London Times - Is self-help a scam?

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CosmoGTD

Guest
Wow, you are still at this?
Its interesting how you have turned this into a "personal attack" issue, and are staying away from the objective facts, which are very clear.
I don't care if you were Freud himself, I follow the scientific facts, and don't follow what someone says because they say so. One could easily say a Masters degree in therapy is just enough knowledge to be dangerous, but I would never say that, as I am not going to follow this into personal sniping, and if you continue with making personal comments, then I will just ignore you.

The facts are very clear, CBT works extremely well.
Its not about Googling, its about knowing what is going on in the field right now.
The facts of CBT have nothing to do with what you have said so far.
CBT doesn't even give "advice" as its Socratic when done properly.

So people can spread misinformation if they want to, its a free country.

So its a pity that people might be mislead by the erroneous statements you are making, likely due to learning about CBT in a biased environment from someone with an Ideological axe to grind.
CBT works extremely well, and it doesn't take 7 years to get results.

Science advances based on scientific evidence, and there are hundreds of studies showing that CBT works.
People can see how it works for themselves, by getting some CBT training from someone in their city who has been recently trained either at the Beck Institute, or the Albert Ellis Institute.

CBT and REBT are a set of Cognitive, Emotive, Behavioral, and Interpersonal skills that you practice for the REST OF YOUR LIFE. You are always learning.
CBT is open to long-term therapy for personality based issues as well.
CBT was created by Dr Aaron Beck when he discovered that Freudian therapy did not work, and that certain ideas like, "depression is anger turned inwards" were not true.
Again, I am not going to argue with those who suffer from extreme Ideological bias, but I am just making these comments in case people read this, so they will realize that there is a mountain of hard, scientific evidence that shows that CBT works extremely well, and they can find that out for themselves by doing their research.

shtriemel said:
Cosmo,
During graduate studies and advanced training at my last counseling gig I was trained using various methods of CBT techniques. Moreover, I attended 4 months of CBT done by the director for cognitive/behavioral studies at McGill University/Jewish General Hospital. What part of "superficial" do you not understand?

I'm aware that you're very good at Googling...now please provide some folks on this boards with some sort of credentials so that they know you're not merely talking out of your bum, but from experience i.e. tried both psychodynamic therapy AND cognitive therapy...or are trained as a therapist. If you can't, I'm sure I can spent 5-10 min on Google providing links to a whole whack of sites debunking your links. Gotta love the internet, huh?

CBT is perfect for a generation of folk who'd rather ignore the space between the lines, pop a pill, develop some quick breathing exercises and watch their symptoms disappear...for a month or so. And then they return. And then what? Between CBT and family docs who over prescribe SSRI's, I had my work cut out for me.
 
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CosmoGTD

Guest
I have met Barbara Sher, and know her work very well. Sher is basically about general "goal-setting".

shtriemel said:
I've read and implemented parts of GTD. There's some decent ideas, particularily turning vague notions/ideas into doable objectives.

IMHO however, Barbara Sher has cornered this market, many years ago, with Wishcraft. Still it doesn't hurt to tweak the system every now and again.
 
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CosmoGTD

Guest
Ok, it seems you misunderestimate GTD about as well as some of these other ideas.
GTD is not a religion, or psychotherapy, or something that is going to make your life magical.
If you look at the title...Getting Things Done...that pretty much tells you what its about. Getting Things Done.
Its very practical.
Allen points to higher altitude planning, but as he as said, there are lots of references out there for that already.

The reason people are confused is why the posting board exists.
Each person has to figure out how to make this stuff WORK for themselves.
Its all about being practical.

And just a suggestion, consider laying off the personal attacks and comments on people, and just try to stick to the facts at hand.

shtriemel said:
Is that you or is that not you, and other's like you, discussing GTD like it's some esoteric form of Kaballah? Sounds like it to me. And anything that is suppossed to make you breathe easier, yet provoke long BB discussions about what the author is trying to convey, doesn't sound like an anxiety reducer to me. And it's funny, because a quick peruse of posts on this site ask the very questions you're asking...over, and over, and over again. If the system is so simple, why do people seem so confused over how to do it? I'm truly curious.
 
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CosmoGTD

Guest
From my perspective, the same lack of understanding of what GTD actually is, and how it works, was applied to CBT on this thread.
If one were to read the descriptions of GTD made by our friend, I fear one would not even recognize it as GTD. It seems like some perverse, alien, and unrecognizable technique.

This is why in my view its very important, whether about GTD, Life Coaches, Self-help, CBT, therapy, or anything else along these lines, that we learn the skills of critical thinking.
That is, being able to look at the facts with an open mind, and not come at everything and filter and distort it through our own ideology. We have to be able to stand aside from our prejudices, and look at the objective facts and research, and also really try them out for ourselves over a period of time.

GTD is a wonderful, fully-customizable system, that people can use in ways that work for them.
Will it solve the human condition? Of course not, and it never claims to.
But there is more to GTD than first meets the eye, and it is a wonderful collection of ideas which IF APPLIED can really help.
GTD is a cognitive-behavioral intervention, that works if you work it.
If you don't do it, then it doesn't work.
Its about changing SMALL BEHAVIORS, and it can work extremely well.

TesTeq said:
shtriemel,
It seems that there is a long and winding road before you - until your mind will be like water. You came here to fight but unfortunately you haven't met anybody who wants to fight. Everybody wants to help you but apparently you do not want to accept any help.
If you do not like GTD why you are wasting your precious time here. Give David's books to charity and forget about it.
Live your life in your own way.
 
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mscudder

Guest
shtriemel said:
Is that you or is that not you, and other's like you, discussing GTD like it's some esoteric form of Kaballah? Sounds like it to me. And anything that is suppossed to make you breathe easier, yet provoke long BB discussions about what the author is trying to convey, ... If the system is so simple, why do people seem so confused over how to do it? I'm truly curious.
CosmoGTD said:
... GTD is not ... something that is going to make your life magical.
If you look at the title...Getting Things Done...that pretty much tells you what its about. Getting Things Done.
Its very practical....
The reason people are confused is why the posting board exists.
Each person has to figure out how to make this stuff WORK for themselves.
sablouwho said:
[M]y interpretation of many (but not all) of the posts are that people are looking for "hacks." Just quickie little tidbits of information on how to tweak stuff, like dealing with software, or figuring out something that has to do with work in progress (paper stuff) or whatever. With so many different software programs out there, so many different PDA's and PPC's, and so many different ways to deal with handling the specifics of paperwork, that I think this BB serves a useful purpose in being a place for people to share ideas.
Although he gives some implementation tips and suggestions in Getting Things Done, David Allen is explicit that GTD is a conceptual system which each individual user of GTD must implement for themselves, in accordance with that person's own needs, situation, working methods, and cognitive style. Resolving a conceptual system or set of requirements into specific enough form that you can actually use it is often hard; in particular, it can be hard to ensure that the implementation truly reflects the design being implemented. (Ask any engineer or software developer.)

Shtriemel, the "What does David mean when he says...?" type of questions on this BB are mostly about how to implement -- or whether a particular implementation method reflects -- one or another design element of the GTD system.

As CosmoGTD says, GTD is about the practical. That said, one of the big surprises for me was, for a system purportedly and utterly concerned with the mundane, how deep and nuanced GTD is.

Some of Shtriemel's complaints about this BB -- the repetition, esoterica, irrelevance (and worse) of some of the postings, even the cultiness -- reflect general characteristics of online BBs, not GTD. All BBs, including this one, have their flaws and excesses (although I must say, I'm continually impressed and delighted with the comparatively high quality of this BB). If you want some real esoterica, check out some of the other productivity, organization, and time management groups, as well as, for example, BBs on cars, cats, computers, and (especially) poetry and literature.
 

TesTeq

Registered
Anti-GTD movement.

mscudder said:
Some of Shtriemel's complaints about this BB -- the repetition, esoterica, irrelevance (and worse) of some of the postings, even the cultiness -- reflect general characteristics of online BBs, not GTD.
Luckily Shtriemel apparently has lost his interest in anti-GTD discussions and I think it is rather good news for this forum.

By the way, one of the David's last blog entries is about another anti-GTD "movement".
 
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CosmoGTD

Guest
Personally, I think very strong criticism and analysis of GTD, and everything else for that matter, is extremely valuable, as long as its done with intellectual integrity.
The last thing I would ever want to do is to do things because "someone said so", or because of anecdotes and advertising blurbs.

On the other hand, there are many people who I know, who would have less than zero interest in something like GTD. To them it just seems like obsessive craziness, and does not match the way they work or think.

But on a deeper level, I know that GTD really needs to have controlled, scientific "clinical studies" done to test its efficacy.
This would not be that hard to do, if the studies were conducted by properly trained people.

After all, GTD claims two basic things. Increased Productivity and less Stress. These are both measurable.
What you would do is get random samples of people, and do different things with them, and then measure the results over a period of time.
Some might just read the book, some get training, some get a "placebo" Time Management book, some people go on a waiting list, etc.
You could then measure if people really do get these benefits, or not.

Some problem areas might be that people stop using it, procrastinate, skip over parts of it, hide behind lists, etc.

If these types of studies were done over a number of years, with a number of partners at universities and institutes, then some results would occur, that are unpredictable.
They could even get grants from various foundations to carry this stuff out.

Is this going to happen? I would say no.
The reason for this is that I have never seen David Allen mention that he even understands the power of doing these kinds of scientific studies, or even the awareness that Stress and Productivity are MEASURABLE. They are very measurable, so it would be quite easy to see if GTD works as advertised.

Until proper studies are carried out, I don't actually "believe" it works for most people. My gut tells me that people get excited by the salespitch, try it out, and then fall of the wagon, and fall back into old habits.
The temptation here is to blame people for being lazy and misdirected.
But that is an error.

Any type of system like this has to be designed to take into account the vagaries of Human Nature, and thus be usable.
Many "systems" sound good on paper, but are unusable by actual humans over time.
I do think vigorous analysis and criticism, and scientific testing is needed. But i doubt this is going to happen.

To REALLY see if it increases Productivity and lowers Stress, this has to be MEASURED and personal anecdotes don't count. But sadly, the vast majority of people do not understand the power of carrying out these types of studies, and instead just prefer to focus on making sales.
 
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mscudder

Guest
GTD research program

CosmoGTD said:
If these types of studies were done over a number of years, with a number of partners at universities and institutes, then some amazing results would occur, that are unpredictable....

...I have never seen David Allen mention the power of doing these kinds of scientific studies, or even the awareness that Stress and Productivity are MEASURABLE....

On the positive side, if David Co undertook a 10 year research project, and got some partners, and carried out dozens of controlled scientific studies, then GTD would improve 10-fold, and could really have a profound impact in the world.
I agree it could be valuable for DA to do this (although I don't know about having "a profound impact on the world"), but such studies would be considered research and development. Because of the inherent conflict of interest, any research on the efficacy of GTD remotely associated with David Allen or the David Allen Company would not be regarded as credible, no matter how rigorous -- same as for any business.

I wouldn't be surprised if productivity and stress studies are done all the time, both publicly and privately funded and if GTD is eventually studied scientifically by a 'neutral' third party.
 

TesTeq

Registered
Scientific studies.

CosmoGTD said:
If these types of studies were done over a number of years, with a number of partners at universities and institutes, then some amazing results would occur, that are unpredictable.
They could even get grants from various foundations to carry this stuff out.
Many "scientific studies" are carried out to obtain grants and spend some money without any significant result.

CosmoGTD said:
The reason for this is that I have never seen David Allen mention the power of doing these kinds of scientific studies, or even the awareness that Stress and Productivity are MEASURABLE. They are very measurable, so it would be quite easy to see if GTD works as advertised.
Can you tell me how you can measure stress and productivity. In my opinion it is not possible to create the same test conditions for all participants.

I think David Allen does not say that he invented system for all people. He says that you can reduce stress and increase productivity using GTD.
 
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CosmoGTD

Guest
If professionals were to carry out a long-term, credible, science based studies of these things, it WOULD have an impact, as the system would be based on scientific evidence, and proof, and not just opinion and anecdote.
This is how actual scientific human knowledge advances, especially in the psychological sciences. So the actual knowledge and data that would emerge would ultimately be very powerful, as it is based on real scientific evidence.

The studies just have to be carried out in an open way, using objective measures, and peer-reviewed, and all the rest of it. There are clear protocols set up on how to go about it. The RAW DATA has to be open for others to review.

If someone is opposed to "scientific studies", then I have nothing to say to them about that, as that leaves me speechless. Of course most studies have "no result" as most things people try DO NOT WORK. This is how sceintific knowledge advances. Its a hit and miss process, but the theories and methods have to be testable. (see Popper)
Those types of studies are the ONLY way for knowledge in this area to move forward.

There are many people who's entire careers are based on setting these types of studies up, and adding in the proper "controls" and ways to measure these things.

Productivity is measured all the time by economists, so this is something that could easily be measured.

Stress levels are measured all the time as well by psychologists, and there are many accurate ways to measure stress over time.

The tests are in a way similar to Depression tests, Anxiety tests, IQ tests, etc. Many of these have stable results over time, and show if there are any changes.
So if a person does a bunch of Stress-tests, both written and verbal questionnaires, and even perhaps measuring blood-pressure, and things of that nature, then they get a set of results.
Then these same tests would be taken each week or so, for perhaps 6 months or a year.
It would be very easy to see if people's stress levels were reduced. They could also measure "drop-out" rates, that is how many people drop out and stop using, and all sorts of other things.

The way this come up with accurate results is by using statistical methods, and selecting people randomly, and randomly putting some people into "control groups" and all the rest of it.
There is an entire science behind doing these types of studies, and they have been shown to be very accurate, when done properly and PEER-REVIEWED in scientific journals that focus on these things.
I am not going to try and explain this entire science, but sadly it would not surprise me to find out that most folks are not aware that these methods even exist, and that they are the ONLY real way to get objective scientific data about this type of thing.

This is how, for instance, CBT has been able to figure out specific techniques that work in specific ways. Not for EVERYONE, but it gives a certain statistical probablility that it will work in a population. http://tinyurl.com/87zzv
Its like a medical treatment, or things of that nature.

Here is an example of a list of a bunch of psychological "inventories".
http://tinyurl.com/bgzo5

You can't just "claim it works" due to anecdotes, stories, or things of that nature.
But all areas of "self-help" are not tested properly, and no one cares, as its really just about making money in most cases.

But REAL researchers, psychologists, and scientists test this type of thing all the time.

For example, Martin Seligman, has founded Positive Psychology. What he is doing now is TESTING WHAT WORKS, to increase people's happiness. http://www.authentichappiness.org/
This website lists many tests that people can take, to measure their levels of happiness, which is harder to measure than stress. Also, there are many studies going on now in this new field, and the evidence from these studies will turn this field into a legitimate area of human knowledge. Positive Psychology, over time, will gain powerful credibility as it is based on SCIENCE and not hearsay. But the price for this is having the knowledge to carry out these kinds of studies, which is very hard to do.
GTD will never have any scientific credibility unless MANY of these types of controlled trials are undertaken by professionals.
Personally, I think the tests would have some shocking results, but we'll never know unless the tests are carried out.

But again, I doubt this TESTING of will ever happen, for many reasons I won't mention.
 
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CosmoGTD

Guest

TesTeq

Registered
Real scientific studies do happen.

CosmoGTD said:
If someone is opposed to "scientific studies", then I have nothing to say to them about that, as that leaves me speechless. Of course most studies have "no result" as most things people try DO NOT WORK.
The real scientific studies with meaningful results do happen from time to time. But I've heard too many stories about ridiculous studies (for example "The effect of car color on the engine failure rate").
 

TesTeq

Registered
Really measurable?

CosmoGTD said:
Productivity is measured all the time by economists, so this is something that could easily be measured.

Stress levels are measured all the time as well by psychologists, and there are many accurate ways to measure stress over time.

The tests are in a way similar to Depression tests, Anxiety tests, IQ tests, etc. Many of these have stable results over time, and show if there are any changes.
The overall productivity can be measured but very often the business success is an effect of being in the right place, in the right time with the right product and have luck.

Applicability of many tests (for example IQ tests) was questioned recently. IQ tests do not measure intelligence but the ability to solve puzzles.

So first the GTD measurement methodology should be developed and tested to prove that it is adequate to meassure GTD implementation results.
 

TesTeq

Registered
GTD does not hurt.

CosmoGTD said:
If these types of studies were carried out, one would then end up with some scientific evidence whether or not GTD works, and if it does, which parts work, and which parts don't.
...
GTD will never have any scientific credibility unless MANY of these types of controlled trials are undertaken by professionals.
I am afraid that there are not so many people interested in GTD scientific credibility. If it works for somebody - great. If it does not work - nothing wrong happens. You do not have to spend excessive amounts of money to implement basic GTD - you need just pen and paper. I do not think that it can hurt anybody.
 

TesTeq

Registered
Myth of statistical methods.

CosmoGTD said:
The way this come up with accurate results is by using statistical methods, and selecting people randomly, and randomly putting some people into "control groups" and all the rest of it.
Using statistical methods I can say that for example 51.3% of you, CosmoGTD, is a woman and 48.7% is a man. Is it true? No, the actual test performed on you would reveal the truth.

The same is with GTD. We can have the statistical result that for 60% of people it increased the productivity by 178% and reduced stress by 44%. And it means nothing to me until I try to implement GTD by myself since the results for me may be very different.
 

eowyn

Registered
TesTeq: Statistics cannot be used to predict the actual results for an individual - They give a probability only.

If GTD were found to be successful (in reducing stress, and increasing productivity) for 90% of people - then you could recommend it to another person with a lot of confidence that it would be successful for them too.

If GTD were successful for only 10% of people, and an alternative technique/method had a similar level of success for 70% of people, which would you recommend? Regardless of your individual success with GTD?
 

TesTeq

Registered
The best method is the method that works for you.

eowyn said:
If GTD were successful for only 10% of people, and an alternative technique/method had a similar level of success for 70% of people, which would you recommend? Regardless of your individual success with GTD?
So you need a comparative study of two or more methodologies. And each should be tested on the same human subjects in the same conditions. Since it is rather not possible to test two methodologies simultaneously on one person (we would not be able to measure results of each methodology) the tests must be performed one by one. And this leads to the problem that after implementing one methodology the person being tested is not "fresh" for another test (he/she learned some general productivity skills that are common across different methodologies). Of course we can use two groups of people and other solutions for such problems but in my opinion the human nature is too complicated for statistical aproach.

But don't get me wrong. I am not against the scientific studies - I am only very sceptic to the statistical results. I am ready to rethink my approach if you show me the results of such comparative scientific studies.

If one medicine is good for 70% of people and the other for 10%, it is only the probability and sometimes a given person can obtain better results using the 10% medicine. And in some cases even placebo works perfectly.

The best method is the method that works for you regardless of the other people results or scientific studies.
 

mcogilvie

Registered
Neither rocket science nor revelation!

GTD is neither rocket science nor revealed truth. On the GTD-Fast tapes, DA says something like "this is really just common sense." To which I would add "consistently applied."

If most aspects of GTD work well for most people (called for simplicity "normal"- whatever that is), then some aspects probably work well for people who have issues far from the norm. Recall however that GTD implementations vary from person to person in any case. DA has never advocated a one-size-fits-all approach, let alone a blind one.

There may or may not be deep truths about the way human brains work captured in GTD. Or deep truths about how all brains work; we have a limited selection of life forms to work with- they're all carbon-based...
 

eowyn

Registered
TesTeq said:
So you need a comparative study of two or more methodologies.
We dont need a direct comparative study. You identify some criteria of success (which I don't have the knowledge or experience to do at this time), you test a random selection of people with GTD, and see how many are successful. - Lets's say the answer was 10% of people had that level of success.

Later on, some other scientist uses the same criteria with another technique, with another random selection of people and also sees how many are successful- say the answer is 70%.

Another scientist tests another two random groups of people, with GTD giving 15%, and the other technique 65%. - Small differences (10% to 15%) would be expected in the scientific method due to variation - but what is important is the difference between the two techniques - 10% to 70%

Again, I ask, which technique would you recommend to someone else?

I agree with CosmoGTD. I would like to see some scientific studies, because at the moment I can only recommended it based on personnel experience, I cannot recommend it on indepedent, scientific, objective advice.

If one medicine is good for 70% of people and the other for 10%, it is only the probability and sometimes a given person can obtain better results using the 10% medicine. And in some cases even placebo works perfectly.

The best method is the method that works for you regardless of the other people results or scientific studies.
So if you were sick, which medicine would you try first? You don't know yet which one will work for you as an individual.
 

moises

Registered
A man named Pennebaker uses controlled scientific studies to show that writing down traumatic emotional events is associated with better physical health as measured by immune system markers and other indicators.

DA has no controlled studies. It does not take a very big imaginative leap to realized that a social scientist could do what Pennebaker did but substitute "writing down next action commitments" for "writing down traumatic emotional events." One may or may not wish to substitute "reduced anxiety as measured by your favorite questionnaire" for "better physical health as measured by immune system markers and other indicators."

More and more I believe that the key GTDian insight is "get it out of your head." Of course this insight is not original with DA. What is original is how he organizes this well-known insight into a personal productivity system.

Years ago, Alan Lakein wrote a nice book called How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life. In it he wrote:
Many people seem to have difficulty planning because they regard it only as "thinking"--which all to often translates into either "staring into space" or "daydreaming." They need a way to make a more concrete task out of planning. From experience with thousands of people I have concluded that it is much better to conceive of planning as "writing" than as "thinking." [27-8]

Of course I read Lakein years ago and didn't get very far with his system. I've been doing GTD for two years and I have progressed by leaps and bounds. But the key insight was there with Lakein all along.

The author Charles Taylor talks about the importance of expressing oneself as an idea traceable at least as far back as to the philosopher Herder. Taylor attributes to Herder the view that
man as a conscious being achieves his highest point when he recognizes his own life as an adequate, a true expression of what he potentially is--just as an artist or writer reaches his goal in recognizing his work as a fully adequate expression of what he wanted to say. And in one case as in the other, the 'message' could not have been know before it was expressed. The traditional view receives a new formulation in expressivism: man comes to know himself by expressing and hence clarifying what he is and recognizing himself in this expression. [Hegel. page 17]

And the contemporary would add that human beings not only know, clarify, and recognize themselves by expressing themselves, they also reduce stress and improve their physical well-being.
 
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