Experimental Psychology

As my readers know, I have set out to write a book of thoughts toward a philosophic psychology. This is inspired by a perceived crisis in psychology, evident in the conclusion of medical psychiatry in prescription drug sales. The malady, we think, is symptomatic of the more general attempt of modern psychology to imitate the physical sciences. Hence, we seek an alternative in turning to the wisest of the great minds, especially the Greek philosophers, who were especially concerned with the science of man. And Just as education proceeds by association with the best thinkers and teachers, and writing by reading good writers, so our general improvement, as well as psychiatric healing, when it can be helped, relies on our access to the healthy or well ordered soul, whether through examples or in truth.

Those degreed in psychology enter either clinical or research careers, or teaching. Those who do research write proposals for grants and then perform scientific studies. In the Abnormal Psych textbook (Carson, Butcher and Mineka, 1998 p. 23), the text is discussing the ethical constraints on research because we cannot perform experiments on humans, and then the difficulty of drawing analogies or generalizing to human things. The text then relates, like a walk in the park, how a Mr. Seligman (1975) went about to study whether “learned helplessness” is a cause of depression in humans:

Laboratory experiments with dogs had demonstrated that, when subjected to repeated experiences of painful, unpredictable, inescapable electric shock, these animals lost their ability to learn a simple escape rout to avoid further shock; they just sat and endured the pain.

One sees from this where the radical P.E.T.A. folks are coming from! Poor Mr. Seligman then felt helpless, you see, when he tried to generalize to humans, and many researchers tried to induce learned helplessness in human subjects in various way, and the humans did not roll over and give up like the dogs did! So Seligman modified his theory to conclude that learned helplessness is a cause of depression only for those humans inclined to “interpret failure to cope experiences in a negative way.” The text adds that the original learned helplessness hypothesis may make more sense regarding “anxiety disorders.” These are the marvels of modern psychological science.

Can a science that, in its perverse objectivity pursues trivial or obvious questions by torturing nature as well as sentient beings- can such a science seriously be entrusted with the office of the knowledge at the basis of the practice of healing the human soul? Can a man who does these things to dogs with the efficiency of a Nazi scientist be considered a researcher in the science of the soul?

The way to know man is not through experiments that imitate the physical sciences. And how can one begin the journey by violating the friendship with wisdom? The pursuit of wisdom is the true house of the science of psychology.

Three Cases of Executive Excess

There are three disturbing cases in the news, examples of executive excess, judicial failure and the need for oversight and reform. At the root of all three is the disregard for the Bill of Rights.

In one, David Stojcevski died June 27, 2014 after 16 days in the custody of the Macomb county jail. He went into convulsions because he was not given prescription drugs, and the withdrawal from these is potentially fatal. He was jailed for failure to pay 772 $ in fines for careless driving tickets. He was held naked for a time. Here two systems, the profit courts, the brutal or calloused police, and the frivolous and profiteering prescription drug industry combine to take the life of a 37 year old man. The only reason we are hearing about it is that there is a lawsuit. An internal investigation by the county determined that there was no problem with their procedure, leaving a naked convulsing man to die while medical help is right down the hall.

The second case occurred in Eaton county, on the West side of the state. A High school kid was stopped for flashing his bright headlights at a cop, who in fact knew that his new lights were too bright even on low beam. The cop had in mind some “Sovereign Citizen” type militia group member, but the kid was just coming home from taking his brother to the church. The kid is confused about his rights, and does not cooperate, in part because he does not have his license with him. Apparently, police do not know the difference between citizens willing to insist upon rights and dangerous domestic terrorists. The officer attempts to arrest the kid, who is face down on the ground putting his hands behind his back to be cuffed when the officer decides instead to taze or electrocute him. Tazzed, the kid fights back, and after striking the officer is shot to death, hit seven times, once in the head. Here again, the Eaton county prosecutor has determined that there is no reason to press charges, and the only reason we are hearing of the case is because of a lawsuit. The video is disturbing. It is very important to be very polite and do all one is asked to do even during an illegal traffic stop. The time and place to insist upon rights is rather when we speak and vote, or later bring the matter to court. The 17 year old does not do what he is supposed to do, but 17 year olds are not quite supposed to do what they are supposed to do. With a sense of humor, the officer might have properly identified himself and instructed the kid on how to properly uphold his rights. But does the officer understand these rights?

In a third case, a man from Indiana was released from the sex offender registry after having met a girl on line who was 14, though she told him she was 17. It has long been known that the sex offender registry lists many people who are not dangerous or unnatural, pedophiles. The categories do not allow for the distinction between intentional and unintentional statutory rape, which is indeed something, and pedophilia, which is a whole other thing, and the original aim of the registry. There are many listed even for urinating behind a dumpster while out drinking. These are subjected to proscriptions similar to the dangerous sort. The effect is dangerous because it is similar to the alerts on the back of the milk carton, which once posted kidnapped kids who were in danger, but then could not distinguish these from kids taken by the non-custodial parent. It has long been known that these list are excessive, though little has been done to correct the circumstance. NPR has covered the issue on occasion.

In the first two of these cases, the people will pay out large lawsuits for their reluctance to hold the executive branch accountable. The executives disregard the Bill of Rights, selling to us the necessity of brutality to maintain security. In both, government did not have the right to interfere with the citizen to begin. It is a circumstance of mortal danger to come into the authority of the police or jail, which is the reason that we do not allow police to simply take over, inspecting and interfering in every way. The executive officials will continue to receive their salaries, while the taxpayers foot the bill. More people will die.

In the third, the whole judicial branch seems willing to set aside common sense and prudence in order to proceed according to categories. The categories have words that sound very bad, but are very general and include other things that are not the exemplary examples. Words like “drug offence,” “weapons violation,” “mental disorder,” and “sex offense” are used rhetorically this way. Then, like a politician who believes his own rhetoric, the law begins to proceed as though it were snowed by the words. The legislature too seems unwilling to correct the circumstance by making the right distinctions. What if they freed the dumpster-pissers and were thought to be soft on sex offenders? People have so far been unable to sue for the destruction of their lives that have resulted from relatively petty offenses. Incidentally, I am not on the list, but I would like to sue someone when I am followed about the city or the grocery store, and especially if I am ever interfered with. I have one story of the day my car was in the shop, a few years ago, and I walked from the auto shop through the park to the restaurant in South Lyon, Michigan. I watched a bit of a baseball game at the park, then went to study in the restaurant, as we used to do in the old days.  A very strange scene occurred at the restaurant, a scene that seems to have been arranged for me. A rather obvious pedophile type was speaking to an adolescent boy who was to do some work at the man’s house. The boy’s mother was working as a waitress at the restaurant, and so I told her that the arrangement did not look right, as I have seen such things before. But that is what I mean by being interfered with, if such a scene were staged. I went back to the park. I had a briefcase of books to study, and did some reading with a police car watching right nearby. I just don’t go to the park or walking around the city much anymore.

 Two additional thoughts: In the Eaton County case, the kid may have been thinking of the gang initiation where drivers flashing their bright lights would be attacked. All he could see was the flashlight, and he asked to see a badge number. This is a difficult case to analyze, but it leads to the second thought: when an officer exceeds the authority of their office, do they not become in law a citizen like every other? That is, they do not have authority to punish, but to arrest. When they exceed their authority and punish, do they not then become subject to the laws, for example against assault and such? That is a  point or question of legal theory.

And, as I had occasion to teach a four year old the other day, arrest means stop!

Afghanistan and Heroin: Edward Follis and The Dark Art

Without having read the book, but only scanned a couple articles in the New Yorker, it seems clear that there is room for improvement in the way our eradication policies work upon hitting the ground. Ninty-two percent of the Heroin sold in the world now comes from Afghanistan. The obvious irony is that we happen to have troops on the ground there, in the longest war in American history, and this has coincided with a heroin epidemic on the streets of America. From the reviews, we gather that the heroine goes from Afghanistan to Iran and Pakistan when it leaves the country. We think it rather obvious that U. S. military personnel have been corrupted, or even that soldiers, who are not searched at the border, carry duffle bags back home.

In The Dark Art, which I want to read, Edward Follis describes some U. S. attempts at eradication. With all the U. S. cash flowing through the CIA and such, it seems obvious that in the areas controlled by the Karzai government, we might pay the farmers the pittance of their wholesale price plus their labor in cutting down their poppies, then seeing to it that they have something else to grow. The Americans, of course, think of spraying the fields with chemical flower-killers, without regard for the consequences. Only one tenth of the poppies could be eradicated by the current methods, barely slowing the flow into the U. S. It would be relatively inexpensive to assure that the U. S. army is the best thing the farmers have ever seen for many kinds of assistance including security and the rule of law. Usable goods, rather than cash, might assure that aid money for the farmers did not get seized by a system of corrupt government officials. An honest U. S. military might end the system of payoffs for protection from eradication. This may even be the crux where our efforts in Afghanistan have been failing.

Hey, what if, in addition to wheat, they grew fruits and weed instead! My sister just went to a march on Washington regarding Heroin and prescription drugs in America. Opiods are Out!

Thanks to NPR for interviewing Mr Follis, I think in “On the Media.”

Jeff Irwin on Marijuana Law / The Gateway Argument

Jeff Irwin must be my favorite Democrat in Michigan Politics. I would buy his baseball card if I was a kid. I have copied the following to reblog from his website. Following the brief article, I will comment on the gateway drug argument.

Irwin introduces Bill to Legalize, Tax Marijuana

Thursday, September 17, 2015

LANSING – State Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) introduced legislation today to legalize marijuana in Michigan for adults 21 years and older. House Bill 4877 was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee and creates a system of licensed cultivators and retailers while protecting local governments’ ability to ban or zone appropriately for marijuana-related businesses.

“My bill builds on the practices modeled by Colorado, regulating marijuana much like alcohol,” Rep. Irwin said. “This bill provides a path for marijuana to come out of the black market, making our communities safer.”

In light of recent ballot proposals and the nationwide movement towards reform, the conversation about marijuana legalization is heating up in the Legislature.

“Prohibition has been a colossal failure,” Irwin continued. “It costs us hundreds of millions of dollars every year, and it doesn’t work. Instead it increases crime and fuels violence. It’s time for Michigan stop wasting taxpayer dollars on prohibition and regulate marijuana. This will give us greater control over the product, take business away from criminals and refocus police resources on the most dangerous crimes.”

Under Irwin’s proposal, individuals could grow a small number of their own plants, but only licensed establishments that meet security and product safety standards could sell marijuana. Also, this bill would give communities the authority to ban or zone appropriately for marijuana sales or cultivation.

“Let’s give communities the tools to regulate appropriately and make sure at a state level that consumers are protected by ensuring reputable sales and standards for labeling,” Irwin said.

HB 4877 also imposes a tax on marijuana sales. The proposal would charge a 5 percent excise tax on the wholesale market with a 1 percent per year escalation. In five years, the excise tax would freeze at 10 percent. The revenue from this excise tax is allocated so that 40 percent would go to roads, 40 percent to early childhood education and 20 percent to substance abuse treatment programs. Consumers would also pay a 6 percent sales tax at point of sale. Based on a comparison with Colorado, Michigan could expect to see about $100 million in new revenue each year.

A poll by the Glengariff group puts Michiganders support for legalizing and taxing marijuana at 56 percent, and opposition at 36 percent.

“I hope that my colleagues will join me and the majority of our constituents to support taking the marijuana trade out of the hands of criminals,” stated Irwin. “In the open, we can do a better job of protecting consumers, keeping marijuana away from kids, and taking profits away from the criminal underground.”

– See more at: http://housedems.com/article/irwin-introduces-bill-legalize-tax-marijuana#sthash.h7VfcMO8.dpuf

As criminalized, Marijuana is indeed the gateway drug, taking people right into the black market world where the toxic and super-addictive drugs are sold, and organized crime tightens its stranglehold on the American people. One half the proceeds of the drug cartels have come from the frankly stupid and unconstitutional attempt to criminalize what is not a crime, and prohibit something that is rarely harmful in any way. So Marijuana, as criminalized, is ironically the gateway drug, or rather, Marijuana prohibition is the gateway prohibition. The issue proves to be surprisingly fundamental both in theory and in practice: In America, where no one’s rights are being violated, it is very difficult to legislate. Natural right, in one sense, becomes apparent on this question, as the prohibition is the gateway to the violation of so many articles of the Bill of Rights that one cannot keep track. As with tax laws and obligations no one can fulfill, a vast segment of the non-criminal population is disenfranchised, and comes under the arbitrary power of the executive branches. Promiscuity is the gateway to prostitution, and these things to the spread of AIDS. But the attempt to regulate voluntary promiscuity is an obvious joke. Those regulating owe their vey existence to such natural matters. This leads to the jokes about the unmentionable things one now is obliged not to speak against, while it remains illegal to grow one’s own weed and smoke it.

But Marijuana is different. Government money has funded a campaign of arguments and doctored studies to come up with these ingenious theories like the gateway drug theory, to criminalize what is not in itself a crime. Against this, groups like NORML and writers like Jack Herrer have, with their own efforts, attempted to balance the argument. The extent to which congress voted in 1937 to prohibit Marijuana on the basis of false information may amount to a violation of due process. The AMA would not then support the prohibition because there never was a medical reason for the prohibition.

Jeff Irwin is right about the reason legalization has become a necessity: organized crime. We must counter what has been done to our people by the Heroin, Cocaine and Meth, and the first way to do this is to stop paving the way up the front steps of these dealers with a stupid and unconstitutional prohibition.

Guns in America Again

We have had another shooting, this time at a Community College. First, if someone does not check the correlation with antidepressants, we are not being serious. I will place a bet right now that he was on them, as was the shooter at Newtown. All the talk about “mental health” ignores the fundamental problem with our psychology: that it is not capable of judging mental health any better than is common sense, but tries to solve every problem with pills. It may well be the direct cause of the problem. Mass shootings in America happen to coincide with the vast increase in the use of antidepressants in America, in an amazing coincidence, all the more amazing because no one seems to have been paid enough to consider the connection.

There was a very good discussion on the Dianne Rehm show, with two guests who had many new things to say from the left and from the right. We do need a cultural change regarding guns similar to that regarding cigarettes and drunk driving, And we are different from other nations in that we have a Bill of Rights with a Second Amendment. If we think on this issue very hard, new thoughts and solutions are possible.

But how do we address this without tripping over the government action paradox? Background checks requires someone capable of assessing g backgrounds, though perhaps some minimal conditions can be set. A better bet is to drive a wedge between legal and illegal guns, devising licensing similar to cars. If one acts irresponsibly in certain publicly verifiable ways, he will lose his license. To carry a gun openly, a merchant once had to explain his purpose, that he carried cash to buy at the market. Arming teachers does not seem right, though we may go to armed guards in order to preserve the possibility of having colleges at all. Illegal arms sales, and the whole gun show mentality, is where progress can be made on a bipartisan basis.

A very interesting circumstance occurred during the college shooting. Citizens on campus with guns feared to respond lest they be mistaken by the swat teams as the shooter. I believe six minutes went by. Why not call 911 to say you are going, and go? At Columbine, a cafeteria full of jocks huddled under tables or desks, and no one stood up to throw a table, a plate, a butter knife, at the shooter. Perhaps a good first rule is: Everyone jump on them! Fewer will be shot in the long run. And don’t leave the first out front alone, but while they are dodging the plate, throw another.   

Guns are a very difficult thing to understand. We do not like them, and have always been on the side of the deer, except at dinner time. We wish no one had them, and again assert the right to not bear arms, which is a right rapidly becoming endangered. But the Second Amendment does say that the right of the people will not be infringed, though the right of self defense is not mentioned except as it pertains to the states. Tyrannies, too, do in fact begin by disarming everyone, as in the example of Okinawa. And our government is declining toward tyranny, though it is a bit of a joke to think we can reverse this with guns, and might be sure to bring it into being in this way. We are perhaps no longer responsible enough to have liberty. Our people have become corrupt. Hence, like the drinkers and smokers, we might lose our liberty to the nanny state. I might rather die of carcinogens from the farm chemicals we refuse to study and insist on leaving in cigarettes, though I would rather suffer the judicial tyranny under which we have placed a whole generation in order to avoid injuring another while driving drunk.And who will we “empower” with this determination, the same B. A. social scientists who take people’s children away for pot to give them to molesting foster guardians? Those who do not even believe that right and wrong are real, and have been taught so in our universities for four years? These are to judge ahead of time who is capable of using force only with justice? The fact is that the majority of people have “mental health issues.” One will not find many with virtue in a democracy. Yet all we need are enough responsible gun owners and public officers to keep this strange new breed from enacting instant mass murder.

Philosophic Fish ?

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“…For if someone should go to its surface or become winged and fly up, he’d leap up and take a look- just as fish here leap up out of the sea, and see what’s here, that’s also how someone might take a look at what’s there.”

Socrates, to Simmias in Plato’s Phaedo, (109e)

   My sister found this great invention on the internet, and has it in her fish and frog pond in the yard. It is a vase suspended on bricks, with water trapped because no air can get in to displace it. The fish just swim right in the bottom, and so do the frogs. I made sure an air bubble was also trapped, in case the frogs became confused and didn’t think to swim down to get out. Here, one of my six fish is viewing one of the frogs from a unique perspective. I wanted the fish to see what it’s like in the air-world. Socrates says: “For although we dwell in some hollow of the earth, we think we dwell up on topp of it, and we call the air “heaven, thinking that because the stars travel in it, it’s heaven…”

Translation by Eva Brann, Peter Kalkavage and Eric Salem


So you see, fish can provide a demonstration of Plato’s Allegory of the cave in drama, and are therefore philosophic! Having thus demonstrated my thesis, I leave you thus.