Myers, David G. 1942–

views updated

MYERS, David G. 1942–

PERSONAL:

Born September 20, 1942, in Seattle, WA; son of Kenneth G. (in business) and Luella Myers; married Carol Peterkin, August 24, 1963; children: Peter, Andrew, Laura. Education: Whitworth College, B.A. (magna cum laude), 1964; University of Iowa, M.A., 1966, Ph.D., 1967. Religion: Christian. Hobbies and other interests: Bike riding, basketball.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Holland, MI. Office—Hope College, Psychology Department, 35 E. 12th St., Holland, MI 49423. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer, educator, and social psychologist. Hope College, Holland, MI, assistant professor, 1967-70, associate professor, 1970-75, chair of department of psychology, 1971-74, professor of psychology, 1975-83, John Dirk Werkman Professor of Psychology, 1983—. Visiting scholar, University of Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany, 1974, and University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews, Scotland, 1985-86. Whitworth College, member of board of trustees, 1995—, and chair of trustee academic affairs committee, 1996—.

MEMBER:

American Psychological Association (fellow), American Association for the Advancement of Science, Society of Experimental Social Psychology, Association for Psychological Science (fellow), American Scientific Affiliation, Sigma Xi.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Gordon Allport Prize, Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, 1978, for research on group polarization; National Science Foundation Cooperative Graduate fellowship, 1965-67; recipient of research grants from the National Science Foundation, 1968-77; H.O.P.E. Award, Hope College, 1972; American Association of Applied and Preventive Psychology fellowship, 1992; John Templeton Foundation Humility Theology Prize, 1992. D.H.L., Northwestern College, 1987, and Whitworth College, 1989.

WRITINGS:

The Human Puzzle: Psychological Research and Christian Belief, Harper (San Francisco, CA), 1978.

The Inflated Self: Human Illusions and the Biblical Call to Hope, Seabury (New York, NY), 1980.

(With Thomas Ludwig, Merold Westphal, and Robin Klay) Inflation, Poortalk, and the Gospel, Judson (Valley Forge, PA), 1981.

Social Psychology, McGraw (New York, NY), 1983, 6th edition, 1999.

(With Martin Bolt) The Human Connection: How People Change People, Inter-Varsity Press (Downers Grove, IL), 1985.

Psychology, Worth Publishers (New York, NY), 1986, 6th edition, 2000.

(With Malcolm A. Jeeves) Psychology through the Eyes of Faith, Harper & Row (San Francisco, CA), 1987.

Exploring Psychology, Worth Publishers (New York, NY), 1990, 4th edition, 1999.

The Pursuit of Happiness: Who Is Happy—And Why, Morrow (New York, NY), 1992.

Exploring Social Psychology, McGraw (New York, NY), 1994, 2nd edition, 2000.

A Quiet World: Living with Hearing Loss, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2000.

The American Paradox: Spiritual Hunger in an Age of Plenty, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2000.

Intuition: Its Powers and Perils, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2002.

(With Letha Dawson Scanzoni) What God Has Joined Together?: A Christian Case for Gay Marriage, HarperSanFrancisco (San Francisco, CA), 2005.

Also special consultant to Thinking about Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behavior, by Charles T. Blair-Broeker and Randall M. Ernst, Worth Publishers (New York, NY), 2003. Contributor to scientific journals and popular magazines, including Science, Scientific American, American Psychologist, Saturday Review, Science Digest, Psychology Today, Christianity Today, Psychological Science, and Christian Century. Consulting editor, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 1978-87, and Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1986-90.

SIDELIGHTS:

David G. Myers is a psychologist and educator whose works explore what he calls the "American paradox." Why, he asks, are Americans experiencing discontent in record numbers at a time when affluence is increasing? Myers seeks to answer that question in his book The American Paradox: Spiritual Hunger in an Age of Plenty. The book grew out of Myers's thirty-year career researching psychology and spirituality as a professor at Hope College in Michigan. In its pages, he challenges radical individualism, toxic entertainment media, and unbridled materialism as forces sapping the strength of family ties, community outreach, and moral behavior. "Myers has confronted our social dilemma with rare honesty—and that itself is a start," observed Bryce Christensen in Booklist. Myers offers, not a partisan political solution based on one particular religious faith, but rather suggestions based upon his research as a Christian academic. In Psychology Today, Barry Schwartz concluded: "It is hard not to be persuaded both by Myers's description of the problems we face and by his recommendations for solutions. I know that I am."

In A Quiet World: Living with Hearing Loss "Myers offers an instructive and insightful memoir" about his experiences with hearing loss, in the context of aging and the inevitable changes that brings, commented a Publishers Weekly contributor. Myers points out the statistics on hearing loss, noting that more than twenty-eight million Americans live with some level of diminished hearing. He explains how people without hearing become socially isolated, often without intending to, as their families and friends who can still hear often do not learn how to communicate appropriately. This is not a function of malice or dismissal, Myers notes, but of the simple ongoing motion of time and life. He looks at how the development of language is hindered in young people with hearing loss and how other areas of development can fall behind in a child suffering from hearing deficiencies. Myers chronicles his own difficulties with decreased hearing, his initial resistance and gradual acceptance of his condition, and his determination to retain his ability to communicate even if his world falls silent. To add another perspective, Myers also includes commentary from his wife, who supported him through his travails. Library Journal critic Ann Forister called Myers's memoir a "gentle, insightful, and moving book."

Intuition: Its Powers and Perils contains Myers's exploration of the human tendency to trust hunches, premonitions, and intuition, and "the countless ways our intuitions about the world lead us astray," remarked commented Michael Shermer in Skeptic. However, Myers also points out how reliance on these types of hunches do not, in general, provide more than the statistically probable chance of the desired outcome. In fact, Myers notes, a greater reliance on statistics would prove much more reliable than reliance on intuition. For example, Shermer provided an example based on selecting a hidden prize behind one of three doors. If a person chooses a door and one other door is opened, revealing that the prize is not there, the player would significantly improve his or her chances of winning by switching doors. The probability of finding the prize behind one of the other two doors is not fifty-fifty, but is instead almost sixty-seven percent. Similarly, in a situation involving ten doors, a person has an initial ten percent chance of choosing the correct door. If eight of the other doors are shown to be losers, the player would have a ninety percent chance of success if he switched doors. "This is a counterintuitive problem that drives people batty, including mathematicians," Shermer remarked. Myers offers this and numerous examples of the mathematical reality of relying on intuition. He asserts that humans can measure how they arrive at a conclusion, but Library Journal reviewer Lisa Liquori observed that such measurement relies more on logic than intuition. "Myers's book brilliantly establishes intuition as a legitimate subject of scientific inquiry," Shermer commented. However, "he invites us to sharpen our insights and self-knowledge" to enable us to render "sounder and less costly decisions" based on fact and not ephemeral hunches, Liquori stated.

With What God Has Joined Together?: A Christian Case for Gay Marriage Myers and coauthor Letha Dawson Scanzoni address a major social conundrum that has achieved greater urgency in the early years of the twenty-first century. Condemned by religious conservatives and embraced by many throughout the ideological and political spectrum, the topic of gay marriage is a political, cultural, and religious hot button that can almost be guaranteed to provoke a strong positive or negative reaction. In their book, the authors "make a convincing argument in support of gay marriage" for reasons that fall in both liberal and conservative camps, noted reviewer Sheila Peiffer in Library Journal. The authors begin with the premise that strong marriages, no matter the type, are beneficial to society in many ways, and they provide considerable statistical evidence to back up this claim. Why, then, they ask, should this socially beneficial form of commitment be denied to someone simply because they are gay? Notably, the authors make a very important and convincing religious case for allowing gay marriage, explaining clearly that the Bible is not the virulently anti-gay text that many conservative Christians would portray it to be. There is, they note, no evidence in scripture that Jesus made any comments on homosexuality, and the references to homosexual activity in the Bible are not couched in terms of loving and committed relationships, a Publishers Weekly reviewer noted. They also point out that the disheveled state of heterosexual marriage as an institution is badly in need of an overhaul. The book is "strongest when David Myers and Letha Dawson Scanzoni are arguing for the virtues of Christian marriage and advocating that the same virtues be available to gay and lesbian couples," remarked Craig L. Nessan in Christian Century. Throughout, the authors' "tone is calm, respectful and balanced," observed the Publishers Weekly critic. For Myers and Scanzoni, "only the blessings of Christian marriage can bring the fulfillment that God intends for human lives," Nessan reported. Peiffer concluded that the book is a "readable, concise, and authoritative summary" of the controversies and arguments surrounding the debate over gay marriage.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

books

Myers, David G., A Quiet World: Living with Hearing Loss, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2000.

periodicals

Booklist, March 1, 2000, Bryce Christensen, review of The American Paradox: Spiritual Hunger in an Age of Plenty, p. 1178.

Christian Century, December 13, 2005, Craig L. Nessan, review of What God Has Joined Together?: A Christian Case for Gay Marriage, p. 48.

Library Journal, November 1, 2000, Ann Forister, review of A Quiet World, p. 122; July, 2002, Lisa Liquori, review of Intuition: Its Powers and Perils, p. 104; August 1, 2005, Sheila Peiffer, review of What God Has Joined Together?, p. 93.

Mother Jones, December, 2005, Peter Meredith, review of What God Has Joined Together?, p. 73.

Psychology Today, July, 2000, Barry Schwartz, review of The American Paradox, p. 74.

Publishers Weekly, March 30, 1992, review of The Pursuit of Happiness: Who Is Happy—And Why, p. 97; November 20, 2002, review of A Quiet World, p. 62; May 2, 2005, review of What God Has Joined Together?, p. 192.

Skeptic, spring, 2003, Michael Shermer, "I Knew You Would Say That," review of Intuition, p. 92.

Total Health, August, 1992, review of The Pursuit of Happiness, p. 57.

online

David G. Myers Home Page, http://www.davidmyers.org (May 8, 2006).

About this article

Myers, David G. 1942–

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article