Tuesday, February 21, 2012

To Start, Here Are Four Confessions:

1. If “confessess” in this blog’s title makes you think of sexy reality TV, please know that these less lurid, but very real confessions are a professor’s regrets about my academic arrogance, my ambivalence toward corrupt colleagues, and a failure to share the tools of my trade with anyone but professionals.
2. Arrogance is a familiar trait among us professors at fancy universities. I learned elitism at the University of Chicago, where we looked down at most other social science faculties. Berkeley and UCLA shaped me to embrace ancient, but powerful academic customs that separated us from “ordinary” people. We distanced ourselves with a traditional belief in concealing clinical methods from the public. Non professionals were sure to misuse professional trade secrets. Such narrow-minded nonsense stayed with me until my own research center (at UCLA) debunked the dangers of empowering people with tools to make life more fulfilling. Concealing those helpful tools from the public was, and is, an awful waste of useful psychology. My misguided beliefs contributed to that waste over decades. Opposing that waste is one motive for building this blog.
3. Generosity is not the main motive for this blog. Giving methods and ideas away gets me valuable feedback on how they work. Some feedback will be on my stuff. That’s so important to me because my books and programs have been scattered around the country with scarce feedback beyond professional reviews. It’s been like being in a one-way conversation with someone silent—a lonely feeling. I’m looking for two way conversations on this blog.
4. One of my big regrets is remaining silent about a colleague’s apparent bad behavior toward a student. I should have expressed my concerns directly, but remained prudent, frustrated, and useless. As a “proper” assistant professor, I wasn’t eager to attack a senior professor capable of damaging my career in a heartbeat. Doing nothing about the possible mistreatment of a student makes me ashamed. I’ll tell the story when this blog becomes more comfortable for me.