Doctor Who Uploaded Rorschach Images Now Being Investigated

from the can-we-look-up-witch-hunt dept

A few weeks back, we wrote about the argument over whether or not it was okay that a doctor had uploaded the public domain (and available in pretty much any library) original Rorschach ink blots to Wikipedia. The whole thing was perfectly legal and reasonable in the view of many. But some strong believers in the ink blots seem to think that even though the images are in the public domain, they have some sort of right over them. The thinking, on their part, is that keeping the ink blots secret protects the integrity of the test — which totally ignores the fact that these ink blots are already widely available (and the fact that it seems rather unlikely that all that many people are going to “study up” for their Rorschach tests.

But, it hasn’t stopped a witch hunt against the guy who uploaded the images. Apparently, he’s being investigated by his local doctors’ organization for “unprofessional” actions. The complaints against him are equally ridiculous. They say that this is “serious misconduct” because he “shows disrespect to his professional colleagues in psychology and disparages them in the eye of the public.”

So apparently no doctor is ever allowed to question any methods used by psychologists? Yikes. Talk about a chilling effect.

Even more to the point, I fail to see how sharing public domain knowledge with the world can be unprofessional or an ethical breach. It seems like the exact opposite. I would think it’s a hell of a lot more unethical to trump up bogus ethics charges and investigations against the doctor who actually put that content on Wikipedia.

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Comments on “Doctor Who Uploaded Rorschach Images Now Being Investigated”

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70 Comments
Hephaestus (profile) says:

Oh no Oh no you cant do that .....

“Dr. Heilman was violating the test’s secrecy and that if he were a psychologist his behavior would be “viewed as serious misconduct.””

Just googled on “Rorschach Images and test” I ended up with 118,000 results….. They were mentioned something about the test’s secrecy…. What secrecy?

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

Hoodoo Voodoo

The more mystery your doctor has; the more influence he can exert over you. (It’s widely known doctors dislike having other doctors as patients; that would be why.) Especially doctors who’ve spent years studying a pretend science like psychology. As soon as the world learns they’re all frauds; they’ll have to get a real job (as opposed to screwing with people heads and being paid to do so).

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Hoodoo Voodoo

“Yes, precisely. But there are many who insist there is “science” behind it.”

Well, I was recently yelled at in a separate thread for my conspiratorial talk, but many people think that to varying degrees there IS indeed a science behind it. And for a long, long time the CIA/FBI/NSA, and probably some of the other alphabet agencies thought so as well. They made attempts at varying levels of mind-control, from developing simple truth serums, to experimenting with mind-altering drugs mixed with psychological attacks for interrogation and torture purposes, to some contentions that they even tried to develop brainwashing techniques for use with assassins (a la The Manchurian Candidate). And after all, what are all those things if not aspects of psychology and psychological warfare?

Now, I’m not so sure about that last one, but the rest are declassied projects like MKULTRA that not only put to rest the “your just crazy conspiracy theorists” argument, but also the idea that psychology isn’t used in warfare.

Alan Gerow (profile) says:

Re: Hoodoo Voodoo

There is a science to psychology. Introduction of certain chemicals creates a chain reaction of chemical reactions that can alter the psychological state of the patient/user/victim.

The problem is, we don’t have enough understanding of how the physical make-up of the brain directly leads to things like consciousness, memory, and personality.

There is science, but it’s incomplete. We know we can fiddle with certain parts, and in certain people get certain results. But we don’t understand enough to have solid theories and laws that explain what’s going on.

I’m not talking about things like ESP, telekinesis, etc, but in terms of being able to control moods, improve memory & concentration, etc. I know the introduction of THC into my body chemistry alters my psyche leveling out my moods to keep manic depressive tendencies from getting too severe, improves concentration, harms short-term memory, etc. It’s not pretend, it’s science.

But to say that since we don’t understand the causes and effects and there still exists lots of guess work that there is no science at all to psychology (or its “pretend”) is a gross over exaggeration. At one time, the concept of microscopic germs making people sick was ridiculed and brushed off as non-sense … and as we learn, we refine.

ChrisB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Hoodoo Voodoo

Most people recover from traumatic events on their own, with the support of their families. If someone doesn’t have a sympathetic ear, sure, go to a psychiatrist short term. If someone is depressed, or has other mood disorders, take drugs (which are shown to be more effective than talk “therapy” anyway).

But the idea that someone should spend YEARS going back and talking out all their childhood problems is bunk. No other medical profession has people coming back year after year. If fact, I think it is harmful to obsess about ones past, and psychiatry just enables people to stop moving forward with their lives.

Most times, people are unhappy because they have problems they don’t deal with. So instead of dealing with the problem, they just go complain about it to someone who doesn’t challenge them on it.

Eldakka says:

Re: Re: Hoodoo Voodoo

But we don’t understand enough to have solid theories and laws that explain what’s going on.

Since when has psychology been regarded as a science?

Is Psychology a Science?

Choice quotes

In order for human psychology to be placed on a scientific footing, it would have to conduct strictly controlled experiments on humans, in some cases denying treatments or nutritional elements deemed essential to health (in order to have a control group), and the researchers would not be able to tell the subjects whether or not they were receiving proper care (in order not to bias the result). This is obviously unethical behavior, and it is a key reason why human psychology is not a science.

As a result, ordinary clinical therapeutic treatments are actually (potentially) a mixture of the three items listed above –research, diagnosis and therapy. If the treatment is routine and uneventful, it is clinical therapy, which most people realize is entirely ineffectual in any case (i.e. with an outcome scientifically indistinguishable from speaking to a bartender or your favorite uncle). If the client shows traits useful for diagnosis, the treatment ipso facto becomes diagnostic. If the interplay between the clinician and the client produces a novel, seemingly useful cause-effect relationship, the treatment becomes research. This clinical opportunism is another reason psychology has the reputation it does – very little distinction exists between gathering knowledge and dispensing knowledge.

The items listed above inevitably create an atmosphere in which absolutely anything goes (at least temporarily), judgments about efficacy are utterly subjective, and as a result, the field of psychology perpetually splinters into cults and fads (examples below). “Studies” are regularly published that would never pass muster with a self-respecting peer review committee from some less soft branch of science.

When psychologists perform research, some of the results pass muster as legitimate science, but unless those results address and potentially falsify the core theories of psychology, the research cannot confer a scientific status to psychology itself. To summarize, for criterion (A) to be satisfied, psychology must have a theoretical core of testable, falsifiable theories, and ongoing research must address and potentially falsify those theories.

Jrosen (profile) says:

And the disease

known as IDIOCY apparently can afflict even supposedly intelligent medical professionals.

Yes, there is a science behind Psychology. But it’s more of a ‘soft’ science. While the brain can work like a computer, it is not a purely empirical manifestation that is identical in all ways to every other person’s brain. Genetics has something to do with it, environment has an effect, what schooling the person has done, has an effect. In many ways it works on a simple cause-effect. If something scares you bad enough, you will tend to fear it in the future. If certain patterns work every time you use them. It’s a learned skill, knowledge, etc.
Doctors fear the general public knowing more about Psychology because it can suddenly invalidate the ridiculous amounts of money they pay for their schooling, as well as the insurance payments that keep so many medical costs ridiculously high.
Much as Hypnosis is feared by so many medical practitioners, even though they USE the base idea of the ‘skill’. Anyone ever heard of a placebo? There’s hypnosis right there in short. The power of suggestion. ‘yes, this pill will make you feel better’.

Alan Bleiweiss (profile) says:

Paranoia will destroy ya

Any time people feel their method of income is threatened, they will potentially consider going on the offensive. Whether they do so or not will depend on how stable and well balanced they are, because any intelligent person with any life experience would first consider whether they have a legitimate claim or not.

The more one plunges into victim mode and uses false basis claims (protect the secrecy) then casts a shadow upon their own ability to maintain rational thought, and is clearly showing signs that they themselves need psychological treatment.

Dumbasses

Anonymous Coward says:

If the secrets of psychologists get out, people will study them to defeat their diagnosis! Psychopaths will cheat their way out of getting commited by not murdering people, obsessive-compulsives will intentionally do stuff that doesn’t fit their routine patterns to throw off the shrinks! It will be chaos!

Alan Gerow (profile) says:

Re: Re:

But a psychopath could go to Google before taking the test, and get the same images from thousands of websites. They could stop by the library or a bookstore on the way to the doctor’s office and see the very same ink blots.

The secrets of the test are already out. They’re public domain. The People of the United States own the rights to the ink blot test, not the psychologists.

Trails says:

Appalling

I work with some docs. The ones I work with closely are pleasant to work with. On a larger scale, however, a lot of docs have huge egos, which go part and parcel with a “I’ve been doing it this way for years, therefore it cannot be wrong, because it is blessed with my acceptance of it” mentality, not to mention ivory tower syndrome like you wouldn’t believe.

While I find this appalling, I can’t say I’m surprised. Anyways, if his local doc association goes through with it, the resultant legal bitchslap the doc could file in response, if filed, will be heard around the world.

PaulT (profile) says:

Know your audience, Mike!

Yeah, add me to the people re-reading article for the BBC / Watchmen connection till the headline clicked! If you’re writing for a tech-minded audience, try to avoid unintentional sci-fi and comic book references…

As for the actual content of the article, yeah just another misuse of copyright law in order to “protect” something that doesn’t need or deserve protection to begin with. Sadly unsurprising, though I hope that some sense does come into play on the part of those actually investigating.

Jan says:

questioning you

This post made me think much more carefully about your posts. Usually I just read your post and somehow I trust you… when you say that something is “ridiculous” (and you say this quite a lot) I just laugh… without questioning it. Now it see it is a mistake.

So lets question this post. You write “some strong believers in the ink blots…” – aha, so they are just believers, right? You ignore load of research and evidence and you label them like believers. Labeling is just discussion fail… you get yellow card.

And you say “which totally ignores the fact that these ink blots are already widely available”… where are they widely available? When I was a psychology student it was not available anywhere and they were really careful about it – only advanced students enrolled in Rorschach seminar were allowed to study it – and those test sets were borrowed to them against signature and they could not take it out of the study room. No chance it would be in any public library. So I am not so sure about your “widely available” argument.

And you say “witch hunt… complaints against him are equally ridiculous…bogus ethics… ” again – these are negative labels, not arguments. WHY is it a which hunt, WHY is it ridiculous, WHY are they bogus?

“So apparently no doctor is ever allowed to question any methods used by psychologists? Yikes. Talk about a chilling effect.”
What? What does this have to do with questioning? Write a paper about Rorschach and talk about it on a conference and question as much as you want – there is no problem about it. This problem has nothing to do with questioning Rorschach… at all. So it seems that you are just using another negative sticker (they forbid questioning things which is bad) but the problem is that the sticker does not fit at all.

“Even more to the point, I fail to see how sharing public domain knowledge with the world can be unprofessional or an ethical breach.” Yes, obviously you do fail. I tried to explain this last time and you just ignored it. So again – it is questionable because Rorschach is (believed to be… if you wish) tool that can be used to help people who suffer. This help will not be available to those who have seen pictures before the test. You publish the test – you destroy one tool to help to those who see it. That simple. If this is not unethical then I don’t know what is.

The fact that you don’t believe Rorschach works does not matter at all. Do you believe in vaccination? I don’t. How would you feel if I said vaccination is nonsense and destroyed them to you so your kid would not get the shot?

The fact that it is public domain does not matter either. As a patient I need my therapist to have tools to help me. I am not obsessed with free information – if it’s better for me to never see this before the test – I don’t want to see it. They should at least put huge spoiler warning over it when they decided to publish it.

Please take this as a friendly warning. Yes, you are smart and you know a lot. But don’t stop question yourself. I read all your articles and I think that more and more you are just using negative stickers and of_course_I_am_right “arguments” instead of real arguments. Soon you will be too narcissistic and you will end up exactly like those RIAA people you like to ridicule – so self absorbed that you will not be able to notice that the world has changed… because you are always right without arguments and everybody who disagrees is just “ridiculous”, right?

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: questioning you

So lets question this post. You write “some strong believers in the ink blots…” – aha, so they are just believers, right? You ignore load of research and evidence and you label them like believers. Labeling is just discussion fail… you get yellow card.

Hmm? No, there was no labeling problem here that I can see. The people who complained were those who were “believers” in the test. I couldn’t think of a better way to describe them. Who is complaining? Those who support the test. It was accurate, right?

And you say “which totally ignores the fact that these ink blots are already widely available”… where are they widely available? When I was a psychology student it was not available anywhere and they were really careful about it – only advanced students enrolled in Rorschach seminar were allowed to study it – and those test sets were borrowed to them against signature and they could not take it out of the study room. No chance it would be in any public library. So I am not so sure about your “widely available” argument.

As many others have pointed out here, they are widely available online. They may not have been widely available in the past, but they are now.

And you say “witch hunt… complaints against him are equally ridiculous…bogus ethics… ” again – these are negative labels, not arguments. WHY is it a which hunt, WHY is it ridiculous, WHY are they bogus?

That’s what the rest of the post explains.

What? What does this have to do with questioning? Write a paper about Rorschach and talk about it on a conference and question as much as you want – there is no problem about it. This problem has nothing to do with questioning Rorschach… at all. So it seems that you are just using another negative sticker (they forbid questioning things which is bad) but the problem is that the sticker does not fit at all.

You took my words out of context there. It was a response to the claim that it was unetheical to “show disrespect to his professional colleagues in psychology and disparages them in the eye of the public.”

So, again, I believe my statement was accurate.

And to claim that the only way to criticize is in writing a paper is silly. If someone has a criticism of psychology, they should be allowed to state it publicly without fear of an investigation. It may not be right — but psychologists should be able to respond and point out his errors, not sic an investigation on him.

Yes, obviously you do fail. I tried to explain this last time and you just ignored it. So again – it is questionable because Rorschach is (believed to be… if you wish) tool that can be used to help people who suffer. This help will not be available to those who have seen pictures before the test. You publish the test – you destroy one tool to help to those who see it. That simple. If this is not unethical then I don’t know what is.

Yes, I saw this last time, and I have to admit that it’s wholly uncompelling. It didn’t seem to warrant a response, but if you insist:

1. I don’t deny that Rorschach tests may work, but that’s no excuse. The info is public domain. There is nothing unethical about sharing public domain knowledge. Ever.

2. If the test fails if someone’s seen it before, the PROBLEM IS WITH THE TEST. Develop a better test.

3. As I said earlier, the idea that people will suddenly run out and prepare for the test seems quite unlikely in most scenarios, so what’s the problem?

The fact that you don’t believe Rorschach works does not matter at all. Do you believe in vaccination? I don’t. How would you feel if I said vaccination is nonsense and destroyed them to you so your kid would not get the shot?

I never said I don’t believe Rorschachs don’t work. I don’t know where you got that from.

But, please, get a grip. Revealing public domain knowledge is not “destroying” anything.

Soon you will be too narcissistic and you will end up exactly like those RIAA people you like to ridicule – so self absorbed that you will not be able to notice that the world has changed… because you are always right without arguments and everybody who disagrees is just “ridiculous”, right?

Point taken, though I still believe this is ridiculous. I’m always open to being proven wrong — it’s why I allow comments and let anyone say what they want.

But you have not convinced me my initial assessment was incorrect.

Jan says:

Re: Re: questioning you

Hmm? No, there was no labeling problem here that I can see. The people who complained were those who were “believers” in the test. I couldn’t think of a better way to describe them. Who is complaining? Those who support the test. It was accurate, right?

I am sorry if my English is not OK enough to understand but I think the word “believe” is used mostly for cases where I believe because I don’t know or even cannot know – for example when it is related to religion. Experts supporting Rorschach test don’t need to believe – they have evidence, they know. Your use of word believers is implying exactly the opposite – that is why I think it’s negative labelling.

As many others have pointed out here, they are widely available online. They may not have been widely available in the past, but they are now.

I did not know that and I am sorry about that. I have to admit that this is very bad news for me.

And to claim that the only way to criticize is in writing a paper is silly. If someone has a criticism of psychology, they should be allowed to state it publicly without fear of an investigation. It may not be right — but psychologists should be able to respond and point out his errors, not sic an investigation on him.

I never claimed that the only way to criticize is in writing a paper – those were just examples. The point is – you can criticize all you want – but the problem with publishing Rorschach was not that it questions Rorschach. The problem is that some experts think that revealing Rorschach to wider public may hinder its ability to be used as a diagnostic tool. That is why I think that you were wrong when you wrote statement that could be understood as accusation that they are suppressing criticism (“So apparently no doctor is ever allowed to question any methods used by psychologists? Yikes. Talk about a chilling effect.”). If you disagree on this one please show me where is any doctor investigated for questioning any methods used by psychologists, not for revealing the test?

The info is public domain. There is nothing unethical about sharing public domain knowledge. Ever.

That is a very strong statement. How do you support this claim? Yes, it may be legal. But that does not necessarily mean it is not unethical.

BTW – I am not sure about this but are those pictures public domain just because they are so old that copyright run out? Can copyright run out? Does this mean that after 70 years I can publish private photos of my girlfriend – and it will be legal? And ethical? I am not sure about this… just kindly asking.

If the test fails if someone’s seen it before, the PROBLEM IS WITH THE TEST. Develop a better test.

Again… very strong statement. Yes… the test has the vulnerability. But it is not that easy to develop a better test. I am not even sure it is possible – psychology is a very specific science and projective tests are all vulnerable to this – they are also very valuable. Which is better – to get rid of very valuable tool or to try to keep this tool alive using professional ethic – some kind of agreement that we want to help people so we will not use the vulnerability of the test?

As I said earlier, the idea that people will suddenly run out and prepare for the test seems quite unlikely in most scenarios, so what’s the problem?

Unlikely? You have to do Rorschach tomorrow and you are curious about it so you look it up – and oops, you have seen those pictures. Why is this unlikely?

I never said I don’t believe Rorschachs don’t work. I don’t know where you got that from.

That was just rhetorical – I was just trying to make a point. I also made up that I don’t believe in vaccination. Apparently I should be more careful with my made up examples (I also know you don’t have to do Rorschach tomorrow). I am sorry.

I admit that I may have misunderstood some of your arguments – I am sorry about that. But I still believe that you would be better off using the word “ridiculous” less… you know what I mean? The more offensive your arguments sound the less likely your opponents are to change their (sometimes really ridiculous) views – and I bet that is not what you want. I have written this because I highly respect you and I want you to be as successful as possible – you are my defender against IP craziness.

Wise one says:

Re: Re: Re: questioning you

Ah ha, I was right. You are one of those Paki ragheads!
Why don’t you go back to where you came from, where you won’t have to worry about your English, nor your lack of intelligence. And take a few million of your contrymen with you for the trip…
Use a fleet of ocean liners (freighters) and Bon Voyage!

VRP

Wise one says:

Re: questioning you

You didn’t have to tell us you studied psychology. It was readily discerned in your first sentence; beyond a reasonable doubt in your prior paragraph.

You failed to comprehend intelligence posted by others already, prior to yours; or you would have known where and how these so-called tests are readily and easily available. Repeating it to someone like you MIGHT do some good to get the point across but I’m not into repetition and besides, in the end you’d be just as dense anyway…

Are you one of those Paki ragheads we’re stuck with in NA, pretending to practice medicine?

VRP

David says:

Re: questioning you

I just realized why you so adamantly want to cover this up: so you can always have an excuse to use when a sceptic argues against your pseudoscience. If someone does actually publish an article question the validity of these tests and—gasp—puts it online, you can just claim that publishing the article is dangerous, and try to get it taken down. Eventually, you falsely believe, people will stop doing so, and you will never have to think critically about your views ever again. Thankfully, the Streisand effect will only backfire and, hopefully, expose your fraud once and for all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: questioning you

“But, it hasn’t stopped a witch hunt against the guy who uploaded the images. Apparently, he’s being investigated by his local doctors’ organization for “unprofessional” actions.”

This is why I have very little respect for the scientific consensus.

First of all, and I want to make this very very clear, TRUTH nor science nor logic and reasoning are based on unanimous consensus. PERIOD. Anytime someone tries to argue their viewpoint and the ONLY thing they have to show for it is the alleged consensus (ie: no evidence, no logic and reasoning) then I find it difficult to take them seriously.

Anytime someone tries to argue against the consensus the attitude is, “every scientist believe such and such, it’s the consensus, it’s just that the ordinary citizen is ignorant.” But if you punish scientists that disagree with you and deny them the means to communicate their message of course there will be no scientific dissent. and why would they try to expose this doctor’s identity if not to punish him? After all, just the lawsuit and the time and money he must spend to fight it is punishment and punishment defeats the purpose behind freedom of speech.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: questioning you

and I want to make another thing perfectly clear. There are some who think that scientists, the scientific community, and peer review journals and the peer review system are all somehow immune to political influence. Scientists are people and people are subject to politics. As such scientists are subject to politics. Almost every human endeavor is subject to politics. Anyone who argues otherwise is speaking out of their perfect imaginary world.

Yeebok (profile) says:

Where are they ?

I expected something on Tom Baker or Jon Pertwee. Maybe even K9. I don’t go for the new one.

Amusingly just last night I googled ‘ink blot test’ because I couldn’t remember how to spell Rorschach.

I would have presumed the *interpretation* of the testee’s views on the blots may have some ‘copyright’ but the images themselves should not.

Same as if I take a photo of my motorbike and upload it to Wikipedia on the relevant page, I would not expect to get sued by the manufacturer. The legal rights are on the whole thing, not just what you can see.

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