An anonymous tipster sends some intriguing information about the “whiny kids grow up to be conservatives” study conducted by left-wing UC Berkeley prof Jack Block.
Wondering where the nursery school kids who were the subjects of the study came from? Check this out:
I know exactly which “nursery school” was used as the basis of this study. It is not mentioned anywhere in the text of the 16-page pdf you provided for downloading, but I know because — well, because I know people who were some of the subjects of this study (and of other similar studies). And an extremely important fact about this school renders the entire study false.
The nursery school cited is actually the “Harold E. Jones Child Study Center,” on Atherton St. in Berkeley. It used to have a different name if I remember — I think it used to be called the “Atherton Child Study Center.”
Go to this URL to see their Web site.
If you want proof that this is indeed the school used for the study, go to this URL.
This page is part of the “Institute for Human Development,” which is the department at Cal which runs the school. It is part of and connected to the Child Study Center site link above. About halfway down on this page (search for “Jack Block”) you’ll see that they mention that the data gathering part of this study was done at the Center:
“A renowned longitudinal study of development originated by Jeanne and Jack Block began with children at three and followed them at 4, 5, 7, 11, 14 18, and 23 years of age.”
Compare that to this text from the final study (in the pdf):
Pre-school children subsequently relatively conservative at age 23
What is so significant about this? Well, the Harold E. Jones Child Study Center is only open to children of U.C. Berkeley faculty and staff:
The University Preschool offers full-day developmental child care for preschool-aged children of UCB faculty and staff.
(The “Preschool” is a subset of the “Child Study Center.”)
In other words, ALL of the children in that study were the offspring of U.C. Berkeley professors, lecturers, and staff members.
The reason the Child Study Center is so popular is that they offer free/cheap child care/nursery schooling in exchange for the parents allowing their kids to be “studied” by psychologists all day every day.
And here’s the clincher (you probably already saw it coming):
UC Berkeley faculty was rated the most left-wing in the country: 91% of teachers there were classified as liberal:
“University of California, Berkeley (91 percent liberal).”
So, we have documented proof that the “whiny babies” in this study were basically ALL the children of liberal parents.
With this fact in hand, we can completely turn the study around:
Firstly, it was the liberal parents that made their kids whiny to begin with.
Secondly, it could just as easily be argued that, even at a very early age, some kids don’t get along with their parents, and so become “whiny.” Then, when those kids grow older, they rebel against their parents, as a way of disassociating themselves from their parents’ influence. And if your parents are liberal (as they all were in this study), then you rebel by becoming a conservative!
That’s it for the documented-facts part of the scoop. But on a more informal, anecdotal level: I have personally witnessed what goes on at the Child Study Center (or what went on there several years ago – I’m sure it’s the same today, as its mission has not changed):
Toddlers and young children (generally aged between 2 and 5) frolic around and do activities as in any day care/nursery school/kindergarten setting. But the difference is there are adult researchers (some even with the proverbial clipboards) hovering around at all times, monitoring the kids, “observing” their behavior, writing down little notes and filling out charts about the kids’ personalities and activities and so on.
And here’s the key, from my personal observation: the researchers get it all wrong! They often have some esoteric psychological/behavioral academic fad they’re trying to prove, so they ascribe the most bizarre and ludicrous motivations for the kids’ actions, scribbling notes about “ego resilience” and “crypto-sexual manifestations” and blah blah blah. It would be comical if if wasn’t taken so seriously. I can assure you that whatever data they gathered in the ’60s or ’70s about how “whiny” these kids were was totally bogus and off-the-mark.
Maybe they were whiny because they were more intellectually developed than the other kids and were frustrated in an overly infantile environment. Maybe they were whiny because the “counselors” detected early indications of independent thought and action in these kids, and forced them to conform to their Socialist ideals, causing the future conservatives to feel resentful.
Someone should follow up with the UC Berkeley guinea pigs and ask them.
Jack Block e-mails…
Malkin is quite wrong in her account coming from an”anonymous tipster”and also in understanding the logic of the analyses.
There were two different nursery schools at each nursery school age. One was open to young University staff (secretaries, library workers, etc) including but not by any means exclusively young faculty. The second nursery schoool deliberately excluded all parents associated with the University, to increase the diversity of our subjects. 25% of the initial sample were black.
More important, the analyses were within the sample. Logically, the Malkin analysis therefore is fundamentally irrelevant and inapplicable. I suppose one cannot expect hasty and untrained reporters to be familiar with the logic of research.
Jim Lindgren at The Volokh Conspiracy weighs in.
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