How authoritarian bullies get away with it

When I was at primary school in Napier, New Zealand, all the kids – including me – were terrified of a particular teacher, the ‘go to’ disciplinarian who was invoked when other teachers wanted a kid especially punished. This bellowing drill-sergeant of a teacher demanded total submission to his power, even down to punishing kids … More How authoritarian bullies get away with it

Failing to escape the tyranny of twentieth century thinking – the junk science of psychology

There is a wonderful aphorism credited to Albert Einstein – ‘Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing it is stupid’. He didn’t necessarily say it, but it’s something he could have said. And it sums up one of … More Failing to escape the tyranny of twentieth century thinking – the junk science of psychology

How Wilhelm Reich showed that ‘psychology’ is scientific woo woo

I posted a while back on the fact that ‘psychology’ isn’t proper science, still less a valid way of understanding the human condition. To me, the problem is summed up by where ‘psychology’ was taken by one of its pioneers, Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957). Reich, like his teacher Sigsmund Freud, thought everybody was psychologically defective – it was only a matter of degree … More How Wilhelm Reich showed that ‘psychology’ is scientific woo woo

Why ‘psychology’ fails Popper’s falsifiability tests and isn’t a science

A doctor I consulted for a while in another town and time had the dynamite combination of incompetence, ego and an ability to intellectualise his ineptitude in a way that threw people on to the back foot. If he couldn’t diagnose something – which was just about everything – it was due to ‘psychological’ problems on the part of the patient, … More Why ‘psychology’ fails Popper’s falsifiability tests and isn’t a science

Social media shaming is bullying – and must stop

One of the disturbing uses of social media these days appears to be ‘shaming’ – picking on strangers over some superficial issue the ‘shamers’ demonise, in ignorance of context and circumstance. The fact that ‘shaming’ is so judgemental underscores what it actually is – bullying. History, alas, tells us that this sort of behaviour is part of the human … More Social media shaming is bullying – and must stop

Is the APA’s ‘internet gaming disorder’ really a fair label for ordinary gamers?

The American Psychiatric Association recently called for study into a condition they call ‘Internet Gaming Disorder’. My gripe? However much it’s been intellectualised, ‘psychiatry’ is not a science because its diagnoses depend on personal opinion, not on testable (technically, ‘falsifiable’) empirical criteria. Where somebody is obviously in trouble, that’s not a problem. But for normal people who end up … More Is the APA’s ‘internet gaming disorder’ really a fair label for ordinary gamers?

Ego igitur puniar: my childhood adventures at Nelson Park School, Napier

My old primary school, Nelson Park School, is marking its centenary this weekend. Am I going to the various events? Go figure. My earliest memory there, from 1968, is of being slammed across the face by my teacher. Wham! I’d never been hit before. I was five. I have no idea why the teacher hit me, but back then it didn’t take … More Ego igitur puniar: my childhood adventures at Nelson Park School, Napier

Lamenting the sadness of war, and of New Zealand’s war historians

Flags are at half mast today across New Zealand to mark the hundredth anniversary of the start of the First World War. Over 100,000 young Kiwi men were drawn into that conflict over a four year span. Of these, more than 58,000 became casualties, 16,500 of them dead. For a country of just on a … More Lamenting the sadness of war, and of New Zealand’s war historians

Of moral compass and our human duty of care

Even after nearly twenty years, I have not quite forgiven the producers of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, for a sequence filmed in the Savage Memorial above Auckland harbour: ‘The Wedding of Alcemene’, involving a cheesy 1990s-era CGI monster named Perfidia. Michael Joseph Savage was arguably New Zealand’s greatest Prime Minister. His government came to power … More Of moral compass and our human duty of care

Write it now: title – the most vital words you’ll ever write

I’ve always held that the two or three most crucial words for any author are the first ones a reader sees – the title. Titles have to be snappy, descriptive, catchy and short. With the cover design, they can make or break a book. They have to sum up the theme or aim – and … More Write it now: title – the most vital words you’ll ever write