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Old 14th October 2019, 10:26 PM   #1
arthwollipot
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Controversial "Cancer-prone personality" theory ruled unsafe

Work of renowned UK psychologist Hans Eysenck ruled ‘unsafe’

Quote:
Eysenck’s ‘cancer-prone’ personality theory had come under criticism for decades

The work of one of the most famous and influential British psychologists of all time, Hans Eysenck, is under a cloud following an investigation by King’s College London, which has found 26 of his published papers “unsafe”.

King’s says the results and conclusions of the papers “were not considered scientifically rigorous” by its committee of inquiry. Prof Sir Robert Lechler, the provost at King’s, has contacted the editors of the 11 journals where the papers appeared, recommending they should be retracted.

Eysenck, who died in 1997, published prolifically and wrote many well-known books, holding controversial views on a number of subjects, including race and IQ. The investigation centred on research that claimed personality played a bigger part in people’s chances of dying from cancer or heart disease than smoking.

...

Among more than 3,000 people in the studies, Eysenck and his colleague claimed people with a “cancer-prone” personality were 121 times more likely to die of the disease than those without, and people with “heart-disease prone” personalities 27 times more likely.

Cancer-prone personalities were described as generally passive in the face of stress from outside. Those who were heart disease-prone were unable to leave an unsatisfactory situation alone, which made them increasingly aggressive and hostile. A healthy personality was autonomous, with a positive outlook.

Eysenck and Grossarth-Maticek apparently even had a “cure” for cancer. In one study, they gave 600 “cancer-prone” individuals a leaflet on how to be more “autonomous” and take control of their destiny. It contained such advice as: “Your aim should always be to produce conditions which make it possible for you to lead a happy and contented life.”

It appeared to deliver miracles. Over 13 years, the 600 people randomly assigned to bibliotherapy, as it was called, had all-cause mortality of 32%, compared with 82% of 600 people not fortunate enough to receive a leaflet.
tl;dr the studies were probably fraudulent.
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Old 15th October 2019, 04:26 AM   #2
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Nothing in the article actually mentions any evidence of fraud, or of any studies done that show he was wrong. That's not to say that he wasn't wrong or fraudulent. It is noted that he received funding from tobacco companies, which at least establishes a motive for fraud.

I haven't yet read the other sources linked in the article that might go into more detail about how he was shown to be wrong (or fraudulent). But I'm not seeing anything in the article itself that supports it's conclusion.
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Old 15th October 2019, 05:40 AM   #3
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Isn't telling someone to be more autonomous a self-defeating statement?
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Old 15th October 2019, 05:40 AM   #4
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Thing I didn't know about is deprecated. Yay.
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Old 15th October 2019, 06:01 AM   #5
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I guess there's ample reason to be skeptical of his ideas:

Quote:
Eysenck believed that empirical evidence supported parapsychology and astrology. He attracted criticism from skeptics for endorsing the paranormal. Henry Gordon for example stated that Eysenck's viewpoint was "incredibly naive" because many of the parapsychology experiments he cited as evidence contained serious problems and were never replicated. Magician and skeptic James Randi noted that Eysenck had supported fraudulent psychics as genuine and had not mentioned their sleight of hand. According to Randi, he had given "a totally-one sided view of the subject."
Hans Eysenck: Later work (Wikipedia)
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Old 15th October 2019, 07:02 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
I guess there's ample reason to be skeptical of his ideas:
Skepticism doesn't need other reasons. His ideas stand or fall on their own merits. You're poisoning the well.
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Old 15th October 2019, 09:24 AM   #7
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Eysenck appears to have been poisoning science.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 16th October 2019, 02:33 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Eysenck appears to have been poisoning science.
I find that highly likely.

However, so far there has been no evidence presented that it's the case, including in the article linked in the OP.

I do admit that I still haven't read through the things linked in that article, which may present such evidence. As I said I find that quite likely.

I'll get around to reading it, but on the other hand based on how much of it I have read (not much) it may be the the author is making the case that such evidence should be found based on more circumstantial evidence that it probably exists. Here's the abstract:
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10....59105318822045
Quote:
During the 1980s and 1990s, Hans J Eysenck conducted a programme of research into the causes, prevention and treatment of fatal diseases in collaboration with one of his protégés, Ronald Grossarth-Maticek. This led to what must be the most astonishing series of findings ever published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature with effect sizes that have never otherwise been encounterered in biomedical research. This article outlines just some of these reported findings and signposts readers to extremely serious scientific and ethical criticisms that were published almost three decades ago. Confidential internal documents that have become available as a result of litigation against tobacco companies provide additional insights into this work. It is suggested that this research programme has led to one of the worst scientific scandals of all time. A call is made for a long overdue formal inquiry.
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Old 16th October 2019, 06:59 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Eysenck appears to have been poisoning science.
Then argue the poison, not the implication.
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Old 16th October 2019, 07:28 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Quote:
Eysenck believed that empirical evidence supported parapsychology and astrology...
I guess there's ample reason to be skeptical of his ideas:
He had me believing for a bit - until I examined the evidence.

Quote:
Eysenck appears to have been poisoning science.
But only because we let him.
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Old 16th October 2019, 11:07 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Then argue the poison, not the implication.

Go poison some other thread!
Do you actually know anything at all about Eysenck that you can contribute with? Do you understand the words appear and guess?
When I know that a guy like Eysenck was a shill of the tobacco industry who got paid for coming up with contrived excuses for dismissing what was actually known about the effects of smoking (Wikipedia), I have ample reason to assume that his alleged research in other fields may also have been biased. He was so callous that he didn't mind getting paid for letting people smoke themselves to death.
I don't claim that it is proof that his research was biased.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 16th October 2019, 11:50 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Skepticism doesn't need other reasons. His ideas stand or fall on their own merits. You're poisoning the well.
From a very cursory examination (reading the OP) the theory seems to be absurd on its face. But knowing that its main proponent was also a believer in astrology and promoter of "fraudulent psychics as genuine" according to Randi is to me further circumstantial evidence that only adds to my reasons to doubt.
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Old 18th January 2020, 04:05 AM   #13
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Quote:
Kings College London undertook a formal internal investigation of publications by Eysenck with Grossarth-Maticek, limiting itself to publications by employees of the then Institute of Psychiatry, which includes Eysenck but not Grossarth-Maticek, who, despite his claiming the affiliation repeatedly, was never actually an employee of the Institute.
Their conclusion, published in May, is stark:
“We have come to the conclusion that we consider the published results of studies that included the results of the analyses of data collected as part of the intervention or observational studies to be unsafe and that the editors of the journals should be informed of our decision. We have highlighted 26 papers … which were published in 11 journals which are still in existence.”
(...)
Perhaps now we will see the 11 journals that have been contacted by Kings College London take some action to undo the dangerous legacy left by Eysenck and Grossarth-Maticek. If the editors of these journals have the strength to act, then perhaps other publishers, publications and institutions will be emboldened to tackle this stain on British psychology as well.
Is this “one of the worst scientific scandals of all time”? (Cosmos, Oct. 21, 2019)

It would be interesting to know if anything has happened since then.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 18th January 2020, 10:45 AM   #14
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There are many scientific papers that are not 'scientifically-rigorous.'

Eysenck’s proposal does not seem very controversial to me. If you cope with the disappointments of life in a health way, you are less likely to develop cancer than somebody who copes in health averse ways. Stress has also been scientifically implicated in poor physical health outcomes. It would make sense that personality could be a better indicator of developing cancer than smoking if personality is the root-cause of behavior that is harmful; Smoking is but one behavior out of many that increases cancer risk. I don't see anything that harmful about these positions, many of which have already been proposed and studied by people other than Eysenck's.

To call Eysenck’s thoughts a 'cure' is misrepresenting and harmful to Eysenck’s reputation. The group who participated in the pamphlet experiment developed cancer as a lower rate, nobody was cured of their aliment.

Eysenck's misdeeds on particular areas of research discredit his savviness no more or less than his successes in other areas.
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Old 18th January 2020, 11:07 AM   #15
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I've been thinking this over. I think maybe it's time for us, as a society, to move past this fixation on scientific rigor in medical claims. And calling such claims nsafe if they lack that rigor.

We might be giving King's College too much authority over the medical community, to let them have the final say.

Who knows how much good medicine is being rejected because the medical establishment is too strict?
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Old 18th January 2020, 12:00 PM   #16
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The magnitudes of the claimed effects are alone enough to question the studies:

"Among more than 3,000 people in the studies, Eysenck and his colleague claimed people with a “cancer-prone” personality were 121 times more likely to die of the disease than those without..."

People have overall an ~20% chance of dying of cancer and a ~25% chance of dying of heart disease in their lifetimes. The strongest known "physical" risk factors, such as smoking or inheriting a bad BRCA alleles, increases one's cancer risk by 15 to 30 times, whereas most of the other known risks have significantly lower effects. A "personality" increasing one's risk by 121-fold would absolutely dominate and trivialize all these other risks. The much more "minor" effects of cigarettes, BRCA mutations, asbestos, benzene, etc. on cancer risk would have been virtually impossible to statistically detect over this proposed massive effect of personality. In essence they wouldn't matter: just your personality. That is not how it is in real life. In fact the proposed magnitude of the personality effect is so great a study wouldn't have been necessary to detect it: it would be obvious to everyone from the beginnings of history just based on their day to day observations. Like the fact that one bleeds if cut.

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Old 18th January 2020, 02:37 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by ServiceSoon View Post
There are many scientific papers that are not 'scientifically-rigorous.'

Maybe they shouldn't be called scientific, then.

Quote:
Eysenck’s proposal does not seem very controversial to me. If you cope with the disappointments of life in a health way, you are less likely to develop cancer than somebody who copes in health averse ways. Stress has also been scientifically implicated in poor physical health outcomes. It would make sense that personality could be a better indicator of developing cancer than smoking if personality is the root-cause of behavior that is harmful; Smoking is but one behavior out of many that increases cancer risk. I don't see anything that harmful about these positions, many of which have already been proposed and studied by people other than Eysenck's.

But his point wasn't about coping strategies or behaviour. It all depends on your "if", and it's a pretty big if: "if personality is the root-cause of behavior that is harmful."
Smoking is one of the most cancer-inducing and life-shortening behaviors you can find. Sniffing pulverized uranium or asbestos is also pretty bad, but you don't see many people do that to "cope with the disappointments of life."

Quote:
To call Eysenck’s thoughts a 'cure' is misrepresenting and harmful to Eysenck’s reputation. The group who participated in the pamphlet experiment developed cancer as a lower rate, nobody was cured of their aliment.

I really don't worry about Eysenck's reputation. He was held in high regard, but I don't think he deserved it.

Quote:
Eysenck's misdeeds on particular areas of research discredit his savviness no more or less than his successes in other areas.

What exactly is his "savviness," and what are those "successes" of his? Are that you thinking of this?
Quote:
He dove into the wars over the connection between IQ and race and alarmingly ended up on the academic advisory council of Mankind Quarterly, a journal commonly seen as a vehicle for dressing up racist ideology in the respectable garb of academia.
He long maintained the hereditability of IQ and personality traits and was a supporter of the work of people like Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein, the somewhat infamous authors of The Bell Curve, a book that amongst other things makes correlations between race and IQ in the US.
Is this “one of the worst scientific scandals of all time”? (Cosmos, Oct. 21, 2019)
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"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 18th January 2020, 02:48 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Who knows how much good medicine is being rejected because the medical establishment is too strict?

Who knows how many people are killed when it isn't?! (Sometimes we do know, actually!)
What are your examples of "good medicine (...) being rejected because the medical establishment is too strict?" Homeopathy? Acupuncture? Reiki Healing?
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 19th January 2020, 10:57 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by ServiceSoon View Post
Eysenck’s proposal does not seem very controversial to me.
It's completely bonkers on its face. A "cancer-prone personality"???

Quote:
It would make sense that personality could be a better indicator of developing cancer than smoking if personality is the root-cause of behavior that is harmful; Smoking is but one behavior out of many that increases cancer risk.
To properly control for other risk factors like smoking, you would have to control for it. That is, you only compare non-smokers to other non-smokers, or smokers to other smokers.
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Old 20th January 2020, 04:16 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
It's completely bonkers on its face. A "cancer-prone personality"???
I don't see what is bonkers about it. Unless you care to explain why you believe that, we will have to agree to disagree.

Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
To properly control for other risk factors like smoking, you would have to control for it. That is, you only compare non-smokers to other non-smokers, or smokers to other smokers.
Not sure I follow. If your data set only contained smokers, then you cannot come to any conclusion that smoking contributed to their death relative to non-smokers.

You'd have to compare smokers to non-smokers, while trying to capture any other variables that could have contributed besides smoking.

Even if you are not able to account for every variable, beside the obvious smoker vs. non-smoker, there are statistical tools that allow you to determine, within a spectrum of certainty, how those other variables could affect those results.
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Old 20th January 2020, 05:13 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Maybe they shouldn't be called scientific, then.
And yet there are many studies that are still labeled as such, and accepted without further scrutiny. This is commonplace. Therefore it doesn't seem fair to dismiss this one while accepting the others.

There is not one objective standard that all scientific studies are required to meet. Saying it wasn't rigorous is very vague. I'd like specifics so I can make my own judgement.

Originally Posted by dann View Post
But his point wasn't about coping strategies or behaviour. It all depends on your "if", and it's a pretty big if: "if personality is the root-cause of behavior that is harmful."
Smoking is one of the most cancer-inducing and life-shortening behaviors you can find. Sniffing pulverized uranium or asbestos is also pretty bad, but you don't see many people do that to "cope with the disappointments of life."
You are taking a different direction on this discuss than I was. And that is fine. How do you know what he meant by 'cancer-prone personality?' I cannot find the actual paper.

I assume that he meant personality contributes to our cognition and is more often than not a reliable predictor of our behavior. I am not personally a fan of Personality Psychology. It lacks some of the most basic requirements for it to be a hard science. I can see how personality may not be the root-cause or most accurate indicator of the choices we make or the behavior we engage in. What else would you recommend as the cause of behavior?

Originally Posted by dann View Post
I really don't worry about Eysenck's reputation. He was held in high regard, but I don't think he deserved it.
I was pointing to what I perceived as bias against Eysenck in the article.

Originally Posted by dann View Post
What exactly is his "savviness," and what are those "successes" of his? Are that you thinking of this?
Nice cherry pick. The linked article said he was the third most referenced psychologist in the social sciences.
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Old 20th January 2020, 07:18 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by ServiceSoon View Post
I don't see what is bonkers about it. Unless you care to explain why you believe that, we will have to agree to disagree.
It's bonkers because doctors already know the risk factors for cancer, and having the wrong kind of personality is one of them.
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Old 21st January 2020, 11:43 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
It's bonkers because doctors already know the risk factors for cancer, and having the wrong kind of personality is one of them.
Agreed! Thanks for backing me up homey.
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Old 21st January 2020, 12:22 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Andrew Goliszek Ph.D.
More than twenty years ago, the American Cancer Association asked the question, is there a cancer-prone personality? Since then, studies have shown that there may indeed be a link between behavior and personality and the onset of and recovery from cancer. SOURCE: Psychology Today
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Old 21st January 2020, 07:18 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by ServiceSoon View Post
As pointed out, those studies were fraudulent. That was the whole point of the OP.
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Old 21st January 2020, 08:25 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by ServiceSoon View Post
I don't see what is bonkers about it. Unless you care to explain why you believe that, we will have to agree to disagree.
So you have 2 guys. Let's call them Gloomy Gus and Cheerful Charlie. In all other respects, they are the same. Same sex, race, age, socioeconomic status, live in the same neighborhood, and same lifestyle habits. But their personalities differ. One is gloomy and pessimistic and the other is cheerful and optimistic. Could that difference alone give one a higher cancer risk? I don't think so.

Quote:
Not sure I follow. If your data set only contained smokers, then you cannot come to any conclusion that smoking contributed to their death relative to non-smokers.
Of course, because that's not what you're studying. You're trying to find out if personality makes a difference, not smoking. If you want to find out whether smoking causes cancer, then you compare smokers to non-smokers and control for other factors, like age, sex, and so on.

Quote:
You'd have to compare smokers to non-smokers, while trying to capture any other variables that could have contributed besides smoking.
Only if smoking is what you're studying. If you're studying personality types, then you want to compare a group of personality type A to a group of personality type B, but you have to control for other possible confounding factors like smoking, so you compare type A non-smokers to type B non-smokers, and type A smokers to type B smokers.
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Old 21st January 2020, 08:59 PM   #27
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Furthermore, smoking produces measurable physiological effects. Personality is purely psychology, and psychology is not physiological. We don't yet know the neural correlate for neuroticism.
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Old 21st January 2020, 10:23 PM   #28
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Clearly psychology affects behavior, and you can make a link between a person's personality and the things he does, some of which are dangerous. But the danger is in the things done, not in the reason they're done. A person who is angry and irascible might well be inclined to drive recklessly and thus be more inclined to be killed driving a car, but if you have no car you will not drive recklessly. When you kill yourself what you do is the proximate cause, not why you did it.
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Old 21st January 2020, 10:38 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
It's bonkers because doctors already know the risk factors for cancer, and having the wrong kind of personality is one of them.
Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
As pointed out, those studies were fraudulent. That was the whole point of the OP.
Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Furthermore, smoking produces measurable physiological effects. Personality is purely psychology, and psychology is not physiological. We don't yet know the neural correlate for neuroticism.

Did you mean isn't?
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Old 21st January 2020, 10:44 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Did you mean isn't?
I did. Thank you.
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Old 21st January 2020, 10:46 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Did you mean isn't?
I wondered the same thing.
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Old 21st January 2020, 10:56 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
I wondered the same thing.
Sorry. I obviously failed to proofread properly.

Let me repeat, to be clear: We know the risk factors for cancer, and having the wrong kind of personality is not one of them.

Let me expand: Some people who don't have "cancer-prone" personalities get cancer. Some people who do have "cancer-prone" personalities do not. That fact alone should be enough to cast significant doubt on the theory.

The theory is bonkers.
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Old 21st January 2020, 10:57 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
So you have 2 guys. Let's call them Gloomy Gus and Cheerful Charlie. In all other respects, they are the same. Same sex, race, age, socioeconomic status, live in the same neighborhood, and [hilite]same lifestyle habits. But their personalities differ.
One is gloomy and pessimistic and the other is cheerful and optimistic. Could that difference alone give one a higher cancer risk? I don't think so.[/quote]

The highlighted is the problem with what you are saying here. If their personalities differ and all else is equal, their lifestyles will differ, in ways that may not be obvious or measurable but which could still potentially impact health.
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Old 23rd January 2020, 07:45 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
As pointed out, those studies were fraudulent. That was the whole point of the OP.
Those studies...Which studies in the article I provided were fraudulent?

Quote:
Q: Explaining the disease-prone personality, you said, "No personality causes disease. So there's no cancer personality. However, there are some common traits that, if they are present in exaggerated degrees, will make you more predisposed to the disease....Is the idea of the disease-prone personality a philosophical supposition or a medical reality?
Originally Posted by Dr-Gabor-Mate
A: This is not really controversial at all because it's a medical reality... You can't say that there's a disease personality. But there are definitely disease prone personalities; certain personality traits that make a person much more likely to have a disease than people who don't have that type of personality...The repression of anger suppresses the immune system as opposed to healthy expressions of anger. It's not a question of philosophy.
Source for more details.
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Old 23rd January 2020, 07:49 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by bruto View Post
Clearly psychology affects behavior, and you can make a link between a person's personality and the things he does, some of which are dangerous. But the danger is in the things done, not in the reason they're done. A person who is angry and irascible might well be inclined to drive recklessly and thus be more inclined to be killed driving a car, but if you have no car you will not drive recklessly. When you kill yourself what you do is the proximate cause, not why you did it.
Cause meet effect. You cant dismiss the source of behavior. The link goes deeper than your example.

Holistic medicine is the direction that medicine is moving. The word holistic has a negative association, perhaps interdisciplinary is a more neutral term.
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Old 23rd January 2020, 07:58 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Furthermore, smoking produces measurable physiological effects. Personality is purely psychology, and psychology is not physiological. We don't yet know the neural correlate for neuroticism.
It is well established that psychology effects your physiology. If you believe you are in danger, your body reacts accordingly. You develop tunnel vision, adrenaline is released, the body re-directs blood from organs like digestion to muscles that can help you run or fight.

My example makes me cringe when you say "Personality is purely psychology, and psychology is not physiological," because there is a link between the two.
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Old 24th January 2020, 07:03 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Furthermore, smoking produces measurable physiological effects. Personality is purely psychology, and psychology is not physiological. We don't yet know the neural correlate for neuroticism.
While I'm sceptical of Eysenck's research, the above is simply not true. The dominant models of personality are trait models which explicitly propose a physiological basis to personality traits, and there is copious research on neural correlates of neuroticism. Just one example:
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41380-018-0236-9

Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Let me expand: Some people who don't have "cancer-prone" personalities get cancer. Some people who do have "cancer-prone" personalities do not. That fact alone should be enough to cast significant doubt on the theory.
That's like saying it's bonkers to claim smoking is a risk factor for lung cancer, because some people who don't smoke get lung cancer and some people who smoke do not.

Valid criticisms of the theory need to focus on the statistical issues and implausibility of claims.

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Old 24th January 2020, 03:09 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by Elaedith View Post
While I'm sceptical of Eysenck's research, the above is simply not true. The dominant models of personality are trait models which explicitly propose a physiological basis to personality traits, and there is copious research on neural correlates of neuroticism. Just one example:
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41380-018-0236-9



That's like saying it's bonkers to claim smoking is a risk factor for lung cancer, because some people who don't smoke get lung cancer and some people who smoke do not.

Valid criticisms of the theory need to focus on the statistical issues and implausibility of claims.
Can the statistics be separated enough to support the claims, though? Sure, a "cancer prone" personality leads you to behave in certain ways, but if those ways are not available, is there evidence that cancer-prone individuals will get more cancer anyway? Is there an available statistic that can make that separation? If not, then what is being described, while it might well be of great importance and usefulness, is not a medical issue but a social one.
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Old 24th January 2020, 04:08 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by bruto View Post
Can the statistics be separated enough to support the claims, though? Sure, a "cancer prone" personality leads you to behave in certain ways, but if those ways are not available, is there evidence that cancer-prone individuals will get more cancer anyway? Is there an available statistic that can make that separation? If not, then what is being described, while it might well be of great importance and usefulness, is not a medical issue but a social one.
I don't think the statistics support the claims; I think they fall under 'too good to be true'.

Any hypothetical prediction of cancer from personality could occur via a mediating variable (personality trait affects behaviour which in turn affects health); researchers often address that type of question with mediation analysis. However, this does not necessarily distinguish true mediators from spurious ones (ie. the variable controlled for was actually correlated with something else that is the true mediator). There are also often lots of different causal models that would produce the same statistical outcome and the statistics alone do not distinguish them. Personally I think mediation analyses are often misinterpreted.
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Old 27th January 2020, 09:15 PM   #40
arthwollipot
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Originally Posted by ServiceSoon View Post
It is well established that psychology effects your physiology. If you believe you are in danger, your body reacts accordingly. You develop tunnel vision, adrenaline is released, the body re-directs blood from organs like digestion to muscles that can help you run or fight.

My example makes me cringe when you say "Personality is purely psychology, and psychology is not physiological," because there is a link between the two.
What you describe is not cancer. And personality is different from psychology. What Eysenck was claiming was not that your mental state at a particular time causes cancer, it was that you being you causes cancer.

Originally Posted by Elaedith View Post
While I'm sceptical of Eysenck's research, the above is simply not true. The dominant models of personality are trait models which explicitly propose a physiological basis to personality traits, and there is copious research on neural correlates of neuroticism. Just one example:
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41380-018-0236-9
Hey, I learned something new today! Thanks.

Originally Posted by Elaedith View Post
That's like saying it's bonkers to claim smoking is a risk factor for lung cancer, because some people who don't smoke get lung cancer and some people who smoke do not.

Valid criticisms of the theory need to focus on the statistical issues and implausibility of claims.
You raise a good point about that particular thrust of my argument. It was weak. Thank you again.
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