Monthly Archives: September 2009

BPS History of Psychology Centre Website

AHP has just been informed that the British Psychological Society‘s History of Psychology Centre has launched a new website. The website, and the content available thereon, is in its initial stages. Eventually, the History of Psychology Centre website will include a fully searchable online catalogue of the BPS’s archival holdings. One feature already present on the site is “Mystery photographs” which asks visitors to the site to help identify unknown individuals in photographs in the BPS’s archival collection.

The current incarnation the BPS’s History of Psychology Centre has been controversial. A particular bone of contention has been the Society’s 2006 decision to divest itself of its archival material. Rather than house this archival material in a space allocated to the History of Psychology Centre in the Society’s London offices, the decision was made to divide the BPS’s archival materal among a number of other independent repositories. This decision led prominent historian of psychology, and former director of the History of Psychology Centre, Graham Richards to resign from the BPS in protest.

Although the History of Psychology Centre was only formally created in 2002, and not officially opened until 2004,

the Centre’s origins extend back to September 1956 when a short-lived ‘Public Relations Subcommittee’ agreed a proposal from John C. Kenna to appoint an Honorary Archivist. Continue reading

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Oral Histories Online

The University of Oklahoma library has made available on its website the audio of the Bass Business Oral Histories. These oral histories consist of telephone interviews conducted by Professor Arthur G. Bedeian and his class of Ph. D. students. Among those interviewed are: industrial psychologist Frank Gilbreth, behaviorist B. F. Skinner, industrial psychologist Bernard M. Bass, and organizational psychologist Richard E. Boyatzis. Also interviewed are psychologist, and daughter of Kurt Lewin, Miriam Lewin, as well as business professor Alfred A. Bolton, whose work included research on the Hawthorne studies. In all, there are more than 25 oral histories freely available on the website.

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New Issue: History of the Human Sciences

A new issue of the History of the Human Sciences has just been released online. Included in the issue are articles on Freud, French sociology, and situational realism in Australian psychology. The article titles and abstracts are listed below.

Freud’s dreams of reason: the Kantian structure of psychoanalysis, by Alfred I Tauber of the Center for Philosophy and History of Science at Boston University. The abstract reads:

Freud (and later commentators) have failed to explain how the origins of psychoanalytical theory began with a positivist investment without recognizing a dual epistemological commitment: simply, Freud engaged positivism because he believed it generally equated with empiricism, which he valued, and he rejected ‘philosophy’, and, more specifically, Kantianism, because of the associated transcendental qualities of its epistemology. Continue reading

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Friday Fun

As another week comes to an end, a “lighter” post seems appropriate on a Friday:

You may have come across images of knitted brains in your inboxes, but did you know that there exists a Museum of Scientifically Accurate Fabric Brain Art?

The website boasts that it holds “the world’s largest collection of anatomically correct fabric brain art”. The collection features “a rug based on fMRI imaging, a knitted brain from dissection, and three quilts with functional images from PET”.

Enjoy!

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After 2+ years: 530+ posts, 520+ subscribers

Jeremy Burman in January 2009

This will be my last post as Editor of AHP. Jacy Young, who joined the team in May, will soon replace me as editorial head and take charge of daily newsgathering.  I will continue to contribute occasionally, but — after more than two years, almost 200 individual posts, and over 100,000 words — I have decided that it’s time to refocus my energies on finishing my doctorate and publishing the results of my research.  Before I sign off as Editor, however, I feel as though I ought to write one last progress report.  (The others can all be found here.)

First, some history: AHP launched in May 2007 as a collaboration between a TV/Web Producer (Burman) and a Professor (Dr Green).  Its purpose, initially, was to examine the challenges faced by the resurgence in interest in “citizen journalism,” but targeted at a specific niche audience: those interested in topics covered within the historical psychological scholarly literature.  The result, after two years and more than 530 posts, is that we are now averaging around one useful comment per post.  While these “community contributions” have not on their own been sufficient to justify the cost of the project, they have often clarified and expanded upon the literature in some significant ways.  This has definitely added value.  Yet without the software to separate the wheat (these ~430 useful comments) from the chaff (~43000 spam comments), even this would not have been possible.  And, indeed, it has taken a considerable investment to get to this point.

Has it been worth it?  Yes, but not yet as “citizen journalism.”  There is very little incentive for experts to post substantive comments at a blog when their insights could themselves be published in a scholarly journal. With this realization, the project instead became a way to experiment with methods of knowledge mobilization: a way to expand the world constructed at the intersection of history and psychology, while at the same time pushing its news, notes, and resources to those interested.

Where post-publication interaction does add value (i.e., through short user comments), the blog seems like a possible candidate technology to replace the listserv.  It retains the flow of discussion among interested participants without inflicting the occasionally cacophonous results on those who would rather not participate.  In this way, a blog is like “listserv on demand.”  In addition, the results are searchable and can remain active for years.  But asking for more from this technology would push the limits of what is presently possible: for example, the WordPress platform is perhaps not ready to be used out-of-the-box for open peer review.  This progress report — my last — will review the work that has led to this conclusion, as well as providing the standard lists of “best of” and “most popular.” Continue reading

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Conan Takes on Pfizer

Conan O’Brien has done a great take-off on pushy pharmaceutical ads, in commemoration of the $2.3 billion fine that Pfizer was recently made to pay for advertising its drugs for things they haven’t been shown to effectively treat.

It’s not quite as funny as The Onion‘s hilarious Despondex ad (which unfortunately forces you to watch a real ad first now), but it is along the same lines.

(Thanks to Mind Hacks for alerting me to the Conan piece.)

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50th Anniversary of Madness and Civilization

The radio program, Philosopher’s Zone, of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), has produced a special episode to mark the 50th anniversary of Michel Foucault’s Madness and Civilization. As described on the program’s website:

Exactly fifty years ago, a 33-year-old Frenchman named Michel Foucault completed what would become one of the most influential works on the history of psychiatry: Madness and Civilization: A history of insanity in the age of reason. The book made a philosophical star of its author and changed our view of madness.

To listen to this episode of the Philosopher’s Zone click here. A thank you to the Society for the History of Psychology’s facebook group for directing AHP to this resource.

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BBC Replicates Milgram

Stanley MilgramThe BBC presented a(nother) successful replication of Stanley Milgram’s famous obedience experiment back in May, 2009. It is written up (with video excerpts) in The Situationist. Not surprisingly, 9 of the 12 participants gave electric shocks all the way to the highest level. This follows a successful replication conducted by psychologist Jerry Berger (UC Santa Clara) that was presented on ABC last year (see AHP’s post about the American Psychologist writeup here).

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Conference on Freud’s 1909 Visit to the US

As we have mentioned in recent posts, these days are the 100th anniversary of Sigmund Freud’s only visit to the United States, during which he presented a series of lecture at Clark University that later became the basis of the book The Origins and Development of Psychoanalysis. There will be a centennial conference held at the New York Academy of Medicine on Oct 3-4 which will feature some of the leading historians of psychoanalysis in America. The full announcement can be found here. The full program is copied below.

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AFTER FREUD LEFT:

Centennial Reflections on His 1909 Visit to the United States
A public symposium to mark 100 years of Freud’s impact on America
Saturday, October 3, and Sunday, October 4, 2009 Continue reading

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Pfizer Fined $2.3B For Drug Promos

AP reports that the US Department of Justice has fined Big Pharma giant Pfizer a record amount for illegal promotions of a variety of their drugs, including the schizophrenia treatment Geodon and the popular antidepressant Zoloft.

Pfizer was cited for being a “repeating corporate cheat for illegal drug promotions that plied doctors with free golf, massages, and resort junkets.” Pfizer also openly marketed drugs for “off-label” usages — i.e., as treatments for which the drug had not been approved — which is contrary to US law.

The full article can be found here.

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