24, 2014
Crisis: Surveillance, DSM-5 index, Magnesium & M.E.
  "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

We wanted the web for free – but the price is deep

2. Updating the DSM-5 index
3. me+ME: Be careful with magnesium 

About ME/CFS


This is a Nederlog of Sunday, August 24. It is a crisis log.

I am sorry but I found just one crisis item today, and it also happens to be a bad, mistaken and misleading article on The Guardian. It follows below, with my explanations why I think so.

And I thought of several things I might do to make up for the lack of articles, including writing some more about the causes of the crisis. But I lack the time, and instead spent some time on updating the DSM-5 index (of 2012), and on something one has to take care of when one has ME: Do not take too much

There probably will be more of a crisis file tomorrow.
1.  We wanted the web for free – but the price is deep surveillance 

The first item is an article by John Naughton on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

'Be careful what you wish for," runs the adage. "You might just get it." In the case of the internet, or, at any rate, the world wide web, this is exactly what happened. We wanted exciting services – email, blogging, social networking, image hosting – that were "free". And we got them. What we also got, but hadn't bargained for, was deep, intensive and persistent surveillance of everything we do online.

But this is just too simple minded, and indeed it starts with a cliché.

Firstly, very few did get what they wanted - or they must be very stupid or misinformed. Secondly, there are various kinds of "freedom". Third, all the surveillance I know about is secret surveillance: Nobody tells you or asks you anything - they just remove your personal data as if they have the right, which they do not

I'll turn to the various kinds of freedom below, when I turn to the choices users got: They did not get any, and were in fact spied upon in secret and quite illegally, and for many years. My basic point here is the third: No one was given a choice; it just happened, and it happened without any information. There was no bargain: ordinary people were simply sold out.

We ought to have known that it would happen. There's no such thing as a free lunch, after all. Online services cost a bomb to provide: code has to be written (by programmers who have to be paid); servers have to be bought or rented, powered, housed, cooled and maintained; bandwidth has to be paid for; and so on. So there were basically only two business models that could have supported our desires.

O Lord! Another major cliché: "There's no such thing as a free lunch". Firstly, that is false as well: Somebody has to pay for it, is true, but it certainly does not need to be the ones who are enjoying it. Secondly, there have been free lunches of billions of dollars for the rich and the internet tycoons. Ordinary people had to pay for it. Third, there were not "basically only two business models that could have supported our desires", were it only because "our desires" are far from clear or consistent, and because "users" were never given clear options.

One model involved us paying for stuff. But we (or most of us, anyway) proved deeply resistant to this idea. We had the fantasy that everything online should be free, after we'd paid an ISP for a connection to the net. So paying for stuff was a non-starter.

No. This is definitely due to Microsoft and Apple and Google very much more than to simple users (who in the beginning also tended to be especially the young, with little money): They offered their services mostly for free, and indeed in the beginning (say: from 1995-2000) it was quite unclear what was going to work financially. Also, it seems all three started spying from the beginning, and did so in secret, without asking or telling anyone.

The companies that provided the "free" services therefore had to find another business model. And in the end they found one: it was called advertising or, rather, putting advertisers in touch with the users of "free" services. And it turned out that the only way to do this involved intensive surveillance of everything those users did online.

No. First of all, the services were free - gratis, without payment - much rather than "free", and also regardless of the tritest of false clichés. Second, the users were never given any choice or warning. Third, advertisers spy as much as the NSA: They take data they have no right in taking. Fourth, the advertising was there from the beginning. Fifth, "the only way to do this involved intensive surveillance of everything those users did online" is a major falsification: It was not "the only way", for it could all have been asked but never was; and it also was not at all obvious that "everything" users did would be surveilled, and indeed to survey my personal e-mails does upset my privacy rights.

So nearly all of this is quite false. Here is the quite false conclusion:

The result is the dystopia that is the modern web.

It didn't have to be like this, of course. But for the path of online history to have been different, we – the users – would have to have been willing to pay for the privilege. You could say, therefore, that we have got the web that we deserve.

O yes: It's "the users" who did it! My goodness! I am not saying they are without fault, but basically none was ever given a choice: Their private data were and are illegally stolen by the NSA and the data-miners, and the decision to do so was all done in deep secret by a few governmental and internet high officials.

Clearly, if anyone is responsible, it is these people, much rather than billions of anonymous and powerless "users".

To blame
"the users" is to attribute a power and a mental clarity to them very few had in any way, while it is clear that the illegal decision to secretively datamine and surveil was the right of a few rich or powerful persons who headed internet companies or governmental spying or oversight.

But it is so very much easier to blame the victims, especially if they are anonymous and in the billions!

2. Updating the DSM-5 index

I have written since 2010, it turns out, about 130 files about the DSMs, though quite a few of these also contain some other materials.

Even so, it is a lot of text, and today I updated the index:

This is the same as I prepared on August 4, 2012, but with some 25 added files that I have written since, and also with the introduction now placed at the end instead of the beginning.

I started in 2010 as a psychologist and a philosopher who was quite skeptical about psychiatry as a science, with a skepticism that came from two directions:

I had in early 1968 read a good introduction to psychiatry that convinced me it was in fact mostly a pseudoscience, which has the following first paragraph in the Wikipedia, all of which is true of psychiatry, indeed in 1968 and before, and also since:
Pseudoscience is a claim, belief or practice which is presented as scientific, but does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status. Pseudoscience is often characterized by the use of vague, contradictory, exaggerated or unprovable claims, an over-reliance on confirmation rather than rigorous attempts at refutation, a lack of openness to evaluation by other experts, and a general absence of systematic processes to rationally develop theories.
And indeed, this was reaffirmed by my study of psychology, for at the time I studied it, most Dutch psychologists were skeptical about psychiatry, if usually not quite for my own reasons.

But I was not an opponent of psychiatry, simply because I knew there were quite a few persons with - let's say - psychological problems, and I also knew there were some who got mad, and I thought both should be helped, also if there wasn't much reliable scientific knowledge.

I still think both kinds of persons should be helped, but reading so much about - especially American - psychiatry since 2010 has convinced me that psychiatry is not the way to do so, in part precisely because they may prescribe pills, and do so at a much too large rate, and also for complaints that seem to have been mostly cooked up for the purpose of prescribing pills. (There are 10 times - 1000 % - more "disorders" in the DSM-5 than there were "disorders" in the 1950ies and 1960ies: Either mankind has fundamentally changed or psychiatry has turned quite corrupt. I suggest the latter hypothesis is very much more probable.)

I now think that the ones most qualified to help people with psychological problems are psychologists, in part because they cannot prescribe psychiatric pills. Also, I do not think psychologists know much more than psychiatrists, but they are more diverse, and are more inclined to listen to their patients.

3. me+ME: Be careful with magnesium

This is basically a warning for persons with M.E. who indeed rather often are helped by supplements of magnesium.

The warning is this: I had the first supplement-related complaint in 30 years this year, and the reason was that I was taking a bit more than twice the daily recommended allowance of magnesium, which is 375 mg in Holland. (In England: 300 mg for men and 270 mg for women.)

Here I should say that normally my digestion is quite good and regular, while it manifested itself since May in bouts of diarrhea that came and went, without my feeling more ill than is normal for me, and also without persisting consistently.

Well, I realized at some point it might be the magnesium I took, and since I stopped supplementing that my digestion is good and regular again.

In brief: Supplementing magnesium is quite sensible when you have M.E. but you should take care not to take too much.

[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)

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)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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