Saturday, May 06, 2023

Prince Charles’ room in New Court, Cambridge was a bit grander than the average freshman’s. A bath was even installed on the staircase. He left Trinity in the academic year I started, and the bath in the next staircase saved me having to go across the court in my second year. I remember going to the Wren library and presumably there is a similar photo of me in the admissions book from 1970, although I can’t remember it being taken.

Monday, May 01, 2023

Human thinking and ChatGPT

An interesting paper by Durt et al discusses why ChatGPT and other large language models may seem so good at modelling human thinking. Generative artificial intelligence uses structures and patterns of human language to produce outputs that can be strikingly like human beings. The so-called neural network architecture of ChatGPT, although it can't act independently or make decisions, generates responses based on the patterns and associations found in the vast mount of inputted text. Meaning really has no existence outside of language use and rather results from it, so perhaps we shouldn't be so surprised by the extent to which thinking is guided by patterns. Thinking can be intuitive, even creative, but most of the time we're just pinching ideas from other people. 

Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Visit to Cambridge University library embellished by excursion to Trinity College fellows’ garden (see website).

Thursday, February 02, 2023

Being unacceptable

I have been looking at the website for the research project on the work of Don Cupitt (listen to eg. Radio 4 programme about Cupitt’s 1980s TV series Sea of faith). He was one of my supervisors when I switched to Religious Studies for my Part II at Cambridge (see eg. previous post). Interestingly, he had an exhibition to Trinity Hall for Part I of his degree in Natural Sciences before switching to theology. I had an exhibition to Trinity eighteen years later to study Medical Sciences before changing to Religious Studies. Maybe I’ve been as much as a provocateur for psychiatry as he has been for religion. 

Having flirted with death of God theology I gave up my involvement with the church a few years after Cambridge. Actually I’ve never wanted to be a heretic within psychiatry. As I’ve said throughout my Relational Psychiatry blog, psychiatry does need to change. I’m not wanting to abolish it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

I came across two portraits online (see link and another) painted by my great uncle, Alfred H. Page, who I never knew.

Thursday, January 05, 2023

Just to prove it, I’ve come across my certificate from August 1979 showing I am an Associate of the Institute of Bankers. I did not like working for Lloyds bank for four years, but was grateful they lent me money cheaply to buy our house when mortgage rates were even higher than now.

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Chance and necessity revisited

Jacques Monod viewed molecular biology as justification for a mechanistic and deterministic view of life, which he elucidated in his best seller Chance and necessity. The book influenced me when I was an undergraduate at Cambridge University doing Part I Medical Sciences in 1970-2. It was only when I switched to Religious Studies for my Part II that I realised that a reductionist and positivistic view of science was at least open to question.

Monod argued that living beings are chemical and self-constructing machines. He acknowledged that “our understanding of the mechanisms of development is still very imperfect” (p. 52). Nonetheless he was clear that the “process of spontaneous and autonomous morphogenetic is based on stereospecific recognition properties of proteins”. I’m sure it is, but the question is whether proteins “animate and build living systems (p.52)”? Contra Monod,  I’ve come to accept Kant’s view that life cannot be explained in mechanical terms (eg. see post on my Relational Psychiatry blog).

Even though the scientific and professional establishment tend to agree with Monod, it’s not just the human sciences, but also biology, that need to be anti-reductionist (see eg. another post from my Relational Psychiatry blog). The implication for psychiatry (see my Relational Psychiatry blog passim) and for medicine in general, is that it is not person-centred enough.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Sustaining the NHS

Sajid Javid in the introduction to his keynote speech to Policy Exchange on 'Digital transformation in health and social care' said "The truth is that our health and social care system is following an unsustainable path that is too often not delivering for patients". He went on, "At the start of this century health service spending represented some 27% of day-to-day public service spending. By 2024 it is set to account for 44%. ... But can we really say we've seen an equivalent improvement in outcomes?"

Obviously this rhetorical question was meant to be answered in the negative and I would agree. I've said before (eg. see previous post) that overmedicalisation of society has created too much medicine. This situation is ironic as the currently fragmented and dysfunctional NHS has also inflated demand so that it cannot cope. The NHS needs to relearn to concentrate on priorities. There needs to be a shift back towards meeting need rather than demand.

The BMJ has recently called for a reset in its campaign against too much medicine (see editorial). A rushed article of mine 'The limits of psychiatry' was published (with several fairly minor errors eg. picture of Alfred rather than Adolf Meyer) in a BMJ theme issue in 2002 highlighting the dangers of too much medicine. As the recent editorial says. "Evidence for the damaging effect of overdiagnosis and overtreatment continues to grow". And as it concludes, there needs to be a move from "rhetoric and scattered evidence to actionable evidence and measurable impact".

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Peter the Great was no saint

Commentary in Politico suggest Vladimir Putin is no Peter the Great because he has failed to stop murder and rape in Ukraine. But this tapestry of Peter shows him looking pretty pleased with the carnage of the Battle of Poltava in Ukraine in the background.

Battle was raging between Russian forces and the army of Charles XII of Sweden, marking the beginning of Russian hegemony in Northern Europe.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Death rattle through Buttler hit wicket

Brave fight comes to an end. Day 5 of second Ashes test. Let’s hope England are good enough to come back.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Painful blow at the end but at least there’s a fifth day

Day four of Ashes second test. At least Malan and Root develop their all-round skills with two wickets each.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Worst day of series for England?

Malan and Root did not bat all day unfortunately (day 3 of second Ashes test). Other partnerships are needed. But Warner got confused leading to a runout. So, is this a repeat of 1936-7 in reverse (see previous post). Is there rain predicted?

Friday, December 17, 2021

Australia in command, I admit it, but …

Day 2 of the second Ashes test. Australia got to more than 450 but England have plenty of batting after losing two wickets. And it is first pink ball Ashes test (see article). And it’s hot, watch the lightning.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Dropping a sitter is embarrassing, but so what?

Rubbing in Buttler’s embarrassment is easy game, but he’s playing a real match. Let’s see after day one of second test. (See previous post posted in Australia).

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Discover Lowestoft

Lowestoft in olden times (1899 edition by David Price)

The Arnold family of Lowestoft

The Arnold family held a high position in the town of Lowestoft for more than century. The prestige of the family was enhanced by the celebrity of the educational reformer, Dr. Thomas Arnold, Head Master of Rugby School, and his son, Matthew Arnold, one of the most distinguished of the poets and essayists of the Victorian Era.

Wednesday, December 08, 2021

The Ashes has started

England suffer nightmare start to the Ashes as Rory Burns dismissed first ball

Not since 1936 has this happened at the start of Ashes

English cricket team in Australia in 1936–37

Pat Cummins sets records in first day as captain, bowling figures

Bradman has been the only captain to win a five-match series after losing the first two Tests. But in 2021/2?