Looking back on Brown
I READ THE ARTICLES on Kenneth and Mamie Clark with heightened interest and appreciation ("50 years post-Brown," September Monitor). I was a student at CCNY in Dr. Kenneth Clark's course in social psychology, and my first job as a psychologist was in Dr. Mamie Clark's clinic--the Northside Center for Child Development in Harlem. I remember them both fondly.
I was disturbed that no mention was made of "Izzy" (Dr. Isidor Chein), who cooperated with Ken in the research and presentation to the Supreme Court.
LOUIS GETOFF, PHD Sedona, Ariz.
AS REPORTED IN THE SEPTEMBER Monitor ("Psychologist claims academic placement perpetuates racial segregation"), and subsequently corrected (see page 8, Corrections), my study of the desegregation history of the Shaker Heights City School District situates the district's commitment to racial integration at the heart of the struggle for equality in this post-Brown era.
This struggle is evident in the district's policy of tracking through its use of course levels. More recent district "open enrollment" policies do not place students but allow students to select their course levels. However, study findings indicate that student selection is not understood to be "open" by many students, particularly African-American students. The district has established a substantial number of academic support programs for black students. Nevertheless, its use of course levels contributes to the school system's replication of the very inequalities it seeks to reverse.
Like other racially and economically diverse school systems, Shaker Heights' desegregation history underscores its competing and interdependent prerogatives of achieving equality and maintaining racial balance. It speaks powerfully of the persistence of its students, parents and educators to pursue the dream for racial and economic integration that others have abandoned.
ANNE GALLETTA, PHD Kent State University, Stark Campus
Promoting marriage promotion?
I READ THE SIX-PAGE series on the Bush administration's "marriage promotion" efforts ("The question of marriage and community well-being," September Monitor) with a mix of interest and disbelief. I was surprised not only that the government would spend so much time and effort trying to play matchmaker for individuals who might not want to marry in the first place (despite Dr. Horn's comment that these projects are not state-funded Yentas), but also that the only mention in the Monitor of the government's efforts to forbid marriages between individuals who really do want to marry (i.e., same-sex couples) occurred more than 30 pages later ("Bringing federal advocacy home").
In addition, I was surprised at the way in which research supporting marriage promotion was presented: "[C]hildren do better emotionally and academically when they're raised with two happily married biological parents, [Dr. Horn] and others note."
But better than whom? Better than children raised by a happily single parent? Better than children raised in a happily blended family? Better than children adopted by a happily married couple? Better than children raised by happily committed (or even married) same-sex parents? Isn't one of the cardinal rules of data reporting to specify who's being compared?
I have been very impressed with the energy that APA has devoted to fighting antigay legislation and promoting equality. However, it seems to me an enormous oversight to devote six pages to all sides of the marriage promotion debate but ignore almost completely the millions of people who are prohibited from marrying by dint of their sexual orientation.
GILLIAN MARIE WOLDORF Case Western Reserve University
Sewers and taboos
A MAJOR THEME OF SADIE Dingfelder's article "From toilet to tap" (September Monitor) is that the public's aversion to reclaimed water is a function of psychological factors. Such a contention is certainly consistent with the research my associates and I have done over the past two decades using my Body Elimination Attitude Scale. Cross-cultural, gender, occupational and educational differences have been found. There are a number of personality correlates of degree of disgust that include neuroticism, extraversion, authoritarianism and a measure of obsessive personality and anal character. Family resemblance with respect to attitude toward body elimination has been reported. Dingfelder's article is not only well written and informative but courageously touches on an aspect of human existence that may be as taboo as sex was in the time of Kinsey.
DONALD I. TEMPLER, PHD Alliant International University
Hardly a new field
NEUROERGONOMICS NEW ("The baggage screener's brain scan," September Monitor)? Hardly!
I started doing this kind of work over 30 years ago with a postdoc at the U.S. Air Force (USAF) School of Aerospace Medicine. I was advocating preflight neuropsych testing of pilots before a mission. The generals and the USAF HRL were not interested. The generals wanted to assume if pilots could walk they could fly. HRL was wedded to psychometrics.
The F-16 made centrifuge selection necessary because there are significant individual differences in susceptibility to G-Force stress.
In 1978, I presented a paper on use of neuropsych testing in personnel selection at an American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting on space manufacturing. Parts of this address were eventually published in the proceedings of that meeting in a book on the human factors of space manufacturing. I have never been able to obtain an academic position based on this line of research so I did some work at McDonnell Douglas as director of its Human Performance Laboratory.
The results of a part-task flight simulation there collecting EEG and evoked potential data were so disturbing that DARPA--the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency--classified the study and dropped the project. Emmanuel Donchin was also a pioneer in this area in the same time frame and did similar studies on aircraft controllers at the University of Illinois.
KIRMACH NATANI, PHD St. Louis
Mental prep for Mars
REGARDING SADIE F. DINGFELDER'S article on psychological preparation for long space missions ("Mental Preparation for Mars," July/August Monitor), I'm struck at an apparent underlying theme: The focus is on how crew members are to handle things for all practical purposes on their own. I fear that we here in the West simply overlook the fact that we are not isolationists by nature, but need community. Such would be the case on a long space flight. I'm frankly as gung-ho as anyone could be for such explorations of space, but I lament that we may well have to learn this lesson the hard way.
BILL BRENNE Corvallis, Ore.