Thursday, February 10, 2011


Steven Hayward has hit the nail squarely on the head in his predictions about the next big move of the "eco-apocalyptics" now that global warming is entering the dustbin of history:
This story suggests that changes in the earth’s magnetic fields are causing, or will cause, an increase in “super storms.” The initial problem for the eco-apocalytpics here is that it offers an alternative explanation for climate change. But that’s not a bug — it’s a feature. All the eco-apocalyptics need is some semi-plausible way to allege human causation for the erratic magnetic fields. Surely before long we’ll hear some Gore-like figure claim that the world’s growing electricity grid, along with all our artificial metal buildings, airplane flights, and so forth, are “confusing” the planet. It’s even better than greenhouse gases. It will require us to shut down virtually the whole of advanced civilization and return to the 17th century — the Unabomber would love it — because even windmills and solar panels won’t save us.

I once had a patient who discovered a small mass in his neck and was convinced he was dying of Hodgkin's Lymphoma. He was sent to me because the medical doctors had done everything to convince him that the mass was benigh and just a slighly enlarged lymph node. Young and inexperienced as I was at the time, I went to a great deal of trouble to gather up all the many documents of his medical workup and sit down with him and explain the results of each one. "This test shows that there are no malignant cells in the biopsy they did, " I told him, confident that he would be relieved about not having cancer or being near death.

And he was. For about two days. He then presented back again the the ER, this time convinced he had colon cancer because he had diarrhea the day before. He was extremely distressed and tearful that he was again going to die of cancer.

This was the beginning of multiple presentations to many doctors for this poor, young man. No sooner did they convince him that he didn't have one serious illness, he would then eventually show up convinced he had another deadly disease. In fact, the more medical and technical doctors became with him; the more detailed they were in their attempts to explain how he was not dying; that he did not have cancer; that the tests were negative--the more quickly his mind would seize on yet another horrible illness that he didn't have.

His preoccupation with having a deadly disease became more and more bizarre and disconnected from reality with each presentation, until it was clearly only a matter for psychiatrists to deal with. From thinking a lymph node in his neck was Hodgkin's Disease, to believing that aliens had implanted cancer cells in his brain; this patient's delusions were the manifestations of a disintegrating self, desperately trying to keep it together.

This process is something we refer to as a delusional disorder. A delusion is basically a fantasy that is mistaken to be a reality. ( The Greek word for delusion is phantasia). In psychiatry, a delusion is defined as pathological , i.e., the result of an illness--i.e., a biological process of one or another variety; and they are held despite any evidence to the contrary. It may be due to a primary psychiatric disorder (like schizophrenia) or a severe brain disorder (like dementia).

But we all know people who are not "ill"; who do not suffer from schizophrenia or other major psychiatric or medical illnesses; who do not take drugs that alter their brains, but they have delusions nonetheless. In this case, the delusion is more of a firmly held belief, despite all evidence to the contrary. A belief that, for the individual who has it, explains or hides an aspect of reality that otherwise cannot be accepted.

Thus, you can think of the etiology of delusions as being on a spectrum where at one end there are biological factors which cause the brain to malfunction in its perception and analysis of reality; and on the other, the brain is intact but there are psychological processes (e.g., defense mechanisms(unconscious processes) or conscious and willful abdication of one's mind to avoid reality)

<---------DELUSIONAL SPECTRUM --------------------->

We can understand the phenomenon of the eco-apocalyptics of the left as more of a conscious and willful abdication of rationality for the purpose of maintaining the delusion of imminent environmental catastrophe. Like the patient with the delusional disorder I described above, but without the biological etiology, the environmental apocalype envisioned by the left serves an important psychological purpose. It disguises the underlying reality of their desire to have power over other people's lives. They absolutely need the environment to be on the verge of catastrophe; just as they need victims for whom they can champion so that they can keep this image of themselves as being heroic, compassionate, champions of the oprressed (including the oppressed planet). They simply cannot accept that they desire power; that they want to control others; that, from a psychological perspective, they are not much different than any other dictator or authoritarian ruler who sees himself "above" the common masses.

We see this same psychological pathology in academia's bizarre justifications and rationalizations as to why their ranks are practically devoid of conservatives:
....liberals, who are usually quick to assume that underrepresentation represents some form of discrimination--structural or personal--suddenly become, as Haidt notes, fierce critics of the notion that numerical representation means anything. Moreover, they start generating explanations for the disparity that sound suspiciously like some old reactionary explaining that blacks don't really want to go into management because they're much happier without all the responsibility. Conservatives are too stupid to become academics; they aren't open new ideas; they're too aggressive and hierarchical; they don't care about ideas, just money. In other words, it's not our fault that they're not worthy.

The psychotic patient's brain dysfunction can usually be treated. His dysfunction is not usually under his control, unless he is taking substances or drugs to deliberately alter it (and in the latter case, when off the substance an initially normal brain will eventually revert to normal again. If the brain is not normal to begin with, then all bets are off).

The social/psychological delusionist, however, chooses to remain delusional in order to protect their self-image or their hidden motivations or to preserve an ideology that does not work in the real world. They do not want to accept reality and prefer instead to claim their dysfunction is the only reality.

When the facts go against them, the true delusionist will alter the facts. For them it is a psychological necessity.

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