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Darwin, Marx, and Freud: Now Freud is the “triumph of pseudoscience”?


Last year it was… oh, never mind.

From Harriet Hall at Science-Based Medicine, a review of Frederick Crews’s Freud: The Making of an Illusion:

He treated pampered, rich socialites. His attitude towards them was cynical; they provided a steady source of income by not being cured, and in one case he rushed back to see a patient in the fear that he might get well in his absence. He had little sympathy for his patients; he actively despised most people, especially those of the lower social orders. He was a misogynist who believed women were biologically inferior. He treated his wife abominably.

Few of his ideas were original. He plagiarized. He borrowed ideas from rivals but then backdated them and treated them as his own. His debts to others were originally acknowledged but “eventually suppressed in favor of the specious appeal to clinical experience. ”He was “actively evasive, malicious, and dishonest” in covering up his mistakes. Crews relates many instances where he re-wrote history, changing the story to put himself in a better light.

He made things up as he went along, constantly changing his theories and methods but not making any actual progress towards a successful treatment.

If a patient disagreed with his interpretation, (“No, I’m not in love with my brother-in-law.”) that only strengthened his conviction that he was right. He violated patient confidentiality. If a former patient improved after leaving his treatment, he took the credit. He was oblivious to the dangers of confirmation bias. More.

Culture note: Freud did immense damage to middle-class families in North America in the mid-twentieth century, to the extent that he replaced pragmatic ways of addressing relationship problems with obscure but supposedly science-based claims. Famously, bored housewives were encouraged to make up stuff about what was wrong with them (“Aha! You are in love with your brother-in-law!”).  Actually, many just needed to matter more in their own and others’ lives, often by seeking training for a later-life service career.

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History walk: Remember when we ID folk were accused of inventing all this? No? See Textbook Watch: Did ID folk invent Marx, Freud, and Darwin as the “textbook triad” of materialism?

See also: Darwinism is toast. But what will replace it?

Stake in heart of school Darwinism lesson: Bilaterian nerve cords probably evolved many times. Convergence means that, instead of starting out from the fabled Common Ancestor, life forms or parts thereof arrived at the same destinations from multiple origins. That could support either design or structuralism (an underlying pattern, based on physics and chemistry, governs evolution) — but not Darwinism, the only form of evolution known to pop science, according to which, it is all random.

Synthetic chemist James Tour wonders why “everyone is lying” about the origin of life. He doesn’t literally mean that “everyone is lying” but rather that the problem is so much bigger and deeper than it is often portrayed that typical science media claims are not reliable.


New butterfly has 46 chromosomes, like a human, not the expected 68, like a close relative. Remember this when we are told that it is “anti-science” to doubt whatever the current bumf is around Darwinian evolution.

polistra - I'm new and not as knowledgeable as many about the underlying science that is discussed. However, I do know that ideas have consequences. To divide the two - ideas from their consequences, as your comment seems to indicate, is to deny reality. The 'big idea(s)' of these three men have significant consequences on how we see each other and ourselves. The real life consequences you want to mitigate/ignore stem directly from their 'big idea(s).' And the horrible consequences we've seen from their ideas are so incredibly close to what these men wrote, spoke of in private, and believed. You can't divide the two. Mark from CO Mark from CO
Each of these three men had One Big Idea that has stood the test of time. The problem isn't the original idea but the later expansions and misuses of the idea. We should be focusing our anger on the 'ists' and 'ians' who turned the idea into a racket and a tyranny. polistra
I remember my first general psych course from 25 years ago, and our professor absolutely trashed Freud and his pseudopsychobabble. I am glad to see the Herr Doktor's legacy continue to spiral down the drain into the sewer, where it belongs. OldArmy94

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