Category Archives: Psychological and Sociological Science

A Post List

I keep failing to link to my work over at the Da Tech Guy. So I’ve got quite the list.  As you will see, I am really stuck on the subject of education, but hey.  I’s kinda my raisin duh etra lately. I did throw in a little about food, and about introversion.

Dot Gov Sites for Children: We Make Propaganda Fun!

Our History, Gone Like a Dream of Yesterday

Common Core Standards:  The Measuring Stick with no Measurements

The Culmination of Progressive Education

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

The Post in Which the Introvert Navel-Gazes

Okay then, folks.  Click em and read em if you have the time and inclination.  I sure appreciate every single reader I get, now that I’m no longer as dependable nor sociable a blogger.





The Tragedy of The Commons, Children’s Edition

The whole “the kids don’t belong to you; they belong to the community” bit is just a less cagey way of saying “it takes a village,” so at least Melissa Harris-Perry gets points for honesty.

My favorite part of the “All Your Children Are Belong To Us” MSNBC Promo comes at the end:

“Once it’s everybody’s responsibility and not just the household’s, then we start making better investments.”

I marvel at the sheer act of willful blindness required in order to believe such a complete load of male bovine manure.  I mean, let’s all apply this to our front yards, shall we, and then hold our breath while we wait for the neighbors to come mow ours?

You know, corporations are a kind of microcosm of the larger society.  Corporate-y type folks who make their living ensuring that a corporation “makes better investments” have noticed that the truth is exactly inverse to Ms. Harris-Perry’s statement:

When everyone is responsible, no one is responsible.

And haven’t the sociological/psychological types done study after study and pretty much come up with the same truth regarding human nature?

I wonder if Ms. Harris-Perry, being a good collectivist and all, would respect Garrett Hardin‘s belief that human overpopulation is a serious global threat?  If so, maybe she could also put some merit into his concept of The Tragedy of the Commons:

“In 1974 the general public got a graphic illustration of the “tragedy of the commons” in satellite photos of the earth. Pictures of northern Africa showed an irregular dark patch 390 square miles in area. Ground-level investigation revealed a fenced area inside of which there was plenty of grass. Outside, the ground cover had been devastated.

The explanation was simple. The fenced area was private property . . . .”

Yeah.  Let’s all ignore a truth so obvious that even a Malthusian human ecologist with totalitarian tendencies can see it, and let’s “break through” the private idea that kids belong to their parents.  Let’s engage in an experiment called The Tragedy of the Commonly Cared-for Children, because Miss MSNBC Lady says things’ll turn out just peachy.

Good grief.

I haven’t seen a more sure sign of the decline of our society since I first saw somebody pushing one of those dog strollers through the park.

Yeah, that's right.  I'm hating on the cute dog's stroller.

Yeah, that’s right. I’m hating on the cute dog’s stroller.

Feminism and Politics

The whole “female” aspect of politics sure is running strong lately.  First, it was the Sandra Fluke thing, about which I didn’t bother to post.

Then, I got all et up with the “Top 25 Political Moms” contest, which turned into a no-holds-barred, claws-out feminist v. conservative battle-to-the-death, or something.  (Like poor old Henry Gunther, I got cut off at the very end, landing in #26.)

Next came Hilary Rosen’s new and exciting mashup of Marxist class warfare with The Mommy Wars.  Then, I get this tweet about whether the gender gap in voting might be permanent.  (I know a solution to this problem, but a lot of you won’t like it . . .)

In the midst of all this, here I am trying to prepare for Offend A Feminist week.

This is my credulous face.

And preparation I sorely need, for although I am female and therefore qualified in at least some respect to comment on All Things Feminine, my view of “feminism” as a field of sociological thought is about the same as my view of “psychiatry” as a field of medicine, which is to say I view them dimly and from as far away as possible, wearing my credulous face all the while.

My understanding of “feminism” was no better back in the day when I fancied myself a feminist-type professional.  If the “old me” were forced to pull a definition out of her nether regions, she might have said this:  feminism is the political movement which gave women their due rights, requiring men to treat them as equals instead of as second class citizens.

Thanks to anecdotal evidence and additional experience, I am now more aware of the leftist underpinnings of the feminist movement.  Beyond that, I can’t say much more.  I’ve never taken a class, nor read a book on the topic.  Blog buds like American Housewife and Missy Sandbox clearly know more.  (Perhaps you kind ladies can gin up a “feminism for dummies” post for the likes of me.  Ha.)

As much as I might wish otherwise, the feminist movement is not relegated to the history books.  This movement is alive and well today.  So, I have made an effort to educate myself about what “feminism” means in the political landscape of 2012.  I used the “Top 25 Political Moms” contest site as a starting point.  Here’s what I found.

Over at PhD in Parenting (via Mamafesto), I learned that the Mommy Wars are not about different opinions on parenting.  Rather, the problem is we don’t have the right governmental policies in place to support mothers:

“As with real wars, these mommy wars are not truly about a clash between moms, but about a system that has let people down, poured fuel on the fire, and left each family to fend for themselves.”

If Congress would just subsidize day care, pay for all employees’ maternal and paternal leave, and fast track that universal health care (freeing folks up from those healthcare-covering jobs they hate), then maybe the Mommy Wars would just go away.  Don’t worry, the government will get the funds needed from those evil rich people, Insha’ Allah.

Over at Feminste, I learned that requiring a single mom to work in order to get federal assistance is really, really mean because:

“The crux of the issue is that Mitt Romney’s definition of ‘stay-at-home mom,’ like his definition of ‘good mom,’ is limited to women in his racial group and economic class. I would wager a lot of money that when Romney made those comments in January, he wasn’t even thinking of the term ‘stay-at-home mom’ — because a low-income mother who relies on state aid is not a stay-at-home mom. She’s a welfare cheat, or lazy, or a drain on society. She’s undignified.”

Of course, this quote is not based on Mr. Romney’s own words, but from the feminist’s interpretation of conservative fiscal policy.  Funny, how not wanting to pay an endless stream of federal tax dollars for an activity the government cannot control (motherhood) gets demonized as the act of a meanie who thinks moms are lazy, cheating, and undignified.

Over at The Radical Housewife, I learned that “FREE FEMALE LABOR PROPS UP OUR ECONOMY,” which is bad, because it helps prop up capitalism.  And capitalism is bad.  Apparently, the feminists of yore screwed up Big Time, because:

“The revolution should have demanded as many stay-at-home dads as female CEOs.  But it didn’t.  The goals of the movement became allied with making money, which is one reason why feminism gets accused of being anti-family.  Family is so precious is cannot be allied with something DIRTY like MAKING MONEY!  It’s the madonna/whore binary all over again.”

Okey-dokey, then.  Does anyone see why I try to stay clear of feminism?

Over at the Monologues of Dissent, mercifully no opinion is offered as to the wisdom or lucidity of Hilary Rosen, Sandra Fluke nor anyone else as of late (save Governor Walker).  Still, I learned that the stereotyping of girls as the ones who like to attend dances, and boys as the ones who could care less about dances, is a form of gender discrimination that should be combatted.


If we humans don’t have real problems, we’ll just make ’em up if we need ’em, right?

Finally, over at One Flew Over The Playpen, I learned how the government is the entity that will resolve our “Mommy War” differences, if only we let it:

“The real story is that it IS a major problem that every mother does not have the ability to stay home for more than a handful of weeks when her children are born.  And by stay home, I mean the very hard job of providing the constant, grueling care that goes into raising a child.  Our government simply does not truly value the importance of giving women this time with their family, no matter what their economic situation is.

Stay-at-home moms – you know this.  You know you WANT every woman to have the ability to stay at home with their kids during the day if that’s right for them . . . .  So if for even a second, you are feeling compassionate for picked-on Ann Romney, think about whether her husband as president would do anything to make raising children easier for women.  Does he support extended paid maternity leave?” /italics added/

Ah, there you go.  American moms don’t have value unless the federal government recognizes them with cash dollars.  So. . . if Romney started touting extended paid maternity leave, would he then become a darling of the feminists?

/cue crickets/

Clever, too, is the insistence that I, as a stay-at-home mom, “know” that I want every woman to have the ability to stay at home with her kids.

I want every woman to have the ability to stay at home with her kids?  Well, sure.  That would be great, if possible.   Unfortunately, some women sabotage their own best interests, including their ability to stay at home with the kids.  Unfortunately, some men sabotage their partner’s best interests, including their partner’s ability to stay at home with the kids.

The government cannot fix these problems.

I want every woman to get exactly what they want out of life.  I want them to be smart enough to realize that libertarian and conservative policies will maximize their liberty.

I want them to have a pony, too.

The thing is, not every woman wants a pony.  Not every woman wants to marry wisely.  Not every woman wants to be a stay at home mom.

And that’s okay.  I’m totally cool with that.

I wish the left were cool with that, too.

Cross posted at Disrupt The Narrative


Oh, goody!  A study in the December issue of APA’s Journal of Family Psychology concludes that “working moms feel better than stay-at-home moms.”

Could it be?  Ah, yes, it’s a twofer, combining the emotion-prevoking Mommy Wars with yet another Study of Dubious Utility.

A Google search unearthed the opinion of a professional feminist, which I’m not exactly sure what that is, other than someone I’m not likely to agree with often, but by golly I agree on this one:

 ” . . . personally, I think there are some days when I am [happy], some days when I’m not. This isn’t a race. There isn’t a shortage of happiness in this world, and the way people are splitting ‘The Motherhood’ into two camps just [bleeps] me off.”

Well, yes.

Something else is annoying, though, beyond the dubious utility and the arbitrary division.

Who likes it when other people think they know best?  So when I hear this:

“lead author . . . says the real message of her study is this: get a job, whether full-time or part-time,”

my reaction is, don’t tell me what to do.

The vagaries of life haven’t offered me much in the way of universal truths, but one thing I can say with certainty:  staying at home doesn’t make me unhappy, and likewise working wouldn’t make me unhappy, either.

I make myself unhappy.

That’s right, I cause my own unhappiness–and sometimes outright misery–no matter what my daily circumstances, which have varied greatly in the last forty years, I might add, and through all those changes I have always managed to maintain an impressively unhealthy level of worry, anxiety, insecurity, and general malaise.

Furthermore, no amount of scientific study, psychological profiling, or helpful advice will decrease said level of worry, anxiety, insecurity, general malaise, and outright misery.  I’ll lower the levels when it suits me, if it suits me, on my own time, and in my own way.

Just so we’re clear on the matter.

Ohhhhhhh . . . Who Lives In A Pineapple Under The Sea?

SpongeBob SquarePants!

Absorbent and yellow and porous is he . . .

SpongeBob SquarePants!

If nautical nonsense be something you wish . . .

SpongeBob SquarePants!

Then drop on the deck and flop like a fish!

Or . . . maybe not.  Study:  SpongeBob Causes Attention Problem in Kids.

Tartar sauce!  If that’s true, we’re in trouble in this house.  My kids weren’t just raised on SpongeBob, they were steeped in it:

The younger at 18 months.

Must so many people insist on conducting studies of dubious utility? Holy fish paste, I bet we can just skip the scientific studies and stipulate that TV is not generally not good for human grey matter.  We could probably even agree that the more “frenzied” fare is worse than calmer stuff.

But why, pray tell, does the study target SpongeBob specifically, while the contrasted educational show is generic: “a truncated episode of a realistic Public Broadcasting Service cartoon about a typical US preschool-aged boy?”

Furthermore, why is PBS featured as the purveyor of highbrow, educational stuff?  Don’t they know that PBS is responsible for introducing poor, helpless, innocent preschool children to . . . Boohbah?!?  (I dare the uninitiated to click the YouTube link and watch.  The whole.  Thing.  Triple dog dare.)

Are Squidward’s tenticle-prints all over this so-called study? Or is a larger evil behind the libel . . .

Uh, I mean a smaller evil.

But seriously now.  Like most shows, SpongeBob has lived past its expiration date.  The new stuff is sadly unfunny.  Yet, who can deny the comedic genius of episodes like Shanghaied, Frankendoodle, and Idiot Box?  How about Hooky, Life of Crime, or No Free Rides?

What about the creme de la creme:  SpongeBob ScaredyPants?
If you aren’t familiar with any of this, well, barnacles.  You should be.  And for the record, SpongeBob is neither rude nor crass.  Annoying, maybe, but that’s just part of the charm of this sweet and terribly naive guy, uh, invertebrate.
Anyway, I hope the study’s authors are not typical academics.  If they are, they really shouldn’t complain about cartoons causing attention deficits.  After all, if you’re paying attention, you’re probably not voting Democrat . . .

A Self-Licking Ice Cream Cone

Oh, for pity’s sake.

Not another one of those “parents are more unhappy” studies.

When I first ran into this theme, I confess to feeling a bit indignant.  This irritation fueled no less than two posts, chock-full of philosophic parental profundities like “if parenting is really that miserably hard, then maybe you are doing it wrong.”

I’m all out of indignation, so I won’t be defending family life today.  I will, however, roll my eyes as far into the back of my head as physically possible. 

I’ve never studied sociology.  Anybody out there more schooled on that particular subject?  If so, by all means enlighten me.  Is this the extent of that social science’s usefulness?

“The take-away from the research (is) that if you are a parent or want to become a parent, understand what you are getting yourself into and be prepared for a lot of hard work, sweat and tears — even under the best of conditions.”

The point of all this research . . . to conclude that parenting is hard work.

How many people get paid a full-time salary to reach conclusions like these?

If this example is the best fruit that sociology has to offer, then a favorite phrase of my husband’s comes to mind.  I think I’ll make it the title of this post.

Hey.  A new social theory just occurred to me.  Just now.  I would like to see research on the association between sociology and our culture’s well-being.  My theory is that we’d all be much happier if most of these experts decided to become plumbers, butchers, and bakers.  Maybe even candlestick makers.

Tom Smith over at Right Coast has a good take and a lighter touch:

“I’m sure most people really immersed and occupied in their families can’t really even imagine what it is like to be so committed to a career or one’s art or profession that one really doesn’t have time for kids.  Neither sort of person really knows what he or she is missing and they are probably better off not knowing.”

That sounds about right.  How about we stop trying to figure out who is happiest, and just live our lives the way we see fit as individuals?

This Just In: Our Joy Ain’t Real

PJMom found one of those little anti-breeding articles that so quickly gets under the skin of people like her and me.  I’ve run into them before.  This new one is playfully entitled, “Mom and Dad Kid Themselves Over the Joy of Parenting.”  (Get it?  “Kid” themselves?  Cute pun, kid.)

It’s hard to know where to start.  With the sting of the insult, perhaps?  It’s the first thing that hits a breeder when she reads quotes like:

“Are the long nights and financial burdens of parenting really worth the emotional benefits? New research is saying no: When confronted with the real economic costs of having children, most parents will exaggerate their happiness to validate their choice to have children.”

Do the authors of this kind of drivel realize how intensely insulting it is?

My initial reaction went something like this:  “how dare you say that my kids aren’t worth the money and trouble!”  A parent’s first instinct is, after all, to protect her young.

The thing is, though, that the insult goes deeper than that.  Let me explain by paraphrasing the quote above.

Scientific research shows that child-bearing is irrational.  Breeders lie to themselves about how it’s all worthwhile, in order to sleep at night.

So, most parents are irrational and living a lie.  Mr. Cloud at Time Magazine actually gloats that, while breeders maintain the existence of humanity, “they’re both heroes and suckers.”


At this point, the indignation wears off, and the silliness of the whole proposition takes center stage.

I mean, wow.  There’s a whole lotta irrational, delusional folks out there, takin’ the kids to soccer and camping and the zoo and stuff.  I should know, since I’m one of ’em.  Like a proper man who doesn’t need constant reassurance of his manliness, I’m confident that I know what works for me, and what doesn’t.  I’m well familiar with the mental exercise known as rationalization.  Happily, the truth sets us free from the prison of rationalization.  The truth is that no professional accomplishment, money earned, nor praise garnered can hold a candle to the fulfillment I enjoy today as a mother.  

Ugh, now comes the third stage in my reaction:  an overwhelming suspicion that I am wasting my precious time, beleaguering the obvious and preaching to the choir.  I don’t know a single mom that wouldn’t agree with me, after all.

Say that reminds me.  Do you reckon the authors of this research considered the personal implications?  Even assuming they are all childless . . . they were all children, once.  Horrible, expensive, and emotionally draining children.  Do they believe that their own dear mothers were irrational, too?  Do they believe that they weren’t worth the money and effort? 

Here comes the fourth stage in my reaction:  pity.  If folks really believe that children are not worth the cost and effort to raise them, well that’s pretty sad.  Now I feel bad about the emptiness of their very existence, these childless wonders. 

Well, I’ve come this far.  I may as well address the logic next.  One would think that employing the scientific method upon a scientific hypothesis would produce something scientific, right?  (By scientific,  I mean objective and factually verifiable.)

In this case, the scientific theory is that “idealizing the emotional rewards of parenting helps parents to rationalize the financial costs of raising children.”

This hypothesis “comes out of cognitive-dissonance theory, which suggests that people are highly motivated to justify, deny or rationalize to reduce the cognitive discomfort of holding conflicting ideas.”  Id.   The research was accomplished by telling one group of parents about the costs of having kids, telling another group about the costs and benefits of having kids, and telling a third (control) group nothing, and then asking them all the same questions about parenthood.

Which group was the most positive about parenting?  The group told only about the prohibitive costs.

This fact is supposed to prove that parents rationalize parenthood by convincing themselves that they are happier than they really are. 

Could it be true, then?  Do we parents live a poorer life and subconsciously acknowledge this fact by denying it vehemently?

Der.  Of course not.

Here is an equally logical conclusion:  emphasis on the monetary “cost” will make a parent accutely aware of how small this “cost” really is. 

A parent doesn’t walk around in a continual state of joyful parenting bliss, after all.  But stop a parent on the street, and try to scare him or her about how monstrously expensive little Johnny is.  All this does is remind the parent of all the incalculable joy little Johnny brings.

When juxtaposed with the value of your own flesh and blood, money means very little indeed.

Unless you’ve never felt that way before, I guess.  Then you don’t believe the cost-aware group’s additional joy is real.  It must be fake.  Poor parents, fooling themselves.

One commenter at the DailyMail sums it up best:

“I assume this is supposed to be some kind of wind up.  I mean, no one with anything worth calling insight into their own cognitive processes could possibly take that kind of pseudo-scientific tosh seriously.”

There you go.  If the intent is to “wind us up,” well then it worked in my case.  Bravo, and goodnight.

UPDATE:  Related material at Planet Moron, which is of course awesomely hilarious.