Monday, September 13, 2010

This and That

Some things that entered my sphere of thought recently:
  • Dorothy Bishop, Prof. of developmental neuropsychology at Oxford, is offering an "Orwellian Prize for Journalistic Misrepresentation" for any article in an English-language national newspaper that has the most inaccurate report of a piece of academic work. Judgement will be based on a points scoring system, as follows:

    • Factual error in the title: 3 points
    • Factual error in a subtitle: 2 points
    • Factual error in the body of the article: 1 point

    You can find details on the nomination on Prof Bishop's blog.

  • The recent issue of New Scientist features an article about Internet addiction. We discussed this topic a few months back in my post Addicted, where I argued one should be careful to distinguish between substance abuse and compulsive disorder, and that "addiction" is a rather sloppy expression. The New Scientist article doesn't really say anything new but offers a summary of the present status of discussion:
    "For almost as long as there's been information technology, there have been arguments over whether it is possible to become addicted to it.

    One definition of behavioural addiction is a recurring compulsion to act in specific ways which may have detrimental impacts on the person's well-being - there are well catalogued examples of people's internet activity fitting that pattern.

    The idea of behavioural addiction is not universally accepted, however. Psychiatry's bible - the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) - prefers the classification "impulse control disorder", differentiating the conditions from physical addictions, such as cocaine or alcohol addiction.

    The question of whether internet addiction should be included as a diagnosed condition in the next edition, DSM-V, is a hot debate right now.

    Some people, such as psychiatrist Jerald Block, based in Portland, Oregon, argue that internet addicts show behaviour consistent with other addictive disorders, such as excessive use, withdrawal and negative social impacts.

    Others, including Ronald Pies, at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts, argue there have been insufficient controlled studies of internet addiction to show that withdrawal symptoms are genuinely physiological. They suspect that the negative social effects attributed to excessive internet use may have other underlying causes, such as depression or obsessive compulsive disorder.

  • Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics is inviting applications for Postdoctoral Research positions. For more information please visit this website, and good luck :-)

  • Something to first make you laugh and then make you think: What exactly is a doctorate? A graphic representation by Matt Might. By the time you've finished your 3rd postdoc, you might have made it to a few pimples on the body of knowledge ;-) [Thanks to Christine]

  • Just because it's one of the more absurd stories I've read recently: A 75 year old German psychiatrist attempted to kiss his patient and claimed later it was supposed to be a "therapeutic kiss" meant as "shock therapy." The woman turned away fast enough so the attempt aimed at her lips landed on her cheek instead. Then she sued the doctor for sexual harassment. The psychiatrist had to pay a fine of EUR 3,500.

  • If you don't know how to arrange your marathon training with your 80 hours/week office job, what you need is a treadputer. Zeitgeist!


  1. - That was one expensive kiss on the cheek. I think somebody has entered the realm of dementia and retirement is a highly suggested option. Play more golf, kiss less patients.

    - New Scientist wrote a piece with nothing "new" in it? On a 1-10 scale with 10 being VERY surprising, how surprising is that? Anyone who attempts a negative number will be reminded that "110%", while a popular expression, is theoretically impossible. Plus, you'd be mean. Better to focus one's vitriol on Science News.

    - Good news re Perimeter.

  2. Haha! Love the diagram of what a PhD is :)

  3. Well, New York isn't new either. So what's in a name anyway?

  4. it was supposed to be a "therapeutic kiss" meant as "shock therapy."

    10) From the Fifth Element, "Senno ecto gammat!"
    9) Heterosexuality has had its day, but that is passed. Were I a sheep in Scotland I would be re-evaluating my options.
    8) Perhaps he had poor technique.
    7) One word, "Tic-Tac."
    6) Boy psychiatrist or girl psychiatrist? Tastes differ.
    5) Psychiatrists administer inappropriate pharma, psychologists administer inappropriate behavior.
    4) If the patient exercised Primal Scream without certification, prosecute for impersonating a licensed medical professional.
    3) Therapist, the|rapist.
    2) Sharia Islamic law for everybody, just like in the British Navy! (except for the "rum" part)

    And the number one reason the psychiatrist was operating out of bounds...

    1) €3500 + Amsterdam = way more more than a kiss.

  5. Here:
    is some explanationof PhD including
    Predocs, Postdocs and Lamedocs.

  6. Hi Bee,

    As being someone who has accessed the internet even before the launch of the World Wide Web if exposure is addictive I guess that makes me a long time addict. In my opinion the real question one need ask one’s self in this regard is whether such exposure forms to be a substitution for a normal existence or rather an extended enhancement of it. In this respect and only speaking for myself it always has presented as being the latter. Also in my opinion those who fear or even condemn its existence or place blame on it for their own misfortune or that of others are simply looking at the symptoms of the true problem rather than the source. I think if there is an over baring theme that will mark our current era in the annals of history it will that it will become known as the one where people looked for the root of their problems in every imaginable place except to where it could be found.

    "Know thyself"


    "the unexamined life is not worth living." "




  7. "The white man drew a small circle in the sand and told the red man,
    "This is what the Indian knows."
    And drawing a big circle around the small one,
    "This is what the white man knows."
    The Indian took the stick and swept an immense ring around both circles: "This is where the white man and the red man know nothing.""

    "The People, Yes",Carl Sandberg,1936,


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