Are you in the right place?

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This is my personal blog. This is the place where I rant and witter inanely about all sorts of things that take my interest from opposition to odious far right groups to personal learning projects such as my intermittent studies on evolutionary psychology.

If you’ve arrived here looking for information on my mental health and social care training and consultancy services you might want to click this link instead. That’ll take you to my commercial website: The Care Guy

You might also enjoy taking a look at Care To Share Magazine while you’re about it. That’s not affiliated with my business at all (or indeed anyone’s business). It’s a community of people who are interested in sharing ideas and insights into social care without any distractions from political ideologies, corporate agenda or media ‘fashion’.

Sneak preview

Part 1 of The Mental Health Workers’ Audio Guide will be available for sale from The Care Guy shop soon. In anticipation of this (and to whet peoples’ appetites) I’m publishing a short, free sample on YouTube  as well as the accompanying free PDF a little early.

The free PDF  contains all the charts and diagrams referred to in part 1 (not just this short extract) as well as the contents list for the entire six part series.

Enjoy.

 

Coming soon: Audio downloads

I’ve been working on audio versions of some of my more popular downloads for some time now. The first few are almost ready to be published in The Care Guy shop.

They’ll be inexpensive to buy (about the price of a lunchtime sandwich) and accompanied by free PDFs (downloadable from The Care Guy website). The PDFs will contain explanatory charts, tables and illustrations as required.

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Watch this space.

Ineffective by design (but not on a school night)

 

EDL Downing Street piss up 140920Today the almost defunct English Defence League, together with assorted factions of fellow fascists descended on Downing Street in huge numbers. Estimates vary as to the exact size of the demonstration piss up with some claiming as few as 15 of these uneducated, bigoted numpties storming the capital. Certainly they haven’t even reached triple figures, in spite of the hype.

Not that it matters very much. Today is Saturday. Even if they were to get through the gates and past the permanent police presence they’re hardly likely to meet any actual politicians.

In summary then Londoners (at least the few Londoners who can be bothered to notice) have been ‘treated’ to an ineffective display of collective weakness by an equally ineffective (and very, very small) bunch of nobodies who lack the foresight even to check what day of the week it is. By the look of things in this picture nobody even noticed apart from the very small number of coppers judged sufficient to contain this massive crowd tiny little band of neoNazis,

Of course it may be that they chose Saturday because many of their demonstrators wouldn’t be able to attend on a weekday school night. If that’s the case I shudder to think how few attendees this fading group of far right has-beens would have ended up with had they waited until Monday! Then again, judging by the level of argument that these people typically employ (and an almost total inability to use the English language) I seriously doubt that any of them attended any school at all beyond the age of about fourteen twelve nine.
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And these people claim to be part of the superior (some of them even dare to say ‘Master‘) race!
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Models of mental health and disorder

The world of mental health care can be confusing – especially for those new to the topic. Often the different theories and professional approaches seem to contradict each other. It’s almost as though different workers speak different languages,

That’s not quite true but they do often come from different theoretical perspectives. That’s why, for example, a social worker and a psychiatrist will give you two completely different explanations for the same person’s problems. They’ve been taught radically different ‘models’ that they use to understand mental health and disorder, its causes and its treatments.

This little table isn’t intended to cover all the different models in depth. Instead think of it as a very basic list of models that can guide you in understanding why people focus upon different things. There’s more to it, of course but it’s a start for newcomers trying to get to grips with the contradictions they come across in practice.

The Care Guy Models of mental health and disorder

Islamic State and Rotherham abuse ‘fuelling far right’ – BBC News

It’s good to see the media beginning to recognise the far right problem, even though much of it is fuelled by sensationalist media reports themselves.

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A few words about nonsense

A couple of people have expressed some concerns about my recent post ‘How we know what to rely upon‘. Some queried the placement of different specialties and beliefs in the ‘evidence hierarchy table’.

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In two of these cases, ‘Freudian psychodynamics’ and ‘the serotonin theory of depression’ I removed them. After all the point of the post was to identify how ideas are validated, not to get caught up in debates about ‘what goes where’. That wasn’t my purpose. I may yet reclassify reincarnation for just that reason if the person who promised to send me robust evidence supporting it actually does so. For now, though it remains firmly in the ‘nonsense’ camp, which brings me to the point of this post.

Whenever I use the word ‘nonsense’ people become (in descending order of intensity) ‘outraged’, ‘offended’, ‘irritated’, ‘narked’ or just ‘a bit miffed’. As a general rule I suspect that’s because they haven’t thought through just what the word ‘nonsense’ means.

Normally I wouldn’t dream of basing my arguments upon semantics. It’s usually a quite unwarranted equivocation to argue about the literal meaning of a word as though that somehow influences its perceived meaning in everyday, non-literal conversation. That’s just a kind of linguistic pedantry that blindly favours form over meaning. But in this case I’ll make an exception. That’s because the literal meaning of the word ‘nonsense’ is such an accurate representation of its actual usage, even though most people never stop to think it through.

The word ‘nonsense’ consists of two contributory words:
Non (a negation);
Sense (the 5 mechanisms by which we experience the natural world) OR (reasonable, understandable, coherent, logical).

In everyday conversation people generally use one or the other of these meanings of ‘sense’ but in the rational, empirical world of scientific observation I’d argue that both are needed. In fact, I think they’re mutually dependent.

Empiricism requires observable evidence of the external (not us) world. Evidence of the external world can only be observed through the 5 senses. Therefore in order to have a reason to believe something we need to be able to observe something that our beliefs, hypotheses and explanations can be based upon. If we can’t sense a thing we can’t demonstrate it and if we can’t demonstrate it there’s no reason to believe it. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not true – but we’d be foolish to believe in something we can neither test nor observe.

That’s what the 20th century philosopher, Bertrand Russell was getting at when he claimed that there was a silver teapot orbitting the sun somewhere between the Earth and Mars. For all anyone knows, there might be but we’d be foolish to believe it without at least some observable, empirical evidence (beyond mere anecdote) to support it. And observable, empirical evidence means sensory input.

So – to sum up.
To ‘sense’ something means to observe.
To ‘not sense’ means to not observe.
We would be foolish to believe a claim without some observation, some reason to believe.

‘Nonsense’ then is the unobserved claim that we would do well to reject until and unless some observable, empirical evidence is available.

That’s why I consigned claims like creationism, reincarnation, crystal healing and astrology to the nonsense camp. They lack empirical evidence to support their most basic explanations and we’d be foolish to accept them without it. They are the products of over-active imaginations that are much more concerned with spinning a good yard than with genuine, observable, painstaking, data collection.

You may not agree with my way of approaching the world but at least now, hopefully, you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

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Methodological naturalism

Let’s be clear…. we’re all scientists. Yes, even the most hardened, dyed in the wool fanatical theist, the ardent supernaturalist and even the creationist. We all rely upon science every day.
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I don’t just mean that we use the obvious technology that science provides such as computers, wristwatches and washing machines. I’m not even going to witter on about the less obvious benefits of science such as plastics and wallpaper paste. These are valid points but the argument, often put to anti-science proponents using the internet, is a little tired these days. I for one have grown tired of pointing out the obvious irony when conversing with creationists, astrologers and alternative therapists etc over electronic social media. Rather I want to talk about everyday assumptions that everyone makes – the beliefs we all must hold if we are to survive in the real world.

The uniformity of nature

Science is a process, not a belief system. It’s a way of exploring the natural observable world by testing explanations of observable events (hypotheses) to see if they can predict what will happen next. The process is remarkably effective (hence the many advances we all rely upon) but only because of science’s underlying assumption:

Nature is predictable and uniform because it operates according to fixed, natural laws.

So the Christian who sees that it’s raining puts on a coat because the predictability, the uniformity of nature means that they will get wet if they don’t. The faith healer sticks to the path at the clifftop because they understand the phenomenon of gravity – and they understand it not because of spiritual enlightenment but because of prior observation of the natural world. In short they keep themselves safe because they use the scientific method. They rely upon the uniformity of nature and the predictable ’cause and effect’ of observed events to make sense of the world and to stay safe. So far so good. We all ‘do science’ when it suits our purposes. I imagine that there’s nothing particularly controversial about that.

But consider the implications of these natural laws. We know that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. That’s the science of space travel. It’s also the science of swimming and of billiards. The natural law is constant (with a few exceptions in specific, equally predictable, non-Newtonian, non-Euclidian contexts that we don’t need to worry about here). What then of divine intervention? What of miracles?

If nature is predictable then there is no place for divine intervention. There is no point then in prayer – it cannot make a difference anyway. Scientists are more than capable of explaining natural events precisely because the natural world is predictable. They can predict the impact of gravity and the wetness of rain precisely because nature is uniform and predictable (and so can we).

When a light bulb expires the theist doesn’t waste time praying for light – they replace the bulb. When the religious fanatic is frightened and alone in the dark they don’t pray for dawn (that would violate natural laws) – they pray that they’ll make it UNTIL dawn. They understand the scientific concepts of heliocentric theory that makes an early dawn impossible, so they don’t pray for it. The thought never even occurs to ask their God for an impossible miracle. So much for the omnipotence of God. So much for the magic of metaphysics.

Until you stop replacing light bulbs and pray for light instead, you’re a scientist. And once you accept the uniformity of nature in one context you undermine the whole idea of divine intervention. From light bulbs to geology, from medicine to evolution the uniformity of nature is constant. And acceptance of that uniformity leaves no place for miracles or for prayer.
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So what’s it to be? Will you pray for healing or accept the antibiotics? Will you call the mechanic or simply ask your omnipotent God to fix the cylinder head gasket? If the Dr., the mechanic, the builder or even the baker has any place in your life then you really can’t deny scientific method. Nature is uniform and prayer is necessarily meaningless as a result.

But don’t just take my word for it. Ask God to suspend gravity and try a different route down from the clifftop. You never know – it might work.
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