Prev-IndexNL-Next

Nederlog


  June
17, 2014
Crisis: Great Britain, Monbiot, atom bombs, U.S., EBM
   "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. Insecure Britain: poll shines light on nation's economic
     anxiety

2. Saving the world should be based on promise, not fear
3. Nuclear powers modernising arsenals, says study
4. The Most Destructive Presidencies in U.S. History: George
     W. Bush and Barack H. Obama

5.
requiem for evidence based medicine…

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is the Nederlog of June 17. It is an ordinary crisis log.

The exception is the last item, which is about medicine, that seems too difficult for modern medical people (I am only joking in part), especially if one thinks seriously and based on relevant knowledge about "evidence based medicine", which indeed really stinks. But it is not strongly related to the crisis.

1. Insecure Britain: poll shines light on nation's economic anxiety

The first item is an article by Tom Clark and Matthew Taylor on The Guardian:
Let me start with quoting the subtitle:
Recovery accepted by 56% voters but fewer than one in five say their family is benefiting, with 46% citing immigration concerns
For me this shows mainly that "the British public" has been quite successfully brainwashed (propagandized/"public relationed") and this follows from the above:

First, if 56% "accepted" (strange word) there is a recovery, but only 20% saw any benefits, I'd say this is strong evidence the recovery for the most part
only holds for the rich and the semi-rich, and not for the poor.

Second, if 46% cites "
immigration concerns" they are ignorant and brainwashed: It's not immigrants that keeps them poor, it is their government, that taxes the poor far more than the rich, as I explained yesterday. (But it is for A Good Cause: To make The Jobcreators richer.)

Here is some from the article itself, that starts as follows:

Voters in Britain have grasped that an economic recovery is under way, but precious few are feeling the benefit, according to a Guardian/ICM poll that shines a spotlight on the anxiety of a nation.

A majority of the public (56%) accept that the economic recovery is real, but fewer than one in five voters, just 18%, say their families are benefiting.

However, if the initial findings appear to validate Ed Miliband's focus on the cost of living, when asked what underlies their economic uncertainty, voters point the finger at immigrants undercutting employment terms and conditions more than anything else.

I've dealt with this already, so I only remark, again, that "grasped" also is a strange term: Both "accepts" and "grasped" suggest the writers do not look upon those they polled as full citizens - or so it seems to me. Even if I am mistaken, this is not the way to write objectively: To write it down objectively is simply to write "believes", and not "accepts" or "grasped".

There is rather a lot more, including graphics, but I shall only quote a few bits:
A majority (57%) say "wages that lag behind living costs" are among the greatest worries about their own job, or those of friends and family.
OK. That seems fair enough, and indeed also is something those polled can judge fairly well. Actually, it is a major shame, for it shows that in a rich nation like Great Britain there are very many poor, all of whom pay a larger part of their incomes in tax than do the rich, but perhaps I am demeaning these folks by calling them "poor", though they are.

Here is some evidence for the major hold of propaganda on the mind of Britons (as they seem to like to be called):
The salience of immigration is reinforced by a separate question in which "curbing immigration" comes top of varied populist policies as the "single action politicians could take to bolster your faith in politics", with 26% picking that priority, as against 19% who prefer tax cuts and 15% who prioritise a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU. Leftish proposals for winning back trust command less support – more NHS funding being chosen by 13% and a higher minimum wage by 12%.
There is a considerable amount more under the last dotted link.

2. Saving the world should be based on promise, not fear

The next item is an article by George Monbiot on The Guardian:

He seems to have made a major discovery about himself, or at least that is what his subtitle suggests:

For 30 years I banged on about threats. But research shows we must to be true to ourselves – and to the wonder in nature

I say: "research" (?!) "shows we must to be true to ourselves" (really now?!) "– and to the" (?!) "wonder in nature". Oh Lord! But OK, let's see.

It starts as follows:

If we had set out to alienate and antagonise the people we've been trying to reach, we could scarcely have done it better. This is how I feel, looking back on the past few decades of environmental campaigning, including my own.

I say, again. The least it did deliver for Monbiot was an annual income of pounds 74,400 (about ten times my income); two honorary doctorates; one honorary fellowship; and a weekly column on The Guardian, so I must conclude that personally he did a whole lot better from his thirty years of attempting "to alienate and antagonise" people than I did, though indeed he also was healthy, and I was not.

And no, I do not envy him or his income: I merely noticed that, as indeed for nearly all of the left and the environmentalists who got something like a name, this does work for them, personally, and apart from any possible misgivings they may have or pretend to have.

Then the research. I saw on Wikipedia that he has a degree in zoology. I have degrees in psychology and philosophy, and as I said last week, when I also discussed a column of Monbiot's prose, I certainly do not take the research (in my field) as serious as does Monbiot.

But here is what he says he has learned:

I've been engaged in contradiction and futility. For about 30 years. The threats, of course, are of a different nature: climate breakdown, mass extinction, pollution and the rest. And they are real. But there's no obvious reason why the results should be different. Terrify the living daylights out of people, and they will protect themselves at the expense of others and of the living world.

I keep saying "I say", but what else can I say? He says (and I agree) that he dealt with "climate breakdown, mass extinction, pollution and the rest. And they are real" - but he also says he should not have represented them - for 30 years! with substantial personal benefits! - as threats. I suppose that what he should have been saying all those years was: 'Well, the climate is breaking down, and there is mass extinction and incredible pollution, and millions or billions risk being killed - but don't you worry, o my fellow Britons! You will survive! I promise! Trust me! It's a wonder of nature!'

For that is what he has learned - somehow: I have no idea - from "psychological research". And what he has learned, he puts in somewhat more detail as follows:

None of this is to suggest that we should not discuss the threats or pretend that the crises faced by this magnificent planet are not happening. Or that we should cease to employ rigorous research and statistics. What it means is that we should embed both the awareness of these threats and their scientific description in a different framework: one that emphasises the joy and awe to be found in the marvels at risk; one that proposes a better world (...)

I am sorry. What he is doing is merely restyling the wrapper, so that the real threats will not look like real threats, and can be replaced by THE article the propaganda/"public relations" departments specialize in: Promises, promises, promises.

O lord - but sure: ordinary people like it better not to hear a word of criticism.

3. Nuclear powers modernising arsenals, says study

The next item is an article by Richard Norton-Taylor on The Guardian:

This starts as follows - and indeed this is serious:

All five legally recognised nuclear-weapons states – China, France, Russia, Britain and the US – are deploying new nuclear weapon delivery systems or have announced programmes to do so, according to an authoritative study.

India and Pakistan are also developing new systems capable of delivering nuclear weapons and are expanding their capacities to produce fissile material for military purposes. And there is an emerging consensus in the expert community that North Korea has produced a small number of nuclear weapons, as distinct from rudimentary nuclear explosive devices.

These are the conclusions of the latest annual survey by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri), which says nine states – the US, Russia, the UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea – possess a total of approximately 4,000 operational nuclear weapons.

I am not quite sure about the status or relevance of "legally recognised", but that is a minor problem. Here is the reason why this is serious:

"Once again this year, the nuclear weapon-possessing states took little action to indicate a genuine willingness to work toward complete dismantlement of their nuclear arsenals. The long-term modernisation programmes under way in these states suggest their views that nuclear weapons will remain deeply embedded elements of their strategic calculus," said the Sipri researchers, Shannon Kile and Phillip Patton Schell.

Yes, indeed. In case this does not worry you (and provided you like to know the truth rather than sing songs full of praise for chances to learn about the wonders of physics and nature, on the Monbiot line), you might take a peep at Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove, which was in fact made when there were far fewer nuclear missiles, and the fear about them was larger.

And for those who do not worry, here is Bertrand Russell's ”History of the World (for use in Martian schools)" from 1960:

Since Adam and Eve at the apple,
man has never refrained from any folly,
Of which he was capable.

4.  The Most Destructive Presidencies in U.S. History: George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama

The next item is an article by Charles Hugh Smith on Washington's Blog:

This starts as follows - and I am sorry that Charles Hugh Smith has the habit of writing the first sentences of his short paragraphs in bold: I merely copy:

Powers once granted are almost impossible to take back.

After 13.5 years, there is more than enough evidence for reasonable people to conclude that the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama are easily the most destructive in U.S. history.

When historians speak of failed presidencies or weak presidencies, they are typically referring to presidencies characterized by uneven leadership, petty corruption by self-serving cronies or in extreme cases such as the Nixon presidency, abuses of executive power.

But weak or failed presidencies are not destructive to the rule of law and the foundations of the nation. The failed president leaves office and the basic structure of the nation continues: the rule of law, the balance of powers and a free-market economy.

A destructive president weakens or corrupts these core structures in favor of executive-branch powers, and passes these unconstitutional powers to the next executive for further expansion.

The Bush and Obama presidencies have effectively dismantled the rule of law and the Constitution by invoking essentially unlimited executive powers in the name of “national security:” we the citizens of the U.S. can now be accused of violating secret laws, be indicted in secret, tried in secret and sentenced to life in prison based on evidence fabricated in secret, i.e. declaring unclassified documents classified after the fact to incriminate and imprison whistleblowers.

How is this any different from totalitarian fascist regimes?

Well... let's see. Here are some points:

  • First, it should be emphasized that the extensions of the power of the executives has been motivated by 9/11/2001 and has been legitimated, in part at least, by the - quite conservative - US Supreme Court.

    I consider all of that mistaken (and if 9/11 was a false flag operation: deeply criminal) but this should at least have been mentioned.

  • Actually, I do not know for sure about "most destructive": I agree both Bush and Obama were bad presidents (for the people: they were very good to the rich), but I do not, myself, know enough about all other U.S. presidents - and my guess is most do not know more than I do.

  • As to "How is this any different from totalitarian fascist regimes?":

    1. It is not - yet, at least - totalitarian: Criticism is still possible, and is not forbidden, even though it is true not much criticism reaches the dominant media, and indeed all critics must count with being tracked,
    traced and surveilled these days, all in secret, by the NSA or one of the other secret Five Eyes.

    2. As to "fascism": This much depends on (i) the definition of "fascism" one presumes, (ii) on the topics one addresses and
    (iii) on the audience one addresses.

    I think myself that the species of authoritarianism Bush and Obama furthered may indeed be a preparation of - an American kind of - fascism, in case this is defined as follows (see: "Crisis: Hypotheses about the causes of the crisis"):

        In principle, corporate fascism - defined as: the state is de facto
        owned and run by and for the major international corporations, that are
        multinationals and beyond state or judicial control [Note 1] - in
        combination with the surveillance state - defined as: the state's
        surveillance and recording of the activities, interests, concerns, ideas,
        values, of its population - means
    effective absolute power for small
        corporate élites plus their executives, and effective slavery for the
        rest.

    But there are other definitions of "fascism" which make the term a lot less applicable, and also it depends - currently - much on the topics one discusses: yes, in case it is about de facto control of the government by the big corporations, and yes, in case it is about surveillance of everybody, but no in other case, such as freedom of expression.

    Besides, most audiences do not like to hear about "fascism" and certainly do not like to be called "fascists" or likened to them.

Anyway... there is rather a lot more (with almost all beginnings of paragraphs bolded), but for me it is mostly a bit too sensationalistic, too much dependent on unstated definitions, and too journalistic, although I vaguely agree (more than not, though not with bolding most of one's initial sentences of paragraphs).

5.  requiem for evidence based medicine…

The last item is again about medicine, and is here mostly because I have been thinking (occasionally, to be sure) about "evidence based medicine" since I first heard the term, simply because it sounds like a thorough fraud, that also hides most things that are very relevant (such as the almost total lack of deep understanding of mathematical statistics or philosophy of science among medical people).

So this is less about the crisis than about a basic unclarity in the practice of medicine, and it is here mostly because I am ill since 1.1.1979 but cannot get that accepted since the start of "evidence based medicine".

The article is by 1 boring old man, on his site:

To start with, if X is any real science, such as physics, to say or write "evidence based X" is a complete tautology with a marked propagandistic sound: it is as if prior to X being styled as "evidence based X", no practitioner of X was basing his science on evidence, which is just utter bullshit.

The supposed scientists may have been mistaken - indeed most of science will eventually be seen as mistaken or as quite partial and incomplete, in time - but the marks of science are that it is based on evidence, logic, and experiments rather than on fashions, mere opinions, or wishful thinking, and so to insist that science X is "evidence based" strongly suggests propaganda rather than science.

Here is an initial quoted paragraph of propounders of "evidence based medicine", from a recent article in the BMJ:
It is more than 20 years since the evidence based medicine working group announced a “new paradigm” for teaching and practising clinical medicine. Tradition, anecdote, and theoretical reasoning from basic sciences would be replaced by evidence from high quality randomised controlled trials and observational studies, in combination with clinical expertise and the needs and wishes of patients.
If that is what it is, it was propagandistic bullshit from the start: almost thirty years before that, I was working for Excerpta Medica, and surely the extremely many medical journals I had to deal with all presented medicine as involving evidence as the crucial criterion to distinguish between fact and fiction.

Here are some other pointers:

"
new paradigm": From Kuhn, and utterly confused grandiose nonsense (Masterman distinguished 28 meanings of the term in Kuhn's writings alone!); "clinical medicine": a very vague term; "tradition, anecdote, and theoretical reasoning" were not the basis of any real science since the 19th Century; there were no "high quality randomised controlled trials": at best there were "randomised controlled trials" with very few participants, and also based on a fundamental statistical confusion (see: DSM-5: Why the DSM-5 is TOTALLY DEAD (yes, it IS  - but alas this is real and fundamental statistics, which seems much too difficult for most medical people); a phrase like "clinical expertise" is itself exaggerated (in the end it means no more than: a doctor in a clinic thought...); and "the needs and wishes of patients" were, in so far as I could see (and I saw a lot) systematically ignored, denied, disregarded or falsified, and especially if the "patients" had any criticism or relevant knowledge.

And here is 1 boring old man (in fact, a mostly pensioned psychiatrist with a good mind):
Some reasons I don’t like Evidence·Based·Medicine are:

1. The idea generalizes a small, short-term experiment on carefully selected subjects as a paradigm for large, heterogeneous group who may take the medication for years [as if such a transformation is scientifically justified - which it rarely is].
2. It is built on the phantasy that is similar to the notion that building a model airplane that flies is the last step before going into production for jumbo jets.
3. It opens a portal for companies with only conflicts of interest to easily insert their products into mainstream medicine effortlessly
4. following from number 2., it virtually guarantees corruption [as has been shown repeatedly in a variety of venues].
5. While one motive of Evidence·Based·Medicine is to discourage sloppy "shooting from the hip," it replaces that with an even more dangerous sloppy dependence on rote and thoughtless practice.
6. It has been regularly used to withhold services and treatment, denigrate anything subjective in medicine, and justify practices that are supported by trivial statistics rather than clinical effectiveness.
7. It discourages the time honored method of evaluating medications by their performance in wide clinical practice.
8. The people setting the guidelines have been not only often compromised, but also largely non-practitioners.
9. It was itself an idealistic and naive experiment that failed its own clinical trial.
Yes, indeed.

Also, the first point is rather close to the falsification of statistics that was found by Peter Molenaar, a professor of statistics, and that may be summarized thus:
Most - nearly all - of the data on which psychiatry and pharmacology and psychology have been based do NOT allow the interpretaton psychiatrists, pharmacologists or psychologists have given to them:

The data have been assumed to be ergodic, but they are NOT ergodic.

You just cannot validly generalize about persons as has been done in psychology, psychiatry and pharmacology.
Put otherwise:

Whereas conventional statistics confuses the intra-individual differences with the inter-individual differences, that simply is based on a fundamental falsehood - you cannot pool diverse outcomes of diverse persons and then pretend the overall outcome applies to any one person: it does not and it misrepresents most persons.

Yet this is precisely what "the statistics" of medical, psychological and pharmaceutical applications have assumed and still do assume: That their averages do represent real persons, while they do not.

But OK - I take it this will need another generation or two to arrive in medical land. Statistics - real, rather than cookbook statistics, as are used in nearly all "medical experiments" is difficult, as is real science.

---------------------------------
Note
[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.)


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
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)



       home - index - summaries - mail