do no wrong in their eyes – even the rubbish Ikea sells is aspirational.

    • K. Dershem says

      “I’m not overly sure there’s anything special about America with its mass shootings compared to Europe anymore once adjusting for population.”

      “In reality, mass shootings are rare outside the United States — even in the sixteen [European] countries listed by Lott where there was a mass shooting between 2009 and 2015, and even after accounting for population size. But on the rare occasions when mass shootings do take place in European countries, they give rise to a relatively high annual mass shooting death rate in those years because of the comparatively small populations of those countries.

      Between 2009 and 2015, the United States was the only country on that list where someone died every year in a mass shooting. Every other country had at least five out seven years without a death from a mass shooting.”

      Average (mean) Annual Mass Shooting Death Rate, 2009-2015 (per million people) Typical (median) Annual Mass Shooting Death Rate, 2009-2015 (per million people)
      1. Norway — 1.99 1. USA — 0.058
      2. Serbia — 0.38 2. Albania — 0
      3. Macedonia — 0.34 3. Austria — 0
      4. France — 0.34 4. Belgium — 0
      5. Albania — 0.2 5. Czech Republic — 0
      6. Slovakia — 0.19 6. Finland — 0
      7. Switzerland — 0.14 7. France — 0
      8. Finland — 0.13 8. Germany — 0
      9. Belgium — 0.13 9. Italy — 0
      10. Czech Republic — 0.12 10. Macedonia — 0
      11. USA — 0.09 11. Netherlands — 0
      12. Austria — 0.07 12. Norway — 0
      13. Netherlands — 0.05 13. Russia — 0
      14. United Kingdom — 0.05 14. Serbia — 0
      15. Germany — 0.02 15. Slovakia — 0
      16. Russia — 0.01 16. Switzerland — 0
      17. Italy — 0.01 17. United Kingdom — 0

      • E. Olson says

        Sure – that makes sense to compare median mass-shootings per year between Norway (5 million people) or Albania (3 million) and the US (300+ million), because statistically we should expect the same frequency of results in a country 100 times bigger.

        And of course lets ignore the other types/methods of mass violence such as knife attacks, grenade attacks, bombings, truck attacks, acid attacks.

        • K. Dershem says

          Taken together, the E.U. has a population which exceeds that of the U.S. You evidently didn’t read or understand the article (I’m see a trend), because the small population of countries like Norway is precisely what makes averages misleading when there are outlier incidences like the Brevik rampage.

  18. Feminist Frequency is not an organisation to be cited in any kind of admiration. It is so fraudulent that it asked for donations to raise $35,000 to purchase a Discord chat room – even though it is a free service.

    They also preach that Mario is oppressing Zelda and that he ought to leave her and the monster who kidnaps her alone. A man rescuing a woman is P R O B L E M A T I C

  19. CogitoBcn says

    I find very weird to describe these Europeans terrorists attacks as “mass shootings”. Technically they can be, but I thought that “mass shootings” refered to the ones done by single (unstable individuals) with no special preparation. Obviously terrorist groups have access to illegal guns, and gun banning wouldn’t affect them anyway.

  20. I’d like to know more about the research on spanking. The author mentions inconsistent findings on whether spanked children show increased violence levels.

    How old were the children? How often were they spanked and for what reasons? What about the later effects? Are spanked children more likely to become spankers themselves, or more violent in general? What about increased levels of masochism? Are spanked children more likely to become victims of abuse?

    • Problems with scientific research on spanking:

      – you can’t do proper trials like with plants, animals or certain neutral treatments with people, because spanking as the only varying treatment is almost immoral
      – most research depends on what parents or children tell you , and this is never trustworthy (how often did you hit your daughter, which body parts?? did your mother hit you hard or just gently after mischief?) children often protect even their spanking parents, or will either exaggerate ,or do the opposite )
      – the conditions of spanking (in outrage, after confronting child with the mischief, intentions at the moment) is all important, but how to find out of the perpetrators or victims?
      – even less trustworthy is to get the information of people not directly involved, neighbours, other family members

      I think, spanking yes or no, and how, is more a problem of the culture/belief of the parents, than of any effectivity, damage or functioning pedagogy.

    • These are the problems with anti-spanking “research”.

      The main point is that these studies are conducted with an preferable end state in mind, one that they use all sorts of misleading tactics to achieve.

      I guarantee this study would fall in the category of the “replication crisis” that is currently destroying the social science world.

  21. Heath says

    Reading George Orwell’s book 1984 again. Very scary similarities in today’s landscape. Could be a training manual for the far left. Reader beware. Great article by the way

    • @heath, Dystopian novels are required reading in high school English in my state. Good? No. They are taught as totalitarian thought manuals for right wingers/republicans/libertarians/conservatives. The entire message is lost concerning government control of citizens. They are taught as good government takes care of you. No correlation to the concept of “self governing” is mentioned. I recalled that Hillary Clinton named 1984 as her favorite novel as if she were against a government nanny state and totalitarianism.

      They should help students see that governments are necessary evils and should be as limited as possible for maximum personal freedom to create and innovate.

      • K. Dershem says

        “The entire message is lost concerning government control of citizens. They are taught as good government takes care of you.” Lydia, could you provide some evidence for this bizarre assertion? Are you actually claiming that English teachers portray Big Brother as being benevolent and approach the novel as if it’s utopian?

      • Ray Andrews says


        “that governments are necessary evils ”

        There is truth in that, but it can be put less confrontationally. I’d say that governments are essential in any advanced society, but like any and all power structures they have a tendency to fall into totalitarianism and corruption. My garden has a tendency to grow weeds, but I do not hate my garden, I just recognize that I have to work to keep it the way I want it.

      • Ru Vaxi says


        In the school where I volunteer the vast majority of students who read go for the dystopian novels on their own, ie Hunger Games, Maze Runner, etc. If anything the Divergent series is much like the left’s wildest socialist/communist dreams come true. All peoples are divided by identity and role as assigned by the government. Set in post-apocalyptic Chicago no less.

        However, 1984, Animal Farm & Brave New World are tougher (not so much teen romance) and something their parents would have read, so the kids are less likely to pick them up.

  22. Boris says

    Maybe, just maybe, the people who advocate using violence against children should bear the burden of proof on this one.

  23. “But the APA’s resolution has become a go-to source for politicians and the National Rifle Association whenever they want to distract the populace from talking about guns after a high-profile shooting.”

    So let’s talk guns. Older baby boomer boys received and played with toy guns as a rite of passage. Go back and look at toy ads from 40’s and 50’s. Then look at that population in terms of violence with ‘fewer’ gun laws. What’s the difference?

  24. “The second is the culture of institutions. From my experience and perspective, these tend to function on a corporate structure… they do not appear to foster an appropriate level of critical thinking, skepticism, caution, or solicitation of opposing views… This is a recipe for conformity and groupthink. (… APA policy appears to forbid scholarly special interest groups under its fold from taking public positions that differ from its own central stated positions…consistent with a business but not an academic or scholarly model.) ”

    The classic model of a capitalist business actually forces critical, creative thinking, or the business dies. The academic model has built in incentives for the groupthink we observe. It could only survive so long as there was diversity of thought. Groupthink came first.

    Now, you may accurately point to Google’s treatment of James Damore as a business exemplifying advanced hardening of the categories, but this is also only possible where diversity of thought is suppressed – and where amoral business practices are hidden from customers. That may be business, but it will not be good business in the long run.

    As to “ignoring entire fields of research,” and “task force[s] appear[ing] … stacked with people who had taken prior … views,” we can see this rot in the social sciences penetrating the hard sciences. The IPCC folks serve as a clear example.

  25. scribblerg says

    Yawn, yet another guy who went along with the insanity until his ox got gored. Sure, he’s correct in his commentary here, as far as it goes. But notice that none of it means he changes his eminently progressive value system, lol.

    He cites the goals of “Feminist Frequency” for example, as laudable. For the record, Anita Sarkeesian began as a web based direct marketing/biz opp hustler. She was looking for an online business. She was not a video gamer at all and really knew nothing about the field. She did have her head filled with all kinds of non-science about “gender equality” in undergrad so off she went. She then used victimhood and her gender as a shield from legit criticism.

    Note how the author seems to excuse Anita as driven by good will and correct values, but just made a mistake relying on zero science or actual reasoning based on known facts when making her video. It seems to never occur to her that she’s primarily a hustler and seeking to aggrandize herself by using progressive morality and tropes. Somehow, the fact that she’s badly wrong in her criticisms and and analysis doesn’t corrupt her entire enterprise. Why?

    Cuz this guy has bought into the central axiom of the Left that all the folks he complains about do. It’s a radical egalitarianism based on zero science or evidence in the real world. People are not “equal” and “gender” is a term of vocabulary, describing the sexual properties of words, not anything useful about identity.

    What the U.S. promises is equal treatment under the law. Not equal social outcomes. In fact, in nature, unequal outcomes are the norm. You see, this guy, as with all leftists have bought into a view of the world based on them escaping human nature. They don’t want to face the simple truth that all life is in competition with other life to succeed and thrive. Gaining advantage and wealth and property and mates, etc – all part of it. People of all races and both sexex have long sought to better themselves and their social outcomes with varying levels of success. Yet, to the average leftist, this fundamental truth of humanity – it’s essential inequality.

    Of course, we want a govt that doesn’t treat us differently under the law. But nothing beyond that is moral for the state to be involved with if you actually accept individual liberty and sovereignty.

    While I do appreciate the attempt to “whistle blow” on the APA here, I think the author has a long way to go morally and intellectually wrt appreciating exactly where he’s gone wrong. He seems to not see his own hand at work in all this, hopefully he’ll wake up to his own culpability for this state of affairs. Elites like him have gone along with many totalitarian govts ideals while objecting to specific policies for a very long time. It’s a kind of “two step” that achieves their moral victory while not paying an actual social/professional price.

    • EOlson. Thanks for the insight. I’m officially depressed, though not prepared to accept the premise that, for example, the APA’s ivory tower is unassailable given the initiative and expertise to act as opposed to lament the situation. Uninitiated, I see the problem as one of multiple fronts. Together they appear invincible. Separated, especially excluding academia, they probably are not. For example, most of the therapists and others who are the “audience” for the APA and AAP are probably not in academia and could be reached by a more public rebuttal than what is contained herein unless, of course, they have already been irreversibly tainted by their academic training. I readily admit that fixing the on campus problem is a long term effort subject to separate initiative.

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  27. Timothy A Cavell PhD says

    Dr. Ferguson, as a member of APA’s Council of Representatives myself (representing the Society for Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology), it was disappointed to read your piece. To make such sweeping and negative generalizations is to ignore so much of the process that occurred and that lead to this resolution. I know you have concerns about that process and that you find particular fault when that process is used to address issues related to violence and video games, but please consider the potentially misleading and disfiguring nature of the statements you are issuing.

      • Timothy A Cavell PhD says

        not really.

        we were at the same meeting. he sat 10 feet from me. we read the same material. we heard the same arguments. he knows his missteps and over-generalizations. I’m simply asking him to own them.

        • You ask for a public disavowal of unknown complaints. Without declaring any hint of their origin. Your intent is automatically as suspect as are your objections.

        • scribblerg says

          Yo, Timbo – you aren’t making a cogent argument. Why not cite the inaccuracies so we can judge Dr. Ferguson’s accuracy and honesty for ourselves? You see, without substance I cannot evaluate your claims.

          Dr. Ferguson has made substantive claims about the research data in his field of not supporting the conclusions of the APA guidelines That’s his claim. Do you have data to refute that?

          I know it’s very important for you to know that we know you have PhD, Tim. One wonders how you got so far academically without learning how to make a proper argument or actually debate people. Your tone here suggests there is no need to share your actual concerns with the rest of us, I guess we are mere troglodytes to you. You must chew our food for us first I guess, yes? Or so you believe?

          Come down from your self-procured pedestal and be real with us. Are you capable of it?

    • Spoken like a true cadre of the neoliberal nanny state.

      BTW, what exactly about the “process” you mention augments the “resolution” you reference? I hope these aren’t just professional weasel words.

    • Difficult to believe anything that comes from the APA after the social justice nonsense “gender is non-binary” in the recent guidelines for boys and men.

      “As Steven Pinker argues in The Blank Slate, producing nostrums of pseudo-science to support an advocacy position is highly risky and may be counterproductive to that advocacy position in the long run”.

      Chris hit the nail on the head, Timothy. The APA’s “process” is utterly corrupt, owned by ideologues, and the APA’s reputation is in tatters.

      • Tersitus says

        Co-opting the language per usual, those Socialist Justice Witchhunters— in the age of the PC police, I don’t think we can say it enough——- Since we think with language (check out Charles Taylor’s The Language Animal), to control language is to control thought. Let Free Thought Live. Lord give us Shakespeares who mint words faster than the PC nits can ban them.

  28. GregS says

    It is time to abolish tenure and replace academic employment protections with five and ten year contracts.

    Guess what? If any state tries this, academia will fight back through accreditation boards.

    • Or maybe it’s time to stop subsidizing education in the soft social sciences.

      • E. Olson says

        EK – that would be sexist because the social sciences (and humanities) are where female faculty have their strongest foothold. They also need all the subsidies they can get, because it is much more difficult to get big research grants for studying transgender bathroom issues or the spanking of infants versus research on new solar panel designs, hydrogen fuel cells, or lasers. Thus you would be throwing thousands of female PhDs out in the street, and reducing the number of future BA and MA graduates with $100,000+ student loans and barista jobs at Starbucks.

        • Ray Andrews says

          @E. Olson

          It’s why we need welfare — we can’t have the PhDs in Victim Studies just dying in the gutters can we? And we can hardly expect them to work, they have no idea what that is mostly. Retraining will take time and so we have to feed them in the interim.

    • scribblerg says

      It’s time for all of us to stop spending six figures sending our kids to these propaganda mills. It’s time for us to get our kids to register for online classes for the bulk of their undergrad credits.

      Fyi, current forecast is that as many as 50% of higher ed institutions will be out of business within 10 years in the U.S. We have massive over capacity and massive price inflation, a shakeout is coming.

      • Ray Andrews says


        Can you substantiate that? Fantastic news if true. Heck maybe we don’t need to retake the institutions by force, we can just wait for them to go derelict, sweep out the bat droppings and start again from zero.

  29. david of Kirkland says

    Any group that believes that gender dysphoria is a normal mental state has no reason to exist for scientific reasons. I mean, these people want to cut their bodies and take hormones for their entire lives to deny their body’s reality. That’s not a choice anymore than it’s sane to choose to kill yourself , cut yourself, starve yourself, gain massive weight, take lots of druges, etc.when life is good

    • David, good point. They discredit themselves. And it causes one to question any of their edicts. For example, with the spanking issue, is it another step towards stripping parents of their natural authority? We’ve already seen courts removing gender confused teens from parents who don’t support transition.

  30. The absolute stupidity of the ‘thou shalt not spank idiots’:

    Pain is natures way of telling you you hadn’t otta do something. My daughter was born in NYC and you can not reason with a one, two or five year old child. It was very important that she understood when I said STOP, that she should stop and not, instead, run out in to the street and NYC traffic looking over her shoulder saying; “Why, daddy, why?

    It took a few swats on her butt to teach her that but that pain was a far better thing than a trip to the emergency room or the cemetery!

    I will of course admit that, by the standards of the ‘woke’ today, she grew up terribly traumatized becoming relatively conservative and a productive member of society after taking her degree in Engineering, rather than Bagpiping, Astrobiology, or Women’s Studies.

  31. Sydney says

    “This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and I certainly don’t wish to imply any bad faith.”

    But it IS a bad thing, and bad faith IS at the bottom of it.

    “The bottom line is that professional guilds such as the APA and AAP have a demonstrable track record of unreliability when speaking on matters of science.”

    Yes! This should be sung from the rooftops and repeated on MSM, but of course it won’t be. MSM needs simple content that sounds official to regurgitate, so it’s entirely complicit.

    I’m anti-corporal punishment, and happened to have one incredibly ‘easy’ son; and then another son with the developmental issues referred to by Ross Greene, PhD in his seminal ‘The Explosive Child.’

    I raised both without any violence (pinching, swatting, hitting, time-outing…), trained them both in martial arts (black-belt level) and they’re both fantastic and non-violent teenagers.

    Violence is entirely unnecessary. However, these guilds are a hazard to society. The medical, dental, and psychiatric ones are even worse.

  32. Ru Vaxi says

    Nice article, though it’s just the same story in a different setting without any sort of resolution.

    There the sad professor sits, beaten and bruised, wringing hands and tearing hair over the injustice of it all. Meanwhile his undisciplined children rampage throughout the ivory tower, throwing furniture out the windows, murdering the family pets, and gleefully burning all his precious books. Would belt whipping or two have ultimately been less damaging?

    The End

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  34. estepheavfm says

    Here’s some research facts the geniuses at the APA have been avoiding like the plague:

    “Female Jesse Pomeroys – 26 Female Serial Killers under the age of 18” — just published on Female Serial Index.

    You will be pretty surprised to see what’s been swept under the rug (because the facts don’t fit the leftist narrative).

  35. There are an estimated 120,000,000 victims of genital blood sacrifice alive in America alone says

    Ctrl+F circumcision.

    Amazing how an article on the political/religious motivations of the AAP can completely fail to mention their role in perpetuating genital blood sacrifice on children.

    This blind spot has destroyed the Commonwealth for five generations. Let’s raise awareness so we don’t have religious zealots define child rearing policy.

  36. Rick Phillips says

    I believe that the discussion Quillette readers have had here will soon become moot (at least in Canada).

    This enactment removes the justification in the Criminal Code available to schoolteachers, parents and persons standing in the place of parents of using force as a means of correction toward a pupil or child under their care.

    It provides the Government with up to one year between the dates of royal assent and coming into force, which could be used to educate Canadians and to coordinate with the provinces.

    BILL S-206

    An Act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children against standard child-rearing violence)

    Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

    R.S., c. C-46
    1. Section 43 of the Criminal Code is repealed.

    Criminal Code
    Clause 1: Existing text of section 43:

    43. Every schoolteacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent is justified in using force by way of correction toward a pupil or child, as the case may be, who is under his care, if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances.

  37. Social “science” has devolved completely into a smell, repulsive swamp of intellectual sewage and pretzel logic. All brought to you by vile liberal fascist :educators:.

    • Question Circumcision says

      Agreed. These days I don’t trust any research relating to the human mind or body that’s not a well formed experiment in the fields of biochemistry or molecular biology.

      Researchers note a marked and persistent increase in blood cortisol following traumatic genital surgery? Okay, I’m listening.

      Some zealot who thinks it’s appropriate to quote the fucking Old Testament in a medical journal? Maybe there’s a reason Europe banned them from all positions of authority.

  38. Phil Shaffer says

    I agree with your theses… however, how would you go about constructing an expert panel to make recommendations? Your logic leads to excluding those who have worked in the specific area before. So you would have an expert panel of non-experts. ?!?!?!
    For myself, I can’t think of a way to construct a perfectly objective panel. The best I could hope for would be a group of people who are honest enough (and secure enough) to be able to say “I was wrong”. That isn’t so easy, either

  39. @Timothy Cavell PhD — If the author is guilty of “missteps and generalizations,” I’d be interested in hearing what they are. I mean that sincerely. But it’s odd to simply assert that and then put the burden on him to “own” them and reveal what they are. If you don’t want to engage in a discussion of them here, that’s understandable. But better then not to post anything. To chime in like that, without explaining your claims — well, that’s not standard academic discourse. Or at least it shouldn’t be.

    P.S. The past tense of “lead” is “led” not “lead.” You’re welcome.

  40. Pingback: "Motivated reasoning" is defacing the social sciences? | Uncommon Descent

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  42. luysii says

    Social scientists call themselves scientists for the same reason chiropracters call themselves doctors

  43. James Hamilton says

    The problem for many people – for instance those of us who live in Scotland where smacking is probably about to be banned – is that our politicians do not take these things with a grain of salt. They use them to inform policy making and that is bad for everyone.

  44. Meg Underdown says

    Smacking can increase violence. Some children get smacked as parents only give attention to bad behaviour so smacking ‘rewards’ bad behaviour. Many, if not all prisoners I met had been smacking and it certainly hadn’t stopped bad behaviour. My children weren’t smacked but have grown up to be respectable citizens.

  45. George Campbell says

    I was subjected to corporal punishment throughout my childhood, both at home and school,as we’re most of my friends and most of us survived to be well balanced,productive members of society. While it had no major Ill effects on my mind or body,it reinforced my naturally anti-violent, pacifistic tendencies, and led to my not chastising my Daughter and Son, on the one occasion I struck my daughter, (a slap on the back of a stockinged leg) the expression of surprise and disbelief on her face led me never to do so again. When I hit my Boy for the one and only time, I did so in anger and immediately, bitterly regretted it, i now have Grandchildren who have been raised with nothing but loving advice and guidance and they are turning out to be fine young men.

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