2010-02-19 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news:

Neuro-linguistic programming: Cargo cult psychology? An excellent piece debunking NLP from the Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education appears online as a pdf. It always struck me as Scientology without the aliens.

PsyBlog has an excellent round-up of 10 influencers of conformity. Fuck me I will do what you tell me.

The US crime rate has been consistently falling, so why do the US public tend to think it’s on the rise? The Boston Globe investigates.

The BPS Research Digest has yet another nail in the coffin for the Freudian idea of repressed memories.

The chairman of the DSM-IV committee writes a stinging attack on the DSM-V for Psychiatric Times.

The Onion gathers the public’s view on the draft of the new psychiatric bible. “If they change which planets men and women are from, I’ll be pissed.”

Some lovely research on how pupil dilation reflects cognitive functions, in this case decision-making, is discussed by the mighty Neurophilosophy.

The LA Times has a story of how a new business model for dealing high purity heroin is targeting the middle-class. A Slate article from ’96 notes that this is an often repeated media story.

There’s an engaging interview with Iain McGilchrist, who’s just written a book about the brain’s hemispheres, over at Frontier Psychiatrist.

The Guardian has a short piece on why slot machine gamblers are so hard to study.

Peter Hughes is a psychiatrist blogging about his work on a Haiti mental health programme, over at the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Newsweek has an excellent piece on how we assume neuroscience studies done on Westerners reflect universal human traits and recent efforts to develop local neuroscience resources.

What distinguishes women with unusually high numbers of sex partners? Barking Up the Wrong Tree reports the surprising answer of one study on the topic.

BBC News reports on continuing and mysterious deaths of (mostly) Scottish heroin users from anthrax. Interestingly, almost exactly the same thing happened a decade ago.

There’s a good report from the recent Cultural and Biological Contexts of Psychiatric Disorder conference over at Somatosphere.

The Brandon Sun reports that a man is found not responsible for killing a nun during an epileptic fit. The news is now officially complete. Move along.

Film from the original Pavlovian conditioning experiments is dug up by the wonderful Advances in the History of Psychology blog.

Reuters reports on a study finding that beds less visible from the nurses’ station in intensive care units have higher death rates.

“do women want to be humped for 13 minutes straight?” asks Neurotopia who is calling for an empirical investigation into the matter.

The Onion reports that the CIA are forced to complete all scheduled torture in one hectic weekend. “We were already way behind on false executions as it was”.

Pissed up on booze? Or a hard night on the alcohol breakdown product acetaldehyde? Neuroskeptic, a spectacularly good blog, covers an interesting new study.

The Library of Congress Music and the Brain podcast is excellent.

Oh Christ, Louann Brizendine has written a follow-up to her stereotype-waving book ‘The Female Brain’ called (can you guess?) ‘The Male Brain’. Elle, yes that Elle, has an ass-kicking review and interview.

New Scientist covers a study that used mobile phone signals to track daily movements and finds we’re actually very predictable.

The now widely reported genetic overlap between mental disorders should be undermining the diagnostic boundaries of psychiatric diagnoses but don’t shake the tree man, because, like, who knows what’ll fall out? Wiring the Brain discusses the evidence.

BBC News reports on a dating study that found women prefer ‘men who are kind’. No word on whether they prefer men who have more enthusiasm than talent and drink too many energy drinks.

Placebo treatments stronger than doctors thought”. Not sure whether that’s a headline or a philosophy puzzle. Either way, it’s a story in the Seattle PI.

The Splintered Mind introduces the concept of cognitive shielding. Permits you to shout “They canne hold captain!” when losing an argument.

Sleep is a feminist issue, claim prominent feminists. Noami Wolf disagrees in The Times.

6 Comments

  1. Posted February 20, 2010 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    Hey Vaughan. Thanks for another interesting update.
    The link about the slot-machine gamblers is malformed, and the Psychiatry Times one is dead — is the latter your typo, somewhere, or is the site just down?

  2. rita
    Posted February 20, 2010 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    What about rushing out a DSM VI straight away, but with a definition of people who’re not mentally upset in some way or other? Since this would apply a vanishingly small number of criteria, it would save a forune in time and money. Medication can be put in the water supply, and certicficates issued to the 2-3 people who don’t need medication to draw bottled water from the NHS.

  3. Posted February 20, 2010 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Rita: Careful, you say that as a joke but I’m worried you might be giving the DSM team ideas…

  4. Posted February 20, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Slot-machine gambling link fixed. The Psychiatric Times link works fine for me…

  5. ChristianK
    Posted February 20, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Claiming that NLP is cargo cult science shows a misunderstanding of those terms.
    The complained against NLP lies in the fact that it doesn’t adhere to the form of scientific practice.
    Arguing against NLP on the basis that it’s the interpretation of the NLP principles by psychologists without much NLP training doesn’t produce many studies with statistical significant results is flawed and isn’t productive.
    If you want to test NLP it makes much more sense to study something like the phobia cure with claims to have measurable results.
    Get a group of people with a given phobia. Group A gets one season with an NLP trainer (someone who read from a book how the NLP technique works doesn’t count) and Group B gets one season with a conventional psychologist.
    If the claims of NLP are right than the NLP trainer should cure an statistical significant amount of phobias compared to the conventional psychologist.
    Unfortunately there no published study that studies whether an NLP technique actually works in such a way.
    Rejecting NLP for the lack of “credible theoretical basis” misses the point.
    NLP is about creating results instead of being theoretical.
    Rejecting practices for lacking a theoretical basis is a bias. Because a lot of psychology suffers from that bias, you don’t get good studies that investigate NLP.

  6. Posted February 27, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Vaughn,
    I was really surprised by your link to the the debunk of NLP and your comment regarding it.
    I found the paper disappointing. First, the author began drawing conclusions on the field based on two authors’ descriptions of the terms that make it up. Talking to John Grinder might have been more prudent. He has long refuted many of the claims made by alleged NLP experts, including Robert Dilts.
    Limiting a field’s definition on a single set of authors is shoddy as scientific research.
    Secondly, the paper revealed a surface-knowledge of the NLP epistemology, at best. Once again, reading a book like Whispering In The Wind, by John Grinder and Carmen Bostic St Clair, would have helped in grounding this author’s opinions (because that’s all they are) in more solid evidence of the epistemology that underlies the model.
    The notion of primary representational system, for instance, is a pure content model that has long been abandoned by serious NLP Practitioners.
    The paper also cites the Wertheim experiment as a strong refutation of the eye accessing cues model. John Grinder (a PhD in his due right) has long addressed that issue and explained how the experiment produced its results. Grinder also pointed out that the eye accessing cues have a 30-second life span.
    If you want reliable sources, look into John Grinder and Carmen Bostic St Clair’s work, Michael Carroll, Ray Bradbury and Wyatt Woodsmall. Some of Eric Robbie’s material is also highly valid.
    We can only conclude that, unfortunately, many charlatans and marketers peddle miracles by labeling them “NLP”.
    That, in my opinion, in no way voids the merits of the field.


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