Are You Not Entertained?

I absolutely LOVE psychology and have spent my career working with applied psychological ideas. Seeking to obtain solutions to practical problems, I have worn the labels statistician, teacher and researcher. As a jack-of-all trades consultant, I found an endless supply of novel and interesting problems to focus on.

Growing up in New Orleans during the 1990s, violence was a practical problem with a salient place in my mind. I translated this interest into an academic journey that led me to Rutgers University in New Jersey. There, I had the opportunity to analyze real-world data, ponder practical solutions and write on a variety of interesting topics. My colleagues and I wrote papers like “Coping with Exposure to Violence: Relations to Aggression and Emotional Symptoms in Three Urban Samples” and “Investigating Effects of Identification with Real-World Aggressors and Victims on the link between Exposure to Political Volence in the News Media and Aggressive Worldviews.”

That kind of stuff all sounds pretty lofty. And it was, because the mathematical and scientific tools that I obtained from that academic experience were lofty. But still, I longed to see the connection between these seemingly valuable tools and real-life problems. So I embarked on my colorful career as a statistican in New Orleans, Louisiana. I spent significant time working for a large Louisiana philanthropic trust and then the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.

Throughout all of my various career experiences, psychologist was my identity.

I have this theory. It’s that words are more human than people, and that we are only borrowing our humanity from language. I also have a bunch of other theories lol. My experience with YouTube as an easygoing consultant reiterated to me how much I enjoy working through these types of abstract notions. I have a lot of half-formed thoughts that change and become something better and more refined after articulating them. Here, on my own website, I hope to continue this pastime.

I remember before my doctoral defense, I said to an acquaintance who was planning to attend: “I hope you are entertained.” I remember how she first responded quite exactly, but not much more after that. “It’s not supposed to be entertaining.” And then she offered encouragement about how my lecture was very serious business. I felt intensely that something was being lost in translation. She is correct that “entertain” may have shallow connotations. But from my perspective, as someone who sat through countless hours of other people’s dry lectures, who listened to endlessly repeated droning about solutions to world problems that are never implemented, I still stand by my basic sentiment.

I think there are a lot of underlying ideas to unpack with the word “entertained.” There is an x-factor somewhere in the idea “entertained” that I am chasing. I guess what I am trying to say is that I want to get into the weeds with you here about some of my tangential ideas. I hope to engage your mind and entertain you with my perspective. I believe that psychology is a tool that has real value, and I hope to share this with you as you join me on my adventures.

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