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Doctor investigated for posting inkblots to Wikipedia

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A doctor is under investigation for misconduct after publishing 10 inkblots used by psychologists to get insights about a subject's frame of mind.

James Heilman told told The New York Times he posted the Rorschach test images in an attempt to demystify the psychological profession. At least two psychologists didn't appreciate the gesture and have complained of unprofessional conduct to Heilman's local doctor organization, which says it's looking in to the matter.

Named for inventor and Swiss psychologist Hermann Rorschach, the test gauges a subject's personality by presenting a series of unclear images and asking him to interpret them. Psychologists have kept the test's inner workings secret for decades out of concern that the inkblots won't be as effective if they've been seen before. Some psychologists worry that detailed descriptions like the one included on Wikipedia could be a cheat sheet of sorts that will allow subjects to rehearse their responses.

Including the images on Wikipedia violates the test's secrecy and if Heilman were a psychologist, it would be "viewed as serious misconduct," one of the complainants, Andrea Kowaz of the College of Psychologists of British Columbia, said. A different psychologist at Royal University Hospital added that Heilman "shows disrespect to his professional colleagues in psychology and disparages them in the eyes of the public."

For his part, Heilman calls the complaints "intimidation tactics" that attempt to stifle scientific discourse. "They don't want anybody other than themselves involved in a discussion about what they do," he told the Times. ®

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