Why are the psychiatrists right on this issue and Dawkins is wrong?
As far as diagnosis of medical disorders, psychiatrists are trained as medical doctors, read the psychiatric literature, treat multiple patients with psychiatric disease per day, and are aiming to provide objective treatment to maximize the benefit to the patient. The definition of delusion and the criteria for diagnosis and treatment that they use are set by the American Psychiatric Association (US) or the World Health Organization. In short, they're the experts.
Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist and a critic of theism. He likely has little to no experience with delusional patients and in separating delusion from other conditions. Were he to encounter the patient in your case scenario, he would likely have less precise questions, a shorter differential diagnosis, less accurate documentation, a less accurate assessment, and a less beneficial (and possibly even dangerous) plan. This says nothing against him--he appears to be a very intelligent man--but he lacks the knowledge, experience, and expertise to evaluate patients medically.
Furthermore, the standard definitions set by the APA or WHO are intended to be objective, unbiased definitions. Dawkins makes no effort to hide his bias, proudly displaying it in the title of his book. Thus, it's questionable whether Dawkins was even trying
to create a standard medical definition of "delusion," or whether he was simply adopting a definition that suited his specific needs for his book.
Is it possible that Richard Dawkins' definition is a better definition of "delusion" than the one used by the medical community? Of course, just as it's possible that someone who has watched House or Scrubs or MASH could correctly diagnose a condition that their regular doctor missed. But that doesn't mean that either is particularly qualified or reliable to make medical assessments, and if I'm doing any sort of medical literature review there's no way I could ever cite The God Delusion or House as a source. The medical community, like most scientific communities, looks to published, peer reviewed research for sources, not outside publications or opinions.
Yet because of the said free pass, those randomized, controlled studies are never going to happen.
Funny, this reminds me a lot about what some creationists claim about the alleged conspiracy to shield evolution and shun intelligent design. It looks like every ideology has its... erm... members who hold those sort of suspicions.
When deciding whether to alter their approach to religious patients, which specific studies should physicians review?Firstly by disregarding the free pass, and accepting theism as delusion.
Dodge. I asked "which specific studies," not "by what method."
Unlike ideologues, doctors do not start by disregarding the existing standard of practice and then accepting an idea that fits their ideology without any support from the medical literature. If a doctor were to do this, they might as well start writing some blank checks because they won't have anything to hide behind if they get sued. In the US, at least, we take this stuff seriously as we're gambling with people's lives. This is not a game; psych diagnoses carry a lot of stigma, and treatments can have a lot of side effects. We can't afford to screw people up for life or even potentially kill them
over some nut's fanatical conspiracy theory.
So what. if you can't demonstrate it is real then your only course of action is to see it as imaginary? regardless of your being a doctor or a layman.
I can--and do--reserve judgement. I don't jump to conclusions.
"In what way can you demonstrate whether that voice is real or imaginary?"