As noted, this essay, given above, was posted already on the Freedom of Mind website.
Now...a wee lesson on how genuine scientific research is actually done.
Scientific method is very much more than skepticism
. Skepticism is an attitude.
Scientific method is not 'tradition'. To call scientific method 'traditional' is not adequate. This means one can semantically blur scientific method in with other traditions that, unlike science, offer no
safeguards against attribution bias.
Scientific method is in a different catagory than tradition, because scientific method, honestly applied, using double blind methods and in acceptance of findings that disappoint ones expectations offers a way to reject personally cherished hypotheses that cannot be supported by evidence.
Feelings of 'satisfaction' and 'growth' or 'self fulfillment' are subjective
. These can be defined in various ways.
To design a scientific test one has to define what the outcome is and select outcomes that are quantifiable.
If it is considered enough that persons going through Hoffman merely report satisfaction following participation, this calls into question why one even needs to have psychotherapists on staff or use therapeutic terminology. If HP is merely dedicated to 'personal growth' this is something that cannot be defined scientifically and any attempt to validate it by scientific research is meaningless.
Thats the power of rules.
You can adore and be passionately loyal to your favorite sports team. But if your team cannot score enough points against an opponent according to the rules of the game, the team supporters have to accept that their team has lost a game. One doesnt have to like that outcome but one has to admit its part of the record.
Now...let us look at the rules of science. Not the rituals of science, and not the tradition of science--the rules of science.
Why didnt the Hoffman people do what John Kabat-Zinn has done?
Arrange for different teams to construct some good research design protocols, and then test Hoffman Process and outcomes using double blind testing?
And test this repeatedly with different groups of graduates to see whether the findings are not only statistically significant, compared with controls, but also whether the findings are 'robust' - that is reproducible in different groups.
Thing is genuine scientific testing operates according to null hypothesis: one goes on the assumption that the treatment is no better than what could be produced by random outcomes--that is, it is in effective. For persons in the cult mindset, who cant admit that their darling therapy is anything other than wonderful, even imagining the null hypothesis (this treatment is no better than random effect) -- is cognitively repugnant.
Two, the best research on treatment methododology has a triple hurdle.
a) Disprove null hypothesis
b) Prove that the intervention exceeds placebo effect
c) Prove that the intervention (especially if it is expensive
) has better outcomes than existing, less expensive therapies that have already passed scientific testing.
Extra-ordinary claims (or expensive workshops ) require statistically overwhelming validation.
A properly designed study would do the following.
Make it clear in your mind whether Hoffman Process is a treatment for an identifiable and definable ailment. (Or something that fits criteria for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. (Current edition of the DSM is the DSM-4(revised). Examples of a condition that can be validated by the DSM and by additional tests would be depression.
If the HP to assist in 'personal growth', that is a vague outcome. Instead, one can tie 'personal growth' to measurable social outcomes such as income level, increased educational attainment (outside of the Hoffman Process community) in the years following participation in HP. If one only increases status by moving from a Hoffman student to becoming, over the years, a Hoffman Process teacher, this may feel satisfying, but is not an indication that HP brings full personal autonomy and skills that are applicable outside of the Hoffman Process social circuit.
Mere reported feelings of 'satisfaction' are not entirely reliable. People who spend a couple thousand dollars will through cognitive dissonance feel an inner pressure to justify the expense by reporting satisfaction.
1) Disprove the null hypothesis (Hoffman Process is no better than random outcome) Create the research design by hypothesizing that HP is nothing better than a random outcome
2) Hoffman Process is no better than a placebo (A control group assigned to a group set up that is merely a series of social get togethers, but with no agenda. Many of us feel better if we are given a group to hang out with, especially in this lonely and hectic world.)
3) Is HP not only as good as but significantly better (statistically speaking) than existing group therapy modalities that have already passed this kind of test and been reported in peer reviewed journals?
To create a research design based on the null hypothesis means one must be able to imagine that ones modality might be ineffective.
That is why subjects have to be assigned randomly to control groups vs intervention groups and in such as way that no one involved with the study knows how people have been assigned.
If people have been processed through somethign that leaves their minds in unconscious 'primary process states of mind', they will have great difficulty imagining that their workshop experience was nothing better than what could have happened in any other social group.
Feelings of 'satisfaction' and 'growth' or 'self fulfillment' are subjective.
If it is considered enough that persons going through Hoffman merely report satisfaction following participation, this calls into question why it is considered necessary to have psychotherapists on staff or use therapeutic terminology.
To do scientific method, (not scientific tradition, scientific method) requires application of conscious and adult logic.
And no, this does not
have to take the wonder or excitement out of life.
Not at all.
Baseball follows rules and has its methods, too. It is not only possible to win a game, it is possible to lose a game.
You can love your team and yet if your team cannot score enough points, according to the rules of baseball against the opposite team, you have to face the pain of seeing your team lose a game--and in some cases, feel the lingering agony of your team losing its chance to play the World Series.
But does honoring the rules of baseball take the wonder out of it?
Not at all. People whose teams lose a game or even lose out on a World Series still appreciate baseball and its rules.
The drama and sheer wonder of baseball remains intact, not in spite of its rules but because of its rules.
Ditto for scientific method.