Glossary: "An expert is someone from the south. With slides"

I learned this definition from an ethnologist and knitter when visiting Fair Isle. She explained how “southern” misunderstandings of their traditional knitting techniques and terminology had become academic fact, and gave some examples of how impossible it had been to correct academic misinformation about the words that expert craftswomen in the area had used for generation.

This reminded me of her experiences:

Medicalsceptic is a rich source of interesting information. Well worth following. 

And this paper is worth being read thoroughly and thoughtfully:  

The pursuit of certainty–the desire for certainty – what Hans-Georg Gadamer calls “the reduction of truth to certainty”8 affects the way we use words and language. So I want to explore the use and abuse of words within the interaction between doctor and patient, and examine the normative basis of power in story, language, and knowledge. I hope to show how easy it is for doctors to use these dimensions of power to constrain and limit our patients’ stories, consign many of them to stories of failure, and reduce their capacity to celebrate, or even recognise, achievement.9

An article by the paediatrician Michael Cornwall on psychiatric expertise:
Will Psychiatry’s Harmful Treatment of Our Children Bring About Its Eventual Demise?

For over 30 years, I’ve known and worked alongside many child psychiatrists. They are some of the most dedicated and caring people I have ever known.

When I would repeatedly protest to them about the dangers of prescribing antipsychotic meds and SSRI’s to children and teens, the psychiatrists, often with true anguish, would respond to me by saying, “But Michael, I have to do it! The latest brain imaging research says that psychosis damages the brain, and it has been shown that depression is caused by a lack of serotonin.”

The solid, peer-reviewed  research I would then offer, attempting to counter their biochemical, genetic-based, disease model beliefs, would unfortunately not be taken seriously enough to change my psychiatrist coworkers’ minds.

To no avail, I would urge them to consider that valuable scientific inquiry in the broader field of psychology doesn’t have to be limited to only studying genetics and the physical human brain. They shunned the evidence proving the efficacy of psychosocial alternatives to psychiatric medications. They seemed compelled to elevate applied neuroscience as a reified paradigm of understanding and treating human psychological distress. 

Filters Against Folly: How to Survive despite Economists, Ecologists and the Merely Eloquent by Garrett Hardin.  

In his review of this book, Carl Bajama writes: 

We need lay defenses to protect ourselves against the assumptions (conscious and unconscious), the biases, the prejudices and ignorance of experts so that we can evaluate the claims of experts as we citizens try to identify the most appropriate course of action. Hardin contends that the greatest folly citizens can commit when confronted with expert testimony is to accept expert statements uncritically. The statement that “The authority of a scholar is measured by how long he/she can delay progress in his/her field” applies equally to experts in engineering and government as well as in science and theology. 

The Therapy Industry: The Irresistible Rise of the Talking Cure, and Why It Doesn’t Work  by Paul Moloney 

Paul Moloney has written a brilliant and erudite book that might help us see through the mystifying fog of ideas in our present culture that leads us to seek individual therapy and self-help as cures for our ills, rather than people focusing on changing the main causes of distress in the C21st and getting together to create a society that is less damaging to us all. (Dr Guy Holmes, Clinical Psychologist)

To date The Therapy Industry is the most comprehensive, accessible and best-documented critique available of the whole theory and practice of psychological therapy. Indispensable. (David Smail, author of ‘Taking Care: An Alternative to Therapy’)

This book combines intellectual acuity, a well-developed political sensitivity and a comprehensive grasp of the literature with an experienced clinician’s tacit knowledge, wisdom and insight. Reading it may change how you think about psychology, about therapy, and perhaps even about yourself. (Dr John Cromby, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Loughborough University)


I’ll be adding more related links as I find them

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