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Saturday, November 23, 2019

Is this “one of the worst scientific scandals of all time”?

Hans Eysenck
Stephen Fleischfresser
cosmosmagazine.com
Originally posted 21 October 2019

Here is an excerpt:

Another study on the efficacy of psychotherapy in preventing cancer showed 100% of treated subjects did not die of cancer in the following 13 years, compared to 32% of an untreated control group.

Perhaps most alarming results were connected to Eysenck and Grossath-Maticek’s notion of ‘bibliotherapy’ which consisted of, as Eysenck put it, “a written pamphlet outlining the principles of behaviour therapy as applied to better, more autonomous living, and avoidance of stress.”

This was coupled with five hours of discussion, aimed both at reorienting a patient’s personality away from the cancer-prone and toward a healthier disposition. The results of this study, according to Pelosi, were that “128 of the 600 (21%) controls died of cancer over 13 years compared with 27 of 600 (4.5%) treated subjects.

"Such results are otherwise unheard of in the entire history of medical science.” There were similarly spectacular results concerning various forms of heart disease too.

These decidedly improbable findings led to a blizzard of critical scrutiny through the 90s: Eysenck and Grossath-Maticek’s work was attacked for its methodology, statistical treatment and ethics.

One researcher who attempted a sympathetic review of the work, in cooperation with the pair, found, says Pelosi, “unequivocal evidence of manipulation of data sheets,” from the Heidelberg cohort, as well as numerous patient questionnaires with identical responses.

An attempt at replicating some of their results concerning heart disease provided cold comfort, indicating that the personality type association with coronary illness was non-existent for all but one of the types.

A slightly modified replication of Eysenck and Grossath-Maticek’s research on personality and cancer faired no better, with the author, Manfred Amelang, writing “I know of no other area of research in which the change from an interview to a carefully constructed questionnaire measuring the same construct leads to a change from near-perfect prediction to near-zero prediction.”

The info is here.

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