Why the Goldwater Rule Should Not be Changed

One of our readers disputes the claim that the Goldwater Rule needs changing.


I am writing in response to the January 2022 article, “The Goldwater Rule is Fine, if Refined. Here’s How to Do it.” The authors opine that there needs to be an acceptable mechanism for psychiatrists to speak out about issues regarding the “public’s well-being and society’s greater good.” This premise is problematic at its core, as the very choice to speak out on public policies or political figures puts the psychiatrist in a position of becoming a political figure, not just an expert imparting psychiatric knowledge.

One individual’s “disinformation” is another person’s truth. In addition, the hypothetical examples given by the authors, in essence, obliterate the Goldwater Rule. Even if information is imparted indirectly and with the given caveats, the public will correctly conclude that the psychiatrist is, in fact, talking specifically about the public figure in question.

I believe that it does not serve the public good to give a scientific veneer to what amounts to a political opinion. For example, the same psychiatrists who were highly vocal about President Trump’s mental stability have been silent about President Biden’s mental status. That is why the Goldwater Rule should not be changed.

Sincerely yours,

David T. Springer, MD

Dr Springer is a psychiatrist in Media, Pennsylvania, and is affiliated with the Coatesvile VA Medical Center. He has a general adult private practice and provides expert witness services.