Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Wikipedia's Rorschach test controversy

BBC2's Newsnight, Monday 3 August 2009, included a piece on Wikipedia's Rorschach test article.

The controversy, surrounding the inclusion of 'ink blots' - used in clinical diagnosis to determine mental disorders, on the Wiki page is best summed up by comments from its discussion/talk page:

Social Impact
This test hold an important place in the psychee of the Western world

This is an encyclopedia for a general audience. It is not an instruction manual on how one would administer a Rorscharch written by experts for experts. The reason why we are all here debating this page is the Rorschach is one of the most famous and well known bits of psychology and has infact had an impact on Western culture. This impact would be of interest to many readers.--Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 03:10, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

I think that a thoughtful and neutral and well-sourced discussion of the place of the Rorschach in contemporary culture would be quite appropriate to the page. Personally, I think the combination of absolutely rotten face validity and terrific clinical validity, plus the historical connections to the least-supportable aspects of old-school psychoanalysis and the position that has in the culture, has made it resonate with people's anxieties about having their minds read and/or controlled. ... Mirafra (talk) 20:06, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

Irrevocable Harm to Authors/Dangerous Precedent

1. By putting the cards onto a large public forum (yes, it many ways, Wikipedia is more akin to a forum than an encyclopedia), not only is the test technique harmed, but so are the many, many authors who have contributed to the literature. Whatever one thinks of the Rorschach, good or bad, there have been many who have put years into writing books and publishing research on it. So while the Rorschach itself is not completely "copyright," the many years of work done by many authors (Weiner for one) is being slowly being deemed meaningless. By the way, Exner's scoring system is absolutely copyrighted material - and that's where the normative data come from (what "typical" responses are and so forth). By placing so much detail as to the scoring of the measure, I would imagine that violates Exner's copyright, no?

2. I fear that placing the cards onto Wikipedia is setting a dangerous precedent. This is a slippery slope; if Wikipedia allows this, what will keep them from basically reproducing other psychological/neuropsychological material. That would be TERRIBLY HARMFUL to not only psychologists and other behavioral scientists, but to children, families, parents - it would affect our ability to accurately evaluate conditions such as dementia, learning disabilities, developmental conditions, etc. It's akin to publishing a contemporary version of the SAT. While some don't like that test, if it were put onto Wikipedia, we'd lose a vital aspect of measuring a very important predictor of college success. Most of the standardized tests are under clear copyright, but the way some of these individuals are acting in this discussion suggests that the "everything should be free and available" ideology pervades much of Wikipedia. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Takamine45 (talk • contribs) 18:20, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

More comments, from Wikipedia's Rorschach test discussion page, can be found here.

According to Canada.com, Saskatchewan doctor (and a Wiki editor), James Heilman "posted the 10 inkblots to the [Wiki] website last month following an ongoing, at times uncivil, editorial discussion about whether a single Rorschach test image should be posted on the web-based encyclopedia. A small vocal minority of psychologists who edit Wikipedia content opposed posting the images."

Full article here.

Kirsty Wark's Newsnight discussion (at 40minutes 45 seconds into the programme), featuring a representative from Wikimedia in the US and a clinical psychologist in the studio, can be found here.

I'm not sure the 'validity' of the test is that compromised, having seen the ink blots. I would'nt give the same answers as the "frequent responses", especially for plates 4, 6 and 7-10, but I do agree that what you say, if asked "what do you see?", could say a lot about you as a person.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The controversy can only get worse. Now the test is available on facebook, and used as a sort of pop psychology. See: