Essay:Do Liberal Teachings Cause Mental Illness?

From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Essay.svg This essay is an original work by SuperJosh.
It does not necessarily reflect the views expressed in RationalWiki's Mission Statement, but we welcome discussion of a broad range of ideas.
Unless otherwise stated, this is original content, released under CC-BY-SA 3.0 or any later version. See RationalWiki:Copyrights.
Feel free to make comments on the talk page, which will probably be far more interesting, and might reflect a broader range of RationalWiki editors' thoughts.

Original Conservapedia article: Do Liberal Teachings Cause Mental Illness?

In this argument, what Andrew claims to "liberal" is to be assumed as a carbon copy left winger, typically supporting gun control, abortion, universal health care, prisoner rehabilitation, sex outside marriage, atheism, and so on, and so forth. The title of this article is similar to that of the book Liberalism Is a Mental Disorder by Michael Savage.

So, without further ado...

Geography[edit]

Reductionism[edit]

"According to the World Health Organization... America and Japan experience the highest levels of depression... The ten countries with the highest suicide rates are all former Soviet states, and the Scandinavian countries, lauded in Liberal circles for their socialistic policies, also have extremely high suicide rates... The above-cited countries are notable for imposing liberal or atheistic teachings by their governments on large populations. In the United States, liberal indoctrination governs public schools, which educate 89% of children."

This is known as reductionism, the art of attributing a result to a single point and nothing else - in this case, mental illness is attributed to "liberal teachings" and nothing else even considered. Schlafly's argument here reduces all the problems which a country may experience down to liberalism, and cites this as the main problem while not taking into account other socio-economic factors. However, in Mr Schlafly's book, socio-economic problems would be at the fault of a liberal, as conservatives, obviously, can do no wrong.

Japan and the USSR[edit]

"Japan has the largest atheistic population of any country in the world. The former Soviet states have rates of atheism that are among the highest in the world."

This means literally nothing. The former Soviet states lived under an atheistic Communist system for 70 years, the generation currently populating the former Soviet Republics was brought up in an atheist society, much the same way that Mr Schlafly was brought up in a devout right-wing Christian household. As the USSR (and the Russian Empire preceding that) suffered under some of the worst economic and political conditions imaginable (such as famines, forced labour, collectivisation, political repression, etc.), Mr Schlafly must forgive me if I do not fall head over heels with his idea of liberalism being a major cause of mental illness in the USSR.

The United Kingdom[edit]

"Britain, a smaller country but one that also has heavy liberal indoctrination, expects a 61% increase in dementia cases by 2026."

So? That's not proof. That's a statistical theory that hasn't been proved and I was under the impression that Schlafly didn't care for statistics or proof - if it's really there, proof isn't necessary! ... right?

So all in all, three countries and the former Soviet States. Good argument so far.

Public education... again[edit]

Public schools[edit]

"Public schools educate 89% of Americans, and "[t]he incidence that a teen will have depression some time in their adolescence is higher, felt to be at least one out of four."

"In the United States, liberal indoctrination governs public schools, which educate 89% of children. As of 2002, "[a]n estimated 20 percent of children have a mental illness that causes at least mild functional impairment," with nearly all those children a product of a public school education."

Teens have been pissed off and depressed forever. This is simply a rite of passage to becoming an adult. Mr Schlafly needs to take into account; homework, parties, pocket money, social circles, bullies, girlfriends and boyfriends, parents, and other ironic teenage problems.

"Professor values"[edit]

"Mental illness has increased on college campuses."

Obviously here Mr Schlafly is referencing his "idea" of "professor values," once again making an unfair generalisation that all professors are liberal, which is obviously an unfounded, ridiculous argument.

"Cause and Effect"[edit]

"Medical professionals emphasize that they do not know what causes mental illness. Accordingly, they cannot rule out that liberal indoctrination is a contributing factor."

This is possibly the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Surely, if medical professionals emphasise they don't know what causes mental illness (which Schlafly backs up with one reference) then conservatism could also be a contributing factor? This is about as obscure as saying that chairs cause cancer, or that dolphins are evil.

Let's continue.

"Teaching children to accept and believe things that are demonstrably false cannot help mental health. Included in this category are the liberal teachings in school that:

Lying about the truth[edit]

"Lying about the truth, causing belief in falsehoods or encouraging conduct disorders,"

Liberals do not lie about the truth. Assuming that by "liberal", Andy means the public school system, so-called "liberals" give students all the information at hand in as much an unbiased manner as the situation allows. Liberals also do not cause belief in falsehoods or encourage conduct disorders - this is once again an example of Schlafly's close mindedness that you have to be a Christian to be good. He cannot accept that you can be liberal or an atheist without an STD, a crappy lifestyle, or a criminal record.

Gender[edit]

"There are no real differences between boys and girls."

Schlafly's belief in this point is further "enforced" by a reply he makes on the Talk Page for this article to a dissenter questioning the Almighty Assfly; "You're ducking the obvious point here. Think girls can excel in math as well as boys can? Liberals teach they can, which is teaching a falsehood.--Aschlafly 20:00, 10 August 2008 (EDT)" [1]

There are obvious biological differences between boys and girls - perhaps even Schlafly can appreciate that - but to say that girls are in any way less intelligent than boys is simply not true. Any non sexist man reading this who has ever worked with women will rationally know that women are just as smart as men - and their measurement of IQ has nothing to do with gender, simply the condition of their mental health when they were born, and the way in which they wish to choose that as they grow.

Human - animal[edit]

"Humans are just another type of animal."

Well... we are. This isn't a matter of political persuasion, it's technically scientifically proven that we are animals. We have established ourselves as the dominant, "most intelligent" animal on planet Earth, but we are still animals nonetheless. This is common knowledge, not a by-product of a so-called liberal school system.

Perception[edit]

"All there is is what you see (with or without special equipment, such as microscopes or telescopes)."

I don't actually know what Mr Schlafly means here. I'm assuming he is referring to the existence of God, Jesus and other religious figures. Liberals do not in anyway teach this, as Religious Education is (in England at any rate) compulsory until the age of 16, and in my personal experience it's taught from a very Western, Christian - centric viewpoint.

Subconcious[edit]

"Conversely, that an unproven 'unconscious' excuses evil actions."

Assuming that Schlafly is reffering to Sigmund Freud's theory of the concious and subconcious mind, the argument against Schlafly is in this very sentence. Freud's theory is just that - a theory. The nature of the theory itself will never be able to offer any physical proof in the way Schlafly needs because of the obvious psychological issue of the theory. Liberals teach students to accept fact and to consider and come to their own conclusions on theory.

Incidentally, this point contradicts the previous point of "all there is is what you see", as it is NOW claimed we allow an "unproven unconcious" to excuse "evil actions". If it is unproven, then surely we would not support this hypothesis, no?

Suicide[edit]

"Self-inflicted death (i.e. suicide) can somehow be good."

This is an outrageously stupid statement to make. I literally have no idea where he gets off saying this, but there is no proof whatsoever to back this up. It is simply a stupid, idiotic, irrational statement and a horrible accusation to throw at someone.

Self defense[edit]

"Denying self-defense, mentally and physically."

No idea where he gets off saying this either. He possibly thinks that typical liberals are all fags because of their support for for prisoner rehabilitation, and are therefore incapable of defending themselves, or because typical liberals support gun control. If one finds themself in a situation which requires fight or flight, I doubt very much political persuasion is the first thing that crosses the victim's mind.

Sexuality[edit]

"Denying the ability to control sexual desires (such as homosexuality & lesbianism); promoting lifestyles that lead to mental illness."

If people hold sexual desires such as homosexuality with a consenting partner, why should they not be allowed to express them? Not only is it not the business of Schlafly or other conservatives to tell homosexuals they have no right to be together, mental illness in homosexuality is entirely unproven. I personally feel that Schlafly has a mental illness for spouting hate speeches against harmless groups through the internet.

Disestablishment[edit]

"Insisting on an illogical and unjustified "wall of separation of church and state"; When classroom prayer would promote mental stability."

Children can pray at home. If they pray in school under the guidance of a teacher and not at home, that could be used as an argument that they do not really follow Christianity anyway. I personally fully appreciate the right to express one's own religion in their own country, but to bring others into that (i.e. leading classroom prayer in an American classroom with several students of other religious backgrounds) and force them to pray also, can appreciate how that would make the other religious students uncomfortable. Also, there is NO evidence to support that classroom prayer specifically helps mental stability, much like there is NO evidence that liberal "indoctrination" destabilises mental ability.

Welfare[edit]

"Encouraging dependence on state welfare services rather than taking responsibility for ones own actions. Dependency is a major cause of depression."

"Dependency is a major cause of depression"... uh, how? Unless he's referring to drug or alcohol dependency, then dependency on state handouts does not necessarily cause depression. This statement would be barely adequate if it weren't for this last sentence, and of course the ridiculous generalisation to all liberals that they support welfare. I'm assuming that Schlafly is using the United Kingdom as basis for this argument, as it is a welfare state run by (at the time of this essay) the Labour Party. At any rate, the claim that dependency is a major cause of depression is an arguable point when expanded to welfare.

Materialism[edit]

"Socialistic theories based upon materialism encourage nihilism and depresion."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that shallow materialism and consumerism is a vice shared by people of both liberal and conservative beliefs. And the last time I checked, socialist countries, such as the former USSR, focused a lot more on industry and economical superpower than consumerism. In the Soviet Union, even after Stalin, Khrushchev and the later Soviet leaders had trouble trying to get consumerism to the levels we're accustomed to in the West. No, I think it makes more sense to say that America, the mother of all capitalists is one of the biggest producers of consumer goods in the world.

Drug abuse[edit]

"Liberals support the legalisation of marijuana and other drugs, which are major causes of psychiatric illnesses."

The two articles Andy cites for this statement ([2] [3] at the BBC website) report evidence that marijuana basically doubles the likelihood of developing schizophrenia. While this is true - common knowledge even - neither article mentions anywhere that liberals wish to legalise marijuana or other drugs. Schlafly is demonstrating a typical 1960s right-wing approach that hippies want marijuana legalised. I doubt the majority of typical liberals today want marijuana legalised, as if it was legalised, people wouldn't do it! Another truly ignorant statement on the same level as the suicide argument above.

Anecdotal evidence[edit]

Stephen Fry[edit]

"Actor Stephen Fry is the author of the book "The Liar" and was an active supporter of the liberal British Labour Party... tormented by mental illness for much of his life... he is a sufferer of bipolar disorder, a largely hereditary disease."

To me, this is disgraceful exploitation of one man's struggle with an illness which one moment has you jumping in the air and the next has you wishing you were six feet under. It is absolutely disgusting that Schlafly uses this as "anecdotal evidence" on his horrible website.

Overlooking how pathetic Schlafly once again has proven himself to be, his argument can also be refuted; he is reducing Fry's illness to one factor of his lifestyle - his political opinion. This is simply insane, as Mr Schlafly is simply picking a relatively small part of Mr Fry's life (Stephen Fry has never been a consistently prominent figure in liberal activism) and twisting it to his own, sick ends.

Professor David Foster Wallace[edit]

"Professor David Foster Wallace was a prodigy in writing, math and even tennis in his youth but adopted the liberal ideology... wrote in 1999 a collection of short stories entitled, "Brief Interviews With Hideous Men," in which he "damns his gender as a greedy, cold, oversexed marauders." In 2008, Wallace killed himself at age 46."

This is another disgusting attempt by Schlafly at taking a tragedy and sticking the blame on liberals. The fact that Schlafly would even use Professor Wallace as an example for his own selfish ends is an insult to Professor Wallace's family, friends, and the literary community at large. I don't even want to argue Schlafly's bullshit point because of how horrible it is, but once again, there is no evidence that shows Wallace was a strong liberal or conservative, much less a devoted supporter of the Democrats or Republicans.

Summary[edit]

Professor values[edit]

Professors do not need to adhere to a strict liberal ideology; like every other person living in a democracy, they have a right to choose their own political views for themselves - Schlafly simply believes they are liberal because of his irrational belief that public schools are evil.

Geography[edit]

Mr Schlafly uses the UK, America, Japan and the former Soviet states for basis here;

  • America, when compared with other countries such as the UK, is more conservative in some respects, (i.e. right to pack heat, lacking universal healthcare, being divided by conservative and liberal states, intolerance of liberal viewpoints, etc.);
  • Britain is a fairly liberal country, but the argument Schlafly puts forward is a prediction for the year 2026, which can be kissed goodbye anyway;
  • Japan has the "largest atheistic population in the world," which Schlafly uses as unfounded basis for his argument without taking into account socio-economic factors;
  • The generation now populating the former USSR were raised in an atheistic Communist society which suffered never ending socio-economic hardshiprs throughout the last 70 years - Schlafly does not take this into account.

Cause and effect[edit]

All the arguments here are piss poor, unfounded and unfair generalisations to community of liberals. Most can be refuted as woefully ignorant on Mr Schlafly's part, as he displays his total lack of knowledge as how public school teaching really goes, seeing as how he's probably never set foot in one.

Drug abuse[edit]

Mainstream liberal politicians do NOT support the legalisation of drugs. This would not be supported by any Western voting community on a large scale, and would therefore not be a policy adopted by any ordinary politican.

Anecdotal evidence[edit]

Two examples of two men who have suffered from bipolar disorder and depression. Both useless arguments that reduce to one factor of each man's lifestyle, and in Professor Wallace's case, an imaginary factor of "liberalism" which the Professor never seemed to show any strong political activism in favour of.


Conclusion and final thoughts[edit]

Overall, Mr Schlafly's argument has little logical, rational or scientific basis. In an incredibly weak attempt to uncover the "mystery" of mental illness, as he reduces literally every piece of "evidence" he puts forth in his article to the one point of so-called "liberal teachings," which is, in itself, an unfair generalisation to a worldwide band of liberals in existence only in Mr Schlafly's paranoid mind. I have little doubt that if he had gone to a public school, he would learn that there is not a worldwide conspiracy to indoctrinate schoolchildren into a "liberal" lifestyle Andy is apparently a jackass who cannot discern between teaching truths and pushing belief systems. If he wasn't so biased, Andy would know that public schools follow an education system whereby students receive substantial information allowing them to make their own choices rather than be told only what their parents want, thereby having their beliefs forced upon them, dooming them to a life of ignorance and rejecting other realms of possibility.

The arguments put forth in Schlafly's article all make irrational generalisations to the public "liberal" community, and lump all liberals together as shallow, materialistic liars, supporters of suicide, drug abuse and gun control. This is, in itself, a perfect example of how damaging not receiving substantial information early on in life can be; Mr Schlafly cannot appreciate or understand anything outside his corner of America, and as such fears the outside world, as displayed by his moronic beliefs that homosexuals and liberals are plotting to overthrow America.

So no, Andy, in answer to your question, liberal teachings do not cause mental illness. It is, in fact, far more likely that arrogant, fundamentalist, conservative movements cause mental illness as your own narcissism demonstrates.

Thanks for reading.