Disenchantment with science

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Mojo

Disenchantment with science

Post by Mojo »

Following on from the "Looking for evidence" topic in the Primal Therapy section, and the "Religious backlash against Science" topic in this section, I came across an interesting article about the "The disenchantment with science" by Svein Sj?berg, a professor of science education at the Universities of Oslo and Copenhagen. He discusses the reluctance of children to choose science subjects in schools in Norway and most other OECD-countries. The article is in English.

These are the section headings in the article:
  • Selfish scientists?
  • Little room for curiosity
  • Shattered ideals?
  • The values of science
  • Mad scientists
  • Simple analysis generates simple solutions
  • Major Swedish initiative
  • Broadening the perspective
  • Ways forward
  • Culture and democracy
School science is overloaded with theory and 'correct answers' to questions that children never ask. The science presented in schools and tertiary institutions seldom encourages students to be critical and to challenge authority. Rather -- they are conditioning the learner to be uncritical and to accept authority. There is seldom room for independent investigations, critical thinking and scepticism. In most science teaching, philosophical implications and historical examples are at best anecdotal ornamentation -- at worst considered undesired and irrelevant babble. Students with an attraction to these aspects of science are likely to be frustrated with the science they encounter in schools and higher education.
He says this of pupils who are attracted to the natural sciences:
These pupils may be attracted by the historical accounts of how the daring thoughts of scientists challenged power and authority, secular as well as religious. They have heard about scientists who had to suffer for their heretical ideas. They have also read about scientists who obtained knowledge that was used to improve people's life. But alas, although this image of science may have been a defendable at earlier times in history, it is hardly a proper image of current science! Science has lost its innocence and its glory long ago, first in Hiroshima, later on various battlefields as well as in everyday life.

Today, the image is close to the opposite:

Almost all the suffering in the world is blamed on science and technology. Rightly or wrongly. Pollution, the ruthless exploitation of natural resources, the abuse of the environment. And the persons involved in science are not seen as anti-authoritarian heroes any longer. Scientists are seen to be in the pocket of industry, the state or the military. They are no longer considered brave and independent, but rather to be obedient servants for who-ever pays them. Perhaps not only a misunderstanding?
He says the ideals of science imply that it is impersonal and objective, that the researchers maintain a distance from what they study, that they remain cold and rational, and that this is how science is communicated in textbooks:
As we can see, emotions, personal involvement and subjectivity have little place in the emerging image of science. If this ethos is seen to characterize not only science as an activity, but also scientists as persons, we are in trouble. If this happens, the battle to catch the souls and the minds of young people is lost -- very few would like to acquire the personal traits of this 'typical' scientist.
He noted how children describe their image of scientists through responses to questionnaires:
Scientists are assigned 'positive' traits such as being intelligent, accurate and hard working. What is worse is that they are regarded as selfish, boring, unimaginative and authoritarian, particularly the physicists and engineers.
He believes the way scientific institutions (not necessarily every individual scientist) try to convey the value of science is patronising:
They often believe the causes to be intellectual laziness, ignorance or lack of information. The solution becomes as simple as the analysis: We, the scientists, have to "enlighten" the unenlightened, make the blind see. We also have to become better at communicating our knowledge and our research. The task then becomes the creation of campaigns, which can get people to realise their ignorance and understand that scepticism and doubt are only based on ignorance and misunderstandings. With this sort of basis you are doomed to fail.
This is what he sees as the obstacle to improving the situation:
In arguing for science as part of education, we have focussed on practical utility of science knowledge, and we have tried to transfer as much as possible of this knowledge to the reluctant student. This has been justified by
emphasising the practical value of this knowledge. But this argument does not hold water. In everyday life, we hardly make use of knowledge about fermions, genes or covalent bonds. It is almost impudent to claim that pure knowledge of the natural sciences will help people in everyday modern life. Nowadays 10-year-olds who do not know any science theory quickly learn to use personal computers, remote controls and mobile telephones -- while scientists may fumble...
He notes that the cultural, philosophical, social and humanistic qualities of natural sciences are hardly mentioned in school textbooks. He says the answer may be to rewrite the curricula for Science & Technology. His concultion?
Above all, any improvement requires that S&T professionals and academics accept that the problem is their own problem...
*Mojo*

brucew
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2005 2:01 am

Post by brucew »

What point are you trying to make by posting this, Mojo?

Bruce

Guest

Post by Guest »

That's a fair question. It probably does help to spell it out. This post was an afterthought to some of the points I made in the "Religious backlash against Science" topic. I posted a link to an article about dumb science reporting in the media from the Guardian newspaper site. The link seems to have disappeared, so here it is again:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/life/badscien ... 69,00.html

Hard science consists of research findings which can be reliably replicated many times over. Much of what gets reported in the media tends to be exaggerated claims about tentative provisional findings. What turns out to be 'solid' science is really a retrospective accumulation of findings that survived Karl Popper's "falsifiability" criterion.

The warning signs of bimbo science reporting in newspapers are phrases like "strong candidates", "likely to influence", "might also provide support for...". How many of the authors of press releases exaggerate the portent of their findings in the hope of obtaining more funding?

The peer review system for journals isn't perfect either. Check out this paper which appeared in Cognitive Therapy and Research (Vol.1:2, 1977): An Experimental Study of Confirmatory Bias in the Peer Review System.

http://www.stern.nyu.edu/~wstarbuc/Writing/Prejud.htm

In August 2005, New Scientist magazine published an article titled "Most scientific papers are probably wrong":

http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn7915

There's also a premium content article titled "Scientists confess their experimental sins":

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg18625033.400.html

So my point is that science is not a 'pure' activity, devoid of bias. Findings that stand the test of time are the most reliable.

Just in case Shelley reads this, I made a mental note of the article she recommended from Skeptical Inquirer magazine titled "Is Evolutionary Psychology a Pseudoscience?" It's now available online:

http://www.highbeam.com/library/docfree ... :142683388

The author is Massimo Pigliucci, a professor of evolutionary biology (plant genetics) at the State University of New York.

* Mojo *

Shelley

Post by Shelley »

Hi Mojo. Thanks for the link.

Shelley

brucew
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2005 2:01 am

Post by brucew »

Mojo,

You seem to go to great lengths to try and discredit science as a method of reality testing, and I still don't get your point, especially with regard to primal therapy.

Are you criticizing science per se, or bad science? Or are you saying that many things -- including primal therapy -- cannot be substantiated scientifically because they cannot be quantified? Personally, I think primal can be studied scientifically and it will be the only thing that will make the professional world sit up and take notice, rather than viewing it as some woo-woo therapy out of the crazy 60s.

Certainly, one cannot scientifically prove that a primal is truly a primal, although brain imaging may be able to do that in the future. (Actually, science cannot prove anything, as Popper said. It can only fail to disprove.)

But there are some good qualitative study designs which could do much to reveal the efficacy (or lack thereof) of primal.

For example, see:

http://www.ktl.fi/tto/hps/index.en.html

Imagine primal therapy as the fourth arm with one major addition to the outcome scales -- physiological measures.

Bruce
Last edited by brucew on Thu Oct 05, 2006 7:46 am, edited 2 times in total.

Mojo

Post by Mojo »

> Are you criticizing science per se, or bad science?
Mojo wrote:So my point is that science is not a 'pure' activity, devoid of bias. Findings that stand the test of time are the most reliable.
Personally, I do believe there are feelings and other subjective experiences that can't be substantiated scientifically. Not because they cannot be quantified, but because quantifying them doesn't explain them adequately.
Bruce wrote:Personally, I think primal can be studied scientifically and it will be the only thing that will make the professional world sit up and take notice...
In 1975, in Primal Man, Michael Holden presented physiological data as scientific evidence for the efficacy of primals. In 1991, New Primal Scream described immunological research with Professor Steven Rose -- although later, in another book, Steven Rose said he obtained similar results with other therapy methods. In 1996, Janov presented Erik Hoffmann's brain mapping research. Ten years have gone by since then. What does it take to make the professional world sit up and take notice?

Tomas Videgard's independent research at the Primal Institute in the early 80's, published under the title The Success and Failure of Primal Therapy, showed that primal therapy was marginally more effective than psychoanalytic therapy:

http://www.primal-page.com/success.htm

Science is an activity which advances as the result of the application of cognitive faculties. Feelings are something else. Feelings and emotions come from our limbic heritage. Someone on the PPP once suggested that Janov makes a big deal out of science because he knows that a lot of his potential customers are geeks. People who are out-of-sync with their feelings may need external criteria to assist them with reality testing. In a reply in another topic I quoted from a book about the psychobiology of love. Neurological research shows that love is what heals:

http://www.freepgs.com/primalforum/foru ... hp?t=12#51

To be quite frank, Janov's flag waving over 'primal science' looks like a sales pitch to neurotics.
Otherwise it's my words against your words, my theory against your theory. Philosophers arguing how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.
When I reach the 'post-primal' state I probably won't give a damn about what philosophers or theoreticians argue about between themselves.

* Mojo *

Guest

Post by Guest »

These points make sense to me. I think that since the human brain and socialization is so complex, whatever can be used to shed more light on what's going on ( and what people need to feel better and to be "real") is important. Any new point of view is a win. When you bring up "love" I think this is perhaps the most important of all....this is the height of successful socialization and being "natural". To have love I need self....and thus contact with my feelings. Once I have all my feelings ( or a great deal of them) I am less likely to be projective, and see things for what they really are. But could love be measured via good dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin function? Some would say yes.

I have to agree on the hype. For some reason that rings true. When Janov said on a radio program "If you've got a lot of insomnia, you've likely got a lot of birth trauma". Whoops. Geeks might be going for as much science as possible, and people who can't sleep ( and are in pain) are easily manipulated to conclude "there might be an answer here". Those kinds of comments seem to be unethical. Also, let's not forget that science has shown that insomnia is a detox crisis ( VanWinkle). Detox crisises can in large part be attributed to fight or flight suppression in early life. Maybe during the birth process? Maybe both. But imagine someone with sleep problems due to fight or flight suppression, and they're looking deeply into birth issues. The box is rather open ....and that is what science ( to me ) should be all about. Generating curiosity...challenging...not making too many conclusions ( as tempting as it is).

Nobody has "the" answer....not science, not anyone. I think the primal field tends to focus on the idea of having more answers in science than they really do.

With primal therapy, it seems as if the more you look for...the more questions you find. Look at VanWinkle's discovery and claim that RST is post-primal. How many people would even consider that? And it's backed up by LOTS of science.


See the research paper:
http://www.redirectingselftherapy.com/toxicmind.html

What else don't we know?

John

Mojo

Post by Mojo »

I agree with what you say. The reason the book about the psychobiology of love made a big impression on me was because it presents scientific evidence to support the idea that processing disrupted feelings is the path to psychological health. It's what Arthur Janov, Ellie Van Winkle and others have been saying all along. What I am suspicious of is the idea that there are exclusive neural mechansms that apply exclusively to Arthur Janov's version of primal therapy.

Until about ten years ago, emotions and feelings were largely ignored by academic psychologists and neuroscientists -- even though they have a longer evolutionary pedigree than cognitive faculties. The good news is that neuroscientists have realized that they can't build an adequate picture of how the mind works without studying emotions and feelings at a deeper level than just the basics of limbic anatomy and a handful of neurotransmitters. Like you say, the box is rather open because we are at the beginning of a new era in neuroscience.

Reviews of A General Theory of Love at Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/General-Theory-Lo ... 375709223/

* Mojo *

Mojo

Post by Mojo »

I originally posted this topic as a follow up to the "Religious backlash against Science" topic. Why has the campaign to teach 'Intelligent Design' in schools received so much support, and why now? As I said in the original topic, I think the backlash is because evolutionary psychology is being presented by academics as a legitimate branch of science. Unlike evolutionary biology, where genome changes can be mapped between related species of plants and animals, theories about how behavior patterns evolved are pure armchair speculation. It isn't possible to conduct definitive experiments on humans on an evolutionary timescale.

In August 2000, The Christian Science Monitor wrote a favorable review of a book about Darwin's theory of evolution. The article is no longer on their site, but you can read it here:

http://www.geocities.com/wbuecher/moraldarwinism.htm
Christian Science Monitor wrote:Suppose you were on a prime-time quiz show and were asked: "What did Charles Darwin see as the prime motivating force in human evolution? (1) survival of the fittest, (2) natural selection, (3) the 'selfish gene,' (4) the moral sense."

Most likely you wouldn't make it to No. 4 before pushing the button. But alas, your run would end there, because the answer is "the moral sense," according to a rather astonishing and provocative new book by psychologist, system scientist, and evolution theorist David Loye.
One day, by chance, David Loye came across a CD-ROM version of Charles Darwin's The Descent of Man (1871) which provided a word search facility. He did some word counts looking for words you would expect to find according to the evo-psych interpretation of human evolution. Here is what he found in the 898 pages of very small print in Descent of Man:

"Survival of the fittest" - used 2 times
"Competition" - 9 times
"Selfish" and "selfishness" - 12 times

He then tried word counts for some of the qualities most feeling people would have wished Darwin had written about. Again, here are the results:

"Love" - 95 times
"Moral sensitivity" and "morality" - 92 times
"Sympathy" - 61 times
"Mutual", "mutuality", "mutual aid" - 24 times

You can read David Loye's story here:

http://www.deepleafproductions.com/utop ... arwin.html

And reviews at Amazon here:

http://www.amazon.com/Darwins-Lost-Theo ... 595001319/

I suspect it hasn't become a bestseller because the book is written in a rather tedious style. Or maybe evo-psych supporters just don't want to know.

* Mojo *

Guest

Post by Guest »

I think there is something to learn in the "moral" argument. Some good stuff gets broken along the way, and it's the reason why a lot of evolutionary theorists don't want to take the journey. So, skipping ahead...and not getting caught in the black hole of evolution vs. morality, why not look straight away into the nature of man ( which draws from both): A being who lives in the eternal moment. The present ( what feeling connects us to). The feeling human ( man or woman) is clearly getting washed over by more than just the "evolutionary" paradigm. Identity is bigger than that. I believe man is far more important than the "chronological" perspective and "body identity". Yes, these things do provide a window onto some of what we are, but it's incomplete. The Christian Science people are simply trying to make this point. It does however require ( in doing this) forays into things like "morality" and "altruism" and "selfishness" which in themselves can be very weak arguments. They're not as necessary as one might think, and it's not only Christian scientists that need to make the argument. As someone participating in 12 step process I think I could make that argument ( against evolution as our exclusive identity) too. It's really an excellent topic because it ties all aspects of identity together ( as long as the discussion doesn't get too polarized).

I mean in the last few months I learned about the all-important evolutionary driver of status in human behaviour. Without going down back into the predictable arguments, I can for a moment simply say that status is there...and it is operating in human behaviour. Does that mean I now have to become a rabid evolutionary theorist and debunk spirituality? It's the opposite. I can use what I've learned to help me go CLOSER to spiritual concepts ( thinking like a 12 stepper). Especially ( and really almost exclusively) given that the more I like myself, the more others like themselves. And that this is the highest status of all. And the highest "attraction point". I'm going to have a lot more possibility of really good genetic material in the human gene pool if I'm a deeply spiritual person ( so it means I DO think spirituality is a driver in evolution).

And isn't primal therapy about getting to more of my identity? I can ( in the context here) now go into evolutionary concepts and see myself having a healthier mate and stronger genes due to being what Christian Scientists call "moral". Putting that aside for a moment, I can instead just use my term: Spiritual. It's a broader definition Being spiritual ( to me) means finding my deepest identity ( connecting to self..thus a Higher Power) ....and that is something that makes me VERY powerful in the human community in a biological sense.

Once again, love is the driver in evolution.

John

brucew
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2005 2:01 am

Post by brucew »

Mojo,

I still think you are missing the point. I am talking about doing a study to show that primal therapy produces measureable psychological and physiological OUTCOMES, not to prove that primal feelings are real. There is an internal consistency to the therapy which anyone who?s had deep feelings recognizes, although I agree with Shelley that Janov?s theory is difficult to confirm scientifically. Most of us have taken it on faith that he?s right, but there are competing theories based on implicit memory and conditioning theory which are equally as viable.

See: http://www.psych.utah.edu/people/faculty/fogel/ and download the article, ?Remembering Infancy.?

For those who have felt their primal pain, there is no need of scientific substantiation, but for the non-feeling left brainers in the world of psychology, it is necessary.

Bruce
Last edited by brucew on Thu Oct 05, 2006 7:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

Mojo

Post by Mojo »

Bruce wrote:I am talking about doing a study to show that primal therapy produces measureable psychological and physiological OUTCOMES, not to prove that primal feelings are real.
Properly controlled outcome studies are fine. I haven't read Professor Steven Rose's book The 21st Century Brain, so I don't know whether his research findings concerning immunological changes after psychotherapy have been published in peer-reviewed journals. In another topic I provided a link to a review of conventional psychotherapy outcome studies.

In his early books Janov made scathing remarks about psychologists in general that made him appear even more hostile towards them than my remarks about evolutionary psychologists. As his early books were bestsellers, his name and his therapy method would have been known to the editors of peer-reviewed journals in the 1970's. I think that may have something to do with why he couldn't get research papers published. It doesn't help that he makes bold and sweeping conclusions far beyond the data. I would still ask the question: "If Janov is not making a big deal out of science to appeal to potential clients, who is he doing it for?" It hasn't got him very far with the scienctific community in the past two decades.

Tomas Videgard's independent outcome study showed that primal therapy was marginally more effective than psychoanalytic therapy. In your topic "Science and primal therapy," Chucky Chuckster spelled out the kind of experimental design that would make the professional world sit up and take notice. Do you know of anyone who is in a position to make it happen?

* Mojo *

brucew
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2005 2:01 am

Post by brucew »

The PTSD community is very close to discovering the value of reliving past trauma, although they are still too bogged down in psychoanalytic theory to understand what reliving actually means.

See: http://www.trauma-pages.com/articles.php#onno

Download van der Hart's paper, "Abreaction re-evaluated."

The irony in all this is that research from other quarters is confirming the reality of early life and prenatal imprints. Memory researchers are confirming that we can "remember" our life in the womb, not as explicit memories, but as implicit or participatory memories (see the Fogel paper I linked to in my previous message).

But it will be left to some bold scientist in the future to do the studies that will either confirm or refute the therapy. My belief is it will make it evolve.

Bruce
Last edited by brucew on Thu Oct 05, 2006 7:51 am, edited 2 times in total.

Mojo

Post by Mojo »

The irony in all this is that research from other quarters is confirming the reality of early life and prenatal imprints.
What I don't really understand is why research that confirms Janov's theoretical framework is not good enough unless it specifically mentions his proprietary brand of therapy. I'm not surprised that serious scientists don't want to restrict their field of vision to a single therapy center. It should be clear by now that Arthur Janov has no intention of encouraging training schools elsewhere.

The Van der Hart paper is PDF document. I don't download PDF documents for the same reason as Bernard mentioned in another post. If scientists want to reach a wider audience via a website they would be wise to save their documents in HTML format.

* Mojo *

Mojo

Post by Mojo »

I agree with your comments about the limitations of EEG and fMRI. Brain scan researchers are like kids with a new toy. Far too much is being extrapolated from MRI scans. William R. Uttal, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Michigan, wrote a book specifically about this problem: The New Phrenology (MIT Press, 2001). He also wrote an online essay, On the Limits of Localization of Cognitive Processes in the Brain, based on the book. It's around 1400 words:

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/psychology/c ... Uttal.html
William Uttal wrote:We have gone through a series of physiological measures including, the galvanic skin response, the electroencephalograph, and the evoked brain potential, each of which promised to provide a material key to understanding mental activity.
... ...
Now there is another entry in the search for a metaphorical model. The availability of the PET and fMRI scanning procedures in the last decade has once again excited psychologists.
... ...
The entire scanning-cognition effort is based upon the assumption that mental processes or modules are actually localized in particular regions of the brain. However, there is abundant evidence that this may be a misreading of the data. The brain is a highly interconnected, redundant, and nonlinear system that is more likely to use a distributed representation scheme than a highly localized one.
I already have Adobe Reader 6.0 installed on my PC. There are several reasons why I prefer not to download PDF documents. In the past I have had the experience of downloading a half megabyte PDF only to find that it contains a mere 500 words -- the rest taken up with fancy logos and graphics. Other times it turns out the document is book length -- far more than I would want to read -- and trauma-pages.com doesn't specify the size of it's documents. If important information isn't available from any other source one can link to Google's cached version of the document. Or even better, as I discovered from Ian Copeland's posts, MSN cached versions, because they are are formatted better. Jakob Nielsen is the leading expert on web usability. It's worth alerting your colleagues to what he has to say about PDF's on websites:

http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20030714.html

* Mojo *

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