Software Nerd

Friday, November 10, 2006

Syndrome Inflation

Psychology seems to be beset by "syndrome inflation". Here's a new one: "Toilet Phobia".
"The National Phobics Society estimates at least four million Britons are affected - but the true number could be many more. "

Is that believable? The U.K. has a population of 60 million, of which we can assume that about 20 million are too young to count (unless they're counting all the kids in potty training). So, the article wants us to believe that 1 in 10 people have this phobia, and have been hiding it as a guilty secret. It is unlikely that this is a blatant lie, so I assume the problem lies in the definition of "phobia" that these people are using. Even without knowing more, I'm happy to dismiss this as completely invalid -- an excellent example of "syndrome inflation".

I do have a question though: why?

Do they do this to get funding? I could understand a "cleanly" mercenary reason like that. However, I wonder if it's something worse: a genuine corruption of science and reason, or the desire to promote and "original sin" sense of "we're all phobics".

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