Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Quack, Quack, Quack

What is it with the NYT and psychoanalytic mumbo jumbo? First we have this silly article which makes it seem as if there's something outrageous about sceptics demanding to see evidence of the efficacy of psychotherapy, and now we have this inane book review by David Gelernter, in which he says that Freud, though "not exactly a scientist", was nevertheless "an epoch-making genius", to which I say bullshit.

Freud was a quack, pure and simple, a supremely eloquent and persuasive quack, but a quack nonetheless, and to compare him to Albert Einstein, whose relativity theory had a mathematical lucidity that made it eminently falsifiable in a way that Freudian claptrap is not, is a tremendous insult to the late Professor Einstein. Gelernter's strangely positive view of Freudianism is of a piece with the rest of his frankly intellectually third-rate output - you know you're definitely dealing with a third-rate intellect when you find a reviewer more enamored of Freudian theorizing than the author of the book he's reviewing. What is all the more strange is that given Gelernter's conservatism, one would expect him to be hostile to Freudian flapdoodle, as it is essentially no different from the very sort of Marxist rubbish Gelernter can often be seen foaming at the mouth about in the pages of magazines like National Review.

As I've said, I blame the NYT editorial staff for this nonsense as much as I do the execrable David Gelernter, as it's a dead certainty that there's no way they'd have let a right-winger like him carry out a book review were it not that it had good things to say about the father of the snake oil talking cure psychotherapy, the practitioners of which I'm sure more than a handful of the senior management have had the pleasure of patronizing, being the good Manhattanites they are.