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Letter to the Editor: Moralizing

Thank you, Dee Kelly. Your support and saying so mean a lot. I’m still grinning over the delicious quote from “A Modest Proposal” submitted by Hal Hein.

I’ve been caught moralizing many times. Of course, I’m guilty of most of what I talk about. Repeatedly making the mistake of assuming people know that. If not racism, then unconscious bias and weird “white guilt” behaviors.

I’m like my dad in that I’m interested in the difference between right and wrong. I’d love to one day lecture like my dad. He was a gifted scholar and a true Virginia gentleman. At ease with people, he was intrinsically gracious and humble. Though he was always animated and enthusiastic about his topic, unlike a lot of us, me very much included, he was much more interested in what other people thought than what he had to say.

Then again, men are more accustomed to being heard.

My father chose Reno to begin his career at UNR after seeing an advertisement claiming, “Reno is a city of homes and churches.” Possibly also to put distance between himself and his own father, who was a different kind of Virginia gentleman. When asked, my father would say he was an “Episcopalian, a Republican, and a Behaviorist.” Meant to become a physician, he was well on his way until a favorite professor suggested he might be more suited and better enjoy psychology.

Dad chose to do research. Later he told a student who wrote about his work that he found the subject matter in general psychology “really interesting,” and concluded he “really liked psychology, never having done any…” Dad continued, “it became perfectly apparent: ‘Willard, you are not interested in this area’ (sensory thresholds.) Moreover, you know nothing about how to make equipment work or anything else, but, I mean, particularly not equipment.” The student went on to explain that the laboratory was then disassembled, and the transition to philosophical psychology began.

Helene Day


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