A Nation of Wimps

“She’s somewhat neurotic,” he confides, “but she is bright, organized and conscientious–the type who’d get to school to turn in a paper on time, even if she were dying of stomach flu.” He finally found the disability he was to make allowances for: difficulty with Gestalt thinking. The 13-year-old “couldn’t see the big picture.” That cleverly devised defect (what 13-year-old can construct the big picture?) would allow her to take all her tests untimed, especially the big one at the end of the rainbow, the college-worthy SAT. —Hara Estroff MaranoA Nation of Wimps (Psychology Today)

This is the kind of article that many of my students will mistake for a scholarly research paper.



Here’s a very interesting quotation, but since this is an article for a general audience, it does not refer to any evidence to back up its shocking claims.

American parents today expect their children to be perfect–the smartest, fastest, most charming people in the universe. And if they can’t get the children to prove it on their own, they’ll turn to doctors to make their kids into the people that parents want to believe their kids are.

Of course I’m not challenging the veracity of this article, I’m just noting that it’s not written for the convenience of a researcher, because the sources aren’t cited. Journalists are professional communicators whose readers are generally willing to trust the authority of the journalist; a scientific paper is written for an audience of peer scientists, so the author has to back up every claim.