Lesson of the Lovelorn Loony
Dr. Michael L. Ford
7 February 2007
When I first picked up on the really important story behind the main scene; an “astronautess” proving she can be every bit as wacky as the least intelligent human being ruled by raging hormones; no one else was mentioning it. Perhaps I should have rushed to publish so I could have proof I thought of it first? But frankly the reason I write is more about making important points for people to think about than feeding an ego. I hope what I am about to point out will still be important long after the story which gave me opportunity to say it is just a dim memory.
There is a lesson present in the story of Lisa Marie Nowak’s infatuation with a fellow spaceperson that has been made several times in a number of different ways but people still don’t seem to get it. The lesson is psychological assessment is pretty much a sham dependent on the prejudices of the practitioners, who far from being scientific and objective, are more often subjective and produce results in keeping with their own ideas and predilections. You see, back in the days when the NASA program was doing its best to convince every boy in the United States that the greatest thing in the world was to grow up and be a spaceman, they started out emphasizing the rigorous physical and mental qualifications their flyboys had to pass.
As the story Mrs. Nowak’s departure from a sound mind unfolded NASA representatives began to be asked about the psychological testing they used to brag about. The first response to such enquiry I saw, was “I am not familiar with the specifics of that.” The second response I heard a little later from another representatives was something like, “I am not familiar with how current her assessment is.” Wait a minute. These tests were given to try to predict how these people would respond to emotional challenges of the future. It is the thing psychologists do with the attitude of an almost godlike omniscience. Guess what? NASA brain prognosticators just failed the big test. They cannot really foresee how people are going to behave so people of heroic stature in body and mind are invariably chosen.
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