Rationally speaking, is a presentation of New York City skeptics dedicated to promoting critical thinking, skeptical inquiry and science education. For more information, please visit us at NYC Skeptic's Doug. Welcome to, rationally speaking, the podcast, where we explore the borderlands between reason and nonsense, I am your host, Masimo Appeal YouTube. And with me, as always, is my co-host, Julia Gillard. Julia, what are we going to talk about today?
Must know our topics today include sex, love, masturbation, penis envy, castration and Oedipal complexes.
Nice. So our spam mail is going to go up and hopefully toilet is going to be for the number of hits because who is not interested in masturbation and the Oedipus complex anyway?
Yeah, castration might lower our number. That's a good point. So it's a trade off. So what is it that all these things have in common?
So the common thread running through all of those salacious topics that we're going to cover today is a psycho analysis and specifically the Freudian science question mark that underlay it. So we're going to talk about to what extent Freudianism and by extension psychoanalysis are scientific, what principles you could look to to make that call and why psychoanalysis seems to have such a strong hold still in the field of psychotherapy.
OK, although right there I think that we should, in fact, be making a distinction that might come out more clearly later on between Freud's specific theories about, you know, the human psyche on the one hand and sort of the broader general practice of psychoanalysis. Because the problem with psychoanalysis is that literally it just means talk therapy, which means that it's done in a huge number of different ways, not all of which are, in fact necessarily pseudoscientific or certainly not all of them are underlined by a particular theory of how the human psyche works.
Some some of them are sort of the emergent. They emerge simply as out of out of practice. You know, people try certain things and they work and they don't or they don't and they drop them. But as far as Freud in particular is concerned, I'd like to start with a quote by one of the people, the researchers, who has actually looked into Freud's work, and that's Frederic Kruse. And he said the following, psychoanalysis is the paradigmatic pseudoscience of our apoc with its facile explanation of adult behaviour by reference to unobservable and arbitrarily posited childhood fantasy.
Well, that doesn't sound very charitable.
No, but it's well said that captures some of my latent frustrations.
So what exactly is wrong with psychonaut? Well, with Freudian psychoanalysis in particular, I guess, is this the first thing and and how does that qualify it as a pseudoscience? Right. That's that's part of the problem. And I have a I'm going to draw throughout these this episode a lot on the work of a of particular of one person of the recently passed away, Frank Chalfie, who was a essentially an expert on Freud and Freudianism. He actually contributed a chapter to a book on On Pseudoscience, the philosophy of pseudoscience that is coming out today that I coedited.
It's coming out for the University of Chicago Press next year in 2013. And Frank was well renowned as one of the most informed and astute critics of Freudian psychoanalysis. So a lot of the references that are going to be making are from his work and of course, from from from people that he cites, both in favour and against, because he's you know, he's very it was very careful it say, OK, here's the people who actually don't have a problem with Freud.
But one of the things that really struck me when I say reading into this is that the problems started very early on. I mean, certainly while Freud was still alive fairly early on in the 1910s and 20s, there were already people essentially accusing Freud of doing pseudoscience, even though. And what did they point to?
Well, for instance, one of the things that was problematic from the beginning was the ambiguity in in Freud's use of the word sex and love. So, for instance, Joffre says that when objections were raised against the generality of Freud's sexually theology of neurosis, and then people started some counterexamples to know things that didn't seem to fit into a sexual explanation for a neurosis. Freudians explained the objections that you. Your actions were based on a misconstruing of what freedom meant by the term sexuality, erotic and libido.
And basically they re engineered these words to just mean love in general. Well, you know, most of us think of one thing. If you think about sex and libido and they think of a different thing, although certainly related if you think about love, because love includes a bunch of other things, like, first of all, love to yourself and also feel your love, for instance, or love of an idea. You know, there's all sorts of stuff that falls in the love that's written.
It wouldn't be appropriate to think of in terms of, you know, libido or sexuality.
But but did that solve the problem? I mean, did that did that redefinition actually make Freudian theories? I don't know. Well-supported.
Well, here's here's what happened. So in 1914, Charles BRX wrote the following about partisanship. When anyone now accuses the disciples of the neuropsychology and he's referring to Freudian psychoanalysis allaying greater stress and sexual matters as a cause of mental trouble than they deserve, the word libido is claimed to be used symbolically. But in reading the interpretation of the dreams reported in books and papers, one finds libido is using its common, ordinary, everyday meaning.
So, in other words, he was accusing Freudians are being disingenuous about these kind of things that, you know, reminds me this reminds me a little bit of how people like Deepak Chopra talk about quantum. This is and that's that in some context, when they think they can get away with it, they speak literally as if the phenomena they're describing of, I don't know, people's people exerting their will on the world through some sort of magic, magic causal chain.
They speak of those as being literally the result of quantum phenomena. But then when they're talking to people who are going to give them a hard time, like Richard Dawkins, they fall back on the oh, this is metaphorical. This is this is analogical. Right? Right. Yeah.
It's it's also the same kind of thing or a very similar sort of approach that is used often by sort of postmodernists. Right. From postmodernism. Postmodernism claims often, not always, but often is that there are slippery claims because to pinpoint because there often are two interpretations, according to one interpretation, the author is making a really strong and surprising claim, which, however, happens to be factually wrong on the weekend interpretation. The author is making a very reasonable claim, but then it turns out to be not particularly interesting.
So, you know, in the same can be said here. I mean, if you think if you're if you're beginning to tell me that people have problems, you know, neuroses, that they originate from a variety of of psychological problems, some of which have to do with libido in the literal sense, and others have to do with more generally with, say, love or relationships. Well, OK. But that's much less strong of a statement that if everything were the result, in fact, of sexuality problems of sexuality.
So we should probably give our listeners an example or two of psychological phenomena or behavioral issues that Freud or his disciples would have explained via via sexual explanations.
Yeah, that's that's interesting. So let's see. Again, most of the times these were used for to explain neurosis. But neuroses themselves, of course, are a general category. And it's it's also a pretty slippery category. Right? I mean, it's you know, what counts isn't roses and roses is any kind of, according to the therapist, the pathological, you know, version of a normal human behavior. So, you know, an obsession, for instance, is in the roses.
This is an example of the roses now. But you can be obsessed with all sorts of things and for all sorts of reasons. And that's the problem is that every time a Freudian makes a statement about, you know, this particular obsession or this particular neurosis is caused by the claim is usually simply a hunch. It's a it's an intuition. It's not something that is actually based on on any particular verifiable or falsifiable empirical evidence. Again, let me give you another comment that was made at the time.
This goes back to 1920, six Freudian Stellas that bite by sex, they mean all that spiritual affection, which may or may not be accompanied by physical passion. And this is simply untrue. By sex, they mean just what everybody else means. So in other words, again, it's another example of ambiguity.
Well, actually, is it possible that they tried to redefine what they meant by sex just to make their theories more acceptable to I don't know what prudish audiences?
That's an interesting comment. I don't think so, because if there is one thing that Freud didn't. They seem to be particularly concerned with what's the public reception of his duties in those terms, in terms of, you know, sort of prudish response. In fact, quite honestly, even critics of Freud seem to acknowledge. For instance, let me give you a specific quotation. Anthony Storr, who is a modern critic of Freudian psychoanalysis, says that if there is one thing that we need to sort of give credit to, Freud is precisely having brought issues of sexual sex, talking about sex, libido and so on and so forth into the open, regardless of what sort of general society at large might, might think or may react.
And the fact that today we take these these issues for granted and we can talk about it without a problem is in fact the result of the fact that Freud started that doing that sort of thing. So and of course, the story even goes on further to credit Freud for something else, which is, he says, Freud's technique of listening to distressed people over long periods rather than giving them orders or advice, has formed the foundation of most modern forms of psychotherapy with benefits to both patients and practitioners.
So, in other words, it wasn't it wasn't all bad stuff. But but in terms of science we're talking about if we're talking about. So there is a distinction here between psychotherapy as a form of, well, therapy in the loose sense of the term that is, you know, OK, you have problems. You want to sit down and talk to me openly on the one hand and on the other hand, as a type of scientific approach to human behavior, to understanding and the causes of and and in an actionable way the causes of human behavior and maximal way in a way that can actually help people.
That's a really great distinction to make in it. I would break it down in two ways. In one sense where when we talk about whether psychotherapy is correct or Freudianism is is correct, we're talking about or I think we should be talking about whether it works relative to like some control or baseline. And that baseline might be the effect of just talking to a sympathetic person who is not using any particular kind of theory or strategy or has no training at all.
Right. So so when we talk about it working, we want to know whether it does something beyond just, you know, talking to another person. Is there something particular to writing about psychotherapy that that makes it work? And then the other way in which we I think we might sensibly I mean, the question does is it correct or does it work? Is it could be the case that it does work better than that? Well, you know, relevant baseline significantly better, but that our theory about why it works better is wrong.
That's right. Yeah. An analogy, for instance, might be and I'm using the word might very carefully here, acupuncture. Right. So the jury's still out there, as far as I can tell, on whether actually acupuncture has any effect beyond the placebo.
But if it does, and it's definitely possible that it does for certain kinds of ailments, it's certainly not because of the the regions of energy going through the body, but your fingers to your energy or the regions in the body. So that would be an example of a practice that works, but not for the reasons that people think that the practitioners think it works. You know, similar examples are probably easy to find in herbal medicine. Right. So the ancient Romans and other, you know, populations had remedies that actually did work.
And then in some cases, we do use today in a more refined fashion. But they certainly didn't work for the reasons that the ancient Romans thought they were working. So. So, yeah, you're right. That's that's an important distinction between whether something works. That's one question. But but it's separate from the question of whether it works because of the reasons that the practitioners say works. The latter is really the question that goes to the heart of is Freudian psychoanalysis, science or pseudoscience?
You asked me for an example earlier and I found one. It doesn't have to do with neurosis, but. Well, actually it does. But a different kind and religious and the answer there for the Freudians was related to love. Let me let me give you the example. This is about war neurosis. So did you say war, war after World War One?
Right. A lot of people came in, of course, with, you know, all the symptoms that today we associate with post-traumatic stress disorder and that sort of stuff like this doesn't really seem like a phenomena in dire need of an explanation.
You know, after coming back from the battle, you would think. You would think. And yeah, I to some trepidation about what you're going to say.
And yet here it is. So here's Chafee again. He says. Other work psychiatrists felt that word arose is refuted fraud's sexual theology, because, believe it or not, Froud, Freud said that this was a matter, the post-war neurosis where in fact, the matter of sexual repressed sexual instincts. And Freud tried to meet these objections by suggesting that the opinion counterexamples in which conflicts over self preservation, let's say, rather than sexuality, where the source of the word neurosis were really illustrations of the correctness of his theory, since the self preservation is a bottom, a sexual impulse.
Oh, give me a break.
So, for instance, in his autobiographical sketch of nineteen twenty five, Freud wrote, and I quote, The word neurosis, they said, have proved the sexual factors were unnecessary to the etiology of neurotic disorders. But there was frivolous and premature psychoanalysis had long before arrived that the concept of narcissism and of narcissistic neurosis in which the subject's libido is attached to his own ego instead of to an object. So in other words, it's all about sex, even self-preservation.
And war becomes a matter of you're in love with yourself, you have your libido with yourself, you're narcissistic, and that's why you've got a problem. Oh, my God.
I'm surprised that he didn't do something with, like, the guns or the bee.
Maybe to do something with the trenches. Totally. That was a missed opportunity. Right.
Maybe then now this is the sort of thing that the famously led William James to make the following comment about, about the narcissistic libido of the Freudians write, quote, a bag of logical liquefaction into the midst of which all definite conclusions of any sort can be trusted here along to sink and disappear.
It's a great quote. I think that could be applied to a lot of other suicides.
But I like the the the image of a bag of logical liquefaction that I can just see it sort of bubbling.
Yeah. So that was one of the examples. There are others that I that I sort of made a note of bringing up. For instance, let's talk about castration, shall we?
If we must ask you, do you think that's going to bring the audience down or else it's going to bring me down, particularly the male audience anyway.
So at some point, Freud, again, this is quoting Chalfie root of the threat of castration. And this is a quotation from Freud that the central experience of the years of childhood, the greatest problem of Eardley, of early life and the stronger source of latent inadequacy in men is precisely the problem of the threat of concentration. However, Chafee says he held that a prescription on concentration threats would be of no avail. So it's not going to be useful to eliminate threats of castration and one that will wipe if the threat of constriction castration in early childhood is a problem that generates neurosis, why would it be the case that eliminating that threat isn't going to have any effect?
And that was apparently typical of Freud, a Freudian approach to things. That is, for all the theorizing, apparently, that was comparatively little that could be done preemptively. That is before the patient got to the couch in order to avoid the neurosis. You know, there was very little preventive cure, I guess, I suppose, or preventive action one could take in order to avoid the general neurosis. Neurosis would appear anyway. And then the only way you have to treat them is to get on the couch where Freud.
That's that's convenient. That seems very convenient indeed.
Yeah. So one of the one of the best, like universal good epistemic thinking habits is the asking yourself what evidence could I encounter that would make me less inclined to believe this. Right. Right. And I was skimming over the article that you have been talking about and there's a great example of this. To my surprise, sometimes this principle just doesn't work with people that like. So the way I expect it to work, because when you when you corner someone in this way, they either have to come up with something, you know, plausible that would cause them to change their minds if they saw it or they have to admit that their original belief was sort of a pseudo belief or an article of faith.
But in fact, that just doesn't always work. And so there's this example from the NYU Symposium on psychoanalysis and scientific method. That's right. Which I guess was mid century sometime. And so they they asked a prominent psychoanalyst named Jacob Arlo whether he could even conceive of the possibility of encountering a child who did not want to kill his father and have sex with his mother. And he said he couldn't imagine it the most. He could imagine when when they asked him what would persuade him that the child didn't have an medical complex was.
Child was an idiot. That's right. Which is fascinating because you define sanity as wanting to kill your father. Now your mother, I don't know what to do with you.
Yes, precisely. But but you bring up an interesting point, which is, you know, one of the hallmarks of science, of, you know, of actual science is, of course, is that it makes progress and scientific theories. Theories do change over time. Right. So we have, you know, the classic example of the Copernican theory that started out with the simple assumption that the orbits of the planets are circular. But then Kepler came in and improve the theory by assuming that the orbits of the planets were are, in fact, elliptical, and that got a much better match with the data.
So that is a classic example of a theory that is fundamentally correct. And yet it changes significantly over time because of empirical evidence. The change is prompted by the fact that in this particular case, Copernicus predictions of the positions of the planet didn't really work very well. And on the other hand, Kepler's simple modification of the theory suddenly got things to work much better. Now, Freudians sometimes claim that that is the case also with Freudian psychoanalysis, that is, that it changed over time and now but there are three distinct cases that that contrast how this change is supposed to go.
And they actually seem to be more damaging than anything else about that, about why Freudian psychoanalysis changes or doesn't. One is the case of penis envy and the other one is the case of masturbation. What do you think this is going to do to our audience at the moment? Is it going to go up? And I didn't mean that literally anyway. So let's talk about penis envy first. So the idea is that, you know, Freudians say apparently that they change their mind, that the theory changed its position about homosexuality, for instance, and penis envy.
And in the case of penis envy, for instance, there is essentially no more talk about penis envy among modern Freudians, which on the other hand, was a big deal in Freud's time. And among Freud's immediate supporters, you want to explain what you mean?
You don't think that the words are self-explanatory enough?
Oh, I guess so. But I don't I actually don't have a sense of how literally it was meant. Like, well, yeah, this is so women wanted wish that they had penises, was that right? I just meant that they to imply that they wished they had the power and the, I don't know, virility or status in society or that they actually wish they had a penis but that they were men.
Well, well, all those interpretations are interesting as far as I'm concerned. But the general idea you captured, the general idea, which is that this would explain some of the neuroses of women because they have this sort of envy of the fact that they don't have a penis. Now, whether they actually literally want a penis or in fact, use that as a substitute for, you know, the power of being a man, that's a different matter. But the interesting thing is that the concept played a huge role initially in Freudian psychoanalyze and then sort of at some point got dropped.
Now, when this is pointed out to the Freudians, they say, well, see, this is evidence of of of, you know, progress and theory because, you know, the empirical evidence sort of basically started to suggest that there is no such thing as penis envy. But the problem is that, first of all, is not clear to which empirical evidence they're actually referring to. Right.
If I had to guess, I don't know the relevant history here, but if I had to guess, I would say that the concept of penis envy dropped by the wayside because of feminism. Correct. It's an insulting idea. That's not like it's good that they dropped it. I'm not complaining about that. But they don't get, like, epistemic credit for it.
Correct. Exactly. So what very coincidentally, what happened is that the concert business and we started going off the radar as soon as the modern feminist movement basically arose so and became prominent. So you're right, there is no empirical reason. There is, in fact, a what somewhat uncharitably perhaps could be called a marketing reason or certainly a social reason. You know, it became increasingly more and more unpalatable for people to talk about penis envy, referring to to.
Right. And going through this whole exercise of, you know, examining the claims that Freudians make about why their thing is the science gives me this weird feeling of like having to successfully make the rules more and more precise because people keep finding idiotic loopholes to them that I hadn't considered like the role that, you know, you have to or that you get credit for changing your mind as time goes on. It hadn't occurred to me that people would not be change their mind to respond.
The evidence, so now. OK, thanks a lot, guys, we have to now specify that, right. Another case also equally document that documentable throughout the history of the 20th century through Freudianism is the take. The Freudians hand on homosexuality initially was a disease. It was a problem. It was a source of neurosis. And then these days is now no longer considered such. Now, to be fair, also, mainstream psychology went from considering, you know, the famous diagnostic manual that lists all sort of old mental diseases did, in fact, at some point up to a point at least, homosexuality as a disease.
And it doesn't anymore. And again, you can you can argue that that was a based on the basis of empirical evidence. But as far as the Freudians is concerned, it's interesting that the change happened, again, pretty much in sync with social changes that made it more and more homosexuality more acceptable.
Now, contrast this with the third the third example, which is masturbation. The friends have not changed their stand on masturbation. Masturbation is still a problem. So in 1996, for instance, as early as 1896, Freud referred to masturbation as it's a pernicious form of sexual satisfaction.
And it's just how what effect did he think it caused it? Blindness. No, that's interesting that the fact is that it sucks mental energy, psychic energy. And the reason for that is because this is this is serious, even though I'm laughing at it. But the reason for that is because, you know, if you masturbate, you have to do all the work, not just the physical work, but mentally, you have to imagine, you know, all the characters involved in how they act.
And so that's apparently, you know, that stops your mental energy. So it's it's really not particularly useful.
But in fact, this is pretty much what what Alden Bunker said in nineteen thirty.
It says, since in masturbation, external stimuli are meager and fantasy must be drawn on, it requires a great consumption of psychic energy and so may readily result in exhaustion of its supply, as well as if mental energy, psychic energy, whatever that is.
No, I started enjoying the postmodernists much more when I stopped thinking of them as making actual empirical claims with truth value and started instead thinking of them as as being sort of poetry, which is sometimes enjoyable. And so I feel like I should probably shift my my mental paradigm regarding Freudianism and to see it as comedy in which framework is actually quite enjoyable.
Right. Right. Well, so the point is, of course, here that the bastard's appraisal of masturbation hasn't changed and one would want to know why. Why did they change their mind about homosexuality? And they changed their mind about being as ambivalent about masturbation. Here's what Chalfie says about this as well, since unlike homosexuals and feminists, masturbators do not form a constituency likely to take to the streets to make its disapproval felt their disparagement was not made. The subject of the apologies.
So, you know, there's an interesting there's all sorts of interesting points that can be made. Now, you talked about the Oedipus complex already. There is also an issue of, you know, we actually have testimonials from some of Freud's own patients as to his methods, because one of the questions about psychoanalysis, you know, what is the data? What did the data come from?
Right. Well, I'm I'm interested both in how we tested these theories and also in how did you come up with them in the first place?
Are let's open up parenthesis there.
Just made them up then. I actually don't you know, just knowing that means you can bypass the testing because you should have no more reason to privilege that hypothesis than any other random hypothesis.
OK, but let's let's stay on that for a second before going back actually to over a couple of testimonies from from here. But but OK. So this is an interesting question because in philosophy science, what we're talking right now, it's it's referred to as the distinction between the context of discovery in the context of justification. So according to Popper, at least the job of philosophers is really to investigate the context of justification. And the context of discovery is pretty much left to, in fact, psychologists or cognitive scientists.
The reason for that is because, according to Popper and several other. There really is no rhyme or reason in the way in which scientists come up with theories. Call it intuition, call it I went out and had a walk and came back and had a brilliant idea. Whatever it is, ideas come to the human mind. Now, the implication is that it's not that there's anything mystical about it, obviously, but the fact that the basic concept is that new ideas, new theories are generated in complex and largely to some extent subconscious processes of processing of information.
And therefore, there's no accounting. There's no logical accounting of how a theory is or an idea comes about what?
Well, there has to be a logical accounting of where I want to hear your opinion doesn't mean. But what it has to be. On the other hand, the logical accounting of otherwise you're not doing science is. Well, once you've got the idea, how do you actually verify. Right. How do you how do you test it? What what do you propose to do with that idea? But yes. So what are your thoughts about the context of discovery?
So that's that's interesting. And that's a great distinction. But it feels to me like it does matter in terms of justification. It matters how the idea was, how the hypothesis was formulated in the first place, because it seems like it should determine what prior probability you put on the theory being true and that in turn that in turn determines how strong the evidence is that you should require before updating to believe that theory. So if you if you generated a hypothesis by because that's exactly how things appear to work in the world and you have a bunch of different anecdotal examples that seem to fit that theory, then I think you should require less hard and fast evidence to make you believe that's true than if you had a theory in a dream and started testing that.
Well, I mean, like, I don't I don't know how you can separate the evidence, the strength of the evidence you got from or I don't know how you can use that on its own in isolation without considering the probability of the theory being true. Yeah.
So let's let's think about a specific example. Let's say Einstein's thought experiment about, you know, writing a light wave. Right. And that was the first insight, apparently, that he had in the theory of relativity now, which had all sorts of consequences, including the fact that the speed of light ought to be a constant, universal constant and that sort of stuff. Now, does it really matter how Einstein's brain generated? I mean, it matters in in a sense that it's an interesting question in its own right.
Right. I'm not I'm not trying to say or it doesn't matter in a broad sense. It clearly does matter because I'd like to know how the human brain, you know, generates those things. But in terms of the hypotheses per say. Right, what if Einstein told you, OK, I had that in a dream or, you know, I think I got a telepathic message from Mars and they told me to think about it this way. Now, I probably wouldn't believe the latter, but would it really matter to the truth of the of the of the idea itself?
I mean, no matter how he says that he came up with that idea where we're still all going to do exactly the same thing in order to test it. Right. We're going to go out there and say, OK, well, what happens if I measured the speed of light, you know, independently of the frame of reference and so on and so forth? And is it a constant or not?
But in that case, the evidence was so strong, the evidence was just overwhelming. We observed it. We observed it to, in fact, be the case. So it wasn't like we had a sample and we were we were observing a pattern in the sample and trying to figure out how likely that would have been to arise just by chance alone. Can we actually generalize it? Population? This was I feel like the strength of the evidence is just so overwhelming that it didn't really matter how you come up with it, but it wouldn't matter if the theory is that.
But it wasn't really that overwhelming at the moment in which he proposed the idea. Right.
All the evidence, I don't know when we when we went out and observed that he was in fact correct, that that observation was it wasn't very ambiguous, right?
That's correct. But but now we already switched from the from the context of discovery to the one to the justification. Right. I mean, the distinction is how you come up with an idea as opposed to how to test it.
Yeah, yeah. No, I agree that it's an important distinction. I was just saying that the the process by which you came up with the idea matters increasingly when when the evidence you're getting is not overwhelmingly decisive. So simple that that prompted my comment in the first place. I get irritated sometimes when people talk about. Testing evidence for or against the factual claims in the Bible about, I don't know, just about things that's a commodity is or isn't supposed to do or about things that Jesus supposedly did and or.
OK, never mind. Let's take the example of claims of what happens to us after we die so you can look at evidence that and talk about whether it suggested one way or the other. But because the original idea was just invented out of whole cloth. I don't feel like even if you could come up with something that seemed almost equal to indicate that it was more likely that there was a heaven or hell, then you should have thought beforehand before seeing that evidence.
So just like your prior probability should be so low because the idea was just when you were when you were explaining a lot of example. The thing that came to my mind was, in fact, the priors. I think you're correct. Absolutely. And I don't think that people would disagree if Pupper had actually ever Invision terms that you would have said, yes, of course not all ideas are created equal and some of them are that have priors that are so low that you might actually want to think about it twice before you go even out and bother testing certain things.
So you're right, not not all ideas are created equal. And that does have implications for the testing, even even whether you actually are going to be bothered to do the testing or not. Still, however, the process of origination of ideas that was Poppa's point is essentially a province more the province of cognitive psychology, cognitive science than philosophy, because that it doesn't have to be logical. What does have to be logical is the way you go about testing those ideas.
Once you agree that it's an idea, that it's worth it, you know, it's worth enough effort to actually go out and test it. Sure, yeah.
Now, let me go back, because we're getting actually closer to the end here already. But let me go back to to a couple of things. One is a quote from one of apparently one of Freud's patients. And the guy said, quote, I would often give a whole series of associations to a dream symbol. Any would an E Freud would wait until he found an association which would fit into a scheme of interpretation and pick it like a detective in a lineup who waits until he sees these men?
So that sounds a lot to me, like, you know how psychics work.
Yeah, right. Right. So you wait until you get a hit and then you run and you run from there and then the your client is likely going to forget or dismisses the many misses and then is going to remember the hits. So it's one of these things like you, you know, you say one, two, three, four or five things. As soon as one of those fits your scheme or fits the way you think about it, then you jump on that one and you ignore the other ones.
But of course, the question is, well, why did you ignore the other ones?
I looked at that in the course of just a short 40 minute segment.
We've managed to compare Freudianism to religion and to to to like quantum psycho, like New Age, Batbold postmodernism, and I guess not directly, but sort of indirectly compared it to string theory and that they've defined all results as confirming their theory.
Well, if you want another comparison, then here's what the Sceptic Dictionary says about Freudian psychoanalysis. Sigmund Freud is considered the father of psychoanalysis, which may be the granddaddy of all pseudoscientific psychotherapies, second only to Scientology as the champion purveyor of false and misleading claims about the mind, mental health and mental illness. So there you go. We also got Scientology into the mix. Wow.
I wonder I wonder how Scientology would feel about about being classified with Freudianism. I'm sure they would love that.
But the comparison is apt for one for one reason that like Scientologists, Freudian psychoanalysis, of course, maintain that, you know, most of the problem is not all of human psychological problems are not to be addressed with you know, they're not biological in nature. They're not they're not they cannot be addressed by the use of chemicals. They have to be addressed by talking. And that, you know, Scientology does have a sort of similar attitude, although even more coocoo, if you if you believe that Dorward psychiatry, I think we should we could conclude with another quote from from Frank Chalfie.
As I said in part this year, I love his quote. Yeah. And in part, as I said, this, this is really a tribute to him because he passed away recent. And he was a great thinker about pseudoscience in general, not just in the Freudians, but he concludes the chapter that that he wrote from my book with the following sentence phrase Freud's joke about the brandy drinker whose indulgence impaired these hearing is apposite here as a general summary of what he's been talking about on the advice of his doctor, the gay refrain from Brandy and regained his hearing.
But he nevertheless returned to drinking brandy when his doctor remonstrated with him. He produced the understandable defense that nothing you heard while refraining from Brandy was as good as the brandy for many Freud. Is that brandy? Meaning that and that is an explanation of why Freudian psychoanalysis keeps being very popular even to this day, despite the fact that he's been scientifically pretty much debunked.
So think of Freud as good Brandy.
I love it. That is a perfect note on which to end the section of the podcast. In addition to which we don't really have a choice because I think we've run out of neuroscience and superstitions to compare Freudianism to. So let's wrap up the section of the podcast and move on to the rationally speaking PEX.
Welcome back. Every episode, Julie and I pick a couple of our favorite books, movies, websites or whatever tickles our irrational fancy, let's start as usual with you pick my pick is a webcomic.
It's called Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. Oh, yeah. And that's some B C Dash comics dotcom. It's one of the more one of the most intellectually sophisticated and clever webcomics around. And it's a big favorite of mine. And it's just gotten better over the years, too. I've been following it for a while now, some of the best and most interesting discussions of philosophical paradoxes or like just general issues and metaphysics and and time travel philosophy of science are all in Saturday morning breakfast cereal.
And but I should warn you that you you have to have kind of a dark sense of humor, because it's it's it's it's a bleak strip.
Yes, it is. I also read it regularly.
Yeah. I'll post a couple examples of strips that I like exploring, like epistemology and utilitarianism from something darkly comic angle on the website.
Sounds good. Well, since the week that we're having this episode is the beginning of the seventh season of the reboot rebooted version of Doctor Who, which which is the longest running sci fi show ever since nineteen sixty three. We've only a few. Yeah, yeah. Only a few years of intermission here and there before the reboarding. Anyway, because of that there's a there's a great article that appeared on ionised dotcom, about 10 totally different TV shows. The doctor who has been over the years, the doctor who fans know that there have been 11 doctors up to this point.
And and the article talks about how the show changed dramatically from different incarnations, depending on the different actors and the different writers, of course, of the show. And even though there is some consistency and there is, you know, sort of themes and characters and so on and a sort of general sort of a general feeling of the show, it actually has reinvented itself many, many times, which is one of the reasons it's likely survived this long.
And so some of the these incarnations brought the show from an educational adventure show. It's really as a children's show to a class of a big show about monsters and monsters attacking everywhere to essentially an Avengers knockoff. And by Avengers, I don't mean the Marvel superheroes, but The Avengers from the 1970s, the British TV show. And then it became a series of Gothic horror movies, and then it turned into an absurdist slapstick comedy. And then it was about boys own adventure stories.
And then it was an insane pantomime and and it transmuted into a sorcerer's apprentice kind of character and then a post-war survivor story. And finally, you know, a relationship comedy with with universe shattering consequences. So it's really it really is a great show. The new season is starting this month on BBC America. This is the seventh season of the new reboot. So, you know, people that are into science, philosophy and and science fiction definitely will love that.
Nosmo, it never occurred to me until now that doctor who is essentially the TV show of defiance, like the Ship of Theseus, where it has been gradually replaced one or more times over the years. And so there's no piece of the ship or in this case, the TV show that bears any resemblance to the original. But it's been such a gradual transformation like that. The lead character is different. The whole tone and spirit of the show is different, but it still gets called Doctor Who is right.
The same show.
Who knows? It's a good philosophical question. We are all out of time. So this concludes another episode of Rationally Speaking. Joining us next time for more explorations on the borderlands between reason and nonsense.
The rationally speaking podcast is presented by New York City skeptics for program notes, links, and to get involved in an online conversation about this and other episodes, please visit rationally speaking podcast Dog. This podcast is produced by Benny Pollack and recorded in the heart of Greenwich Village, New York. Our theme, Truth by Todd Rundgren, is used by permission. Thank you for listening.