Creeps get what they deserve »« The scarlet crayon of atheism

After they defeat Darwin, the creationists will be coming after psychiatry next

I think David Dobbs is going to be amused to learn that the Discovery Institute thinks he has just demolished Darwinism by way of psychiatry. But in an article that is delusional even by the standards of that bastion of lunacy, the DI argues that the collapse of evolution is just around the corner. Again. Like always.

Here’s how David Dobbs decided the demise of Darwinism: he wrote a positive review of a book critical of the impending release of DSM-5, The Book of Woe: The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry. Such a small thing, the tiniest pebble that will lead to an avalanche of destruction and the total demolition of the edifice of modern science.

Or not. The book is critical of one component of the understanding of the mind, and it’s no surprise…hasn’t every edition of the DSM led to the gnashing of garments and the wailing of teeth, or something? As Dobbs points out, there really are fundamental flaws in how psychiatry handles mental illness.

The DSM, Greenberg concludes, “dresses up symptoms as diseases that are not real and then claims to have named and described the true varieties of our suffering”. Technically, the APA concurs, admitting sotto voce (for instance, in planning documents and public discussions for earlier versions of the DSM) that many psychiatric diagnoses are constructs of convenience rather than descriptions of biological ailments. This originates in an explicit decision the APA made, during the creation of DSM-III, to base diagnoses not on aetiology but on recognizable clusters of symptoms that seem problematic. The APA did so recognizing that this would mean stressing consistency among clinicians in recognizing symptom clusters rather than any other marker of a condition’s origins.

A slippery deal, but essential. For by formalizing this scheme, psychiatry can claim medical legitimacy and accompanying insurance coverage and pay rates so that it can help people. Unfortunately, writes Greenberg, this scheme has led everyone, psychiatrists included, to talk about and treat DSM’s conceptual constructs as if they are biological illnesses — a habit that has bred troubles ranging from overconfidence to incestuous liaisons with Big Pharma.

Yet neither Greenberg or Dobbs are predicting the annihilation of psychiatry. Rather, they seem to be discussing serious problems that need to be corrected so the discipline can advance.

As Greenberg writes, the DSM, and psychiatry with it, increasingly “casts its subjects into dry, data-driven stories, freed from the vagaries of hope and desire, of prejudice and ignorance and fear, and anchored instead in the laws of nature”. Yet when psychiatry works, it often works less at a biological than at a humanistic, narrative level, by helping the sufferer to reframe the story of his life and of his place in the world into one that includes a sense of agency, strength and social connection. This is doubtless why a combination of drugs and talk therapy generally works better than just drugs. It also helps to explain why schizophrenia, as described in Ethan Watters’ Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche (Free Press, 2010) and in work by Tanya Luhrmann, is much less disabling in cultures — or even treatment regimes — that cast its eccentricities more as variations in human nature than as biological dysfunction.

For more than 100 years, psychiatry has been getting by on pseudo-scientific explanations and confident nods while it waited for the day, always just around the corner, in which it could be a strictly biological undertaking. Part of the DSM-5′s long delay occurred because, a decade ago, APA leaders actually thought that advances in neuroscience would allow them write a brain-based DSM. Yet, as former APA front liner Michael First, a psychiatrist at Columbia University in New York, confirms on Greenberg’s last page, the discipline remains in its infancy.

So…it works, but our understanding of how it works is in its infancy. That’s not the act of carving its tombstone, but merely issuing its first grade report card (“little Psych is very creative, but needs focus and discipline.”)

That doesn’t fit into the creationist trope, though, so they had to…reinterpret what was said (“little Psych is about to die, deservedly!”) This is a really old line: the Discovery Institute has a hard-on for psychiatry that rivals Scientology’s. Some years ago they were fond of citing the troika of 19th century failed philosophers: Marx, Freud, and Darwin. They predicted that because Communism was already dead and Freud was an old discredited pervert, Darwin was next. It was highly irrational ‘logic’, and smacked more of superstition than reason, but it was a big deal for them. They’ve also been arguing for years for dualism — there is a supernatural soul or spirit in the brain — and anything that tries to find natural causes for the mind is anathema to them.

So Dobbs, published in Nature, and Greenberg, author of a very serious book, are dragooned into the service of intelligent design, their conclusions twisted to support the dogma of the day, and are now cited as not just pointing out the problems with past assertions or the politics that distort the publication of a major reference work, but as a science in crisis, on its deathbed, about to be pushing up daisies.

I agree with Greenberg, Dobbs, and the Discovery Institute (Erk! My heart!) that psychiatry is rife with conceptual problems and a serious absence of sound natural causes for the phenomena they describe. But I’m not about to write it off completely, and I certainly do not understand this massive bounding leap of illogic.

The things being said about psychiatry now, though, on the eve of publication of its latest upgrade, the DSM-5, are revealing it to be a science in crisis — if it ever was a science at all. As we list the problems, ponder whether many of the same criticisms could be leveled against Darwinism.

That makes no sense. The 18th century assertion by spermists that the spermatozoon contained a tiny homunculus has been disproven, therefore I’m pondering whether the same criticism could be leveled against stem cell therapies. The archaic economic structure of the Ottoman Empire contributed to its collapse, therefore I’m pondering whether the same criticism could be leveled against the apocalyptic popularity of Fifty Shades of Gray. The designated hitter rule ruined American league baseball, therefore I’m pondering whether the same criticism could be leveled against the use of polysiloxanes in McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets.

A = B, therefore X = Y is not sound reasoning.

But reason won’t get in the Discovery Institute’s way, now or ever! So they compile a list of psychiatry’s shortcomings, as they gleaned from a number of criticisms they found on the internet, calling it a “failed science”, even though that’s not the impression I got from the sources they cite.

  1. Long history of failure.

  2. No theoretical basis grounded in biological reality.

  3. Reliance on a book.

  4. Conflicts of interest.

  5. Lack of quality control.

  6. Ignoring critics.

  7. Focus on symptoms instead of causes.

  8. Category errors: confusing arbitrary classification with reality.

  9. Attempting to pigeonhole complex entities into simple categories.

  10. Concern for consistency and consensus over empiricism.

  11. Tortured attempts to fashion theories.

  12. Formalizing schemes to gain legitimacy.

  13. Promissory notes to do better in the future.

  14. Hopes that other sciences will legitimize it.

And now the fun begins. They have cobbled up 14 reasons why psychiatry is totally wrong, so let’s make up 14 complementary reasons why evolution is totally wrong!

  1. Failure to explain the Cambrian Explosion since Darwin.

  2. Extrapolating natural selection far beyond the evidence.

  3. Continuing to exalt Darwin and his Origin.

  4. Scheming to keep criticisms of Darwin out of journals and classrooms.

  5. Flimsy assertions that “it evolved,” with little rigor.

  6. Refusing to hear or publish scientific critiques of Darwinism.

  7. Use of homology as evidence and explanation for adaptation.

  8. Inventing terms like “kin selection” and “evo-devo.”

  9. Attributing the whole biosphere to undirected causes.

  10. Claiming the consensus accepts evolution in every meaning of the word.

  11. Applying natural selection recklessly to everything, even the universe.

  12. Scheming to prevent intelligent design from gaining a hearing.

  13. Always saying “more research is needed.”

  14. Misappropriating genetics, computer science, and development to support it.

Uh, wait. Despite having the same number of items, the lists don’t really line up at all well — there’s virtually no correspondence between the two. Furthermore, many of those items are just plain wrong or repetitive.

  1. We do have explanations for the Cambrian explosion, and good ones at that. That one is just a plug for Stephen Meyer’s hack book that’s supposed to come out next month (and I’ll write more about the reasons when it’s out.)

  2. That some people overuse a powerful explanation does not imply that the phenomenon does not exist. This is the same as #5 and #11.

  3. We do not exalt Darwin. We respect him as a great scientist who still got many things wrong. Also, you do not need to read the Origin to learn about evolution.

  4. “Scheming”? No. Demanding rigor. Half-assed assertions of a “designer” with no evidence are not adequate. This is the same as #6 and #12.

  5. This is the same as #2 and #11.

  6. This is the same as #4 and #12.

  7. No, I’ve never heard homology or common descent used as an explanation of adaption. Retention of non-adaptive features, sure.

  8. Both kin selection and evo-devo are terms for real phenomena, one for a gene-centric explanation for altruism (for instance) and the other for a discipline that relates evolution and development.

  9. This is not false. There is no evidence for teleology in evolutionary history.

  10. The scientific consensus accepts the scientific meaning of the word. What else would we do? Anything else, it wouldn’t be a consensus!

  11. This is the same as #2 and #5.

  12. This is the same as #4 and #6.

  13. But we always need more research! If we had all the answers, we’d be done with science.

  14. It’s not misappropriation. Genetics does support evolution; have you ever heard of the neo-Darwinian synthesis? Computer science provides an essential contribution to modern biology; have you ever heard of bioinformatics? Development and evolution work together beautifully; have you ever heard of evo-devo? Oh, right, you have, you just believe we made it all up.

The creationists are just getting more desperate and pathetic. They didn’t even try to come up with a reasonable set of correspondences — apparently they trust their readers to be so stupid that they won’t actually read or think about the comparisons, they’ll just see 14 reasons evolution is just as wrong as psychiatry — it’s about as reasonable as saying that the 14 stations of the cross mean Catholicism is as doomed as Freudian psychoanalysis.

But then, non sequiturs are what I’ve come to expect from those awful writers at the DI.


Dobbs D (2013) Psychiatry: A very sad story. Nature 497:36–37 doi:10.1038/497036a

Comments

  1. wmdon says

    Anybody else notice that every single point on that first list applies precisely to intelligent design? Seriously – it’s like they grabbed a list from an old thread on the Panda’s Thumb or something and said it applied to psychiatry instead…

  2. kenbo says

    @3 wmdon – I noticed that too, but not just ID. I would say religion in general also fails on each of those points.

  3. raven says

    I’m very suprised that they didn’t have the ovaries to give their explanation for mental illness.

    Possession by demons.

    The DI is filled with fundie death cult xians, the oogedy boogedy variety of superstitious morons we have all seen. I’m sure if you asked them and no one from the real world was watching, they could go on for hours about demons, who has them, and how to get rid of them (hint: give money to the right xian witch doctors).

    In fact, there is a small boom in “xian psychiatrists” who believe mental illness is caused by demons. One of them, Kam, in Boston, just lost his license for that.

  4. thumper1990 says

    …the DI argues that the collapse of evolution is just around the corner.

    Will we all devolve back to amoebas, then?

  5. Dexeron says

    I love that a bunch of thinly-veiled creationists have the temerity to actually include in their list of criticisms: “Reliance on a book.”

  6. says

    Regarding “reliance on a book”, isn’t the DSM closer to a dictionary than anything else? It’s as much a description of extant usage as anything else.

  7. says

    19th-century Marxism failed, thus 19th-century Maxwell’s equations will fail too. Any day now. Soon. They’re falling now.

    Oh yeah, where’s the explanation for the highly-derivative nature of life, now that “Darwinism” has failed?

    No, wait, you mean we’re supposed to give up a good explanation for no explanation at all? The equivalent of “Merlin magicked it?”

    Glen Davidson

  8. Gregory Greenwood says

    wmdon @ 3;

    Anybody else notice that every single point on that first list applies precisely to intelligent design?

    Yup – that struck me too as I was reading the OP. It lines up so perfectly that the creationists couldn’t have shot themselves more effectively in both feet if they had used a field howitzer.

    They claim of psychiatry;

    1 Long history of failure.

    2 No theoretical basis grounded in biological reality.

    3 Reliance on a book.

    4 Conflicts of interest.

    5 Lack of quality control.

    6 Ignoring critics.

    7 Focus on symptoms instead of causes.

    8 Category errors: confusing arbitrary classification with reality.

    9 Attempting to pigeonhole complex entities into simple categories.

    10 Concern for consistency and consensus over empiricism.

    11 Tortured attempts to fashion theories.

    12 Formalizing schemes to gain legitimacy.

    13 Promissory notes to do better in the future.

    14 Hopes that other sciences will legitimize it.

    And when we look at creationism (and in particular the so called ‘intelligent design’ subarm of it) we see how neat the fit is;

    1. A long history of failure – this clearly applies, since creationism and ID are utterly demolished by scientific understanding of biology and Evolutionary Theory, as any rational observer would note.

    2. No theoretical basis grounded in biological reality – a big check here, ‘god did it’ (or, for the intelligent design liars for jeebus, ‘an unidentified and unevidenced super-consciousness did it’) could hardly be further from an explanation grounded in biological reality.

    3. Reliance on a book – this is just too easy.

    4. Conflicts of interest – between their supposed desire to pursue the ‘truth’ and their transparent proselytising agenda to push bigoted Bronze Age mythology.

    5. Lack of quality control – in the case of creationism and ID, this manifests as a lack of any connection to reality, and their tendency to use diploma mills to hand out worthless ‘qualifications’ to anyone prepared to be a shill for them.

    6. Ignoring critics – This is standard creationist operating procedure, along with calling their critics evil monsters hell bent on the destruction of all that is good and true (read as; threatening the creationist delusions of relevancy).

    7. Focus on symptoms instead of causes – misninterpreting evidence, either through wilful dishonesty or simple ignorance and/or stupidity, lies at the heart of all creationist ‘thinking’. Statements that mulitcellular life is somehow ‘too complex’ to have developed without a designer is a clear case in point.

    8. Category errors: confusing arbitrary classification with reality – like trying to overwrite all the evidence that points to naturalistic causes for phenomena with strained hypotheticals that posit the hand of an invisible sky fairy at work, perhaps…?

    9. Attempting to pigeonhole complex entities into simple categories – ‘I don’t understand the science therefore god’ seems to be the base article of faith of the vast majority of creationists.

    10. Concern for consistency and consensus over empiricism – ‘Just so’ stories (usually lifted from the bible) being preferred to dealing with the actual empirical evidence. The desire to maintain the imagined cultural hegemony of christianity as a higher priority that actually dealing with reality.

    11. Tortured attempts to fashion theories – A complex ‘designer’ (god in all but name) popping magically into existence (or somehow having ‘always existed’) without any physical substrate and before the development of simpler structures being the closest thing creationists have to a ‘theory’.

    12. Formalizing schemes to gain legitimacy – creating ‘intelligent design’ to give a faux-scientific veneer to creationist theology.

    13. Promissory notes to do better in the future – constant, never fulfilled claims that the Evolutionary Theory is somehow on its last legs and that creationism will be validated any day now, ongoing for many decades.

    14. Hopes that other sciences will legitimize it – endless appeals to everything from thermodynamics to IT (none of which are properly understood by creationists, and are even less appropriately applied by them) in a desperate attempt to find some sliver of scientific credibility for their delusions.

    You are right – it is a perfect fit.

  9. thumper1990 says

    1.Long history of failure.

    2.No theoretical basis grounded in biological reality.

    3.Reliance on a book.

    4.Conflicts of interest.

    5.Lack of quality control.

    6.Ignoring critics.

    7.Focus on symptoms instead of causes.

    8.Category errors: confusing arbitrary classification with reality.

    9.Attempting to pigeonhole complex entities into simple categories.

    10.Concern for consistency and consensus over empiricism.

    11.Tortured attempts to fashion theories.

    12.Formalizing schemes to gain legitimacy.

    13.Promissory notes to do better in the future.

    14.Hopes that other sciences will legitimize it.

    Hang on… are they criticising psychiatry or religion?

  10. David Marjanović says

    That makes no sense. The 18th century assertion by spermists that the spermatozoon contained a tiny homunculus has been disproven, therefore I’m pondering whether the same criticism could be leveled against stem cell therapies.

    Oh, speaking of which.

    Long history of failure.

    No theoretical basis grounded in biological reality.

    Reliance on a book.

    When I got this far, I laughed.

    Will we all devolve back to amoebas, then?

    Thread won.

  11. vaiyt says

    Some years ago they were fond of citing the troika of 19th century failed philosophers: Marx, Freud, and Darwin.

    Except that Marx wasn’t “failed” as much as he was surpassed. Capitalist exploitation, economic classes and product fetishization (for example) didn’t cease to exist because Marx was a failure as a futurologist. We just moved on to better and more complete explanations.
    Much like Marx, Darwin is already a thing of the past. We did already surpass him, and nobody needs to read Origin today except as a historical document. Evolution didn’t cease being a well-supported fact, though,

  12. raven says

    Most of their list is lies. It is the Dishonesty Institute after all.

    To take just the first two as examples:

    1. Long history of failure.

    This is false. Psychiatry has done a lot since One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and the Bedlams of the 19th century. We have drugs to treat depression, anxiety, and notably, the symptoms of schizophrenia, among others. The anti-SZ drugs with all their problems emptied out the mental hospitals in the 50′s and 60′s.

    Saying psychiatry can’t do everything, doesn’t prove it can not do anything.

    The problem isn’t lack of effort or thought. The human brain is far and away the most complex structure in the universe that we know of.

    2. No theoretical basis grounded in biological reality.

    Also false. We now know that two of the most common and severe syndromes have a strong underlying genetic basis. Schizophrenia and autism (both ca. 1% of the population, 6 million total) are caused in part by a hundred or more gene alleles, all with small effects that in combinations cause the symptoms.

    This turns out to be intractably complex and hasn’t lead to any clinical improvements. Yet. But it falsifies a lot of blind alleys like mercury and vaccines for autism. And leads to the idea that maybe being a-neurotypical isn’t necessarily an illness.

  13. raven says

    Some years ago they were fond of citing the troika of 19th century failed philosophers: Marx, Freud, and Darwin.

    Freud? Failed?

    IIRC, Freud’s ego, superego and so on aren’t taken seriously today.

    But he did get some important ideas right. The subconscious mind.

    We now know that a huge amount of our mental processes occur below the level of our conscious awareness. One analogy is that our brain is the legislature and makes all the decisions and then notifies the executive branch, which is our awareness. Which has input and veto powers as well.

    Having one good or great idea puts him light years in front of the Dishonesty Institute, who are pushing Iron age mythology as real.

  14. thumper1990 says

    @David Marjanovic

    Yay! My first thread-win!

    *pops Nebuchadnezzar of champagne*
    *guzzles champagne*
    *passes out*

  15. says

    @ vaiyt

    It is almost a form of straw-manning. Attacking the very early efforts of the pioneers of these sciences. (Though they fail even here.) Everything has moved on, yet there they remain.

    Or perhaps they are less dishonest than that and really do think that these people handed us a revealed, eternal truth in their explications of Marxism, Psychology and Evolution ?

  16. comfychair says

    I would say something about ‘projection calling the kettle black’ (I mean, who doesn’t love poorly mixed metaphors?), but that would involve something from psychiatry which we’ve just been told is completely wrong and invalid. I’m nearly as confused as they are! (not really)

  17. says

    But he did get some important ideas right. The subconscious mind.

    We now know that a huge amount of our mental processes occur below the level of our conscious awareness. One analogy is that our brain is the legislature and makes all the decisions and then notifies the executive branch, which is our awareness. Which has input and veto powers as well.

    Freud was hardly the first to realize the importance of the unconscious:

    The influence of Nietzsche on Freud’s ideas.
    Chapman AH, Chapman-Santana M.
    Source

    Samur Hospital, Vitóriada Conquista, Bahia, Brazil.
    Abstract
    BACKGROUND:

    The striking analogies between the ideas of Freud and Friedrich Nietzsche, whose works were published from one to three decades before those of Freud, have been commented upon, but no previous systematic correlation of the ideas of Nietzsche and Freud has been made.
    METHOD:

    The major works of Nietzsche were read, and each possible analogy to an idea later broached by Freud was correlated by a systematic review of his works. Any references to Nietzsche in Freud’s writings and reported conversation were culled.
    RESULTS:

    Concepts of Nietzsche which are similar to those of Freud include (a) the concept of the unconscious mind; (b) the idea that repression pushes unacceptable feelings and thoughts into the unconscious and thus makes the individual emotionally more comfortable and effective; (c) the conception that repressed emotions and instinctual drives later are expressed in disguised ways (for example, hostile feelings and ideas may be expressed as altruistic sentiments and acts); (d) the concept of dreams as complex, symbolic “illusions of illusions” and dreaming itself as a cathartic process which has healthy properties; and (e) the suggestion that the projection of hostile, unconscious feelings onto others, who are then perceived as persecutors of the individual, is the basis of paranoid thinking. Some of Freud’s basic terms are identical to those used by Nietzsche.
    CONCLUSION:

    Freud repeatedly stated that he had never read Nietzsche. Evidence contradicting this are his references to Nietzsche and his quotations and paraphrases of him, in causal conversation and his now published personal correspondence, as well as in his early and later writings.

    I’m not even saying that Nietzsche was first, but his notion of the unconscious certainly preceded, and influenced, Freud’s.

    Basically, Marx failed, and Freud failed. One can pick out all sorts of good economic analysis from Marx, but Dialectic Materialism is a superstition, and it was an important part of his “theory.” Freud wasn’t altogether wrong, of course, but was he any more right than a host of other psychiatrists and psychologists of his time?

    Darwin succeeded, despite the many changes to evolutionary theory that have been effected, because he was effecting good empiricism, more or less in the vein of Newton, almost embarrassingly so (the many “laws” that Darwin assumed or invented are often questionable–and matter little to the overall theory). This was British empiricism winning yet again, vs. the rather Romantic stuff dreamed up by Marx and Freud.

    Glen Davidson

  18. busterggi says

    Everyone beat me to it but I’ll be a good boy and just congratualtion them for spoiling my fun.

  19. kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith says

    This originates in an explicit decision the APA made, during the creation of DSM-III, to base diagnoses not on aetiology but on recognizable clusters of symptoms that seem problematic.

    I don’t see this as such a big problem, or as unique to mental illness.

    For instance, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is not a disease per se. It’s a set of phenotypic characteristics that might be disavantageous in some contexts, neutral in some, and advantageous for others – if you’d like to be a contortionist, for example. But, it can also cause a certain level of disability, that for some people is severe.

    Other so-called “biological” diagnoses have similar characteristics. They become “diseases” when they cause symptoms that are a major nuisance to the person who has them.

    And leads to the idea that maybe being a-neurotypical isn’t necessarily an illness.

    Exactly.

    It depends on context. ADHD isn’t a problem for hunter-gatherers. It becomes a problem in a society where not being able to read is a severe disability.

  20. kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith says

    Also, the lack of currently available biomarkers != disease that is not of biological origin. Else I know a couple cancers which are not “biological”.

    We may well never find any marker. These things happen inside the brain, an organ which is quite isolated from the rest of the circulatory system, and short of really invasive techniques, it might not be possible to see what’s actually going on chemically.

  21. says

    With regards to all the people who are noting that the list against psychiatry a) fails to be accurate for psychiatry, but b) becomes rather surprisingly accurate for religion and creationism:

    Yeah, IT’S ALWAYS PROJECTION with these clowns. And number 3 might be the most egregious example of that, I’ve seen in awhile. Yes, suddenly, “I read about it, in a book” is bad when it can almost be applied to something else if you squint at it. It’s like they were so proud of being able to fling that back in those evil opponent’s face that they had no awareness of how a) stupid and inaccurate it was nor b) how achingly hypocritical and self-defeating it was.

  22. Azuma Hazuki says

    Why do they think this is an “-ism?” No one worships Darwin. He was dead flat wrong about a lot of things; he just happened to make a very important link that, it turns out, has borne massive fruit through experimentation and examination.

    They think he’s like Jesus to us. He’s not. He’s like Newton to us; brilliant, and responsible for opening up huge new vistas, but also outdated and possessed of some very weird and outright wrong ideas.

    Is this projection? Do they think we’re as idealogical as they are?

  23. Doug Little says

    Scheming to keep criticisms of Darwin out of journals

    Takes wingnut to English dictionary of shelf…
    Thumbs to the S’s.. Hmmm, Sa… Sb… Ahhhh here it is,

    Scheming – Scheming usually refers to the process of Peer Review when the context is scientific.

  24. Amphiox says

    re @30;

    By all accounts, though, Darwin was a much nicer, much more pleasant person than Newton.

  25. Holms says

    Reliance on a book.

    I’m going to join everyone else here in having some hearty lulz at this one in particular.

  26. David Marjanović says

    Yay! My first thread-win!

    :-)

    the many “laws” that Darwin assumed or invented

    …Please name one. I’m not aware of any. I thought all the legislation came later (Dollo, Osborn, that kind of people).

    Is this projection? Do they think we’re as ide[o]logical as they are?

    And were these rhetorical questions? :-)

    By all accounts, though, Darwin was a much nicer, much more pleasant person than Newton.

    Yep. Even “If I have seen farther than others, it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants” was a dig at the short Robert Hooke.

  27. Akira MacKenzie says

    Wait… Marx was a wrong? I’m sorry, the massive power that business has over government along with the vast economic gulf between the rich and the poor must be a figment of my imagination.

  28. says

    I’ve been thinking about it and I’ve concluded it’s satire. Or it’s a trap to get atheists to say religious people are stupid, so they can call us “strident” — I think I have figured out their plan.

  29. says

    Sigh

    I agree. I studied psych as an undergrad and got out of it when I decided that they were doing everything backwards – they were calling something a “disorder” without having any actual idea what (if anything) was ‘broken’. So I couldn’t be comfortable that there was any idea what was actually a “disorder” versus a behavior. I wasn’t very happy with the answers my profs gave me, either (mumble mumble cause effect mumble um mumble) I do think that it’s safe to say that there probably are “disorders” but I think it’s getting the cart in front of the horse to start prescribing repairs when you don’t even know what’s broken, if anything.

  30. sonorus says

    Darwinism is not a thing. There’s nothing that goes by that name. It’s an attempt to make evolutionary biology sound like it’s on the same footing as Fundamentalist Christianity. Only one is based on evidence and the other is not. I don’t “believe” in Darwin. He was just a man. A smart man, but a just a man. He figured out some things before other people did. Those other people were all working on the same problems in biology and one of them would probably have eventually figured out how natural selection works. But he was first so he gets credit because that’s how we roll with science. Evolution is a thing like gravity is a thing. We don’t call gravity Newtonism. If I drop my pencil it still falls to the ground whether I believe it will or not. And that flu virus will continue to mutate and change with each generation whether or not I believe in evolution. It’s so silly to still be having this conversation but it’s still necessary.

  31. Lofty says

    @Azuma Hazuki

    No one worships Darwin.

    Darwin is worshipped for His Magnificent Beard. Nothing to do with That Theory at all.
    Beards Rock in a very primal way.

  32. Rip Steakface says

    Kind of like reading the bible in the voice of Homer Simpson.


    I now have a reason to crack open a Bible.

    “Good Book, here I co- do’h!”

  33. se habla espol says

    I might be a Darwinist. Despite never having been to Australia, I do believe that the capitol of the Northern Territory exists. This is based solely upon references ion books and websites. I do not worship that city, however. am I a Darwinist, or not?

  34. Lofty says

    se habla espol:
    Darwinists don’t worship Darwin, they worship beer, or more specifically, the consumption of said fluid. Viz the Darwin Stubby.

  35. says

    7. Focus on symptoms instead of causes.

    I’m going to take a minute here to take extreme exception to the unequivocal labeling of this as a “shortcoming,” like it only happens because psychiatrists are too dumb to realize they’re supposed to look for causes.

    Unlike the Discovery Institute, which doesn’t do shit to help anybody and exists entirely to disseminate fake knowledge, and even unlike a lot of other pure sciences, which exist entirely to discover and disseminate real knowledge and figure this will cumulatively lead to making it easier to help people (which is certainly true; it is easier to solve a problem if you have accurate information), psychiatry, being a subset of medicine, is part a science (however flawed) and part a service industry. They don’t just have research subjects; they also have patients who have problems and would like those problems alleviated now so they can live their lives. So yes, there’s a lot of focus on finding ways to help psychiatric patients live normal lives ASAP rather than holding up attempts to help them until they understand exactly what’s going on and why. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. When I was suffering major depression in my teens, I didn’t really need my doctors to know what the cause was, I needed them to help me stop feeling so fucking miserable. Reading about the research into the neurology ‘n’ stuff of mood disorders was a fun thing I did to satisfy my intellectual curiosity after I had regained enough energy and functionality to experience things like curiosity again, and to read books without stopping to take a nap after every half-page.

    Where this goes off the rails is, of course, the point where the money comes into it. For-profit drug companies prefer never-ending symptom management to any sort of permanent fixes (if they turn out to be possible), and they also have a vested interest in growing their markets by making sure everyone has a diagnoses or three. Which does a massive disservice to people who actually do have major problems with some aspect of their mental health. More reason for socialized healthcare and publicly-funded research.

  36. Ichthyic says

    You are right – it is a perfect fit.

    any first year pych student could look at that list and tell you what it is immediately:

    projection.

  37. Ichthyic says

    I agree.

    you’re absolutely sure you agree?

    might want to doublecheck that.

  38. Ichthyic says

    Other so-called “biological” diagnoses have similar characteristics. They become “diseases” when they cause symptoms that are a major nuisance to the person who has them.

    sickle cell anemia comes to mind.

  39. Ichthyic says

    Aaaaand I see many, many people have beaten me to it.

    no worries, more the merrier I say.

  40. Azuma Hazuki says

    @35/Akira MacKenzie

    Well…Marx was right when he was just describing the problems.

    The issue is that he then went “Hey, humans suck! Know what I’m gonna do? I’m gonna invent a solution to human suckitude that completely ignores human nature and has massive potential for abuse!”

  41. Ichthyic says

    “Hey, humans suck! Know what I’m gonna do? I’m gonna invent a solution to human suckitude that completely ignores human nature and has massive potential for abuse!”

    he should have just called it “democracy”.

  42. Azuma Hazuki says

    I think what all those systems have in common, from Marxism to whatever Calvinism-inspired abomination passes for American capitalism, is certain assumptions about the purposes of capital, labor, and the economy.

    What, when you get right down to it, is the economy for? What is money for? Why do we labor?

    The obvious answer SHOULD be “for human comfort and advancement.” But globalism seems to have lost the scent. And the tragedy of it all is that it’s all tied to a floating currency now.

    The only value fiat money has is in its velocity, its ability to keep an obligation to perform labor moving. So the economy is stagnating, more than any other reason, because the wealthy are hoarding floating currency. Hoarding it reduces its velocity to zero. It cannot circulate, and the body politic becomes ischemic and stagnant…

    And what will they do, when they have all the fiat money and there’s nothing to spend it on, nothing of value, nothing being produced and nothing to consume?

  43. theignored says

    Sigh…forgot to mention my actual point!

    It’s starting to look like creationism is becoming more and more cult-like: Both scientology and creationism now hate psychiatry, and both claim that anyone who disagrees with their views are heretics.

    I dunno. I just got up. If anyone sees this as off-base, feel free to correct me.

  44. Azuma Hazuki says

    @58/theignored

    It’s all a cult. It’s just been around a lot longer than most cults, and probably had a little more than zero historical truth behind it. What we have today as Christianity bears almost no resemblance to what Jesus taught.

    Sometimes I think this, more than anything, is what will doom the human race to a premature and violent extinction, this amazing ability to fall in line in cults.

  45. unclefrogy says

    they don’t ever expect their readers to think they expect them to be believe and accept what they say as authoritative and therefor true and to be believed without question.
    It is hard to understand what it must be like to be like that and just believe shit because some one says so.

    uncle frogy

  46. Nemo says

    @theignored #57:

    Wouldn’t “compassionate conservatism” be an oxymoron?

    It was George W. Bush’s campaign slogan in 2000.

    And yes, it’s an oxymoron.

  47. Snoof says

    What we have today as Christianity bears almost no resemblance to what Jesus taught.

    An interesting position to take. Is it because you think they’ve been lost (implying nobody knows what they are), or that they’ve been distorted or replaced (implying that they are known today, but for some reason they’re not practiced), or something else?

    Sometimes I think this, more than anything, is what will doom the human race to a premature and violent extinction, this amazing ability to fall in line in cults.

    It’s hardly unique to cults. Authoritarianism takes many forms. (Obligatory reference to Robert Altemeyer here.)

  48. Azuma Hazuki says

    @62/Snoof

    The Council of Nicea for a start. And if Tertullian is to be believed, early church services included a belief in what we now think of as trance and materialization mediumship (see “De Anima”), i.e., spiritism. Not saying it actually happened, just that early services and belief included it.

    I think the core beliefs are still there but badly distorted. Jesus’ morality, ethics, and mentality were clearly apocalyptic, as were Paul’s. But today? Political religion, prosperity gospel, sectarianism and schisms, the Rapture, hugely-complex liturgy…I could go on for ages. What resemblance does this bear to first and second-century Apostolic worship? Where did the Didache, the Shepherd of Hermas, etc go?

    And…yes, Altemeyer’s paper was eye-opening and sobering. There are somethings, once seen, that you can never unsee. Some make you a better person. Some make you a worse one. Some just make you sad. This is one of the latter.

  49. =8)-DX says

    @vaiyt #18

    nobody needs to read Origin today except as a historical document.

    Hey! I read that book! Coming from a layman’s perspective it’s actually a great primer on evolution as well as countering and conclusively disproving (with evidence) almost every creationist argument that has been raised, ever. Also, it’s ellegantly written, I couldn’t help being tickled, thrilled and amazed by many of Darwin’s words.

  50. thumper1990 says

    @Snoof and Azuma Hazuki

    Early Christians almost cerainly followed Jewish dietary laws and Halakha as well. They used to pay the Old Testament a lot more mind than they do these days. These days it’s just something to quote when you want to have a go at teh gayz.

  51. voidhawk says

    Trying to demolish evolution by attacking Darwin is like trying to discredit cartography by attacking 18th century maps.

  52. Ichthyic says

    Hey! I read that book! Coming from a layman’s perspective it’s actually a great primer on evolution as well as countering and conclusively disproving (with evidence) almost every creationist argument that has been raised, ever. Also, it’s ellegantly written, I couldn’t help being tickled, thrilled and amazed by many of Darwin’s words.

    that’s why it’s always on the recommended reading list.

    but vaiyt is technically correct. to understand evolutionary biology, you don’t need to read origins.

    In fact, I never use it as a textbook in any course I have ever taught. I typically tell students to read it AFTER they have an understanding of what the modern theory of evolution looks like.

    I would recommend Futuyma over Darwin any day.

  53. David Marjanović says

    It looks like Ken Ham is finally bringing out the ‘”H-word” for xians who accept science.

    Nunc est bibendum!!!

  54. Snoof says

    Nobody calls modern physics “Einsteinism”.

    Of course not. It’s mostly Planck-Heisenberg-Schrödingerism nowadays.

  55. David Marjanović says

    Planck-Heisenberg-Schrödingerism

    :-) Reminds me of how Lysenko called genetics “Mendelism-Weissmanism-Morganism”.

  56. says

    Re: 35 Akira MacKenzie 16 May 2013 at 2:56 pm (UTC -5)

    Wait… Marx was a wrong? I’m sorry, the massive power that business has over government along with the vast economic gulf between the rich and the poor must be a figment of my imagination.

    He was so wrong, of course, that every modern nation implements the majority of his ideals in various forms.

    Why do they get so focused on guys who thought of this stuff – but didn’t always know how to get here from there – a century and a half ago? They’re important, sure, but they didn’t have the picture we do today.