Book Review


Cloning of the American Mind --- Eradicating Morality Through Education

B.K. Eakman

(606 pp., ISBN: 1-56384-147-9, Huntington House Publishers, Lafayette, LA, 1998.)

 

Cloning of the American Mind centers on America's "illiteracy cartel," a term B. K. Eakman, educator, writer and researcher, coined to describe an out-of-control psychographic consulting industry. Psychographics, "the study of social class based upon the demographics...income, race, color, religion, and personality traits...which can be measured to predict behavior," becomes a commodity that through computers can be acquired by almost anyone.

This book explores today's behemothic, psychographic consulting/information brokerage industry, focusing in particular on state-of-the-art computer technologies and advertising strategies to illustrate how behavioral scientists are combining these with psychiatry to reform education. These social engineers accomplish what no extremist group or power elite has been able to do in the history of the world: hold an entire population hostage to a set of quasi-political, psychological criteria by predicating children's job prospects on whether they hold "acceptable" world views and opinions.

The critical point is that there is a computer model available to predict behavior from one's past activities, including anything from long-distance telephone usage to spending, recreation, and health.

A database exists that not only has the capability to track and cross-reference generic information about people, their beliefs, family ties, friends' and associates' names, addresses, phone numbers, and aliases; political/civic clubs and associations joined; magazine subscriptions; frequent shopping places; political campaigns and causes contributed to; how important a person is by region, state, or city; what potentially embarrassing information one may harbor; but also predicts a person's future actions.

Eakman found the Educational Quality Assessment (EQA) test was made up of 375 questions covering attitudes, world views, and opinions with 30 questions on math and another 30 covering verbal analogies, amounting to just enough academic questions to appear credible. However, she found the scoring mechanism revealed that points were given only for what were called "minimum positive attitudes" --- in other words, state-desired responses. It was years before behavior modification, a specialized clinical technique used primarily by licensed psychologists, to achieve a therapeutic goal with patients, was the admitted purpose.

The National Institutes of Health made a grant to the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic for a "Multi-site Multimodal Treatment Study.... "Among the significant aspects of this case was that psychological data was being mixed not only with students' education records but also with medical records. There was no informed consent and, therefore, no good-faith; there was no proof that data on a particular child could not be retrieved at a later time causing compensable harm. In fact, insurance companies, potential employers or even a political candidate find such information useful (e.g., as a child having been seen or treated by a psychiatrist, forced sexual activity, use of a weapon, cruelty to animals, to name a few).

In 1976, education's high priests finally succeeded in their long-standing struggle to shift schools from academics and scholarship to socialization and guardianship. Teachers threw out stuffy old books, learned how to say "Hey, Man!"; exchange their dresses and suits for blue jeans; and dismissed "the value of x." Likewise, student dress codes and rote learning were scrapped, tests and curricula dumbed down, once-neat rows of desks traded for "open classrooms," teachers lecturing and grading scales condemned, and a technique called "behavioral conditioning" replaced drill and repetition. Teachers unionized. Principals and superintendents withdrew the traditional disciplinary support teachers had enjoyed for decades.

As grade inflation became rampant, along came "accountability" legislation, developing a process by which teachers would prove statistically each term that so-much learning had transpired in their classrooms. By 1980, the semester objectives for a 9th grade English class looked something like this: "Forty-three percent of my eighth-grade students will improved their vocabularies by twenty percent over the next thirteen weeks." This was considered a realistic goal!

The then new trend toward comparative scoring, or "norming," actually aided and abetted this deceit. To satisfy legislators and the local news media that students were receiving a quality education, test scores were publicized in percentile form, which administrators could count on being misinterpreted as a numerical (or "raw") score by the public. Thus, if a student only learned half of the material he or she was tested on and if the majority of the students even performed worse, our student could conceivably score at the 90th percentile.

Eakman's behind-the-scenes objective look at our bureaucratic education system makes Cloning of the American Mind an indispensable book for parents, educators, physicians, or anyone involved with our children.

Reviewed by Delbert H. Meyer, MD
Carmichael, CA

Dr Meyer is a pulmonologist practicing in Sacramento and is on the editorial boards of Sacramento Medicine and the Medical Sentinel. He can be reached by e-mail: delmeyer@pol.net.