Where does psychobabble come from?

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In several recent threads we have been presented with a psychological diagnosis of GIs. Not just one or two GIs, but of most, if not all, of us. What a marvelous feat! Perhaps more marvelous is that we did not have to pay for it; it was for free! What a deal! How could we be so ungrateful, not to mention ungracious, as to complain about that?

Perhaps some psychoanalysts might wish to complain. After years of training in their field, they may spend many long hours personally conversing and interacting with each person that they diagnose. Are they now to learn of a diagnostician who, sight unseeen, can analyze the neuroses of numerous people by means of some diagnostic technique heretofore unknown?

They might be a bit peaved, if they took it seriously. But, since they would immediately recognize such a diagnosis as a sham, they would not take it seriously. I think we should do likewise. And should another such free diagnosis come along, I think we might simply reply: thanks, but no thanks, and move along.


-- Jerry B (skeptic76@erols.com), March 14, 1999


Consider forensic psychiatry and its use in the profiling of serial killers. All done "sight unseen" and often partially based on the writings of the subject. A stress like Y2K emphasizes and highlights certain personality traits which often bubble up in a forum like this one. Relax - its not a big deal. Now what is your opinion of 'nine's' recent post revealing that the USPS uses PDP-11's ?

-- RD. ->H (drherr@erols.com), March 14, 1999.


While I'm aware that such psychological profiling is done, I have not studied it's track record, so I do not know, for example, how often the diagnoses are subsequently found to be accurate. However, I would hazard the guess that they do not use a "one diagnosis fits all" approach.

Relax? Certainly! That's my main point. A great deal of effort was spent beating a horse that, I think, should have been seen as DOA. And if we see other such horses from time to time, I hope we save some of that effort.

As for the PDP-11s, I have read that they are Y2K challenged, but I don't have any specifics either on them, per se, or on their role at the USPS.


-- Jerry B (skeptic76@erols.com), March 14, 1999.

Are'nt those profiles based upon precedents? Where is the y2k precedent?

-- Wandering (nuts@y2k.org), March 14, 1999.

I said they were 11-45's and 11-83's not just PDP 11's. And there are places which use RL02 mass storage units. Remember the red (I was dropped too hard) indicator? YUP!!

-- nine (nine_fingers@hotmail.com), March 15, 1999.


The profiling is real enough to be used by the FBI, CIA and Scotland Yard. As for the PDP-11's (thanks nine for the info) the word is not challenged its "hosed". I have posted a fair amount of info on this about 6 months ago. In short, there is only one modern operating system (RMX) that is compliant on a PDP-11. Even that one gives back post 2000 dates encoded in a way that most legacy software can't handle. If USPS is using PDP-11's for critical functions they're in deep kimchee.

-- RD. ->H (drherr@erols.com), March 15, 1999.

nine and RD,

Thanks for the follow up on the DECs. My background is more in the 360/370/390 families.


Yes, the profiling is used by a number of agencies, along with their other investigative methods, and we might take its continued use as an indication that it helps in at least some of the cases. It may even help in cases is which the psychological diagnoses are not accurate (if in fact such profiling actually includes such diagnoses, I do not know).

But, in such profiling, resorting to sight unseen methods is not because they work well, but because those situations are desperate, and the usual methods are not among the available options.

And again, I doubt they use a one diagnosis fits all approach. :-)


-- Jerry B (skeptic76@erols.com), March 15, 1999.

Yeah, this profiling is really accurate, and they have an easy job, they can always re-use exactly the same profile:

the suspect is white, age 25-40, probably a loner, difficulty forming stable relationships, a history of problems with women, and an obsession with firearms. Tortured cats as a child.

-- Blue Himalayan (bh@k2.y), March 15, 1999.

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