Hello, Joan & Dennis (particularly Dennis).
Leigh Ward-Smith

Hmm. Thank you for your continuing dialogue, Dennis. I’d have to go back and re-read Joan’s (or my) written statements to determine if anyone was talking about removing candidates (or vetting, as you term it) before said candidates got into office on the basis of mental and/or physical fitness.

I do understand how it could be a slippery slope to remove candidates, willy-nilly, without solid, peer-reviewed, expert-level testimony and evidence. I get that. However, first, the United States is not Iran. Second, it seems that you might carry a bias against the psychological profession. I am well enough acquainted with the DSM (and anyone can read the boilerplate copy on the DSM’s history, such as here: https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/practice/dsm/history-of-the-dsm) about how work groups were formed from a pool of international expertise in neuroscience, psychology, and psychiatry. As a former editor of an evidence-based medical journal (and several other college textbooks as well), I am well acquainted with peer review, the gold standard of what constitutes a good, empirical study, flawed or biased methodologies, and so forth, so there’s no need to patronize anyone here (neither me, Joan, you, nor anyone else). Science, as you know, is about constantly testing and retesting hypotheses to see if they can be duplicated using the same methodologies of previous researchers. Facts continue to come to light, in psychology as in any field. Is psychology/psychiatry flawed and imperfect? Of course, as much as humanity is flawed. I, however, reject the notion that “it’s [impossible] to scientifically determine . . . what constitutes fitness for office,” as there are some clear-cut standards by which that could be judged, by experts.

In any case, I feel that this conversation has great potential for devolving further into potential rudeness, patronizing, and condescension. In the end, I think that the field of psychology/psychiatry is evolving, as I said, as are any other science-based fields worth their salt (so to speak), in rigorous pursuit of the most robust data possible. To think that there is no expertise possible in matters of the mind . . . no empirically derived data . . . no good longitudinal studies . . . no consistency among patients with the same diagnosis . . . no accurate statistical analyses taking into account any confounders . . . seems to me that that’s solipsism, and I’ve moved away from that since my youth. But perhaps a more knowledgeable writer with specific expertise in psychology, neuroscience, or psychiatry could make more compelling arguments to you, as could a legal scholar, I’m sure. So, we shall agree to disagree, Dennis. Thank you.