Progressive Christian writer and activist John Shore just wrote a post I found really worrisome.
Do I smell a right-wing Christian rat behind Ohio State’s psych quiz “controversy”?
Yesterday I published Ohio State University teaches Christians are stupider than atheists. I came across the story on Google News, thought, “Here’s a bit of fluff I can have some quick fun with before I get back to writing my novel,”—and blip I wrote what I did.
The website that originally “broke” this story is Campus Reform. This morning, poking about the Campus Reform website, I found this on their Mission page:
As a watchdog to the nation’s higher education system, Campus Reform exposes bias and abuse on the nation’s college campuses.
Our team of professional journalists works alongside student activists and student journalists to report on the conduct and misconduct of university administrators, faculty, and students.
Campus Reform holds itself to rigorous journalism standards and strives to present each story with accuracy, objectivity, and public accountability.
A few clicks later I learned that Campus Reform is owned and operated by the hyper-conservative The Leadership Institute. Here’s a bit about them:
The Leadership Institute identifies, organizes, and trains conservative college students to promote and defend their values on campus.
Institute programs prepare thousands of conservatives each year. Conservatives learn how to:
· Form independent conservative student groups
· Manage grassroots-oriented campaigns
· Publish independent conservative school newspapers
· Communicate a conservative message using the media
Gee, I wonder why the complaining OSU “anonymous student” knew nothing about the Psych 1100 class that had so offended him or her (see below)—and why exactly they were quoted as having said:
I understand that colleges have a liberal spin on things so it didn’t surprise me to see the question … . Colleges will tolerate pretty much any religion other than Christianity.
I smell a rat. A lowdown, lying, cheating, right-wing Christian rat trying to drum up a little cheese for itself.
It pains me to have at all contributed, however cursorily, to the lie that there was any credibility whatsoever to the original story. Me, helping to further the agenda of hardcore right-wing Christians!
So sad. So wrong. So … what can totally happen when you’re trying to keep two blogs going and write a (major) first novel.
After reading my post yesterday my good friend Dan Wilkinson got interested in what the story behind that story might be. Dan getting interested in something is like a coke-detecting police dog getting interested in a suitcase. It’s kinda scary. But awesome to watch.
Courtesy of Dan “Sniffy” Wilkinson, here is what’s really going on with OSU’s Psychology 1100 classs:
First we have the class syllabus. As you’ll see, it’s a totally normal, duly formidable college class.
One of the tools used in the class are the online LearningCurve quizzes. As you may recall, the particular Learning Curve question that has caused such a stir is this one:
Here are a few other LearningCurve quiz questions (which taken altogether comprise only 10% of the grade for the class):
Notably, all of the quiz question are pulled directly from Psychology, the textbook used in the class (which Dan managed to get hold of, and which is on Amazon here—for only $159.48!). Each includes exactly where in the book information informing that question can be found. So literally none of the quiz questions should be a surprise to any student in the class.
While the above questions might at face value seem inflammatorily ill-informed, within the context of the class they make perfect sense. And those are only four of the (it looks like) hundreds of questions derived from the chapter of the textbook dealing with what intelligence is and isn’t, the history of testing intelligence, the uses, abuses and shortcomings of such tests, and the complexity of entire issue.
The authors of Psychology thoroughly explore the findings that certain groups consistently test higher or lower on intelligence tests, carefully considering the factors that contribute to that result:
Although the average difference between groups is considerably less than the average difference within groups, Terman was right when he suggested that some groups perform better than others on intelligence tests.
But do group differences in intelligence test scores reflect group differences in actual intelligence? …
Some groups outscore others on intelligence tests because (a) testing situations impair the performance of some groups more than others and (b) some groups live in less healthful and stimulating environments. There is no compelling evidence to suggest that between-group differences in intelligence are due to genetic differences.
Interestingly, intelligence test scores also seem to be fairly good predictors of a person’s political and religious attitudes: The more intelligent people are, the more likely they are to be liberal and atheistic (Deary, Batty, & Gale, 2008; Lynn, Harvey, & Nyborg, 2009; Reeve, Heggestad, & Lievens, 2009; Stankov, 2009). All in all, intelligence tests scores are excellent predictors of a remarkable range of important consequences. IQ clearly matters.
In short, there’s nothing whatever wrong or suspect about OSU’s Psychology 1100 class.
I wish I could say the same for the pathetic Leadership Institute.
Here was my response: