Pseudo science Quotes


These mysteries about
how
we evolved should not distract us from the indisputable fact that we
did
evolve.

Why Evolution Is True

Jerry A. Coyne

Why Evolution Is True

To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I confess, absurd in the highest degree...The difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection , though insuperable by our imagination, should not be considered subversive of the theory.

There are, and always have been, destructive pseudo-scientific notions linked to race and religion; these are the most widespread and damaging. Hopefully, educated people can succeed in shedding light into these areas of prejudice and ignorance, for as
Voltaire
once said: '
Men will commit atrocities as long as they believe absurdities
.

In science's pecking order, evolutionary biology lurks somewhere near the bottom, far closer to phrenology than to physics. For evolutionary biology is a historical science, laden with history's inevitable imponderables. We evolutionary biologists cannot generate a Cretaceous Park to observe exactly what killed the dinosaurs; and, unlike "harder" scientists, we usually cannot resolve issues with a simple experiment, such as adding tube A to tube B and noting the color of the mixture.

[...] if truth be told, evolution hasn’t yielded many practical or commercial benefits. Yes, bacteria evolve drug resistance, and yes, we must take countermeasures, but beyond that there is not much to say. Evolution cannot help us predict what new vaccines to manufacture because microbes evolve unpredictably. But hasn’t evolution helped guide animal and plant breeding? Not very much. Most improvement in crop plants and animals occurred long before we knew anything about evolution, and came about by people following the genetic principle of ‘like begets like’. Even now, as its practitioners admit, the field of quantitative genetics has been of little value in helping improve varieties. Future advances will almost certainly come from transgenics, which is not based on evolution at all.
[review of The Evolving World: Evolution in Everyday Life, Nature 442, 983-984 (31 August 2006)]

Quantum mechanics. What a repository, a dump, of human aspiration it was, the borderland where mathematical rigor defeated common sense, and reason and fantasy irrationally merged. Here the mystically inclined could find whatever they required and claim science as their proof. And for these ingenious men in their spare time, what ghostly and beautiful music it must be--
spectral asymmetry, resonances, entanglement, quantum harmonic oscillators
--beguiling ancient airs, the harmony of the spheres that might transmute a lead wall into gold and bring into being the engine that ran on virtually nothing, on virtual particles, that emitted no harm and would power the human enterprise as well as save it. Beard was stirred by the yearnings of these lonely men. And why should he think they were lonely? It was not, or not only, condescension that made him think them so. They did not know enough, but they knew too much to have anyone to talk to. What mate waiting down the pub or in the British Legion, what hard-pressed wife with job and kids and housework, was going to follow them down these warped funnels in the space-time continuum, into the wormhole, the shortcut to a single, final answer to the global problem of energy?

Solar

Ian McEwan

Solar

Treating Abuse Today 3(4) pp. 26-33
TAT: No. I don't know anymore than you know they're not. But, I'm talking about boundaries and privacy here. As a therapist working with survivors, I have been harassed by people who claim to be affiliated with the false memory movement. Parents and other family members have called or written me insisting on talking with me about my patients' cases, despite my clearly indicating I can't because of professional confidentiality. I have had other parents and family members investigate me -- look into my professional background -- hoping to find something to discredit me to the patients I was seeing at the time because they disputed their memories. This isn't the kind of sober, scientific discourse you all claim you want.

Treating Abuse Today (Tat), 3(4), pp. 26-33
Freyd: You were also looking for some operational criteria for false memory syndrome: what a clinician could look for or test for, and so on. I spoke with several of our scientific advisory board members and I have some information for you that isn't really in writing at this point but I think it's a direction you want us to go in. So if I can read some of these notes . . .
TAT: Please do.
Freyd: One would look for false memory syndrome:
1. If a patient reports having been sexually abused by a parent, relative or someone in very early childhood, but then claims that she or he had complete amnesia about it for a decade or more;
2. If the patient attributes his or her current reason for being in therapy to delayed-memories. And this is where one would want to look for evidence suggesting that the abuse did not occur as demonstrated by a list of things, including firm, confident denials by the alleged perpetrators;
3. If there is denial by the entire family;
4. In the absence of evidence of familial disturbances or psychiatric illnesses. For example, if there's no evidence that the perpetrator had alcohol dependency or bipolar disorder or tendencies to pedophilia;
5. If some of the accusations are preposterous or impossible or they contain impossible or implausible elements such as a person being made pregnant prior to menarche, being forced to engage in sex with animals, or participating in the ritual killing of animals, and;
6. In the absence of evidence of distress surrounding the putative abuse. That is, despite alleged abuse going from age two to 27 or from three to 16, the child displayed normal social and academic functioning and that there was no evidence of any kind of psychopathology.
Are these the kind of things you were asking for?
TAT: Yeah, it's a little bit more specific. I take issue with several, but at least it gives us more of a sense of what you all mean when you say "false memory syndrome."
Freyd: Right. Well, you know I think that things are moving in that direction since that seems to be what people are requesting. Nobody's denying that people are abused and there's no one denying that someone who was abused a decade ago or two decades ago probably would not have talked about it to anybody. I think I mentioned to you that somebody who works in this office had that very experience of having been abused when she was a young teenager-not extremely abused, but made very uncomfortable by an uncle who was older-and she dealt with it for about three days at the time and then it got pushed to the back of her mind and she completely forgot about it until she was in therapy.
TAT: There you go. That's how dissociation works!
Freyd: That's how it worked. And after this came up and she had discussed and dealt with it in therapy, she could again put it to one side and go on with her life. Certainly confronting her uncle and doing all these other things was not a part of what she had to do. Interestingly, though, at the same time, she has a daughter who went into therapy and came up with memories of having been abused by her parents. This daughter ran away and is cutoff from the family-hasn't spoken to anyone for three years. And there has never been any meeting between the therapist and the whole family to try to find out what was involved.
TAT: If we take the first example -- that of her own abuse -- and follow the criteria you gave, we would have a very strong disbelief in the truth of what she told.

Treating Abuse Today (Tat), 3(4), pp. 26-33
Freyd: I see what you're saying but people in psychology don't have a uniform agreement on this issue of the depth of -- I guess the term that was used at the conference was -- "robust repression."
TAT: Well, Pamela, there's a whole lot of evidence that people dissociate traumatic things. What's interesting to me is how the concept of "dissociation" is side-stepped in favor of "repression." I don't think it's as much about repression as it is about traumatic amnesia and dissociation. That has been documented in a variety of trauma survivors. Army psychiatrists in the Second World War, for instance, documented that following battles, many soldiers had amnesia for the battles. Often, the memories wouldn't break through until much later when they were in psychotherapy.
Freyd: But I think I mentioned Dr. Loren Pankratz. He is a psychologist who was studying veterans for post-traumatic stress in a Veterans Administration Hospital in Portland. They found some people who were admitted to Veteran's hospitals for postrraumatic stress in Vietnam who didn't serve in Vietnam. They found at least one patient who was being treated who wasn't even a veteran. Without external validation, we just can't know --
TAT: -- Well, we have external validation in some of our cases.
Freyd: In this field you're going to find people who have all levels of belief, understanding, experience with the area of repression. As I said before it's not an area in which there's any kind of uniform agreement in the field. The full notion of repression has a meaning within a psychoanalytic framework and it's got a meaning to people in everyday use and everyday language. What there is evidence for is that any kind of memory is reconstructed and reinterpreted. It has not been shown to be anything else. Memories are reconstructed and reinterpreted from fragments. Some memories are true and some memories are confabulated and some are downright false.
TAT: It is certainly possible for in offender to dissociate a memory. It's possible that some of the people who call you could have done or witnessed some of the things they've been accused of -- maybe in an alcoholic black-out or in a dissociative state -- and truly not remember. I think that's very possible.
Freyd: I would say that virtually anything is possible. But when the stories include murdering babies and breeding babies and some of the rather bizarre things that come up, it's mighty puzzling.
TAT: I've treated adults with dissociative disorders who were both victimized and victimizers. I've seen previously repressed memories of my clients' earlier sexual offenses coming back to them in therapy. You guys seem to be saying, be skeptical if the person claims to have forgotten previously, especially if it is about something horrible. Should we be equally skeptical if someone says "I'm remembering that I perpetrated and I didn't remember before. It's been repressed for years and now it's surfacing because of therapy." I ask you, should we have the same degree of skepticism for this type of delayed-memory that you have for the other kind?
Freyd: Does that happen?
TAT: Oh, yes. A lot.

Treating Abuse Today 3(4) pp. 26-33
The national discussion regarding the veridical truth of memories of childhood abuse will have a beneficial effect. Therapists will be reminded that dire consequences can ensue from poor practice, careless technique, and unchecked countertransference and parallel process. Hopefully, it will also stimulate legitimate research into the nature of traumatic memory. Unfortunately, the polemic often has been hysterical, scapegoating, accusatory, speculative, rumor driven, biased and antiempirical. Since many members of the FMSF, Inc. Scientific Advisory Board are frequent professional witnesses for the defense in cases of alleged sexual abuse, we questioned whether the organization was acting more as an advocate for a previously determined position or whether it was truly taking a scientific approach to determining the veridical truth of recollections of child abuse.

Blaming therapy, social work and other caring professions for the confabulation of testimony of 'satanic ritual abuse' legitimated a programme of political and social action designed to contest the gains made by the women's movement and the child protection movement. In efforts to characterise social workers and therapists as hysterical zealots, 'satanic ritual abuse' was, quite literally, 'made fun of': it became the subject of scorn and ridicule as interest groups sought to discredit testimony of sexual abuse as a whole. The groundswell of support that such efforts gained amongst journalists, academics and the public suggests that the pleasures of disbelief found resonance far beyond the confines of social movements for people accused of sexual abuse. These pleasures were legitimised by a pseudo-scientific vocabulary of 'false memories' and 'moral panic' but as Daly (1999:219-20) points out 'the ultimate goal of ideology is to present itself in neutral, value-free terms as the very horizon of objectivity and to dismiss challenges to its order as the "merely ideological"'.
The media spotlight has moved on and social movements for people accused of sexual abuse have lost considerable momentum. However, their rhetoric continues to reverberate throughout the echo chamber of online and 'old' media. Intimations of collusion between feminists and Christians in the concoction of 'satanic ritual abuse' continue to mobilise 'progressive' as well as 'conservative' sympathies for men accused of serious sexual offences and against the needs of victimised women and children.
This chapter argues that, underlying the invocation of often contradictory rationalising tropes (ranging from calls for more scientific 'objectivity' in sexual abuse investigations to emotional descriptions of 'happy families' rent asunder by false allegations) is a collective and largely unarticulated pleasure; the catharthic release of sentiments and views about children and women that had otherwise become shameful in the aftermath of second wave feminism. It seems that, behind the veneer of public concern about child sexual abuse, traditional views about the incredibility of women's and children's testimony persist. 'Satanic ritual abuse has served as a lens through which these views have been rearticulated and reasserted at the very time that evidence of widespread and serious child sexual abuse has been consolidating. p60

Treating Abuse Today 3(4) pp. 26-33
Freyd: The term "multiple personality" itself assumes that there is "single personality" and there is evidence that no one ever displays a single personality.
TAT: The issue here is the extent of dissociation and amnesia and the extent to which these fragmentary aspects of personality can take executive control and control function. Sure, you and I have different parts to our mind, there's no doubt about that, but I don't lose time to mine they can't come out in the middle of a lecture and start acting 7 years old. I'm very much in the camp that says that we all are multi-minds, but the difference between you and me and a multiple is pretty tangible.
Freyd: Those are clearly interesting questions, but that area and the clinical aspects of dissociation and multiple personalities is beyond anything the Foundation is actively...
TAT: That's a real problem. Let me tell you why that's a problem. Many of the people that have been alleged to have "false memory syndrome" have diagnosed dissociative disorders. It seems to me the fact that you don't talk about dissociative disorders is a little dishonest, since many people whose lives have been impacted by this movement are MPD or have a dissociative disorder. To say, "Well, we ONLY know about repression but not about dissociation or multiple personalities" seems irresponsible.
Freyd: Be that as it may, some of the scientific issues with memory are clear. So if we can just stick with some things for a moment; one is that memories are reconstructed and reinterpreted no matter how long ago or recent.
TAT: You weigh the recollected testimony of an alleged perpetrator more than the alleged victim's. You're saying, basically, if the parents deny it, that's another notch for disbelief.
Freyd: If it's denied, certainly one would want to check things. It would have to be one of many factors that are weighed -- and that's the problem with these issues -- they are not black and white, they're very complicated issues.

Treating Abuse Today 3(4) pp. 26-33
TAT: I want to move back to an area that I'm not real comfortable asking you about, but I'm going to, because I think it's germane to this discussion. When we began our discussion [see "A Conversation with Pamela Freyd, Ph.D., Part 1", Treating Abuse Today, 3(3), P. 25-39] we spoke a bit about how your interest in this issue intersected your own family situation. You have admitted writing about it in your widely disseminated "Jane Doe" article. I think wave been able to cover legitimate ground in our discussion without talking about that, but I am going to return to it briefly because there lingers an important issue there. I want to know how you react to people who say that the Foundation is basically an outgrowth of an unresolved family matter in your own family and that some of the initial members of your Scientific Advisory Board have had dual professional relationships with you and your family, and are not simply scientifically attached to the Foundation and its founders.
Freyd: People can say whatever they want to say. The fact of the matter is, day after day, people are calling to say that something very wrong has taken place. They're telling us that somebody they know and love very much, has acquired memories in some kind of situation, that they're sure are false, but that there has been no way to even try to resolve the issues -- now, it's 3,600 families.
TAT: That's kind of side-stepping the question. My question --
Freyd: -- People can say whatever they want. But you know --
TAT: -- But, isn't it true that some of the people on your scientific advisory have a professional reputation that is to some extent now dependent upon some findings in your own family?
Freyd: Oh, I don't think so. A professional reputation dependent upon findings in my family?
TAT: In the sense that they may have been consulted professionally first about a matter in your own family. Is that not true?
Freyd: What difference does that make?
TAT: It would bring into question their objectivity. It would also bring into question the possibility of this being a folie à deux --

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