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zhao
26-04-2010, 05:25 PM
how about a thread where we compare some interesting differences...

one thing i've noticed after moving to Germany is that the (perhaps overly) confident swagger encouraged in the United States is very much frowned upon here.

as a kid i was taught to always be humble in China, half full bottle being the loudest and all.

in America i've had to learn to act a little bit "I'm the motherfucking SHIT". this seemed necessary to push myself out there, to get my voice heard, or get my work noticed -- in the corporate sector, art world, music circuit. perhaps yours are different but my experiences in America was that the meek, quiet, and humble do not get the job/gallery space/club booking (or even girl).

but this did not translate well in Germany at all. here it seems like ego should be very much concealed. seems if you walk into a situation with that kind of energy people really just switch off. first time i noticed was when i first got here, one night standing outside a club i was asked what kind of dj i was and i replied "better than the mediocre one in there that's for sure" and the reaction was very clearly not the positive one i expected.

i don't know, maybe this is all so subjective, and dependent on so many other cultural specifics and other factors involving personality and others that a sweeping generalization about an entire culture makes next to no sense (regional differences and all)...

but what's it like in England would you say?

other types of differences welcome...

nochexxx
26-04-2010, 06:02 PM
but what's it like in England would you say?

other types of differences welcome...

i reckon this attitude is prevalent amongst the white middle/upper classes.
self promotion in anyshape or form is just not cool! why this should be I have no idea and tbh I have felt isolated here in the UK because of it. it's way different with the working classes/non whites though. perhaps Iím generalsing too much, but it is what i feel iíve experienced.

nochexxx
26-04-2010, 06:13 PM
am i right in thinking that it's rude to make eye contact in Japanese culture ?
that's quite the opposite here in the western world.

DannyL
26-04-2010, 06:50 PM
It's all masked in elaborate layers of irony.

If you're an effete metrosexual ponce, like most of us, that is.

If you're a bluff, no nonsense Northern - different story.

zhao
26-04-2010, 07:07 PM
self promotion in anyshape or form is just not cool! why this should be I have no idea and tbh I have felt isolated here in the UK because of it. it's way different with the working classes/non whites though. perhaps Iím generalsing too much, but it is what i feel iíve experienced.

yeah i've noticed this a bit. even on here. coyness and self deprecation seem to be considered charming. while the opposite i suppose is vulgar.

zhao
27-04-2010, 07:19 AM
certainly related to what woebot was saying about the awful phenomenon of musicians and labels being marketing savvy these days. his argument was couched in a more political context, along the lines of Capitalism infecting everything, etc, but i think the sort of deeper cultural biases i'm talking about here also have a lot to do with his sentiments.

while i understand and respect this perspective -- that artists and musicians should resist corporate marketing techniques, should not have myspace pages, should not send out mass emails, and just quietly do what they do, hoping (or not?) that through word of mouth or other non-commercial means people hear of their work -- i feel that the other way of doing things should also be understood and respected.

in my life i have seen too many good artists/musicians/writers not get the attention they deserve, which is not only sad for them, but i believe for the world (while loud mouthed yahoos prance all over the place). so i absolutely believe in the goodness of artists pushing themselves in what ever way is effective, also empowering themselves, economically, legally, and in what ever context they find themselves.

nochexxx
27-04-2010, 09:24 AM
while i understand and respect this perspective -- that artists and musicians should resist corporate marketing techniques, should not have myspace pages, should not send out mass emails, and just quietly do what they do, hoping (or not?) that through word of mouth or other non-commercial means people hear of their work -- i feel that the other way of doing things should also be understood and respected.


aww, my mate Gavin! a true romantic. draws all day, rarely leaves the house, wears a broken watch, walks everywhere, managed to work one or two shortlived 'jobs', years spent just to complete one picture - many go unfinished (god only knows what archive resides underneath his bed), becoming forever more extreme and cornered by his own refusal to move within the art world and life. not many like that these days!

http://web14.twitpic.com/img/92075022-e6c5b0ab3444153d187e62390c6c9646.4bd69bfd-full.jpg
http://web17.twitpic.com/img/92073713-8183affe3274ed159d7b41edade90d0a.4bd69a47-full.jpg
http://web19.twitpic.com/img/92074035-a174f0b9885c92f204fa16e9b04bfdbd.4bd69abb-full.jpg

nochexxx
27-04-2010, 09:29 AM
he would de-friend me if he ever found out i posted his pictures. took me years to convince him that he should allow me to scan his work in case of house fires etc. ;)

nochexxx
27-04-2010, 09:33 AM
for me it's a question of balance and self expansion, if your working tradition reigns over and above yr tweets and myspaces, then there's nothing wrong with stretching your meta- tentacles. makes you more complete imo.

zhao
27-04-2010, 12:28 PM
aww, my mate Gavin! a true romantic. draws all day, rarely leaves the house, wears a broken watch, walks everywhere, managed to work one or two shortlived 'jobs', years spent just to complete one picture - many go unfinished (god only knows what archive resides underneath his bed), becoming forever more extreme and cornered by his own refusal to move within the art world and life. not many like that these days!

http://web14.twitpic.com/img/92075022-e6c5b0ab3444153d187e62390c6c9646.4bd69bfd-full.jpg
http://web17.twitpic.com/img/92073713-8183affe3274ed159d7b41edade90d0a.4bd69a47-full.jpg
http://web19.twitpic.com/img/92074035-a174f0b9885c92f204fa16e9b04bfdbd.4bd69abb-full.jpg

none of these images work for me. even when i copy paste the URLs. just blank pages.

but i think there are still a lot of people like this. i had friends like this in LA.

zhao
27-04-2010, 12:29 PM
and speaking of self promotion, funny to see a few other posters with rainbow colored signature links now :cool:

nochexxx
27-04-2010, 12:42 PM
none of these images work for me. even when i copy paste the URLs. just blank pages.



how about this one?

http://s3.amazonaws.com/twitpic/photos/large/92074035.jpg?AWSAccessKeyId=0ZRYP5X5F6FSMBCCSE82&Expires=1272369303&Signature=1wKwsACz1tUJZMocGW%2BQgZ4MFmw%3D

zhao
27-04-2010, 12:45 PM
wow crazy! you should pimp him out to some galleries and take a percentage of sales.

nochexxx
27-04-2010, 12:46 PM
tell him his work reminds you of Terry Gilliam and yr on his hate list for life. haha

nochexxx
27-04-2010, 12:51 PM
wow crazy! you should pimp him out to some galleries and take a percentage of sales.


i've been trying to get him involved with stuff for ages. even to the point where he did some design for me way back. alas, he was impossible to work with..... i'd ask him to make a record sleeve and he would come back with a 3 by 5 meter drawing, even though i would specifically instruct him to draw something which could be scanned. i'd end up having to shell out cash at pro scanning houses and even then i'd have to do it in sections.

nochexxx
27-04-2010, 12:53 PM
here's another! i have a folder of his stuff, some of it's more basic than the first.

http://s3.amazonaws.com/twitpic/photos/large/92075022.jpg?AWSAccessKeyId=0ZRYP5X5F6FSMBCCSE82&Expires=1272370136&Signature=nniKyRugJmRDngnWhUCfkiVPGH0%3D

zhao
27-04-2010, 01:09 PM
this elephant one is seriously dope. the extreme cropping, the palette, the details, the suggestion of narrative leaving so much to the imagination.

nochexxx
27-04-2010, 01:32 PM
ffs. images are gone again. serves me right for doing the dirty. :(

p/s the extreme cropping is me trying scan the damn thing!

grizzleb
27-04-2010, 04:04 PM
From my own perspective, from making music and stuff I actually think that any promotion exposure can negatively influence how I relate to art/whatever project I'm involved in. I used to (and still do) make music, and when I was about 15/16 I had some very minor success/praise from magazines and people in the scene I was around. Of course it basically stopped me from showing my stuff to other people, I spent more time making music, and most of the stuff I was making was better than the stuff that had garnered any praise, but I just felt a bit at odds with people expecting anything of me, and found that I didn't enjoy music as much as I once did. I was constantly over-thinking/over-analysing stuff instead of enjoying it for what it is. So I've never released any music since then, despite a few offers, because I kind of enjoy it as a private thing; the way I see it, there's loads of people making better/more interesting shit than me, so why should I force my stuff out there. And also, why should I take anyone else's opinion on what I've made?

Sometimes art just being a simple process to be enjoyed is better than fitting in to any wider 'scene' for people to chew you up and spit you out...

mistersloane
27-04-2010, 04:49 PM
There's a large amount of humility within Uk culture (the proverbial 'sorry!' being the best example, there's a correlation with the Japanese there as well) which would see 'blowing your own trumpet' as being gauche. I think this extends across class in the UK - it's the Americanisation of stuff that's led to it being seen as OK to overly self-promote.

That and people you tend to meet who self-promote are generally wankers and just get laughed at.

woops
27-04-2010, 08:28 PM
That and people you tend to meet who self-promote are generally wankers and just get laughed at.

Outside the civilised confines of Dissensus of course...

mistersloane
27-04-2010, 08:45 PM
Outside the civilised confines of Dissensus of course...

I dunno, I'm well, well uncool amongst alot of my mates cos I'm a bit forward about things.

zhao
27-04-2010, 09:14 PM
I dunno, I'm well, well uncool amongst alot of my mates cos I'm a bit forward about things.

fuck your mates.

4linehaiku
27-04-2010, 10:49 PM
A good idea in theory, but it often tends to add a little tension to the social dynamic.

woops
28-04-2010, 12:00 AM
I doubt Zhao even knows Mistersloane's mates. Why's he saying fuck them?

lol

mistersloane
28-04-2010, 12:15 AM
I doubt Zhao even knows Mistersloane's mates. Why's he saying fuck them?

lol

I think he's seen a few of them and I hope he doesn't think...it was a long night...

zhao
28-04-2010, 02:37 AM
I doubt Zhao even knows Mistersloane's mates. Why's he saying fuck them?

lol

by "fuck his mates" i mean:

don't worry about what they think. if mister sloane feels like promoting his bad self, he should go right ahead.

i thought this would have been apparent but guess not...

zhao
28-04-2010, 02:39 AM
is it a case of US slang not translating? do you use "fuck" in this way in the UK?

reeltoreel
28-04-2010, 05:30 AM
is it a case of US slang not translating? do you use "fuck" in this way in the UK?

I think he's just having you on. People use it both ways in the UK...

zhao
29-04-2010, 02:01 PM
I dunno, I'm well, well uncool amongst alot of my mates cos I'm a bit forward about things.

hi mister, i remember you mentioned this thing which grabs any audio that is playing on your computer... what was that shit called again? (by the way your inbox is full)

NEVERMIND FOUND IT!!! a belated thanks!

swears
29-04-2010, 10:11 PM
hi mister, i remember you mentioned this thing which grabs any audio that is playing on your computer... what was that shit called again? (by the way your inbox is full)

NEVERMIND FOUND IT!!! a belated thanks!

This sounds useful... what's it called?

mistersloane
29-04-2010, 10:49 PM
This sounds useful... what's it called?

I think zhao meant IShowU, which grabs audio and video playing on your computer. There's SnapzPro as well but I prefer IShowU. It's essential.

woops
30-04-2010, 12:10 AM
I prefer IShowU. It's essential.

yeah? and it's freeware? what i really want is a program that can capture screenshots from video files like avi's. i know it's out there.

zhao
30-04-2010, 01:19 AM
yeah? and it's freeware? what i really want is a program that can capture screenshots from video files like avi's. i know it's out there.

shift apple 4 on mac - screenshot. pc dunno.

audio hijack is what i was thinking of. grabbed some nice samples from San Soleil today. as well as Me and My... Me and My Rhythm Box! :D

matt b
30-04-2010, 02:18 PM
how about a thread where we compare some interesting differences...

one thing i've noticed after moving to Germany is that the (perhaps overly) confident swagger encouraged in the United States is very much frowned upon here.

as a kid i was taught to always be humble in China, half full bottle being the loudest and all.

in America i've had to learn to act a little bit "I'm the motherfucking SHIT". this seemed necessary to push myself out there, to get my voice heard, or get my work noticed -- in the corporate sector, art world, music circuit. perhaps yours are different but my experiences in America was that the meek, quiet, and humble do not get the job/gallery space/club booking (or even girl).

but this did not translate well in Germany at all. here it seems like ego should be very much concealed. seems if you walk into a situation with that kind of energy people really just switch off. first time i noticed was when i first got here, one night standing outside a club i was asked what kind of dj i was and i replied "better than the mediocre one in there that's for sure" and the reaction was very clearly not the positive one i expected.

i don't know, maybe this is all so subjective, and dependent on so many other cultural specifics and other factors involving personality and others that a sweeping generalization about an entire culture makes next to no sense (regional differences and all)...

but what's it like in England would you say?

other types of differences welcome...

Just started reading this (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Spirit-Level-Societies-Almost-Always/dp/1846140390), which refers to this study (http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=2690535), which suggests that it is due to status competition and evaluative threats (it's a front to hide vulnerability etc). This is more pronounced in inequal societies.

massrock
30-04-2010, 02:23 PM
shift apple 4 on mac - screenshot. pc dunno.
Prnt Scrn - puts a screengrab in the clipboard.

mistersloane
30-04-2010, 02:53 PM
yeah? and it's freeware? what i really want is a program that can capture screenshots from video files like avi's. i know it's out there.

It captures video (i.e youtube, or anything else) with the audio, so you don't have to download the swf file and convert it. It's very handy, not sure if it's freeware or not...if you've got quicktime (apple) then you can take stills out of it like that if you want to, course screengrab is quicker if it's just stills.

woops
30-04-2010, 03:20 PM
On PC you can press PRTSC but if you try it on an AVI and paste it in MSPaint it doesn't paste properly, and you can't mess about with it and where's the fun in that?
MSPaint is great by the way.

scottdisco
30-04-2010, 03:31 PM
Just started reading this (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Spirit-Level-Societies-Almost-Always/dp/1846140390), which refers to this study (http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=2690535), which suggests that it is due to status competition and evaluative threats (it's a front to hide vulnerability etc). This is more pronounced in inequal societies.

(my bolded emphasis.)

think you're on to something there, Matt.

i'd admittedly be interested in studies comparing these sorts of things from developing economies as a case by case, too.
for eg Paraguay's one of the least equal societies on earth, no? maybe there w a slightly more egalitarian developing economy.

matt b
30-04-2010, 04:07 PM
(my bolded emphasis.)

think you're on to something there, Matt.

i'd admittedly be interested in studies comparing these sorts of things from developing economies as a case by case, too.
for eg Paraguay's one of the least equal societies on earth, no? maybe there w a slightly more egalitarian developing economy.

The spirit level book (linked to in my above post) is ALL about the negative impact of inequality on a whole range of social outcomes, from mental health, to education, violence, teenage pregnancy etc etc.

It uses statistical analysis to show the relationship and then sociological/psychological studies to suggest causes.

It focusses mainly on 'developed' nations- Portugal being the 'least developed' (Paraguay's not even in the index), mainly because the overall thrust of the argument is that increasing wealth/GDP alone doesn't create a 'better' society, despite the claims of politicians and economists.

matt b
30-04-2010, 04:10 PM
Oh, and I'm also waiting on this (http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1847424260/ref=oss_product) to arrive, which was discussed on Thinking Allowed a couple of weeks ago, which is available to listen to here (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00s0g1m)

scottdisco
30-04-2010, 04:15 PM
The spirit level book (linked to in my above post) is ALL about the negative impact of inequality on a whole range of social outcomes, from mental health, to education, violence, teenage pregnancy etc etc.

It mainly uses statistical analysis to show the relationship and then sociological/psychological studies to suggest causes.

It focusses mainly on 'developed' nations- Portugal being the 'least developed' (Paraguay's not even in the index), mainly because the overall thrust of the argument is that increasing wealth/GDP alone doesn't create a 'better' society, despite the claims of politicians and economists.

all true facts

and the USA is the least equal nation on earth among wealthy countries of course

(goes w out saying i use 'developing economies' blah blah and all that as convenient shorthand)

matt b
30-04-2010, 04:24 PM
(goes w out saying i use 'developing economies' blah blah and all that as convenient shorthand)

I know, but you can't be too careful! ;)

USA is well out there on some of the graphs:
http://images.google.co.uk/url?source=imgres&ct=img&q=http://www.irishleftreview.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/a1_spiritleveltable1_2.jpg&ei=B_baS5SZFomd-Abt3NXhDg&sa=X&oi=image_landing_page_redirect&ct=legacy&usg=AFQjCNH2U-tSymq221dikP5qIf3rR0Srsw

Mr. Tea
01-05-2010, 12:33 AM
I know, but you can't be too careful! ;)

USA is well out there on some of the graphs:
http://images.google.co.uk/url?source=imgres&ct=img&q=http://www.irishleftreview.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/a1_spiritleveltable1_2.jpg&ei=B_baS5SZFomd-Abt3NXhDg&sa=X&oi=image_landing_page_redirect&ct=legacy&usg=AFQjCNH2U-tSymq221dikP5qIf3rR0Srsw

That's an interesting graph, but it does make me wonder: how exactly are they quantising "health and social problems"? I mean, there must be a virtually infinite number of different ways you could apportion weight and significance to all kinds of different indicators. In contrast to income inequality, which is well defined.

For example, the "social problems" index presumably doesn't attach too much significance to the suicide rate, which is twice as high in Sweden as is it in the (apparently highly dysfunctional) UK. And Japan's is far higher still. OK, so there's more to how 'healthy' a society is than how low or high the suicide rate is, but to me it seems a pretty significant figure.

grizzleb
01-05-2010, 12:36 AM
Cheers for that Tea, I wanted to make a point along those lines but couldn't think of any way of showing that "Japan isn't all that good actually" so I just left it.

How do you quantify health and social problems?

nomadthethird
01-05-2010, 12:48 AM
That's an interesting graph, but it does make me wonder: how exactly are they quantising "health and social problems"? I mean, there must be a virtually infinite number of different ways you could apportion weight and significance to all kinds of different indicators. In contrast to income inequality, which is well defined.

For example, the "social problems" index presumably doesn't attach too much significance to the suicide rate, which is twice as high in Sweden as is it in the (apparently highly dysfunctional) UK. And Japan's is far higher still. OK, so there's more to how 'healthy' a society is than how low or high the suicide rate is, but to me it seems a pretty significant figure.

I wondered the same thing.

These sorts of quantitative measurements of largely qualitative phenomena are almost inevitably skewed toward whatever the ideological bent of the data analyst happens to be. In statistics there are entirely different ways of dealing with straightforward "discrete" measurements (like height, income, etc) and the other stuff. I'm not sure what kind of test they used to determine statistical significance, but the margin of error *has* to be huge on this distribution.

I mean, it's not paradise here, by any stretch, but I'm guessing they don't count, say, extreme forms of social and sexual repression in that index, of the type that causes high suicide rates. And I would.

scottdisco
01-05-2010, 09:21 AM
it's not addressing y'all very interesting interventions re suicide etc but i found the following from the bloke who wrote Matt's book (and so is therefore the man responsible for the framing of the graph i assume).


In societies where income differences between rich and poor are smaller, the statistics show that community life is stronger and more people feel they can trust others. There is also less violence - including lower homicide rates; health tends to be better and life expectancy is higher. In fact most of the problems related to relative deprivation are reduced: prison populations are smaller, teenage birth rates are lower, maths and literacy scores tend to be higher, and there is less obesity.

That is a lot to attribute to inequality, but all these relationships have been demonstrated in at least two independent settings: among the richest developed societies, and among the 50 states of the USA. In both cases, places with smaller income differences do better and the relationships cannot be dismissed as chance findings. Some of them have already been shown in large numbers of studies - there are over 170 looking at the tendency for health to be better in more equal societies and something like 40 looking at the relation between violence and inequality. As you might expect, inequality makes a larger contribution to some problems than others, and it is of course far from being the only cause of social ills. But it does look as if the scale of inequality is the most important single explanation for the huge differences in the prevalence of social problems between societies. The relationships tend to be strongest among problems which show the sharpest class differences and are most closely related to relative deprivation.
The most obvious explanation for these patterns is that more unequal societies have more social problems because they have more poor people. But this is not the main explanation. Most of the effect of inequality is the result of worse outcomes across the vast majority of the population. In a more unequal society, even middle class people on good incomes are likely to be less healthy, less likely to be involved in community life, more likely to be obese, and more likely to be victims of violence. Similarly, their children are likely to do less well at school, are more likely to use drugs and more likely to become teenage parents.
The first thing to recognise is that we are dealing with the effects of relative rather than absolute deprivation and poverty. Violence, poor health or school failure are not problems which can be solved by economic growth. Everyone getting richer without redistribution doesn't help. Although economic growth remains important in poorer countries, across the richest 25 or 30 countries, there is no tendency whatsoever for health to be better among the most affluent rather than the least affluent of these rich countries. The same is also true of levels of violence, teenage pregnancy rates, literacy and maths scores among school children, and even obesity rates. In poorer countries both inequality and economic growth are important to outcomes such as health, but rich countries have reached a level of development beyond which further rises in material living standards do not help reduce health or social problems. While greater equality is important at all levels of economic development, the connection between life expectancy and Gross National Income per head weakens as countries get richer until, among the very richest countries, the connection disappears entirely.

However, within each country, ill health and social problems are closely associated with income. The more deprived areas in our societies have more of most problems. So what does it mean if the differences in income within rich societies matter, but income differences between them do not? It tells us that what matters is where we stand in relation to others in our own society. The issue is social status and relative income. So for example, why the USA has the highest homicide rates, the highest teenage pregnancy rates, the highest rates of imprisonment, and comes about 28th in the international league table of life expectancy, is because it also has the biggest income differences. In contrast, countries like Japan, Sweden and Norway, although not as rich as the US, all have smaller income differences and do well on all these measures. Even among the 50 states of the USA, those with smaller income differences perform as well as more egalitarian countries on most of these measures.

the rest of it is from a blurb taken from here (http://www.crimeandjustice.org.uk/wilkinsoninequality.html) (no discussion of statistics or anything there i admit, it's more a sourced thinkpiece).
the author is Richard Wilkinson, a professor of social epidemiology, University of Notts Medical School.

just to throw some light on the terms in which the graph was (presumably) wove together :cool:

mixed_biscuits
01-05-2010, 09:30 AM
I think the 'strangely' high suicide rates in Scandinavia and Japan may be related to the stigma attached to admitting weakness/claiming difference (which itself may be a reflection of cultural homogeneity and the presence of strong normative values) - many people may choose not to disclose their problems until late, or never. So, suicide may either be the 'tip of the iceberg' and a fair reflection of the real extent of mental health problems or, more charitably, may also be the outcome of less serious problems that were exacerbated by not having been dealt with at an earlier stage.

In societies that place high value on being seen as homogeneous and strong ('don't let the side down') - I'm thinking of Japan here, especially - there may also be less of an inclination to collect data that may undermine this self-conception (as well as to 'create' non-problems (cf. supposed over-medicalisation in the US) or identify actual problems).

Socially less homogeneous societies (eg. UK) may provide more opportunities for honest self-assessment of health and happiness, as there is greater scope for the individual to critique cultural norms and his/her relation to them: 'there's more than one side to the story.'

I would ask, 'What does it take to be in the bottom-left of that graph?' and I would say that these are the prerequisites:

- very strong economy, so that income equalising measures can be financed
- high cultural homogeneity, with attendant strong sense of obligation to the collective
- low reporting of health/social problems, as individuals feel obliged to the collective
- poor collection of health/social problem data, as collective self-concept comes first

In order to maintain its position in the bottom-left, a country would need to be un-accepting both to cultural outliers and to outlying individuals (with health/social problems), hence the restrictive Scandinavian and highly restrictive Japanese immigration policies.

scottdisco
01-05-2010, 09:56 AM
i admire anyone who has a sociological stab at this Biscuits, and realise the following tiny nitpicking is going to look churlish in the context of a thoughtful, sizeable post from you, but

(my bolded emphasis follows)



- poor collection of health/social problem data, as collective self-concept comes first

End result: general intolerance of outliers, either culturally or in terms of health.

purely wrt the frames of reference of Matt's graph (which sparked these fascinating suicide etc debates) it's clear what the author of the piece regards as health/social problems to be discussed in relation to his thesis, and his sorts of stats, for better or worse (obesity, violence, educational achievement rates in the 'three R's' among kids, imprisonment figures and so on) are easily collectable and verifiable by statisticians, public agencies etc (indeed, mandated as such in most wealthy nations you'd think), certainly in any stable, mature democracy.

as i say, sorry to butt in w one tiny little thing as the meat of your post has something, i think, (and your conclusion very much worth pondering) but i just wanted to note the above.

mixed_biscuits
01-05-2010, 10:14 AM
as i say, sorry to butt in w one tiny little thing as the meat of your post has something, i think, (and your conclusion very much worth pondering) but i just wanted to note the above.

That's fine - hadn't looked into the context of the graph. Just taking an idea and running/stumbling with it. :)

I guess the conclusion to the particular line I have presented is that one might be faced with a choice: between equalising incomes within nations and equalising incomes between nations.

scottdisco
01-05-2010, 10:47 AM
That's fine - hadn't looked into the context of the graph. Just taking an idea and running/stumbling with it. :)

I guess the conclusion to the particular line I have presented is that one might be forced with a choice: between equalising incomes within a nation and equalising incomes between nations.

yeah, interesting that.

incidentally, i know Scandinavian countries are - of course - not as ethnically diverse societies as say Canada, but i gather - i have no hard stats here, just half-remembered readings etc - these days aren't they becoming more and more cosmopolitan, more and more immigration (i don't want to make it sound like i am a 'flooding' narrative tool, just noting) etc changing the face of these societies (literally). i admit the impression i have of Japan is it definitely remains a fairly ethnically homogeneous country, granted. (this is a sidenote to a sidenote really, and i'm not making a 'point' here, just observing. i guess i could think out loud and say i don't think we need to bring immigration into any discussion of this nature.)

scottdisco
01-05-2010, 12:39 PM
there may also be less of an inclination to collect data that may undermine this self-conception (as well as to 'create' non-problems (cf. supposed over-medicalisation in the US) or identify actual problems).

bit off-topic maybe but i thought as long as Nomad (or anyone really, but i respect Nomad's background on these matters) has recently been on thread i would ask her a question inspired by something M_B says here.

over-medicalisation in the US: what does anyone think?

my following own formulation is totally not backed up w any knowledge, just a very hazy set of views (that might be out of date or totally off-beam) but the very general impression i tend to get of a lot of medication that is prescribed for mental or emotional health issues in the US is over-medicalising (and obviously big pharma is a very powerful sector in the USA, even more so than it is in fairly comparable countries * like the UK)

obviously this simple assertion of opinion is problematic; what would my suggested alternatives be? (in the absence of oh i don't know a massive state-funded programme of psychotherapy and free fruit, which is clearly cloud-cuckoo.)

etc.

and so on.

it is fair to say though, isn't it, that chucking drugs at mental and emotional health issues in the States is a fairly standard response from the medical profession there, right? (if not, my bad.)

if this is the case, then i would say that this is over-medicalising (though, again, w the caveat my alternatives of what could be done instead in the USA as it is today are hooey, tbh).

anyway, what does anyone think about this? is all i really meant.

i appreciate the above is very personalised, no stats etc, just sayin'...

* ie similarly unequal societies, confident and very vocal private sector, influentiual small-state lovin' press that acts as cheerleader for private enterprise and attacks the overbearing govt. at every opportunity, etc.

p.s.
total anecdotage so obv of no worth other than incidental but i always, always, always remember being strangely impressed that an (American) ex of mine, she just knew all sorts of (over the counter) drugs, for all sorts of ailments, all sorts of things. and she was no hypochondriac or anything. (all i can remember about medical drugs is i had Calpol as a kid for bad throats, and of course there's paracetamol for headaches etc.)

obv i just walked into the local NHS surgery and the nice doctor did things for me if i ever needed it in Britain... ...i should probably educate myself more tbf about these sorts of things, and obv if i was brought up in the States i probably would have done...

scottdisco
01-05-2010, 01:58 PM
incidentally i've just been reading Nomad talking about SSRIs in the 'bloody miserable' thread (in Misc., that swears commented in today)...

scottdisco
01-05-2010, 03:25 PM
btw i am acquainting myself w a few things four_five_one and Nomad, etc, said from around page 14 of the night owl or lark thread here (http://www.dissensus.com/showthread.php?10487-Are-you-an-owl-or-a-lark/page12) re SSRIs, etc, (came across it accidentally when searching for board mentions of Sasha Grey * so please take my simplistic warblings re these issues w a kindly, and large, pinch of salt please folks)


* make of that what you will!!

polystyle desu
01-05-2010, 03:59 PM
yeah, interesting that.
i admit the impression i have of Japan is it definitely remains a fairly ethnically homogeneous country, granted. (this is a sidenote to a sidenote really, and i'm not making a 'point' here, just observing. i guess i could think out loud and say i don't think we need to bring immigration into any discussion of this nature.)

Scott I would raise you on that , I would venture Japan is still a quite 'ethnically homogeneous country',
with many issues that one just doesn't talk about > do anything about.
It's got to be the most ossified , overly static 'cratic country .
No hope is a large problem there.
A current NHK TV drama's subject is ... the coming of the black ships to Japan, obv. still a topic.
The flip side of 'cool japan'.

scottdisco
01-05-2010, 04:20 PM
Scott I would raise you on that , I would venture Japan is still a quite 'ethnically homogeneous country',
with many issues that one just doesn't talk about > do anything about.
It's got to be the most ossified , overly static 'cratic country .
No hope is a large problem there.
A current NHK TV drama's subject is ... the coming of the black ships to Japan, obv. still a topic.
The flip side of 'cool japan'.

agreed yes; the quiet stultifying and repressed salaryman cliches, etc etc etc., "no hope" for reals i guess.
think the most ossified is a fair shout.

to get back to that graph, i knew that the USA, followed by Portugal and the UK, were the least equal wealthy societies, but seeing it in that form was kinda shocking. i didn't quite know income inequality, rendered graphically, was that far out...

(btw re my 'the impression i get' etc type mealy-mouthed language, for various boring reasons i am almost always phrasing over-delicately and unnecessarily politely on the board, esp these days, rather appropriate of me perhaps to explicitly admit that for once, on this thread of all places!! haha.)

polystyle desu
01-05-2010, 04:26 PM
Yeah, maybe I shouldn't THE most ossified, but it's right up there , in a gray politicorp way.
My wife (Japanese ) and I hear about so many suicides over the years, have dealt with some close to home.

scottdisco
01-05-2010, 04:34 PM
Yeah, maybe I shouldn't THE most ossified, but it's right up there , in a gray politicorp way.
My wife (Japanese ) and I hear about so many suicides over the years, have dealt with some close to home.

ach man, that's horrible to hear. i'm sorry :(

isn't it the case (please stop me if i'm crossing over into some mythic line the outside world gets wrong about Japan) that you do get plenty of office joes offing themselves for (the ostensible 'reason', anyway) some minor professional infringement?

apologies to any/all if i sound so dim-witted on this issue, suicide, suicide stats, etc isn't something i've considered really at all since i was 16 and reading up on Durkheim and anomie etc etc for sociology class...

nomadthethird
01-05-2010, 04:49 PM
Basically, there has been a problem with over-prescription of some psychiatric medications due to misdiagnosis. But this 'problem' is far less wide-spread and far less of a gravely serious issue than a lot of people would have you believe.

People reeeeally, reeeally need to get over the 'commonsense' notion that chemicals are somehow going to disrupt the precious sanctity of the magical noumenal entity that is the "mind". The "mind" IS chemicals, and the only way to make a "mind" better will always be to alter its biochemical balance. Whether this is achieved by pharmaceutical modalities, or electrical stimulation, or brain surgery, or any number of things, will be the real issue in the future.

Another thing people need to get over, because it's ridiculous: the idea that people are more depressed now than they ever were. CITATIONS PLEASE on that one... it's one of those ridiculous conservative nostalgic-for-and-imaginary-past canards that I absolutely hate to see "leftists" parroting.

Molecular genetics has been and will be winning the argument against "over-medicalization" for years to come. This sort of argument tends to come from places and people who simply don't know the science. More and more, America is losing it's scientific edge over other countries; it's no longer just Americans who understand neurochemistry anymore.

I'm not worried; Chinese and other researchers are poised to take the lead on a lot of this stuff. You *will* see an increase in effective treatments for mental illness, and you *will* see increasingly better trained physicians who make good diagnostic decisions. It has nothing to do with America and everything to do with the fact that certain key discoveries have been made- to go into it all here would take too long, but I'll try looking up some decent reading for people who are interested.

scottdisco
01-05-2010, 04:56 PM
thanks much Nomad, you're a star, your first two paragraphs are the sort of thing i was hoping to hear about.

and agreed re yr fisking 'people are now more depressed than ever'...

polystyle desu
01-05-2010, 04:58 PM
ach man, that's horrible to hear. i'm sorry :(

isn't it the case (please stop me if i'm crossing over into some mythic line the outside world gets wrong about Japan) that you do get plenty of office joes offing themselves for (the ostensible 'reason', anyway) some minor professional infringement?


Thanks Scott, it was a tough ( for the family ) , baffling ( for me ) time and not so very long ago.
In that case, a tri fecta of 'reason's' ; this person didn't want to move up from his position in his music pub. company, had begun taking 'med's' prescribed to him and didn't see why to 'keep going on'.

grizzleb
01-05-2010, 05:52 PM
Basically, there has been a problem with over-prescription of some psychiatric medications due to misdiagnosis. But this 'problem' is far less wide-spread and far less of a gravely serious issue than a lot of people would have you believe.

People reeeeally, reeeally need to get over the 'commonsense' notion that chemicals are somehow going to disrupt the precious sanctity of the magical noumenal entity that is the "mind". The "mind" IS chemicals, and the only way to make a "mind" better will always be to alter its biochemical balance. Whether this is achieved by pharmaceutical modalities, or electrical stimulation, or brain surgery, or any number of things, will be the real issue in the future.

Another thing people need to get over, because it's ridiculous: the idea that people are more depressed now than they ever were. CITATIONS PLEASE on that one... it's one of those ridiculous conservative nostalgic-for-and-imaginary-past canards that I absolutely hate to see "leftists" parroting.

Molecular genetics has been and will be winning the argument against "over-medicalization" for years to come. This sort of argument tends to come from places and people who simply don't know the science. More and more, America is losing it's scientific edge over other countries; it's no longer just Americans who understand neurochemistry anymore.

I'm not worried; Chinese and other researchers are poised to take the lead on a lot of this stuff. You *will* see an increase in effective treatments for mental illness, and you *will* see increasingly better trained physicians who make good diagnostic decisions. It has nothing to do with America and everything to do with the fact that certain key discoveries have been made- to go into it all here would take too long, but I'll try looking up some decent reading for people who are interested.

How do you account for improvements in a persons mental health that occurs without prescription of medication? I remember a few years ago I spent a good portion of my time in my bed, crying, wondering about how to kill myself, waking up after a night of intense insane dreams covered in cold sweat, etc. Basically losing my mind. The last few years I've attempted to improve my outlook and attempt to become less depressed, get out more, whatever, basically because I thought it would be a waste of time going to a doctor (rightly or wrongly).

I generally feel pretty good, and on an even keel now, no crazy ups and downs anymore. The problem with your view of the brain and mental illness, seems to be that chemistry is the only thing which matters, and that the way in which chemistry must be altered through direct physical intervention into the mind, the way in which you live your life can't change that chemistry. Also thoughts about the changing of what is normal human experience (me not being in a good situation so feeling shitty for the best part of year) turns into 'depression' which is an 'illness' rather than a legitimate response to whatever situation one finds oneself in...

nomadthethird
01-05-2010, 06:10 PM
How do you account for improvements in a persons mental health that occurs without prescription of medication? I remember a few years ago I spent a good portion of my time in my bed, crying, wondering about how to kill myself, waking up after a night of intense insane dreams covered in cold sweat, etc. Basically losing my mind. The last few years I've attempted to improve my outlook and attempt to become less depressed, get out more, whatever, basically because I thought it would be a waste of time going to a doctor (rightly or wrongly).

I generally feel pretty good, and on an even keel now, no crazy ups and downs anymore. The problem with your view of the brain and mental illness, seems to be that chemistry is the only thing which matters, and that the way in which chemistry must be altered through direct physical intervention into the mind, the way in which you live your life can't change that chemistry. Also thoughts about the changing of what is normal human experience (me not being in a good situation so feeling shitty for the best part of year) turns into 'depression' which is an 'illness' rather than a legitimate response to whatever situation one finds oneself in...

I can explain that extremely easily. Not everyone who experiences periodic mild to moderate depression has a genetically based depressive disorder. There are very strict, extensively studied diagnostic criteria for diagnosing someone with a depressive disorder or other mental illness.

Another thing people reeeeeally, reeeeally need to get over is the idea that medication is a "quick fix" that somehow negates the need to change one's outlook and dispenses with any need for the pt to work hard at their own recovery.

It isn't. Very far from it. Medication is one small piece of a person's individual recovery puzzle. It alone can't do everything, but it can help even out the hard biological substrate of mental illlness, which is neutrotransmitter based.

nomadthethird
01-05-2010, 06:20 PM
I never said a person can't change their brain chemistry without drugs. But they're certainly not going to get their DNA to start transcribing RNA, then translating RNA into proteins, that ARE NOT CODED FOR in the DNA.

Some people have DNA that doesn't properly code for certain proteins-- just one that leaps to mind is p11-- which are directly implicated in depression.

The results are in. The mountains of scientific evidence and consensus are overwhelming, and they all point to the same thing: mental illnesses are multifactorial diseases that are genetically based. At this point, to try to deny that is as foolish as denying evolution or climate change.

But the oldest superstitions always die the hardest.

nomadthethird
01-05-2010, 06:37 PM
My DNA codes for a brain that misregulates glutamate, a synapse excitatory neurotransmitter. I produce far too much of it, and my receptors don't properly uptake it. This leads to seizures, chronic migraines, and, mostly likely, bipolar disorder. My medication is well-known for very effectively inhibiting glutamate receptors. This has some terrible side effects: short-term memory loss being the worst. It also tends to cause metabolic acidosis-- the thing arsenic poisoning causes-- which makes my hair fall out fast, and gives me kidney stones.

(Oh yes, being on medication is just a paradise on earth that makes my comfortable capitalist pig lifestyle easier to justify... not. Well, the opiate maintenance is nice but that's another story.)

Crazily enough, there are people with lives that were much tougher than mine who experience none of these symptoms. If mental illness is environment-based, how do you explain this? How do explain that all the twin studies that established a strong genetic component to most common neurological illnesses?

MSG is a dietary form of glutamate that, if I so much as look at it, makes me have a week's worth of migraines and seizures. I realized the other day that I had eaten chinese food a couple of times two weeks ago, and, though they claimed it had no MSG, it must have. Because I spent about a week miserable afterward.

So the environment can definitely contribute to neurological illness, but it alone cannot *cause* it. See the distinction there?

muser
01-05-2010, 07:09 PM
^jumping in here about something that I have a limited knowledge about tbh but its interesting you say that as people say exactly the same thing about psychoactive drugs.

What about PTSD, soldiers suffering from shellshock etc, surely that is purely caused by the environment?

nomadthethird
01-05-2010, 07:32 PM
^jumping in here about something that I have a limited knowledge about tbh but its interesting you say that as people say exactly the same thing about psychoactive drugs.

What about PTSD, soldiers suffering from shellshock etc, surely that is purely caused by the environment?

In concert with genetics. Otherwise, how do yo explain the fact that not every soldier suffers from PTSD, and some suffer far more than others?

Anxiety, like any other emotional response, is regulated by hormones and neurotransmitters. Some peoples' systems bounce back more easily than others after traumatic events.

Some women get raped and don't get PTSD, some get raped and it precipitates anxiety disorder, insomnia, eating disorders, Borderline Personality Disorder, PTSD, etc.

P.S. What is it that people say about psychoactive drugs? Not sure what you're referring to...

nomadthethird
01-05-2010, 07:36 PM
Personally, I'd wager that TV and new media are more responsible for peoples' complacency than SSRIs could ever be. Several times over.

But admitting that would be too much like taking personal responsibility...

muser
01-05-2010, 07:39 PM
P.S. What is it that people say about psychoactive drugs? Not sure what you're referring to...

as in drugs can be a contributor to mental illness but not a cause.

nomadthethird
01-05-2010, 08:24 PM
as in drugs can be a contributor to mental illness but not a cause.

Ah... yeah, that's true. A drug can cause a temporary psychosis in someone who has no history or genetic predisposition toward neurological illness. But in that case, when the drug is out of the person's system, the symptoms dissipate/disappear. Or, as is often seen with LSD or hallucinogens, drug use can coincide with/speed up the onset and progression of schizophrenia.

padraig (u.s.)
01-05-2010, 08:37 PM
But this 'problem' is far less wide-spread and far less of a gravely serious issue than a lot of people would have you believe.

this, I dunno about. obviously the neurochemistry of SSRIs is valid insofar as the mechanisms by which they act are understood, but what you might the call the emergent properties of the mind - i.e. the sum greater than the parts of the whole - are AFAIK, not, or poorly understood. and to say the mind is merely a collection of chemicals is, while technically true, reductionary and, I think, misleading. as with many things in biology - of which I'm sure you are aware - its the kind of thing where the direct, individual effect of one miscoded or missing protein may be known but how that might fit into the larger picture is not. this is not to argue against medication so much as to say that the various neurosciences are still - as you recently said about molecular genetics - in their infancy, comparatively crude, & that various problems are bound to arise as a result, including overprescription and misprescription. I don't know exactly how "widespread" those problems are, or not, but I don't think you (or anyone else) really does either.

there's also the problem of defining "better" or improved when it comes to the mind. which is perhaps more of a philosophical question, but still an important one to ask. you have to know where you're trying to go before you set out to get there, if you see what I mean. I don't doubt that a lot of v. smart people devote a fair amount of their time to thinking about this, anyway.

but this


Medication is one small piece of a person's individual recovery puzzle. It alone can't do everything, but it can help even out the hard biological substrate of mental illlness, which is neutrotransmitter based.

and this


mental illnesses are multifactorial diseases that are genetically based.

we can wholeheartedly agree on. although I would change "genetically based" to "influenced by genetics". as in genetics is one factor among several but only sometimes - rather than always - the leading factor.


came across it accidentally when searching for board mentions of Sasha Grey

scott, you never fail to warm my heart.

padraig (u.s.)
01-05-2010, 08:43 PM
also in re: miscoding proteins etc, this is where epigenetics & gene therapy are headed. obviously if you don't have the code for a protein in your DNA - if there was an alteration in your chromosomes during meiosis, or a mutation or something - you're kinda screwed, & will be reliant on artificial substitute (i.e. a drug). but if the gene that codes for that protein is just silenced, then you might be able to develop drugs - likely w/less side effects - to turn it on (i.e. via demethylation or acetylation, or some other mechanism, depending on the specific case). that's not really feasible now, but I think it will be in the relatively near future. my knowledge of it is more in terms of cancers but I don't see why it couldn't also be applied to psychiatric disorders, or at least the genetic elements thereof.

nomadthethird
01-05-2010, 09:03 PM
Well, I think it's overstated when people say "nobody knows how anti-depressants work"-- plenty of people have really strong, robust results that paint a pretty clear picture. It's just that tge devil's often in the details, which are still being worked out in some cases.

You're right when you say that, as of now, nobody knows exactly where to draw the line between cause and effect in every individual case of illness-- not with neuro-illness, or any other kind for that matter. But the vast majority of the evidence favors an approach that looks like this: neurological illness of the type that is seriously debilitating and causes dysfunction is very rare in humans who have no genetic predisposition toward it.

I'm all for criticizing Big Pharma, as I've said before: the problem is, most of the critiques you hear are ineffectual because they aren't based on good information. What I'm objecting to here and elsewhere is, basically, the "special pleading" fallacy that gets whipped out with regard to neuro-illness. For cultural reasons-- partly because, for so long, what the mind is was a total mystery--people want to think neurological problems obey special rules, basically break the laws of physics, while other illnesses don't. They want to level criticisms at neurological and psychiatric treatments that they'd never level at other medical treatments. (For example, a lot of doctors will tell you that X-rays are seriously over-used and that this is in fact contributing to the rise in cancer. But no lay people talk about that...they're the ones lining up letting some 30-year-old resident order a whole bunch of X-rays for a chest cold.)

It just annoys the hell out of me that people will go on and on about the fact that maybe some moderately depressed people were given SSRIs when they could have scraped by without them while ignoring other much more serious problems of overprescription/overmedication. For example, it bothers me that the average person has no idea that hormonal birth control poses much more serious health risks to women than SSRIs, even when misprescribed, do to depressed people. It bothers me that people don't realize that radical hysterectomies are almost never necessary. It bothers me that people who don't need it are taking Crestor, then later dying when their kidneys fail. It bothers me that the alterna-health crowd is pushing hormone therapy on post-menopausal women as if it's candy, and calling it "bioidentical" hormones when it's really just the same old synthetic chemicals.

SSRIs are small potatoes when it comes to medical risk. And they just aren't the quick and easy fix people want them to be-- a lot of people who went to the doctor who weren't mentally ill, thinking Prozac would fix everything, learned the hard way that this wasn't the case. It's really these types of middle class people who are now braying loudest about the "overmedicalization" of mental illness. And they don't seem to understand that they aren't the center of the psychiatric universe.


also in re: miscoding proteins etc, this is where epigenetics & gene therapy are headed. obviously if you don't have the code for a protein in your DNA - if there was an alteration in your chromosomes during meiosis, or a mutation or something - you're kinda screwed, & will be reliant on artificial substitute (i.e. a drug). but if the gene that codes for that protein is just silenced, then you might be able to develop drugs - likely w/less side effects - to turn it on (i.e. via demethylation or acetylation, or some other mechanism, depending on the specific case). that's not really feasible now, but I think it will be in the relatively near future. my knowledge of it is more in terms of cancers but I don't see why it couldn't also be applied to psychiatric disorders, or at least the genetic elements thereof.

Yeah, this is the type of thing I was meaning to suggest when I said that, in the future, the question won't be "do we treat mental illness medically?", it'll be what kinds of radical new treatments exist. It's looking like we may be able to forego pills and get right down to the molecular nitty gritty without so many chemical middlemen with annoying side-effects.

padraig (u.s.)
01-05-2010, 09:24 PM
I have to run, but I just want to say - nomad is 100% right that these kinds of problems are hardly unique to psychiatry, & can be found in every area of medicinal practice. that's just the nature of medicine itself.

nomadthethird
03-05-2010, 12:11 AM
There's a PBS special called This Emotional Life (http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=this+emotional+life&aq=f) that's simple but has a lot of good info about new research into the connection between the brain and emotions. The second episode (called "Facing our Fears") focuses on depression and how clinical depression is an illness like any other.

grizzleb
03-05-2010, 03:03 AM
I never said a person can't change their brain chemistry without drugs. But they're certainly not going to get their DNA to start transcribing RNA, then translating RNA into proteins, that ARE NOT CODED FOR in the DNA.

Some people have DNA that doesn't properly code for certain proteins-- just one that leaps to mind is p11-- which are directly implicated in depression.

The results are in. The mountains of scientific evidence and consensus are overwhelming, and they all point to the same thing: mental illnesses are multifactorial diseases that are genetically based. At this point, to try to deny that is as foolish as denying evolution or climate change.

But the oldest superstitions always die the hardest.

I really agree broadly with what you're saying - I'm sure that there are loads of mental health problems which emerge from genetics, etc, lack of genes that codes for certain proteins or whatnot, just as there is in other non-mental illnesses, it stands to reason. A few things I'm wondering about:

How do you make 'stringent' diagnoses of mental health problems to ensure that those that are prescribed for do have a genetic basis? I'm sure that they aren't giving out DNA tests willy nilly. The symptoms are going to be really similar in people who are and are not depressed (or whatever) due to genetic factors...It's something that's so subjective I don't see how the accuracy rate could ever be that high.

Are all mental health medications intended soley for use on people who don't code for particular proteins?

Just to pick up your point on 'quick fixes' - I guess that's part of the problem I have with peoples attitudes towards such mental health problems, and prescription of drugs for then. From the experience of various people I've known over the years, at least in the UK, the help given to people with depression and other mental health problems is weak. Drugs are basically given out with no other advice, with the implication basically that drugs will fix things automatically. It's this kind of thing that leads people to just become passive, to feel like they don't have any control over their life. I wonder about the way in which drugs are changing the way we view ourselves emotionally and the way in which we view how much control over ourselves we have.

And all that stuff about overprescription of other stuff - well I'm only aware of what I'm aware. There's plenty stuff that doesn't get reported widely, you can't blame people for not knowing about x, y obscure medical scandal. Also, there's probably more interest in stuff that surrounds mental health, just because people find it an interesting topic.

Cheeze for the link. Hopefully I can get it here.

nomadthethird
03-05-2010, 04:19 AM
How do you make 'stringent' diagnoses of mental health problems to ensure that those that are prescribed for do have a genetic basis? I'm sure that they aren't giving out DNA tests willy nilly. The symptoms are going to be really similar in people who are and are not depressed (or whatever) due to genetic factors...It's something that's so subjective I don't see how the accuracy rate could ever be that high.

Are all mental health medications intended soley for use on people who don't code for particular proteins?


Aye aye aye.

In order to be diagnosed with major depressive disorder, you have to meet certain criteria. This process includes taking a battery of tests that indicate the patient has a whole bevy of symptoms (it's often necessary to have 10 out of 15, or something like 2/3 of the total), which have to persist for an extraordinary length of time to qualify. Also, being a differential diagnosis, no call is made until just about every other possible physical cause is ruled out. Just feeling ineffably icky or sad for a few weeks does not qualify. All of these guildlines are based on very careful research into the difference between debilitating, life threatening depressive disorders versus mild to moderate clinical depression. Even then, mild to moderate clinical depression *can be treated* with anti-depressants-- they just aren't quite as effective in mild depression as they are in MDD. Which is basically a no-brainer: someone with less of a problem regulating neurotransmitters is not going to benefit quantitatively as much as someone with a huge problem from a drug that stimulates neurogenesis.

The *symptoms* of depression in very general sense may be similar in everyone, but the duration, severity, and the etiology are not similar in normal people versus those with MDD or other neuro-illnesses. You'd be amazed at how differently different genetic disorders manifest phenotypically in different individuals.

I think the problem people have understanding the fact that spectrums exist is based on what Dawkins called the "discontinuous" mind. Seems to be a pretty common cognitive style.

four_five_one
03-05-2010, 10:54 AM
Interesting that this discussion has come up again now. Haven't been able to read the thread properly as I'm still shaking and anxious, I've just had a terrible experience with an SSRI after going to the doctor asking for help with anxiety and OCD. She prescribed fluoxetine 20mg (which is the generic version of Prozac). Could feel it doing something on the first day, and it didn't feel good. Continued for three days and side effects got much worse, nausea, tiredness, confusion, whole body began to itch & some involuntary tremors. Anxiety was ramped up tenfold. But stupidly thought that these were just normal side effects so continued for four days more... at which point I couldn't get out of bed, too sick to walk or eat and feeling very dizzy and poisoned. I assume it was some form of serotonin syndrome: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serotonin_syndrome

Now it's been five days since I stopped and I've been in bed on average 18 hours per day. Unable to do anything but sleep. Weird dreams, nightmares & the whole bit. I'm feeling a bit more awake today, but the tremor & anxiety have increased. I assume this is an effect the serotonin draining from the body. Hopefully I'll be back to my "normal" (not very good) state in the next two weeks. Keep thinking I've been permanently damaged but I know that feeling of 'dread' is probably down to the dysphoria the drugs induced.

So all in all a disastrous experiment. I should've known I had problems tolerating serotonin, I had similar problems (tho nowhere near as bad) with St John's Wort which is pretty mild as far as SSRI's go. I assume my body just can't process serotonin effectively. Seems like I've got too much or I'm not getting rid of it fast enough if anything.

The whole process of me being diagnosed and getting prescribed fluoxetine took less than five minutes. My GP diagnosed me and chose the treatment by looking in a book, which had a small passage about each SSRI. No further explanation apart from: 'this will help you. give it three weeks, if it doesn't work, come back in a month'.

Also, the notion that antidepressants work by (just by) increasing serotonin is highly speculative. There are case studies of people with no serotonin at all that aren't depressed: http://neuroskeptic.blogspot.com/2010/03/life-without-serotonin.html -- prozac increases serotonin from day one, but the antidepressant effect usually take around a month to work, which is about the time it takes for neurogenesis to kick in: http://neurologicalcorrelates.com/wordpress/2009/02/24/stoned-and-stupid-blame-your-microtubules/ -- it's possible the increased brain plasticity allows you to see life differently and change your negative thought patterns.

There are other ways to promote neurogenesis including exercise, bright light, learning & certain foods/supplements (i.e. circumin from turmeric) may also help. This makes sense, many people report feeling better after increasing exercise, exposure to sunlight and so forth. Exercise immediately releases dopamine/serotonin, but the culminative effect on wellbeing many experience may be due to neurogenesis.

So I suppose I'll be focusing on 'natural' ways to change my thought patterns, which I was doing anyway, but now it's the only game in town for me, unless anyone knows of an anti-depressant that doesn't increase serotonin?

Also, agree depression is caused by genes x environment. But environment can generally override genetics. (Switch off genes etc, correct me if I'm wrong). A study I saw recently shows that East Asians are probably more likely genetically predisposed to depression, but the incidence of depression is in fact much less than in the U.S, probably due to the increased social support and sense of belonging people have. I'm too jumpy to find this study now but hopefully continue discussion when i feel better.

four_five_one
03-05-2010, 10:56 AM
This antidepressant: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tianeptine works by lowering serotonin, but doesn't look like it's available in the UK, unfortunately.

four_five_one
03-05-2010, 01:23 PM
Anyway, seems like there's little chance of effective treatment (if SSRIs don't work for you) unless you see a proper psychiatrist, preferably one that keeps up to date with the latest research.

nomadthethird
03-05-2010, 01:32 PM
You should be on Luvox. And possibly Buspar.*

St00pid to treat depression in someone with OCD without treating the OCD first.

NEVER GO TO A GP FOR A PSYCHIATRIC DIAGNOSIS. That's like going to a guy who does body repair to get your engine fixed.

By the way, Fluoxetine is *not* serotonin. It's a reuptake inhibitor. It's not that you're not "tolerating" serotonin, it's that chances are, you don't have a big problem modulating serotonin production in the first place. It's also generic, and sometimes they have worse side-effects than the brand name.

I'm surprised s/he didn't start with Pristiq if s/he was going to treat depression in someone with OCD, ffs. Though I don't know if that's available other places.

Anyway, I can't take them either, because they cause mania in people with bipolar disorder (unless you take an anti-psychotic with them).

*Even I can tell from your post that your primary symptom is anxiety, not depression...

nomadthethird
03-05-2010, 01:37 PM
But environment can generally override genetics. (Switch off genes etc, correct me if I'm wrong).

You're wrong. That's not how plasticity works. Nothing's being "overriden" by the environment. Differently regulated, maybe, but not overriden.

nomadthethird
03-05-2010, 01:41 PM
the notion that antidepressants work by (just by) increasing serotonin is highly speculative.

Nobody in the medical profession thinks this.

grizzleb
03-05-2010, 02:12 PM
NEVER GO TO A GP FOR A PSYCHIATRIC DIAGNOSIS. That's like going to a guy who does body repair to get your engine fixed..
That's all you can really do in the UK, without going through waiting lists of 1 year + to see a psychiatrist. I've heard a million and one equivalent horror stories off the back of SSRIs.
four five one's case is another unfortunate example of exactly what I'm talking about.

m99188868
03-05-2010, 03:05 PM
Hah, all that talk 'bout suicide and nobody mentions good, old Durkheim. Gotta love that DNA-fascism.

scottdisco
03-05-2010, 04:13 PM
Hah, all that talk 'bout suicide and nobody mentions good, old Durkheim. Gotta love that DNA-fascism.

how dare you m99188868! why, i had my own half-arsed mention of ancient afternoons in school (the usual scottdisco pseudo-profundity) a few pages ago.

true to form, i didn't actually say anything, but the thought was there ;)


ach man, that's horrible to hear. i'm sorry :(

isn't it the case (please stop me if i'm crossing over into some mythic line the outside world gets wrong about Japan) that you do get plenty of office joes offing themselves for (the ostensible 'reason', anyway) some minor professional infringement?

apologies to any/all if i sound so dim-witted on this issue, suicide, suicide stats, etc isn't something i've considered really at all since i was 16 and reading up on Durkheim and anomie etc etc for sociology class...

hucks
03-05-2010, 05:38 PM
That's an interesting graph, but it does make me wonder: how exactly are they quantising "health and social problems"? I mean, there must be a virtually infinite number of different ways you could apportion weight and significance to all kinds of different indicators. In contrast to income inequality, which is well defined.



From what I can gather from reading the book, the Index of Social Problems is All the Things We Have Looked at in This Book, which is problematic, at best. Presumably, and I don't think they go into this in the book, this index is a simple composite ranking of eg health, crime, incarceration etc, as is the income inequality across the x axis. Which is why you get such a tight line of best fit, and why (@scott) the income inequalities look so stark. In reality, the difference in income inequality in the UK and Canada (for instance) isn't that massive.

The big problem going through the book is that the correlations (eg crime higher in more unequal countries) is taken for causation. They do point this out, but are forced to skate over it a bit to make their case.

From what I've looked at, the type of measure of inequality you use (Gini coefficient, 90:10 ration, 80:20 ratio) makes a difference to the rankings of the countries, too. Which means the analysis is not that robust.

You also get stuff like incarceration rates being higher in more unequal countries, but this surely can't be cause and effect. You could easily incarcerate loads of people (eg New Labour since 1997) without any difference to inequality one way or the other ( also New Labour since 1997).

All of which is a shame, cos I'd like to agree with them, but the evidence in a lot of places isn't that strong. The stuff on health, though, is fascinating, and that's where both of the authors come from. They're both epidemiologists, if I recall.

scottdisco
03-05-2010, 06:41 PM
From what I can gather from reading the book, the Index of Social Problems is All the Things We Have Looked at in This Book, which is problematic, at best. Presumably, and I don't think they go into this in the book, this index is a simple composite ranking of eg health, crime, incarceration etc, as is the income inequality across the x axis. Which is why you get such a tight line of best fit, and why (@scott) the income inequalities look so stark. In reality, the difference in income inequality in the UK and Canada (for instance) isn't that massive.

The big problem going through the book is that the correlations (eg crime higher in more unequal countries) is taken for causation. They do point this out, but are forced to skate over it a bit to make their case.

From what I've looked at, the type of measure of inequality you use (Gini coefficient, 90:10 ration, 80:20 ratio) makes a difference to the rankings of the countries, too. Which means the analysis is not that robust.

You also get stuff like incarceration rates being higher in more unequal countries, but this surely can't be cause and effect. You could easily incarcerate loads of people (eg New Labour since 1997) without any difference to inequality one way or the other ( also New Labour since 1997).

All of which is a shame, cos I'd like to agree with them, but the evidence in a lot of places isn't that strong. The stuff on health, though, is fascinating, and that's where both of the authors come from. They're both epidemiologists, if I recall.

cheers hucks, nice one. (granted, i fear i may have overstated my credulity in quite how stark differences were in implying that i felt the graph's pictorial representation was the be-all and end-all of rating the differences across states.)

interesting you said Canada specifically, as i know their 90's debt reduction ideas are getting touted around a lot across the pond in recent times as how to reduce govt debt, when AFAICT Ottawa's measures then just resulted in a winnowing out of services/ramping up of hardship for lower income Canadians, thus possibly/probably exarcerbating Canadian inequality.

don't different bodies (eg World Bank, UN) end up coming at Gini slightly differently? (sorry if i'm being stupid hucks, and your 90:10, 80:20 ratios shout is a direct reference to this, but i am a total duffer for these sorts of things.)

that Wilkinson chap is an epidemiologist, deffo.

(though i guess i don't want to make it sound like i'm piling on to the Canadian govt specifically above; inequality rose in most places throughout the 00's i believe, after all.)

re Gini, @hucks (or any other kindly person that has the patience to explain) when i said what i said about Gini i just meant if you take the table from this Wiki list of countries by income inequality here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_income_equality) you get some different measurements of Gini depending on your source eg UNDP, Cia Factbook.

now, is that just because naturally different bodies will collect slightly different data about these sorts of things in the first place, or, is it because there is more than one way of interpreting and using the Gini system?

(again, apologies if this sounds sub-sixth form questioning, i am a total ignoramus i must admit :o )

nomadthethird
03-05-2010, 10:01 PM
That's all you can really do in the UK, without going through waiting lists of 1 year + to see a psychiatrist. I've heard a million and one equivalent horror stories off the back of SSRIs.
four five one's case is another unfortunate example of exactly what I'm talking about.

Well then your health system sucks and is biased against the mentally ill.

Although, it's distinctly possible that Four_five_one is not mentally ill at all, and doesn't need medication.

nomadthethird
03-05-2010, 10:03 PM
Ah yes, Durkheim.

Some random "authority figure" who lived a hundred years ago before molecular genetics existed... better consult him before we draw any conclusions based on hard data.

While we're at it, maybe we should ask Pope Benedict X about the arrangement of the solar system.

scottdisco
03-05-2010, 11:12 PM
Ah yes, Durkheim.

Some random "authority figure" who lived a hundred years ago before molecular genetics existed... better consult him before we draw any conclusions based on hard data.

While we're at it, maybe we should ask Pope Benedict X about the arrangement of the solar system.

i got an undergrad degree in sociology and social anthro from a university that was at least at that time rated very well for those things (bully for me...), and must say my favourite thing about Durkheim are the cartoon caricatures of his wondrous facial fuzz

http://api.ning.com/files/b-jGNUQZ-bTqbuwVWNRXV62NrW4-xh7dFIcJ7LZVTtg_/durkheim.jpg

that's pretty much all you need to know about the guy, to be blunt

nomadthethird
03-05-2010, 11:18 PM
i got an undergrad degree in sociology and social anthro from a university that was at least at that time rated very well for those things (bully for me...), and must say my favourite thing about Durkheim are the cartoon caricatures of his wondrous facial fuzz

Read some of his stuff in grad school, but I haven't the faintest memory of it. Most sociology writing I've read is dry-- even drier than philosophy... admire anyone with the patience...

I was close with a sociology professor at my college first time around and he was always talking about Durkheim and Weber, etc.

m99188868
04-05-2010, 01:47 PM
Scottdisco: my bad, I did read over that bit. I liked the cartoon as well.

Nomad: Calling Durkheim a random authoritative figure is a bit unfair, although I can see where this is coming from. Still: his suicide studies are certainly a bit dated, but they managed to explain suicidal behavior without recurring to psychological or biological motivations. I believe that's really not to be taken lightly and I'll take his dull texts over any "hard facts" that claim that any deviant behavior has its roots written down somewhere in our DNA at birth. Why people tend to prefer biological over social determination is beyond me, really.

matt b
04-05-2010, 02:30 PM
That's an interesting graph, but it does make me wonder: how exactly are they quantising "health and social problems"? I mean, there must be a virtually infinite number of different ways you could apportion weight and significance to all kinds of different indicators. In contrast to income inequality, which is well defined.

For example, the "social problems" index presumably doesn't attach too much significance to the suicide rate, which is twice as high in Sweden as is it in the (apparently highly dysfunctional) UK. And Japan's is far higher still. OK, so there's more to how 'healthy' a society is than how low or high the suicide rate is, but to me it seems a pretty significant figure.

All the data are from World Bank, WHO, UN, OECD etc and use a variety of methods, both statistical and qualitative. It's all mentioned/discussed in detail in the book and the authors are aware of the issues.

BTW, you do realise that suicide is a social construct?

matt b
04-05-2010, 02:37 PM
I would ask, 'What does it take to be in the bottom-left of that graph?' and I would say that these are the prerequisites:

- very strong economy, so that income equalising measures can be financed
- high cultural homogeneity, with attendant strong sense of obligation to the collective
- low reporting of health/social problems, as individuals feel obliged to the collective
- poor collection of health/social problem data, as collective self-concept comes first

In order to maintain its position in the bottom-left, a country would need to be un-accepting both to cultural outliers and to outlying individuals (with health/social problems), hence the restrictive Scandinavian and highly restrictive Japanese immigration policies.

Even for you, this is an idiotic set of prerequistes (yes, ad hominen...:p). Point 1 makes no sense whatsoever; points 2,3 and 4: the data collected is not soley qualitative, but includes life expectancy, infant mortality etc, which people, even when they feel a monstrous obligation to the collective will struggle not to report.

I suggest you go and read the book.

nomadthethird
04-05-2010, 03:50 PM
is beyond me, really.

Yes, apparently...

nomadthethird
04-05-2010, 03:51 PM
BTW, you do realise that suicide is a social construct?

Wow someone just took a sophomore seminar at the liberal arts school of pomo.

matt b
04-05-2010, 04:01 PM
Wow someone just took a sophomore seminar at the liberal arts school of pomo.

Nope, but got to go to a meeting now. May expand later

nomadthethird
04-05-2010, 04:04 PM
Do you realize that culture is natural? It's an evolutionary adaptation? That there's no line of demarcation between nature and culture?

matt b
04-05-2010, 05:12 PM
To be brief, suicide rates (rather than the act itself) is a social construct based upon how suicide is defined, stigma related to the act, the nature of the death, where & when it took place, whether or not the victim had close family members, issues surrounding the person's life etc.

There are plenty of studies that address these issues.

For example, coroners use 'common sense' definitions regarding suicide, so if the victim lived alone, drank a lot etc, the death is much more likely to be classified as a suicide rather than an accident, compared to a seemingly happy family man.

One of the reasons why Scandanavian countries have higher suicide rates than in the UK is that their definition of 'suicide is broader/looser than the one here- you can give the two sets of coroners the same set of case studies and they come out with very different suicide rates.

scottdisco
04-05-2010, 05:16 PM
Scottdisco: my bad, I did read over that bit. I liked the cartoon as well.

Nomad: Calling Durkheim a random authoritative figure is a bit unfair, although I can see where this is coming from. Still: his suicide studies are certainly a bit dated, but they managed to explain suicidal behavior without recurring to psychological or biological motivations. I believe that's really not to be taken lightly and I'll take his dull texts over any "hard facts" that claim that any deviant behavior has its roots written down somewhere in our DNA at birth. Why people tend to prefer biological over social determination is beyond me, really.

his suicide taxonomies were definitely game changing, tbf.

Mr. Tea
04-05-2010, 05:28 PM
To be brief, suicide rates (rather than the act itself) is a social construct based upon how suicide is defined, stigma related to the act, the nature of the death, where & when it took place, whether or not the victim had close family members, issues surrounding the person's life etc.

There are plenty of studies that address these issues.

For example, coroners use 'common sense' definitions regarding suicide, so if the victim lived alone, drank a lot etc, the death is much more likely to be classified as a suicide rather than an accident, compared to a seemingly happy family man.

One of the reasons why Scandanavian countries have higher suicide rates than in the UK is that their definition of 'suicide is broader/looser than the one here- you can give the two sets of coroners the same set of case studies and they come out with very different suicide rates.

OK, accepted, but that doesn't imply that you can't draw *some* meaningful conclusions from something like recorded suicide rates. The effects you talk about can't possibly account, for example, for the four-fold difference in the suicides rates of the UK and Japan; even with all the caveats in the world, it's surely safe to say that suicide is more prevalent in Japan than in the UK.

Also, I think it's worth mentioning that there are many kinds of inequality other than the purely economic inequality defined by how much richer a society's rich people are than its poor people. If you're talking about the the inequality between the social status of men and women, Japan is notoriously backwards compared to other developed countries, f'rinstance.

scottdisco
04-05-2010, 05:43 PM
OK, accepted, but that doesn't imply that you can't draw *some* meaningful conclusions from something like recorded suicide rates. The effects you talk about can't possibly account, for example, for the four-fold difference in the suicides rates of the UK and Japan; even with all the caveats in the world, it's surely safe to say that suicide is more prevalent in Japan than in the UK.

Also, I think it's worth mentioning that there are many kinds of inequality other than the purely economic inequality defined by how much richer a society's rich people are than its poor people. If you're talking about the the inequality between the social status of men and women, Japan is notoriously backwards compared to other developed countries, f'rinstance.

i bolded Tea here purely cuz i wanted to say something that i mentioned on another thread recently.

don't ask me to find the source as i can't but i'm not making this up, i definitely remember reading something once (this was a few years ago, granted, it was a paper or article, quite well researched and broad) that mentioned how the glass ceiling in general (in business, public life etc) for women is higher in the USA than it is in Sweden.

obviously i know which type of state i prefer between those two in a lot of ways, but just saying, as it dovetails neatly w what T mentions in passing here.

nomadthethird
04-05-2010, 07:33 PM
i bolded Tea here purely cuz i wanted to say something that i mentioned on another thread recently.

don't ask me to find the source as i can't but i'm not making this up, i definitely remember reading something once (this was a few years ago, granted, it was a paper or article, quite well researched and broad) that mentioned how the glass ceiling in general (in business, public life etc) for women is higher in the USA than it is in Sweden.

obviously i know which type of state i prefer between those two in a lot of ways, but just saying, as it dovetails neatly w what T mentions in passing here.

As much as this goes against the grain of a lot of hardcore Marxist thought, things are definitely better for women in most ways in the U.S. compared to a lot of its closest competitors in the world economy. There's absolutely no question in my mind about the fact that the glass ceiling is higher here, and the general level of feminist awareness is more evolved here (in pockets-- you still have your backwards people here, too, of course) than a lot of other places.

The question (totally unrelated to the thread, I know) seems to me to be: how do we take the good things that come with capitalism and get rid of the bad? And no one seems even vaguely able to answer that question. You get two strains of thought: capitalism is all bad, or it's all good. Then there's pragmatism and Obama. But there's nothing interesting going on intellectually anymore, nobody who understands capitalism as an outgrowth of human activity, and part of a world that's always changing, rather than some boogeyman who pulls all the world's strings from behind a curtain.

OOP gets close.

nomadthethird
04-05-2010, 07:38 PM
OK, accepted, but that doesn't imply that you can't draw *some* meaningful conclusions from something like recorded suicide rates. The effects you talk about can't possibly account, for example, for the four-fold difference in the suicides rates of the UK and Japan; even with all the caveats in the world, it's surely safe to say that suicide is more prevalent in Japan than in the UK.

Also, I think it's worth mentioning that there are many kinds of inequality other than the purely economic inequality defined by how much richer a society's rich people are than its poor people. If you're talking about the the inequality between the social status of men and women, Japan is notoriously backwards compared to other developed countries, f'rinstance.

I don't even know if I'd accept that argument, because you could come up with a mathematical model that would correct for the disparity in interpretation by coroners. Quite easily. And I'd be surprised if someone hasn't already done this who does comparative studies of suicide in different countries. A real epidemiologist, that is...

padraig (u.s.)
04-05-2010, 10:17 PM
Why people tend to prefer biological over social determination is beyond me, really.

b/c the hard sciences produce more reliable data, point blank. I don't think that's much in dispute. which, however, isn't to denigrate the social sciences, or any specific social scientists, including Durkheim.


To be brief, suicide rates (rather than the act itself) is a social construct based upon how...

that's pretty much true of all social constructs, though. like nomad, I have a hard time believing someone with appropriate training couldn't construct a model to account for all those factors.


how do we take the good things that come with capitalism and get rid of the bad?

it's an impossible question. it's also what most people, including policy makers - depending on which parts they see as "good" and "bad" - have been trying to do for hundreds (possibly thousands, depending on what you define capitalism as) of years. capitalism to me is a bit like the NFL draft - every year teams take measurements & watch tape & interview players, and every year analysts & pundits make predictions, but ultimately it's almost entirely a crapshoot in which no one, despite what they may claim otherwise, has any idea of what's actually going to happen. at least in the NFL you can go back 5 years later and assess whether the draft was good - whereas economists are still arguing over what caused the Great Depression and what ended it & so on...

nomadthethird
04-05-2010, 11:27 PM
it's an impossible question. it's also what most people, including policy makers - depending on which parts they see as "good" and "bad" - have been trying to do for hundreds (possibly thousands, depending on what you define capitalism as) of years. capitalism to me is a bit like the NFL draft - every year teams take measurements & watch tape & interview players, and every year analysts & pundits make predictions, but ultimately it's almost entirely a crapshoot in which no one, despite what they may claim otherwise, has any idea of what's actually going to happen. at least in the NFL you can go back 5 years later and assess whether the draft was good - whereas economists are still arguing over what caused the Great Depression and what ended it & so on...

Yeah, I realize that it's a pretty vacuous question... it's basically like asking, how do you make everything in the world favorable by x definition, while getting rid of everything unfavorable by same?

As hazy as that line of inquiry seems, I do think, however, that it wouldn't be tough to tightly regulate trade in ways and redistribute wealth in ways that would make things better for more people. It's just that politics gets in the way of actually doing this, 10 times out of 10.

Politics as it's traditionally conceived often strikes me as an utterly worthless way of going about trying to change things for the better. But that's hardly an earthshattering insight...

That oil spill is just another sign of the fact that there's probably little point in trying. I want to volunteer to clean up when I get a chance--probably not until next winter break...

gyto
05-05-2010, 12:14 AM
b/c the hard sciences produce more reliable data, point blank. I don't think that's much in dispute.

The 'hard' sciences may produce results that are perceived as unequivocal truths but are inherently framed by social contexts. Who posed the research questions? for what purposes, based on what assumptions? don't get me wrong im not against scientific evidence based policy making but it always has to be taken with a pinch of salt.
e.g http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strong_programme



I don't even know if I'd accept that argument, because you could come up with a mathematical model that would correct for the disparity in interpretation by coroners. Quite easily.

Really? can a model account for the various normative and cognitive disparities in the interpretation of "suicide" as a concept across cultures (that you don't know about)? of course ('suicide') is a social construct, which has loads of baggage attached to it, different baggage in different cultures (that change over time). Hegemonic arrogance?



how do we take the good things that come with capitalism and get rid of the bad? And no one seems even vaguely able to answer that question. You get two strains of thought: capitalism is all bad, or it's all good.

How about performativity and behavioural economics (could be a good start)? e.g [URL="http://ideas.repec.org/p/zbw/fsfmwp/123.html[/URL]

nomadthethird
05-05-2010, 12:23 AM
The stupid, it burns. Did I say anything about "science-based policy"? Errr, no.

And how is social research somehow *above* contingency, while science isn't?

Give me a break.


Math and science should be required courses for everyone. The world is a few steps from slipping into a new dark age and people are most of them none the wiser.

nomadthethird
05-05-2010, 12:25 AM
Really? can a model account for the various normative and cognitive disparities in the interpretation of "suicide" as a concept across cultures?

Yes it can.

A mathematical model can *recreate the conditions of the universe around the time of the big bang*, for crying out loud. I think it can handle some margin-of-error tightening.

gyto
05-05-2010, 12:29 AM
Yes it can.

A mathematical model can *recreate the conditions of the universe around the time of the big bang*, for crying out loud. I think it can handle some margin-of-error tightening.

i think it's your certainty that frightens me :eek:

massrock
05-05-2010, 12:35 AM
As hazy as that line of inquiry seems, I do think, however, that it wouldn't be tough to tightly regulate trade in ways and redistribute wealth in ways that would make things better for more people. It's just that politics gets in the way of actually doing this, 10 times out of 10.

Politics as it's traditionally conceived often strikes me as an utterly worthless way of going about trying to change things for the better. But that's hardly an earthshattering insight...
I agree, no-one expects things to be perfect, just a bit better - it can't be that hard. Regulate trade, fairer taxation... You can still have 'capitalism', just not so heavily rigged. Which would actually make it a truer capitalism with the possibility of more actual capitalists.

Don't think it's 'politics' as such that's in the way, depending on what you take that to mean, but good old entrenched interests driving policy.

nomadthethird
05-05-2010, 12:45 AM
I agree, no-one expects things to be perfect, just a bit better - it can't be that hard. Regulate trade, fairer taxation... You can still have 'capitalism', just not so heavily rigged. Which would actually make it a truer capitalism with the possibility of more actual capitalists.

Don't think it's 'politics' as such that's in the way, depending on what you take that to mean, but good old entrenched interests driving policy.

Yeah, I think a lot of Marxists forget that rudimentary markets existed for thousands of years, and nothing like the problems associated with industrialization existed along with them.

I'm not so sure it's capitalism alone and itself that is the biggest problem in the world.

padraig (u.s.)
05-05-2010, 03:47 AM
The 'hard' sciences may produce results that are perceived as unequivocal truths but are inherently framed by social contexts....

oh deliver us from pomo relativist silliness (http://xkcd.com/451/)...isn't this a horse that's been absolutely beaten to death tho? it all seems so 90s. anyway, yes, we're all aware of the social constructs in & the influence of social factors on scientific research & so on. the hard sciences still produce more reliable data. notice "more reliable" as a qualifier, rather than "perfect" (tho, depending on the field, one might say "far more reliable"). also, all the issues you bring up also apply to the social sciences, but hundredfold.

and no, it's not much of a stretch to imagine a model that could account for cultural differences. it's called operationalizing variables.

m99188868
05-05-2010, 12:50 PM
also, all the issues you bring up also apply to the social sciences, but hundredfold.

True, but good social theory can account for its contigency, not only acknowledge it, but locate its theory entirely within that contingency in order to explain its own function as a social theory. Sure, hard sciences can discover this paradox as well, however mostly without ever being able to overcome it.

Constructivism is a dead horse when in hands of lazy theorists, they just claim all is constructed without asking why or how these constructs realize.


it's called operationalizing variables.

Yes and it constructs very specific realities. :)

gyto
05-05-2010, 01:38 PM
oh deliver us from pomo relativist silliness (http://xkcd.com/451/)
but I'm not a grad student in relativism, or any social science... is this what you were assuming?



and no, it's not much of a stretch to imagine a model that could account for cultural differences. it's called operationalizing variables.

Lol, yes in order to "operationalise" someone has to weight the variables accordingly, who gets to do that? the computer model? how do you gather such data?

plus do either you or nomad have any first hand experience of what a 'cultural difference' might entail? I suspect, by the way you are banging on, that you are mono-cultural.:slanted:

Mr. Tea
05-05-2010, 01:47 PM
I suspect, by the way you are banging on, that you are mono-cultural.:slanted:

Haha, what? And you divide your time between being a systems analyst and being a peasant farmer in India, or something?

Also, could you tell me where I can do a graduate course in "relativism"? Is that special or general relativism?

padraig (u.s.)
05-05-2010, 03:17 PM
True, but good social theory can account for its contigency, not only acknowledge it, but locate its theory entirely within that contingency in order to explain its own function as a social theory.

translation: 99% of social theory ("good" & otherwise) can get its own head completely up its arse, in order to produce navelgazing introspection that drives obscure academic careers but little else. not that it's an either/or question - which you guys seem unable to grasp - but I'll (mostly) stick with the hard sciences. even with our terrible "inability" to discover paradoxes :rolleyes:. which, anyway, is untrue, as...


Yes and it constructsvery specific realities. :)

a key part of research - in any science - is identifying problems and either accounting for them or, if that's impossible, adding qualifiers when you discuss your data. that function does take different roles in the social v. hard sciences, but it exists in both. also, I don't know what the hell you're smiling about. you're not being coy, you just sound foolish.

let's be clear. if you want to talk about deconstruction in terms of the politics of science - what gets funded, the overall flow of scientific research - then fine. but when I induce expression of a protein, or collide two atoms together, I can measure the outcome and the results of the experiment will be totally independent of whatever social reality is being constructed. what I choose to do with those results is a different matter, but metainfluence cannot transcend thermodynamics etc

Mr. Tea
05-05-2010, 03:29 PM
Great post padraig, couldn't have put it better myself.

padraig (u.s.)
05-05-2010, 03:33 PM
but I'm not a grad student in relativism, or any social science... is this what you were assuming?

no, you sound like somebody who read a Derrida book or two, had his mind blown, & is now trying to spread the metagospel to the rest of us. a grad student would be much more erudite. the xkcd link is just a funny, rather telling webcomic about the general inanity of pomo deconstruction/relativism.


Lol, yes in order to "operationalise" someone has to weight the variables accordingly, who gets to do that?

ffs, you make estimates. educated guesses. no research is perfect - when you publish one thing you need to include is a discussion of all possible flaws in your research, mainly as a preemptive defense against possible criticisms. if you have any experience at all with any kind of research - which I highly doubt - you will know this.


plus do either you or nomad have any first hand experience of what a 'cultural difference' might entail? I suspect, by the way you are banging on, that you are mono-cultural.:slanted:

"mono-cultural", is that the best you can do? [sneers and adjusts monocle] as it happens I do know a thing or two about cultural differences - though of course we can't all be exalted experts in the field like yourself - and the one thing that generally never helps actual cross-cultural discourse is pomo waffling about cultural differences. mono-cultural, jesus christ...:rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:

padraig (u.s.)
05-05-2010, 03:35 PM
well you know how it is tea, never a dull moment at Dissensus. one day it's being accused of being an apologist for Stalinism, the next it's of a being a "mono-cultural" hegemon. the fun never ends...

droid
05-05-2010, 03:46 PM
lol. You've got it easy. ;)

padraig (u.s.)
05-05-2010, 03:52 PM
oh, I'm not complaining. bit like shooting fish in a barrel, tho. not all opponents in the cybertussle can be of your caliber, droid.

droid
05-05-2010, 03:57 PM
oh, I'm not complaining. bit like shooting fish in a barrel, tho. not all opponents in the cybertussle can be of your caliber, droid.

:D I meant about the accusations.

Im not quite THAT full of myself.

m99188868
05-05-2010, 04:39 PM
translation: 99% of social theory ("good" & otherwise) can get its own head completely up its arse, in order to produce navelgazing introspection that drives obscure academic careers but little else. not that it's an either/or question - which you guys seem unable to grasp - but I'll (mostly) stick with the hard sciences. even with our terrible "inability" to discover paradoxes . which, anyway, is untrue, as...

Hold your horses, cowboy. What I wrote may be too dense, but it has nothing to do with navel-gazing or with bashing hard science. Neither did I say that hard science can't discover paradoxes. What I said was that hard science can't cope with its own contingency. Same holds for most social science, hence the apparently silly difference with "good" theory. What I meant was simply that most science won't openly acknowledge the fact that what they claim, is just the outcome of a specific methodology and that any results therefore are purely contingent.


let's be clear. if you want to talk about deconstruction in terms of the politics of science - what gets funded, the overall flow of scientific research - then fine. but when I induce expression of a protein, or collide two atoms together, I can measure the outcome and the results of the experiment will be totally independent of whatever social reality is being constructed. what I choose to do with those results is a different matter, but metainfluence cannot transcend thermodynamics etc

It doesn't even have to be about what science gets funded, it's much more basic. What I meant was that the basic activity of operationalizing variables, making measurable concepts brings forth a specific reality. Science doesn't describe reality, but enacts it. I was reading at that moment about how EU-census are modeling a specific type of collectivity. I probably should have mentioned that.

Anyway, have fun shooting fish.

gyto
05-05-2010, 04:55 PM
no, you sound like somebody who read a Derrida book or two, had his mind blown, & is now trying to spread the metagospel to the rest of us.
hmm... i haven't looked too deeply into Derrida, I do like Borges' stuff though which is apparently where a lot of it came from. just out of interest what do you think about Latour?




if you have any experience at all with any kind of research - which I highly doubt - you will know this.
well I'm doing a science and technology masters and the hot topic at the moment seems to be how to integrate positivist and constructivist perspectives into a workable framework, not dismiss one or the other outright. by the way i dont think i came across aggressively or defensively enough to warrant such an emotional tirade. some of the certainty which you guys exhibit smacks of fundamentalism to me.



"mono-cultural", is that the best you can do? [sneers and adjusts monocle] as it happens I do know a thing or two about cultural differences - though of course we can't all be exalted experts in the field like yourself
sorry for the lazy turn of phrase but i didnt want to offend anyone. I never said i was an expert, I just have enough experience in cultural misinterpretation to wonder about the legitimacy of such an exercise...

scottdisco
05-05-2010, 05:01 PM
Hold your horses, cowboy. What I wrote may be too dense, but it has nothing to do with navel-gazing or with bashing hard science. Neither did I say that hard science can't discover paradoxes. What I said was that hard science can't cope with its own contingency. Same holds for most social science, hence the apparently silly difference with "good" theory. What I meant was simply that most science won't openly acknowledge the fact that what they claim, is just the outcome of a specific methodology and that any results therefore are purely contingent.



It doesn't even have to be about what science gets funded, it's much more basic. What I meant was that the basic activity of operationalizing variables, making measurable concepts brings forth a specific reality. Science doesn't describe reality, but enacts it. I was reading at that moment about how EU-census are modeling a specific type of collectivity. I probably should have mentioned that.

Anyway, have fun shooting fish.

surely Padraig's hypothetical thermodynamics experiment (point taken about specific methodologies) is, yes, obviously enacting reality, but at the same time describing it, since he is down to brass tacks there.

though i'm not sure about claiming that most science won't acknowledge its own contingencies. i'm no scientist but that sounds a bit straw mannish to me.

what would you say is a good example of demonstrably 'good social theory', this sort that can explain its own function? thanks.

what's this about the EU-census and a "specific type of collectivity"? is this anything to do w the difficulties about corralling all member states w their different ways of collecting data together into something more user-friendly from a single EU statistical pov, etc, w an eye on the next Europe-wide survey?

hope i don't sound rather dense here, fear i do, but if you don't ask, you don't get... ...@gyto, there's quite a lot of Latour around here! maybe not on this specific thread, but if you have a poke around w the search function :)

gyto
05-05-2010, 05:12 PM
hope i don't sound rather dense here, fear i do, but if you don't ask, you don't get... ...@gyto, there's quite a lot of Latour around here! maybe not on this specific thread, but if you have a poke around w the search function :)

:D clearly im the dense one, quick search reveals how i just walked right into this one :p i barely look at anything outside the music section, i will from now on

padraig (u.s.)
06-05-2010, 05:20 AM
well I'm doing a science and technology masters and the hot topic at the moment seems to be how to integrate positivist and constructivist perspectives into a workable framework, not dismiss one or the other outright.

yeah, well, good luck with that. It's not something, or pretty much anyone I know or have known in the sciences, cares much about, except perhaps as an intellectual diversion, but you're welcome to it. let's be honest, it's pretty much a one way dialogue most of the time. aside from the occasional Sokal lashing out, it's mostly crit theorists playing their word games & scientists shrugging & getting on with the practice of actual science. which, hey, people have to make their academic careers somehow, so whatever.

no one's emotional - cool as a cucumber on my end, bro. but don't say something if you're not ready to back it up. and don't expect people to take condescending bullshit like "monocultural" & "fundamentalism" lying down.

we can agree on Borges, at least.

padraig (u.s.)
06-05-2010, 05:28 AM
What I said was that hard science can't cope with its own contingency.

says you. describing vs. enacting = (more or less) semantics. which is, of course, theory's raison d'Ítre.


What I meant was that the basic activity of operationalizing variables, making measurable concepts brings forth a specific reality.

the whole point is that you don't operationalize variables in the hard sciences. they don't need to be operationalized, because you can measure them directly (or sometimes, through the construction of a mathematical model, tho still one based on actual measurements of things). which is where it differs from the social sciences. of course, everything is -ultimately- contingent, because no one is omnipotent, but this the kind of staggeringly obvious thing that only critical theorists feel the need to literally state, inevitably in the most unnecessarily complicated terms.

padraig (u.s.)
06-05-2010, 05:29 AM
I just want to note - serious argument with crit theory people is nearly impossible - every answer you give is but one more statement to be deconstructed into yet another layer of the feedback loop of metanarrative. it's like trying to nail jelly to a tree.

vimothy
06-05-2010, 03:19 PM
[URL="http://ideas.repec.org/p/zbw/fsfmwp/123.html[/URL]

Looks interesting. Cheers!

vimothy
06-05-2010, 03:30 PM
yeah, well, good luck with that. It's not something, or pretty much anyone I know or have known in the sciences, cares much about, except perhaps as an intellectual diversion, but you're welcome to it. let's be honest, it's pretty much a one way dialogue most of the time. aside from the occasional Sokal lashing out, it's mostly crit theorists playing their word games & scientists shrugging & getting on with the practice of actual science. which, hey, people have to make their academic careers somehow, so whatever.

Be interested in your opinions of Latour and ANT if you ever get a chance to read him padraig. You may be pleasantly surprised.

One of the things Latour complains about at great length is the way his research was misunderstood by other academics in the humanities (and also, it is worth underlining, by scientists themselves) during the "science wars" as saying that because scientific facts are "constructed" they must therefore be false.

vimothy
06-05-2010, 03:43 PM
Also, I love the Deleuze quote: "Relativism is not the relativity of truth but the truth of relation."

nomadthethird
06-05-2010, 04:22 PM
it all seems so 90s.

My sentiments exactly. Everytime someone's brought up a hard social constructivist argument recently I just think, "1994 called and it wants its shitty academic rhetoric back". I can't even believe that people are still talking about this shit, I really can't.

nomadthethird
06-05-2010, 04:28 PM
Also, could you tell me where I can do a graduate course in "relativism"? Is that special or general relativism?

That actually made me laugh a little.

As far as I'm concerned, the social sciences can keep their semantic arguments and baseless claims that are unfalsifiable, rarely replicated and almost never stand up to actual data.

We'll take splitting atoms and airplanes and organ transplants and molecular genetics.

nomadthethird
06-05-2010, 04:30 PM
Hold your horses, cowboy. What I wrote may be too dense, but it has nothing to do with navel-gazing or with bashing hard science. Neither did I say that hard science can't discover paradoxes. What I said was that hard science can't cope with its own contingency. Same holds for most social science, hence the apparently silly difference with "good" theory. What I meant was simply that most science won't openly acknowledge the fact that what they claim, is just the outcome of a specific methodology and that any results therefore are purely contingent.


Is this a joke that I'm too dense to get?

Edit: Ok, I'll deign to reply to this. Scientists (but not "science", since "science" is not some disembodied entity that makes decisions and has cognitive faculties like a human) absolutely do acknolwedge the fact that what they claim is the outcome of a specific methodology- it's called [wait for it] the scientific method. Everything scientists do is, in fact, measured against its standards. It's actually *scientists* who acknowledge more readily that everything is contingent than anyone else in academia- they're the ones who study cause and effect down to incontrovertible physical laws of the universe, ffs.

All of this bluster about "contingency" is a red herring used to distract people from the paucity of your own axiomatic system. Absolutely everything is contingent. A butterfly flaps it's wings and 10 days later in Peru somebody's coca plants die of blight. Whatever. Everything's contingent to the point where there's no point in making some arbitrary argument against a constructive, positive enterprise (e.g. science) based on the fact that it is contingent. That's like saying, 'omg, you can't talk about what happens at McDonald's with any certainty, since what happens at McDonald's is totally contingent on a bunch of outside factors, maaan.' It's an utterly asinine non-point to make and it's only ever made to shut down discussion and avoid giving quantitative analysis the edge it already obviously has over qualitative, feelings-based analyses. It's of a piece with the idea that it's too devastating to young Jimmy's feelings to give out As to people who do better work than others in school. The effect that not giving As has isn't to make the struggling kids smarter and better students, but to drag down the performance of people who are performing exceptionally. And some people like that idea, I'm sure: it has a sort of superficially collectivist ring to it. But if we're at all interested in making life better for as many people as possible, we'd do better to dispense with these stupid arguments about "contingency" forthwith.

nomadthethird
06-05-2010, 04:40 PM
oh, I'm not complaining. bit like shooting fish in a barrel, tho. not all opponents in the cybertussle can be of your caliber, droid.

Somebody's sarcasm detector needs recalibrating.

Slothrop
06-05-2010, 05:55 PM
Somebody's sarcasm detector needs recalibrating.
It was calibrated fine, but he clearly wasn't aware of the contingency of sarcasm measurement.

nomadthethird
06-05-2010, 05:59 PM
It was calibrated fine, but he clearly wasn't aware of the contingency of sarcasm measurement.

Yes, imagine- a human being calibrated the detector in the first place, so who's to say that they weren't completely biased and prejudicial in their application of technique that's been honed through years of data analysis and careful mechanical engineering?

grizzleb
06-05-2010, 08:09 PM
let's be clear. if you want to talk about deconstruction in terms of the politics of science - what gets funded, the overall flow of scientific research - then fine. Anyone got any thoughts/info on this? It's a subject I'd like to know more about.

nomadthethird
06-05-2010, 08:52 PM
Anyone got any thoughts/info on this? It's a subject I'd like to know more about.

I could write volumes on it, I wrote grants for one of the big biomedical research institutions-- one with an endowment of over $1 billion.

I know all about the politics of fundraising and how it affects science, and, fancy this, I still think naturalist epistemology beats wild speculation any day of the week.

grizzleb
07-05-2010, 04:19 PM
Cheers for all that information there. I wasn't having a go at science, just curious.

nomadthethird
07-05-2010, 05:10 PM
Cheers for all that information there. I wasn't having a go at science, just curious.

I was being serious.

This is my finals week I'll write about it some other time...

scottdisco
19-05-2010, 01:42 PM
The number of suicides in Japan rose to nearly 33,000 in 2009, a police survey showed Thursday, citing depression and economic hardships for the upturn.
The National Police Agency said the number of Japanese suicides was 32,845 last year, up 1.8 per cent compared to the year before and topping 30,000 for the 12th consecutive year. The 2009 figure was also the fifth-highest since 1978, when statistics were first compiled. The record high was 34,427 suicides in 2003.
Japan has long battled a high suicide rate. The country's suicide rate of 24.4 per 100,000 people ranked the second-highest among the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations after Russia's 30.1, according to the World Health Organization.
Men accounted for nearly 72 per cent of Japan's suicides last year, with depression and economic struggles, including losing jobs, being cited among the top reasons for suicides, the survey showed.
Japan's economy — the world's second-largest — fell into its worst recession since World War II in early 2009 amid a global economic downturn. The nation's jobless rate hit a record high of 5.7 per cent in July 2009.
The suicide rate was the highest among those in their 50s and 60s, the survey said.
While the number of Japan's suicides climbed in 2009, the government said there were encouraging signs seen from late last year. The Cabinet Office said the number of monthly suicides declined year-on-year between September 2009 and April 2010.
Japan will allocate a budget worth 12.4 billion yen ($133 million) in the current fiscal year to March 2011 in a bid to curb suicide rates. The government will fund public counselling for people saddled with massive debts and treatment for depression.

here (http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5huyMVf4ToyzM7p2onL6HQmItDQRQ)

Mr. Tea
19-05-2010, 02:05 PM
The rise in unemployment must be pretty significant there - I should imagine a country with a work ethic like Japan's attaches a good deal of stigma to being jobless.

matt b
19-05-2010, 02:10 PM
The rise in unemployment must be pretty significant there - I should imagine a country with a work ethic like Japan's attaches a good deal of stigma to being jobless.

There have been reports in the past of salary men not telling their family that they've been fired and continuing to pretend to go to work.

All about shame/keeping face.

mistersloane
19-05-2010, 04:10 PM
There have been reports in the past of salary men not telling their family that they've been fired and continuing to pretend to go to work.

All about shame/keeping face.

Kiyoshi Kurosawa did a fucking masterpiece of a film about that, 'Tokyo Sonata', truly great, one of the best films I seen in years.

nomadthethird
19-05-2010, 04:41 PM
Kiyoshi Kurosawa did a fucking masterpiece of a film about that, 'Tokyo Sonata', truly great, one of the best films I seen in years.

That one was really good... maybe i'll rewatch that...

woops
20-05-2010, 03:55 AM
I'll deign to reply to this.

Crikey! This is why I never step up to Nomadologist

comelately
20-05-2010, 09:17 PM
Michael Douglas' character in Falling Down (1993) has also been pretending to go to work after being fired, effectively committing suicide in the end. That's based in LA. I'm just saying.

Although I agree with a lot of what nomad has to say, particularly regarding people studying more science and maths, and although I'm probably not doing myself any favours here - isn't a key message of The Wire that 'all the pieces matter' and that capitalism fucks up everything because it's continually causing people to ignore significant (to the viewer) contingencies?

There is a certain irony to the statement "It's an utterly asinine non-point to make and it's only ever made to shut down discussion". I don't think pomo critique was a particulaly artful thing to bring up in the context of the original discussion, but I'm not convinced that pleading the case for caring loving attention is necessarily asinine, though I would hesitate to say it is a 'point'.

zhao
27-11-2010, 06:25 AM
ok here is one.

often children age 11 to 18 attend the same school in Berlin. and apparently there is ZERO bullying: the older kids leave the young ones alone completely, and is only there to help if it's needed.

this is completely baffling to me, someone who was living in America between age 11 and 18 -- name calling, make fun of clothes/hair/name/ethnicity, wedgies, tape "kick me" notes on the back, take lunch money, pushing, tripping, punching, and good old beat downs -- all usual, everyday occurances in US schools, where there is almost never more than 4 years age difference.

how is it in England? i bet the bullying is relentless.

i suppose any real exploration of causes for these huge differences would take up volumes... but still, why do you think that is? why is bullying just a normal part of growing up in the US, and is not here, at all?

zhao
27-11-2010, 06:33 AM
am i right in thinking that it's rude to make eye contact in Japanese culture ?
that's quite the opposite here in the western world.

now i find it rude when someone don't look me in the eye while toasting... this is for sure one of the euro customs i quite like.

swears
28-11-2010, 12:18 AM
how is it in England? i bet the bullying is relentless.



I think it just depends. My primary school had it a little bit, but in my secondary nobody really bothered apart from the odd snide remark. It was a grammar where everybody was quite academic and focused on work, though. Obviously, I imagine there are schools where it may well be "relentless".