Friends don’t let friends study Psychology

In this video I encourage people considering pursuing an education in Psychology at any formal level – bachelors, research Masters/PhD, or Clinical Masters/PhD – to research and reconsider what they are considering.

My relevant experience includes having an Hon. B.Sc. in Psychology Research and Cognitive Science, having been an MS/PhD student in Cognitive Psychology, having looked into the job market stats, and now working in a parallel healthcare field, Occupational Therapy.

Dude, where’s my progressivism?! Why I no longer identify as progressive.

For many years I self identified as a proud progressive. I identified as such because I believed in such things as secularism, universal healthcare, affordable education, various other social safety net programs,  gay rights, gender and racial egalitarianism, I was pro-choice, etc. I didn’t always fall directly in line with mainstream progressive views, but I generally did. While my political self-description has changed, my values really haven’t.  Continue reading

Follow up Post: Is Milo Yiannopoulos a “self-hating homosexual”?

Recently I did a blog post and YouTube video that was critical of an appraisal made by Joe Rogan and Kyle Kulinski (Secular Talk; a link to the video I was responding to can be found in the info section of my YouTube video) that Milo Yiannopoulos is a self-hating homosexual. Yiannopoulos, a well-known gay conservative commentator and writer on social issues, had said that he would have rather have been straight. I had glossed over something else he had said in my response, which was his saying that he would be better if he were straight. He went onto say that he is not self-loathing, that he loves everything about himself, but that if he could be better, he would be.

I agree with Milo. None of this implies self-hatred. A B-student doesn’t necessarily hate himself for not being an A-student. A man who is 5’8″ doesn’t necessarily hate short people or himself even though he may have preferred being 6’1″. Now, one can take exception with the assertion that being straight is better. One can be critical of it. But to say that that means he hates homosexuality or himself is a stretch. One could say that it is better to not have a physical or mental disability without hating the disabled (For those who are outraged and about to say “You’re saying being gay is a disability!?”, I’ll get back to you on this down below). And it is in keeping with what one sometimes sees in the progressive community: shaming, browbeating and ascribing of the worst motivations to people who say things out-of-keeping with various (often laudable) progressive causes (such as gay rights and gay acceptance).

However, what did Milo mean by better? In some of his other discussions and writings on the matter he has talked about the  negative social and emotional consequences that come with being gay. He has given a number of easily imaginable pragmatic reasons for why one would be better off being straight. And I can think of a bunch off the top of my head – less ostracism and discrimination, less social discord with family and friends, you can have your own kids with your own partner, and less emotional turmoil as a result of these sorts of things. Milo has listed some or all of these considerations, himself. I don’t think anyone can argue with any of this. Surely not radical progressives who are the first to talk about things like cis-het privilege – a privilege which wouldn’t make sense to talk about if non-cis gendered and non-heterosexual people didn’t have struggles not endured by cis-hets.

But has Milo gone further than this? A commenter in my original post, Tom, shared a post written by Milo several years ago. In this post, Milo says that he will probably never be a parent because he does not want to risk increasing the likelihood of a child being born gay by virtue of being influenced by him. Milo advised that he is not self-hating, but that he would not have chosen to be gay. In fact, he said that it would be mad for any person to do so. He said that no one should wish to have a gay child, much like one should not wish for their child to be disabled. It would be mad or evil, he thinks, to want your child to end up being gay. Among his reasoning was the sorts of pragmatic factors I discussed above. He also said that “something, somewhere inside of him” thinks that homosexuality is wrong. Now self-hatred, I think, is still probably a bit over inflammatory. But at the very least, this is definitely well on the way to self-hatred. And I think we can easily see why an observer would interpret this sort of comment as implying something approaching self-hatred – or at least a lack of acceptance.

In his post, Milo is also critical of the public behavior of some particularly flamboyant homosexuals. This is something that I can definitely sympathize with and don’t think for a second that it implies hating himself, homosexuality or gay people in general. I’m fully accepting of homosexuality, but I too can find very flamboyant behavior to be off-putting. And this is NOT intolerance of homosexuality. Homosexuality is a sexual preference. The sort of thing we are talking about here is how one conducts themselves in public. Sexuality is not a choice, but being highly flamboyant is. Likewise, being male is not a choice but being a brute is. Being female isn’t a choice, but being a damsel in distress or Barbie girl is. One can disprefer frat guys without hating men, disprefer Barbie girls without hating women, and disprefer flamboyant homosexuals while being fully comfortable with homosexuality and most homosexuals.

And just as some guys don’t like the way brutish guys act because they think it reflects poorly on men in general, and same with some women having reservations with respect to the behavior of some other women, Milo spoke with discontent about how overly flamboyant homosexuals reinforce stereotypes of gay guys that hurt “regular” gay guys.

While some may take exception to Milo lambasting “preening poofs” and referring to the behavior of some flamboyant gays as being “repugnant”, “degrading”, and “repulsive”, amid his inflammatory language a valid perspective can be found.

Tom, the commenter from my last post, however, pointed out an inconsistency. On the one hand Milo lambastes some types of gay extravagance. But in other settings he has spoken very favourably about the freedom within gay culture to step outside of the lines, to do more extreme and out there things, to engage in socio-cultural experimentation, etc. He flat out praised this aspect of gay culture. For an example of this, see his recent talk with Dave Rubin.

Now, it is possible that he really does love this freedom for experimentation and excess within gay culture, but does not necessarily like every single direction that all gay people have gone in. However, I think I’m reaching in speculating this. The sort of excess that he is criticizing is probably the most well-known type of excessive, extravagant and outside-the-lines that gay people are known to engage in. So it would be ridiculous to think that he would laud this culture of freedom but loath those engaged in the most well-known type of outside-the-norm behavior and not specify this as an exception or caveat.

Milo readily refers to himself as a provocateur. He is trying to get a rise out of people. I think that the term “self-hatred” is probably a stretch and overly inflammatory. And so I get why he rejects this appraisal. However, given what he has said and how he has said it, it is understandable why people would make this sort of inflammatory interpretation. I think that some people should re-consider their words. Maybe in some cases terms like “self-hatred” should be replaced with less inflationary terms. Milo could, perhaps, be said to be not fully accepting of homosexuality. One may go as far as saying he is a homosexual with significant anti-homosexual inclinations. I don’t know how much further I would want to go with this. Because while he has said several things to indicate that he thinks homosexuality is unhealthy and possibly even morally wrong, he still un-self-consciously identifies as a homosexual and plays that up. He’s a complicated man – surely by design.

Last things last: Is homosexuality akin to a disability? 

In mental health and general health settings, disability tends to be defined in terms of dysfunction. Does a condition significantly impede a person from functioning in their day to day lives in ways that most people can? A person with paraplegia cannot get by without a wheelchair. They cannot use stairs, they need a variety of accommodations or they simply cannot get by. Clearly a disability.

What about homosexuality? Well, if a homosexual wants to have their own kids, being gay kind of gets in the way of that, doesn’t it? In a way, even a gay person who does not want to have kids with their partner could possibly be said to be disabled because they can’t. Similarly, even if a person in a wheelchair had no interest in walking or doing anything that they could not do in their current state, we could still say that they are disabled because they are not able the way that the grand majority of people are.

People with physical disabilities can be accommodated. Wheelchairs, walkers, braces, splints, eye glasses, hearing aides, long-handled reachers, power wheelchairs controlled by blowing and movements of the tongue, etc. etc. etc. Gay people, one could say, are being accommodated through adoption. This is a win-win situation. Some kids need to be adopted, some gay people want kids. Other gay couples are accommodated via artificial insemination or surrogate motherhood. Great.

Notice how nothing I am saying is normative or judgmental here. No one should interpret anything I’m saying as meaning that a gay or physically disabled person is of lower value or deserves less than anyone else.

Thanks to Tom for the good discussion and the information that he provided.

Progressive Shaming: Milo Yiannopoulos, the “self-hating” homosexual.

NOTE (October 12, 2015): I have written a follow-up post on this issue. In the follow up I argue that while self-hatred is probably an overly-inflammatory descriptor, in his discussions regarding homosexuality Milo is sometimes pretty much “asking” to be interpreted as having anti-homosexual inclinations. He is a complicated man – surely be design. A fully out-of-the-closet homosexual who both lauds and criticizes aspects of gay culture and even homosexuality itself – sometimes apparently lauding and criticizing the very same things in different contexts… He’s a complicated man. As a self-described provocateur, I am confident that this is by design.

In the video below I talk about how Joe Rogan, who I often find myself agreeing with, and Kyle Kulinski of Secular Talk accused gay conservative Milo Yiannapoulos of being a self-hating homosexual. Why? Because he indicated that he would have preferred to have been born straight. I think this is a completely unfounded appraisal of Milo’s state of mind.

As I discuss in the video, there is no shortage of pragmatic reasons why a gay person could wish to have been straight while not for a moment hating themselves, homosexuality, homosexuals, gay subcultures, etc. Perhaps I should have made a point of saying that Joe Rogan probably did not intend to be engaging in progressive shaming. From what I’ve seen of him, this is not something he would do. But this exchange definitely brought to mind how some hard-line progressives will engage in shaming, uncharitable characterizations of motives, and so forth when a person does something like what Milo did – regardless of the sensibility of their reasons.

And sometimes even non-hard-line progressives – like Rogan – will engage in such behaviors. In part, this could speak to the success of various social justice narratives. This could happen on any number of social issues.

As an example, consider what would happen if one were to cast doubt that women are an oppressed class who require special government treatment in order to bring them up to parity? One could simply give straight forward arguments supporting the contention that women, as a class, are not underprivileged. Despite saying absolutely nothing disparaging about women, they are running the risk of being perceived as a misogynist, and run the risk of being shamed accordingly.

Alternatively, imagine a person who simply thought America – like every other country  not to mention household, business, and social club – should have a right to be aware of and either approve/disapprove of the entrance of whomever steps on the premises. This person is liable to have to fend of accusations of anti-Mexican racist shaming.

To be clear, I have absolutely no problem with the promotion of gender equality, equal rights for homosexuals, and racial egalitarianism. And I’ve said absolutely nothing that implies the contrary. The mere fact that I’m even coming out and pointing this out, one could argue, points to the walking-on-eggshells culture we are now living in. To say anything that contradicts the narratives of mainstream or radical feminism or various “social justice” factions, one immediately must go on the defensive and explain how they’re not a racist/sexist/etc.

There are sexists. There are racists. There are people who hate gay people. There are also wolves. But that doesn’t mean we should go calling wolf every time we see a puppy.

Reasons NOT to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology

First post in a long time. Probably the last post in a long time (or not… if this topic interests you, check out newer post Friends don’t let friends study Psychology). Here is a comment I left in response to a commenter in a previous post I wrote about the dismal state of the job market for Psych PhDs who was pondering going for a PhD in Clinical Psychology:

I have actually become much more pessimistic about the economic value of becoming a Clinical Psychologist in recent years. I have worked in healthcare as an Occupational Therapist for going on 4 years now. In that time I’ve seen that there is a lot of economization happening in healthcare. That is, to save money more and more we are seeing lower-degree holding professionals being hired to do the work that was previously done exclusively (or more) by higher-degree people for lower salaries,which results in the higher-degree holding people getting squeezed out or having to accept lower incomes. Examples: Continue reading

Whose death would stun the Western World?

A month ago I asked readers What is the most misunderstood idea of all time?Image

My next big (slightly morbid) question is Whose death would stun the Western World?

A few years ago when Michael Jackson unexpectedly died, it felt like the world sort of skipped a few beats. I was in South Korea at the time. I tended to go to foreigner bars that catered to Canadians, Americans, Brits, Aussies and New Zealanders. My main bar was essentially running a several day long Michael Jackson marathon. He may well have been the most famous person in the world. Continue reading

ACN Inc Recruiting Hard in Kelowna: Do YOUR Research

ACN, a multilevel marketing (aka, pyramid) organization recruiting in Kelowna, across Canada, the US, and around the world.

ACN, a multilevel marketing (aka, pyramid) organization recruiting in Kelowna, across Canada, the US, and around the world.

ACNAmerican Communications Network – is a multi-level marketing (MLM) company dealing in telecommunications technology and plans, television, energy, and other services. As per Wikipedia,

Multi-level marketing (MLM) is a marketing strategy in which the sales force is compensated not only for sales they personally generate, but also for the sales of the other salespeople that they recruit. This recruited sales force is referred to as the participant’s “downline”, and can provide multiple levels of compensation.[1] Other terms for MLM include pyramid selling,[2][3][4][5][6] network marketing,[7][8][9] and referral marketing.[10]

I have redded Pyramid as it is the concept by which this general sort of business model is best known. We’ve all heard of “pyramid schemes” and “pyramid scams”. The precise legality of MLMs and pyramid selling appears to be at least somewhat murky. The reasons for widespread skepticism regarding this sort of business structure, however, is crystal clear. From Wikipedia,

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) states “Steer clear of multilevel marketing plans that pay commissions for recruiting new distributors. They’re actually illegal pyramid schemes. Why is pyramiding dangerous? Because plans that pay commissions for recruiting new distributors inevitably collapse when no new distributors can be recruited. And when a plan collapses, most people – except perhaps those at the very top of the pyramid – end up empty-handed.”[34]

Not all pyramid selling organizations are the same. I’m not going to comment as to whether ACN has engaged in illegal activities. However, putting legality/illegality aside, I do think there is reason for caution.


Well, for starters, take a look at this Fox News piece on them (this is probably the first time I’ve ever covered something from Fox News in a sympathetic manner):

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How are Psychology PhDs doing on the job market?

psychcogs(UPDATE: For those interested in the content of this post, check out Friends don’t let friends study Psychology).

I am a reformed and rehabilitated ex-academic. In my previous life, I aspired to be a professor of Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive Science. I described my experiences in the academic stream in a series entitled The Grad School Gospels.  In The Grad School Gospels I have been pessimistic about the value of most Psychology graduate degrees. I argued that the tenure-track job market for Psychology PhDs is devastatingly competitive and that for most Psychology sub-fields non-academic career paths are limited. That is, there often aren’t many jobs to go around that reflect one’s training and interests and that offer an income that duly compensates the massive investment that goes into earning a PhD.

A friend of mine, David Barner, who is a tenure track professor of cognitive psychology at the University of California at San Diego was sympathetic to the perspective I was offering, but provided credible evidence that Psychology PhDs were actually doing better than I thought. Most notably, he cited a blog post by Patrick Schnarrenberger Forscher (who, out of laziness, I will refer to as PSF), a Psychology PhD student at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. PSF reviewed National Science Foundation (NSF) science, technology, engineering and mathematics PhD employment statistics from 2006.

The numbers for Psychology PhDs looked better than I would have guessed. The unemployment rate among Psych PhDs was a mere 1% – much lower than the national average which, at the time, was 4.6%. What is more, only 1.3% of Psych PhDs reported being involuntarily employed outside of the field. Not bad at all. And the average income for Psychology PhDs across employment settings was $75,000. So. There’s that… Nevertheless,

I Remain Pessimistic on the Value of Research-Only Psychology PhDs

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Why many professors are atheists: Academe as a secular religious community

Atheists. Agnostics. Freethinkers. Nonbelievers. Nontheists. Humanists.Whatever you want to call them and whatever they

Famous atheists, including several career academics.

Famous atheists, including many career academics.

want to call themselves. People who do not believe in God. I describe myself as an agnostic atheist and a secular humanist. For the sake of this article, I will use the term “atheist” (i.e., one who lacks a belief in God(s) or definitely rejects the existence of God(s)) to refer to the collective non-believing community.

It is no secret that atheists enjoy greater numbers in university communities than in the population at large. Their/our numbers aren’t quite as high as I thought, but the proportion of nonbelievers among professional academics is nevertheless several multiples of their proportion in the general population. They are particularly well represented in the sciences and among more elite research universities.

Why? Continue reading

What does it mean to be openminded?

saganbrainmindA few weeks ago I was considering going to a dinner party called “Conscious Collective Gatherings: Non-Denominational Conversation”. It sounded pretty new age hippie-esque, which is totally not me, but I figured “hey, I might meet a few people there that are intellectually curious and not necessarily the left-wing equivalents of young earth creationists”.

Since the organizers didn’t know me – I knew one of the people they knew – one of the organizers wanted to chat with me first before formally inviting me. Perfectly sensible as it is at their house. So, in our Facebook chat conversation, she asked me why I was interested in attending. I responded something to the effect that I am very interested in philosophy, values, and mindfulness and such and I’d be interested in meeting others who may be similarly interested. What happened next was somewhat interesting. She told me that the people who would be attending would mostly be a bunch of “young namaste hippies”, and that as long as I can “keep an open mind” everything is good. I assume that she must have been tipped off to my strong orientation toward scientific rationalism by cues peppered throughout my Facebook profile, because I’m pretty sure that I didn’t say anything that would suggest that I’m a member of the Richard Dawkins fan club (I am, by the way).

I am quite confident that the person who wanted to make sure that I could keep an open mind wasn’t actually concerned about my openmindedness. Rather, she was concerned that I may stir the pot. Rock the boat. Challenge cherished beliefs of other attendees who just want to “go with the flow”, “connect with their spirit-soul”, and other such laid back ethereal activities. Continue reading