Beware professional authority

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Although it wasn’t a full, true fisking, my post from Saturday did a fairly decent polemic job on this LA Times article related to mental health, psychological therapists and President Trump.

In thinking further about what I had written, I realized there is at least one more good angle I can take to this article. This angle will be in my quasi-professional status as a communications student, and directly address something of concern I have with the field I am in and the “social sciences” in particular.

Keep the above article in mind, but follow me into a digression about the media and the social sciences.  See the below quote from a communication research text book I have for one of my communication’s classes:

Currently, there are no quality-control standards to regulate the U.S. media’s reporting of opinion polls or surveys. For nearly 50 years the professional survey research community has sought, without success, to have media only report studies with adequate scientific samples, rigorous interviewer training and supervision, satisfactory questionnaire design, public availability of data, and controls on the integrity of survey organizations. Unfortunately, the mass media report both biased, misleading survey results and results from rigorous, professional surveys without distinction. It is not surprising that public confusion regarding and a distrust of all surveys occur. (Neuman, 360)

Note that the logical, professional suggestion is that the media should be guided (even muzzled) by the superior knowledge of the social sciences. This is all logical and reasonable, until you go back and analyze the LA Times article I fisked on Saturday. Two things become obvious from the article:

  1. This article is a good example of the media using the most biased, shocking, misleading information, instead of the most qualitative ones.
  2. This article is also a good example of the social science professionals using their authority inappropriately for personal ends, violating ethical rules of their professions.

Because of that second point, social science  professionals using their authority inappropriately and unethically, I am willing to learn from the professionals (I intend to be one), but I will not grant them unmonitored authority to say what is right.

References

Neuman, W. (2015). Social research methods: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. Noida, India: Dorling Kindersley (India) Pvt .Ltd.

Fitness Update: Sickness interruptus

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In my previous fitness updated I discussed the workup schedule I have for the upcoming 10K and half-marathon races. In today’s post I am going to mention a factor that goofs up the schedule: sickness.

In this past week I developed a cough that started on Wednesday, got worse on Thursday, seemed a little better on Friday. I had gotten my first run of the week in on Tuesday, 3.4 miles, before the cough started. So I waited until Saturday afternoon when the weather was 40 to do my long run of the week: 5.4 miles. I paced it at a solid 6 mph.

I had hoped to pace something above 6.5 — closer to 7 — but as I said to the wife, for these next two races I am less concerned with the speed than just going the distance. I knew I was a little undercharged, so I just wanted to find a pace where I could complete without totally wearing myself out.

So I was somewhat shocked on Sunday afternoon when I had developed a fever. Both the wife and I went into the evening with 100.6 temperatures. So today was taking a sick day from work and heading to the doctor.

The doctor confirmed that the cough was probably started by a virus, and that it had settled somewhat into my chest. It probably isn’t the flu — we had our shots — and besides, the flu usually hits right up front, not sliding in this way. So he put us both on an antibiotic pack, with the diagnosis that there is probably a secondary infection taking advantage of the weakness created by the viral infection. For while antibiotics won’t affect viruses, they should take care of any secondary bacteriological infections.

So, with all this happening just 2 weeks prior to race time, how do I keep to my training schedule, or how do I modify to allow me recovery time, and yet also get the distance endurance I will need for the 10K race coming up?

#169: Holy Spirit, Faithful Guide

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(Part of a series singing through the hymnbook I grew up with: Great Hymns of the Faith)

1

Holy Spirit, faithful Guide, Ever near the Christian’s side;

Gently lead us by the hand, Pilgrim in a dessert land;

Weary souls fore’er rejoice, While they hear that sweetest voice

Whisp’ring softly, “Wand’rer come”Follow Me, I’ll guide thee home.”

2

Ever present, truest Friend, Ever near Thine aid to lend,

Leave us not to doubt and fear, Groping on in darkness drear;

When the storms are raging sore, Hearts grow faint, and hopees give o’er,

Whisper softly, “Wand’rer come”Follow Me, I’ll guide thee home.”

3

When our days of toil shall cease, Waiting still for sweet release,

Nothing left but heav’n and prayer, Knowing that our names are there,

Wading deep the dismal flood, Pleading naught by Jesus’ blood,

Whisper softly, “Wand’rer come”Follow Me, I’ll guide thee home.”

Don’t you dare challenge my narrative …

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Every so often I find myself driven by a desire to forsake my natural tendency for reasoned discourse, for the seeing the merits of both (or multiple) sides of an issue, to finding the benefit of each side even while being able  to disagree with ultimate conclusions. Every so often I find myself driven to write a polemical tirade that blasts an attack upon the inane and idiotic views I find myself faced with, only to find, through lack of use, I don’t have an adequate vocabulary to pen the scathing and withering repartee that I want to write.

(side quote from movie The Wizard of Oz: “Auntie Em: Almira Gulch, just because you own half the county doesn’t mean that you have the power to run the rest of us. For twenty-three years, I’ve been dying to tell you what I thought of you! And now… well, being a Christian woman, I can’t say it!”)

What has burst open my desire for polemic is this article that I was pointed to from the LA Times about what a hard time the presidency of Donald Trump is making for psychological therapists. His election has created panic attacks, insomnia, inability to concentrate at work, fear so palpable it becomes physical pain, among people who opposed him.

Therapists are trained not to reveal their personal beliefs, but one therapist says she will agree with clients now if they say the don’t support Trump, because:

If this were just another session, if this weren’t such a big thing, if this weren’t so evil, I wouldn’t. But I have to stand for what I stand for and that does cross over into politics.

But while the people who opposed Trump are the ones feeling the panic, the hysteria, it is the people who support Trump who fear being harassed if they admit they voted for Trump.

So, a “dispassionate” professional finds herself able to break her professional standards and vilify someone she disagrees with through hyperbole, yet not be concerned that it is the people from her personal persuasion that are creating the hysteria of the mob mentality that crushes all who dare to resist and refute their form of the life narrative.

See the below quote from the article about what one therapist was blaming Trump for:

Trump was normalizing behavior that therapists fight to reverse, including “the tendency to blame others in our lives for our personal fears and insecurities,” he said, and “a kind of hyper-masculinity that is antithetical to the examined life and healthy relationships.”

I find his first comment eminently laughable. All these people with the panic attacks, etc., are doing exactly what he says Trump is doing: they are blaming Trump for their personal fears and insecurities.

There is a video at the top of the article. It is set there in a way that I cannot post a link to it, or embed it. You can do nothing except watch it on the page. And it plays terribly. If you dare pause it you might not be able to get it to start again. I don’t know whether it will still be the same one when you read this post and follow over there, but hopefully it will be.

It is captioned with:

The New York Times published a letter signed by 35 psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers. The letter suggests Trump’s “grave emotional instability… makes him incapable of serving safely as president.” (Feb. 21, 2017)

Which just goes to show what a bit of biased editing and reporting this is. The whole video is intended to fuel the hysteria, not provide any real knowledge or information. It leads with the most sensational and least factual elements. It leads with speculations, assertions by “healthcare professionals” on someone they have never professionally examined. And it never mentions that to even make such a comment linked to their professional credentials is unprofessional.

They leave the most professionally credible comment almost to the end as almost a throw away. Psychiatrist Allen Frances, who helped define narcissism, responded to the letter:

I wrote the criteria that define (narcissistic personality disorder) and Mr. Trump doesn’t meet them. He may be a world class narcissist, but this doesn’t make him mentally ill because he does not suffer from the stress and impairment required to diagnose mental disorder.

And then of course they throw one more unfounded unprofessional red herring assertion of his mental instability at the end so that is the thing people will remember.

What a load of pap by a bunch of weak infant sissies. Can they only take soft foods, fit for babies, unable to meet any sense of stress, resistance, or challenge to their narrative views of the world. (1 Corinthians 3:2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.) Do they need to live forever in their cocoons, instead of taking the strength to break through the protective sheath with the strength of strife to bloom into the joyous potential of the butterflies they could be. Do the enabling therapists of these people realize how they are protecting these people from the one thing that will enable them to truly take mastery of their own lives, and to contribute to the benefit of those around them: the life of strenuous endeavor?

This article reminded me of its great antithesis, that of Teddy Roosevelt and his sense of the strenuous life.  So I will end with the conclusion of a speech he gave more than a century ago, that we have forgotten, and desperately need to remember:

I preach to you, then, my countrymen, that our country calls not for the life of ease but for the life of strenuous endeavor. The twentieth century looms before us big with the fate of many nations. If we stand idly by, if we seek merely swollen, slothful ease and ignoble peace, if we shrink from the hard contests where men must win at hazard of their lives and at the risk of all they hold dear, then the bolder and stronger peoples will pass us by, and will win for themselves the domination of the world. Let us therefore boldly face the life of strife, resolute to do our duty well and manfully; resolute to uphold righteousness by deed and by word; resolute to be both honest and brave, to serve high ideals, yet to use practical methods. Above all, let us shrink from no strife, moral or physical, within or without the nation, provided we are certain that the strife is justified, for it is only through strife, through hard and dangerous endeavor, that we shall ultimately win the goal of true national greatness.

Social Science/Social Engineering

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I am reading for my Social Research Methods class, and came across a section on external and internal validity. It reminded me of a post I did about the true nature of the physical sciences.

They call the social sciences science to try to give them the legitimacy that the physical sciences hold. But just like the promoters of the physical sciences as truth claim for them more than they can, so do the social sciences.

But that wasn’t the exact point I came up with while doing my reading. What I came up with was:

We call these the social sciences, which are lined up to the physical sciences. But actual science, the physical sciences, in the scientific method sense, are all laboratory sciences,  with high internal validity and low external validity (Internal validity means it can predict what happens within the experiment, external is how well that can be applied outside the experiment). It is engineering, not science, that applies to the  natural world and increases the external validity.

The same is true of the social sciences. We use the word science, but it is really more of a social engineering rather than science when we move from the internal to external validity levels.

To link these thoughts to their philosophical roots, look at the first post I mentioned, or this follow-on post I did a few months later (and a year ago exactly) on a similar part of the topic.

#168: Even Me

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(Part of a series singing through the hymnbook I grew up with: Great Hymns of the Faith)

1

Lord, I hear of show’rs of blessing

Thou art scatt’ring full and free;

Shaw,rs the thirsty land refreshing —

Let some drops now fall on me.

REFRAIN

Even me, even me

Let Thy blessing fall on me.

2

Pass me not, O tender Savior!

Let me love and cling to Thee;

I am longing for Thy favor –

Whilst Thou’rt calling, O call me.

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3

Pass me not, O mighty Spirit!

Thou canst make the blind to see;

Witnesser of Jesus’ merit,

Speak the word of pow’r to me.

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4

Love of God so pure and changeless,

Blood of Christ so rich and free,

Grace of God so strong and boundless;

Magnify them all in me.

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5

Pass me not! Thy lost one bringing,

Bind my heart, O Lord, to Thee;

While the streams of life are springing,

Blessing others, O bless me.

REFRAIN