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Brain clues to attention disorder

John H. johnh at faraway.hgmp.mrc.ac.uk
Tue Jan 6 08:54:31 EST 2004

No, I don't have a better way and that was not my point. My point was that
it is dangerous to set up a gold standard for what constitutes valid
information. Good ideas sometimes come from the strangest places. Eg. Who
would have thought that a chap who wouldn't wear socks and failed a entrance
exam for Engineering at the University of Zurich would come up with theories
which would challenge the very fundamentals of our understanding of the
universe (Einstein). Or that an English gentry chap would provide the
conceptual foundation that underlies all modern biology (Darwin). Or a man
completely untrained in mathematics and rarely used mathematics would make
such a massive contribution to our understanding of electrical forces
(Faraday). Or an Australian GP would spend a decade trying to convince the
medical community that a antibiotic was the best first treatment for ulcers
(Marshall - 1980's). And here's a weird one but the details escape me. A
housewife, upon reading in some science magazine regarding the most
effective tiling ways to cover a given surface, actually found a better way
herself. Or that an Australian retail shop manager would come up with a
design that is revolutionising weapons (metalstorm). Like I said, don't
ignore an idea just because it hasn't received acceptance by some journal.
The previous quote I provided showed two recent examples of research refuted
for many years by journals but now gaining acceptance. These are off the top
of my head, I'm sure there are many other examples to substantiate my point:
don't rely on a single method for establishing the validity of an idea. We
need a better approach than that otherwise any intellectual discipline can
become too cloistered, take on a style of religious thinking ie: if it isn't
backed up by this or that authority then we should not accept it.

As the physicist Planck once stated;

"A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its
opponents and making them see the light, but rather because
its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows
up that is familiar with the idea from the beginning."

Planck may well have had in mind the initial response to Einstein's ideas.
Until the eclipse experiments of 1919, in the main it was the younger
physicists who took to his ideas, after that many others came on board.
This, incidentally, was similiar to the response that Boltzmann
(thermodynamics) received. Such was his despair that he committed suicide.
Sadly, shortly after his death, his theories were confirmed.

Think about that in relation to those who control journal submissions. No,
this is not an absolute either, there are many people receptive to new ideas
who have spent decades in their receptive fields but unlike the pope they
are not infallible. There is no easy solution to this problem, it is one
inherent in our nature. I wish it were otherwise but with age I too feel the
inclination to repudiate the new. Mach refused to accept Einstein's theories
til the very end. Einstein refused to accept quantum theory to the very end.

 That is the whole problem with finding the truth, there is no single
approach, there is no divine inspiration, no single font of wisdom. I think
it was Hans Seyle who once said that we must endeavour to approach new ideas
with as much openness as possible, as if we could forget all we have learnt
in order to accept the new ideas. The more you learn, the more difficult
that becomes.

I apologise for the tone of my previous post. One of my hobby horses is
strongly attacking those who in any way to seek to institutionalise the
search for truth and understanding. Perhaps I misunderstood you, you were
going after KP Collins. Let me assure you, he is completely immune to
criticism, he will always stand on what he posts, and I can't recall an
instance where he has demonstrated a change of position, an evolution of his
thinking. He does tend to be rather annoying in that regard so perhaps you
were falling prey to the same frustration that I have previously experienced
with him. My advice is don't bother, Ken will never change. Ironically he is
an excellent example of the point I am making here. As you are a
psychiatrist, please advise on the same. Ken displays 3 distinct

delusions of grandeur

I have an idea about that but would appreciate the input of a specialist in
this matter.

I've read far too many journal articles that appear more like a publication
to achieve another citation, or secure tenure or funding or commercial
interest; rather than being aimed at providing new and valuable information.
There is now a plethora of journals and in my opinion too much being
published, to the extent now that data overload is a serious problem in the
Life Sciences. Reductionism with a vengence, perilously close to a type of
medieval scholasticism.

You have been enlightened and again I suggest that all students of science
would benefit by familiarising themselves with the history of science. A
good start might be the famous paper by Peter Medawar, "Is the Scientific
Paper a Fraud?". I haven't read any of the history in years but read enough
to realise that scientists are also prone to the same human frailities that
plague the rest of humanity, albeit generally to a lesser degree.

PS: for the record, I rely mostly on scientific journals for new ideas and
insights. I just don't rely on them exclusively.

For a more comical approach to the problem consider the below and note the
last line.


Parachute use to prevent death and major trauma related to gravitational
challenge: systematic review of randomised controlled trials
Gordon C S Smith, professor1, Jill P Pell, consultant2
1 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Cambridge University, Cambridge
CB2 2QQ, 2 Department of Public Health, Greater Glasgow NHS Board, Glasgow
G3 8YU
Correspondence to: G C S Smith gcss2 at cam.ac.uk (mailto:gcss2 at cam.ac.uk)
Objectives To determine whether parachutes are effective in preventing major
trauma related to gravitational challenge.
Design Systematic review of randomised controlled trials.
Data sources: Medline, Web of Science, Embase, and the Cochrane Library
databases; appropriate internet sites and citation lists.
Study selection: Studies showing the effects of using a parachute during
free fall.
Main outcome measure Death or major trauma, defined as an injury severity
score > 15.
Results We were unable to identify any randomised controlled trials of
parachute intervention.
Conclusions As with many interventions intended to prevent ill health, the
effectiveness of parachutes has not been subjected to rigorous evaluation by
using randomised controlled trials. Advocates of evidence based medicine
have criticised the adoption of interventions evaluated by using only
observational data. We think that everyone might benefit if the most radical
protagonists of evidence based medicine organised and participated in a
double blind, randomised, placebo controlled, crossover trial of the

John H.
<orkeltatte at hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:84da9680.0401060058.4c553ea7 at posting.google.com...
> "John H." <johnh at faraway.> wrote in message
news:<3ff1764d at dnews.tpgi.com.au>...
> > Oh yeah, scientific journals are the wellspring of new ideas ...
> >
> > Oh yeah, let's get to the p <.05, that settles everything ... .
> >
> > My god, if were that easy to get a new idea published. Please read some
> > history of science.
> >
> > John H.
> I suppose John H has come up with a better way to scientifically
> validate findings to be firm and solid ( at least until someone proves
> them wrong)
> Mayby I am just an ignorant , but as far as I know we do not have a
> better way than the proper standarized  scientifically methods of
> evaluation . Please enlight me, or better still , prove me wrong!
> Orkeltatte

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