Ethics: Free Advice

Psychologists face discipline for diagnosing strangers

When a big story breaks, the first thing reporters do is get the news. The next thing, usually, is to round up a few experts to say what it all means. Too often, what gets experts quoted -- and called again the next time news relates to their specialty -- is not specific knowledge of a case but crisp, piquant opinion. The expert enjoys the publicity; the journalist enlivens a story. The losers are the public, who get ill-informed speculation masquerading as analysis, and the news subjects, who are assessed in intimate, knowing terms by strangers.

Many health professionals refuse to...

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