February 6th, 2017 | Categories: Uncategorized

Dear Researcher,

Thank you for the work you do and for inviting my children to participate.  We have been participating in these studies since my children were babies. This time, as I mentioned to the research assistant on site when they participated, it was a little different of an experience and I wanted to bring it to your attention.

 

From the moment I read the consent I was a bit surprised that the questionnaire only indicated male/ female as options for gender. Considering the visibility of transgender /gender fluidity in mainstream culture I would have expected a state of the art psychology research facility to be more proactive about inclusivity. In my case this is particularly relevant because I would consider my son transgendered and, if given the choice, would have selected that as an option. I was also not allowed an “other” option or a “prefer not to answer” option which are pretty standard now. This binary forced choice question was also surprising considering that I was later to learn the study was related to gender and perception.

 

Most shocking to me, though, was the emphasis of a study on gender on a forced choice binary response in which the children were told repeatedly some version of the phrases “correct” “mistake” “wrong” “right” related to how the photos of people were categorized into one gender or the other. This is decidedly problematic because my son would not easily be divided this way and forcing this type of answer requires a child to accept 1) that there is only one option applicable and 2) that the other option is wrong. This not only reinforces gender binaries that are harmful but actually, in as much as you are dealing with young children, constructs/ teaches/ enforces/ imprints such binaries on these children who might not otherwise think of them that way. I strongly considered whether to take my daughter out of the study. I decided not to because I knew I could explain it to her later (which frankly many parents would not be able to do or even think to do) and I wanted to see where the study was going in case my son was participating in the same one. I quickly learned, to my relief, that he had not participated in it.

 

If my son had participated in this particular study, I would have immediately taken him out if I was the one with him. Imagine a young, impressionable transgender child participating in this study. Over 40% of transgender people attempt suicide. Your study promotes the very mindset that leads children and adults to do so. This is shocking from a child study psychology program and, frankly, when I spoke to the research assistant about it, I compared it to torture. Consider my son. He would have been required to sit there, without understanding his right as a minor to leave at any time. He would have been without a legal guardian present for supervision who would be able to enact this right for him. He would have been told that you can look at a person’s face and decide based on that information alone whether the child is male or female. He would have been told that there must only be one right answer and that any other answer is incorrect/ a mistake/ wrong. What does that do to a transgender child’s mind? To make this worse, the guardians of the child would never know that this is what the study entailed/required because they were not allowed to be in the room during the study.

 

As it turns out, I am a Ph.D. in communication and a well-published researcher who studies stereotypes. That my son is transgender is a lucky coincidence that helps him get to be himself without me enforcing binaries. My background is also why, for the first time in participating in studies with your department after all these years, I insisted on being in the room while the study was conducted. After I saw that only male and female were options were indicated on the consent materials, after I learned that the study was about perceptions related to gender, I knew I should be vigilant in my responsibility as his parent. The combination of a mother who studies stereotypes and a son who is transgender participating in a research study is, I can only imagine, rare. How many of your participants would be knowledgeable enough of the content area, understand research design, be open minded about gender, and have a comfort level and personality that would allow them to feel comfortable complaining?

 

I urge you to take my concerns into consideration and stop the current study to rework the design. I look forward to hear what actions will be taken to resolve these concerns so that no other families need to risk their children being taught, albeit inadvertently, about the gender binary as a “right” way to understand gender. I know that your department can and will be forward thinking about how it responds to my concerns. Research studies may ethically study morality, but it is inappropriate for them to teach it.

 

Thank you.

 

Stereotype Guru

December 13th, 2016 | Categories: Uncategorized

Dear Reader,

I don’t know what holiday you celebrate in December/January. Nonetheless, I wanted to wish you good cheer during this time. I, therefore, have four options if I were to consider communicating a message with positive thoughts to you at this time of year without knowing more about you.

1) I can say Happy Holidays, which is a generic broad phrase that is inclusive of any seasonal event at this time of year in American culture.

2) I can take time, if I have it, to ask you what holiday you celebrate at this time of year and, then, say best wishes for that specific event. Of course, I don’t have much time and neither do you, so this option happens infrequently.

3) I can say to you the wish I would like to receive. In my case this would be Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, or Merry Christmas because the first is generic and the latter two expressions of good cheer are based on the ones I celebrate.

Any of these options are sufficient to indicate my desire to provide you with positive thoughts at this time of year. None of these need be viewed as taking away your right to celebrate the holiday of your choice. None of these, by virtue of a single person doing it, kills your holiday or violates your rights to celebrate any holiday you wish.

Some would have you think that saying, “Happy Holidays” is tantamount to being a soldier in the war on Christmas. Others might say that unless you can know which holiday someone is celebrating, you are not being inclusive by merely saying, “Merry Christmas” as a generic. Indeed, it is not a generic and only reifies the privilege of the majority religious group in American culture. They may argue that, instead, perhaps the more inclusive “Happy Christmahanakwanzika!” is warranted.

Some might be frustrated with these extremes and opt to choose a fourth option instead of the three previously mentioned:

4) I can decide not to say anything because I do not want to offend you accidentally. This would counteract the intended positivity I had hoped to generate by wishing you good cheer at this time of year.

While number 4 would not be my choice, I can respect a person’s wish to opt out of expressing holiday cheer.

However, there are two things you should NOT do this time of year.

First, do not respond to someone’s positivity with a tirade about how your rights are being violated. Save that conversation for those you can convince, rather than bothering those who you will only alienate.

Second, do not assume what someone celebrates based on what they look like. Saying Happy Kwanzaa to someone who is black, as a student of mine recently mentioned happens to him frequently, doesn’t make sense. To put it in perspective, it makes as much sense as saying, “Happy Hanukkah” to someone who looks stereotypically Jewish. And I know you know better than to do that.

November 28th, 2016 | Categories: Uncategorized

I resigned myself after the election to hope that Trump’s bite was not as bad as  his bite. I became, for a brief time, one of the many voices saying that we don’t know what he will do for sure until he does it, mostly because I couldn’t fathom what he could do; I didn’t want to. I told people, “It will be fine.”

Within a week of the election, I knew this wasn’t making anyone, myself included, feel any better. The tipping point is when I said, “You will be okay” to one of my former students, a minority and poor. His desperation was palpable in the deep sigh he gave after my attempt at moral support. A sigh that said, “Et tu, Brute?”

The sigh followed me for a week. No longer saying the trite response, I started to think more. I saw the posts on facebook about the safety pins to show support for and solidarity with those from communities targeted by Trump’s stereotypes who feel unsafe. The first few times I thought it was a lovely gesture, a more sincere, realistic, and comforting one than my previous hackneyed attempt to console the targets of Trump’s stereotypes.

Quickly, though, I changed my mind. The safety pins were fine for some folks, but I live in Manhattan in New York City. We voted overwhelmingly for Clinton (about 88%). Why wouldn’t I just wear a rainbow ribbon to show pride and support? Why would I need to be so clandestine as to wear a safety pin?

rainbow-ribbon

So, I started wearing a rainbow ribbon pin. And, admittedly, part of me was a little scared. A small part, but a part nonetheless. I keep wearing my rainbow ribbon but from that initial brief period of fear I realized viscerally why the trite, “It will be okay” comments aren’t cutting it.

If I wasn’t wearing the rainbow pin I could ‘pass’ as a white heterosexual, groups not directly targeted by Trump. I could even where a safety pin and many of those who might harbor ill feelings towards those in the LGBTQ community might not even know what it means. In either case, it would be easy for me to say “It will be okay” because I wouldn’t be a target of a hate crime or systemic prejudice. Things WILL likely be okay for me.

So what moral did I learn?

For those of you who can pass as straight or white (regardless of whether you really are), if you want to show support for communities targeted by Trump’s stereotypes, you have to stop passing. Instead, out yourself as a supporter of one or more marginalized groups. Wear your support proudly. Display your support ostentatiously.

Why?

Because if everything “will be okay” and “everything is fine” then you have nothing to fear. And if you are someone who can ‘pass’ as a white heterosexual, someone who wants to support groups targeted by Trump’s stereotypes, but are scared to wear a Black Lives Matter pin, then stop saying “everything will be okay.”

black-lives-matter-button-225

As for me…

Well, I stand by my optimism and hope. I do think things will be okay. And to prove it you will see me proudly wear my rainbow ribbon, my Black Lives Matter pin, my pro-immigrant button, and my feminist mantras whenever I get the chance. Oh, and I voluntarily submitted my own name to the Liberal Professors Watchlist and look forward to them adding me to that list of esteemed professionals.

I am doing these things so I can’t pass (as easily) as privileged anymore, so I can feel a little bit of that fear that others who can’t ‘pass’ will spend the next four years feeling, and because ultimately I think these hate mongers, like Trump himself, are impotent and full of hot air. I am not scared of any of them and you shouldn’t be either.

November 20th, 2016 | Categories: Uncategorized

Ok. So let’s be clear about some things we can agree upon no matter where we stand politically.

1) It is never okay to be violent against a child in the name of anyone or anything.

2) Calling someone’s ideas or someone stupid is typical of gradeschool and not appropriate for an adult ever.

3) Just because one member of a group does something illegal, unethical, and/or immoral, doesn’t mean any member of the other group now has carte blanche to do that thing.

4) If I like chocolate and you like vanilla, those seem like they are on opposite sides but they are not actually opposite sides. They are instead two valid preferences amongst thousands of potential preferences all of which are equally valid and are individual choices none of which should affect anyone else’s preference or right to have a preference because there are no high stakes involved in this preference. No one will be consequentially hurt because of a preference for a flavor of ice cream.

5) Not all ideas on two sides of an argument where the stakes are high are created equal. Some sides of an argument have stronger evidence than others. Stronger evidence can mean more evidence and/or can mean the legitimacy of the evidence. When one side has substantially stronger evidence, it is NOT okay to give both sides equal voice and equal time to use that voice both of which misleadingly give the impression that both sides have equally strong arguments.

6) It is not okay to say or imply that an entire group of people act the same way because that will always be a false statement.

7) It is okay to console an individual by saying that the particular person will persevere because of x,y,z. It is not okay to say that everything will be fine, in the abstract, about everything, with no evidence because it makes no one feel better ever.

8) One person’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness ends when it impedes someone else’s. Where there are grey areas between my rights and your rights, the governing laws, politicians, judiciary, and enforcement personel get to decide where the boundaries are drawn. Therefore, it absolutely matters for the life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for EVERYONE who is in a role that has decision making power over these boundaries. If you are not voicing your opinion in one direction through voting, talking, and other advocacy then by default you ARE voicing your opinion in the other direction. There is no neutral side, no abstenting, no bystanding, no lurking when it comes to how a boundary is drawn. Your absence of participation IS participation.

9) Words, actions, images and other symbols matter. They can be used intentionally to inflict pain on others. A single person can inflict a lot of pain. That single person is doing a horrible thing and is a horrible person. There is NO rational for it. That one person can inflict pain on a lot of people. But it is ONE person out of many more who know better than to intentionally hurt someone.

10) The best predictor of someone’s future behavior is that person’s past behavior.

11) Just because you say it, does not make “it” true. Just because you think it, does not make “it” true.

12) If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, a person can safely see fit to call it a duck.

13) I don’t get to have any more equality by letting you have less equality. I don’t get any less equality by letting you have more equality.

14) Just because a person supports gender, lgbtq, or minority rights does not mean you know who they voted for. You may think you do; you may try to guess; but you do not KNOW.

15) Facebook, The Daily Show, partison media, personal anecdotes/opinions, and local press are NO substitue for credible sources, thorough research, and strong evidence.

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November 12th, 2016 | Categories: Uncategorized
Hello Clinton’s America!
 
You want to do something about this election! Let’s try!! There is one and only one hope. The electoral college has NOT voted yet: http://nypost.com/2016/11/09/the-one-scenario-that-could-still-get-hillary-into-the-white-house/ They vote on December 19th. That is almost a month away. 
 
Although it has never happen in a way to change a vote; this is he election it could! We write our senators and congress people for many issues. Why wouldn’t we try to change the electoral college vote?
 
Electors CAN vote outside of the popular vote. In some states there may be minor fines for doing so. BUT it is not illegal. Some would even argue it is what the founding fathers intended
 
Contact your electoral college representative and tell them that the America you are entitled to will disappear if President Trump is president in January.
 
Work within the system before you work outside of it! Electors are allowed to vote against the popular vote!
 
 
If anyone has time to get the emails and / or phone numbers for the electors for anyone that isn’t already hyperlinked below share them with me, I will add them! Anything we can do to make emailing/ letter writing/ calling easier will help.
Email (or call) and let the electors know how you think they should vote. Share this list with all your friends, on facebook, Tweet it, etc. Contacting an elector is just one click away!!! Here is a sample letter to send too!!!
 
Sample letter:
Thank you for serving our country as part of the Electoral College. When you cast your vote, remember that Hillary Clinton was the popular choice of the country you serve by over 1.5 million already. As an elector in Maine has already shown, you can break ranks with the rest of the electors of your state. You have the right, privilege, and responsibility to represent those who voted for Clinton too, especially when there is such a small margin between them. Even if no other electors do this in your state, you can be the voice for millions! Every electoral vote matters. Please vote Clinton on December 19th.
GET HILLARY INTO THE WHITE HOUSE!
There are a lot of names to contact but imagine how much time you’ll save complaining next year by sending just a quick email now! Clinton won the popular vote by over 1.5 millon. Below are the states that are the closest margins. These electors should represent all of their constituents!

Florida (Clinton 47.8% Trump 49.1%)

Republican Electors: 29

Michigan (Clinton 47.3% Trump 47.6% and it’s not called yet)

Republican Electors: 16

Pennsylvania (Clinton 47.6% Trump 48.8%)

Republican Electors: 20

Wisconsin (Clinton 46.9% Trump 47.9%)

Republican Electors: 10

November 11th, 2016 | Categories: Uncategorized

Many people voted for Donald Trump because they think he represents a mindset that challenges the status quo in American politics. I get this on one level only. Clinton represents a political system in which father and son, brothers, cousins, husbands and wives, can be nominated as if there are no other qualified candidates in the country. The inbreeding of our presidential candidate is a little too monarchy for my taste. So, I can ‘get’ the ‘shaking up’ the political system idea at that level (and only at that level).  And Trump may or may not be successful at shaking up the political system (any more than he already has). But, for minorities, that isn’t a priority. You see, there is a clear divide by race in the country.

63% of  white males voted for Donald Trump.  53% of white women.

74% of non-whites voted, regardless of gender, for Hillary Clinton.

Q. Why such a divide?

A. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

maslow-pyramid

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pyramid consists of the most basic needs that people have to the most advanced needs. The pyramid demonstrates that the lowest level needs, the most basic, must be met first before any other level needs are met. Once one level is met, then people strive to meet the next level and so forth.

This pyramid explains why your dearest friends and family members voted for Trump even though you thought for sure they weren’t racist, homophobic, sexist, or transphobic.  Let me explain.

As of 2015, poverty rates for whites, are more than half of what they are for minority groups across the country. Take a look at the swing states and in some cases whites are a third or less of the poverty rates of minorities. So this means that statistically minorities are more likely to be at a lower level of Maslow’s Hierarchy than someone who is white. Minorities in the country are more likely to have physiological needs and stay at this level. These folks, 24% of Blacks and 21% of Hispanics in the US, are not easily getting onto the next level of Maslow’s Hierarchy.

Now let’s look at the ones who do. There are plenty of minorities who are not in poverty, easily 75-80% of them. As such they should, according to the “racism is over” myth, be at much higher levels of the pyramid. Yet, these folks are stuck at the safety needs level because of the words Donald Trump has actually said about minorities throughout his campaign. These words  condone discrimination and violence against these groups. Now that he is president, providing him with lots of structural power, minorities are not likely to get out of this safety needs level of the pyramid any time soon.

So most minorities are not voting for Trump because they are worried about their physiological needs and safety needs which have been threatened by a Trump presidency.

Whites on the other hand, have lower poverty rates, which means most of them are able to move passed the physiological needs level of the pyramid. Whites, also, are not being threatened with discrimination and violence by a presidential candidate (or, now, president), which means many are able to move passed the safety needs level. Like any good candidate, Donald Trump united his constituency helping them to fulfill their belongingness and love needs (the need to feel included in something bigger than ourselves). So, with that, whites are able to move to the esteem needs. It is here that whites can justify voting for Trump despite his racist, homophobic, sexist, and transphobic comments.

You see, people prioritize the groups they belong to over other groups. People value their groups more and view them more positively than other groups. In order to facilitate this people need to view the other group negatively. As a result of this process, we think of ourselves more positively because our groups are more positive. In this way, we gain self esteem. It’s the same process that makes bullies exist, but we all have the potential to gain self-esteem in this way, and we all will try to do this if we can get to this level of Maslow’s Hierarchy.

At the esteem needs level, whites compare Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump and Donald Trump comes out ahead.

Q. Why?

A. Because the speech community in which whites exist is one where racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic talk happen fairly regularly. This coming Thanksgiving there will be plenty of whites at dinner tables across America with plenty of their family members saying something offensive. Spoiler alert: The liberal whites at that table won’t kick racist talking grandma out of the house. Instead, the most liberal among them will ignore it in the conversation and in their heads think, “oh, that’s just grandma; she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.” They will dismiss the comment as unimportant, as vacuous, as blowing hot air, as not sincere, and as not able to have any practical results. They won’t hear it as a threat to themselves or to anyone else.

Because liberal whites have their lower level needs met, because Donald Trump’s offensive comments aren’t threatening to whites, and because they dismiss Donald Trump’s comments as impotent, even your liberal, open minded, smart, dear family member or friend might have voted for him.

In their mind the choice made perfect sense because they do agree with some of the policies related to changing the status quo of American politics. As a result, they view Donald Trump and the Republican Party positively and Hillary Clinton negatively; they get their esteem needs met by voting to shake up the political system. Nothing more, nothing less from their standpoint.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 9th, 2016 | Categories: Uncategorized

Dearest America,

I am sorry.

I thought it was so obvious. I took a break because I thought “what could I contribute to discourse about Trump’s stereotypes?” “It is all too obvious,” I thought. I deal with the higher level, more complicated, subtle stereotypes.

In a speech on June 16th, 2016, these words came out of his mouth:

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

He said Mexicans were rapists. What more could I add to the discussion about how wrong that was?

I underestimated myself and the contribution I, as an individual, could make.

I overrelied on Facebook whose algorithms reinforced my delusion that the world thought like me.

I took for granted the media’s role to help vett candidates, facilitate debate, and otherwise be credible journalists.

I got too busy to care about others. This was the first year, essentially in my life, that I needed to focus on me and my immediate family. It’s not a bad thing. But it made me have blinders on to what others were going or would/could go through without me, or any of us, looking.

I became complacent and decided to enjoy my life, not indulgently mind you, but to see the world through rose colored glasses. An Obama presidency made that easy for me to do.

I advocated vocally but neutrally and even-handedly when I should have been vociferously angry on the outside like I was on the inside.

I, like many Americans, let it happen.

I am sorry. I let you down.

I will try harder next time.

It will never happen again.

With Deepest Regrets,

The Stereotype Guru

April 14th, 2016 | Categories: Uncategorized

The other day my daughter and son had a fight. Sometimes when kids (and adults) fight it is hard to say who is right and who is wrong. Sometimes both are right. sometimes both are wrong. Sometimes it seems like only one of the two people is always right and sometimes it seems the other one of the two people is always wrong. In other words, there is every combination of right and wrong in an argument.

So my two kids are having a fight.  I intervene and ask them their sides of the story. As I listen, I am trying to demonstrate neutrality and understand the situation from both perspectives. At some point it comes out that my daughter intentionally threw something at my son that hit him in the face. Now up until this point I was siding with my daughter, albeit in my head. This, throwing thing, however, is inappropriate no matter who was right.

Hitting/ throwing/ kicking/ hurting is not okay. No matter what the scenario.

So I stop the entire discussion and make my daughter apologize. I tell her it was not okay to do that. She keeps trying to add the word “but” after her apology. “I am sorry but. . . ” I stop her three times and explain ultimately that regardless of anything else, what she did was wrong and she needs to acknowledge that in itself, on its own merit, for that single reason without qualification.

She understood. She apologized. After that, we settled the argument and moved on with our lives.

We all can take a lesson from this 8 year old girl.

There are some things we might do that are just wrong on their own merit. They are not wrong because x,y,z. they are not kind of wrong. they are not sometimes wrong. they are just wrong.

Overt sexism, racism, ageism, heterosexism, and so forth in the form of slurs or ethnophaulisms, offensive terms all around, are just wrong (so is the more subtle stuff but that’s another blog and, frankly, the topic of my book The Communicated Stereotype).

When someone says a slur they should be told they have done so, made to apologize if they haven’t of there own accord, and then they and everyone else can move on with their lives.

And acknowledgment of these slurs should not be followed with “but” to explain why the slur is said. There is no reason that justifies it. They should not be followed by explanation of defense as to who said it. there is no rational for anyone to say them.

Calling someone a Corporate Democratic Whores is clearly offensive.

Both Dr. Paul Song, who said the statement, and Bernie Sanders said it was an “insensitive” comment. Insensitive is when something is actually true but you use a euphemism to make it sound better because it is a sensitive topic and you don’t want to make someone feel bad or uncomfortable. Calling someone a “whore” does not count in that category. That’s tacking on a “but” to the apology. It’s like saying it was wrong to say, but it’s really true.

Dr. Song said he meant members of congress instead of Hillary. That’s an excuse, another “but” added on to the apology. But the word itself should never have been used in that context at all. No “but.”

Bernie supporters say it wasn’t Bernie who said it and at least he apologized. That’s a day late and a dollar short for me. Saying it wasn’t Bernie who said it is another “but.” It’s like saying yes, that was wrong, but it wasn’t Bernie’s mouth it came out of so it doesn’t really matter.

Using the word “whore” was offensive on its own and invokes ideas of slut shaming that have actual tangible consequences for women psychologically, physically, and emotionally. It’s a stereotype. It’s offensive. It was said to be intentionally hurtful and derogatory. It’s inappropriate. It should never have been said. It certainly should never have been said in front of thousands of people who may never know that an apology was ever made. Thousands of people who cheered when Dr. Song said it.

If my daughter can come to realize that some things deserve to have an apology on their own, without any “but,” then anyone can. The “whore” comment deserved and deserves acknowledgement as an offensive act on its own, not followed by a “but” from anyone.

 

 

 

 

April 10th, 2016 | Categories: Uncategorized

In a recent conversation the idea came up that minority students, particularly Blacks and Hispanics, earn extra points on the SAT’s by virtue of indicating their racial identity. I dismissed the idea as not relevant to information I immediately needed to be aware of and moved on with the discussion as those around me wished to proceed which was on the basis that this idea was indeed true. I did this for three reasons. 1) My children are far from the age to worry about  the SAT’s. 2)  I do not have any knowledge on the topic myself with which to disprove the idea at the time though I was incredulous. 3) I have a deadline for a huge project, actually my fourth book, and with the deadline five days away time is not my friend and looking up extraneous information from what I need to focus on is not high on my agenda.

In an entirely unrelated search for information, I came across this assertion again online. Although not relevant to my immediate need for the book project, I thought I would take the opportunity to follow the footprints to see where they would take me. I had a designated amount of time in my head of how long I would allot to this pit-stop.

So there is plenty of information about SAT scores and minorities. But the most immediate hits from this type of search yields two types of sources.

1) Sources that discuss the score disparity on the SAT for minorities and discusses why it exists, how it has changed over time, and what still can be done to change it. These articles are from places like PBS and Inside Higher Ed.

2) Sources that discuss the bonus points that minority students of color receive or that highlight the point deductions that Asian students are subject to on the SAT’s. These articles are from places like The Conservative Treehouse and The Daily Stormer (self-described as an alt-right website with a symbol that looks an awful lot like a lightly veiled swastika and so I will not provide the link).

So I always like to go to the source of the research. As a researcher whose gone through a doctoral program I have a slight advantage over others who have not had these years of experience. However, if it walks like a duck, sounds like a duck, and looks like a duck, regardless of whether you have training as a veterinarian you can probably figure out it’s a duck.

duck doctor

 

Red flag # 1 The clearly partisan nature of the URL’s for the sites.

Red flag #2 The four articles I read all discussed the same single study.

Red flag # 3 All the articles referred to a loosely named “Princeton University Study” without reference to any researchers, research institutes, journals that published the study, or title of the study.

Red flag # 4 No article linked to the actual study.

Red flag #5 The links that were provided were to other articles which made the same claims.

Red flag #6 The articles cited the same chunk of text (or paraphrased) without indication of where the actual text came from except that it is from a powerpoint presentation from someone named Ann Lee. The original article, from the Los Angeles Times, seems to be the first to discuss the powerpoint presentation and is linked to and/or cited by by the others.  A seemingly legitimate (unbiased) source it does not actually tell us who this Ann Lee is either.

Red flag #7 The articles do not discuss the research. Rather, they discuss Ann Lee’s powerpoint presentation about the research.

Red flag #8 To find the actual research I have to stop following the path led by these articles and instead do an entire new search for the research itself. I was able to find the study and another related study by the same lead researchers easily once I stopped looking at these clearly partisan sites that were discussing the study. In other words, the articles citing the study as evidence actually made it hard for me to find the actual study itself by not giving the basic information on the study (authors, title, or link).

Red flag #9 Eventually, I came across one cite that was more neutral and provided relevant information. This was an article from The Daily Pennsylvanian which provides more information on this mysterious Ann Lee who it turns out “runs a college preparatory tutoring center in Arcadia, Calif.” This article also specifies the authors of the study “Thomas J. Espenshade, Chang Y. Chung and Joan L. Walling” and provides more details about their research by way of a description and a, unfortunately broken, link to the actual research.

Turns out, the actual study concludes the exact opposite of what Ann Lee’s powerpoint presentation concludes. In the “Princeton University Study” research, the authors reach three conclusions:

1) Colleges provide lots of preferences that benefit certain students and not others including legacy admissions; despite this,

2) affirmative action in admissions processes that only serve to benefit Black and Hispanic minorities, regardless of SAT scores, are the only ones that are surrounded in controversy; and

3) without these preferences for Blacks and Hispanics (because of the ways in which racial and socio-economic disparities intersect in the country at large), members of these groups would be disproportionately unable to be admitted to elite universities.

What the article actually says is:

It is possible to convert the magnitude of these preferences to a common SAT metric. The bonus for African-American applicants is roughly equivalent to an extra 230 SAT points (on a 1600-point scale), to 185 points for Hispanics, 200 points for athletes, and 160 points for children of alumni. The Asian disadvantage is comparable to a loss of 50 SAT points. [p. 1431]

Where is the confusion between this research and Ann Lee’s powerpoint about the research? Ann Lee, the author of the LA Times article, and all those who cite that article and discuss Lee’s presentation misinterpret the study and assert some version of the following related to SAT scores:

African Americans received a “bonus” of 230 points, Lee says…. “Hispanics received a bonus of 185 points.”

 

The disparity between the powerpoint presentation and the research is that there is no bonus points on the SAT but instead there are a combination of considerations that go into decision making to accept any person that applies to a college, one of which is the SAT. These considerations can be “converted” statistically to have a value that can look like SAT points, which is done in the research in order to demonstrate the weight of these alternate considerations. The researchers use the idea of “bonus” points as a metaphor to demonstrate to the reader of the research that the SAT is insufficient as a single marker for admission. The authors note other considerations for enrollment like athletics and legacy that also could be converted as part of a “bonus” score to demonstrate that lots of students benefit over others because of these considerations and, yet, these considerations affecting non Hispanic and non Blacks are viewed as uncontroversial (and not dismissed as an unearned handout).

So, no, minorities do not earn bonus points on the SAT.

Think of it this way. In decision making for entrance into college a student may submit SAT scores, demographic information, references, past experience relevant to academics, high school GPA, an essay or two, may get interviewed, and so forth. The reason all of these are required is because colleges, as they should, identify that a student is more than a single test score. The study shows that if all that mattered for Black and Hispanic minorities was the SAT, they would be disadvantaged in trying to get into elite colleges. That is in part because of the advantage that other groups have outside of their SAT scores (legacies for example) and from birth (high socio-economic status). But the reasons that other considerations are in place is because all students are more than their SAT scores. And all students should be given considerations, and are, that allow college admissions processes to balance out things that are out of the students’ control (from socio-economic status to having a bad day when you took the exam, to being a terrible test taker) to those that are more in the student’s control (personal essay, high school gpa, etc.)  to demonstrate that student’s fit for the school.

So what’s the moral here. Actually, it’s not about SAT scores at all in my view. I’m always a big picture kind of person. The moral here serves us beyond the single issue of SAT scores. The moral is do your research.

If you see one red flag be cautious and do your own research. If you see nine red flags, as I did, I recommend writing a blog about it. So, here I am. Two hours from when I started writing this. The deadline for my book has not changed. Yet, I have taken the time, precious precious time, to write this blog. Why? Because I must do so.  Now knowing the path from which this misunderstanding stems I feel obligated to take the time to do my research. Book project be dammed. The stereotype guru cannot let such detrimental stereotypes stand unchallenged. 

March 21st, 2016 | Categories: Uncategorized

I made an active choice not to blog when Trump threw his hat into the political ring. I thought it was a lark and would be short-lived. I was wrong and continue to be surprised at what he has done to the Republican party.

When Trump, soon-after, started to denigrate various cultural groups overtly, I thought it was all too obvious. What could I contribute that hadn’t been said before and wasn’t currently being said in the media about how racist and sexist his comments and treatment of members of certain groups was? I had after all conducted research that suggested that explicitly communicated stereotypes should be the easiest to object to and to refute. and indeed I saw this playing out in the media. Nothing newsworthy for The Communicated Stereotype there.

When I saw on Facebook all the links about Authoritarian Personality being a predictor of whether someone is a Trump fan, I nodded in agreement, sighed, and mentioned, when I could, that this was a spot on assessment and a scary one at that considering it also was a predictor of Hitler’s rise in Nazi Germany. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Authoritarian Personality, think or find on YouTube Archie Bunker. My knowledge of this still did not warrant a blog. Once again I had nothing new to contribute.

archie bunker

Now, I am in the position to contribute to the political discourse related to the current presidential race. Why? Because I am reminded of a quote:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

The sad part, however, is that my concern does not stay with Trump. My concern is increasingly with supporters of Bernie Sanders. His liberal ideology masks a male agenda to which he is also not aware and that is particularly persuasive to liberal males.

I want to make a few things clear.

-There are valid reasons to support Bernie in a primary in a state in which Hillary will undoubtedly get the nomination. Such a vote makes a strong point about finance reform.

-No one should vote for anyone because of their gender alone. I would not advocate for that.

-Sexism is a large scale social issue. Individual people may or may not be sexist in their known beliefs or actions. But even those who are not sexist in their known beliefs or actions can act in sexist ways because of the societal pressure to do so that affects information processing in ways an individual person may not ever be aware of.

With these qualifiers, I want to share with you my concern about some of the arguments Bernie supporters make and how these are decidedly not liberal and, actually, work against a liberal agenda. There could be legitimate reasons to vote for Bernie. I am not discussing those. Rather, working backwards in the style of Letterman’s Top Ten, I will explain how some of the reasons people want to vote for Bernie are problematic by discussing the Top 3 Sexist Reasons I have been given as a rationale for why to support Bernie over Hillary.

3. I am not voting for Hillary because there are too many accusations against her floating around and where there is smoke there is fire.

Trump who has actually done some pretty horrible things will possibly get the Republican nomination. Bernie fans are saying that they would rather not vote (by default giving a vote to Trump) than vote for Hillary because Hillary might have done some horrible things that to date there is no hard evidence for despite there being legal, media, and public actions attempted to find out. So Hillary is being kept to a higher standard than Trump. Sounds to me a lot like Jackie Robinson Syndrome. Hillary is only electable if she is perfect, unimpugnable; her competition can be allowed to be elected even if he is impugnable.

2- I am not voting for Hillary because Bill, her husband, did terrible things to women.

President Bush is a recovering cocaine addict. Hillary, in contrast, is being held accountable for something she didn’t even do. She stood by Bill. But anybody watching that video or picture of the family on August 18, 1998, the day after Bill Clinton confessed to the Monica Lewinsky affair, knows that didn’t go down in their personal lives as well as it looked in the public eye. Did anyone comment that Laura Bush sticking with George after his drug addiction meant that she was pro-drugs? Did her name get slandered because she stayed with a drug addict? Androcentrism, a hallmark of a sexist society, means that females get judged/defined by a male norm. This accusation against Hillary is the epitome of that. She is being judged not on what she is doing but on what her husband did.

Hillary and Bill

1- Just because Hillary is a woman, doesn’t mean I am going to vote for her.

No one asked you to vote for Hillary because she is a woman. No one is voting for Hillary just because she is a woman. If someone says that’s the reason they are voting for her; it is only shorthand for I don’t need to defend my political beliefs to you because you will only say I am voting for her because she is a woman anyway no matter what I say so I might as well beat you to it and save myself a lot of time. I can attest to how much time you can save by just saying that. After days of Facebook arguing, I still hear the people I am arguing with insinuate or flat out say the only reason I am voting for Hillary is because she is a woman. So even when a woman puts in the effort to voice her valid views on why she would vote for Hillary. It will still only be reduced to “Oh, so you are voting for her because she is a woman and I am not voting for Hillary just because she is a woman.” So it isn’t Hillary’s vagina that is making me vote for her. It is your penis that is making you think the only reason I am voting for her is because she is a woman.

For those who want to know why am I voting for Hillary, I will gladly tell you. But please don’t still assume, diminish my views, or discredit my right to political thought by reducing my reasons to the shorthand that I am voting for her because she is a woman.

I am voting for Hillary because:
– She is more qualified than Bernie by far and has held positions most similar to others who have been president in the history of the United States whereas Bernie has not.
– She has showed herself to have the liberal value I admire and desire most in a presidential candidate. More than Bernie, even when he could, Hillary understands and implements an understanding of equality/equity.
– She is more politically savvy that Bernie. If President Obama could barely get parts of his agenda passed with all his political savvy and diplomacy in the face of GOP opposition, Bernie has no chance. I would rather have 50% of 10 liberal ideas be implemented than 0% of 100 liberal ideas.

After all this, rest assured, I am not saying you should vote for Hillary. You can vote for whomever you want as is your right. But if I ask why you are voting for her because I want to understand your mindset and perhaps because I am willing to be convinced and have an open mind to political discussion, I recommend giving me answers that are not based on/ do not reinforce sexism if you want me to understand your voting choice.