Freud down, Darwin next?

Sigmund Freud had immeasurable impact on modern culture.  Along with Marx and Darwin, he was one of the great modern thinkers, whose “science” of psychology and treatment, psychoanalysis, defined modern concepts of human nature for generations.  His theories (based largely on Darwinism) brought new words into popular vocabulary–id, ego, super-ego, the unconscious.  His ideas influenced education, law, religion and medicine.  People began to think about their actions being determined by dreams, sexual repression and mysterious forces deep in their unconscious minds.  They worried about Oedipus complexes, anal retention, penis envy and all kinds of causal concepts Freud introduced.  They spent fortunes lying on couches undergoing psychoanalysis by their shrinks, under the impression they were getting “scientific” treatment because, after all, Freud was a great scientist.  He was the father of the scientific discipline of psychology.  My, what would those people have thought if they could fast-forward to the editorial in Nature this week:

Anyone reading Sigmund Freud’s original works might well be seduced by the beauty of his prose, the elegance of his arguments and the acuity of his intuition. But those with a grounding in science will also be shocked by the abandon with which he elaborated his theories on the basis of essentially no empirical evidence. This is one of the main reasons why Freudian-style psychoanalysis has long since fallen out of fashion: its huge expense — treatment can stretch over years — is not balanced by evidence of efficacy.   (Nature 461, 847 (15 October 2009) | doi:10.1038/461847a; Published online 14 October 2009.)

Freud swept his intellectual peers off their feet and seduced a century–but now he looks like a con man, propounding elegant nonsense with no basis in evidence.  The fact that a scientist of the stature of Freud could fall into disrepute is an important lesson in the history of science.  Popularity, modernity and persuasiveness are no guarantees of lasting validity.  Could Darwin be next?  Why not?  After all, “the beauty of his prose, the elegance of his arguments and the acuity of his intuition … on the basis of essentially no empirical evidence” sounds a lot like the Origin.

Research project: did Nature praise Freud a hundred years ago?

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22 Responses to Freud down, Darwin next?

  1. Beeing from former “East block” – Czecho-Slovakia – I had a pretty interesting experience with Marxism. You could’t have been graduated in any Uni }including technical ones) unless you pass the examination from Marxism – be it “Scientific communism” (sounds a bit like “Scientific Darwinism”, doesn’t it?) or “Scientific Atheism”.

    Oddly enough marxists in Eastern Europe and Russia didn’t accept Neo-darwinism as a correct explanation of evolution. In their opinin biological laws cannot be reduced to mechanical ones, they are of “higher quality”. In their opinion darwinian concept of evolution clearly contradicts the law of entropie. There should be internal biological laws that should be studied detachedly – but of course in their material basis.

    But freudism can’t be dismissed in my opinion per se. Carl Gustav Jung is probably the greatest psychologist of the 20th century. He dismissed Freud’s teaching, but his deep spiritual opinion regarding uncousciousness, dreams, myths etc… are of great value.

    But the bizzare darwinian teaching really seems to have strong roots.

  2. The only downside to this is that I was hoping to be alive when Darwin was finally cast out of the ivory tower, but if it takes another 100 years, well, the odds aren’t good that I’ll be around to see it.

  3. When thinking of Freud and Darwin, I’m reminded of the old Thomas Huxley quote: “The great tragedy of Science is the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.”

    To the Darwinists and Freudians, their theories are beautiful. Whether they’re true or false is not worthy of consideration.

    I wrote about the link between Darwin and Freud here..

    “Freud and Darwin: Feel Good Science”

    http://mustardseednovel.blogsp.....ience.html

  4. My intro to phychology course in 1985 at a major state university taught essentially what this post and the Nature article says about Freud. While he made some contributions of lasting value, we were told, Freud’s techniques were largely discredited. Maybe the professor was ahead of his time and decided to include this on his own – it was not out of the textbook, just his lectures.

    We learned about a study where researchers checked themselves in to clinics touted for their success with Freudian methodology. They gave no specific symptoms at all, just said they needed help and wanted to check in. When given therapy by the clinic staff, they did not fake any problems or symptoms or make any complaints; they just went along with the therapy. Their therapists proceeded to quickly conconct elaborate theories of what was up psychologically with these patients. Their lack of complaint or admission of any emotional problems was explained in Freudian terms. When a researcher posing as a patient was observed taking notes after a short while under care, this note-taking behavior was immediatly seen as an integral element as well as confirmation of the therapist’s analysis of the patient.

    They saw a methodology that was so confident in its ablility to explain everything that it didn’t bother to use any actual reasoning, it just went straight from observation to a conclusion that sounded good and fell neatly in place with Freudian concepts (yes, it does sound familiar).

    That’s just from memory – I’ll try to find a source for this.

  5. “no empirical evidence” is the key part of the passage you quoted above. Evolution is founded on plenty of empirical evidence. Thus your analogy is a false one.

  6. Mr Coppedge,

    His theories (based largely on Darwinism)…

    Can back up this assertion? I don’t see the connection, and have never heard of such a connection. I’m not even sure Freud was a strict materialist (“the mind is what the brain does”) about the mind. I would be happy to see documentation of this claim.

  7. Todd White:

    “To the Darwinists and Freudians, their theories are beautiful. Whether they’re true or false is not worthy of consideration. ”

    Maybe. It depends. I wouldn’t say their theories are beautiful. Darwinians capital nonsense like “natural selection” is just bizarre. Bizarre can’t be beautiful.

    http://cadra.wordpress.com/

  8. Nakashima,

    “Initially a Viennese medical doctor, Freud was trained in neurology, and he originally drew inspiration from the work of Charles Darwin which explained behavior in evolutionary terms.”

    “Freud’s key interest however was in the workings of the brain, with his perspective deriving from Darwin’s work on evolution. Thus Freud started out with the belief that physiology and evolution determined behavior.”

    history source

  9. Besides Freud being an atheist, logically then seeking out Darwinian solutions, I forgot all about this…

    “However, positions for conducting pure research, upon a paid basis, were limited, so Freud took up work at Theodor Meynert’s Psychiatric Clinic. It was during this period that he began his studies into a promising new drug, cocaine, which he believed would become a common treatment for depression — and perhaps even for other ailments, including indigestion. He himself became an enthusiastic user of cocaine, also handing it out to colleagues and relations (including his sisters) and praising its merits in various scholarly papers. He even sent a bit of cocaine to his fiancé Martha Bernays “to make her strong and give her cheeks a red color.” Meanwhile, Freud’s friend Wilhelm Fleiss was utilizing the drug, sometimes in concert with surgery, to treat patients for “reflex nasal neuroses.”

    Aaahhhh, cocaine, Chavez tyrant of Venezuela would be impressed.

  10. Mr Tribune7,

    When I read this essay I didn’t feel that the quotes supported the “largely” introduced by Mr Coppedge, especially when we get to this sententce:

    It is worth noting that in these texts (especially in the “Overview”) Freud is more Lamarckian than Darwinian…

  11. 12

    Appreciate the comments from all the above. I learn things, too.

    Anthony09–depends on what you mean by “evolution” and by “evidence”. In the Darwinian context, “evolution” refers to the common ancestry of all life by an unguided process of natural selection. I think you would be hard-pressed to find empirical evidence for that. Finch beak oscillations don’t make the grade.

    “Evidence” is a tricky subject. A yellow banana is evidence that all ravens are black. Why? Because “all ravens are black” is logically equivalent to “all non-black things are non-ravens.” That makes almost everything “evidence for” the proposition all ravens are black– a red shirt, an orange pencil, etc. The fallacy of affirming the consequent inherent in such evidential claims was the reason for Popper offering falsification as a criterion for science. But evolution is so slippery, it cannot be falsified, either. Every surprise and anomaly gets molded into the theory. And since evolution is an assumption, not a scientific discovery, the wildest things get added to the pile of “evidence” for Darwinian evolution, e.g.: monkey banging on cage is evidence for the origin of Beethoven. IKYN: http://www.livescience.com/ani.....mming.html

  12. 13

    Can someone provide me with empirical (experimental) evidence that confirms macro-evolution – one species being changed to another (and beyond?) under lab conditions? Graham?

    If this has been done then surely this confirms ID. Intelligent humans producing macro-evolution.

  13. 14

    What, you want observed speciation there deric?

    OK: Observed Instances of Speciation

    Only some are under “lab conditions”, so you’re outta luck with the whole “See! Intelligence is necessary!” gambit.

    You might try doing a search on “Madeira mice”, and reading up on ring species too.

  14. Having read Freud’s ”interpretation of Dreams” sixty years ago, but having more experience with “Jungian psychology” I probably (I haven’t made an in depth study of all comments here though, but I think I see as trend) know more about this subject than most.

    Freud’s greatest contribution to the world of psychology was without doubt the discovery of dream analysis. A persons problems and struggle coping with life could be revealed by dram analysis. Incidentally, dream analysis is recommended in the Bible too.

    The story of Job is just this:
    He was a rich and wealthy man – who was tried – just as we all are sooner or later in our lives.
    Satan was given permission by god to test him.
    Job lost his rich herds, his 10 children, and personally, he got severe physical challenges in the form of diseases.
    Then Job began cursing his life, his God and the entire being. Three friends came to comfort him and to find out what wrong he had done. The only thing he had to offer was hard and condemning words and they therefore were of absolutely no help to him.
    Then came the fourth – Elihu – a young man, who by theologians seems to be considered as a false teacher.
    He puts his finger on the essential point: Job has not recognized his dreams – and therefore is utterly ignorant about what God wants of him.
    I quote from chapter 33 – 14-33 verses:

    For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it.
    In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while they slumber on their beds,
    then he opens the ears of men, and terrifies them with warnings,
    that he may turn man aside from his deed, and cut off pride from man;
    he keeps back his soul from the Pit, his life from perishing by the sword.
    “Man is also chastened with pain upon his bed, and with continual strife in his bones;
    so that his life loathes bread, and his appetite dainty food.
    His flesh is so wasted away that it cannot be seen; and his bones which were not seen stick out.
    His soul draws near the Pit, and his life to those who bring death.

    If there be for him an angel, a mediator, one of the thousand, to declare to man what is right for him;
    and he is gracious to him, and says, `Deliver him from going down into the Pit, I have found a ransom;
    let his flesh become fresh with youth; let him return to the days of his youthful vigor’; (Italicized here.)
    then man prays to God, and he accepts him, he comes into his presence with joy. He recounts to men his salvation,
    and he sings before men, and says: `I sinned and perverted what was right, and it was not requited to me.
    He has redeemed my soul from going down into the Pit, and my life shall see the light.’
    “Behold, God does all these things, twice, three times, with a man,
    to bring back his soul from the Pit, that he may see the light of life.
    Give heed, O Job, listen to me; be silent, and I will speak.
    If you have anything to say, answer me; speak, for I desire to justify you.
    If not, listen to me; be silent, and I will teach you wisdom.”

    Thus spoke young Elihu.

    What about a modicum of respect for subjects one doesn’t know too much about?

  15. deric davidson
    Can someone provide me with empirical (experimental) evidence that confirms macro-evolution – one species being changed to another (and beyond?) under lab conditions?

    Well if evolutionists had any convincing examples I wouldn’t support ID.

    A materialist will try to assert evolution of species is happening all the time, all over the place, with a lot of suggestive evidence which is far from being scientifically conclusive. Once again the hard evidence of extensive and exhaustive experimentation betrays the materialist in his attempts to validate his evolutionary scenario.

    “Whatever we may try to do within a given species, we soon reach limits which we cannot break through. A wall exists on every side of each species. That wall is the DNA coding, which permits wide variety within it (within the gene pool, or the genotype of a species)-but no exit through that wall. Darwin’s gradualism is bounded by internal constraints, beyond which selection is useless.” R. Milner, Encyclopedia of Evolution (1990)

    Evolution – Tested And Falsified – Don Patton – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mp5_uVRQZ6U

    Dogs Stay Dogs and Bugs Stay Bugs – David Berlinski – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aW2GkDkimkE

    All examples of speciation put forth by materialists all turn out to be trivial examples of reproductive isolation:

    “The closest science has come to observing and recording actual speciation in animals is the work of Theodosius Dobzhansky in Drosophilia paulistorium fruit flies. But even here, only reproductive isolation, not a new species, appeared.”
    from page 32 “Acquiring Genomes” Lynn Margulis.

    At one of her many public talks, she [Lynn Margulis] asks the molecular biologists in the audience to name a single unambiguous example of the formation of a new species by the accumulation of mutations. Her challenge goes unmet.

    Michael Behe – Darwin’s Black Box – Page 26

    Natural Selection and Evolution’s Smoking Gun, – American Scientist – 1997
    “A matter of unfinished business for biologists is the identification of evolution’s smoking gun,”… “the smoking gun of evolution is speciation, not local adaptation and differentiation of populations.” Keith Stewart Thomson – evolutionary biologist

    Selection and Speciation: Why Darwinism Is False – Jonathan Wells:
    Excerpt: there are observed instances of secondary speciation — which is not what Darwinism needs — but no observed instances of primary speciation, not even in bacteria. British bacteriologist Alan H. Linton looked for confirmed reports of primary speciation and concluded in 2001: “None exists in the literature claiming that one species has been shown to evolve into another. Bacteria, the simplest form of independent life, are ideal for this kind of study, with generation times of twenty to thirty minutes, and populations achieved after eighteen hours. But throughout 150 years of the science of bacteriology, there is no evidence that one species of bacteria has changed into another.”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....why_d.html

    Many times a materialist will parade examples of reproductive isolation between close sub-species ( Horse & Donkey; Various Insects; etc.. etc..) as proof for evolution. Yet, the evidence of population genetics indicates the information for variation was already “programmed” into the parent species’s genetic code, and the sub-species, or what is known as pure breed in animal husbandry, becomes devoid of much of the variety that was present in the genetic code of the parent species. This fact is made especially clear in mans extensive breeding history of domesticated dogs, cattle, and pure bred horses, as well as food crops.

    Natural Selection Reduces Genetic Information – Dr. Georgia Purdom – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izPzEgRtPKI

    In fact, the entire spectrum of dog sub-species have been found to have less genetic diversity than the parent wolf species:

    .. the mean sequence divergence in dogs, 2.06, was almost identical to the 2.10 (sequence divergence) found within wolves. (please note the sequence divergence is slightly smaller for the entire spectrum of dogs than for wolves)
    http://jhered.oxfordjournals.o.....0/1/71.pdf

    Natural Selection Reduces Genetic Information – No Beneficial Mutations – Spetner – Denton – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdZYguRuzn0

    Darwinism’s Last Stand? – Jonathan Wells
    Excerpt: Despite the hype from Darwin’s followers, the evidence for his theory is underwhelming, at best. Natural selection – like artificial selection – can produce minor changes within existing species. But in the 150 years since the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, no one has ever observed the origin of a new species by natural selection – much less the origin of new organs and body plans. http://www.evolutionnews.org/2......html#more

    EXPELLED – Natural Selection And Genetic Mutations – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOWfmuJ-MdY

    “…but Natural Selection reduces genetic information and we know this from all the Genetic Population studies that we have…”
    Maciej Marian Giertych – Population Geneticist – member of the European Parliament – EXPELLED

    Sanford Genetic Entropy Polyploidy – (Gene Duplication Fallacies)
    http://livinglove.files.wordpr.....x4-pg2.pdf
    http://livinglove.files.wordpr.....x4-pg3.pdf

  16. deric davidson
    “Can someone provide me with empirical (experimental) evidence that confirms macro-evolution – one species being changed to another (and beyond?) under lab conditions?”

    Well if evolutionists had any convincing examples I sure a lot of people wouldn’t support ID.

    A materialist will try to assert evolution of species is happening all the time, all over the place, with a lot of suggestive evidence which is far from being scientifically conclusive. Once again the hard evidence of extensive and exhaustive experimentation betrays the materialist in his attempts to validate his evolutionary scenario.

    “Whatever we may try to do within a given species, we soon reach limits which we cannot break through. A wall exists on every side of each species. That wall is the DNA coding, which permits wide variety within it (within the gene pool, or the genotype of a species)-but no exit through that wall. Darwin’s gradualism is bounded by internal constraints, beyond which selection is useless.” R. Milner, Encyclopedia of Evolution (1990)

    Evolution – Tested And Falsified – Don Patton – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mp5_uVRQZ6U

    Dogs Stay Dogs and Bugs Stay Bugs – David Berlinski – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aW2GkDkimkE

    All examples of speciation put forth by materialists all turn out to be trivial examples of reproductive isolation:

    “The closest science has come to observing and recording actual speciation in animals is the work of Theodosius Dobzhansky in Drosophilia paulistorium fruit flies. But even here, only reproductive isolation, not a new species, appeared.”
    from page 32 “Acquiring Genomes” Lynn Margulis.

    At one of her many public talks, she [Lynn Margulis] asks the molecular biologists in the audience to name a single unambiguous example of the formation of a new species by the accumulation of mutations. Her challenge goes unmet.
    Michael Behe – Darwin’s Black Box – Page 26

    Natural Selection and Evolution’s Smoking Gun, – American Scientist – 1997
    “A matter of unfinished business for biologists is the identification of evolution’s smoking gun,”… “the smoking gun of evolution is speciation, not local adaptation and differentiation of populations.” Keith Stewart Thomson – evolutionary biologist

    Selection and Speciation: Why Darwinism Is False – Jonathan Wells:
    Excerpt: there are observed instances of secondary speciation — which is not what Darwinism needs — but no observed instances of primary speciation, not even in bacteria. British bacteriologist Alan H. Linton looked for confirmed reports of primary speciation and concluded in 2001: “None exists in the literature claiming that one species has been shown to evolve into another. Bacteria, the simplest form of independent life, are ideal for this kind of study, with generation times of twenty to thirty minutes, and populations achieved after eighteen hours. But throughout 150 years of the science of bacteriology, there is no evidence that one species of bacteria has changed into another.”

    Many times a materialist will parade examples of reproductive isolation between close sub-species ( Horse & Donkey; Various Insects; etc.. etc..) as proof for evolution. Yet, the evidence of population genetics indicates the information for variation was already “programmed” into the parent species’s genetic code, and the sub-species, or what is known as pure breed in animal husbandry, becomes devoid of much of the variety that was present in the genetic code of the parent species. This fact is made especially clear in mans extensive breeding history of domesticated dogs, cattle, and pure bred horses, as well as food crops.

    Natural Selection Reduces Genetic Information – Dr. Georgia Purdom – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izPzEgRtPKI

    In fact, the entire spectrum of dog sub-species have been found to have less genetic diversity than the parent wolf species:

    .. the mean sequence divergence in dogs, 2.06, was almost identical to the 2.10 (sequence divergence) found within wolves. (please note the sequence divergence is slightly smaller for the entire spectrum of dogs than for wolves)
    http://jhered.oxfordjournals.o.....0/1/71.pdf

    Natural Selection Reduces Genetic Information – No Beneficial Mutations – Spetner – Denton – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdZYguRuzn0

    Darwinism’s Last Stand? – Jonathan Wells
    Excerpt: Despite the hype from Darwin’s followers, the evidence for his theory is underwhelming, at best. Natural selection – like artificial selection – can produce minor changes within existing species. But in the 150 years since the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, no one has ever observed the origin of a new species by natural selection – much less the origin of new organs and body plans

    EXPELLED – Natural Selection And Genetic Mutations – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOWfmuJ-MdY

    “…but Natural Selection reduces genetic information and we know this from all the Genetic Population studies that we have…”
    Maciej Marian Giertych – Population Geneticist – member of the European Parliament – EXPELLED

    Sanford Genetic Entropy Polyploidy – (Gene Duplication Fallacies)
    http://livinglove.files.wordpr.....x4-pg2.pdf
    http://livinglove.files.wordpr.....x4-pg3.pdf

  17. Well if evolutionists had any convincing examples I sure a lot of people wouldn’t support ID.

    And indeed a lot of people don’t.

  18. To deric davidson.

    I would like to reply but my comment was yanked by the moderator.

    It may be uncommon descent but its not uncommon dissent.

  19. Mr Bornagain77,

    Hi!

    Well if evolutionists had any convincing examples I sure a lot of people wouldn’t support ID.

    But ID is just about design detection, not the denial of macro-evolution, micro-evolution, plate tectonics, Cavuto, the Curse of Babe Ruth or Lattimer Avenue house numbering. Right?

  20. 21

    Hey, Bornagain: do you know of this poster “givemeabreak”? Seems he decided copy a portion of a post of yours from August and present it as his own work. Or are you just using multiple accounts here for some reason? Kinda weird either way.

  21. 22

    Graham – Doomsday Smith has provide some references. I am reading these with interest. I am also reviewing the material bornagain77 has presented. I’ll try and develop a personal view about these and other sources of information.

    Btw I see discussion of macroevolutin as intrinsic to any debate regarding ID as an all encompassing alternative paradigm to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Hence ID is surely not purely “self-examining”.
    It needs also to examine/reveal perceived short-comings in the alternative thesis.

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