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Metaphysics & Absurdity

It is not always clear why metaphysical problems such as those revolving about the notions of cause, substance, the subject-object gap,body-mind interaction, etc., need to be discussed. The practical man has little interest in such matters, and, it may appear, can conduct his economics or politics or family life equally well without having to bother his mind about them.

That, I think, is not the case. Whether or not they are explicitly elaborated, every culture has presuppositions on these matters upon which it relies for its understanding of how to conduct just such affairs as economics, politics, and family life. These presuppositions are working in the background, unconsciously to most of us most of the time.

The Broken Image by Floyd Matson portrays this fact with respect to the earth-moving adjustments that have come about in the shift from l9th to 20th century views on such metaphysical matters.

Regardless of whether one metaphysical view can be proven over another, which one a person believes does make a difference in how he lives and relates to other persons. Cultures, like individuals, have their “unconscious” minds, that is, the generally accepted assumptions about the universe which are relied upon (hence not always consciously focused upon) in order to conduct the ordinary affairs of life (upon which we focus)[1].

The task of the theologian and philosopher, like that of the psychotherapist, is to be sensitive to these largely unaware-beliefs of the culture and bring them into light for critical examination. Few question that our culture is sick and in need of therapy and, some of us would add, repentance. As with psychotherapy, it sometimes helps to rehearse the historical development of the disease.

As I think can be shown, and as we intend to help show here, a healthy culture is one whose relied-upon images of reality are those of the Biblical doctrine of creation[2]. Any culture  which departs from these images is liable to serious distortion and disablement of its human relationships, whether economic, political, or romantic. The point of this introduction is to trace the philosophical undergirding (or dis-undergirding) of these disablements.

The name of the disease is “radical contingency”, that is, lacking self-sufficiency, yet inability to discover from where one’s sufficiency does come, or even whether there is a source for it at all. This disease of culture, from a Biblical point of view, is none other than the “death of God.” Since the late Middle Ages, Western culture has found itself increasingly unable to take consistently and seriously as a basic relied-upon belief the Biblical doctrine of creation.

The death of God is (in one of its aspects) the death of the Creator, for God in the Bible is above all else the creator of heaven and earth. Medieval man, insofar as he was Christian, perceived his essential relation with God to be that of creaturehood. The legacy of meaning, sense of fulfillment, direction in history, and morality which were founded on that vision of God began to die the moment the doctrine of creation began to give way by the late Middle Ages, slowly and incrementally, as the ultimate foundation stone of Western culture. Christian thought and practice became increasingly atonement rather than creation centered, leaving atonement only an impartial explanation.

It is believed by many and perhaps most people today that the development of science and technology has been more than anything else responsible for the “death” of God. Man now appeals to technology to do that for which he once prayed. The “God of the gaps” charge against believers relies upon the apparent steady devouring by the natural sciences of the ground previously occupied by religion as an explanation for the way things are. God, it is felt, remains only in those gaps not yet explained by science.

And it is felt, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, that man is coming of age, or, as per Freud, that man has abandoned the pleasure/comfort principle upon which religion was allegedly founded for the (for him) mechanistic, “drive” oriented reality principle upon which science he thought to be founded.

There is a curious contradiction, however, seldom noticed, between on one hand, the assertion that man is coming of age, which suggests that man is becoming more and more self-sufficient, and, on the other hand, the notion elaborated by the empirical tradition from David Hume to A. J. Ayer, and notably, by existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, that man is a radically contingent being. The first asserts that man is learning to get along by himself, the latter that man is inherently incomplete and inexplicable by himself. Absurd, as Camus says.

Furthermore, one asks just what “coming of age” might mean, having just finished the century in which we “mature” human beings, by the 1950’s, only half way through, savagely destroyed a greater percentage of the human race than any other whole century. And further, by the end of the century, we had destroyed more persons than had previously ex-isted in all prior centuries. This was done in almost every case by avowedly atheist/secular forces, and stopped by societies which still had at least a modicum of Biblical morality in their blood streams.

Bonhoeffer’s view is partly true. We were, in a sense, coming of age. The rise of science and the democratization of education and literacy had led to a kind of teen-age time of the human race, a leaving behind of the “parental” authority structures of State and Church to strike out on our own.

But though it progressed with confidant predictions of human triumph over the troubles of life, peaking around the end of the 19th century, it ran aground in the unparalleled human carnage of the 20th century. And, contra Freud, Western culture has embraced again the pleasure principle –with (what used to be called) “gay abandon”, and is steadily deteriorating in its scientific prowess.

The Church has, in large measure, lost it intellectual, moral, and spiritual way, and the power- and control-minded have gravitated toward the State to exert control over We, the People. The more we have “taken over” from God, the more we are losing control of our own freedom.

Hence the increasingly devastating absurd world of Albert Camus[3]:

I said that the world is absurd, but I was too hasty. The world in itself is only not reasonable, that is all that can be said. But what is absurd is the confrontation of this irrational and the wild longing for clarity whose call echoes in the human heart. The absurd depends as much on man as on the world.

Intellectual, moral, and spiritual clarity are gone. There is little remaining public consensus in the West, intellectual, moral, or spiritual, and we are cast onto our waning personal resources.

So, the world may be indeed be inherently unreasonable. But in any case, it is certainly worth discovering what has made so many people like Camus think so, and whether that view might not after all be a tragic mistake. Maybe it is we ourselves who are unreasonable, rejecting our Biblical roots and consensus.

The collapse of the Biblical worldview in the West signaled retreat from our march into human adulthood. It is a principle of spiritual growth in Biblical religion that one can be an adult in the world only to the degree that he is first a child in God[4]. But we are (wrongly) convinced that childhood is something we grow out of, not into. We do not like being dependent and/or obedient, not even, maybe especially, on God.

Augustine replied to the pagans who blamed Christianity for the fall of Rome, that not so, that any nation which refused to submit to the purposes of God would sooner or later go under. It cannot perdure[5].

So we are discovering, yet once again, that ideas have consequences. What one believes on the metaphysical and cosmic level has enormous personal and social consequences in ordinary daily life.

If it is true that the smallest particles and the most primitive forces de-fine the nature of the cosmos in which we live (as contemporary secularized science is telling us), or if it is true rather that the nature of God defines the boundaries of our lives and meaning of our existence (as Judeo-Christians are telling us), then, either way, it would be good for us to know which of the two might be the truth, and just what those boundaries and rules might be.

Is there a way of making a rational decision between the two?



[1] For an explanation of the “unconscious” and how it functions, see Bibliography for Biblical Inner Healing, Chapter IV, The Warp in the Unconscious.

[2] More on this in Volume II, Yahweh or the Great Mother?

[3] Albert Camus, Myth of Sisyphus, p. 16. Vintage paperback.

[4] That I take to be the meaning of Jesus’ words to Nicodemus in John 3:1-11 about being “born again”.

[5] In Augustine’s The City of God, arguably the first philosophy of history written.

Dr. Earle FoxDr. Earle Fox is IAI’s Senior Fellow in Philosophy of Science and the Worldview of Ethical Monotheism.

This article is an extract from Chapter 1 (section A) of Dr. Fox’s book A Personalist Cosmology in Imago Dei: Personality, Empiricism & God, Vol. I. See also Dr. Fox’s new Book Abortion, the Bible and America.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

Anthropological Tourists: Mead & the Young Sex Mavens

Back in the Roaring Twenties, Columbia University’s Franz Boas (1858–1942), the “father of American anthropology,” was maneuvering to break what he called the “shackles that tradition has laid upon us.” To that end, Boas supported the “field work” of young anthropology students, including Margaret Mead, who set out to prove what Boas wanted her to prove: that happy primitive people had better sex, younger, than uptight Westerners.

In 1925, the 23-year-old Mead, recently married to the first of her three husbands, went to Samoa, stayed for less than a year, and returned to the U.S. claiming that Samoan society was an “uninhibited,” free-sex society with no jealousy, no rape, and great sex. On the basis of this exploit, she got her Ph.D. and eventually became one of the most celebrated of all anthropologists.

Mead described her sexual paradise in Coming of Age in Samoa (1928), a book that caught the attention of a young New Zealand-born anthropologist, Derek Freeman. Expecting to find the sexual utopia Mead had depicted, he went to Samoa in 1940 and lived there for three years, studying and working as a schoolteacher.

No Paradise

To his considerable disappointment, Freeman (later a professor at the Australian National University) found that Mead was wrong. After years of doing his own field research, he published Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth in 1983. In the preface he admits:

In my early work I had, in my unquestioning acceptance of Mead’s writings, tended to dismiss all evidence that ran counter to her findings. By the end of 1942, however, it had become apparent to me that much of what she had written about the inhabitants of Manu’a in eastern Samoa did not apply to the people of western Samoa. . . . Many educated Samoans . . . had become familiar with Mead’s writings about their culture . . . [and] entreated me, as an anthropologist, to correct her mistaken depiction of the Samoan ethos.

A fierce storm erupted when Harvard University Press published the book, which many saw as attacking an anthropological icon. But Freeman persevered, and in 1999 published The Fateful Hoaxing of Margaret Mead, in which he retraced Mead’s brief time on the islands of Manu’a in the mid-1920s and revealed her fieldwork as an anthropological fantasy designed to confirm the theories of her mentors, Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict.

Mead had interviewed, at best, 68 girls through an interpreter, as she knew little Samoan. Freeman, who learned the language well, found that Samoans customarily joke and inflate talk of sexual behavior. On one particular occasion, in answer to Mead’s suggestive questions, two Christian Samoan young women laughingly said they had wild, uninhibited, and promiscuous sex. Mead took their facetious answers seriously, and used them as the basis for her depiction of their island as a paradise of free sex with no jealousy and no rape. But Freeman found that jealousy and rape were not uncommon and that a girl’s virginity was critical for marriage.

Even after the publication of Hoaxing, many refused to accept Freeman’s findings and still teach Mead’s bad research today. Yet Freeman’s obituary (he died in 2001) in the New York Times acknowledged: “His challenge was initially greeted with disbelief or anger, but gradually won wide—although not complete—acceptance.”

Ford & Beach

Margaret Mead was not the only source of suspect findings that made their way into mainstream anthropology, and from there into American society after World War II. Drs. Clellan Ford and Frank Beach were, like Boas and Mead, determined to rid the world of Western sexual mores.

Ford, who took his Ph.D. from Yale in sociology and later taught there, lived on the Fiji islands for one year in the mid-1930s; in 1940, he visited the Kwakiutl Indians of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, and later published a book about their leader. That is the extent of his fieldwork.

Frank Beach began his academic career by studying the sexual behavior of rats and later became a psycho-biologist. He was a grantee of the National Research Council’s Committee for Research in Problems of Sex, a Rockefeller agency that also funded Alfred Kinsey.

In 1951, Ford and Beach published Patterns of Sexual Behavior, a book that quoted Kinsey’s sex “findings” 28 times to shore up their claim that Americans are sexually prudish publicly but licentious privately. The Chicago Tribune’s blurb on the dust jacket claimed: “What Kinsey did for the American male, Ford and Beach have done for men and women the world over.”

But Beach and Ford didn’t depend entirely on Kinsey’s fraud; they also claimed that abundant anthropological studies proved that Judeo-Christian sexual “shackles” are abnormal and that early, undifferentiated sex is normal. It was largely assumed that these detailed island studies were Ford’s and Beach’s own research. Not exactly. Apart from Ford’s two brief stints in the field, neither man is recorded as having lived for any period of time outside the rarified ambiance of a well-heeled, urbane, university town.

No, the studies they relied upon have roots going back to 1937, when anthropologists at the Yale Institute of Human Relations attempted to catalogue 190 different exotic societies. The “research” for this catalogue came from unnamed young college students’ theses and dissertations on primitive societies in “Oceania, Eurasia; Africa; North America [largely Indians] and South America.” In the 1920s and 1930s, these student “anthropologist tourists” visited a locale, alone or with a friend, to fulfill a school assignment and satisfy their curiosity. Most would stay in the “field” for only a few months—at best up to a year. It does not appear that any of the students doing those “field studies” knew the native languages; thus, like Margaret Mead, they relied on paid and unpaid natives to translate some of the most sensitive information.

Who these Ivy League kids were—and exactly what they were doing and with whom while in these exotic climes—is not included in the “field reports,” but what they brought back was counted as solid scientific research and was used by many as the basis for books, articles, and university lectures preaching about the need to free ourselves from Western sexual inhibitions.

This stack of unverified social and sexual “research” was re-baptized as “evidence” by Ford and two others in 1937 as the Yale Cross-Cultural Survey, a project later incorporated into the Human Relations Area Files. At that point, Ford and Beach sat down and summarized the exotica. And by adding and making comparisons with Kinsey’s fraudulent data, they created the “classic” 1951 anthropological text we know as Patterns of Sexual Behavior, released three years after Kinsey’s Male volume was published.

A Dubious Classic

Ford and Beach’s book was a hit among the academic elite and has been mined as historical and ethnographic gold ever since. In 1996, the American Psychological Association (APA) published a “retrospective” of Patterns of Sexual Behavior in its journal, Contemporary Psychology. The article hailed Patterns as “A Classic in Every Sense of the Word”:

[Ford and Beach] accomplished the goal of comparing sexual behaviors in widely diverging societies by drawing on data from 190 different cultures, as well as from contemporary American society as it was known in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The cultures reported in this volume come from all corners of the globe, and in several instances, data from multiple cultures within a single society are presented.

Still today, almost sixty years after it was published, Patterns continues to be quoted as an authoritative work. Yet the “data” collected for this classic came from anonymous student “researchers” who were about as reliable as Margaret Mead. Her bias was obvious (“I think the nuclear family is an abomination”), and so was that of Boas, Beach, and Ford. And the APA.

It’s all bad data, not science, combined with wishful thinking. After all, according to Mead, Frank, Beach, Kinsey, and assorted larky student anthropological tourists, if we would just dump our old sexual taboos, we’d all be living in a sexual paradise.

It’s been sixty years; are we there yet?

6Dr. Judith Reisman is a Distinguished Senior Fellow in the Study of Social Trends, Human Rights, and Media Forensics.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute. This article was originally published on in  the Winter 2010 issue. You can buy Dr. Reisman’s book Sexual Sabotage on her website.

From Knowledge to Wisdom

In his book, The Constitution of Liberty, F. A. Hayek wrote that «knowledge exists only as the knowledge of individuals». In this sense, it is also true when he says that «it is not much better than a metaphor to speak of the knowledge of society as a whole. The sum of the knowledge of all the individuals exists nowhere as an integrated whole. The great problem is how we can all profit from this knowledge, which exists only dispersed as the separate, partial, and sometimes conflicting beliefs of all men».

He also explains – according to the Socratic maxim that the recognition of our ignorance is the beginning of wisdom – how civilization is much more a result of a continued experience rather than a theoretical process conceived by human intellect. It is like an open process that no longer can be misconstrued with erroneous intellectualism based on reasoning capacity outside nature and human experience. In other words, the growth of knowledge in our society is not confined to the expert methods of needed information, but more to the non-explicit knowledge dispersed among countless individuals.

Consequently, too many people, believing or following the “empty intellect”, do not even realize that scientific methods and similar ones can no longer satisfy all society’s needs for organized well-being. Besides, several factors can make their own progress, especially those ones concerned with the human adaptations to environment in which historical and spiritual experience have been incorporated. In most cases, tradition itself is a more powerful factor regarding the spirit of one nation or country, without which the successive generations can no longer integrate the cultural heritage into the pursuit of noble and civilized ends.

Moreover, knowledge is not wisdom. The first one is a process of accumulation in what concerns cultural and scientific information. The second one is a personal creation, a discovery process coming from a singular human being. It might even be said that the very division of knowledge increases the necessary ignorance about spiritual human nature, or even that new intellectual obstacles can emerge and bound a better comprehension of the world around us.

No man, even with the greatest knowledge he could obtain or accumulate, would be capable of direct control of individual efforts to achieve particular things and happiness in life. Even the wisest ruler could not be able of such a thing without creating a stagnant society in which all individuals would be conditioned by a restricted freedom. However, it is always better for all that some should be free than none, especially when historical and philosophical reasons can prove that it is possible to unfree societies to benefit from what they obtain and learn from free societies.

In Portugal, for instance, freedom is just a nominal and formal expression. More specifically, freedom of speech and discussion is only an empty promise, largely worthless, because intellectual liberty is not practiced in school and university institutions. The main reason relies on a superficial or repeated intellectualism, scientifically false and secularly limited by ecclesiastic heritage respecting censorship of cultural information.

In some way, socialism is now conducting a new form of censorship based on intellectual control, a more subtle process early promoted by Antonio Gramsci, the founder of the Italian Communist Party. The objective, therefore, is to substitute revolutionary proletarians by “intellectual workers” regarding an official socialist propaganda based on Marxist culture. This non-explicit process, firstly suggested by university teachers to higher school and primary teachers, secondly by the students themselfs, has, finally, decayed in Stat omnipotence, denial of liberty, property abolition and priority of will.

To every socialist agent, directly or indirectly conscious of what he really represents in the New World Order, the category of modality, implied in Aristotle’s thought, does not make any minimal difference. In fact, too many intellectuals in Portugal are still conceiving the principle of freedom as an absolute value, on one hand well affirmative, and on the other purely transcendental. To them it can only be one or a unique way, without any concession to human limitations or even to the possibility of making real some social, political and jurisprudential aspects that might elapse from freedom’s principle.

Curiously, the absolute sense concerning freedom can be found in theological, catholic and medieval tradition, later reflected in modern and secular humanism. Among the Portuguese, this type of transition began to occur in the eighteen century, especially due to José Sebastião de Carvalho e Melo, Marquis of Pombal, who himself, as a despotic Minister of D. José I, expelled the Jesuit Order from Portugal (1759), and, with it, the neo-scholastic system based on the Aristotelian tradition. In short, the new rhetoric of liberty, in its rationalist, anti-theological and anti-religious character, became immediately a desperate pragmatism where freedom was supposed to be for all or, simply, for none.

Another case can be, contextually speaking, found in Japan after the Second World War, namely in what respects the proper reconstruction based on America’s democracy model. For the record, we must remind ourselves that the Allied Powers for the Occupation and Control of Japan were confronted with an ancient culture where the Emperor himself was traditionally considered “a living god”. So, basically, Hirohito was forced to renounce to his divine ascendency at the same time Japan’s modernization took place through the following aspects: a new Constitution in which, according to article 9, the right of belligerency was fully denied; decentralization of political power; religion and State separation; equal and liberal education; a free syndical movement; women liberation; sex equality; free elections; independent judicial power; abolition of noble titles; political, military and economic sanitation and so on.

This was, certainly, the initial plan to set, through democracy and human rights, the necessary reconstruction of Japan after the Second World War. But some Americans soon understood that democracy and human rights could not simply be applied into Japan’s spiritual culture once and for all. Apart from that, a new factor arose: the communist peril.

General MacArthur was one of the first Americans to fully understand this peculiar process, just because he knew how important it was to keep the Imperial Institution as a way of symbolizing the unity of the Japanese nation. Otherwise, the Occupation could be not only interpreted as an American imposition, but also because the communist peril, represented by China, Korea and the Soviet Union, was a real threat for the Free World, including Japan’s new reconstruction. In some way, General MacArthur was indeed the great “saver” of Hirohito, who was also, in turn, undoubtedly an enemy of any form of anarchy and communism.

With the beginning of the Korean War, in 1950, it is interesting to see how America’s administration of Japan took another direction regarding the previous procedures facing social, political and economical aspects, as, for example, a more flexible antitrust legislation against monopolistic companies (Zaibatsu), or a more restrictive legislation to prevent the industrial downfall caused by strikes and syndical movements. In fact, Japan´s economy practically increased during the Korean War, recuperating, by the end of it, in 1953, the production levels as they were before the Pacific War (1941-45).

Morihei-Ueshiba-foto-4In terms of material development, the Japanese people have without doubt won in preventing the communist peril, by becoming one of the great world economical powers. But spiritually, the Japanese people are still wondering how to combine their ancient culture with the materialistic world of the present day. One man, the highest symbol of Japan’s modern culture, Morihei Ueshiba, appeared, instead, as a mysterious force that had effectively the wisdom to preserve, in a new form of light, the union between Heaven and Earth by practicing the heritage fighting skills coming from Budo.

O’Sensei is the Founder of Aikido, “the harmony way of the Spirit”. During the Second World War, Master Ueshiba went to Iwama, a sacred place localized in the Prefecture of Ibaraki, in north-east Tokyo. Once there, he preserved the spiritual tradition of the former Aiki-bujutsu, saving the future of Aikido fromButokukai, the national school for all martial arts, otherwise created in 1897 by the Japanese government.

After the Second World War, he trained many people coming from all planet points, including American Army soldiers. O’Sensei, like no other men in Japan or in any part of the world, could really master the Ki, a vital force containing all beings, forms and creatures in the universe. In spiritual terms, he could also touch without being touched. But, of course, that process was a longue and a profound result of his daily practice in the presence of the Japanese gods, on whom O’Sensei entirely depended, on his way to wisdom.

19Miguel Bruno Duarte is a Fellow in Philosophy and Political Science at the Inter-American Institute for Philosophy, Government, and Social Thought.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute. Translated from the Portuguese by Alessandro Cota.

Gender Warrior’s Theory Belied As Junk Science

In June 1998 a stunning press release from a Harvard University research hospital announced findings that “carry massive implications for what appears to be a larger national crisis, one that we are now seeing can cause serious violence…. The time has come to change the way boys are raised — in our homes, in our schools and in society.”

Sounding the alarm was Harvard psychologist William Pollack. His book, Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myth of Boyhood, boasted groundbreaking “findings about the true nature of boys” the dangers of “conventional expectations about masculinity” and “outdated gender stereotypes”

With breathtaking leaps, Real Boys spun anecdotes of adolescent turmoil into proof of the claim by radical feminists and homosexuals that traditional masculinity is pathological.

By the following spring, seeking a politically correct spin on the Columbine High School tragedy in Littleton, Colo., the media anointed Pollack as Harvard’s genius on boyhood and prophet of an apocalypse of masculinity. Real Boys was driven to best-seller status by media attention.

Pollack confidently asserted the politically correct view of homosexuality: “For generations, experts in psychology and psychotherapy did not entirely understand homosexuality. Based on numerous studies by top scientists we now know that homosexuality is not a psychological `disorder’ or `disease.'”

Offering no evidence, Pollack alluded airily to “scientific findings” but conceded offhand that scientists still don’t really know anything about homosexuality.

Nonetheless, he had no doubt about his own competence to handle any sexual ambivalence that might ail your son. For example, one distraught client discovered that her 17-year-old son and a male teen neighbor “had been getting together in the afternoons, drinking beer and then masturbating each other” Unsurprisingly, the mother sought help.

Pollack said he “would be happy to help the boy examine the feelings he was experiencing” but was “not willing to try to change the boy from being whoever he truly was.”

Among Pollack’s “discoveries”:

* People’s “irrational fears” and “hate” — code words for Judeo-Christian morality — cause suicide among teen-agers experiencing homosexual feelings;

* “[H]omophobia — not homosexuality itself — is what makes the lives of gay people so difficult”;

* “We need to help our sons to puncture old myths about homosexuality”; and

* “Failure to impart these messages to boys can place our sons in serious psychological, if not physical, danger.”

What did Pollack cite as evidence for the above? One wispy anecdote about a 15-year-old who hanged himself.

“Findings” such as these from Harvard get you on television to sell books. The New York Times, Newsweek magazine, 20/20 and the Today show all came running. Sequels followed. The media ignored academics who smelled not science but politics. Meanwhile, Pollack remained strangely evasive about the location and content of his research.

But several parents whose sons recently graduated from the Belmont Hill School in Massachusetts told the Parents’ Rights Coalition and a local newspaper that the research done on their sons couldn’t possibly justify announcement of a national crisis of disturbed boys. They complained that their sons were used to drive a political agenda and that Pollack bypassed the crucial matter of parental consent. One father was even refused a copy of the questions his son had answered.

Moreover, the boys apparently had no choice about participating, despite their discomfort with Pollack’s questions. One vividly remembers, “I was asked how often I thought about killing myself — not if I did [but] how much I did.” The options: once a year, once a month, once a week or once a day.

“No one around me took the exam seriously with such one-sided and leading questions” another boy told the Massachusetts News. “The test turned into a complete farce when kids began calling out their answers to their classmates in an effort to make a joke.” The former student adds: “We were absolutely shocked when [told] threateningly [to] sign our names.” Coercion to participate or to sign one’s name violates the guidelines of the American Psychological Association.

Bruce Cohen, president of the renowned McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., admits that if the allegations are true the research would not have met the standards of the Harvard-affiliated hospital where Pollack works. Cohen told me: “Certainly, one would have to get permission from someone before doing research on children.”

In the days after Pollack surveyed the Belmont Hill boys, a former pupil says, “It became a badge of honor to admit that one had filled it out incorrectly to spite this test which, no matter how accurately answered, in no way reflected the student.”

“Pollack’s claims are so contradicted by statistical evidence about boys, which causes professionals like me to wonder by what methodology he could have arrived at such conclusions,” says Gwen Broude, professor of psychology and cognitive science at Vassar College.

Howard Schwartz, professor of organizational behavior at Oakland University, says the new revelations confirm what he suspected: “The only question is how much of his interviews Pollack made up. I suspect it was a lot.”

“Given the importance of his claims and the disagreement of other evidence, it is extremely unfortunate that the media treat Pollack’s work so uncritically” says Broude. “Pollack and other trendy experts on boyhood represent a real danger to boys.” In her view, “there is simply no evidence that boys suffer mass anxiety about premature separation from mothers — no evidence of any emotional epidemic of depression and low self-esteem.

“Between one and four percent of boys display such problems. And there is certainly no basis for any feminist claim that we can treat the boys who are in trouble by purging them of their basic masculine nature” Broude adds. “But the fact is that, in Pollack’s world, being male is a malady, a mental illness.”

Pollack’s underlying goal is “to provide a theoretical basis for social engineering for a certain kind of parenting — from a feminist perspective,” says Schwartz, who studies the impact of political correctness on institutions. “It is becoming increasingly difficult to take Pollack seriously. It makes the head spin to think that he has generalized (this) into a full-blown diagnosis of cultural crisis.”

Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital may have come quietly to the same conclusion. Cohen discreetly refused to comment on the allegations but, revealingly, now claims Pollack’s research was not sponsored by the hospital. This contradicts both Pollack’s book and the 1998 press release announcing a “McLean study” declaring that boys feel “sadness about growing up to be men, a study by researchers at McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School has shown.” Cohen also downplayed the link to Harvard and referred me to Assistant Dean for Faculty Affairs Margaret Dale, who said, “To the best of my knowledge,” Pollack’s research was not a Harvard study.” “Pollack’s study was not under Harvard Medical School jurisdiction and was not approved by HMS,” according to Carolyn Connelly, director of the medical school’s office for research protection. But Real Boys portrayed it as “derived in part from … my ongoing research project at Harvard Medical School.”

Both Cohen and Connelly reiterated that “issues” about the research had arisen previously and that Pollack had been instructed not to link the McLean or Harvard names to his research. But one would have to say it’s a little late. McLean and Harvard did, after all, share the glory when the New York Times and the network-news celebrities rushed to hear their professor on the need to feminize American boys before they blow us up.

Reminded of the release, Cohen said he’d have to talk with public relations about announcements of non-McLean studies. But Real Boys cites the research assistance of the hospital’s chief librarian and four employees who typed Pollack’s manuscript. Like the Belmont Hill School, and the boys whom Pollack “studied,” Cohen and his hospital have found themselves well used.

Pollack, still counting his cash, is popping up all over the media and making speeches to educators and school counselors even in Texas, where the locals should know better than to buy this brand of snake oil.

Word should have gotten out long ago. Pollack’s findings took a whipping last year in The War Against Boys by the American Enterprise Institute’s Christina Hoff Sommers (see “Detailing the Abuse of Boys” Aug. 21, 2000). To Sommers, Harvard’s “national emergency” that called for “major social reform” smelled funny. After requesting a copy of Pollack’s study, she got a 30-page manuscript she described as “riddled with errors” and with “none of the properties of a professional paper.”

“Unlike most scientific papers, which alert readers to their limits, Pollack’s paper was unabashedly extravagant, declaring findings unprecedented in the literature of research psychology,” Sommers wrote. “Pollack’s paper does not present a single persuasive piece of evidence for a national boy crisis.” She continued: “Its sparse data and its strident and implausible conclusions render it unpublishable as a scholarly article.”

What was Pollack up to? “He sees no particular meaning in the role of the father. His images of fathers are just about uniformly negative,” says Schwartz, author of a new book on the psychodynamics of political correctness. “The whole idea behind the revolution in parenting that he is trying to bring about is that the traditional family is throwing boys into distress by raising them to be like their fathers, rather than like women.”

“I am still outraged” says one former subject, conscious of what the media made of Pollack’s study. “Our immature attempt at humor four years ago should not be the benchmark for the 21st century.”

18 John Haskins is IAI’s Senior Fellow for the Public Understanding of Law, Propaganda and Cultural Revolution..

This article was originally published in Insight On the News on January 6, 2001.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.