Monday, July 23, 2007

Not a wise counsel at all

Listening to Wise Counsel with Dr. Fleming, the latest podcast from mental Help Net, came as a bit of an unpleasant surprise. Fleming has written a book about preventing drug addiction with kids and gives a lot of advice to parents as to how to raise and educate them such that addiction will not occur. I think the advice is not efficacious, not justified and some of the worst even harmful. It is my opinion that the podcast should have been posted with a disclaimer lest the approach receive the odium of legitimacy by virtue of being exposed on a bona fide mental health website.

I am skeptic in general about his analysis of addiction. I strongly disagree with the methods he proposes for addiction prevention. I think he is a bit to keen on emphasizing how it is completely incurable, as this serves to justify the frighteningly repressive prevention measures he proposes. They go against all I know from my criminology studies and I assume there are many studies that differ from his theories.

Therefore I have written a comment at Mental Help Net:

There are two things I agree on with Dr. Fleming: addiction is a trap that is extremely hard, if not near impossible to get out of. Therefore the best way to handle addiction is to prevent it. Second, in the light of that, parents cannot afford to be naive in any way about their children's exposure to addictive substances and consequent chances of turning addictive.

Other than that I am rather skeptic on his analysis of addiction in its entirety and I disapprove of the methods for prevention. I think they are too heavy handed and thus are not justified as being disproportionate. I doubt the efficacy and on the example of using a Breathalyzer for your child in his puberty, I think this is even harmful and counterproductive.

Insisting on letting your child do a drug test (either Breathalyzer or urine sampling) gives off the wrong signal ("I do not trust you anyway. You are considered a liar a priori") pushes for more dangerous evasive behavior, flight to worse substances or addiction to non-substance stuff like gambling, gaming, pornography etc, and to an atmosphere of distrust while the parents lure themselves into a false sense of safety on account of the tests.

I am happy to report the reply from Mental Help Net:

Editor's Note: Neither Dr. Van Nuys or myself (Dr. Dombeck) particularly agrees with Dr. Fleming's recommendations, ourselves finding them heavy-handed and potentially counterproductive. At least I believe that (not having consulted Dr. Van Nuys directly before posting my comment here). I think I can speak for Dr. Van Nuys on the basis of having listened to his scepticism during the interview. We both felt that he has delivered them in a reasonable enough way and that his biases are on the table for examination to listeners of the podcast who are intelligent enough to draw their own conclusions. There is room for a variety of approaches within the field, and there may very well be some instances where this advice may prove profitable, however few instances that may be.

From Our Own Correspondent

As far as BBC podcasts are concerned, In Our Time is not the only one I have tried over the years. Another one is From Our Own Correspondent in which BBC correspondents from all over the world give column monologues from their station. Thus we get some hands on experience from various exotic, and less exotic places.

The monologues are in themselves quite good. The correspondents know how to write and apparently also for radio. So basically this is a very good podcast, but nevertheless I discontinued listening. It is amazing how I persistently seem to discontinue all sorts of podcasts that are basically monologues. In general they turn out, over and over again, the weakest podcasts as far as capturing the attention over a series.

With FOOC, there were two other factors that added to the lapse though. For one, the issues of FOOC then, and perhaps still today, contain three columns patched together. It makes for charming variation, but more often than not, the three different places, readers and subjects have nothing in common, nothing that connects them and make them, basically three different items. It would do, I think, to chop them into three and publish them in triples, but this seems too much of a bother for the BBC.

The second reason I left, is that I am also an avid reader of the BBC web pages. There, one can find the FOOC columns in writing and has a more distinguishable access and a more direct ability to find what one likes. For example, at the time, I was very excited about a contribution by John Pilkington from Mali in the Sahara. I stored the mp3 on my computer for further reference, but was put off, on repeated listening by the other content. The text on line, served much better in that respect. And once read, it was also less pleasant to have it read out loud again.

Thomas Dekker 35e

Na de veertiende etapppe staat onze jongen in de tour op de 35e plaats. Na een sensationele bergetappe, waarin hij hard heeft moeten werken voor gele-truidrager Rasmussen, kwam hij binnen met de besten. Hij was zelfs sneller dan aanvakelijke kopman Denis Mentsjov.

In het jongerenklassement levert de prestatie hem een stijding met een plaats op: van 7 naar 6. In mijn ogen doet Dekker het goed. Dit lijkt op een waardig debuut en een belofte naar meer.

Wat er intussen rond de opgestane kopman gebeurt is niet goed voor het team, niet voor de tour en niet voor het wielrennen. Het was wachten op verdachtmakingen rondom de aanvoerder van het klassement. Armstrong ging nooit vrijuit. Met terugwerkende kracht hebben we onze twijfels over Pantani, Ulrich en Riis ontwikkeld, zodat we sinds Indurain (1995) al geen helemaal smetteloze en onverdachte tourleider hebben gehad. Maar wat kan er nou eigenlijk over Rasmussen gezdg worden? Is hij positief op enige test? Nee. Hij heeft tests gemist, naast alle tests die hij wel gedaan heeft. Ik heb nog niemand horen aantonen dat, gesteld hij zou doping gebruikt hebben toen hij de tests miste, hij er nu voordeel mee zou hebben. Wat er overblijft is dat Rasmussen verdacht is. Niet fraai, maar ook te weinig concreet om hem ergens van te beschuldigen. En dus ook te weinig om hem te straffen.

Het wielrennen dreigt in zijn haast om schoon schip te maken, door te slaan naar roomser dan de paus te zijn. Naar het uitsluiten van renners die geen overtreding hebben begaan waarop uitsluiting de straf is volgens de reglementen. Naar het laten tekenen van contracten die zodanig ongunstig zijn voor de renners dat het onredelijk wordt. Alle voorwaarden voor een heksenjacht. En zo'n jacht levert zelden een vervolging van de boosdoeners op, maar eerder van de buitenbeentjes, wier enige fout het was om een buitenbeentje te zijn en een stok te leveren om de hond te slaan.