Seeing freedom and truth as diseaseRichard Treadgold | September 16, 2012
A thought-provoking post just went up at WUWT. It’s by Thomas Fuller concerning Stephan Lewandowsky’s ill-born “poll” of climate sceptics and his subsequent paper “revealing” them as believers in various wacky conspiracy theories. Fuller gives an electrifying insight into the attacks on sceptics as suffering a disease of the mind. For he cites a tactic from the days of slavery.
The medicalization of dissent is a delicate topic to bring up in conversations about climate change. If you use it about somebody you’re almost instantly associating them with really evil people who used the tactic to further Stalinism, Naziism, Maoism, etc.
But the tactic, which really is nothing more than a fancy term for calling your opponents crazy, exists. It is reprehensible. So when I accuse climate alarmists such as Chris Mooney, Kevin Prall, John Mashey and now Stephan Lewandowsky of using the tactic of medicalizing dissent, I am not trying to say they are Stalinists, Nazis or Maoists. That would be like calling people deniers… a thuggish tactic if ever I’ve seen one.
Medicalizing dissent was perhaps first used by Dr. Samuel Cartwright in 1861, when he invented the term drapetomania to describe a new disease, suffered only by slaves. The disease was a desire for freedom. It had to be a disease, you see, because Cartwright had to justify slavery. As you can see, it’s hard to talk about medicalizing dissent without being offensive.
Just as slaves naturally want their freedom, climate sceptics naturally want the truth. If instead we become agitated by ad hominem attacks, we may find that, piece by piece, our freedoms are weakened and removed. Like the slaves, we will end up hankering for freedom (not that the slaves contributed to their own abduction).
As this post illustrates and developments everywhere attest, climatic dissent has become dangerously emotionally charged and associated by many with the safety of mankind and even the Earth itself. Powerful, primordial instincts are at work to muzzle, hobble or even eliminate those who threaten the survival of the tribe.
Investigate now — discuss, correspond, refute and object. Dissent is already difficult, but for now at least it remains legal.