Category Archives: Logic

Mental Maladies: Tucker And Mainstream Discover What Thomas Szasz Explained In 1960

Argument, Logic, Propaganda, Pseudoscience, Psychiatry, Psychology & Pop-Psychology, Science, The Therapuetic State

About the lack of empirical evidence for so-called organic nature of “mental disease,” Tucker Carlson said TODAY, , (well, almost) what this column wrote first in 2002 and countless times since, in titles archived under Psychiatry and The Therapeutic State category:

Cruise And The Psychiatric Shamans,” (2005) “EVIL, NOT ILL” (4/2007), “Conservatives For Abolishing The Fact Of Evil (2015),” “School Shootings: A Moral-Health, Not Mental-Health, Problem” (2018).

Tucker discovers what we wrote in “Broken Brains?” (January 16, 2002):

“… Consider also that there is no credible, scientific, peer-reviewed evidence for the organic basis of aberrant behavior, and you grasp the chicanery that surrounds the claim that strange or bad conduct is caused by ‘chemical imbalances’ in the brain. …”

The more rigorous and honest clinicians will concede that drawing causal relationships between “mental illness” and “chemical imbalances” is impossible. That prescription medication often helps misbehaved or unhappy individuals is no proof that strange behavior is an organic disease. One can chemically castrate a pedophile. But does this demonstrate that molesting kids is an organic disease? Never. It proves only that chemical castration can at times reduce recidivism in people who have chosen to victimize children.

Clear analytical thinking is at the root of solid science, it precedes empiricism.

Roughly 75 percent of the value of “antidepressant” drugs is due to the placebo effect. And talk therapies—cognitive-behavioral therapy in particular—can have equal or better results. Veracity permits only that we limit our causal conclusions to saying that assorted treatment modalities sometimes help people with behavioral problems, nothing more.

MORE.

My mentor, the great Dr. Thomas Szasz, wrote and proved all this analytically in the Myth of Mental illness, 1961. His books I studied at university, back when thought was taught. Both Tom Szasz and I lauded Tom Cruise when the actor attacked psychiatry so very cogently.

See “Cruise And The Psychiatric Shamans” (2005):

The psychiatric peanut gallery has blasted actor Tom Cruise for insisting correctly that there’s more voodoo to the profession than veracity. Cruise’s instincts are good: “Psychiatrists don’t have a test that can prove that a so-called mental illness is actually organic in origin, I wrote. Rigorous clinician —members of the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology come to mind —concede that drawing causal connections between “mental illness” and “chemical imbalances” is impossible. That prescription medication often helps misbehaved or unhappy individuals is no proof that strange behavior is an organic disease —placebos or cognitive-behavioral therapy, for example, are as effective.

Tucker Carlson had summoned some limey, a quick-fix popularizer, to speak to these issues.

Tucker Carlson Gets Into Tiktok Mode, Blames China For Pervasive American Decadence

China, Communism, Conservatism, Logic, Pop-Culture, Reason, Sex, The Zeitgeist

Notice the theme on the Tucker Carlson Show today, July 18?

Tucker mindlessly blames China for, among other things, America’s gutter culture, as acted out on Tiktok. Accordingly, the Chinese made Americans worship hip hop and rap and twerk. The Chinese made American hos disrobe and simulate sex on TikTok. The Chinese made American Tiktokers privilege Ebonics over English.

Heavily into non sequitur mode, for the cultural trends Tucker blamed on China are mainstream American culture (Laura Ingraham loves rap by admission)–Tucker presented the proof to his blame-China thesis: Chinese Tiktokers are seen practicing piano, manners and magic cube mental skills, whereas Americans are seen doing what they do on TV, in movies, on reality shows, and on political panels.

Say no more. I’ve proved my point. QED.

China’s culture until communism was Confucianism, which is high-minded and genteel. And, contra ConOink, China is reactionary, returning to Confucianism; not Communism:

CNN’s Sinophobic Zakaria Is Clueless: China Is Reactionary, Returning To Confucianism; Not Communism

Enabled by indulgent and permissive parents and pedagogues, America’s youth have become increasingly licentious, lippy and libertine. Most are ignorant and lousy at writing, reasoning, and conversing coherently about anything other than raaaaaacism. They have also become un-moored from their finest traditions. The Chinese—who seem to know what’s good—are returning to things classical, traditional and eternally and universally beautiful.

Having banned corrupt hip-hop culture, China has a new export: Western classical music. “Once, classical music generally traveled from the West to the rest,” marvels the Economist. “Now China is reversing the exchange, not merely performing Western classical music in China, but exporting it. …

 

FRED REED: Toward a Theory of Impossibility: Column Upends Science

Argument, FRED REED, Logic, Pseudoscience, Reason, Science

FRED’S in the house. You heard the Man. If seen, do not approach. Call your local taberna instead

BY FRED REED

In today’s column, we will revolutionize science, and establish that much of what we believe, at least regarding living things, is at best improbable and likely impossible. Science won’t notice, so no harm will be done.

As we explicate the Theory of Impossibility, we must begin with particle physics. This will give the column a touch of class. Specifically, the Fundamental Theorem of Quantum Mechanics states, “If a thing makes no sense at all, wait until you get used to it, and then it will.” For example, the idea that a particle can simultaneously be a wave is absurd, but is now everywhere accepted, like potatoes. The EPR effect, holding that if one of a pair of entangled photons, in Scarsdale, changes polarity, its entangled partner, in Alpha Centauri, will simultaneously change polarity, is ridiculous. How would it know?  Neither of these things can happen. But they do, so we regard them as reasonable. Here we enunciate and underlying principle: A thing is not necessarily possible merely because it happens.

Unless something is going on that we do not know about.

Scientists see the universe as if it were a gigantic crossword puzzle. Crosswords are inherently solvable. While the great puzzle of life and existence has not been entirely elucidated, we assume that it can be, given time and effort. We may not know a five-letter word ending in Q that means “seventh-century Persian coin,” but we assume that it exists and can one day be found. But…is this so?

This reminds me that when I was in college, before the invention of fire, sophomores quoted Gödel’s Theorem as saying that in a logical system of sufficient complexity, there were questions that could not be answered within the system. Whether the theorem actually says this, I forget, but we said it said it, and felt very wise.

Here we come to one of my favorite clichés, by the British biologist J.B.S. Haldane, “The world is not only queerer than we think, but queerer than we can think.” Just so. Perhaps there are questions that can’t be answered, and therefore won’t be. This cannot be a comforting thought to a new-minted chemist as he rushes forth from CalTech, which may be why anything suggesting inherent unanswerability is rejected. But it may be that we just aren’t smart enough to understand everything, or maybe even much of it. Here we come to another cliché by my favorite philosopher (me): The smartest of a large number of hamsters is still a hamster.

Now, impossibility. Suppose I showed you a pair of tiny gears and said, “See? When I turn this one, it meshes with the other and makes it turn too.” You would respond with a lack of surprise. Suppose I then showed you fifty such little gears in an old-fashioned Swiss watch in which they all turned to make the hands move. You might say, “Isn’t that ingenious.” Suppose that I then told you that someone had assembled, literally, a cubic mile of such tiny gears and that they meshed perfectly for fifty years to do many complex things. You would ask me what I was smoking.

Even though each step in a cubic-mile process could be shown to be possible—gear A turns gear B, which turns gears C and D—you would sense that the entire complex wouldn’t work, however plausible each sub-process might be. You would be unconsciously applying the law that the improbability of the whole is greater than the sum of the improbabilities of the parts. The improbability is not a linear function of the number of parts but increases without limit as the number of parts goes above, say, one thousand.

Does that sound dreadfully portentous, or what? One day it will be the foundation of ponderous overpriced textbooks to extract money from sophomores. At least I hope so. I could use the money.

To a neophyte of biochemistry, the textbook description of a cell seems the mapping of a robotic Japanese factory onto a swamp. For example, in what sounds like a computer-controlled assembly line, enzymes uncoil the DNA, others unzip it, complementary nucleotides snap into place, a zipper-upper enzyme glues them together, click, click, click, whereupon the mRNA rushes purposefully off to a ribosome where, click, click, click. This is probably AP biology in decent high schools, if any, and has been verified thousands of times by biochemists. But…it sounds like mechanical engineering, not mindless undirected glop in solution.

You say, “But Fred, you don’t know anything about biochemistry.” True, but so what? You don’t have to know anything about it to know that it is impossible. Too many little wheels. You’ve got mRNA and microRNA and rRNA all rushing about, or sometimes holding still, and doing complex and purposeful things, and tRNA codons and anticodons coupling like drunken teenagers, and busybody enzymes editing this or that on the fly in the manner of bioschoolmarms or splicing this and some other thing and ribosomes and lysosomes and spliceosomes and palindromes and maybe aerodromes and really twisty long molecules with names like 2,4-diethyl-polywannacrackerene—and all of this is said to run with the efficiency of a Mexican drug cartel. All of this in a tiny space where everything ought to bang into everything else and just lie there in smoking rubble.

To us barbarians on the outside, the cell looks like a microscopic globule of goop with sticky stuff diffusing mindlessly about. I do not doubt that biochemists, whom I respect, have shown all of this to happen by careful experiments. I just don’t believe it. It’s the cubic mile of gears again. You have hundreds of reactive species in close proximity doing extraordinarily complicated things for sometimes a hundred years with what sounds like precisely coordinated purposefulness–instead of congealing immediately into a droplet of disagreeable mush. I do not doubt that lab folk have proved that it happens. I just don’t think it is possible. Unless something is going on that we don’t understand.

The foregoing is not orthodox biochemistry and may encounter initial resistance in the trade.

A problem of biology for years has been the inability of evolutionists to explain how life or many of its manifestations can have evolved, irreducible complexity and all that, the usual response being ok, we aren’t sure, but any day now we will have the answer. The check is in the mail. But in fact the inexplicability grows ever greater year on year as more and more complexity is discovered, such as epigenetics, and the more complexity, the less likelihood of coming about by chance. But we advocates of Impossibility Theory assert that not only can living things not have evolved, but also that they can’t function. Too many little gear wheels. Therefore life doesn’t exist.

Consider the retina, a very thin membrane consisting of ten distinct sublayers engaging in appallingly complex biochemistry, somehow maintaining position and function for, occasionally, a hundred years. These layers consist of millions of cells doing the impossibly tricky chemical dance mentioned above, more or less perfectly. In the rest of the eye you have the three layers of the eyeball, sclera, choroid, retina, and the five layers of the cornea, epithelium, Bowman’s membrane, stroma, Descemet’s membrane, and posterior lamina. And a lens consisting of a proteinaceous goop contained in a capsule, attached to the muscular ciliary body by suspensory ligaments, and an iris of radial and circumferential fibers innervated competitively by the sympathetic and parasympathetic subsystems of the autonomic nervous system. No way exists of explaining how this purportedly evolved—or how it works for many years without the layers of intricacy, biochemical through mechanical, collapsing. (I know this stuff because I have eye problems connected with Washington’s foreign policy.)

The intricacy of life is layered. We start with a zygote which, being a cell, is bogglingly complex. This little time bomb develops into a baby, which is impossible. If you don’t think so, try reading a textbook of embryology. The migration of cells, this control gradient, that control gradient, DGRNs, perfect inerrant specialization to form implausibly precise and complex things like incus, malleus, stapes, tympanum in the ear and (very) numerous other examples, all impossible individually and more so in aggregate.

Impossible, at least, unless we can come up with an auxiliary explanation.  Magic seems a good candidate.

All of the organs of the baby are in varying degrees impossibly complicated and, even more impossible, almost always all of them are perfect at once. Everyone knows Murphy’s Law: If something can go wrong, it will. A baby should bring joy to Murphy because the opportunities of disaster are nearly infinite—yet things almost never go wrong. It is like a federal program that actually works.

The functioning of said baby is as mysterious as its formation. Babies grow. Children grow. How does this happen? For example, the baby has various small, hollow bones which grow year after year into large hollow bones. For this to work, cells (osteoclasts) eat away the bone from the inside, making the hollow larger, while other cells (osteoblasts) lay down new bone on the outside. Complex and wildly implausible communication between blast and clast purportedly makes this work. Medical researchers, honest people, no fools, assure me that this happens, and I believe them. Sort of. The idea that this evolved by random mutation is, if I may use a technical term, nuts. So, according to Impossibility Theory, is its precise, inerrant functioning. We come back to magic.

The whole baby does this sort of thing. The skull grows. Kidneys grow. The heart grows. All, with few exceptions, perfectly. Meanwhile, kidneys excrete, endocrine glands secrete, neurons weirdly but correctly link up, skin grows in perfect layers, nervous system deploys—perfectly. Do you believe this? It isn’t possible.

Unless there is something we haven’t figured out, and perhaps can’t.

I don’t know much about anything (readers delight in assuring me of this). However, I don’t know less about computers than I don’t know about biology. I want an engineering information-flow analysis of cells and a baby. Probably there are courses and books about this, and I just haven’t heard of them.

Consider a drill, perhaps in a factory, controlled by a computer. The total information involved in this transaction presumably consists of information flowing from sensors on the drill to the computer, and from the computer to the drill. Digital bits are easy to understand if you have at least two fingers. Cells are dauntingly analog.

A whole lot of things have to happen in a cell at the right time and produce the right amounts of all sorts of stuff. But to my naïve gaze, not only do processes have to produce things in correct amounts, but the systems that tell them how much to produce have to know how much that is, and these interrelationships all have to interrelate with each other. How much is that in gigabytes? Again, I am a barbarian of such things, but I wish a software engineer would reduce the whole shebang to data-flow diagrams, including how it knows when things are wearing out and the information paths needed to repair them. And why everything doesn’t just stick to everything else.

There you have the elements of a theory of impossibility. Doubtless it will rank with general relativity and Watson and Crick. You saw it here first.

https://fredoneverything.org/list/

Read Fred’s Books! Or else. We know where you sleep.

******************************************

FRED REED describes himself as [previously] a “Washington police reporter, former Washington editor for Harper’s and staff writer for Soldier of Fortune magazine, Marine combat vet from Viet Nam, and former long-haul hitchhiker, part-time sociopath, who once lived in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from the Yankee Capital.”
His essays “on the collapse of America” Mr. Reed calls “wildly funny, sometimes wacky, always provocative.”
“Fred is the Hunter Thompson of the right,” seconds Thomas E. Ricks in Foreign Policy magazine. His  commentary is “well-written, pungent political incorrectness mixed with smart military commentary and libertarian impulses, topped off with a splash of Third World sunshine and tequila.”

FRED’S BOOKS ARE ON AMAZON, HERE

FRED’S ARTICLES ARCHIVE

Killer Kink

Hardboiled is back! (The exclamation point is to arouse wild enthusiasm int the reader, a boiling literary lust.) Gritty crime fiction by longtime police reporter for the Washington Times, who knows the police from nine years of riding with them. Guaranteed free of white wine and cheese, sensitivity, or social justice.

UPDATED V (5/2) Message From Fred (4/8/022): Mercer And Reed: The Two Best Columns Now Under One Roof

Aesthetics, Argument, Conservatism, Culture, English, FRED REED, Ilana Mercer, Logic, Republicans, The Zeitgeist

It’s good to see Fred Reed’s many fans begin to flock to—and comment about–his column, “Fred On Everything,” on Barely A Blog, where it now lives.

Fred’s column is the only opinion column I read and eagerly await. (Oops: And Boyd Cathey, the great Sean Gabb, Pepe Escobar, of late and Paul Craig Roberts.) Good enough an endorsement for those who know my intolerance for what passes for writing these days—the cliches, the banalities, the incontinent redundancies, and lack of originality; the meandering, solipsistic self-indulgence, the logic as lax as the grammar, the non-sequiturs in such abundance; not to mention those undisciplined flights into conspiracy. Perhaps not woke, but still without wit or character—put out these days by our side is prose so singularly gutless, charmless, mirthless and prissy that it assaults the senses.

And I have not even touched on the futile, partisan talking points: “The left this, abortion that; socialism/communism, socialism/communism (the pickle we’re in goes so far beyond that); “Iran, Iran, China, China.” In short, the pointless, talking-points theater that is the Republican Racket.

Fred assaults sensibilities alright, but never in the ways I disgorged above (in an intentionally flood-like manner). And he can conjugate the verb “to spit.”

As for the Mercer Column: By way of an example, “On Sexual Bombast And Bliss” was written in 2000 for a then-edgy, interesting Calgary Herald. The paper went woke and invalidated itself. The column did not and is ever valid. You can read tracts like “Sexual Bombast,” on this site here. Try “Harvey Sweinstein And Hollywood’s Hos,” for example.

When you Subscribe to this newsletter, you get Mercer and “Fred on Everything.” The two best columns under one roof.

Fred’s latest: Everything You Wanted To Know About Mexico But Were Too Nativist To Ask

Fred’s Archive

Mercer Columns

Fred on Ukraine

Mercer on Ukraine:

1. Neocons, Neolibs And NATO Inch Us Closer To Nuclear War With Russia (01/29/2022): https://www.ilanamercer.com/2022/01/neocons-neolibs-nato-inch-us-closer-nuclear-war-russia/
2. Uncle Sam Still King Of All Invaders: Ukraine, Realpolitik And The West’s Failure: https://www.ilanamercer.com/2022/03/uncle-sam-still-king-invaders-ukraine-realpolitik-wests-failure/
3. True Story: Russia Finds WMD In Ukraine! https://www.ilanamercer.com/2022/03/true-story-russia-finds-wmd-ukraine/
4. It’s Biblical, Zelensky: A Leader Who Fails To Haggle For The Lives Of His People Has Failed https://www.ilanamercer.com/2022/03/biblical-zelensky-leader-fails-haggle-lives-people-failed/

 

Mercer “Hard Truth” Video Podcasts on Ukraine. Please Subscribe (David Vance and I are working on having Fred on Hard Truth, which is on a short hiatus):

https://rumble.com/c/HardTruthPodcast
https://rumble.com/vx058f-true-story-russia-finds-wmd-in-ukrainehtml
https://rumble.com/vw897h-russia-to-us-on-ukraine-pot.-kettle.-black..html
https://rumble.com/vtea18-neocons-neolibs-and-nato-inch-us-closer-to-nuclear-war-with-russia.html

Talk us up.

UPDATE (4/4/022): Very important in the age of sniveling sanctimony on the Left and Right: The Mercer and Reed columns are adult tracts. The humor is adult humor. The authors are not coy—and there is no cloying, puritanical shying away from adult topics.

UPDATE II: Message From Fred (4/6/022):

“Fred will be on travel until April 20, but shortly thereafter will resume his lies, distortions, and scurrility  if he has not been tracked down by the CIA and shot.”

Gotta love him.