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To The Behavior Analysis Community,

July 5th, 2023,

 

The past week has been hard for many of us. Personally, I’ve had several difficult, uncomfortable, and essential conversations since Friday. I’ve listened. I’ve learned. And I’m taking accountability. 

Some of my words were ill-chosen. By using phrases like “differing vantage points” and “opposing opinions, " I unintentionally implied that our conference may be accepting of and promoting of an eugenic ideology. This unequivocally is not the case. Eugenics is, and always has been, an unfathomable and unacceptable practice. Professionally and personally, everyone at The Unpopular Conference stands firmly against this ideology and all other related practices. 

My intention was to avoid remaining silent and express that we wanted to create a space where people could have uncomfortable conversations, such as; should we, as practitioners, pose provocative questions to facilitate conversation? And what is to be gained and lost when we censor people from asking those questions? And to provide space to engage with those who believe differently than us. 

I apologize that the impact of my words was not that. 

The intention of our conference has always been to provide space. Not to take sides. By giving space to a controversial speaker, it may appear to some that I (as the conference) have chosen a side. I want to be clear that there is no side here. Every life has tremendous worth. I value and celebrate every human life. 

There are many false statements being made about the conference, our social media, and my intentions as a whole. Thank you, and much respect, to the professionals who contacted me directly to have a conversation. Our field was founded upon curiosity, analysis, and discussion. We collectively, and often individually, encourage others to be kind humans. Thank you to everyone who embraced those values when bringing your concerns forward. Your values are seen and appreciated. To see “professionals” who personally know me, my organization, and others associated with the conference, who know our values and intentions, immediately turn to a public audience, demand punishment, or jump at the first opportunity to gain followers, views, likes, and create $$ generating events surrounding this, was astounding and eye-opening. 

Intellectual humility is a skill set we will benefit from delving deeper into. Psychologically speaking, intellectual humility has been challenging to define. It has been suggested that it contains multiple elements simultaneously (e.g. accurate self-assessment, low self-focus, openness to new ideas) and that it is simply not responsive to direct self-report methods (Hanel, et al., 2023). As individuals working within the science of Behavior Analysis and often with vulnerable populations of disabled individuals, we have a lot of work to do in this area.  

 

 The Unpopular Conference is a space for voices. All voices. We do not endorse the specific thoughts or statements made by any speaker or attendee participating in the conference. We encourage every person to listen, ask questions, and use critical thinking skills to accept or reject ideas in the pursuit of shared values.  By censoring our speakers and attendees, we eradicate the very foundation on which our field has been built. We are advocates for acceptance and inclusion; therefore,  we must accept and include all voices, not just the ones who sound like us. 

A world where one cannot ask questions and attempt to understand perspectives and realities is terrifying. We respect differing opinions and believe it’s the beauty of humanity- even when it is difficult. We remain committed to creating this space in October as we continue to learn and grow as professionals. Colleagues,  I, and all of us at The Unpopular Conference hope to see you in Savannah🍑

You can contact me directly at theunpopularconference@gmail.com

With respect, 

Dr. Jamie

Reference: Using self-affirmation to increase intellectual humility in debate https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.220958

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