Thursday, April 3, 2014

How to avoid engaging with the evidence about biopsychiatry

You can block its appearance on your blog by issuing rules that are claimed to be general but in fact pertain only to critical perspectives. You can ban commenters or put their comments in moderation. You can refuse to follow links. You can try to silence people by responding angrily to their comments. You can encourage others to view recommending books and articles as unethical and insensitive. You can scold people for not deferring to (what you believe to be) expert scientific and medical opinion. You can allow and encourage comments that misrepresent the critics' position or make false claims while barring critics from rebutting them. You can dismiss evidence by stating that you’ve heard it all before or that you know beforehand that it’s unconvincing. You can demand arbitrarily high standards for critical evidence, the converse of the low standards you apply to biopsychiatry’s claims. (Of course, you won’t know if the evidence reaches or approaches these standards, because you refuse to engage with it. These aren’t standards applied to the actual evidence but requirements for even presenting it.) You can stipulate that people must provide personal or general alternatives acceptable to you before they present critical evidence; you can also announce that you don’t have to listen to them if you think they are suggesting alternatives; you can even do these simultaneously. You can preemptively try to discredit the authors of the books and articles you won’t read by calling them names and declaring their work “pop psychology.” You can throw around some Fuck yous and threaten people with your wrath.

Using these techniques, you’ll likely be able to create and preserve for yourself an evidence-free space. You’ll be behaving hypocritically and unkindly, but effectively for this purpose. The evidence, though, won’t go away. The harms won’t disappear. The reality won’t change.


  1. I read that blog sometimes, and others around FTB, and that is probably the most frustrating, aggressively thoughtless post I've ever seen on the network. And I'm not some "FTBully" idiot, my politics and worldview are pretty much in line with that crowd. This is such and obvious instance of someone ignoring evidence because of a powerful personal experience, and I expect more from FTB. And the comments section is atrocious. They think the only arguments against these drugs is dualism? Seriously, you're willing to take these drugs, recommend them to friends, depend on them for your family, and that's as much thought as you're giving this?

    The moment you start scratching the surface and really thinking about treating mental illness pharmacologically the entire picture starts to fall apart, and the more you look into it the uglier it gets. This isn't some nutcase conspiracy theory. One or two generations after us will look at what they're doing now the way we look at bloodletting, and anti-psychotics are probably the most egregious offender.

    Being on the outside of an issue like this, where so many people you admire will swear by their anti-depressants, is very uncomfortable and I'm always hesitant to speak up. I'd feel like a climate change denialist if the science weren't so immediately shoddy and whole industry so transparently corrupt.

    Anyway, I just found this blog and I'm really glad I did. I'll be completely useless at work today as I go through the archives.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Kenny, and apologies for the delay in posting and responding to it.

    Seriously, you're willing to take these drugs, recommend them to friends, depend on them for your family, and that's as much thought as you're giving this?

    Yes, this has surprised me - I'm trying to understand it.

    Hope you're enjoying the blog!