Checking Szasz quotes

In previous posts I checked Ayn Rand quotes from Robert Mayhew and quotes in a Karl Popper book. In this post I am checking a couple of quotes from Thomas Szasz.

The first quote comes from p. 58 of Cruel Compassion:

Among the major advantages of separate care for the epileptics in colonies are the following: The model colony provides the patient with an environment from which many of the dangers he faces in normal community life, as well as stresses injurious to his mental health, are eliminated. … It relieves society in some measure of a source of potential danger to the public safety, since certain types of epileptic seizures are often accompanied by homicidal impulses. 

The quote comes from p. 383 of the 1949 edition of The Mentally Ill In America by Albert Deutsch. The original quote reads:

Among the major advantages of separate care for the epileptics in colonies are the following: 

1. The model colony provides the patient with an environment from which many of the dangers he faces in normal community life, as well as stresses injurious to his mental health, are eliminated. It is planned as closely as possible along the pattern of normal community life, with features adapted to his individual needs. 

2. It provides him with constant medical care and supervision. 

3. It relieves society in some measure of a source of potential danger to the public safety, since certain types of epileptic seizures are often accompanied by homicidal impulses. 

4. It removes the patient from a general institution where he is forced into close contact with various groups of dependents (the mentally ill and defective, etc.) under conditions highly unsatisfactory to himself and his fellow-patients or fellow-inmates.

Szasz left out the numbers without indicating that he left anything out and squashed all of the quotes into a single paragraph but the quote is correct otherwise.

On p. 124 of Cruel Compassion, Szasz writes the following quote:

This investigation uses the method recently designated as the “psychological.” The name is applied because the theory takes its point of departure from within, from the mind of the economic man. I myself once spoke of economic theory in this sense as applied psychology.

The original quote comes from Social Economics by Friedrich von Wieser and it reads:

This investigation uses the method recently designated as the “psychological.” The name is applied because the theory takes its point of departure from within, from the mind of the economic man. I myself once spoke of economic theory in this sense as applied psychology.

The final quote I will check comes from p. 107 of Coercion as Cure by Thomas Szasz:

In carrying out my general plan of treatment it is my habit to ask the patient to remain in bed from six weeks to two months. At first, and in some cases for four or five weeks, I do not permit the patient to sit up or to sew or write or read. The only action allowed is that needed to clean the teeth. In some instances I have not permitted the patient to turn over without aid, and this I have done because sometimes I think no motion desirable, and because some- times the moral influence of absolute repose is of use. In such cases I arrange to have the bowels and water passed while lying down…Usually, after a fortnight I permit the patient to be read to—one to three hours a day—but I am daily amazed to see how kindly nervous and amemic women take to this absolute rest, and how little they complain of its monotony…All the moral uses of rest and isolation and change of habits are not obtained by merely insisting on the physical conditions needed to effect these ends. If the physician has the force of character required to secure the confidence and respect of his patients he has also much more in his power, and should have the tact to seize the proper occasions to direct the thoughts of his patients to the lapse from duties to others, and to the selfishness which a life of invalidism is apt to bring about. Such moral medication belongs to the higher sphere of the doctor’s duties, and if he means to cure his patient permanently, he cannot afford to neglect them. 

The original quote comes from pp. 43-46 of Fat and Blood by Mitchell Silas Weir and it reads:

I have, of course, made use of every grade of rest for my patients, from insisting upon repose on a lounge for some hours a day up to entire rest in bed. In carrying out my general plan of treatment it is my habit to ask the patient to remain in bed from six weeks to two months. At first, and in some cases for four or five weeks, I do not permit the patient to sit up or to sew or write or read. The only action allowed is that needed to clean the teeth. In some instances I have not permitted the patient to turn over without aid, and this I have done because sometimes I think no motion desirable, and because some- times the moral influence of absolute repose is of use. In such cases I arrange to have the bowels and water passed while lying down, and the patient is lifted on to a lounge at bedtime and sponged, and then lifted back again into the newly-made bed. 

In all cases of weakness, treated by rest, I insist on the patient being fed by the nurse, and, when well enough to sit up in bed, I insist that the meats shall be cut up, so as to make it easier for the patient to feed herself.

In many cases I allow the patient to sit up in order to obey the calls of nature, but I am always careful to have the bowels kept reasonably free from costiveness, knowing well how such a state and the efforts it gives rise to enfeeble a sick person. 

Usually, after a fortnight I permit the patient to be read to,—one to three hours a day,—but I am daily amazed to see how kindly nervous and amemic women take to this absolute rest, and how little they complain of its monotony. In fact, the use of massage and the battery, with the frequent comings of the nurse with food and the doctor’s visits, seem so to fill up the day as to make the treatment less tiresome than might be supposed. And, besides this, the sense of comfort which is apt to come about the fifth or sixth day,—the feeling of ease, and the ready capacity to digest food, and the growing hope of final cure, fed as it is by present relief,—all conspire to make most patients contented and tractable. 

The moral uses of enforced rest are readily estimated. From a restless life of irregular hours, and probably endless drugging, from hurtful sympathy and over-zealous care, the patient passes to an atmosphere of quiet, to order and control, to the system and care of a thorough nurse, to an absence of drugs, and to simple diet. The result is always at first, whatever it may be afterwards, a sense of relief, and a remarkable and often a quite abrupt disappearance of many of the nervous symptoms with which we are all of us only too sadly familiar. 

All the moral uses of rest and isolation and change of habits are not obtained by merely insisting on the physical conditions needed to effect these ends. If the physician has the force of character required to secure the confidence and respect of his patients he has also much more in his power, and should have the tact to seize the proper occasions to direct the thoughts of his patients to the lapse from duties to others, and to the selfishness which a life of invalidism is apt to bring about. Such moral medication belongs to the higher sphere of the doctor’s duties, and if he means to cure his patient permanently, he cannot afford to neglect them. 

Szasz’s book squashed material from several pages and paragraphs into one paragraph and changed some of the punctuation in the original from “,-” to “-” but the quote is the same otherwise.

About conjecturesandrefutations
My name is Alan Forrester. I am interested in science and philosophy: especially David Deutsch, Ayn Rand, Karl Popper and William Godwin.

38 Responses to Checking Szasz quotes

  1. justinceo2 says:

    One thing people can do if they want to make certain changes is put a brief explanatory note. Like if you think some numbers for points within a quote will be unaesthetic in the format your own writing will appear in, you can put “(list numbering omitted)”. Or if you want to omit paragraph breaks you can put “(paragraph breaks omitted). If you omit actual substantive material, I think you should always indicate that with ellipses, some brackets, whatever. But I think stuff that’s more like formatting can be addressed in a note. At least then, the reader has some warning that a change has been made, and they can refer back to the original if they think it might be important.

  2. justinceo2 says:

    It’s kind of like how you can emphasize stuff in text if you say you’re doing that. Emphasis is an actual change, so the “quote” is no longer exact, literal, and precise, but you explicitly SAY you’re doing it, so it’s fine

  3. Dec says:

    Deutsch’s 1985 paper misquotes Turing.

    Click to access deutsch85.pdf

    > Church (1936) and Turing (1936) conjectured that these limitations on what can be computed are not imposed by the state-of-the-art in designing computing machines, nor by our ingenuity in constructing models for computation, but are universal. This is called the ‘Church-Turing hypothesis’; according to Turing,
    >
    > Every ‘function which would naturally be regarded as computable’ can be computed by the universal Turing machine. (1.1)

    This is misleading because it makes it appear like the sentence in italics is a Turing quote. But the part in quote marks, which I guess is supposed to be an actual quote, is not accurate. Here are the sentences in Turing’s paper which are closest:

    Link to Turing 1936 paper

    Page 230:

    > In §§ 9, 10 I give some arguments with the intention of showing that the computable numbers include all numbers which could naturally be regarded as computable.

    Page 249:

    > No attempt has yet been made to show that the ” computable ” numbers include all numbers which would naturally be regarded as computable.

    So Deutsch has substituted the word “function” into a sentence in which Turing never used that word.

  4. Dec says:

    I wrote a comment about a Turing misquote in Deutsch’s 1985 paper but it didn’t appear. Lost or in moderation?

  5. Dec says:

    The Turing misquote is ‘function which would naturally be regarded as computable’ on page 3 of this paper:

    Click to access deutsch85.pdf

  6. Elliot Temple says:

    Ugh @ DD misquoting Turing.

    Alan can you disable PDF preview in comments? Not only is it huge, it’s also hiding the URL Dec shared…

  7. Elliot Temple says:

    I blogged the problem:

    https://curi.us/2468-deutsch-misquoted-turing

    I also found that DD cited the paper wrong (wrote volume 442, but it’s 42). And he specifically cited page 230 so we know which Turing text he misquoted.

  8. Dec says:

    https://curi.us/2468-deutsch-misquoted-turing

    Re. would/could, Turing uses both. See p. 230 and p. 249. I didn’t notice the cite is also wrong. Good pickup.

    These misquotes don’t seem hard to find. I was looking through that paper for another reason and became suspicious of the quote. The misquote is notable not only for the journal it is in, but also that the paper is early in Deutsch’s career. Deutsch’s pattern of substituting words and making quotes sound better is already established. And he’s getting away with it in prestigious journals.

    • Elliot Temple says:

      re would/could, I know on p. 249 Turing used the other word, but DD cited p 230 specifically.

      It’s nice when they actually give page numbers so you can better judge which text they’re misquoting. It can be hard to know which text the misquote is based on otherwise…

  9. Dec says:

    Here’s an instance of Deutsch’s paraphrase being confused with an actual Turing quote. This is from a Stanford University quantum computer science course:

    Every “function which would naturally be regarded as computable” can be computed by the universal Turing machine. – Turing

    https://cs269q.stanford.edu/lectures/lecture1.pdf (p. 28)

    They haven’t even cited Deutsch as the source. Here it looks like Turing is quoting someone and that he named the universal machine after himself. They’ve bolded “naturally” for some reason. All very misleading. Such bad scholarship in a prestigious comp sci course.

  10. Dec says:

    When I see misquotes like the one in Deutsch’s paper that haven’t been noticed for decades, I wonder what else doesn’t stand up. Like has anyone actually checked the maths really carefully?

  11. Dec says:

    This is a transcript of a talk Deutsch gave when he was awarded the Dirac medal:

    Click to access MathematiciansMisconception.pdf

    I haven’t checked the transcript for accuracy, but it has another variation of the Turing misquote:

    So, by ‘anything that would naturally be regarded as computable’, Turing meant: computable in nature – by physical objects. And by ‘provable’, he meant provable by physical objects.

    Later in the talk, Deutsch says:

    I also had referee problems. The referee of the [1985] paper in which I presented that proof insisted that Turing’s phrase “would naturally be regarded as computable” referred to mathematical naturalness – mathematical intuition – not nature.

    So the referee gave it some attention but the misquote still made it into print.

  12. Dec says:

    That transcript also has this:

    As Richard Feynman remarked: they thought they understood paper; but they didn’t.

    Is this something Feynman said?

  13. Dec says:

    https://curi.us/2468-deutsch-misquoted-turing#4

    >> DD’s paper was published in *Proceedings of the Royal Society of London*
    >
    > The head editor of that journal, today, is DD’s friend, Michael Lockwood (ML). I don’t know when he became head editor. I searched briefly and didn’t find a timeline for previous people in that job.

    Did you confuse Michael Lockwood FRS with the following Michael Lockwood?:

    https://www.informationphilosopher.com/solutions/philosophers/lockwood/#:~:text=Michael%20Lockwood%20has%20explored%20the%20philosophical%20implications%20of,the%20mind-body%20problem%20and%20the%20problem%20of%20consciousness.

    He died recently:

    https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/thetimes-uk/obituary.aspx?n=michael-john-lockwood&pid=189508910

    Funeral notice says his son is Nicholas.

  14. Dec says:

    Deutsch on p. 173 of FoR:

    ‘He thought,’ as Feynman once put it, ‘that he understood paper.’

    So it is stated somewhat differently here to his talk. So far I haven’t been able to find a source for the quote. Is it a real?

  15. Dec says:

    Turing misquote also on p. 132 of FoR:

    He conjectured that this repertoire consisted precisely of ‘every function that would naturally be regarded as computable’.

    There is no source given for this quote. Turing’s 1936 paper is not even in the recommended readings. Maybe Deutsch thought it too technical for the general reader, but Turing’s work on computability is one of the four strands. It should be referenced. Turing’s 1950 paper “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” is in the Further Reading section but it is cited via a Hofstadter and Dennett book.

    On the same page as above, Deutsch writes:

    It is implicit in Turing’s work that he expected what ‘would naturally be regarded as computable’ to be also what could, at least in principle, be computed in nature.

    Since Deutsch hasn’t cited Turing’s work — and moreover misquoted him — what are we to make of this? You can’t say something is implicit in his work and not give a citation to the work you are referring to. He’s just asking us to trust his judgement. It’s bad scholarship.

    Page 346:

    Steven Weinberg thinks that ‘The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless. But if there is no solace in the fruits of our research, there is at
    least some consolation in the research itself.’ (The First Three Minutes, p. 154.)

    So here we get a book title and exact page number. Why neglect to do the same with Turing, who is way more important to the book than Weinberg? Checking the quote, I see the first sentence in the quote is the end of a paragraph and the second sentence the beginning of a new paragraph. It’s not one paragraph.

  16. Dec says:

    Sorry about double post – hit post before I was ready.

  17. Dec says:

    Just came across this paper on AI by Turing:

    Click to access turing1948.pdf

    His 1950 paper on AI gets a lot of attention, but this one seems little known (and Deutsch hasn’t referenced the paper in his books or 1985 paper). The paper has a restatement of the Turing thesis and further explanation of it. Plus there’s stuff on educating machinery! This stuff is wrong but it’s interesting to see Turing’s thoughts.

  18. Dec says:

    Popper’s translation of fragment B34 of Xenophanes in Conjectures and Refutations:

    But as for certain truth, no man has known it,
    Nor will he know it; neither of the gods,
    Nor yet of all the things of which I speak.
    And even if by chance he were to utter
    The final truth, he would himself not know it:
    For all is but a woven web of guesses.

    (p. 153)

    In The World of Parmenides “final truth” has been changed to “perfect truth” (p. 46). Wonder why the change in wording. I’m a bit suspicious of Popper’s translation. It seems too convenient and too modern an interpretation (eg, the metaphor in the last line).

    • Popper Fan says:

      > In The World of Parmenides “final truth” has been changed to “perfect truth” (p. 46).

      WoP says:

      > Throughout this volume there are signs that Popper returned again and again to the original text trying to improve his rendering into English and German of the fragments most central to his interpretation of the Presocratics.

      Have you actually read WoP?

      • Popper Fan says:

        > Newly improved translations of Xenophanes’ fragments (DK 21B23; 24; 25: 26; and DK B15; 16; 18; 34; and 35) have replaced the translations on p. 145 and on pp. 152–3 of the 5th edition of C. & R., 1989. Ed.}

        Also this was done after Popper was dead, by other people, so if there’s a typo it likely wouldn’t reflect poorly on his own scholarship in his books from when he was alive. (Not that a typo would be that big a deal, anyway.)

        • Dec says:

          I wasn’t trying to say anything about Popper’s scholarship in that regard. I was not able to type that symbol. It is not part of unicode:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_diacritics

          So I put square brackets around where I had to make the change, noted the issue, and asked if there was a typo. And I did so after checking other sources. You are trying to push on me a position I do not hold. Similarly with “final truth” and “perfect truth”. I was wondering why that change was made, not saying anything about Popper’s scholarship. Yes of course Popper tried to improve his translations. But one can still ask why a particular change was made. I have read WoP. I don’t remember everything in it (like you guys don’t remember everything in BoI etc and missed major misquotes). The book is right in front of me.

          The wiki link above says that diacritical symbols were introduced in the Hellenistic period. So well after Xenophanes died. In his time they used only capital letters. So the ancient Greek text in Popper, DK, Sextus Empiricus etc is already a translation.

  19. Dec says:

    This is the Ancient Greek that Popper used to translate Xenophanes:

    καί τὸ μὲν οὖν σαφὲς οὔτις ἀνὴρ ἵδἐν οὐδέ τις ἔσται
    εἰδὼς ἀμφὶ θεῶν τε καὶ ἅσσα λέγω περὶ πα[ν]των·
    εἰ γὰρ καὶ τὰ μὰλιστα τύχοι τετελεσμένον εἰπών,
    αὐτὸς ὅμως οὐκ οἶδε· δόκος δ’ ἐπὶ πᾶσι τέτυκται.

    (WoP, p. 46)

    Where did he get this from? Best I can tell it is from Sextus Empiricus. If so, he shouldn’t say things like the following:

    Here are the five fragments (DK, B 16 and 15; 18; 35; and 34) from Xenophanes’ writings….

    (CR, p. 205).

    It is not from Xenophanes’ writings, but quotes of his writings. The five fragments that Popper goes on to quote are also Popper’s translations.

    Note I put brackets around “ν” because Popper has an acute mark on it and I can’t reproduce. Maybe this is a typo?

    • Popper Fan says:

      > Where did he get this from? Best I can tell it is from Sextus Empiricus. If so, he shouldn’t say things like the following:

      and

      > It is not from Xenophanes’ writings, but quotes of his writings.

      All pre-socratic Greek writing has survived only as fragments that were quoted later. That’s why they’re called fragments – we don’t have complete pages. I don’t think Popper or others are required to explain what fragments are, for audience members unfamiliar with the context, in order to be allowed to write about pre-socratics without having done something wrong. He did identify what they are – you just didn’t know what his sentence meant. And Popper gave you cites so you can look up more info if you want. I don’t think the convention in the field (of discussing fragments as if they were written by the original person we believe wrote them) is unreasonable and I don’t think you know enough to judge it and demand it be overthrown.

      > I’m a bit suspicious of Popper’s translation.

      Translations of Xenophanes vary considerably. In short, the translations can’t just be done in a straightforward, literal way, even if you wanted to. Translators have to use judgment, make decisions, etc. I think Popper took more liberties than average, which is fine, because he explained a lot about his translation policies (and I think they’re good for many purposes) and he also identified himself as an amateur translator. Popper also explained his reasoning for multiple translation decisions including commenting on the “woven” part.

      > Note I put brackets around “ν” because Popper has an acute mark on it and I can’t reproduce. Maybe this is a typo?

      I’m no expert, but it looks like you’re just wrong and don’t know what you’re talking about.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Greek_accent

      > In Ancient Greek, one of the final three syllables of each word carries an accent. Each syllable contains a vowel with one or two vocalic morae, and one mora in a word is accented; the accented mora is pronounced at a higher pitch than other morae.

      In your version, the word has no accent. So I think your version is wrong. And you gave no source for where you’re getting it. Here’s a source on Xenophanes in Greek:

      http://www.poesialatina.it/_ns/Greek/testi/Xenophanes/Fragmenta.html

      >   εἰˉδὼˉς ἀˉμφὶ˘ θε˘ῶˉν τε˘ καὶ˘ ἅˉσσα˘ λέ˘γωˉ πε˘ρὶ˘ πάˉντωˉν·

      That’s a bad copy/paste that turned superscript bars into their own characters. Check the page to see it better. The extra marks only appear when the fragment is highlighted. There are bars over the ά and ω in this word. I don’t know what they mean.

      According to wikipedia, a morae (which sounds similar to a consonant) should have the accent, so I don’t know how this source could be correct to put the accent on the ά. Popper has it one character over and in what seems like a valid place. But he has an accent on an ‘a’ in other places so I presumably don’t understand the rules. Possibly what matters is which syllable has the accent, rather than letter, but I don’t know. I don’t know what I’m talking about and couldn’t really say if Popper got it right or wrong. Someone who actually knows how the language works would have to comment. I just think you know even less than I do, and certainly not enough to correct Popper on that detail. You’re too unfamiliar with this stuff to fact check it. Maybe I’m wrong and (like Popper but unlike me) you’ve studied ancient Greek enough to know things like this, but your posts lack evidence of that, and have circumstantial evidence to the contrary. And you make no mention of checking *the specific book that Popper cited*. He told us what book he got the Greek words from. I see no indiction that you know that, let alone checked it. Plus you’ve made no mention of being able to read German, so that you could e.g. read any relevant comments or footnotes in Popper’s source.

      If you want to discuss these topics, you should post at the CF forum. If you don’t give any explanation of why you’re here instead, I won’t reply again.

      • AnonReader says:

        > If you want to discuss these topics, you should post at the CF forum. If you don’t give any explanation of why you’re here instead, I won’t reply again.

        This is a Critical Rationalist blog. Open for comments on Critical Rationalist and other topics. It doesn’t have a policy to say go talk elsewhere. It doesn’t even have a link on the sidebar to where you’re talking about.

    • Popper Fan says:

      > This is the Ancient Greek that Popper used to translate Xenophanes:

      No it’s not. I just checked (with both paper WoP and DK PDF) and you have at least one error (ἵδἐν). Where did you get that and how did you get it into a computer?

  20. Dec says:

    All the sources I checked had the accent one character over on the “α”. As does DK:

    https://archive.org/details/DielsHermannKranzWaltherDieFragmenteDerVorsokratikerBandI1960/page/n149/mode/2up

    DK sources from Sextus Empiricus and Plutarch.

    I used an online ancient Greek keyboard to type in the quote from WoP and that keyboard would not allow diacritical marks on “ν”.

    Yes, there was a typo in my quote. I proof read it, but that one slipped through. These diacritical marks would have been hard for ancient scholars to get right too.

    I think the fragments are likely to be different from the originals in major respects. As we have seen, nearly all people (including myself) do not get quotes right. Quoting errors are ubiquitous. And I would say that nearly all quoting mistakes in books never get picked up. This particularly needs to be emphasized to people when reading things like the fragments which are distant from their source. Perhaps Sextus Empiricus and Plutarch were good. But I’m not knowledgeable enough to check.

    I discuss these things where I please and I owe you no explanations. If you don’t want to further discuss that’s up to you.

  21. Dec says:

    Here’s Sextus Empiricus on Xenophanes B34 with the text in ancient Greek and also translated into English:

    https://www.loebclassics.com/view/sextus_empiricus-against_logicians/1935/pb_LCL291.25.xml

    The Xenophanes passage here is slightly different to the one in DK and WoP:

    καὶ τὸ μὲν οὖν σαφὲς οὔ τις ἀνὴρ ἴδεν, οὐδέ τις ἔσται
    εἰδὼς ἀμφὶ θεῶν τε καὶ ἅσσα λέγω περὶ πάντων
    εἰ γὰρ καὶ τὰ μάλιστα τύχοι τετελεσμένον εἰπών,
    αὐτὸς ὅμως οὐκ οἶδε, δόκος δ᾿ ἐπὶ πᾶσι τέτυκται.

    (my emphasis to highlight words with differences)

    SE has a lot to say about Xenophanes – worth reading (can’t vouch for the accuracy of the English translation however). Also it looks like he was anti induction, so checking that out. Popper says in a brief comment in OK (p. 99) that SE is “not far removed from the position here defended.”

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