The Dog’s Bollocks

Truth is like a dog’s bollocks – pretty obvious if you care to look.

Marohasy pwned on ‘Climate Change Delusion’

Jennifer's press photoJennifer Marohasy’s blog yesterday reported on a 17 year old male inpatient admitted to the Psychiatric Unit of the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. With an 8 month history of depression, the boy ‘had visions of apocolyptic events’ and had ‘developed the belief that, due to climate change, his own water consumption could lead within days to the deaths of millions of people through exhaustion of water supplies.’

Co-contributor Paul Biggs, who works in medical research at Birmingham University, was responsible for the post and suggested that ‘psychiatrists are treating a 17-year-old tipped over the edge by global warming fearmongers?’

I happened to be the first to comment (what else are you going to do on a wintry day during school holidays?):

Well Jennifer – this takes the cake and sets a new low for even your blog’s standards. Clearly, the 17 year old was suffering from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

Paul would have us believe that this boy’s condition was brought on by ‘global warming fearmongers’.

I’m convinced.

Of course, I was immediately taken to task for my lack of evidence about the boy’s diagnosis and for being a deluded global warming alarmist, and in manner typical of the comment threads at this site, the discussion went off all over the place.

I was challenged by one commenter as to whether I’d read the actual journal article and he ‘kindly’ provided the link. The article was a ‘pay-per-view’ which I wasn’t about to cough up for. Turns out the challenging commenter hadn’t read it either. Never mind that my objection was about the scurrilous and unscientific manner in which this story was being being used to score a cheap cynical point, not the content of the journal article.

Despite being asked, Paul didn’t post the text of the article. Eventually another commenter provided the full text which allowed me a final comment on the whole hilarious saga:

“The final diagnosis was major depressive disorder with psychotic features. ”

So the boy was having a psychotic episode…

“This case provides another fascinating illustration of the cultural and environmental specificity of manifestations of psychosis.”

And the ‘climate change delusion’ was a manifestation of the psychosis with nary a mention of causality or suggestion of a mechanism by which the psychosis resulted from being ‘tipped over the edge by global warming fearmongers?’

See first comment. QED.

It’s very rare to score a point on these kind of blogs, so in a self-congratulatory kind of way I thought I’d share the moment here.

As resident environmental skeptic for the IPA, Jennifer values ‘evidence-based’ science. In the case of Paul Biggs, she may want to exercise a little more editorial rigour. Otherwise her blog is slowly but surely descending into the realms of Bolt and Blair, complete with a handful of loyal and faithful rabid winged monkeys.

Filed under: Ass Hattery, Blogging, ,

15 Responses

  1. Grendel says:

    I’ve had my fun there – I’m still bemused by the attachment of some posters to Immanuel Velikovsky – using his writing to support your (psuedo) scientific argument is like drilling holes in the bottom of your boat so the water can drain out.

  2. Ann Novek says:

    What used to be a vibrant discussions forum is now completely destroyed by Paul’s fanatism and unscientific statements.

    I see that he said that ” our Gov’t is now suffering as well from climate change delusions”. This is cheap tabloid stuff.

    Every professional psychiatrist know that the onset of psychosos and schizophrenia starts when people are about 15 to 17 years old. This is the severe case. The milder cases start when people are about 35 years.

    What is disturbing is that Paul uses the term delusion as a political word , a la Soviet style against dissidents.

    People suffering from delusions are incapable of rational thought , as is the case with the 17 year old boy, contrary the the Gov’t staff that must act rationally , even if we may not like their decisions.

    The cause to psychotic illness varies. There are both environmental and genetic causes , as well as some patients mother’s have had difficulties when giving birth to their childs.

  3. Slim says:

    I’ve always regarded Marohasy’s site as running dissembling interference for the corporations that do business with the IPA. Lately it seems to be getting worse. Yes, Paul is all tabloid and no broadsheet.

    I remember when JM used to moderate quite actively which sort of kept things under control. Now it’s no different from any other rabid reactionary blog sites like Blair or Bolt. I guess the good thing is that it further erodes any credibility she may have as an impartial, evidence-based commentator. But then again, a quarter of none is still none.

  4. wes george says:

    So, let me see if I got this right. Slim goes over to Jennifer’s blog and post ad hominem attacks as the start-up debate comment on a fairly innocuously thread. Your argument is that she’s a corporate shill and Paul is a nutter and they have hit new lows in Ass Hattery blogging. Then you come home to your own blog and in a self-congratulatory kind of way crow that JM doesn’t moderate her blog well?

    Well, you proved that point well didn’t you? She allows trollish behavior on her blog. Slim, you should be ashamed of your irrational and rather “Ass Hattery” style, not proud of it.

    Meanwhile, you never score any points in the debate at hand. Unless slinging ad hominem counts. And you know that I ain’t afraid of a bit of biff as long as it is all in good humour.

    Personally, I don’t believe you want a real debate. If you do, please allow me to give you one.

    And Ann Novek, I think can show logically that the Australian government is either suffering from a climate change delusion or not acting in the national interest of the Australia. And I don’t have to use ad hominem fallacy to get there either. I promise not to “use cheap tabloid techniques.” And you should adhere to the same standard.

    And Ann, “the Gov’t staff that must act rationally” I don’t believe is necessarily a true statement, although perhaps the rational they are acting upon isn’t the one you assume.

    Likewise, I feel like I can offer a pretty convincing argument that climate change delusion is a fairly common morbidity not only in our polity but in the general population as well.

    And takers? Or is the debate over?

  5. Ann Novek says:

    Hello Wes,
    Thanks for your reply.

    First I want to make a comment on Ivan’s reply on Jen’s blog. He’s citing an Australian paper , that connects anxiety to climate change.

    Firstly, people must recognize the difference between neurosis and psychosis.

    From Dorland’s Medical Dictionary ( that is the bible for med students) :

    Neurosis: an emotional disorder due to unresolved conflicts , anxiety being its chief characteristic. The anxiety may be expressed directly or indirectly , as by conversion, displacement etc.

    In contrast to the psychoses, the neuroses do not involve gross distortions of external reality or disorganisation of personality.

    DELUSION : a false personal belief based on incorrect inference about external reality and firmly maintained in spite of incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary; it’s not a belief that is accepted by other members of the person’s culture or subculture.

    Re rational thinking in a medical sense. The Gov’t staff would hardly been able to wash THEMSELVES OR GOING TO WORK EVERYDAY unless they were thinking rationally.

  6. slim says:

    Hi Wes,

    Since you ask, I’ll explain my responses. I can appreciate that it is hard to steer a straight course in such a thread with ad hominems and straw man suppositions going off like a box of fire crackers.

    In posting the article Paul was suggesting that the boy was tipped over the edge by global warming alarmists. Hey there was a journal article linked to it, so it must be true.

    I challenged this innuendo – it is preposterous to consider the manifestation of psychosis is caused by the symptoms it manifests. When the text of the journal article was eventually offered up it was concluded that ‘this case provides another fascinating illustration of the cultural and environmental specificity of manifestations of psychosis.’ There was no suggestion that the cultural and environmental specificity of the manifestations cause the psychosis.

    It’s only common sense that psychosis reflects the culture in which it occurs. If you wish to suggest that society induces psychosis then we all must be psychotic.

    So yes, for a blog aspiring to evidence based objectivity, it was a cheap cynical tabloid shot.

    Jennifer a corporate shill? She is employed by a think tank funded by some major global corporations such as Monsanto and BHP, and local major corporations like Gunns and Murray Irrigation. The tenor of her analysis is in sympathy with her patrons, obviously, so she is against regulations that will affect her patrons’ access to irrigation, or tax carbon emissions, and she is in favour of regulations freeing up the use of Monsanto GM food products. So yes, she is a corporate shill – she’s paid to make their case for them. Hence her position as a leading environmental skeptic in Australia.

    A shill is an associate of a person selling goods or services or a political group, who pretends no association to the seller/group and assumes the air of an enthusiastic customer. The intention of the shill is, using crowd psychology, to encourage others unaware of the set-up to purchase said goods or services or support the political group’s ideological claims.

  7. wes george says:

    My error. Let me try to post again…

    “…it is hard to steer a straight course in such a thread with ad hominems and straw man suppositions going off like a box of fire crackers.”

    Slim, you started the ad hominem attack in the very first comment of the thread. It’s disingenuous to suggest it’s hard to steer a straight course when you set one straight to the lowest form of argument in your first sentence. Mea culpa is the only fair dinkum plea you can make. Instead, you blame others for your trollish behavior. Come now, Slim, that’s not an explanation, but a dodge.

    “In posting the article Paul was suggesting that the boy was tipped over the edge by global warming alarmists. Hey there was a journal article linked to it, so it must be true.”

    You depend on journal articles (or less reliable sources) every day to make points on your own blog, but over at Jen’s the same technique is “cheap cynical tabloid shots?” What’s holding others to a standard you imagine your self to be above called?

    Why all the heat without light? Why are you so angry?

    The fact that you became unhinged about something as innocuous as a doctor’s diagnosis is far more revealing of your our own ideological state than Paul’s. Surely you are not suggesting the Royal Children’s Hospital’s doctors are acting as corporate shills to defame the crusade against AGW?

    “If you wish to suggest that society induces psychosis then we all must be psychotic.”

    Obvious logical fallacy. Of course societal stress can induce psychosis in vulnerable personalities. That’s a given. A century of psychiatric literature is based on it. How does it follow that we are all mad? Not that I completely disagree. Some great research on the madness of crowds….

    “She (Jennifer) is a corporate shill – she’s paid to make their case for them. Hence her position as a leading environmental skeptic in Australia.”

    Ah, again you return to your only talking point—ad hominem assault. There in lies the problem with your method.

    But since this is your only real argument—in the mode of the ad hominem gestalt, which you have repeatedly brought to the table—I should be fairly allowed to ask the same conspiracy question of you:

    Whose shill are you? And you should allow me the latitude to suggest an answer as well. No double standard in that, is there?

    By the standard you have set for debate I can fairly suggest that the reason you went a trolling at Jennifer’s blog was to attract some attention to your own blog, which seems less than widely read. It must be maddening uploading thread after thread with nary a comment. Frustrated by the deafening silence your blog provokes, you’ve began trolling for a brawl…

    As for conspiracy theory, I think you merely shill the tropes and shallow sound-bite clichés that mass media culture has drip-fed you all your somnambulant life and thus rendered you so incapable of thinking for yourself your blog is simply regurgitated undigested cultural orthodoxy. The life lived unexamined is hardly worth blogging.

    In my opinion this is why so few read your blog. The same depth of conventionalism you offer is available everywhere from billboards to shopping malls. You’re peddling K-mart quality memes, but you don’t have their purchasing power to compete in the marketplace of cut-rate ideas. Your real uniqueness lies in your ability to combine vacuity with vituperation.

    You see, Slim, that’s the nature of the ad hominem argument you sole rely upon. (Although, I did make a good faith attempt to combine my ad hominem with an insightful personal critique.;-)

    You call me a shill. I call you a loser with a blog so blase you have to go trolling for hits, you call me a denialist. I call you a moonbat. That’s not rational debate. It gets us nowhere.

    In fact, to call someone a shill is to call for the debate to end. In your case, perhaps it unconsciously so. After all, debate with a shill is futile, by definition.

    Perhaps you’re hopeful that ad hominem spares you from having to field an intelligently cogent argument. Just spray us with spittle and then go home in a “self-congratulatory way”.

    To attempt to dehumanize your ideological opposition in a democracy is anti-rational, illiberal and fundamentally counter to Australian ethos of a fair go. It is also to create an excuse for the lowest form of benighted human behavior—bigotry.

    Imagine for a moment that you’re in a position of political power; your argument style would be demagoguery and you would be subjecting a population of 21 million to a fear campaign, which ties conspiracy theory to apocalyptic prophecy.

    One might well assume a certain percentage of the psychiatrically vulnerable population would succumb to “a previously unreported phenomenon” and eventually a couple of clever doctors would document the morbidity in a peer-reviewed journal as “climate change delusion.”

    Not because the doctors are out to get Slim personally, or hurry along the coming apocalypse, but because they have merely identified a trend and hope to alert their profession to the diagnosis.

    Ad hominem tabloid conspiracy theory is the only argument you have presented here. Are we ready to move beyond insult to rational argument yet?

  8. wes george says:

    “neuroses do not involve gross distortions of external reality or disorganisation of personality.”

    A neurosis isn’t as severe a mental state as psychosis, yet neuroses can involve “gross distortion of external reality.”

    Neurotics don’t hallucinate, but apocalyptic and conspiracy fantasies are quite common. For instance, the washing one’s hand over 500 times a day out of an irrational fear of microbes or the irrational compulsion to avoid stepping upon cracks to avoid severe consequences. Or the inability to leave one’s home due to gut-wrenching fear of open spaces. These are delusions almost as debilitating as psychotic hallucination and they are utterly irrational, yet these neurotics often hold down jobs and wash daily.

    Delusional thinking is far more complex as psycho-sociological phenomena than your characterisation. There are many historical examples of delusions, which are “accepted by other members of the person’s culture or subculture.”

    In the 1690’s a whole society became infested with witches. The mass delusion of Salem is well studied. Reams of evidence proved the existence of dozens of witches to everyone, including the magistrates. The debate was over. The science settled. It was time to act. Hundreds were arrested and tortured, 20 executed.

    One man was slowly crushed with stones in public, because he “denied” witchcraft existed. Simply not believing in witches defined you as a shill for the witches. The punishment was worse than death. Obviously, very few chose to become denialist shills under the circumstances.

    So much for the idea that delusion is about holding beliefs that aren’t held by your culture. The only sane man left in the county they crushed with stones.

    Salem’s witch problem actually increased during the trials as some vulnerable to suggestion became so infected with the meme they began to act out as witches.

    Others real did fall ill from spells cast. Some witnesses had real seizures in the presents of witches. And dozens saw impossibly supernatural acts of witchcraft and spectral spirits. Were they psychotic or neurotic? Does it matter?

    If these psychiatric patients had been sent to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, no doubt some clever doctors would have coined their infliction as “The Salem Witch Hunt Delusion.”

    In fact, it is a rare society that doesn’t suffer some milder forms of delusional thinking on at least some topic. Bob Brown said that “we will lose the planet” if “carbon emissions aren’t cut by 90% before 2050.” Yet, it is deluding oneself to believe that is a remotely possible goal. So are we all going to die? Or is that a delusion as well?

    “The Gov’t staff would hardly been able to wash THEMSELVES OR GOING TO WORK EVERYDAY unless they were thinking rationally.”

    Your faith in our polity is remarkable. Rational thought is a very high order of consciousness, indeed. It is absolutely false to imagine that without reason one is rendered unable to bath or work the levers of power. History is littered with examples of perfectly well groomed and highly coiffed, yet utterly irrational government. It is probably the most common societal folly imaginable.

    “What is disturbing is that Paul uses the term delusion as a political word , a la Soviet style against dissidents.”

    Paul hardly introduced the concept of delusion into the climate debate. Look up the word “denial.” It’s almost a synonym to delusional: “failure to acknowledge an unacceptable truth or to admit it into consciousness.”

    Nevertheless, there is a huge difference between logically arguing that some aspect of political orthodoxy is demagogic and provides the foundation of individual or mass “delusion” and simply hurling the ad hominem cliché, “denialist”.

    One is an attempt to open an argument, the other is an attempt to close debate.

    Meanwhile, allusion to totalitarian language manipulation techniques is the dialectic equivalent of a Freudian slip. After all, the ad hominem “denialist” is itself a reference to Nazism.

  9. Ann Novek says:

    As for open debate, I’m banned from Jen’s blog and Paul has e-mailed Libby to leave the blog. Pinxie another female poster , is as well banned….

  10. wes george says:

    Hang on a minute, Ann you have a blog too.

    It would appear that your blog is password protected, thus it isn’t open to free debate for anyone. It seems to defeat the whole purpose of a blog. No one can see content without a password ? hello?

    Meanwhile, the debate is so rowdy over at Jen you’d think it was question time in our parliament.

    Slim complains about the lack of moderation.

    I’m perplexed…

    I’m beginning to think that you think free and open debate isn’t in the interest of the environment. No? It should be restricted by password access only to a choosen few? Yet, you bemoan the censorship at Jen’s? Seems like a double standard. What am I missing here?

    I don’t know how you got yourself ejected from Jen’s blog. Must have been something awful bad ’cause, like Slim says, the level of moderation over there is one notch above total anarchy.

  11. Ann Novek says:

    No password is needed but as I told people back at Jen’s blog , my blog is under construction, simply I need the help of a computer geek , it might open again in the autumn…

  12. wes george says:

    Oh, Ok. my mistake. sorry.

  13. slim says:

    My goodness, Wes – you have been busy! I’m just in from a Sunday afternoon having a beer and playing live music. So back to blogland.

    Your comment reads to me as “I’ll see your ad hominem and raise your 20”! But I’ll share some reactions with you.

    You’ve made an awful lot of presumptions about who I am, what I think, what I believe, my life experience. That’s a long bow to draw based on some small blog exchange. You might understand me better if you tried to understand what I say – and that’s not the same as accepting what I say – and not project so much of what you think I’m saying, of who you think I am.

    Do I visit JM’s site as troll? Despite what you think, no. I generally stay away in order avoid the aggravation of it all. But every now and then JM has a post that I feel obliged to comment on. In the current example, as I’ve explained, Paul has implied a causal relationship between global warming alarmism and youth psychosis, which is not supported or suggested by the journal article’s author. Unwarranted and unscientific. You fail to see that, preferring to interpret my analysis as ad hominem argument.

    Do I go to JM to drum up some Dog’s Bollocks blog hits? No. That has indeed happened, but it is of no concern to me. Do I feel inadequate about the number of comments I receive? No. My whole adult life I have been responding vocally to the issue of the day. I started a blog as a way of exploring the changing technology I have responsibility for teach to adolescents. So I combined the two, as I enjoy writing when I have the energy or the muse.

    Am I after 100s of blog admirers? No. Although some people enjoy what I write. Some don’t. Many people enjoy the kind of music I play. Some don’t. But I do it anyway because I enjoy expressing myself through it. I could ask how many hits a day does your blog have, but that would be petty. It’s all a bit ‘mine’s bigger than your’s’, don’t you think?

    Am I a shill? No. I have opinions which I am free to express, and I have no financial relationships supporting and informing my blog.

    Is Jennifer a shill? Despite the negative connotations of the term, by any reasonable understanding of its meaning, yes, she is a shill. She advocates products and ideas in concert with the those of her corporate sponsors. I was going to say it’s an honorable profession, but no – although it is an accepted part of our political and media culture, and certainly not illegal. Fair play to her. But that does not make her scientific opinions and presentations objective. Indeed, as she often criticises others, she speaks with authority outside of her academic jurisdiction.

  14. Marion Delgado says:

    To market fundies, being a shill is a sacred calling, you’re a sort of high priest. But they realize outsiders don’t like shilling, which is why they go after any outsiders with Scientology/Moonielike zeal for pointing out shilling activity.

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The Dog’s Bollocks

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The Dog's Bollocks: "Bollocks" is one of my favourite words, and this is now one of my favourite blogs and I've only been reading it for five minutes. – John Surname

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