23.06.2013

Cumhuriyet Bilim & Teknoloji'nin kapak konusu: "Sınırsız güç beyinde olumsuz etkiler yaratıyor."

Çeviri şuradan:
http://www.thewinnereffect.com/

Saçma yazıya alışkınız da, şu ifadedeki kendinden emniyet ve üstün ... devlet vatandaşı tutumuna ne diyeceğiz? : "Türkiye ABD Avrupa ve Orta Doğu için özel önem taşır; Tayyip Erdoğan'ın sorunları bundan ötürü hepimizi ilgilendirir."
Çüş!
Dalga geçelim bari; makaleyi değerlendirelim --adam nöropsikologmuş. 

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I assume this article is based on—if not only on— scientific knowledge and reasoning. This entitles all readers to present their views in the same context: Peer reviews, if you will.

I suggest, in fact, that we play “peer review” –always helps me learn and practice.

Here’s my voluntary contribution:

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REVIEWER’S CONCLUSION:

THIS IS APPARENTLY AN ARTICLE ON TRANSLATIONAL SCIENCE (TRANSLATIONAL NEUROPSYCHOLOGY), AS INDICATED BY THE AUTHOR.

MAJOR REVISION NEEDED.

I AGREE TO REASSESS THE PAPER LATER IF REVISED.

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Dear Editor,

This brief article reflects the author’s personal (subjective) view; it relates more value judgements and personal impression than any convincing scientific consideration. Conclusion is vague. Paper’s potential contribution to practice is limited at best.   

Certainly no one could object to an expression of personal opinion. In this article, however, almost every view that is presented is accompanied by an attempt at scientific justification. (I will not elaborate on this inconsistency; suffice it to briefly state that value choices are choices, their defence must be based on ethical—not scientific—reasoning, in fact the latter is neither necessary nor sufficient for justification.) This article’s crucial flaw is its carefree and vague use of psychological concepts and phenomena for which normally a meticulous definition is expected in any discipline, be it neuropsychology (the author’s field), social psychology or humanities.

My queries and critical comments are below, inserted into the text body in parantheses and in italics.  

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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan has held power for 10 years, during which period his country has experienced unprecedented economic growth and international prestige. (1. Clarification needed for “unprecedented economic growth”: Unprecedented by previous Prime Ministers of Turkey or a PM of any other country? 2. Reference needed for “growth” as well as for “prestige”.)     

Power and success are two of the biggest brain-changing drugs known to mankind, however, and no human being’s brain can survive unchanged such large infusions of these two drugs. (A metaphor is acceptable in a scientific article only when a very original finding is presented. Rhetoric is something that authors of science resort to; it cannot be readily expended only to replace the precise expressions that are hard to find simply because the concepts dealt with are complex. Rhetoric is in the service of the average reader who may not readily appreciate the presented novelty or place it into the right context.)  Edrogan’s (Please replace with: Erdoğan’s) response to this week’s demonstrations in Turkey show that he may not be an exception. (Exception is undefinable if “no human being’s brain can survive unchanged”.)  

Power’s effects on the brain have many similarities to those of drugs like cocaine (Reference needed.): both significantly change brain function by increasing the chemical messenger dopamine’s activity in the brain’s reward network (1. Reference needed 2. Brief defnitions needed for “the reward network”, “chemical messengers” and “dopamine”. 3. Elaboration needed on the physiology of the reward system.). These changes also affect the cortex (Elaboration needed on “the cortex” and other anatomical regions that are primarily relevant to the reward system, as implied by the word “also”. Reward pathways—implied to be involving not only the cortex but other—probably subcortical—structures must be briefly described.) and alter thinking (Vague expression: Both “thinking” and “alteration” need specification, as they have several meanings even in colloquial use.), making people more confident, bolder – and even smarter (The conjunction “even” is confusing. Please clarify: Does it imply that smartness is a counterintuitive consequence of the changes mentioned above or that it is contradictory by definition with the two other attributes mentioned?)

(The two paragraphs below will not be reviewed in detail. Please apply reviewer’s previous queries regarding the meanings and contexts of the words used and provide references whenever necessary.)

But these same changes also make people egocentric, less self-critical, less anxious and less able to detect errors and dangers. All of these conspire to make leaders impatient with the “messiness” of opposition and contradictory opinions, which we can see clearly in Prime Minister Erdoğan’s  intransigent and aggressive response to the demonstrators, including his infamous claim that “there is an evil called twitter” and that “social media is the evil called upon societies”.

The neurological effects of unconstrained power on the brain also inhibit the very parts of the brain which are crucial for self-awareness and what Erdoğan has to realize for the sake of Turkey’s future is actually the hardest thing for any human being to appreciate – that his own judgment is being distorted by 10 long years in power.

It is my judgment that no leader can survive more than 10 years in power without encountering massive distortion of judgment of the sort we are witnessing in Erdoğan’s response to the current unrest. No-one – but no-one – is immune to these neurological effects of power and I do not think it is a coincidence that 10 years is the maximum term in office for leaders of many countries, including USA and even the Republic of China. (1. Please provide similar examples 2. Please explain what makes the Republic of China different in terms of the 10-year restriction mentioned. 3. The 10-year specification sounds like a scientific law. I am not familiar with that. Reference needed for proof or at least some reliable evidence.)  

It is the neurologically-created conceit of many powerful leaders that – in the words of Louis XV of France -  “après moi le déluge” (after me, the flood). Power fosters the delusion of indispensability and many political leaders have created havoc in fighting to stay in post because they genuinely believe their abilities are crucial for the survival of their country and that no-one else can do it.

Former British Foreign Secretary Lord David Owen has proposed the existence of a “Hubris Syndrome” – an acquired personality disorder (Please specify the classification system that includes HS.) which arises in some leaders because of the effects of power on their brains. Among others, he diagnosed (Please describe the diagnostic procedure including structured interviews, examination procedures and laboratory findings.). UK Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher  as having succumbed to this disorder, both of whom ingested (Not clear. Specify mode of delivery.) the power drug for that crucial 10 years. (Please cite the original publication by Owen D. and a few research articles that employed the definition to provide reliable results. Comment on the comparability of the studies you will cite and clearly state their degree of reliability)  

The symptoms of Owen’s ‘Hubris Syndrome’ include the following:

  • A narcissistic preoccupation with one’s image (eg, about not being seen to back down and lose ‘strong man’ image).
  • A tendency for the leader to see the nation’s interests and his own as identical, including a tendency to talk in the third person about himself.
  • An  excessive confidence in the leader’s own judgment and contempt for the advice or criticism of others, along with a sense of omnipotence.
  • A tendency to feel accountable to History or God rather than to more mundane political or legal courts.
  • A tendency towards a loss of contact with reality and progressive isolation.
  • “Hubristic incompetence”, where things go wrong because of over-confidence and impaired judgment

Turkey is a vibrant (Please clarify vibrant.) nation (Please clarify nation. Turkey is formally classified as a country. If you refer to some formal but less recognized classification, provide the reference and cite a few studies that were based on this classification.), incredibly important to Europe, the USA and the Middle East (1. Reference needed. If definite proof is not available, please elaborate on available evidence pointing out the importance of Turkey to the nations and regions mentioned. 2. Translational science, being science, is universal. Please specify what makes the interests of Europe, the USA and the Middle East particularly prior.) and it is of paramount importance that its stability is not threatened by a brain distorted by power: there are enough countries surrounding Turkey which have been brought to their knees by precisely this neuropsychological affliction (1. Reference needed.I haven’t come across the use of affliction as a term of neuropsychology.) in their leaders and the world does not need any more.

(The article fails to reach a scientific conclusion. Insert your discussion here, followed by your conclusion. Add practical suggestions, if possible, as would be expected in any paper on translational science. Be as specific as possible, keeping in mind the average reader, who may not be sufficiently familiar to the concepts in your article.)

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