Let’s Keep ISEPP Scientific and Focused
Let’s Keep ISEPP Scientific and Focused
Chuck Ruby, Ph.D., Psychologist
It is undeniable that officials within the CDC, FDA, and Big Pharma have engaged in corrupt practices and placed profit ahead of science. However, this doesn’t mean everything they do is corrupt or unscientific. While skepticism is warranted – it is the hallmark of science – any claims of nefarious intent and action by them must be backed up by robust evidence. Leaping to conclusions based only on suspicion and cherrypicked evidence is conspiracy theory thinking.
Lately, the situation has become even more dangerous. Over the past few years, the political landscape has flipped. Left is right, yes is no, and true is false. The long-standing and generally condoned rhetorical tactics of politicians have been eroded away by insidious rumors, lies, and scapegoating that are so often used by totalitarian leaders to instigate widespread distrust of “elites” and long-respected institutions of information and knowledge. Public trust in critical thinking and science seems to be fading, while suspicion and accusations are overtaking reason as the criteria for truth. The resulting authoritarian effect of this phenomenon will remain with us like a stubborn stench that lingers long after the offending substance is gone.
These dangers are not new to ISEPP. For decades, we have been a passionate but marginal opponent in an uphill battle with an authoritarian emperor who lacks scientific substance for his medical model conspiracy theory of “mental illness” and instead peddles his own version of rumors, lies, and scapegoating. We have fought long and hard to expose this charade by doggedly presenting sound evidence that undermines the emperor. But, ironically, we are the ones who have often been viewed as conspiracy theorists, not the naked emperor and his conspiratorial followers. We are accused of being “mental illness deniers.” How can we avoid this and not be lumped into the same category as the climate deniers, anti-vaxxers, and UFOlogists? How can we bolster our message and be taken seriously?
The answer lies in making sure our reason is not blinded by our passion. As a scientifically-minded research and public education organization, ISEPP must stand back from the current political maelstrom and not get drawn into its alluring but fatal depths. If we are to garner and maintain the respect of the public, and be seen as a serious challenge to the orthodoxy, it is essential that we do two things. First, we must prioritize the evidentiary foundations of our critique. Second, and perhaps more importantly, we must keep our focus on the ball and not get distracted by topics that are at best tangential to our mission. We cannot dilute our efforts and tarnish our reputation by joining the many ongoing bandwagons of alarming and hastily constructed theories that are divisive and that have little to do with the ethics of psychology and psychiatry.
Conspiracy theories abound during any crisis, and the current COVID-19 scare is no exception. News about the development of vaccines and therapeutics for the virus, as well as efforts to determine its origin, have raised the specter of profit-driven corruption and conflicts of interest within government and the pharmaceutical industry. Unfortunately, this has drawn the attention of many in ISEPP who go beyond skepticism and entertain the idea that the crisis is being used by a cabal of powerful people as a “false flag” operation in order to increase and maintain control of the population. Multiple and rapid-fire bits of dubious “evidence” and innuendo have been offered in an attempt to shore up this theory. However, in addition to demanding that any such theory be firmly grounded in science, it is even more important to remember that the reality, origin, and contagion of COVID-19 is not ISEPP’s target. We are not an organization that broadly investigates government and industry corruption in matters of healthcare. Instead, we are an organization that exclusively critiques the threadbare medical model of “mental illness” and the corruption that maintains it.
The importance of ISEPP remaining focused and firmly rooted in science was highlighted recently. In the past few weeks, ISEPP social media posts have been identified by Facebook as “abusive.” This is very likely due to our challenge to the medical model of human distress and how some people rely on that baseless model for comfort. We are appealing this ruling, but in the meantime, we have to remember that we are making a very unorthodox claim and we will have formidable and well-funded opposition that enjoys conventional trust. So, as we increase our public platform and reach, we are at risk of being belittled as just another among a plethora of dangerous conspiracy theorists, other well-known but denigrated public figures, and organizations whose reputations are damaged beyond repair because of their sensational but unfounded claims.
ISEPP’s mission is to educate the public about the orthodoxy’s lack of evidence that “mental illness” is a medical matter that is best treated within a medical model, and the many harms that come from that model. It is also to suggest more humane ways that we can help our fellow human travelers as they face the natural but painful parts of living this life. In this campaign, we demand the long asserted, but yet-to-be revealed, evidence that the orthodoxy continues to claim as the foundation upon which the conventional system has been built. In our efforts at chipping away at that system, we hope to remove the trust that has historically been placed with the orthodoxy. This will allow a more humane model to rise up and replace the old. Many have fought long and hard in our struggle, at times to their deaths. Let’s honor them by keeping ISEPP on firm scientific footing with a crystal clear focus!