Found via Instapundit before Christmas, an interesting Scientific American article entitled "Exploding the Self-Esteem Myth". After reading it, I'd say the Professor seized on one of the less compelling aspects (or rather, subcomponents) of the article - understandable given his wife's field. The piece does not dismiss out-of-hand the value of self-esteem, but it obliterates the notion that positive self-esteem is the root of all that is good.
I'm linking to it because it has the absolute greatest concluding sentence in the history of research pieces. It makes the point they want to make, and it summarizes the article to perfection:
And we have found little to indicate that indiscriminately promoting self-esteem in today's children or adults, just for being themselves, offers society any compensatory benefits beyond the seductive pleasure it brings to those engaged in the exercise.