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A Little Poisoning Along the Road to ME/CFS
Looking at my symptoms, many of which are far less these days and some are gone, it would be easy to figure that I'd just been dealing with some heavy-duty menopausal issues.
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[my thoughts] Benefits of outsider critical analysis

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS Discussion' started by Esther12, Sep 17, 2012.

  1. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    Not sure which forum to put this in to. I was just reading this from a Professor of mathematics, and it made me think of psychosocial approaches to medicine, and the lack of concern about them there is from those within the field. I'm sure things like this have been discussed before, but it was interesting to have it promoted so positively here:

    Pretty much the only academics who have looked closely at a lot of psychosocial work are those who want to make a career out of psychosocial approaches to medicine. They will tend to know other workers in the field personally, and build social bonds with them. They will tend to feel similar to them, and trust them as part of a shared community. None of this is good for an honest pursuit of truth imo.

    Years ago I was discussing Freud with an academic, and they were saying that they thought Freudian approaches will never be picked apart internally, as those with the deepest understanding of Freud's theories and approaches will be those with the deepest interests in maintaining respect for his work. Instead, future generations will simply become less interested in learning about his work, so it will fade away. I wasn't impressed, and felt that anyone making money from Freudian approaches also had a responsibility to try to pick them apart and make sure that they were reasonable - which was probably highly dysfunctional of me.
     
    Merry and currer like this.
  2. user9876

    user9876 Senior Member

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    That can be a very big problem for research and academics often work in very closed worlds. I've known different groups of mathematicians who won't talk to each other because they back different approaches to a problem.

    One of the nice things about this forum is that people come from a wide range of different backgrounds and hence pull in different points and experiences when looking at papers.

    I suspect the psychosocial approach is a bit of an academic back water hence the very poor standard of research. The quality of their methodology and the logic behind their arguments as well as the way they look at results is all very poor. What has surprised me is some of the statisticians that work with them don't seem to glance a critical eye over the work. I think logicians I know would be shocked at some of wesselys articles.

    From my own background I'm an IT researcher and have always had the most fun when pulling together people from different subjects. It can be challenging when working with people from different subjects but it also leads to creativity. So I've ended up working with mathematicians, psychologists, economists, criminologists, geophysicisits and lawyers. From what I see of some of the research councils in the UK they are keen on multidisciplinary research - but I've not had anything to do with the MRC. One of the attempts to bring together different subjects was in doctral research centers where PhD students were recruited from a wide range of subjects and then spend the first year doing courses in different areas. I think their is a crime centre in UCL (London) and a complex systems centre in Bristol.

    One of the real problems with a small static research community is that they train their own people. That is those doing PhDs do them within the research community. This means they are never exposed to techniques from the wider world and just internalise the techniques rather than look at them critically. This can be particularly bad in back water areas which don't attract the brightest most inquisative people.
     
    alex3619 likes this.
  3. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    This ties in with some things I have said about academic criticism. Functional somatic syndromes are a very small area, and most outside that field do not want to engage in serious debate, nor do they have the time or incentive. So there is very little criticism. So it does not get any course corrections. If its heading off the deep end its very hard to see that from inside the discipline.

    They also practice verificationism to the exclusion of critical rationalism. This means their main method of advancing evidence is to gather supporting evidence, and dissenting evidence is ignored or downplayed. So they can get caught in a trap of only hearing apparently confirming evidence from their peers. They do not get to deal with the full range of disconfirming evidence.

    It also fits with a growing opinion I have that most of them really believe what they are saying. From an outside perspective its hard to recognize that, but the bias from within their field is so strong they cannot see the problem. Since the problem can't be them (cognitive dissonance), it follows it must be someone else. That is why the advocate community sometimes get scapegoated.

    This is not to claim that everyone is a believer. It just means its very hard to separate believers from agents of special interests who do not believe. Of course the best people a special interest can recruit are those who fully believe in their cause anyway.

    Bye, Alex
     
  4. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    Yeah, it reminded me of a few things I'd seen people here write. I thought it was interesting to have it presented in such a positive way - I guess that mathematics is an area were objectivity and proof is often easier to find, so the problems of this approach are less likely to occur.
     
  5. user9876

    user9876 Senior Member

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    I think this is ofteh described as groupthink

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupthink

    Where a group of people self reinforce each other.

    I quite liked this blog posting on the subject

    http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2008/05/whats_wrong_with_research_in_p.html
     
  6. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    Hi user9876, groupthink can be a real issue for any group. We are in danger of it too on PR, or any other community driven media. Like minds join and reinforce each other. Our primary defence against this is twofold: first, we all come from highly diverse backgrounds before getting sick. Second, PR has a very broad range of opinions. Thats important. A forum where all believe the same thing may not be sufficienty self critical to avoid groupthink.

    Compare that to CBT/GET proponents. Most have a huge psych background - a narrow viewpoint. What is the range of educational institutions they come from? Has anyone even looked to see if they have degrees from a very small number of institutions? Most are from the UK. Its a very in-group to start with.

    Bye, Alex

    PS Nice article and commentaries you linked to, user9876.
     
    merylg likes this.

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