- The Washington Times - Friday, August 18, 2000

Unreal reality

"Fiction on TV is losing out to reality… .

"But those who claim to be realistic need to be asked what they believe is real. 'Reality TV' conveys a world view which, more often than not, is just as fictional as a sitcom.

" 'Survivor,' the summer's biggest hit, imposes a heavy-handed Darwinism on the Robinson Crusoe premise. It is indeed intriguing to watch how a cross-section of humanity thrown together on a tropical island gets along and how they manage without the modern conveniences we have all become used to. But the show's creators insist on turning the dilemma into a competition, a survival of the fittest… .

"If television's 'Survivor' is a microcosm of today's world and of today's society, eating rats and maggots are the least of our worries."

— Gene Edward Veith, writing on "Alternate Reality," in the Aug. 12 issue of World

'Doubtful thoughts'

"The [American Psychological Association] boasts of being 'the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States.' True enough. But when was the last time you heard a bunch of scientists gather to hear colleagues and guests bemoan institutional racism, condemn the B-1 and B-2 bombers, vilify Dr. Laura, deify Ralph Nader and, most curiously, suggest that Americans have an inordinate fear of pedophilia?

"And yet these were among the subjects that members of the APA considered … as 13,500 of the organization's 159,000 members fanned out across four hotels and the Washington Convention Center to participate in seminars and panel discussions… .

"Last year the APA was awarded $1.4 million from the National Institutes of Health. Separately, the NIH gave more than $364 million to psychology departments for research and training.

"So what kind of knowledge do these well-funded people have to impart? …

"On Saturday, UCLA psychology Prof. Stuart Fischoff led a Phil Donahue-style discussion about the movie 'American Beauty,' bounding up to audience members with his microphone. One person told him hesitantly that the father in the movie — the Kevin Spacey character who cavorts with his daughter's friend — seemed to have 'doubtful thoughts' about 'younger girls.'

"For the APA, such a comment … was going very far. Indeed, the APA convention program blurb for the screening of 'American Beauty' had read: 'Pedophilia-phobes, not to worry, this is definitely not Lolita.'

"Pedophilia-phobes? This phrase no doubt refers to the APA's 1999 nightmare: the 'study,' published in the APA's Psychological Bulletin, claiming that the 'negative potential' of sex abuse was 'over-stated.' "

— Evan Gahr, writing on "All Psyched Out," in the Aug. 11 Wall Street Journal

Psychobabble schools

"[S]chools today promote success without achievement, ethics without religion, and character without morals. Educators proclaim the message of self-esteem, but any attempt to pull ahead of the crowd is discouraged … because it might make everyone else feel different. Amid all the noisy chatter about 'relevancy' and 'real-world' experiences, our schools have obliterated the concept of failure… .

"Today's 'humanized' educational environment is short on transmission of knowledge and long on market research, human experimentation, and psychobabble… .

"All the Einsteins who ever flunked algebra, all the Beethovens who ever composed without hearing, all the mavericks who somehow catapulted civilization thousands of years beyond where it would have been — to the asylum with them. Gently, if possible. Kicking and screaming, if necessary. Resistance is futile."

— B.K. Eakman, writing on "Uncle Sam's Classroom," in the September issue of Chronicles

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