Hello SOBP Members,
The philosopher, mathematician, and scientist Charles Peirce once wrote that “in order to reason well…, it is absolutely necessary to possess…such virtues as intellectual honesty and sincerity and a real love of truth.” Genuine inquiry, whether scientific or otherwise, is any inquiry that is fueled by a desire to find true answers regardless of what the answers might be. Peirce distinguished genuine inquiry from what he called “sham reasoning.” In sham reasoning, the intent is not to find true answers to the questions asked, but to find facts that will support a conclusion that is already believed. The philosopher Susan Haack further distinguished genuine inquiry and sham reasoning from what she refers to as “fake reasoning.” Fake reasoning occurs when there is no concern necessarily for finding the right answer, but there is some ulterior goal related to addressing the question at hand. Haack says that the fake reasoner is concerned to advance himself/herself in some way by making a case for some proposition while being indifferent to the truth-value of the proposition.
Haack believes (and I agree) that we are losing our grip on the concepts of truth, evidence, objectivity, and disinterested inquiry. Copious amounts of misinformation and disinformation, masquerading as “information” and offered up as “alternative facts”, pollute cable television, talk radio, social media, and the internet. Unfortunately, this includes medical and scientific information.
Eric Schmidt, at the time executive chairman of Google, told the journalist Jeffrey Goldberg in an interview at the Aspen Ideas Festival in 2012 that Google should “rank against” disinformation. Acknowledging that doing so is not easily accomplished, Schmidt simply said that “You all have to be aware that searching for something doesn’t mean you have to believe it.”
Against this backdrop, let us remember that the mission of the Society of Biological Psychiatry not only is to promote excellence in research but also to disseminate the highest quality knowledge regarding the scientific basis of psychiatry in a manner that is accessible to professionals, trainees, and lay audiences.
As we kick off the new year, we are excited to meet in person once again at the 2022 SOBP Annual Meeting in New Orleans April 28 -30. I hope many of you will be able to attend the live event but am thankful for the opportunity for some to join us virtually. Although all submission deadlines have now passed, there is still time to register and make your accommodations at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. This year’s meeting theme “Positivity and Happiness in a Worrisome World” will bring you the latest developments in psychiatric neuroscience, while providing valuable opportunities for career development and networking.
The 2022 SOBP Annual meeting will provide an interactive platform for learning and discovery. The meeting program will focus on alternative and transformative frameworks for understanding psychiatric illnesses, and present enhanced and newly emerging tools for measurement and manipulation. Within these frameworks and with these tools, techniques and experimental designs are illustrated that can enhance understanding of psychiatric illness and elucidate the biological pathways and markers of illness processes.
As a final reminder, don’t forget to check out Biological Psychiatry the official journal of the Society of Biological Psychiatry and the first in the Biological Psychiatry family of journals. Companion titles include Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging and Biological Psychiatry: Global Open Science. The Society's purpose is to promote excellence in scientific research and education in fields that investigate the nature, causes, mechanisms and treatments of disorders of thought, emotion, and behavior. In accord with this mission, this peer-reviewed, rapid-publication, international journal publishes novel results of original basic, translational, and clinical mechanistic research that advances our understanding of psychiatric disorders and their treatment. Reviews and commentaries that focus on topics of current research and interest are also encouraged.
Robert H. Howland, M.D.
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital