The racist and sexist roots of early psychology

The racist and sexist roots of early psychology May 31, 2014

When the scientific method is used badly, when preconceptions are allowed to dictate analyses and conclusions, then you get bad science, and false knowledge. Untruths. In this vein, the work of Dr Caleb Lack and Dr Charles Abramson is well worth looking in to.

Onus books is proud to present its latest addition to the world of scientific, skeptic and philosophical literature. Having already published work from Dr Caleb Lack, this is a partnership which is somewhat established. The pair of psychologists have produced a book called Psychology Gone Astray: A Selection of Racist & Sexist Literature from Early Psychological Research. Caleb Lack, a fellow SINner here, has posted:

As you may remember from a prior post (which includes an exclusive excerpt, go read it if you haven’t already!), this text is the culmination of about 10 years worth of work by myself and my co-editor/co-author. Dr. Charles Abramson. Clocking in at around 400 pages, the book consists of both original and reprinted works. The original chapters focus on the history of scientific sexism and racism, as well as providing guides on how to conduct and evaluate comparative research. We are also reprinting 22 articles which date from 1895-1930 as illustrations of how “scientific” research was used to help further the ideologies of racism, sexism, and eugenics. A number of critical thinking and teaching exercises are also included, as well as a selection of classic quotes demonstrating how even some of the most well respected figures in psychology demonstrated (to us) deplorable attitudes towards outgroup members.

I am extremely proud of the finished product, and cannot wait to get feedback from my fine readers here on GPS. The Kindle edition in particular is a steal at under 10 bucks, so go grab you one!

The book description is as follows:

In the relatively short history of psychology as a science, our understanding of human behavior, cognition, emotion, and perception has moved forward in leaps and bounds. This knowledge is frequently applied today to help make improvements in people’s lives, from more effective therapies for the mentally ill to educational strategies to increased work productivity.

But if we step back in time only a few decades, we find psychologists playing a key role in a very different effort: the attempt to support racist and sexist attitudes and policies with results from experiments and other forms of research. This book provides a window into this period, reprinting over 20 journal articles from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries with commentary from noted educators Abramson and Lack. Will we continue to twist science to fit our preformed beliefs or can we learn from the mistakes of our past?

“This is an important contribution to the literature in psychology regarding a very uncomfortable time in our history. I applaud the authors for taking on this challenging topic and shining light on this dark time in the history of social science.”

Dr. Robert Mather, Associate Professor of Experimental Psychology, University of Central Oklahoma

This links to the US amazon listing.

This links to the UK listing:

Please support the work of Onus Books by getting hold of a copy! It is an academic book, and due to its niche market, the paperback is thusly priced, though the ebook, available from Amazon, Nook and Kobo at the moment, is under $10.


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