Nederlog

 

October 5, 2010

 

ME + me :  Whores of reason

Spiegeloog-columns


Published in "Spiegeloog" in December 1988
 

Whores of Reason

"If we believe in absurdities,
we shall commit atrocities
"
(Voltaire, en Anglais).

All reasoning is based on assumptions. So let me begin with some assumptions about you, reader: You are a serious and interested student, who would like to know a lot about psychology, and desires to specialize in this science. You (or your family) are making significant economic sacrifices for this, and you yourself invest literally at least 6 years of your life to achieve this goal - that is, to become a competent, scientifically capable psychologist, who is capable of doing good scientific research and of helping people with psychological problems. During those six years of study - that you could have spent with a higher income and without any obligations on welfare - you are dependent on the whims and vagaries of your teachers, for whom you are supposed to work without payment other than course points for passed examinations, while your academic teachers, although they pretend to treat you as their equals, receive 8 to 10 times as much money as you receive from your loan or grant.

None of this would be bad if two basic conditions would have been satisfied: 1. That you will receive a sound scientific education, because 2. your high-paid teachers are on average hard-working, competent and enthusiastic researchers and teachers of science, and are otherwise honest people. But neither is the case.

What
is the case, and why, is too complicated to explain in one text of a few pages, but what I will provide here are some considerations that may help you to fairly estimate the education you receive [in this university] in its full worthlessness:

I think that you and I are being deliberately deceived in the University of Amsterdam; that the scientific training that you receive has no real scientific merit; that the examinations are usually awfully bad; that the lectures are horribly boring and uninspired, and are presented in bad Dutch; that the books you are obliged to read are usually bad or are mediocre at best; that you are entitled to good syllabi and abstracts provided by your teachersm [which you get from none]; that the practical courses are exceptionally bad, and are designed without any inspiration and implemented awfully; and that, in brief, your lecturers and professors usually are didactical disasters who - deservedly - have no scientific reputation (outside the Netherlands) and do not publish anything of value; and for the rest are exceptionally lazy, unmotivated and boorishly impolite (the last in case you have any criticism).

What I said In the preceding paragraph I have been saying [and writing, in public] since 11 years; I'm 38, I have studied philosophy, psychology and did Scandinavian Studies at the University of Amsterdam, and the reason
that you may never have read this is that I suffer since 10 years from a rare muscular disease, while I also have had to go to court for about 6 years, because  the Executive Board of the University of Amsterdam refused to provide me the rights that I do have in Dutch law [as the court eventually agreed with me]. I also have set up a student movement that was represented in the University Parliament (Dutrch: Universiteits-raad = UR) for some years. In the fal ofl 1982 I wrote the following address to the University Parliament that I reproduce below almost literally, since it is still relevant while it also clarifies the background of my views.

I. Some reasons of principle why no (further) financial cuts should be made on science education and study grants.

1.
science as a cultural foundation: In at least two meanings of the word "scientific" we live in a scientific society: Our prosperity and our environment are largely the products of centuries of research, while a lot of what we call "high civilization" is based on standards for reasonable discussion, empirical research and rational behavior that form a part or are an extension of scientific methods.

Science is of fundamental importance our society: Apart from a number of political factors, our current level of prosperity based on an age of scientific research been made as knowledge, culture and technology and (until very recently) existing high (preparatory) scientific
education to apply and expand this knowledge and culture.
 
Science is fundamental to our culture: Methods of scientific reasoning are our only means to adequately understand and explain reality, and to rationally criticize senseless political ideologies, derailed religions and other forms of superstition.

And finally science provides us with the tools to alleviate human suffering - and it is a bitter and tragic truth about our time that, while there exist for the first time in the history of human civilization the knowledge and methods to alleviate global hunger, disease, environmental pollution and to eliminate these for the most part, only a very small part of these existing scientific possibilities are used.

Therefore there should be no (further) cutbacks on science and education - since after all:

  • The Netherlands live economically by science and by scientific education. Only by ensuring that Dutch society remains competitive with other highly developed countries in terms of science and by scientific education can it be assured that the Netherlands will remain prosperous.
     
  • A large part of our civilization is based on science and good (preparatory) academic education (see Section 1). A society can only maintain its high level of civilization by providing the largest possible proportion of its population with the highest possible training. Whoever makes cutbacks on science and scientific education strangles civilization.
     
  • Our society is based on an ideal that is also reflected in the Declaration of Human Rights (which is part of the Dutch law): Whoever has the abiilities for and interests in higher education should get the chance of following higher education

Then, students and budget cuts: The Minister of Education still seems to intend that the current system of grants and study loans will be abolished and instead students will be given fl 3500, - annually and be forced to live on loans to get the rest of the money to be able to survive. The result will be that almost only children of wealthy parents will be able to study in Holland, and the Netherlands will act  contrary to Article 26.1 of the Human Rights act ("Higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit. ") Every student should be entitled to welfare, both in terms of social justice and because studying is socially important, since presently doing nothing at all in the dole is financially better paid than studying all day to pass university exams. (*)

II. Evaluation of the University of Amsterdam

The above was quoted from something I wrote six years ago, and presented to the University Parliament.
All three proposals were voted upon in November 1982 and received one vote, viz. that of my group (the New Amsterdam Student Association, defunct since 1984 defunct due to the lack of student interest in a good scientific education). If that parliament had been more sensible six years ago, then maybe the government's educational policies might have been less nonsensical and damaging than they were. But the members of the University Parliament of the UvA did not want to react reasonably, six years ago. On the contrary: what the
the University Parliament wanted was "socially relevant education", "gay studies", "feminism", and politicized "science" that was specially tailored to the Five Year Developmental Plan of the UvA that declared that the university existed for the benefit of "the trade union movement, the women's movement, the environmental movement" and other leftist pressure groups in the Netherlands: From 1982 to 1987, during a whole generation of students, this was the Development Plan in terms of which the University of Amsterdam was governed.

Now [in 1988] the Executive Board that the University of Amsterdam suddenly wants "a technological university", and now the Executive Board suddenly claims that the kind of things that I proposed six years ago to the UR. That turnaround of 180 degrees means that:

Either a whole student generation at the UvA has been defrauded with utterly worthless and totally mistakenly oriented ill governned "education", or else the next student generation the UvA, will be defrauded by denying them the blessings of

"socially relevant education mainly for the benefit of the trade union's movement, the women's movement and the environment's movement"

Or else it means that the entire Board of the University of Amsterdam, its Executive Board, the University Parliament, and the boards and councils of faculties of the university provide pseudo-government on the basis of empty and impracticabler slogans.

Clearly, I hold the latter is true. It is a deliberate scam in exactly the same sense as the treachery of the priestly caste, that has deceived and parasited upon mankind for ages: In that sense, the UvA intellectuals, in terms of the Swedish leftist intellectual J. Myrdal, predominantly consisted of "whores of reason", who abused their ever so tiny little bit of talent that they have for careerism and parasiting - except that at a whore least gives that for which she was paid, whereas the professors and lectures of the UvA are predominantly focused on not doing that for which they are paid.

To make more clear why I think so, and why I think I have been scammed at the University of Amsterdam (wherefore I remigrated to Holland, to receive a good education, rather than the scam I and my generation of students were subjected to), and why I think that the entire teaching staff and the entire management of the University of Amsterdam is responsible for this utter scam, here follows an extended quotation from a letter of mine to the Executive Board of the University of Amsterdam.

Quality of education
 
Lectures: I have attended dozens and dozens of lectures and workgroups in different faculties given by dozens of lecturers and professors (usually only in part, given their quality). With exactly ONE exception they were invariably bad: Poorly presented, poorly prepared, in bad Dutch, without any enthusiasm or apparent competrence or special interest  in the subject, almost never accompanied by good lecture notes or summaries from the treated books prepared by the lecturers, and never inspiring, whereas the books in use, with a few exceptions, were poor or mediocre at best.

Moreover, the average quality and interest of the students, whose own  contributions are expected in working groups, was normally low, usually due to  factors beyond their control, such as the poor pre-university education that they had received, which led to difficulties in the use of foreign
texts (no French, no German) or with texts that included some mathematics.

Students: The qualities of the students were tested almost exclusively by almost invariably poor multiple-choice exams. Nothing was done in the UvA about the bad pre-university education, although this was urgently needed in the areas of foreign languages, mathematics and general knowledge.

Research into the quality of M.A.-theses written at the UvA, that constitutes excellent material to base a valid judgement about the qualities of training and teaching and the level of knowledge and skills provided by a course of education in the UvA, to my knowledge never happened.

Lecturers and professors: Your lecturers and professors are living in a parasites paradise: Nobody controls them, supposedly "because nobody has the qualities required to do so"; they do not have to satisfy any criterions of quality of any kind; and their salaries are extremely high, as are their status and privileges.

The result is that the vast majority of your lecturers and professors provide bad and lazy lectures, and do virtually no scientific work of any significance.

The COWO, the institute of the University of Amsterdan that is supposed to measure the quality of education and research, told me in 1982 that it would do no research concerning the qualities of the lecturers and professors, "because this only would give rise to large quarrel". The received cant at the University of Amsterdam, that has been publicly expressed by the Executive Board many dozens of times is that

"scientific qualities can not be objectively determined".

The truth is that this holds only if these qualities are not there.

And yes, there are some dedicated and competent lecturers and professors, but they constitute a very small minority, who  fear for their jobs and therefore keep their mouths shut about the surrounding mess, flee (Mr Spits, statistics), or are bullied away (Prof. van de Grind, physiology). (Compare also the brave, competent and gifted UvA-teacher Rentes de Carvalho, in a long interview in the Folia Civitatis [the weekly of the UvA] of September 9 last: This man speaks the truth about the University of Amsterdam, and does so based on 24 years experience).

Contents of the education: A large part of the education you receive in the UvA has little to do with science and has everything to do with political superstitions: you are studying in a faculty that is still dominated by the political folklore from the 1960's.

This leads to totalitarian education, in which university lecturers try to convince students of the more blatant nonsense, such as "truth does not exist", which is highly useful for feminists and the ASVA, but comes straight from the pen of Mao; "science and rational thought are morally irresponsible", because the mentally retarded abhor everything that conflicts with their prejudices, and "all standards are culturally relative", which makes it very easy for one to do as one damned well pleases without listening to arguments.

Finally: Anyone who studied in the past 15 years at the UvA in a softish "science" has been defrauded and scammed. As a student, you are also in a hopeless position to do something about it (and as I said: I have had to go throught three years of litigation against the UvA about something I was clearly right about): Your teachers are in majority corrupt, incompetent, and dishonest - but they all are entrenched on the softest cushions that are on offer in The Netherlands, and only governmental measures can remove them before their official retirement [since all university lecturers and professors are civil servants in The Netherlands, and civil servants have only rights and no duties, no personal responsiblilty and no personal accountability in Dutch practice since the 1960's].

My advice to all scientifically interested and talented students is this: Try to do all you can to study abroad (eg USA, England or Scandinavia). Here you are ripped off by corrupt incompetents, and although you can very easily get a degree, the content is worth virtually nothing - by which both you and society are seriously harmed if you do not do anything about it yourself.

Maarten Maartensz
26 september 1988

There still is a P.S. to be translated, that belongs to the original, that was handed out in 1982 in the University-Council of the University of Amsterdam, leading to my being declared "a fascist" by quite a few.

 

P.S. And there it stands for the moment, and corrections - very probably needed - must be made later, what with my healthm as I will add the translations I made later of my Spiegeloog-colums to the ME in Amsterdam directory later as well.

I should also note what most Dutchmen know, but foreigners don't:

While I was one of the very few who dared to cry "Wolf!" when the schools and universities in Holland were effectively ruined between 1965 and 1995, in 2008 the Parliamentary Investigatory Comittee Dijsselbloem investigated the state of Dutch education, and concluded in a long report that it was horrible, while most really intelligent Dutchmen, such as W.F. Hermans, Jan Blokker and Gerrit Komrij indeed also have protested in writing against the ridiculous and very dangerous levelling of all education in Holland between 1965 and 1995. They also did this to no avail, except for the small satisfaction, for Blokker and Komrij at least, since W.F. Hermans died in 1995, that they had been right all the time, even according to a Dutch Parliamentary Investigatory Comittee. (Dutch readers: See "Het verraad van mijn generatie" and the files that follow it.)

See also: ME + me: Whores of Reason

 

 

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

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

4. Consensus (many 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)

Short descriptions:

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 understands ME is an organic disease
6. English mathematical genius on one's responsibilities in the matter of one's beliefs:
   "it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon
     insufficient evidence
".
7. A space- and computer-scientist takes a look at psychology.
8. Malcolm Hooper puts things together status 2010.
 


    "Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, forever!

No change, no pause, no hope! Yet I endure.
I ask the Earth, have not the mountains felt?
I ask yon Heaven, the all-beholding Sun,
Has it not seen? The Sea, in storm or calm,
Heaven's ever-changing Shadow, spread below,
Have its deaf waves not heard my agony?
Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, forever!
"
     - (Shelley, "Prometheus Unbound") 


    "It was from this time that I developed my way of judging the Chinese by dividing them into two kinds: one humane and one not. "
     - (Jung Chang)

 


See also: ME -Documentation and ME - Resources


P.P.S. ME - Resources needs is a Work In Progress that hasn't progressed today.


(*) At the time I wrote this people on welfare received more money without any duty than I got in loans with the duty to study and pass a certain minimal number of examinations to be entitled to loan more money next year. This system persisted from ca. 1970 till 2000.

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