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  August 2, 2012                  
me+ME: Varia: Eyeproblems + Site-updates Ms Kennedy + pomo universities

   'But I don’t want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked.
'Oh, you can’t help that,' said the Cat. 'We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.'
'How do you know I’m mad?' said Alice.
'You must be,” said the Cat. 'or you wouldn’t have come here.'

-- Lewis Carroll


       1. Eye problems
       2. Site-updates and KompoZer
       3. Ecoclimber vs Angela Kennedy
       4. Pseudoscientific social sciences
1. Eye problems

I still have eye problems. They are a bit better than they were a week ago, with the help of eye drops, but not good, nor painfree. Indeed, because of that this is one of the very few Nederlogs written over two days,

I said two weeks ago I would review my position on my eyes, my site and Nederlog on August 1, and my judgment is that my eyes are still not good enough to do more than 10-50% with my computer than I could before, and that doing too much gets punished by sore eyes, which is very unpleasant indeed.

So for the time being, my site will be less frequently edited than before and than I would like. I will try to get other eye drops and will review my position on August 15.

2. Site-updates and KompoZer

That my eyes are lousy is also unpleasant for my readers, in that there have been introduced quite a few font changes, unwittingly, that have not worked out as they should (and as they appeared to me in Firefox and/or KompoZer): Especially the entries in the Philosophical Dictionary now often have an appearance I never wanted, and indeed did not upload wittingly.

Yesterday I uploaded a reformatting of the entries for the letter A, but the problem remains that (1) on Ubuntu the only halfway working WYSIWYG html-editor is KompoZer, and that contains a number of major very irritating bugs: Font sizes, cursor positions, and files administration are all in various ways bugged, and extra-ordinarily irritating to have to work with, especially with painful eyes.

And I really think it is a shame there seems to be no good free
WYSIWYG html-editor on Ubuntu, and indeed that is the one thing that may make me move back to Windows, much as I like the rest of Ubuntu and much as I like and want Linux: I need a good WYSIWYG html-editor to maintain my large site - there is no way my site can be maintained with a non-WYSIWYG html-editor, and those who insist it can must be posturing if they are not masochists.

3. Ecoclimber vs Angela Kennedy

Ecoclimber is an anonymous patient, who seems to live in the US, and who wrote posts on Phoenix Rising that I have read, and indeed written about in Nederlog, because he was better informed about XMRV, some 10 months ago or so, than most patients, possibly because he has some personal relation with a US virologist.

I am here summarizing what I recall from his posts, and may be mistaken about some details, but if so, it is because - like mosty anonymous members of Phoenix Rising - he is not clear about who he is, precisely.

That is about the extent of my knowledge of him, for I never mailed with Ecoclimber, and apart from some of his posts about XMRV on Phoenix Rising, I am not aware of knowing him other than as Ecoblimber and from those posts.

It now turns out there is an ongoing discussion on Retraction Watch, a site that tracks retractions of scientific papers, which is a very useful thing to do, if one is interested, as I am, in having science of good quality, for that depends on the maintenance of high standards of factual, logical and scientific correctness.

Then again, I do not myself know much about it, and have read the site mostly in relation to the retraction of the paper published in Science by Lombardi, Mikovits et al. in October 2009, that I commented myself on e.g. here:

The ongoing discussion relates to XMRV, with the following long title

If you follow the link you'll find 51 or more comments. I do not find the discussion or the topic intellectually interesting, at all, but - as these discussions between patients often do - it managed to get into choppy moral waters, that seem to have come about as follows:

Ecoclimber wrote a fairly sensible post (my opinion) in so far as XMRV and Gerwyn's Geroupies are concerned, but a far less sensible post in so far as rights to criticize and Ms Kennedy are concerned:

Ecoclimber believes that - what I call - Gerwyn's Geroupies (1) should stop criticizing US scientists on the grounds that these Geroupies do not know the science tbey hold strong opinions about; (2) that they are often British; and that (3) especially Ms Kennedy is to be blamed as somehow untrustworthy, because - in Ecoclimber's words:

Angela do you deny your arrest and detention at the police station house and deny being interrogated on comments regarding members from the Royal. That is what I read from the police report which I obtained.

I agree with Ecoclimber's first point, though my own objections against the Gerwyinities is not so much that they are ignorant of retrovirology and science (neither of which is a shame, and a little knowledge, such as Gerwyn may have, simply has proven to be not enough to protect him from being very probably grossly mistaken, which also is no major shame) but that they pretend insight and certainty and knowledge they simply do not and cannot have, that they write execrable prose, and that they are extremely impolite, rude, fanatic, unreasonable and prejudiced - something everybody who reads their prose can easily see, and perhaps excuse with the thought that these are, or some if these may be, seriously ill people in considerable personal difficulties, but that the perpetrators  themselves fail to see, or so they claim.

I think at least some of them can see very well they are very offensive, but much enjoy offending more intelligent better educated people, simply on that envious ground: Ordinary men and women are like that:

Human nature, now triumphant over the laws and accustomed, even in spite of their laws, to do wrong, took delight in showing that its passions were ungovernable, and that it was the enemy of everything superior to itself.
-- Joseph Heller, Picture this, p. 178

And Ecoclimber ran into rather a lot of abuse, and read more, so he can be excused for being irritated with this group of fanatic fools.

Then again, he seems quite wrong about Ms Kennedy's "
arrest and detention" and "being interrogated": None of this ever happened, and Ecoclimber seems to have a very ill grasp of English law and English royals. I am fairly certain of this, because - quite a while ago - I was regaled (for another reason) with the case against Ms Jane Bryant, back in 2006, whom Ecoclimber seems to confuse with Ms Kennedy, who has the rare merit on forums for patients with ME/CFS of writing under her own real name, and who ceased to work with Ms Bryant (also he real name) around 2006, while "the police report" Ecoclimber claims to possess is very probably the very source of information that I had, which happens to be no police report, but Ms Bryant's own summary of the case against her, and the way she was treated by the police.

So that is basically bullshit on Ecoclimber's part, also logically totally uncalled for, because completely unrelated to the rest of his post, but probably related to his irritation with Ms Kennedy's opinions, that indeed tend to far exceed her relevant knowledge, at least in so far as XMRV is concerned. (Those interested in excuses - not necessarily a bad motive - may consider that Ms Kennedy is herself not a patient with ME/CFS, but is a mother of one, and lives in England, where she has advocated the rights of patients with ME/CFS for many years, and with great and mostly commendable zeal, and considerable courage.)

Ecoclimber - who I think himself has been unfairly treated by associates of Ms Kennedy: there too there are reasosn for excusing mistaken opinions and strong terms - also is mistaken in his argument that "foreigners", that is here: Persons who are not US citizens, have no right to criticize US scientists, I believe on the ground that they don't pay taxes in the US, from which US scientists or their research tend to be paid.

Well... that is groupthinking and it is nonsense: What matters in science is the truth, and not who said it; what matters in science is rational criticism, and not the nationality (race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, political allegiance) of the person making it. And while I agree that Gerwyn and his Geroupies have not contributed much or anything in the way of truth or rational criticism to the debate around XMRV and ME/CFS, which I do regard as a valid ground to tell them to stop their prejudiced nonsense, flame wars, and nonsensical accusations of real scientists, the fact that they happen to be, in many cases, not US citizens is just a nonsensical argument, and is also nonsense of a rather unsavoury and unfair kind.

Does this mean I agree with Ms Kennedy's arguments about XMRV? Not a bit, for she seems to be as qualified to write about it as she is qualified to write about mathematical logic: Not at all.

4. Pseudoscientific social sciences

I have written rather a lot about the collapse of the universities and higher education in Holland, e.g, here (in Dutch with English translations):

       Spiegeloog-columns, especially
       Mandarins with an IQ of 115 and
       Whores of Reason

So did Neuroskeptic, a British neuroscientist whose blog I have repeatedly mentioned in Nederlog, because I like it and know something about it as well, because I studied psychology. Neuroskeptic wrote about it in these two posts, from July 29 and 31 2012:

       Why don't social scientists want to be read?
       Social science and language again

His motive to do so was this bit of atrocious pretentious bullshit (quoted from the second item linked above)  

In a somatic society which promotes visible, idealized forms of embodiment, men are increasingly being interpellated [sic] as image-conscious body-subjects. Some research suggests that men negotiate appearance issues in complex and varied ways, partly because image concerns are conventionally feminized. However, little research has considered how overweight men construct body projects in the context of weight loss, or how men talk to each other about weight management efforts. Since sources of information and support for overweight men are now provided online, including dedicated weight loss discussion forums, our analysis focuses on one such forum, linked to a popular male-targeted magazine. We conducted a thematic analysis of selected extracts from seven threads on the forum. Our analysis suggests a widespread focus on appearance, as well as the use of emotion categories when describing difficult bodily experiences. Invariably, however, such talk was carefully constructed and constrained by hegemonic masculinities founded on discipline, work-orientation, pragmatism and self-reliance. The findings are discussed in relation to magazine masculinities and aesthetics, as well as literature on male embodiment.
Neuroskeptic was quite polite about it, but seems to have gotten attacked nevertheless. In fact it is utter crap, the background of which got quite well elucidated in these two Nederlogs (where the first has many interesting links and quotes):

Morningstar shines a bright light on postmodernism  -  some personal backgrounds
       Scientific Realism vs Postmodernism   -    some theoretical backgrounds
The Postmodernism Generator  -  infinite free supplies of the above sort of hegemonic prose

I do not have the quality of life or eyes to spend much time on this, so I will only state my four  fundamental considerations - for which also see my
Spiegeloog-columns, about the Dutch situation:

One. Some 50 or more years ago, in Holland and elsewhere in Europe and the US the average IQ of students was around 125 or higher, depending on university and study (higher in Cambridge, Oxford, the Sorbonne or Harvard than elsewhere; higher in mathematics or physics or sinology than in the academic studies of Dutch, sociology or political sciences). This allowed about 1 in 30 to enter and finish a university with a degree, and made it likely, if not certain, that academically trained persons, at that time, were fairly intelligent, competent, and learned, which is in everybody's interests, for everyone wants a good medical doctor when they are ill, a competent psychologist when they have problems; and engineers who do understand mathematics and physics.

Two. About 40 years ago, mostly because of the influx of students of the babyboomers generation (born between 1945 and 1955, roughly, sometimes also defined as: between 1946 and 1964) and the student revolts in the US, France, Germany and even Holland in the 1960ies, standards for entry and standards of examinations started to get radically altered, and moved downwards rapidly, with the result that, already around 1985 - 27 years i.e. over 5 academic generations ago - the average IQ in the University of Amsterdam was 115. These folks still had a smattering of foreign languages, and could do some elementary mathematics, but from ca. 2000 onwards half of the population of 18 was considered formally qualified to enter a university - having learned but one foreign language, often; being not able to spell or do mental arithmetic or elementary mathematics (that was no longer considered necessary in preparatory schools: "No need, the computer will do it for you"); and having an average IQ not much above 100, because higher demands and better qualifications would be considered "elitarian",  "fascist" and "undemocratic", and besides: By then pre-university education had also been much leveled and simplified, so there were very few students entering the universities with any adequate education: The students in technical colleges - future engineers, supposedly fit, withing 3 years of entering, of designing bridges, houses, dykes, dams etc. - could't even do long divisions, something children of ten were required to do - all, in all Dutch schools - when I was 10.

Three. In consequence of which: Outside mathematics, physics, chemistry and a few other studies that require real talent, the universities have been killed - murdered, strangled, throttled - by my generation of leftist fanatics, and the one before it; "higher education" exists in name only; the great majority of people with academic degrees have degrees in mostly nonsense (as quoted above); and real intellectuals younger than 60 are a rarity, simply because there was no formal education of any kind, that was fit for real intellectuals in Holland or England or Germany since 1980 at the latest: Whoever got a real education fit for a real intellectual must have studied an elite subject - mathematics, physics, chemistry and such - at an elite university, or else must have provided it himself or herself, by personal effort and talent (as happened in my case). Therefore:

Four. The quoted insipid, stupid, pretentious, ugly, postmodernistic bullshit is par for the course for most "studies" in most "universities" in nearly all Western nations: It seems only the Fins were not deceived by the false sirens of "democracy", "equality" and "equal rights" of all, regardless of talents, interests or work, to become a "Ph.D.
", "M.A." or "B.A." in some modern bit of "academic" bullshit, like "media studies", "European studies", "black studies", "queer studies" etc.

The above is a sign of the times: The universities are dead, except in name; intellectuals are almost extinct, except in name, and the above bullshit is standard academese in Holland and England since the late 1980ies: See again

       Morningstar shines a bright light on postmodernism  -  some personal backgrounds
       Scientific Realism vs Postmodernism   -    some theoretical backgrounds
The Postmodernism Generator  -  infinite free supplies of the above sort of hegemonic prose

Indeed, this major sickness and total decline and corruption of Western civilization is one of my main reasons to hope for a social collapse, namely before the postmodern political elite the West currently has will have introduced a police state, in the name of "democracy", "equality" and "the war against terrorism", that may last centuries, namely with the technological means of control and repression that the last generations of real Western intellectuals, namely those living and working between 1930 and 1970, thought up, invented or discovered. (*)

For more on the lines that this may unroll, see Zamyatin's WE - written precisely 2 years ago, today - or Orwell's 1984 - full text, on a good Russian site about Orwell.

Enjoy, while you still are allowed to!



(*) This does not mean there are fewer intelligent people: It does mean that almost no one in the West who is 25 and has a university degree has learned as much as half of what someone of the same age 50 years ago had learned. If mankind survives the present century, future historians will probably mark off the year 2001 as the cut off point of a period of some 100 years of formal democracy that lead to two world wars, the Shoah, many minor wars, and an incredible stupification of almost all education and most of the population in the years 1970-2000, that was so succesful that it cannot be undone anymore, without a major revolution: To educate people to a high level of learning and civilization, you need to have sufficient people who have been educated to a high level of learning and civilization, and these are gone.

For a US perspective and my perspective on that

On Searle's "The Storm Over The University" - 1

P.S.     Corrections, if any are necessary, have to be made later.
-- Aug 3, 2012: Straightened out some typos and missing links
-- Aug 6, 2012:
Straightened out some typos


As to ME/CFS (that I prefer to call ME):

1.  Anthony Komaroff Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS (pdf)
3.  Hillary Johnson The Why
4.  Consensus of M.D.s Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf)
5.  Eleanor Stein Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)
6.  William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
7.  Paul Lutus

Is Psychology a Science?

8.  Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
 Maarten Maartensz
ME in Amsterdam - surviving in Amsterdam with ME (Dutch)
 Maarten Maartensz Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Short descriptions of the above:                

1. Ten reasons why ME/CFS is a real disease by a professor of medicine of Harvard.
2. Long essay by a professor emeritus of medical chemistry about maltreatment of ME.
3. Explanation of what's happening around ME by an investigative journalist.
4. Report to Canadian Government on ME, by many medical experts.
5. Advice to psychiatrist by a psychiatrist who understa, but nds ME is an organic disease
6. English mathematical genius on one's responsibilities in the matter of one's beliefs:

7. A space- and computer-scientist takes a look at psychology.
8. Malcolm Hooper puts things together status 2010.
9. I tell my story of surviving (so far) in Amsterdam/ with ME.
10. The directory on my site about ME.

See also: ME -Documentation and ME - Resources
The last has many files, all on my site to keep them accessible.

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