Teaching the Psychology “controversy”

I make no secret that I think the ID slogan of “teach the controversy” is nothing but a baseless appeal to uninformed citizen’s sense of fairness. If there’s a controversy, both sides deserve to be heard. However, with ID, there is no credible scientific controversy.

But ID isn’t the only false religiously driven controversy out there today. The new pet religion of crazies like Tom Cruise, Scientology, seeks to undermine psychiatry. Their claim is that psychiatric drugs are extremely harmful. They point out things such as the fact that, although we frequently use terms like “chemical imbalance”, scientists have never been able to determine what chemicals these would be.

What they fail to note the overwhelming success of treatments. Instead, they cherry pick examples that support their position. But in reality, even before science developed the germ theory of disease and illness was believed to be the cause of humors or demons, we were still able to recognize that certain plants had excellent restorative powers.

Thus, it does’t necessarily require a complete understanding of the cause to recognize a treatment.

But as with the ID movement, Scientologists damn the facts and support “teaching the controversy”. Unfortunately for them, they don’t have the full support of an entire political party to push their agenda. However, it seems they’re trying.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Kenneth Dunkin (D) endorsed an exhibit that describes psychiatry as a pseudoscience and claims that it pushes pills and is, somehow, related to Nazism (sound familiar?).

The exhibit was created by “Citizens Commission on Human Rights”, an organization created and paid for by the Church of Scientology (ie, their version of the Discovery Institute).

The display has promted visitors to contact the Illinois chapter of National Alliance for Mental Illness with complaints and confusion over the authority of the exhibit. Yet Dunkin stands by his sponsorship, saying, “There is a culture that says if you don’t use this drug you can’t be cured. In fact, no drug can cure you.”

While I certainly agree that this culture is far too dependant on medications as a quick fix and a way to hide from underlying problems, to claim that medications can’t assist in cures and are worthless is a dangerous extreme that is opposed almost universally by scientists.

These pseudoscientific “controversies” play on the ethical fairness many of us feel, but little on logic. Sadly this trend seems to be growing and threatens to undermine science.