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Nederlog


  March
11, 2014
Crisis: Snowden, Clapper, corporations, England, psychiatry
   "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
   -- Benjamin Franklin [1]
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
"
   -- I.F. Stone.
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton
















Prev- crisis -Next
Sections
Introduction

1. Edward Snowden discusses NSA leaks at SXSW: 'I would
     do it again'

2. US network to scan workers with secret clearances
3. 
Give and take in the EU-US trade deal? Sure. We give, the
     corporations take

4. AbbVie & GSK can buy your Data for almost nothing
5.
a little “o”…
About ME/CFS

Introduction:

This is the Nederlog of March 11, and it is again mostly about the crisis. Or more precisely: the first three items are definitely about the crisis; the fourth, although it appears on dr. David Healy's site, very probably is; but the last is about psychiatry.

1. Edward Snowden discusses NSA leaks at SXSW: 'I would do it again'

The first article is by Jon Swaine and Jemima Kiss in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:

Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower whose unprecedented leak of top-secret documents led to a worldwide debate about the nature of surveillance, insisted on Monday that his actions had improved the national security of the United States rather than undermined it, and declared that he would do it all again despite the personal sacrifices he had endured.

In remarks to the SXSW culture and technology conference in Texas, delivered by video link from his exile in Russia, Snowden took issue with claims by senior officials that he had placed the US in danger. He also rejected as demonstrably false the suggestions by some members of Congress that his files had found their way into the hands of the intelligence agencies of China or Russia.

Snowden spoke against the backdrop of an image of the US constitution, which he said he had taken an oath to protect but had seen “violated on a mass scale” while working for the US government. He accepted praise from Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, accorded the first question via Twitter, who described him as “acting profoundly in the public interest”.

There is a lot more under the last dotted article, and this includes a video of slightly more than an hour, of Snowden speaking, but since this has been relayed through no less than seven proxies, the end result on my computer was an occasionally moving picture, that I really have no patience to watch for an hour.

However, the article is OK, and contains a reasonable amount of detail about what Snowden said. It is well worth reading completely, which also takes a lot less time than an hour of watching an occasionally moving picture, also with rather bad sound. (I think it is better to make a real interview with him on video, rather than having to look at an hour of
an occasionally moving picture, on the assumption that "one sees Edward Snowden LIFE": I think few people will.)

There also is a related article by Jemima Kiss in the Guardian:
This one starts as follows:

Encryptions tools must be simplified and made accessible for the mainstream, Pulitzer-winning journalist Barton Gellman said on Monday, calling on the tech industry to have the courage and ingenuity to help address the disparity of power between the people and their government.

Addressing the SXSW festival shortly before Edward Snowden’s live speech by video, Gellman said we are a long way off simple, transparent encryption tools. He cited Pew research which found that 88% of Americans say they have taken steps to protect their privacy in some form.

This also is a good interview, with Barton Gellman, who is quoted to this effect:

“If the idea is genuine that the government works for us, and information is power, we are living inside a one-way mirror because they know more and more about us and we know less and less about them. There’s a huge disparity of power.”

“Do we think it’s a good idea to listen to every call, to bust encryption standards… if it’s a big policy question, and stuff is being done behind our backs that might shock us if we knew about it, there’s pretty good reason to put it out there.
There is again a lot more under the last dotted link.

2. US network to scan workers with secret clearances

The next article is by Associated Press in the Washington Post:
This starts as follows:
Stung by internal security lapses, U.S. intelligence officials plan to use a sweeping electronic system to continually monitor workers with secret clearances, current and former officials told The Associated Press.

The system is intended to identify rogue agents, corrupt officials and leakers and draws on a Defense Department model under development for more than a decade, according to officials and documents reviewed by the AP.

That is, James Clapper has another toy, and one that allows him to spy on his spies, continuously also, is the idea, also when they are not working, for you cannot trust people at all (other than Clapper and Hayden, of course):

“What we need is a system of continuous evaluation where when someone is in the system and they’re cleared initially, then we have a way of monitoring their behavior, both their electronic behavior on the job as well as off the job,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Congress last month.

Clapper said the proposed system would extend “across the government,” drawing on “six or seven data streams.” Monitoring of employees at some agencies could begin as early as September and be fully operational across the government by September 2016. The price tag, Clapper conceded, “is going to be costly.”

Again, there is a lot more under the last dotted link.

3. Give and take in the EU-US trade deal? Sure. We give, the corporations take

Next, an article by George Monbiot in the Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Nothing threatens democracy as much as corporate power. Nowhere do corporations operate with greater freedom than between nations, for here there is no competition. With the exception of the European parliament, there is no transnational democracy, anywhere. All other supranational bodies – the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the United Nations, trade organisations and the rest – work on the principle of photocopy democracy (presumed consent is transferred, copy by copy, to ever-greyer and more remote institutions) or no democracy at all.

When everything has been globalised except our consent, corporations fill the void. In a system that governments have shown no interest in reforming, global power is often scarcely distinguishable from corporate power. It is exercised through backroom deals between bureaucrats and lobbyists.

Yes, indeed - and the reason that "governments have shown no interest in reforming" this system, is that most who could have done something about it consider themselves part of the system, and probably rightly so: most of them rely on "the revolving doors" between major corporations and states, and do very, very well, financially.

Anyway, there is considerably more under the last dotted link.

4.  AbbVie & GSK can buy your Data for almost nothing  

Next, an article by Phil Booth on dr. David Healy's site:
There is an introduction by dr. Healy, from which I quote (having removed the red color):
In recent weeks in Britain (apparently the home from home for the NSA) there has been great concern about access to the data compiled on anyone visiting a doctor within the NHS. Our data it would appear is being loaded up on to Google servers and as noted by Ben Goldacre and others is being sold to insurers and others. Government ministers are apparently being economical with the truth when asked about this. (Trans note: Economical with the truth is often interpreted in England to mean lying). 
Note you cannot rely on David Cameron's government - or you can rely on it that it will keep secret almost everything that it ought to publish, and would publish, if it were working for the people, rather than for the corporations. Mind you: NO patient has given consent, and NO patient has received payment.

Here is the beginning of the article:

The government’s announcement today that private companies are to be given access to patient data for the princely sum of 1, is just the latest attack on the principles of patient confidentiality in the interests of commerce.

David Cameron signaled the intent back in 2011 when he announced that we are all to be research patients by default. Behind the window-dressing of scientific progress, lies a determined new policy on ‘open data’ which is about using your data – including your medical records held by the NHS – in order “to drive economic growth”. Under the new regime, your sensitive health information will be taken directly from your GP’s record system and presumed available for a variety of “secondary uses” that go beyond research or your direct medical care.

To enable this, the NHS Constitution has been rewritten and fundamental assumptions such as medical confidentiality are being overturned. In private, officials admit the end state of all this is unclear, but the public language about what is happening to your confidential medical records is carefully chosen to obfuscate and pacify.

Here is the last part:

The government’s announcement today that private companies are to be given access to patient data for the princely sum of 1, is just the latest attack on the principles of patient confidentiality in the interests of commerce.

David Cameron signaled the intent back in 2011 when he announced that we are all to be research patients by default. Behind the window-dressing of scientific progress, lies a determined new policy on ‘open data’ which is about using your data – including your medical records held by the NHS – in order “to drive economic growth”. Under the new regime, your sensitive health information will be taken directly from your GP’s record system and presumed available for a variety of “secondary uses” that go beyond research or your direct medical care.

To enable this, the NHS Constitution has been rewritten and fundamental assumptions such as medical confidentiality are being overturned. In private, officials admit the end state of all this is unclear, but the public language about what is happening to your confidential medical records is carefully chosen to obfuscate and pacify.

I must say I am glad I do not live in England.

5. a little “o”…

Finally, an article by 1 boring old man, from his site:

This starts as follows:
Several years ago, I wrote a ten part series called the dreams of our fathers that reviewed the coming of the DSM-III and some of its later history. It starts here. It was my attempt to catchup on the history I didn’t know. The short version is that the psychological theories of the analysts had to go, and the group in Saint Louis who wanted to medicalize psychiatry came to the fore. The architect of the system, Dr. Robert Spitzer, wrote:
    The approach taken in DSM-III is atheoretical with regard to etiology or pathophysiological process except for those disorders for which this is well established and therefore included in the definition of the disorder. Undoubtedly, with time, some of the disorders of unknown etiology will be found to have specific biological etiologies, others to have specific psychological causes, and still others to result mainly from a particular interplay of psychological, social, and biological factors…
    Robert Spitzer, in the DSM-III, p 6.
The system was based on descriptive criteria and hinged of inter-rater reliability [substituting for the elusive validity every wanted]. It was based on the Research Diagnostic Criteria [RDC] developed by Spitzer at the NIMH. Besides jettisoning the psychological formulations, it was designed to make communication between clinicians more standardized and to facillitate research in psychiatry. In spite of Dr. Spitzer’s assurances about parsing these diagnoses between disorders of psychological and biological origin, psychiatry became focused on biology, and that sorting, or even any attempts disappeared. The DSM-5 Task Force began its life in 2002 with the explicit goal of matching the findings of biological research with the diagnostic system, completing the transition to a biology based system, but that enterprise failed – globally.

The objections to the clinical diagnostic system were that the psychiatric drugs were not specific for any particular diagnosis. The neuroimaging findings and genetic studies likewise failed to map onto the clinical diagnostic groups. There were no biomarkers of any clinical entity located along the way, nor any biological targets that showed syndrome specificity. We might add that the pharmaceutical industry had run out of clones of the two major classes – SSRIs and Atypical Antipsychotics – and was moving away from CNS drugs after a quarter century feeding frenzy.

That sounds to me like a massive failure, and that can be explained quite well.

The explanation is that psychiatry never was a real science, and certainly not since the DSM-III. Here are some of my reasons (and I am a psychologist and a philosopher) - and for a lot more, see the quite long but quite thorough
DSM-5: Question 1 of "The six most essential questions in psychiatric diagnosis" (from April 2012) or the less long (though still considerable) Arguments against psychiatry (from January 2013):
  • Up to the DSM-III psychiatry was not a science - I think most current psychiatrists would agree, and anyway it was an enormous and complicated mixture of every possible theory, nearly always presented - in my experience - as if this was it: The True Therapy And Theory, while none of it was ever based on any solid understanding of the brain, of personality, of character, of selves, of meaning, of society, of families, of power etc. etc.
  • Since the DSM-III psychiatry cannot be a science: A science consists of theories, and where there are no theories there is no science. (But never fear: There are over 400 "diagnoses"[2] of "disorders" in the DSM-5, that nearly all are based on absolutely nothing that is properly called scientific, and indeed they are there because of the anonymous votes of a few tens of psychiatrists.)
  • "Inter-rater reliability" is fake: it rates the agreements of the (pre-)judgments that several psychiatrists made, which does not say
    anything about whether these judgments make scientific sense, which indeed also is an impossible question of a "science" without theories, and besides begs many questions. (Such as: Clearly you can get good agreement on some visible symptoms. But what causes the symptoms? Psychiatrists normally do not know, and have few ideas - except that it would be very good for their patients to try the latest patented medicine.)
  • It is fake because there is no guarantee of any kind, in almost every case, that the diagnostic terms that the psychiatrists agree on, in x procent of the cases, are anything other than mere terms, mere figments of the imagination, and this is certainly true of many of the new "diagnoses" [2] that the various DSMs introduced.
  • 1 boring old man is right that the effect has been to make psychiatry biological or much more properly "biological": there is remarkably little sound knowledge about the brain, and hardly any knowledge that connects specific parts and patterns of the brain's functioning with specific mental (classes of) events: No one knows, at this point in time.
  • Given the above points, it is easy to explain the non-specificity of psychiatric drugs: those prescribing them have no scientific ideas; easy to explain that neuroimagining and genetic studies all failed to pan out: the diagnoses were based on bullshit and scientifically unfounded hopes or pretensions; easy to explain that no clinical entity found a solid biomarker: the clinical entities were for 95% solid bullshit; and finally it is easy to explain the withdrawal of the pharmaceutical industry: the game and the responsibilities are going to alter, in 2016 - but they have made their billions, with the help of the psychiatrists, at the cost of millions of ruined lives, and indeed also at the cost of a far less pretentious but mostly scientific psychiatry.
There is a lot more in the article, that is probably not quite in agreement with what I think (and I never made a living as a psychiatrist or as a psychologist, and also never wanted to), but here is 1 boring old man's sum-up (in part):
I would claim that my suggestions that we have a faulty diagnostic system badly in need of a different kind of revision; a simple pharmacopeia of symptomatic remedies; and blinders on with a fixation on the brain over mind and life (..)
OK...and psychiatry is not and never was a science. [3]
---------------------------------
Notes
[1] Here it is necessary to insist, with Aristotle, that the governors do not rule, or at least, should not rule: The laws rule, and the government, if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn Greenwald:
It is more proper that law should govern than any one of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servants of the laws.
(And I note the whole file I quote from is quite pertinent.)

[2] I put quote-marks around "diagnoses" because a psychiatric "diagnosis" is not a diagnosis as the term is used in medicine, for those diagnoses are usually based on some solid science and on some provable disease, which contrasts wildly with the verbal "diagnoses" of imaginary "disorders" psychiatrists agree on.

[3] It may be an art, and people who do get insane, which happens quite a lot, do merit help. But having seen over a 100 years of solid definite  psychiatric pseudoscience, that is always presented as if it were science, for one and only one reason: it makes it much more profitable for psychiatrists, I have become a solid proponent of getting rid of psychiatry-as-science.

It isn't a science and it never was, and it will only be one - supposing by that time there still is a reason - when a lot more is known about the brain, and also
of personality, of character, of selves, of meaning, of society, of families, of power, of emotions, and of a lot more, that for the time being are mostly only questions or at best guesses very much rather than scientific answers.

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief[2]
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)



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