There is embedded within this account of the unidirectional trade between present and past an idea of history writing as a mode of redress. The claims of the past upon the present are registered in terms of stolen "agency" and addressed through the writing of history which returns that "agency" to its rightful owners. Or, more accurately, through accounts which represent that agency being as returned, since the rightful owners in question have long since passed on. Which raises the question of what is really at stake in the repetition of this phrase: why don't historians invoke their colleagues or their students or their tenure files or their pocketbooks as the beneficiaries of the work they undertake? Framing the question that way seems to me to highlight what is at stake: the injunction to "give the slaves back their agency" functions as an advertisement of good will. As such it has a similar function to the knowing laughter you hear at conference panels when someone reads out the remarks of the racist other or the moment when the author of a book addresses the readers across the proscenium of standard historical narration to assure them that even if the slaveholders or racists or colonialists in question did not see the error of their ways he or she does.
And now, friends, this incident that has just occurred - this effort to assassinate me- emphasizes to a peculiar degree the need of the Progressive movement. Friends, every good citizen ought to do everything in his or her power to prevent the coming of the day when we shall see in this country two recognized creeds fighting one another, when we shall see the creed of the "Havenots" arraigned against the creed of the "Haves." When that day comes then such incidents as this to-night will be commonplace in our history. When you make poor men - when you permit the conditions to grow such that the poor man as such will be swayed by his sense of injury against the men who try to hold what they improperly have won, when that day comes, the most awful passions will be let loose and it will be an ill day for our country.
When sacred values are threatened we turn into intuitive theologians, that is, we use our reasoning not to find the truth but to defend what we hold sacred.
There's a direct contradiction between Darwin and the book of Genesis ... Some Christians began to read Genesis as a metaphor. But those who really sacralize the Bible were not able to make such a compromise. They went the other way. They became even more literalist and more fundamentalist. This makes it harder for them to understand the biological world around them. They were forced into a lot of bad biology like intelligent design.
Sacralism distorts thinking. These distortions are easy for outsiders to see, but they're invisible to those inside the forcefield.
... moral forcefields are not only found in religious communities. They can operate in academic fields as well.
Sacred values bind teams together and then blind them to the truth. That's fine if you're a religious community. I follow the sociologist Emil Durkheim in believing the social function of religion is group binding. But this not fine for scientists who ought to value truth above group cohesion.
If a group circles around sacred values, they'll evolve into a tribal moral community. They'll embrace science whenever it supports their sacred values, but they'll ditch it or distort it as soon as it threatens a sacred value. You can see this on the right with global warming denialism.
Rick [McCauley] is the only social psychologist I know of that publicly acknowledges that he is politically conservative.
When I first met Rick, I was wary of him. I'd heard he was a conservative. I'd heard he supported the Vietnam war. It was only after I'd forged a personal relationship with him that I got over my mistrust .... It took a while to realize how valuable it was to hear from someone with a different perspective. Rick is now one of America's foremost experts on the psychology of terrorism. I'm convinced that many of his insights have only been possible because he stands outside the liberal forcefield.
Of course there are many reasons why conservatives would be underrepresented in social psychology. Most of them have nothing to do with discrimination or hostile climate .... But two or three hundred to one in a nation where the underlying ratio is one to two?
What I want emphasize today is that is a scientific issue. We're hurting ourselves when we deprive ourselves of critics, of people who are as committed science as we are but ask different questions and make different background assumptions.
But imagine if we had a true diversity of perspectives in social psychology. Imagine if conservative students felt free enough to challenge our dominant ideas and bold enough to pull us out of our deepest ideological ruts.
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