Cinnamon Stillwell

I’m the West Coast representative for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum. I was a political columnist for (San Francisco Chronicle online) from 2004-2008. I've written for the Algemeiner, Daily Caller, Washington Examiner, Independent Journal Review, American Thinker, FrontPage Magazine, Jihad Watch, Family Security Matters, Accuracy In Media, Newsbusters, Israel National News, Jewish Press, J-The Jewish News Weekly of Northern California, and many others.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Psychology Today Prints Asher Abrams' Letter

Late last year, I was interviewed for a Psychology Today article on political ideology and transformation titled "The Ideological Animal," which appeared in the January/February issue.

While I felt that the article treated my story of post-9/11 left-to-right political transformation fairly, I disagreed strongly with the author, Jay Dixit's, take on what inspires such political shifts. In short, Dixit implied that they are motivated purely by "irrational fears," including a fear of death, and he cited several highly suspect and blogosphere-debunked studies to make his point. I blogged about my concerns here, as well as linking to the many other bloggers (and one Pajamas Media "Sanity Squad" podcast) that covered the subject here.

At the time, more than one letter to the editor was sent to Psychology Today by critics of the article and I was curious to see which, if any, would make it into the next issue. So when I picked up the March/April issue, I was pleased to see that Dreams Into Lightning blogger and friend, Asher Abrams', "Open Letter to Jay Dixit" had made into the magazine. It was the only one on the subject, but it pretty much said it all.

Letters to the editor don't seem to appear at the Psychology Today website, but the original letter can be read at Asher's blog. This is the part that really hits home for me: looks as if you're trying very hard to find psychological, i.e. non-rational, explanations for cases where people adopt "conservative" political beliefs. There's no acknowledgment that such a political shift could come about as the result of a rational assessment of the relevant facts and arguments...


And instead of encouraging people to inform themselves on political issues while listening with an open mind to different points of view, your article prescribes the simple expedient of "reminding ourselves to think rationally", as if the fear itself, rather than its objective cause, were the real problem.


In fact, in an entire article devoted to what you call the "9/11 effect", there is not a single direct reference to the terrorist attacks that killed almost 3,000 Americans. In this light, it's difficult for me to escape the conclusion that your article is ideologically driven.
Exactly. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Cross-posted at Kesher Talk.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Political shifts driven by irrational fears ? I think real events generally precede and influence political shifts in individuals.

Monday, April 02, 2007 4:41:00 AM  
Blogger Deadman said...

The irrational fear of a fiery death at the hands of terrorists? Hmm, who'd a thunk...

Actually, many of us have been cogent of a terrorist threat our entire lives but staunchly stuck to the Democratic Party until 9/11 showed who was willing to do something about it, and who was willing to blame the US.

That reminds me, is Pelosi in Syria, yet?

Monday, April 02, 2007 5:06:00 AM  

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