Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Crooked mainstream psychologists

Gross dishonesty about the results of psychological research is common among academic psychologists -- as I have shown repeatedly (e.g. here and here) -- so we should not really be surprised to find that the Chair of the APA Abortion Report Task Force persistently and deliberately violates APA ethics rules. She refuses to release abortion data collected under federal grant. Her refusal really speaks for itself (it tells us that her data does not support her conclusions) but informed commentary is below

The credibility of a new report on the mental health effects of abortion from the American Psychological Association is tarnished by the fact that the lead author, Dr. Brenda Major, has violated the APA's own data sharing rules by consistently refusing to allow her own data on abortion and mental health effects to be reanalyzed by other researchers.

Major, a proponent of abortion rights, has even evaded a request from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to deliver copies of data she collected under a federal grant. Because her study of emotional reactions two years after an abortion was federally funded, the data she collected is actually federal property. But in Major's response to 2004 HHS request for a copy of the data, Major excused herself from delivering the data writing, "It would be very difficult to pull this information together." [She can't have done any rigorous analysis in that case]

However, a researcher familiar with Major's work, David Reardon of the Elliot Institute, has seen portions of Major's unpublished findings. Reardon, who has published over a dozen studies on abortion and mental health, believes Major is withholding the data to prevent her findings supporting a link between abortion and subsequent health problems from coming to light.

"Brenda's last published study using this data set was released in 2000, after she moved to her present facility in 1995," said Reardon. "Immediately after that publication one of my colleagues requested a breakdown of details which had only been superficially summarized in one her tables. One of her grad students replied on her behalf with the additional summary statistics we had requested within 48 hours. So it clearly wasn't at all difficult for her team to access the data. Plus, with modern electronic data bases and multiple backup procedures in place at universities like hers, it is nearly impossible to lose such data."

According to Reardon, Major has not responded to any further requests regarding the data since early in 2000. "I know of a number of experts in the field who have requested the data, even within the last six months. But she simply doesn't respond to their calls, emails, or letters," said Reardon.

"This is very troubling on two counts. First, the APA's own ethics rule, 8.14, requires research psychologists to share their data for verification of findings. Secondly, she is the chair of the APA Abortion Task Force which is, at least in theory, supposed to bring full and clear light to this issue. But how can we trust the objectivity of a report prepared by a task force composed exclusively of pro-choice psychologists, especially when the chair and lead author has a history of withholding data and findings which may undermine her ideological preferences?"

According to Reardon the additional details from Major's study released in 2000 actually revealed that a significant number of women interviewed by Major did attribute negative reactions to their abortions, but those findings have never been published.

"There is no doubt that she has selectively reported her findings," said Reardon. "We have seen in the unpublished tables details about specific negative reactions which were obscured in her published report by combining them with three to eight other reactions to create watered down, composite scores.

"In my view, it is irresponsible not to report the significant findings associated with individual symptoms. For example, she found that a number of women reported that they tried to cope with negative feelings about their abortions by drinking more or taking drugs. But she has never not fully shared the details on these reactions in any of her published studies, and by refusing to share her data for reanalysis by others, she has prevented anyone else from reporting these findings either."

Reardon believes that the newly released APA Abortion Task Force report is also flawed by a pattern of wording and reporting which tends to obscure rather than clarify what researchers have found about the mental health effects associated with abortion. The primary conclusion of the report, as highlighted in the APA news release, is that "There is no credible evidence that a single elective abortion of an unwanted pregnancy in and of itself causes mental health problems for adult women."

According to Reardon, this nuanced statement is intended to convey a message that abortion has no mental health risks, but those familiar with the literature will see that it actually admits that there is compelling evidence that there are negative effects for:

- women who have multiple abortions, which accounts for about half of all abortions;

- women who abort a wanted pregnancy because of coercion or pressure to abort from third parties, which may account for about 20-60% of all abortions;

- minors who have abortions; and

- women with preexisting mental health problems in which case abortion may not "in and of itself" be the sole cause of mental health problems, but may instead trigger or aggravate preexisting problems.

"Even the modifier that there is 'no credible evidence' of mental health risks in the ideal case of a low risk abortion patient is an admission that there is indeed some evidence that a single abortion can pose a risk to the mental health of a emotionally stable, adult woman," said Reardon. "In fact, the report itself identifies a whole host of studies providing such evidence, but it mutes a clear presentation of the findings of these studies by focusing on the limitations of each study's methodology, which all studies have, in order to justify ignoring their clear implications."

While Reardon agrees that the body of the report includes admissions that abortion does negatively impact some women, he is deeply concerned that the summary introduction and conclusion and press releases all fail to emphasize five key points which are clear in the literature and even explicitly or implicitly stated within the 91-page Task Force report. The five points he believes should be made, without room for controversy are:

1. Some women suffer emotional harm from abortion.

2. Some women feel pressured into unwanted abortions.

3. There are well established risk factors identifying the women most likely to suffer negative psychological factors to abortion, including being pressured into an abortion, and that it is incumbent on therapists treating women considering an abortion, and abortion clinics, to screen for these risk factors and to give appropriate counseling in light of any identified risk factors.

4. A nationally funded longitudinal prospective study (such as recommended by Koop in 1989) of psychological factors related to reproductive health (including abortion) is long overdue and should be undertaken as soon as possible.

5. Therapists should be alert to unresolved issues associated with a past abortion and should sensitively give women the opportunity to discuss such issues and should provide appropriate care or referrals whenever such issues are raised.

"By failing to call on therapists to be alert and sensitive to the negative emotional experiences women attribute to their abortions, the Task Force has allowed ideology to trump sensitivity," says Reardon. "Instead, they are ignoring the reality of how and why abortions take place and are instead focused on drawing conclusions regarding the safety of abortion for an emotionally stable, pro-choice, adult woman who is freely choosing a wanted abortion without any moral qualms. But that doesn't reflect the reality of most abortion situations."

"The fact is that coerced abortions are more common than wanted abortions. Studies show that over 60% of American women are having abortions, often against their moral beliefs, because they feel pressured into it by third parties. These women need therapist and family members to be open to and responsive to their pain, not dismissive of it as an anomaly. Sadly, this is an ideological report that simply ignores the concerns and needs of those women for whom abortion has been a heartache rather than a triumph."

See APA's "Ethical Principles Of Psychologists And Code Of Conduct" regarding Sharing Research Data for Verification here


Brothers in hate

Here are two brother countries, united like a single fist," said socialist Hugo Chavez during a visit to Tehran last November, celebrating his alliance with Islamist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Che Guevara's son Camilo, who also visited Tehran last year, declared that his father would have "supported the country in its current struggle against the United States." They followed in the footsteps of Fidel Castro, who in a 2001 visit told his hosts that "Iran and Cuba, in cooperation with each other, can bring America to its knees." For his part, Ilich Ramirez Sanchez ("Carlos the Jackal") wrote in his book L'islam revolutionnaire ("Revolutionary Islam") that "only a coalition of Marxists and Islamists can destroy the United States."

It's not just Latin American leftists who see potential in Islamism. Ken Livingstone, the Trotskyite former mayor of London, literally hugged prominent Islamist thinker Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Ramsey Clark, the former U.S. attorney general, visited Ayatollah Khomeini and offered his support. Noam Chomsky, the MIT professor, visited Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and endorsed Hezbollah's keeping its arms. Ella Vogelaar, the Dutch minister for housing, neighborhoods, and integration, is so sympathetic to Islamism that one critic, the Iranian-born professor Afshin Ellian, has called her "the minister of Islamization."

Dennis Kucinich, during his first presidential campaign in 2004, quoted the Koran and roused a Muslim audience to chant "Allahu akbar" ("God is great") and he even announced, "I keep a copy of the Koran in my office." Spark, youth paper of Britain's Socialist Labour party, praised Asif Mohammed Hanif, the British suicide bomber who attacked a Tel Aviv bar, as a "hero of the revolutionary youth" who had carried out his mission "in the spirit of internationalism." Workers World, an American Communist newspaper, ran an obituary lauding Hezbollah's master terrorist, Imad Mughniyeh.

Some leftists go farther. Several - Carlos the Jackal, Roger Garaudy, Jacques VergŠs, Yvonne Ridley, and H. Rap Brown - have actually converted to Islam. Others respond with exhilaration to the violence and brutality of Islamism. German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen termed 9/11 "the greatest work of art for the whole cosmos," while the late American novelist Norman Mailer called its perpetrators "brilliant."

And none of this is new. During the Cold War, Islamists favored the Soviet Union over the United States. As Ayatollah Khomeini put it in 1964, "America is worse than Britain, Britain is worse than America and the Soviet Union is worse than both of them. Each one is worse than the other, each one is more abominable than the other. But today we are concerned with this malicious entity which is America." In 1986, I wrote that "the U.S.S.R. receives but a small fraction of the hatred and venom directed at the United States."

Leftists reciprocated. In 1978-79, the French philosopher Michel Foucault expressed great enthusiasm for the Iranian revolution. Janet Afary and Kevin B. Anderson explain:
Throughout his life, Michel Foucault's concept of authenticity meant looking at situations where people lived dangerously and flirted with death, the site where creativity originated. In the tradition of Friedrich Nietzsche and Georges Bataille, Foucault had embraced the artist who pushed the limits of rationality and he wrote with great passion in defense of irrationalities that broke new boundaries. In 1978, Foucault found such transgressive powers in the revolutionary figure of Ayatollah Khomeini and the millions who risked death as they followed him in the course of the Revolution. He knew that such "limit" experiences could lead to new forms of creativity and he passionately threw in his support.
Another French philosopher, Jean Baudrillard, portrayed Islamists as slaves rebelling against a repressive order. In 1978, Foucault called Ayatollah Khomeini a "saint" and a year later, Jimmy Carter's ambassador to the United Nations, Andrew Young, called him"some kind of saint."

This good will may appear surprising, given the two movements' profound differences. Communists are atheists and leftists secular; Islamists execute atheists and enforce religious law. The Left exalts workers; Islamism privileges Muslims. One dreams of a worker's paradise, the other of a caliphate. Socialists want socialism; Islamists accept the free market. Marxism implies gender equality; Islamism oppresses women. Leftists despise slavery; some Islamists endorse it. As journalist Bret Stephens notes, the Left has devoted "the past four decades championing the very freedoms that Islam most opposes: sexual and reproductive freedoms, gay rights, freedom from religion, pornography and various forms of artistic transgression, pacifism and so on."

These disagreements seem to dwarf the few similarities that Oskar Lafontaine, former chairman of Germany's Social Democratic party, managed to find: "Islam depends on community, which places it in opposition to extreme individualism, which threatens to fail in the West. [In addition,] the devout Muslim is required to share his wealth with others. The leftist also wants to see the strong help the weak."

Why, then, the formation of what David Horowitz calls the Left-Islamist "unholy alliance"? For four main reasons.

First, as British politician George Galloway explains, "the progressive movement around the world and the Muslims have the same enemies," namely Western civilization in general and the United States, Great Britain, and Israel in particular, plus Jews, believing Christians, and international capitalists. In Iran, according to Tehran political analyst Saeed Leylaz, "the government practically permitted the left to operate since five years ago so that they would confront religious liberals."

Listen to their interchangeable words: Harold Pinter describes America as "a country run by a bunch of criminal lunatics" and Osama bin Laden calls the country "unjust, criminal and tyrannical." Noam Chomsky terms America a "leading terrorist state" and Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, a Pakistani political leader, deems it "the biggest terrorist state." These commonalities suffice to convince the two sides to set aside their many differences in favor of cooperation.

Second, the two sides share some political goals. A mammoth 2003 joint demonstration in London to oppose war against Saddam Hussein symbolically forged their alliance. Both sides want coalition forces to lose in Iraq, the War on Terror to be closed down, anti-Americanism to spread, and the elimination of Israel. They agree on mass immigration to and multiculturalism in the West. They cooperate on these goals at meetings such as the annual Cairo Anti-War Conference, which brings leftists and Islamists together to forge "an international alliance against imperialism and Zionism."

Third, Islamism has historic and philosophic ties to Marxism-Leninism. Sayyid Qutb, the Egyptian Islamist thinker, accepted the Marxist notion of stages of history, only adding an Islamic postscript to them; he predicted that an eternal Islamic era would come after the collapse of capitalism and Communism. Ali Shariati, the key intellectual behind the Iranian revolution of 1978-79, translated Franz Fanon, Che Guevara, and Jean-Paul Sartre into Persian. More broadly, the Iranian analyst Azar Nafisi observes that Islamism "takes its language, goals, and aspirations as much from the crassest forms of Marxism as it does from religion. Its leaders are as influenced by Lenin, Sartre, Stalin, and Fanon as they are by the Prophet."

Moving from theory to reality, Marxists see in Islamists a strange fulfillment of their prophesies. Marx forecast that business profits would collapse in industrial countries, prompting the bosses to squeeze workers; the proletariat would become impoverished, rebel, and establish a socialist order. But, instead, the proletariat of industrial countries became ever more affluent, and its revolutionary potential withered. For a century and a half, author Lee Harris notes, Marxists waited in vain for the crisis in capitalism. Then came the Islamists, starting with the Iranian Revolution and following with 9/11 and other assaults on the West. Finally, the Third World had begun its revolt against the West, fulfilling Marxist predictions-even if under the wrong banner and with faulty goals. Olivier Besancenot, a French leftist, sees Islamists as "the new slaves" of capitalism and asks if it is not natural that "they should unite with the working class to destroy the capitalist system." At a time when the Communist movement is in "decay," note analyst Lorenzo Vidino and journalist Andrea Morigi, Italy's "New Red Brigades" actually acknowledge the "leading role of the reactionary clerics."

Fourth, power: Islamists and leftists can achieve more together than they can separately. In Great Britain, they jointly formed the Stop the War Coalition, whose steering committee includes representation from such organizations as the Communist party of Britain and the Muslim Association of Britain. Britain's Respect Party amalgamates radical international socialism with Islamist ideology. The two sides joined forces for the March 2008 European Parliament elections to offer common lists of candidates in France and Britain, disguised under party names that revealed little.

Islamists benefit, in particular, from the access, legitimacy, skills, and firepower the Left provides them. Cherie Booth, wife of then-prime minister Tony Blair, argued a case at the appellate-court level to help a girl, Shabina Begum, wear the jilbab, an Islamic garment, to a British school. Lynne Stewart, a leftist lawyer, broke U.S. law and went to jail to help Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind sheikh, foment revolution in Egypt. Volkert van der Graaf, an animal-rights fanatic, killed Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn to stop him from turning Muslims into "scapegoats." Vanessa Redgrave funded half of a œ50,000 bail surety so that Jamil el-Banna, a Guant namo suspect accused of recruiting jihadis to fight in Afghanistan and Indonesia, could walk out of a British jail; Redgrave described her helping el-Banna as "a profound honour," despite his being wanted in Spain on terrorism-related charges and suspected of links to al-Qaeda. On a larger scale, the Indian Communist party did Tehran's dirty work by delaying for four months the Indian-based launching of TecSar, an Israeli spy satellite. And leftists founded the International Solidarity Movement to prevent Israeli security forces from protecting the country against Hamas and other Palestinian terrorism.

Writing in London's Spectator, Douglas Davis calls the coalition "a godsend to both sides. The Left, a once-dwindling band of communists, Trotskyites, Maoists and Castroists, had been clinging to the dregs of a clapped-out cause; the Islamists could deliver numbers and passion, but they needed a vehicle to give them purchase on the political terrain. A tactical alliance became an operational imperative." More simply, a British leftist concurs: "The practical benefits of working together are enough to compensate for the differences."

The burgeoning alliance of Western leftists and Islamists ranks as one of today's most disturbing political developments, one that impedes the West's efforts to protect itself. When Stalin and Hitler made their infamous pact in 1939, the Red-Brown alliance posed a mortal danger to the West and, indeed, to civilization itself. Less dramatically but no less certainly, the coalition today poses the same threat. As seven decades ago, this one must be exposed, rejected, resisted, and defeated.


From food to sex: defend spontaneity

Whether we're drinking or fornicating, why are we always being told to `stop, think, proceed with caution'?

It was only an innocent desire for a snack. I nipped into a supermarket for a pint of milk and a little `treat' - a multi-pack of Twix biscuits. However, it seems you can't even enjoy a chocolate bar these days without a health warning. On the front of the pack was a helpful suggestion: `Be Treatwise.' Apparently, I should get to know my GDAs, and each bar in the pack I had just bought contains `6%' of my kcal GDA. A quick examination of the back of the pack revealed that kcals are in fact what we normally call `calories' and `GDA' means Guideline Daily Amount.

`Treatwise' may have been around for years, but I had never noticed it before. Is it necessary? I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to work out that if I have a biscuit with my cup of tea, I'm not likely to experience any negative consequences. In fact, having just engaged in this activity for research purposes, I can confirm it is actually jolly nice. But if I scoff an entire pack of these chocolate, toffee and biscuit fingers - all 1,107 calories' worth - I'm likely to start putting on weight. More importantly, I hope such gluttonous behaviour would make me want to vomit.

`Be Treatwise' is supported by Britain's big confectionery producers, including Mars and Cadbury. It is essentially the industry telling you to eat sweets responsibly. And chocolate makers are not alone in suggesting that you stop before you indulge. `Drinkaware' is funded by Britain's big brewers and distillers; its website encourages readers to `Respect Alcohol, Respect Yourself'. Drinkaware supports the government's `Know Your Limits' campaign and reminds us that drinking any more than our recommended number of `units' per day - three for men, two for women - could be dangerous.

I have a certain amount of sympathy for the companies behind these ventures. After all, nobody's forcing us to use their products. We keep buying them because we like them. Yet because of today's overblown panics about obesity and binge drinking - and because the producers must be seen to be doing the responsible thing - we are constantly reminded that there's a potential downside to consumption. Even if it's absolutely bleedin' obvious. Take this example from the website of single-malt whisky, Glen Grant:

`Enjoy your evening. Drinking should be a pleasurable activity, and certainly after the first drink you may experience a warm, mellow feeling. Your inhibitions may also be lowered which could make for a relaxed experience. However, as you would expect, the more alcohol you consume the less alert and the less inhibited you are likely to become. Your judgement will become impaired as will your coordination.'

Then things really take a turn for the worse: `It doesn't take a genius to realise that this could cause problems. If you continue drinking after this point, you could experience mood swings and possibly put yourself in compromising or dangerous situations. People who have drunk too much are unattractive and can be off-putting, miles away from the sophistication and relaxation that they could be enjoying.'

Some may argue that one of the main aims of having a few drinks is to end up in a compromising situation [LOL!], with our inhibitions relaxed; but maybe the makers of Glen Grant don't get out enough.

So the message is: sugary sweets will make you fat if you eat enough of them; alcoholic drinks will get you drunk if you imbibe a lot, and nobody likes a drunk. And if you chronically eat or drink to excess, it can cause health problems. Like the nice people at Glen Grant point out, this kind of thing `doesn't take a genius'.

There's something slightly dishonest about this trend. The manufacturers put these statements on their products, but must actually hope that we buy them anyway. And we carefully peruse various items on the supermarket shelf before consuming them anyway, while feeling a little guilty thanks to the `wise' and `aware' information. It all becomes a rather pointless ritual.

It is also irrational. Big corporations have effectively been placed in a situation where they must ask us not to buy their products. A similar situation applies to energy companies: they seem to spend more and more time telling us how we can save money and the planet by using less of their product. One energy company in the UK is even encouraging children to become `climate cops' and inform on their parents if they waste electricity (see Children, Forward to the Glorious Green Future!, by Lee Jones).

Such a screwed-up arrangement suits governments, though. Out of touch, and feeling like society is out of control, the political class knows that moralising our behaviour is one of the few ways in which it can exercise some influence. Hence, there is a relentless desire to make us stop and think about everything we do.

Spontaneity, in this view, is the road to ruin. So we are told to be `treatwise' and `drinkaware', and reminded to leave nothing on standby because it wastes power. This is also why governments think condoms are superior to the Pill - because you have to think in advance that you would like to have sex, and then fiddle about in the dark to get it on before you can get it on. As the new Department of Health posters instruct us: `Think B4 sex.' No danger of spontaneity there.

It's like a Green Cross Code for life in general: stop, think, proceed with caution. It is the essence of Puritanism - hectoring from on high disguised as an invitation to self-restraint.


Australia: Animal activists want moratorium on kangaroo shoot

Kangaroos being "wiped out"??? What bulldust! You can see them hopping about the streets of some Brisbane suburbs early in the morning. And Brisbane is a big city. There are millions of kangaroos in country areas. And they do well in zoos too. You can walk among them lying lazily about in Brisbane's main zoo (Lone Pine). Children feed them there. The famous picture below is generally titled "Not now kid"

ANIMAL rights activists want the Federal Government to impose a moratorium on kangaroo shooting, saying they are might be wiped out in some areas. Australian Society for Kangaroos co-ordinator Nikki Sutterby said yesterday that 73 million kangaroos had been killed by the kangaroo industry since 1980. Most had been turned into pet food and sports shoes.

She alleged a further 14 million pouch joeys had been bashed to death or decapitated and seven million at-foot joeys had been orphaned and left to die a slow death from stress, starvation and exposure. "This, combined with years of intense drought, floods and bush fires, has seen red kangaroos, western grey kangaroos, eastern grey kangaroos, wallaroos and euros plummet to densities of less than five per square kilometre or quasi extinct across most of Queensland, NSW and South Australia," Ms Sutterby said. "These species are now at risk of extinction in these states if the commercial industry is allowed to continue."

Ms Sutterby said an investigation of data, including the Murray Darling Report on kangaroo densities, showed that 'roo numbers were under pressure. Further interpretation of state government data from NSW, Queensland and SA showed kangaroo densities were less than two per square kilometre across more than half the states. "We have grave fears for the future existence of kangaroos and the fact that these state governments have already set commercial kill quotas at 12 to 20 per cent of the population for the next four years," she wrote to Environment Minister Peter Garrett.

A spokesman for Mr Garrett rejected the suggestion of a moratorium or that the species were in danger of extinction, saying quotas were adjusted annually depending on scientific advice. "Populations will fluctuate naturally," he said. "That's why the states survey regularly and quotas are adjusted according to sustainable harvests."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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