The Tautology of “Chemical Imbalance”

Source: Bet On It
by Bryan Caplan

“Even my biggest fans are often dismayed by my Szaszian skepticism of psychiatry. How can I be so at odds with the science? Of late, however, mainstream science journalism suddenly sounds Szaszian. Nature just published Moncrieff et al.’s major study, ‘The Serotonin Theory of Depression: A Systematic Umbrella Review of the Evidence,’ debunking the theory that depression is caused by serotonin deficiency. Science journalists seem convinced. … Though I’d like to claim vindication, that wouldn’t be honest. ‘Does serotonin deficiency cause depression?’ is a legitimate empirical question. A legitimate empirical question where I have zero independent knowledge. The question, ‘Is depression caused by a chemical imbalance?,’ in contrast, is a fake empirical question. Why? Because it is a thinly-veiled tautology.” (07/27/22)