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Feed Your Head / Alleged abuse at Ont. institution at centre of $1B lawsuit
« on: September 15, 2013, 02:45:45 PM »

Alleged abuse at Ont. institution at centre of $1B lawsuit

The Canadian Press Posted: Sep 15, 2013 12:46 PM ET Last Updated: Sep 15, 2013 12:46 PM ET
Patricia Seth, left, and Marie Slark, former Huronia Regional Centre residents and plaintiffs in the class action proceeding against the Ontario government, are shown in Toronto on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013.

Patricia Seth, left, and Marie Slark, former Huronia Regional Centre residents and plaintiffs in the class action proceeding against the Ontario government, are shown in Toronto on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013. (Galit Rodan/Canadian Press)
Related Stories

    Class action: Ontario's developmentally challenged go to court   
    Alleged abuse of disabled at Ont. institution   
    Lawsuit by former Huronia residents will proceed

Humiliation and abuse were doled out almost daily at an Ontario institution for the developmentally disabled, punishment for infractions as minor as speaking out of turn, former residents allege in a class-action lawsuit against the provincial government.

"If we got caught talking, we had to get up with our pants down and walk around the play room with our pants down," recalled Marie Slark, 59, who spent nine years of her childhood at the Huronia Regional Centre.

In other instances, children whose behaviour earned them a "black mark" were kicked and struck by their peers at staff's insistence, she and another plaintiff, Patricia Seth, said in an interview.

Slark, Seth and thousands of other former residents are alleging systemic neglect and abuse at the Orillia, Ont., facility, which the province operated for 133 years. Some say they were forced to work in the fields for no money.

. . .

News Items / Fort Augustus Abbey School, Scotland
« on: September 02, 2013, 04:55:30 PM » ... s-23936046

Fort Augustus Abbey abuse claims: Man, 80, arrested

Fort Augustus Abbey Police are investigating reports of historical abuse at Fort Augustus Abbey school

A man has been charged in connection with a police investigation into alleged abuse at a former Catholic boarding school in the Highlands.

Police Scotland said an 80 year old, from the east Highland area, has been charged in relation to reports of historic physical and sexual abuse at Fort Augustus Abbey school.

A report has been sent to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

The school, which has now closed, was run by the Benedictine order of monks.

The police investigation into allegations of abuse at Fort Augustus Abbey school began in March.

Last month, Police Scotland said it had identified 20 possible victims. Officers have been liaising with other police forces elsewhere in the UK and abroad in connection with the allegations.

A BBC Scotland investigation into claims of abuse at the school, and at its preparatory school, Carlekemp in East Lothian, was broadcast in July.

News Items / Dozier School for Boys, (Marianna, Florida)
« on: September 02, 2013, 01:36:55 AM »

Bodies exhumed at Florida Dozier boys' institution

Researchers in the US state of Florida have begun work to exhume the remains of dozens of boys from the site of a controversial reform institution.

The researchers are hoping to identify those buried at the Dozier School for Boys - which closed in 2011.

Former students have told of beatings and abuse at the institution - located in the north-western Florida town of Marianna - in the 1950s and 1960s.

Nearly 100 children died while at the school, according to official records.

Many died as a result of a fire in 1914 and the 1918 flu epidemic.

"In these historic cases, it's really about having an accurate record and finding out what happened and knowing the truth about what happened,'' Erin Kimmerle, the forensic anthropologist leading the excavation, told the Associated Press news agency.

The Dozier School was once of the largest institutions for young offenders in the US.

A group of former students, the "White House Boys", called for an investigation into the graves five years ago.

A spokesman for the group, Robert Straley, said he believed more victims are buried at an undiscovered site in nearby woods.

"I think that there are at least 100 more bodies up there,'' he told AP.

In 2010, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said it could not substantiate or refute claims that boys died at the hands of staff.

News Items / Truth & Reconciliation Cms'n: Indian Residential Schools
« on: August 22, 2013, 10:17:16 PM »
CBC has been posting some good articles in the last month or two on new revelations coming from these schools.

CBC News

Hungry aboriginal people used in bureaucrats' experiments

Food historian published details of nutritional experiments that began in the 1940s

The Canadian government says it's appalled to hear hungry aboriginal children and adults may have been used as unwitting subjects in nutritional experiments by federal bureaucrats.

Recently published research by food historian Ian Mosby has revealed details about one of the least-known but perhaps most disturbing aspects of government policy toward aboriginal people immediately after the Second World War.

"It was experiments being conducted on malnourished aboriginal people," Mosby, a post-doctoral fellow in history at the University of Guelph, told CBC's As It Happens program on Tuesday.

    AS IT HAPPENS: Hear the interview with Ian Mosby

"It started with research trips in northern Manitoba where they found, you know, widespread hunger, if not starvation, among certain members of the community. And one of their immediate responses was to design a controlled experiment on the effectiveness of vitamin supplementation on this population."

Mosby also found that plans were developed for research on aboriginal children in residential schools in British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Alberta.

"If this is story is true, this is abhorrent and completely unacceptable," a spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt stated in an email late Tuesday.

"When Prime Minister [Stephen] Harper made a historic apology to former students of Indian Residential Schools in 2008 on behalf of all Canadians, he recognized that this period had caused great harm and had no place in Canada."

The spokesperson added that the federal government "remains committed to a fair and lasting resolution to the legacy of the Indian Residential Schools."
Visited northern Manitoba reserves

Mosby — whose work at the University of Guelph focuses on the history of food in Canada — was researching the development of health policy when he ran across something strange.

"I started to find vague references to studies conducted on 'Indians' that piqued my interest and seemed potentially problematic, to say the least," he told The Canadian Press. "I went on a search to find out what was going on."

Government documents eventually revealed a long-standing, government-run experiment that came to span the entire country and involved at least 1,300 aboriginals, most of them children.

It began with a 1942 visit by government researchers to a number of remote reserve communities in northern Manitoba, including places such as The Pas and Norway House.

They found people who were hungry, beggared by a combination of the collapsing fur trade and declining government support. They also found a demoralized population marked by, in the words of the researchers, "shiftlessness, indolence, improvidence and inertia."

The researchers suggested those problems — "so long regarded as inherent or hereditary traits in the Indian race" — were in fact the results of malnutrition.

Instead of recommending an increase in support, the researchers decided that isolated, dependent, hungry people would be ideal subjects for tests on the effects of different diets.

"This is a period of scientific uncertainty around nutrition," said Mosby. "Vitamins and minerals had really only been discovered during the interwar period.

"In the 1940s, there were a lot of questions about what are human requirements for vitamins. Malnourished aboriginal people became viewed as possible means of testing these theories."
Some selected to receive vitamins

The first experiment began in 1942 on 300 Norway House Cree. Of that group, 125 were selected to receive vitamin supplements which were withheld from the rest.

At the time, researchers calculated the local people were living on less than 1,500 calories a day. Normal, healthy adults generally require at least 2,000.

"The research team was well aware that these vitamin supplements only addressed a small part of the problem," Mosby writes. "The experiment seems to have been driven, at least in part, by the nutrition experts' desire to test their theories on a ready-made 'laboratory' populated with already malnourished human experimental subjects."

The research spread. In 1947, plans were developed for research on about 1,000 hungry aboriginal children in six residential schools in Port Alberni, B.C., Kenora, Ont., Schubenacadie, N.S., and Lethbridge, Alta.

One school deliberately held milk rations for two years to less than half the recommended amount to get a 'baseline' reading for when the allowance was increased. At another, children were divided into one group that received vitamin, iron and iodine supplements and one that didn't.

One school depressed levels of vitamin B1 to create another baseline before levels were boosted. A special enriched flour that couldn't legally be sold elsewhere in Canada under food adulteration laws was used on children at another school.

And, so that all the results could be properly measured, one school was allowed none of those supplements.

Many dental services were withdrawn from participating schools during that time. Gum health was an important measuring tool for scientists and they didn't want treatments on children's teeth distorting results.
Ethically dubious, says researcher

The experiments, repugnant today, would probably have been considered ethically dubious even at the time, said Mosby.

"I think they really did think they were helping people. Whether they thought they were helping the people that were actually involved in the studies, that's a different question."

He noted that rules for research on humans were just being formulated and adopted by the scientific community.

Little has been written about the nutritional experiments. A May 2000 article in the Anglican Journal about some of them was the only reference Mosby could find.

"I assumed that somebody would have written about an experiment conducted on aboriginal people during this period, and kept being surprised when I found more details and the scale of it. I was really, really surprised.

"It's an emotionally difficult topic to study."

Not much was learned from those hungry little bodies. A few papers were published — "they were not very helpful," Mosby said — and he couldn't find evidence that the Norway House research program was completed.

"They knew from the beginning that the real problem and the cause of malnutrition was underfunding. That was established before the studies even started and when the studies were completed that was still the problem."

Feed Your Head / Malaysian politician pushing for gay rehab centres.
« on: March 23, 2012, 12:36:07 AM »
BN lawmaker moots gay rehab centre

BN lawmaker moots gay rehab centre
March 21, 2012

A gay couple pose for photographs on Valentine's Day in Beijing February 14, 2009. A BN MP today claimed three in 10 Malaysian men are gay. — Reuters pic
KUALA LUMPUR, March 21 — The government needs to create a “homosexual rehabilitation centre” to combat the phenomenon in Malaysia, according to Barisan Nasional MP who today claimed 30 per cent of Malaysian men were gay.

According to a Bernama Online report, Datuk Baharum Mohamad (BN-Sekijang) said in Parliament today that this was to aid those with homosexual tendencies or engaged in same-sex relationships to stop such behaviour.

    Right now, three out of 10 men in Malaysia are gay. This is scary

“We have to find a solution to combat these activities from getting rampant just like the efforts we take to combat drugs,” Baharum said.

“A study has found that, right now, three out of 10 men in Malaysia are gay. This is scary.”

It is unclear what study the lawmaker was citing when he made his address.

The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community is increasingly viewed as moral deviants and targeted for their non-heterosexual orientation.

Last year, the Seksualiti Merdeka movement championing the freedom of sexual orientation and gender identity, was barred from holding its festival despite having held it annually since 2008.

In January, a bureau chief at Umno’s Utusan Malaysia also attacked the Bar Council for its “support” for homosexuality among Malaysians, calling it part of a “deviant wave” that is fast gaining acceptance throughout the world.

Tacitus' Realm / 2012 Election Rolecall
« on: February 24, 2012, 06:48:55 PM »
What have we got?


Mitt Romney (Republican Nominee for President) (AEG)
Rick Santorum (Republican Nominee for President) (UHS)
Newt Gingrich (Republican Nominee for President) (any connections?)
Michelle Bachmann (Former Republican Nominee for President) (Bachmann & Associates Inc.)



State Level:

County Level:

Paul Babeu (Sheriff) (Former Mitt Romney's campaign director in Arizona) (Desisto)


Mel Sembler (Romney's Finance Director) (Straight Inc.)
Robert Lichfield (Contributor to Romney's campaign?) (WWASP)


The problem is getting worse (some cities have 20-40% of the homeless child population comprised of GLBT children) in the US.  But the media is picking up on it.  Let's see where this goes.

Public Sector Gulags / Miramonte Elementary School - Warning: Vileness
« on: February 12, 2012, 05:44:39 PM »
I'll be posting articles of this case in LA poverty-stricken area.  Some truly vile shit - more along the lines of Canadian Residential Schools than WWASP/Élan.

Mark Berndt, Miramonte Elementary School Teacher, Reportedly Took Photos of Kids Bound, Gagged, Crawling With Cockroaches in Sick 'Sex Game'

Mark Berndt, Miramonte Elementary School Teacher, Reportedly Took Photos of Kids Bound, Gagged, Crawling With Cockroaches in Sick 'Sex Game'
By Simone Wilson Tue., Jan. 31 2012 at 7:30 AM
Categories: Sex Crimes

miramonte elementary bendt.jpg
The South L.A. school where Bendt taught for three decades.
?Update: "'Sex Game' Teacher Mark Berndt Went Free for Over a Year: How Did LAUSD, L.A. Sheriff Let This Happen?"

Updated at the bottom: DNA tests show that Berndt spoon-fed the students his own semen.

A longtime South L.A. elementary school teacher was fired about one year ago, in January 2011, when he was reportedly found with hundreds of photos of his third-grade students -- bound, gagged, crawling with cockroaches and sometimes fed semen, according to KNX news radio.

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy tells KNX that 61-year-old Mark Henry Berndt of Miramonte Elementary was immediately fired when district officials laid eyes on the nauseating photographs.

mark bendt.jpg
LA Times
Mark Berndt was arrested yesterday after a yearlong investigation.
?Berndt allegedly told the kids that it was all just a game -- but investigators from the Special Victims Bureau of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department tell reporters at Fox11 that the strange ritual was a "sex game" intended to fulfill the perverted sexual desires of the teacher.

Reports say that Berndt snapped up to 400 pictures of at least 23 children, ages 7 to 10 -- but those are just the victims who have been identified. Investigators have spent the last year probing the extent of the damage, and fear there may be many more victims who haven't come forward.

According to Fox11, the cockroaches were lured onto the children's faces by "putting sugar in their mouths," but KNX says the sugar was actually semen.

Academically, the veteran third-grade teacher scored below-average marks in the LA Times' 2009 teacher ratings. Miramonte is located in unincorporated Los Angeles, near South L.A.:

View Larger Map

A Twitter user named Mia says she had Mr. Berndt for 2nd and 5th grades. She says he was her favorite teacher, and that the allegations come as a huge shock. "He was obsessed with the Mojave desert, and drove a baby blue vw bug, he did take boy students on trips to the desert," the woman Tweets. Also: "The only thing I ever thought was out of the ordinary was his camping trips to the desert with the boy students."

Berndt is reportedly behind bars, held under $2.3 million bail. Sheriff's officials are planning to release more information within the hour. Updates to come as they're available.

Update: Gigi Graciette at Fox11, who broke this story, says Redondo Beach police were originally notified of a suspicious roll of film that Berndt took to get developed (apparently containing the kiddie porn). They then turned over the probe to the Sheriff's Department.

A spoon with Berndt's own semen on it was reportedly found in the teacher's classroom trash can. The photos showed the kids -- mainly females -- blindfolded with with their mouths taped shut.

It's sick," says Superintendent Deasy on the morning news. "It makes you sick to your stomach." He adds that cops are still trying to determine where and when the photos were taken.

So how did something this large-scale and monstrous get past administrators? "There was no student who ever came forward," says Deasy, looking disgusted and helpless.

The full story, via the L.A. County Sheriff's Department:

    Sheriff's Special Victims Bureau detectives arrested 61-year old Mark Berndt, a teacher with over 30 years' experience at a South Los Angeles elementary school, on child molestation charges after conducting an extensive sex crimes investigation.

    The investigation began over a year ago when over 40 photographs depicting children in a school classroom, with their eyes blindfolded and mouths covered with tape, were turned in to law enforcement by a film processor. Film processors are mandated to report suspected child abuse under California law (11166 of the California State Penal Code).

    Investigators learned that some of the photos depicted Suspect Mark Berndt with his arm around the children, or with his hand over their mouths.

    In addition, the photographs depicted girls with what appeared to be a blue plastic spoon, filled with an unknown clear/white liquid substance, up to their mouths as if they were going to ingest the substance. There are also photos of children with large live Madagascar-type cockroaches on their faces and mouths.

    Over 80 current and former students and school employees were interviewed during the extensive investigation. 23 boys and girls between the ages of 7 - 10 years old, have been identified as victims for crimes that were committed between 2008 - 2010.

    A search warrant was served by sheriff's detectives on the suspect's home in the city of Torrance, which led to the discovery of over 100 more similar photographs depicting children. Also recovered was a DVD of film depicting adult sexual "Bondage" activity which mirrored the bondage-type photos of the children. The adults in the bondage video were not identified and the images in that video are not a crime.

    An additional 250 photographs were later recovered by Sheriff's Special Victims Bureau detectives from the film processing establishment.

    There were over 26 children identified in the 390 total photos. Approximately 10 children have not yet been unidentified.

    Early in the investigation, Special Victims Bureau detectives recovered a blue plastic spoon and an empty container from the trash within the suspect's classroom. The recovered items tested positive for semen. Through further investigation, the suspect's DNA was obtained and tested, and determined that it matched that of the DNA profile found on the spoon and container.

    For over 30 years the suspect was a teacher at Miramonte Elementary School, 1400 E. 68th St., Los Angeles (unincorporated Florence/Firestone area). Shortly after the investigation began, in March 2011, the suspect was terminated by the Los Angeles Unified School District.

    Twenty-three felony counts of Lewd Acts Upon a Child, 288(a) of the California State Penal Code, involving 23 children were filed in Norwalk Superior Court on Monday, January 30, 2012, with bail set at $2.3 million.

Update No. 2: The big question that remains this morning: Why was Berndt allowed to walk freely among us for the year that it took the Special Victims Bureau to complete its probe?

Lieutenant Carlos Marquez tells KNX that investigators were "monitoring" the ex-teacher in the months after he was fired. He argues that any immediate danger was mitigated by the school board's decision to kick Berndt off campus, and says the Sheriff's Department wanted to gather all possible evidence before making an arrest.

For instance, DNA testing on the spoon and container was only completed "a month and a half ago." But still -- why?

The department insists that the task was complicated enough to warrant the delay. Try telling that to the hundreds, even thousands, of horrified Miramonte parents whose children were exposed to Berndt in his 30-plus years at the elementary school.

Public Sector Gulags / Ky. Mom To Confront Officials Over Boy In Bag
« on: January 03, 2012, 01:33:38 PM »
Ky. Mom To Confront Officials Over Boy In Bag

Woman Says Autistic Son Stuffed Into Duffel Bag As Punishment

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- A Kentucky woman who has accused a school of stuffing her autistic son into a duffel bag for misbehaving plans to speak out at the next school board meeting, backed by an online petition demanding changes.

Sandra Baker said Tuesday her 9-year-old son Christopher has been unusually quiet and withdrawn since she claims to have found the fourth-grader wiggling inside the bag with the drawstring pulled tight as a teacher's aide stood by in a school hallway Dec. 14.

"It's to the point that I don't even know he's here," she said in a phone interview. "That's how quiet he is."

Baker said she plans to attend the next Mercer County school board meeting on Jan. 19 to present the petition, circulated on the website after it was begun by an autistic college student outraged by the Baker case.

The petition says the teacher responsible for putting Chris in the bag should be fired. It also calls for comprehensive training for school personnel in dealing with children with developmental disabilities.

The petition – started by Lydia Brown, an autistic 18-year-old Georgetown University freshman from Boston – has garnered more than 14,000 signatures since its Dec. 21 launch, said Benjamin Joffe-Walt, a spokesman for

"Clearly there is anger over the alleged treatment of this boy," he said.

Brown said she never expected her petition to gather so much momentum, but said the incident "hits people personally."

She said she hopes the petition drive draws attention to the "lack of appropriate education for educators on how to interact respectfully and meaningfully with autistic students."

Her effort underscores the power of taking a cause to the internet.

"Armed with only a laptop and without any funding or support, an autistic 18-year-old has recruited more than 10,000 supporters over the Christmas weekend, with dozens joining every minute," Joffe-Walt said.

Legislation introduced in Congress seeks to prohibit schools from secluding students in locked and unattended enclosures or using physical restraints except in emergencies. U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, sponsor of one of the bills, said in a recent statement that it would set "long-overdue standards to protect children from physical and psychological harm and ensure a safe learning environment."

Chris Baker is a student at Mercer County Intermediate School in Harrodsburg in central Kentucky. He is enrolled in a program for students with special needs.

On Dec. 14, Baker said, her family was called to the school because Chris was acting up. As she walked toward his classroom, Baker said, she saw the wiggling bag with a small hole at the top. Soon, she said she heard her son asking, "Momma, is that you?"

She has said her son was sweating and his eyes "were as big as half dollars" when he was pulled out of the bag. She said doesn't know exactly how long he had been in the bag, but probably not more than 20 minutes.

Baker said Tuesday that her son was put in the bag as punishment: "No way was it for therapeutic uses."

Mercer County schools Interim Superintendent Dennis Davis did not immediately respond to calls and an email Tuesday seeking comment. Last week, Davis said confidentiality laws forbid him from commenting, but he praised the school system's employees as "qualified professionals who treat students with respect and dignity."

State education officials have said they were investigating. In Kentucky, there are no laws on using restraint or seclusion in public schools, according to documents on the state Department of Education's website.

A July letter from the state agency to special education directors said the state had investigated two informal complaints this year.

Baker said she met with school district officials soon after the incident but hasn't heard from them since. She said school officials told her it was not the first time Chris had been put in a bag, and that the bag was described as a "therapy bag."

She said she wants the practice stopped, calling it "a danger to the kids."

Baker said she's considering pulling Chris out of the public school system and home-schooling him once the holiday break ends.

Somewhere in the 1940s, this was being described by the natives in the Residential Schools.

"They were always pitting us against each other, getting us to fight and molest one another.  It was well designed to split us up and brainwash us so that we would forget that we were the Keepers of the Land.  The Creator gave our people the job of protecting the land, the fish and the forests.  That was our purpose for being alive.  But the whites wanted it all and the residential schools were how they got it.

And it worked.  We've forgotten our sacred task, and now the whites have most of the land and have taken all the fish and the trees.  Most of us are in poverty, addictions, family violence.  And it all started in the schools, where we were brainwashed to hate our own culture and to hate ourselves so that we would lose everything." (Testimony of Harriet Nahanee to Kevin Arnett, North Vancouver, BC, 1998)

Page 27, PDF File

So we know it was going on in the 1900s-40s.

News Items / Nisga'a residential school survivors return home
« on: October 07, 2011, 11:51:58 PM »
Nisga'a residential school survivors return home

Hundreds of Nisga'a now living in southern B.C. are reconnecting with their homeland in the Nass Valley in the northwestern part of the province.

Most of the 400 returning Nisga'a are residential school survivors who haven't been back since they were taken away as children.

The Journey Home tour, organized by Vancouver's Nisga'a community, has been in the works for three years.

The project gave many returnees the opportunity to reconnect with their heritage by relearning Nisga'a customs, language and culture before their journey north.

Richmond resident and residential school survivor Esther Stewart is one of the many who are making the emotional return.

"It opened a lot of feelings that I never knew I had," she said. "This was a powerful journey. I meet a lot of heartwarming, beautiful people wherever we go."

Organizer Sherry Small said the project is incredibly important.

"It is just that to put their feet on the ground of the creator and to feel the spiritual nature and of what that means to be Nisga'a."

The group will be in Gitwinksihlkw on Wednesday before finishing their trip in New Aiyansh on Thursday.

Order of Quebec’s Brother André admits to sex abuse, agrees

The Congregation of the Holy Cross is one of Quebec’s most high-profile religious orders, its name associated with the landmark St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal and the name of Brother André, the Holy Cross doorman who became a saint.

But on Thursday the Roman Catholic congregation made headlines for scandal, not glory. The order, whose roots date to the French Revolution and whose clergy were entrusted with the education of the sons of Quebec’s best families, agreed to pay up to $18-million to former students who were sexually abused in its care over a span of decades.

. . .

Just thought I would keep things going by bring the latest updates on institutional abuse of children.

Thought Reform / Good article on "What were they thinking then?"
« on: October 06, 2011, 12:40:48 PM »
Quote from: "excerpt"
hile publication bias almost certainly plays a role in the decline effect, it remains an incomplete explanation. For one thing, it fails to account for the initial prevalence of positive results among studies that never even get submitted to journals. It also fails to explain the experience of people like Schooler, who have been unable to replicate their initial data despite their best efforts. Richard Palmer, a biologist at the University of Alberta, who has studied the problems surrounding fluctuating asymmetry, suspects that an equally significant issue is the selective reporting of results—the data that scientists choose to document in the first place. Palmer’s most convincing evidence relies on a statistical tool known as a funnel graph. When a large number of studies have been done on a single subject, the data should follow a pattern: studies with a large sample size should all cluster around a common value—the true result—whereas those with a smaller sample size should exhibit a random scattering, since they’re subject to greater sampling error. This pattern gives the graph its name, since the distribution resembles a funnel.

The funnel graph visually captures the distortions of selective reporting. For instance, after Palmer plotted every study of fluctuating asymmetry, he noticed that the distribution of results with smaller sample sizes wasn’t random at all but instead skewed heavily toward positive results. Palmer has since documented a similar problem in several other contested subject areas. “Once I realized that selective reporting is everywhere in science, I got quite depressed,” Palmer told me. “As a researcher, you’re always aware that there might be some nonrandom patterns, but I had no idea how widespread it is.” In a recent review article, Palmer summarized the impact of selective reporting on his field: “We cannot escape the troubling conclusion that some—perhaps many—cherished generalities are at best exaggerated in their biological significance and at worst a collective illusion nurtured by strong a-priori beliefs often repeated.”

Palmer emphasizes that selective reporting is not the same as scientific fraud. Rather, the problem seems to be one of subtle omissions and unconscious misperceptions, as researchers struggle to make sense of their results. Stephen Jay Gould referred to this as the “shoehorning” process. “A lot of scientific measurement is really hard,” Simmons told me. “If you’re talking about fluctuating asymmetry, then it’s a matter of minuscule differences between the right and left sides of an animal. It’s millimetres of a tail feather. And so maybe a researcher knows that he’s measuring a good male”—an animal that has successfully mated—“and he knows that it’s supposed to be symmetrical. Well, that act of measurement is going to be vulnerable to all sorts of perception biases. That’s not a cynical statement. That’s just the way human beings work.”

One of the classic examples of selective reporting concerns the testing of acupuncture in different countries. While acupuncture is widely accepted as a medical treatment in various Asian countries, its use is much more contested in the West. These cultural differences have profoundly influenced the results of clinical trials. Between 1966 and 1995, there were forty-seven studies of acupuncture in China, Taiwan, and Japan, and every single trial concluded that acupuncture was an effective treatment. During the same period, there were ninety-four clinical trials of acupuncture in the United States, Sweden, and the U.K., and only fifty-six per cent of these studies found any therapeutic benefits. As Palmer notes, this wide discrepancy suggests that scientists find ways to confirm their preferred hypothesis, disregarding what they don’t want to see. Our beliefs are a form of blindness.

John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at Stanford University, argues that such distortions are a serious issue in biomedical research. “These exaggerations are why the decline has become so common,” he says. “It’d be really great if the initial studies gave us an accurate summary of things. But they don’t. And so what happens is we waste a lot of money treating millions of patients and doing lots of follow-up studies on other themes based on results that are misleading.” In 2005, Ioannidis published an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association that looked at the forty-nine most cited clinical-research studies in three major medical journals. Forty-five of these studies reported positive results, suggesting that the intervention being tested was effective. Because most of these studies were randomized controlled trials—the “gold standard” of medical evidence—they tended to have a significant impact on clinical practice, and led to the spread of treatments such as hormone replacement therapy for menopausal women and daily low-dose aspirin to prevent heart attacks and strokes. Nevertheless, the data Ioannidis found were disturbing: of the thirty-four claims that had been subject to replication, forty-one per cent had either been directly contradicted or had their effect sizes significantly downgraded.

The situation is even worse when a subject is fashionable. In recent years, for instance, there have been hundreds of studies on the various genes that control the differences in disease risk between men and women. These findings have included everything from the mutations responsible for the increased risk of schizophrenia to the genes underlying hypertension. Ioannidis and his colleagues looked at four hundred and thirty-two of these claims. They quickly discovered that the vast majority had serious flaws. But the most troubling fact emerged when he looked at the test of replication: out of four hundred and thirty-two claims, only a single one was consistently replicable. “This doesn’t mean that none of these claims will turn out to be true,” he says. “But, given that most of them were done badly, I wouldn’t hold my breath.”

The Decline Effect and the Scientific Method.

Thought Reform / Power corrupts, especially when it lacks status
« on: September 24, 2011, 07:04:34 PM »
Power corrupts, especially when it lacks status

Quote from: "excerpt"
In a new study, researchers at USC, Stanford and the Kellogg School of Management have found that individuals in roles that possess power but lack status have a tendency to engage in activities that demean others. According to the study, "The Destructive Nature of Power without Status," the combination of some authority and little perceived status can be a toxic combination.

The research, forthcoming in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, is "based on the notions that a) low-status is threatening and aversive and b) power frees people to act on their internal states and feelings." The study was conducted by Nathanael Fast, assistant professor of management and organization at the USC Marshall School of Business; Nir Halevy, acting assistant professor of organizational behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business; and Adam Galinsky, professor of management and organizations at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

To test their theses, the authors conducted an experiment with students who were told they would be interacting with a fellow student in a business exercise and were randomly assigned to either a high-status "Idea Producer" role or low-status "Worker" role. Then these individuals were asked to select activities from a list of 10 for the others to perform; some of the tasks were more demeaning than others.

The experiment demonstrated that "individuals in high-power/low-status roles chose more demeaning activities for their partners (e.g., bark like a dog three times) than did those in any other combination of power and status roles."

According to the study, possessing power in the absence of status may have contributed to the acts committed by U.S. soldiers in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2004. That incident was reminiscent of behaviors exhibited during the famous Stanford Prison Experiment with undergraduate students that went awry in the early 1970s. In both cases the guards had power, but they lacked respect and admiration in the eyes of others and in both cases prisoners were treated in extremely demeaning ways.

Open Free for All / Sorry for rubbernecking
« on: August 22, 2011, 07:36:31 PM »
I'm not an interested party, although I'm interested.  I'm from Canada so the gross abuses being told here have largely stopped with the closure of the residential schools in 1982.  I just watch in horror at the stories of connected charlatans running amok down south.  I don't believe Canada is immune to the problem, though there are adequate disincentives here that it is not such a problem as it is in the US.  However I do have experience with institutionalised abuse at the public school that resemble somewhat of the abuse described on this site.

I know there are a couple aspies here and can relate to the trials that one can experience at a public school.  To be honest, the public schools in this city are very good and there are not a lot of private school options - the wealthy kids are sent to the same school as the impoverished kid and we make do as best as we can.  Back when I was in grade one, I moved from a small hamlet to the big city school and the remainder of that year was pretty well.  Grade two was another story as the teacher was nearing retirement, the administration was in a dysfunctional state, and there was no such diagnosis of Asperger's at the time.  I spent two thirds of grade two in a small cubicle and was often forgotten, given a stack of blue and pink pages to fill out and give to my parents (never given) and by the end became quite claustrophobic.  When I was let out, the teacher basically let the other students to pick on me, beat me and steal from me.  This pattern on the playground persisted all the way until grade six.  Some teachers were better than others, but the playground never improved.

Grade seven was an absolute horror.  Moving to junior high, the principal was better many of the teachers were battle-hardened but there were some that were not prepared for the raucous body of students.  In one class, no teaching was ever possible and fights broke out often, maybe everyday in front of the teacher.  I was the one that got involved in 95% of them, defending myself.  The worst was when my Tourette's got me into trouble and the teachers were helpless for the firestorm that would follow.  I would eventually be swarmed on multiple occasions by 100-200 students, taking turns and beating me for half an hour at a time to "prove a point" or something.

I was taken out in grade nine and moved to a better part of the city where I never got into such messes ever again.  There was also help at the time as Asperger's was becoming recognised and my younger brother got diagnosed (I got my diagnosis a couple years ago.)  So yeah, while I don't think my story is as bad as what happened at Élan or WWASP, it was enough to send shockwaves when I did get around to admitting these things happened.  These swarmings happened a year before Columbine.  I moved a month before Columbine happened.  I know a kid was swarmed and killed in the high school a week after that.

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