1. The Euro
2. Trump and the Transformation of Politics
3. scathing indictments…
This is a Nederlog of Sunday, August 28, 2016.
is a crisis log. There are 3 items with 3 dotted links: Item
1 is a review of a book by Joseph Stiglitz on the euro, but I
didn't like it; item 2 is about some sort
of transformation of politics, but it is all extremely vague and
imprecize; while item 3
is a fine and interesting article about science and medicine by a
pensioned psychiatrist: I liked this and wrote rather a lot about it,
but part of the reason is that I am ill and a psychologist/philosopher.
In any case, the conclusion is that much is rotten in current
science, and I agree - and it is mostly due to corruption
of scientists, I add: Many are much more interested in money and status
than in science.
1. The Euro
The first item today is by Bethany McLean on Truthdig:
This is in fact a review of Joseph Stiglitz's
(<-Wikipedia) latest book, that is called as said in the title,
which also has a subtitle worth quoting: How a Common Currency
Threatens the Future of Europe, and that is indeed what the
book is about.
Incidentally, according to Wikipedia Stiglitz is currently the third
most influential economist in the world - which I say because I didn't
know (I did know he won a Nobel Prize in economics).
This review starts as follows:
The timing couldn’t be better for Joseph
Stiglitz’s new book, “The Euro.” In it, Stiglitz recounts the tragic
irony of how the euro, which was supposed to bring Europe together, is
in fact driving it apart, or as he writes: “Economies that were
supposed to converge have instead diverged.” When Britain’s decision to
leave the European Union shook global financial markets recently, we
were all reminded that what happens in Europe affects the entire world.
Stiglitz — who calls the eurozone “a
beautiful edifice erected on weak foundations” — writes that “the
cracks were clear from the beginning, but after the 2008 crisis, those
cracks became fissures.” He notes the huge costs, including rampant
unemployment and economic stress, of the austerity measures that have
been deployed by the EU, the European Central Bank and the
International Monetary Fund (known colloquially as the Troika)
purportedly to fix so-called crisis countries such as Greece, Ireland
and Spain, whose economies were thrown into disarray after 2008. The
resulting battle between creditor nations like Germany and debtor
nations like Greece is creating “poorer growth and more divisiveness”
than there would have been without any euro at all, argues Stiglitz,
whose cogent conclusion is that “the European project is too important
to be sacrificed on the cross of the euro.”
I say. I would not have put it
thus, although I did not read the book.
But I simply disagree that "the European project" was a good
idea, and I never thought it was. States have a
long history, and are founded on territories, shared
values and generally a specific language and specific
laws; federations of states are new creatures without any
real history and without any real identity.
Besides, speaking about the Euro (which is
the title of the book): I think that
also was a major mistake, that is, apart from the really rich:
for me, everything simply got 2 1/2 times as
expensive in euroos as it was in guilders and the only
reason I am as poor as I ever was and not poorer is that my income was
made 2.2 times as much as it was before the euro. (And I can buy less
for 1 euro than I could for 1 guilder, though 1 euro = 2.2 guilders
Next there is this, that Bethany McLean
seems to dislike, judged by her phrasing:
At the root of the book is his deep
contempt for what he calls “neoliberal” principles, or “market
fundamentalism” — in essence, the belief that free-market policies will
solve economic and social issues — which he says has been “discredited”
and “flies in the face of a huge body of economic research showing that
there is a need for a wider role for government.” The austerity
measures undertaken by the Troika are based on this antiquated belief
system, in his view.
I say, again. Well, I agree on this with
Joseph Stiglitz, and I think that a reviewer who seems to seriously
believe "that free-market policies will solve
economic and social issues" is an incompetent
free market" is utter baloney.
There's more of the same level, but this
is enough for me.
Trump and the Transformation of
item is by John Feffer on Common Dreams:
This has a subtitle that is worth quoting:
populists all over the world are benefiting from three simultaneous
The article starts as follows:
of political parties is rather boring. Not much has changed since the
French Revolution, which produced the the terms “Left” and “Right” to
reflect where people sat in the National Assembly. The early 20th century saw the rise of
Communist parties on the far left. Shortly later, fascist parties began
to emerge on the far right. Aside from these challenges from the
margins, most countries have produced some version of a conservative
(Christian Democrat, Republican) party and a liberal (Labor, Social
Democratic) party. These parties have alternated in power, sometimes
even ruling in coalition.
I say. It
happens to be the case that I mostly agree with the first paragraph,
but it also happens to be the case that many on the left or
have told me that the distinction between Left and Right is outdated,
and should be given up. I don't like their arguments, but I have
certainly seen, heard and read them.
Here is the
first of the three changes in the subtitle:
The first is
cultural. Movements for civil liberties have been remarkably successful
over the last 40 years. Women, ethnic and religious minorities, and the
LGBTQ community have secured important gains at a legal and cultural
level. It is remarkable, for instance, how quickly same-sex marriage
has become legal in more than 20 countries when no country recognized
it before 2001.
That is one
way of looking up the last 35 to 40 years, and congratulate oneself on
what "the LGBTQ community" and other "minorities" have reached.
Another way of
judging the same era is by saying that the poor got poorer; the rich
got richer; democracy is dead or dying, as is the free press; and
many individual freedoms and rights have been broken down because of
"terrorism", while at present something like 4 billion people are
secretly spied upon and made into dossiers by many secret services.
Feffer wants to say none of that is "culture" in his reckoning. I
merely note I disagree and move on to the second of the three changes:
backlash is economic. The globalization of the economy has created a
class of enormously wealthy individuals (in the financial, technology,
and communications sectors). But globalization has left behind huge
numbers of low-wage workers and those who have watched their jobs
relocate to other countries.
No. I am sorry, but "the globalization of the economy" is merely propaganda
talk without content.
What really happened is that
the rich invested a whole lot of money in politics;
corrupted most politicians (left, right and center); and used that to deregulate the economy to get enormously
much richer themselves, while making the poor poorer, and destroying
the middle class by (more propaganda talk) "relocating their jobs to other countries" - i.e. stealing
their jobs and destroying their factories in the West, and giving
their jobs to the poor in
India or China, because they were allowed to do so after deregulations, and these poor are much poorer than the poor in the West, which give the
rich much more profits for themselves.
But I take it that may well be
"too radical" for Feffer. Here is the third change:
I am sorry, but this is more baloney. You can't
rationally judge "people living
like that. There are many hundreds of millions who live in the formerly
rich formerly democratic West, and they differ a lot in intelligence,
in education, and in values.
backlash, and perhaps the most consequential, is political. It’s not
just that people living in democracies are disgusted with their leaders
and the parties they represent. Rather, as political scientists Roberto
Stefan Foa and Yascha Mounk write in the Journal of Democracy,
“they have also become more cynical about the value of democracy as a
political system, less hopeful that anything they do might influence
public policy, and more willing to express support for authoritarian
What does seem true is that quite a few seem to have lost their trust
in politicians. If so, they are right, but again this is all too
vague and too imprecize to be of value,
and indeed the same is true of the article.
The third and last item today is and isn't a crisis item. It is by
1boringoldman (in fact a pensioned American psychiatrist):
I think this is part of the crisis,
but I am pretty certain I would not have found it if I hadn't been ill
for 37 years now, which caused me to delve far more into
medicine and psychology and psychiatry and their justifications
than I would have done if (1) I were not ill nor indeed if (2) I had
been treated morally and intellectually decently by medics (but I
wasn't, by the large majority), nor indeed (3) if I were not a
philosopher of science with strong tastes for mathematics, logic and
In fact, I have been treated morally
and intellectually decently by medics, but only
by a relatively small minority (3 in 30), and I have concluded from
that that the majority of medical doctors (I have met, and
generalizing: there are ) does not at all
consist of patient-serving moral heroes, but of self-serving
rich men and women, who destroy your individual rights as if that
is modern medicine, and who nearly always lie, both actively
and also - especially - very much by omission: You are almost
always told the very minimum of what they could tell.
Incidentally, you need not believe me, but if you don't you
have not been ill with an unexplained disease since 37 years,
while almost nothing you said or wrote was even answered by
anyone with medical or other power. 
This article starts as follows:
In spite of an undergraduate
mathematics degree and statistical training in a subsequent academic
fellowship, I think I had retained a relatively naive yes/no way of thinking rather than seeing
various shades of maybe. My
brother-in-law is a social psychologist who taught statistics and for a
time studied the factors involved in voting patterns. It all seemed way
too soft for the likes of me to follow. Like many physicians, I’m
afraid I just listened for the almighty
yes/no p-value at the end. So when I became interested in
the clinical drug trials that pepper the psychiatric literature, I was
unprepared for the many ways the analyses can be manipulated and
distorted. I was unfamiliar with things like power
calculations and effect sizes.
I say - which I say in part because I know
1boringoldman is smart, also statistically (unlike many medics and
psychologists), and in part because I have been thoroughly bored by "power calculations" and "effect
sizes" in the early 1980ies in the
education I got to become a psychologist. 
And in fact that was a small part of the reason why I concluded then
(in 1980/1) that psychology was not a real science (see here
for those who want an argument: it is not by me, but it is cogent), for
what I learned was rather simply that in psychology experiments
generally went the reverse way of how they should
mostly in order to compensate for the fact that there often were only
minimally sufficient persons (other than first-year psychology
students, to be sure ) to run statistical tests
with any significant outcome.
Thus experiments were generally run with a minimal number of subjects,
and with such tests as could find something significant in that, and
they were very much less interested in proving truth than in proving a
significant result that would strengthen the academic status of
its psychological authors.
That was the science of psychology as taught to me: It
was not a science, but it was a way for the few academics
in universities to get status and money for themselves - and indeed
in that respect (getting status and
money for themselves) it was quite successful as well, which is
also why very few academics protested that real
science is quite different: Doing so would have cost them in
and it might have meant the end of their academic careers. 
But maybe you don't believe me. Here
is the first item from which 1boringoldman quotes, and it is
indeed quite good:
In this blog, I’ve been
preoccupied with studies where scientific results have been manipulated
on purpose for financial gain by the pharmaceutical sponsors of
clinical drug trials. But there are other motives to distort research
findings eg academic advancement «publish or
perish». And then, of course, you can just do it wrong, misuse the complicated tools
of statistical analyses. Ten years ago, John Ioannidis published a
widely read article that focused attention on the magnitude of the
I draw your attention to the facts that
indeed the full text is on-line (but it is
technical); that it was well received; that it covers all of
science; and that is said that the majority of scientific
research findings are false.
Why Most Published Research Findings Are False
[full text on-line]
Now, you might incline (if you know some philosophy of science)
to reason as follows: OK - and that is all of science, but doesn't
science weed out false theories by doing replication studies
for any interesting finding?!
Yes and no, it turns out, and this is the subject of the second
item thay 1boringoldman quotes:
The gold standard for scientific
research is replication – can an independent researcher repeat the
study and reproduce the results. Last year, Bryan Nosek was able to
engage colleagues to repeat 100 studies in academic psychology – with
the cooperation of the original authors. The results were eye-opening,
now known as the Replication
Here is a part of the conclusion of that last
the reproducibility of psychological science
A large portion of replications
produced weaker evidence for the original findings despite using
materials provided by the original authors, review in advance for
methodological fidelity, and high statistical power to detect the
original effect sizes.
This strongly suggests - I'd say -
that the original studies were often not quite honest
(and one is reminded of the Dutch psychologist fraud Diederik Stapel, although he was
probably considerably more fraudulent than most, for he falsified everything
- and got away with it for over 15 years ).
Here is the third item 1boringoldman gives, and this one is
about psychology, cognitive neuroscience and medicine:
This week, Denes Szucs and John
Ioannidis released a preprint of a study of 5 years of reearch papers
in 18 prominent journals from psychology, neuroscience, and medicine,
estimating a whopping 50% False Positive rate [or even worse in the
cognitive neuroscience articles]:
Again the full text is on line and is
technical, and in fact the results for cognitive neuroscience are even worse
than for psychology:
Empirical assessment of published effect sizes and
power in the recent cognitive neuroscience and psychology literature
[full preprint online]
14% of papers reported some
statistically significant results, although the respective F statistic
and degrees of freedom proved that these were non-significant; p value
errors positively correlated with journal impact factors. False report
probability is likely to exceed 50% for the whole literature. In light
of our findings the recently reported low replication success in
psychology is realistic and worse performance may be expected for
Maybe you understand now a little better why
I don't think psychology is a real science: Over 50% of its
are false, and besides large parts of the findings cannot be properly
replicated or fail when replicated.
And this is 1boringoldman's conclusion:
But the work comes from a solid
source, is consistent with other investigations, and will surely add
fuel to what seems to be a much needed look at how the scientific
community conducts and publishes research. These are scathing
indictments. I think I’ve been like one of those blind men feeling only
part of the elephant, thinking this was a problem confined to the
commercially sponsored clinical trials of pharmaceuticals. It’s
obviously much bigger than that – maybe as big as the whole domain of
I think he is right, and the one
qualification I have is that I think that much of what is taught
as science, especially in non-mathematical fields, and that pretends to be science, in fact is not
science, but is pretended to be science because those who are not
educated in it usually cannot see through it, while those educated in it make much
money by pretending to be scientists.
And there still are good scientists who are interested in finding the
probable truth, but they are in a minority. The majority of scientists
- especially in non-mathematical fields - are somewhere inbetween fakes
and frauds, and are like anyone else doing a job for
They are doing what they are doing because it makes them a lot of
money, gives them easy jobs, and provides them with a lot of status.
Real scientific probable truth does not really interest them. What they
are interested in, and normally get if they achieved an academic
career, is money for themselves and status for themselves.
And that is what most science is about these days: money and
status for reputed scientists most do not have the knowledge to
The result is that most of what counts as science is not
science but "science", simply judged by its empirical results, which
are mostly false.
Finally, the reasons for this differ rather a lot, for there are many
ways in which one can be not quite honest or very dishonest or anywhere
in between - and they seem to be all used, and the fundamental
is that most scientists are much more interested in their own incomes
and status (like ordinary people, that is) than in what they
produce (again like ordinary people), which therefore often is not
real science, but is only "science" pretending to be science, because
it enriches and empowers its authors.
I do not know what to do about this. 
 I do
know this is a considerable generalization (from the scientists and
pretended scientists I know, to all scientists) but it is based on such
facts as I know (and I spent over 20 years in and around a university),
and in fact is better founded than most psychological
experiments I have seen, for it is based on considerably more subjects
and considerably fewer presumptions.
 One of the
reasons medical people almost never answered anything I wrote or said
is that in fact I am for them not a real individual with a real
life and real interests, but I am merely
1 of N subjects diagnosed - somehow, by someone, with some medical
degree - with X, and because of that diagnosis (totally disregarding
all possible criticism and doubt) I cease to be a real person
(if I ever was one) and am made into one of many Xs, without any
This was not the case before 1990 or so, but is so ever since,
especially for patients with little known diseases.
 At that time, the study of psychology
was supposed to take 6 years in Holland, and usually was a little more.
At this time, the study of psychology is supposed to take 4 years,
while the level of the students is even lower than it was in the
Seventies and Eighties.
These are simply facts, and because of them I very much doubt there is
as much statistics given as I and all other students did get in the
and if it is, it will very probably be limited to small groups of
(But I am guessing, and haven't been in the University at all for some
12 years now.)
 In fact this is not "Is
psychology a science?" but is called "The
Scientific Paradigm". I got this when using a link for the former.
A little more searching also delivered "No
Theory, No Science". I suppose these two essays are the result of
sharpening the original "Is
psychology a science?" which I can't find anymore - or at least not by
Paul Lutus, for the question is posed by quite a few others on the
 I did get three months of introduction
to "scientific experiments", but found that all the
psychological research I know that was done in the UvA was in fact done
on first-year students of psychology, who were forced to submit
to a series of experiments as part of their education (it was said).
I was as well and didn't mind - but I did find it strange that if
anything was published, it was never said that all the subjects were in
fact between 18 and 20 and first-year students of psychology: Everything
was left out, other than that they were "subjects".
 It did, in my case, and was done quite
effectively and illegally: After I had criticized my teachers of
philosophy, I was simply denied the right of taking the M.A. in that,
although this was completely illegal, which again was not
admitted because the university simply did not reply to any
mail or any letter I sent, which they did to evade all responsibility
and all accountability.
And in psychology I was told, while I was publishing my Spiegeloog-columns, that
(literally) "the teachers" - that is, the academic psychologists with extremely
easy jobs that were very well paid - "love to see you dead".
This was not the case for everyone, but seems to have been the
opinion of the solid majority. I did not think I could get a job at the
UvA, and since I did not have the health to leave Holland, I gave up.
(And indeed the professor who helped me most fled from the UvA in 2005,
and emigrated to the USA, where he has since been professor.)
 The reference to Diederik Stapel
is the first of several, and is from November 1, 2011 (longer ago than
I thought). In fact, he got off almost completely scotfree.
And it should be stressed that while Stapel falsified everything,
including his data, most psychologists do a whole lot less, without
really being honest, simply because there are many ways to make
it seem as if one's findings are
more serious than they really are.
This is also my explanation for the facts reported by Ioannides:
Something went wrong, something was exaggerated (or played down), but
there are quite a few things that may have happened.
But if over 50% of the findings are false, the only conclusion I am
willing to draw is that "sciences" which produce those results are not
real sciences but pseudosciences
(<-Wikipedia). (Then again, I also never earned even one cent with
science or "science", so maybe that is why I am critical...)
I tried hard as a
student, but failed completely, for the simple reason that 19
out of 20 students were not interested in science, but only
in the money they could make with a degree. It was the same for
lecturers and professors, though the proportion was probably different.