Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pseudoscience in Psychology

Pseudoscience definitions and characteristics

To define pseudoscience and provide the reader with some prospective I will make available a large number of good links. While (remember 72%) of clinical practitioners do not seem to read or have knowledge about reading scientific articles.  Frequently they will say that scientific evidence is available but will not sight the reference, or if there is available research (which frequently exist) they will reinterpret or add a lot of wishful thinking that is not stated in the studies, journal article, etc.  Frequent misinterpretation seem to be the biggest culprit.  Around October of 2009 (and I am sure he has done it numerous other times) Mr. Robert Marty Butcher a Florida License Clinical Social Worker. SW# 3113 who lectured [I think he likes to hear himself talk] (Mr. Butcher is no longer at the treatment center, all though he continuous to be employed by Miami-Dade County in spite of his questionable character and competency) one day stood in front of his patients and announced he was going to discuss "Self Esteem", for the first time during 5 month he stated that there was vast research in Self Esteem. Which is true, there are over 15,500 studies done mostly in the United States.  However, when he stated lecturing, I had to roll my eyes, as he began to speak in psychobabble and asserting that Self Esteem was correlated with alcoholism, addition, criminal activities etc.  None of it being true, and he just made it up with the help of a lot of Pop Psychology he probably read somewhere but never double checked the sources. As a good Clinical Practitioners, he is likely to know about science what we as a whole know about Neurosurgery.

This is an old experiment for which many professionals have heard in the 1970 and thru even today it is tought in ethics courses and much have been done since. Eventhough many psychological evaluators have been found not to change their diagnososis no matter how much new information is given to the evaluator.  
This and other judgement call are found in Dr. Howard Garb's "Studing the Clinician". Once a diagnosis is pronouce by a psychiatrist type, he rare if ever changes the diagnosis even when evidence of diffrernt syptoms or conditioons are shown to the evaluator.

This of couse is not the only issue of pseudoscience found in psychological allied professions, many examples can be found through out current practices. Specially in substance use treatment, and many conditions are not treated even though there is evidence that for example providing clean syranges to active hroing or IV drug users do stop the stread of aids.

Pseudoscience is a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status.[1] Pseudoscience is often characterized by the use of vague, exaggerated or unprovable claims, an over-reliance on confirmation rather than rigorous attempts at refutation, a lack of openness to evaluation by other experts, and a general absence of systematic processes to rationally develop theories.
(source Wikipedia )1  I strongly suggest you read the Wikipedia's article on Pseudoscience as it does make a good about all of pseudoscience issues, but specially makes good points about pseudoscience in the psychological allied professions.

Understanding pseudoscience vs. Honest Ethical Psychological Science is dominant and  in understanding that what we currently receive for mental health and substance use treatment is very pervasive and frequently useless. Not just in treatment and assessment of people who need and/or require this services, but also in the laws and policies that govern the United State.  Please understand that this is not a problem of every practitioner. That is why I make the distinction between the clinical practitioners and the clinical scientists. It is this distinction that consumers must understand for your time and money.

Pseudo psychology can be thought of as unsupported information or even superstition, which is passed off as being scientific fact. One of the best examples of pseudo psychology can be found in self-help books. While these books promise many ways that a person can make their lives better, lose weight or any number of things, rarely are they ever supported by any kind of fact or real proven information. Of course, these books are sold in the millions, and people turn to their advice almost everyday, although the actual amount of help that these books offer is minimal, and sometimes they can do more harm than good.

Pseudo psychology is, after all, 'fake' psychology by definition. Calling something pseudo psychology only indicates that the material does not adhere to the standards of psychology as a formal scientific, academic or practice-based discipline. We are all familiar with people or materials in various media that make use of 'psycho-babble' to sell products, philosophies or improvement regimens. These materials do sell, though, even if to a small degree because people have a sense of the possible, and many people do gain insight and possibly some real help by using them.

On the other hand, consumers must always be wary, especially when these materials give advice that could have important consequences. There is an example from the news several years ago of a popular sex therapist putting birth control information in a book that, if followed, would give the opposite outcome than that suggested in the book. I believe a lawsuit was brought against the author when things backfired for a reader. When questioned about it, the author (not an MD) said that anyone using these methods should of course consult an expert. Funny... It seems that is what people thought they were doing when they bought the book...
I truly welcome your questioning everything I write in this blog, inquiry about my work is important, both from professionals and from consumers.  We can no longer act as passive participants, and should just accept "trust us we are experts".  Given that most clinical practitioners have be en proving to know extremely little about science.  I am in agreement with many clinical scientist that state that at least in the psychological allied professions, one needs to be a scientist first and then a clinician.  For too long clinicians for the most part have been ignoring the science behind their practice.  They practice by their pure personal agreement with each other and not by the science that is the foundation of their field.  Too frequently they make decisions and judgments based on what is convenient to them and not on the nature of the phenomenon that lead to the effectiveness and safety for the conditions for which the patients come to treatment.

I am not implying that all of what is being done in the psychological allied profession is bogus and fraudulent. No there is some very good work that some clinical scientist are doing, even some practitioners, but the institutional intentional abuse of authority, bad faith and unethical practice specially by the 12 Step Programs assigned to the Miami Dade County area of South Florida (and most likely around the country) is way too insidious and openly hostile toward patients who questions THEIR OWN TREATMENT.   Neither the Department of Children and Family, the licensing boards nor the local or national associations of professions have proven to me not to be protecting patients against the quackery that is too frequently present in treatment.  There way to much conflict of interest, we consumers do not pay membership dues nor licensing fees.  We are really way at the bottom of the pecking order when in fact services should be provided to the patients.  Treatment is not about the practitioners, it is about the patients.  The patients should always be available for treatment;  what should never be allowed in treatment is the quackery and unethical behavior currently in existence in many treatment facilities in South Florida.  Patients need to stop feeling guilty and ashamed, outcome is always the responsibility of the clinicians and their skills.  If you have been discharged from treatment, specially if it has been the past 5 years or so, and you know that you were not treated fairly. No matter what your Clinical Notes say (they are usually written to cover their ass and not to provide treatment in the best interest of the patient.  They probably stated a hostile vigilance against you and documented information to meet their needs and not of the patients. Many of these old tricks can be questioned.  You ought to have the clinical notes evaluated.   You do have the right to get copies of all of your file.  Based on the HIPAA Federall law and under the Civil Rights you can make complains to the federal government when your consent and privacy law be vioated.

Read more in a web page I find it helpful to help us recognize pseudoscience as a whole.  After a while one begins to recognize that science is science and the human category of different field as psychology or biology, and neuropsychology for example is only but a way of categorizing and organise.  Given that science all the same science what you begin to recognized is continuity, as a science develop one will find categories so what one finds to be true in Biology for example, you will also find it to be true in Neruoscience and true in Cognitive Psychology and so on. Is like on science is the continuation of another or one will find partiy or equal infromation in other spystems of information. So do not be surprices (or at least b

A book review for the lay patient is on Crazy Therapiest yes there are some aound that got attracted to the field by their own sense of suffering, but they forgot that therapy is not about them, but it is always about the patients. Always, and I mean always.

Other definitions include:  a system of theories, assumptions, and methods erroneously regarded as scientific 2

Distinguishing between proper science and pseudoscience is sometimes difficult. One popular proposal for demarcation between the two is the falsification criterion, most notably contributed to by the philosopher Karl Popper. In the history of pseudoscience it can be especially hard to separate the two, because some sciences developed from pseudosciences. An example of this is the science chemistry, which traces its origins to the pseudoscience alchemy. (Wikipedia 6th Paragraph).

In the mid-20th century Karl Popper put forth the criterion of falsifiability to distinguish science from non-science.[23] Falsifiability means that a result can be disproved. For example, a statement such as "God created the universe" may be true or false, but no tests can be devised that could prove it either way; it simply lies outside the reach of science. Popper used astrology and psychoanalysis as examples of pseudoscience and Einstein's theory of relativity as an example of science. He subdivided non-science into philosophical, mathematical, mythological, religious and/or metaphysical formulations on the one hand, and pseudoscientific formulations on the other, thought he did not provide clear criteria for the differences.


All of the information below on the characteristics of pseudoscience are taken from Wikipedia and
Wiki which has consistently proven to me their credability, validity and reliability

Characteristics of pseudoscience

Fraudulent Psychiatric Diagnoses - 1 of 3

Fraudulent Psychiatric Diagnoses - 2 of 3

Fraudulent Psychiatric Diagnoses - 3 of 3

Characteristics, how to identify it and examples of such problems in Clinical Psychology and other allied professions.

One frequently use, specially in court cases. Most of this so called experts (and a good number of judges) put all of the suppose expertise in years of experience, education and suppose certifications and licenses. While it is true that for most professions this three characteristics may prove expertise in the long run.  For most cases people in the help and health related professions don't have the quantitative objective evidence like a blood test, X Rays, and other diagnosis devises. For engineering and carpentry for example, they have
very precise rules and measuring devices to see the consistency and integrate of a structure. 

Not noticeable is that psychology do not have such test device while it appear to be so.  For example a testing device such as the MMPI (the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory) which have been around for over 50 or 60 years and have been substantially researched and studies for thousands of studies.  If you were to drill (and you would be knowledgeable) the majority of Clinical Psychologist who claim to understand the MMPI. You would know that they will bearly be familiar with the manual, scoring system and the interpreting scoring.  Not enough for the kinds of claims clinicians usually in courts, hearings or the diagnosis that are usually  required to match the treatment the patients needs.  Way too many of their decisions and judgements are made on Confirmations Biases (substantially studied, but ignoreded by practitioners)


1 Wikipedia

2  Merrit-Webster website

Karl Popper goes back to the Vienna Group going back to early to mid 1800 during the time of Sigmund Fraude (Freud). With great influence in on the philosophy of science.  If you like to learn about science concepts and philosophy and the require knowledge of distinguish good science I strongly recommend Karl Popper, Dr. Paul Meehl (from University of Minnesota and one of the developers of the
Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory), the late  Dr. Robyn Dawes from Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA, and Dr. Scott Lilienfeld from Emory University in Atlanta. My experience with them have not only been intelectually stimulating, but have tough me in the past 3 years about science what I did not know from other past 40 years after graduating with my first masters degree in 1978.  Specially to Dr. Lilienfeld and Dawes I will be eternally grateful, even though I am fairly sure they thought they were just doing their job their orientations and leads have always paid off. Only once Dr. Liliefeld "failed" me.  It was actually me who did not explained my question well enough. Turns out the information I was looking for was in one of his articles "Assault in Scientific Mental Health"
3  Popper, KR (1959) "The Logic of Scientific Discovery". The German version is currently in print by Mohr Siebeck (ISBN 3-16-148410-X), the English one by Rutledge publishers (ISBN 0-415-27844-9).

4  Karl R. Popper: Science: Conjectures and Refutations. Conjectures and Refutations (1963), p. 43–86;

"Pseudoscientific - pretending to be scientific, falsely represented as being scientific", from the Oxford American Dictionary, published by the Oxford English Dictionary

The Skeptic's Dictionary entry on 'Pseudoscience'

Larry E. Beutler, Rebecca E. Williams, Phylis J. Wakefield, Stephanie R. Entwistle (1995) Bridging Scientist and Practitioner Perspective in Clinical Psychology,  American Psychologist,    December

8.  Lutus, Paul (19 Is Psychology a Science?