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On the whole, a lot more work went into Dave Gibbons' Rorschach

Rorschach test plate 10Here's where to go to find my Tuesday column on the Wikipedia-Rorschach test controversy. I usually wait for my new columns to go up on Full Comment before linking to them, but with the FC editor on vacation this one seems to have been mislaid. Most novel observation in the piece: the shrinks who claim to worry about other tests following the public-domain Rorschach inkblots onto Wikipedia are either being disingenuous or think we're dummies. Probably a bit of both.

And, honestly: if you guys are really all that worried about your precious little colour splotches themselves, how about doing some research into the possibility that you could cook up new ones every year or so and still have them work? You are treating some ink shat onto paper in 1921 like it was the paramount creation of the human mind. How long do you think Hermann Rorschach really took making those things? As much as a whole lunch break?


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Comments (3)


I probably would've been less dismissive of Rorschach tests had the psychological community not gone into such a titty fit over the reveal. I probably wouldn't have thought much of the issue had they kept the statement somewhat vague and pseudoscientific, and I probably would've filed it as one of those things that are more of an art than a science. Their claims of extensive empirical research with robust results seemed so prima facie ludicrous that it was obvious that the lady doth protest too much.


Gotta diverge a bit. Great article.. not as much for the Rorschach focus, but the mention of William Poundstone and Big Secrets brought a wide smile.

I have all three in his series (Big Secrets, Bigger Secrets and Biggest Secrets) - always figured he never did a fourth because there was nowhere to go from 'Biggest'.

In my pre-Internet adolescence, these were the perfect sources of nerdy, useless info. From the aforementioned KFC and Coca-Cola to the earnest research on backwards messages on records, to David Copperfield's methods (as well as Rorschach).. way too much to mention.

Sure, parts were either rubbish (the alleged Barbra Streisand blue movie) or untrue (the 'instant unconsciousness' of the doomed Challenger crew). But those were balanced by great articles on topics like the Beale cipher and Mount Weather. Plus, there was the wonderful droll humor - lines like how listening to Ozzy Osbourne's Suicide Solution did not seem to instill a subliminal desire to kill oneself - "or to purchase further Ozzy Osbourne records".

Even with the glut of info on these matters on the Internet these days (often even less reliable), these books retain sentimental value, like other parts of youth. I will keep my dog-eared copies. Good to see a fellow fan (at least a former fan).

As for Rorschach, the sooner dismissed the better.

Is it any wonder the average person is disdainful of psychiatry as a whole.

BTW, I loved your "mating call of the quack" comment.


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