“Villains and Demonisers”

Hole Ousia

Almost a decade ago, one of the advisors to the Scottish Government on prescribing of antidepressants stated that it was the general public and their “distaste” for antidepressants that were the “real villains”. It was statements like this, from well-meaning colleagues, that led me to write this article, which I called “Window Tax”

Almost ten years on, and the Current Chair of Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland, when referring to antidepressant prescribing, describes those who ask questions about this in terms  of “demonising”:

For two decades now I have been asking what duration of antidepressant treatment is “appropriate”, being increasingly aware that many of the 1 in 7 who are now estimated to be taking antidepressants in Scotland, are in fact taking them indefinitely.

I do hope that it is not the case that I am considered a “villain” or “demoniser” for having asked this question. This is a…

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Tools, substitutes or companions: three metaphors for thinking about technology


Centaur_(PSF)Here are three metaphors for how we think about digital and robotic technologies:

First, as tools. Passive instruments which extend our own power. Hammers enhance your hitting, video calling extends your presence, algorithmic trading merely implements the rules you designed for trading. Tools seem like passive objects, without their own desires, but a moment’s thought will tell you that even passive objects have psychological effects (that’s why we say ‘to a man with a hammer every thing looks like a nail’).

A second metaphor is to think of technologies as substitutes. This is the metaphor which dominates robotics – and the ever repeated image of the humanoid robot, whether doing human labour (and potentially putting them out of work), or rising up and a waging a war against humans to replace them. Here’s an interesting post from Marginal Revolution, which pours cold water on self-driving trucks…

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Paradigms, pathologies and shifts

Hole Ousia

The following extracts are taken from this perspective published in the Scotsman, 11 January 2018:

Pfizer has seemingly concluded that Alzheimer’s disease is far more complex than we had ever anticipated.

Perhaps this indicates that the 110 year old “paradigmatic pathology” of Alzheimer’s disease does itself need a paradigm shift.

Meantime, the “Edinburgh Consensus” demonstrates limitless faith in the current paradigm, to the extent that they recommend that research criteria should be introduced into the NHS.

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