Tag Archives: The Animated Lewandowsky

Mad About Mental Issues: Part 2

Let’s continue our survey of the top 10 things you’d be crazy not to know about the mental problem.

6 It’s OK to laugh!

While lunacy is ultimately a climate change issue, it does differ from global warming in one big way: you’re allowed to laugh about it, says CN’s Professor Stephan Lewandowsky [pictured].

Lew interview new 08Mad rights spokesmen insist they’re no killjoys, and the last thing they’d want to do is take the humor out of the subject.

“Every culture known to historians has enjoyed a chuckle at the expense of the less-hinged,” according to Professor Ian Hickie of Australia’s Brain and Mind Institute [BMI]. “This seems to be hardwired; we couldn’t outgrow it if we wanted to, which of course we don’t.”

And nobody laughs harder than nutjobs themselves, who are the first to dissolve into giggles at a good joke—often anticipating the punchline by one or two sentences.

“We always appreciate comedy, provided it makes sense without being hurtful, yet contains a broader point about the foibles of contemporary society,” explained a drooling maniac who agreed to rant at us in Sydney’s Northside Clinic. “Then again, another equally valid comic tradition revolves around reframing—in an exaggerated or surprising way—some moral intuition of the time and culture in which the routine is performed.”

And if you can’t laugh at yourself, what’s the point of going on?

“You might as well put your affairs in order, hop into a warm bath to stimulate peripheral blood flow and open your wrists with a razor blade (remembering to cut along the length of the arm, not crosswise—a classic beginner’s mistake),” to quote a patient information booklet distributed by the New South Wales Department of Health.

7 Immigrants are at risk.

We traveled to Sydney’s Southwest, where one cluster of suburbs is so rife with cray-cray that it’s nicknamed the Punchbowl district. It’s also an area of high immigration—and that’s no coincidence, say professional ethnographers.

Lewandowsky interview 17In one hospital, we saw women with the erotomanic persecutory delusion that they’ll be ravished by strangers unless they conceal every inch of their bodies from view. On the emergency ward a man was angrily arguing with staff. From what I could make out with my limited Arabic, he seemed to be obsessed with the compass direction in which his bed was facing.

Administrators had set aside a room for the use of 20 or so patients laboring under the shared conviction, or folie à plusieurs, that they had to ululate and perform a downwards-dog manoeuvre five times a day. I asked one man what he thought would happen if he failed to carry out this ritual. He muttered something about his “soul” going to “hell,” though he couldn’t say where either of these was located.

The local religious centre does what it can. One enterprising imam runs a Friday activity club where hundreds of people with similar thought disorders find support from others going through the same thing. But he says he just doesn’t have the resources or training to give everyone in the area the help they need.

And yet some migrant populations in Australia not only seem to be immune to the kind of meshugaas that plagues Punchbowl, they even outperform the continent’s Anglo-Saxon indigenes on measures of psychic soundness, screw tightness and marble possession.

It’s a head-scratcher. In terms of country of origin, says Professor Lewandowsky, the big epicentres of mental disturbance are as diverse and seemingly random as Indonesia, Lebanon, southern (but not northern) Thailand, Pakistan (but not India), Muslim Bosno-Albania (but not Catholic Serbo-Croatia), the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic Republic of Iraq.

“Astute readers may notice,” continues Lewandowsky, “that these ‘hot spots’ have one and only one factor in common: they’re all war-ravaged nations with a long history of persecution by Israel, going all the way back to the Crusades, and to a lesser extent by the West.”

This observation has led ineluctably to the favorite hypothesis of alienists everywhere: that most people who lose their senses do so as a result of Judeoamerican Islamophobia.

8 The stigma can be worse than the disease.

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We’ve got Mental Illness Awareness Madness!

Part 1

It’s hard to believe, isn’t it? That special time of year has come and gone again! Did you enjoy your Mental Illness Awareness Week?

Here at Climate Nuremberg we’re nuts about MIAW, the annual opportunity to think about a non-climate-related, but nevertheless important, social issue.

Just because climate change is by far the worst problem society will ever face, doesn’t mean it’s the only one. 

Unprecedented temperatures; carbon pollution; the daily toll of species going extinct in real time; oceans rapidly turning to acid; millions of climate refugees in limbo between homelands—these very real crises obviously demand attention.

But so does another tragedy, closer to home. In your own neighborhood are folks who believe in things that just don’t exist.

It’s all well and good to listen to what The Science is telling us about our warming globe. But did you know 1 in 40 Australians will experience hearing things?

As we weep uncontrollably for the loss of Pacific nation after Pacific nation to the onslaught of surging sea levels, spare a thought for people who get sad for no sensible reason.

As academics we can get so caught up in simply surviving the attacks of the oil-funded Subterranean War on Science that we forget about folks with even bigger problems. Folks who think imaginary forces are out to get them, for instance.

But all these people exist, they’re all our neighbors, and they’re all suffering the same problem. I’m referring—of course—to the problem of mental problems.

snarl

Credibility: Stephan Lewandowsky, the Americo-Australian cognician now based in England, generously sacrificed his time and reputation to act as a consultant to this article series.

So, whether you fancy yourself a maven of meshuggenology or just an engaged citizen, here are the take-home points everyone needs to know about the growing mental crisis in our community.

1 Insanity is a rich tapestry.

Admit it: when you think of a mental patient you picture a crazy person, don’t you? But this stereotype is too simplistic, explains CN’s Stephan Lewandowsky. While craziness does remain the most common mental problem, there’s a broad gamut of others.

The crazy “only make up about 60% of the caseload at your local asylum,” says the Bristol-based Professor. “Doctors now recognize a whole range of deformities of the mind, from simple severe melancholia to relapsing-remitting batcrappery.

“You could almost write a book about all the diagnoses now in use,” he adds, slightly hyperbolically.

2 Going psycho: it will happen to you.

And if it doesn’t, say epidemiologists, it will happen to someone you know. According to a major recent study, 19% of Australians—that’s almost every fifth person—will take leave of their gourd at some point in their lives. That’s almost one in every five people.

Derangement: Professor Lewandowsky used to think it was something that happened to other people.

3 We need to have a conversation.

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Frequently Feared Questions

Are you a climate academic?
Stefan Lewandowsky on all you ever wanted to know about the Scared Scientists but were afraid to ask because you didn’t want to know.

Q I worked briefly with [Scared Scientist’s name withheld] and the abduction of the octet has brought up certain… emotions. What if I talk to a trauma counselor at the University and they think I’m nuts? —Logic Bloke

Lew's views 08

Magic bullet: Lewandowsky owes his life to the designer stimulants that have kept him one step ahead of his pursuers—and with zero adverse effects. Could uppers be the the holy grail of pharmacology: a life-saving drug class with literally no downside?

A Mr Bloke,

Nobody is going to judge you! There’s no “right” way to respond to incidents like this, psychologically speaking.

Debilitating grief, constant white-knuckle panic, recurrent ideation about pain and death that crowds out everything else, an all-consuming dread, feelings of paralytic anxiety—these are all normal, healthy reactions.

But you don’t have to go through them alone. As someone who’s experienced them all since breakfast, I can assure you it helps to vent.

So don’t be shy. For once in your climate career, this is no time for scientific reticence!

—Steve.

Q Professor Lewandowski (sic), could you settle a faculty bet: as day 4 of the crisis dawns, is there any unhealthy or ‘incorrect’ way to feel? —ExCapitalistWoman, Sydney

Lew' Views Two 06

Nope: On further rumination, Lewandowsky still can’t think of a single ill effect from “half a lifetime” of amphetamine use.

A Ms Woman,

Panic is a deeply personal journey. Your amygdalae, adrenal glands and sympathetic nervous system are different from the next person’s, so why should you drop your bundle exactly the same way?

We each have our own timetable for not getting through events like this.

What’s important is that you give in to terror on your own terms—nobody else’s.

When life gets traumatic the only ‘wrong‘ way to respond is denial. This week’s news is a case in point.

If you ever feel you’re coping well as the kidnapping crisis unfolds, that’s what we call a major red flag. Call your doctor or counselor as a matter of urgency. They can help you get back on track, or put you in contact with someone who can.

But there’s a limited time window, so act while the trauma is still acute.

—Stevan.

Q Dear Dr (sic) Lewandowsky, police here in Australia keep assuring us they have “no credible information” about an elevated threat [of further abductions] to us [climate scientists]. Why don’t I find this comforting? —Professor_Planet, Melbourne
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We Are All Scared Scientists Now

For those left behind, trauma

Climate supporters everywhere have been in an emotional purgatory since news first broke of the disappearance of our scientists. Today, a planet’s vigil for eight very special, very scared people enters its critical third blog post—but investigators fear the agony has just begun.

“An early breakthrough is unlikely,” admitted Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin on talkback radio this morning.

Meanwhile, colleagues and grad students at the universities where the eight neurotics worked are being offered free hysteria counseling.

At a media conference today Senior Detective Donald Jenner of the AFP’s Missing Scientist Unit described the emotional and behavioral toll this crisis is taking on the climate-academic population.

Unexpected

Scared Psychologists: CN’s Stefan Lewandowsky believes it’s important to panic about one new thing a day. “The day nothing causes you to soil yourself is the day you truly become old.” His global network of clinics—Lewandowsky Living With Fear Technologies™—boasts thousands of “satisfied shitless” clients.

“Thousands of climate scientists, [climate] ethicists and [climate] psychologists will be wetting their beds again tonight—not only in Australia, but wherever there’s a large climate-hyphenated community. All their kids can do is give them an extra-big hug when they get home from work today.”

“At the risk of cliché, these [tragic] situations do bring the community closer,” Det. Jenner continued. “Friends and family of climatologists tell us they’re checking their loved ones’ blogs for the first time in years. Speaking as a parent myself—whilst I don’t have [a climate scientist] in the family—nothing could be worse than looking back and wishing you’d refreshed your browser sooner.”

A peer in fear speaks up

Before he fled to England, Stefan Lewandowsky was in close contact with a number of the desaparecidos, and considered it a “privilege” to call himself “a peer in fear.”

The psychology professor spoke to us in a wide-ranging interview, interrupted only by the continual need to look behind his back. He didn’t mean to be rude, he explained, but enemies could be closing in at any time from any compass direction.

(Lewandowsky admits his obsessive vigilance can make social life awkward, but is convinced it’s paid off. “I’ve never been raped,” he boasts, “by surprise.”)

Eternal vigilance

You can’t be too paranoid these days: The slightest noise from the rear could presage the approach of Lewandowsky’s nameless pursuers. “See, this is why I asked for a chair against the wall,” he whines for the umpteenth time.

“There was serious talk at one point of my becoming the ninth Scared Scientist,” he recalls.

“In the end we agreed cognitive scientists aren’t [actually scientists], thank Christ. Otherwise I’d probably be there right now, by [my frightened friends’] side… huddled in a gibbering mess in the corner of some godforsaken shipping container.”

Lewandowsky adds that he “get[s] seasick at the drop of a hat.”

The climate cognician—best known for overturning decades of rational risk analysis [RRA] with his discovery of Lewandowsky’s Uncertainty Principle—says he yearns for specific information, no matter how grisly, on the fate that’s befallen his phobic friends.

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Definition of ‘climate’ changing faster than at any time in last 1000 years

According to an alarming new analysis of the climate corpus, natural concept change can’t account for the dramatic saltations we’re witnessing in what scientists say the Earth’s climate means.

Climate philologists say the motion on the dial far exceeds background rates of semantic drift, and shows no sign of damping. They’re increasingly worried that—with recent disturbances in weather, consensus, acidification, pollution, skeptic, global, conspiracist, conspiratorial, trick, hide, what the peer-reviewed literature is, the scientific method, knowledge, evidence and other previously-stable concepts—verbal weirding could represent the new normal.

But Stefan Lewandowsky, Bristol University’s Professor of Cognitive Science and a regular CN contributor, doesn’t need to see the data. He’s already convinced that things are getting more frequent—because it’s happening to him. Anecdotally.

“Sometimes,” he confides, “I can’t even predict what a given term is going to mean by the time I finish a paper about it! People [who read my cli-psy research] are scared and confused.”

It’s even prompted Lewandowsky to rethink the legacy of a person once dubbed the Chemical Ali of Climate Change.

“We all enjoy a good laugh at the expense of David Viner, but I suspect we might find the invoice coming back to us sooner than I suspect,” argues Lewandowsky. “Do your children know what snow means? When’s the last time you checked?”

For his part, he admits, “I never tested my kids. Part of me is afraid to ask, I think.”

You can tell it bothers him. Furrowing his brow, Lewandowsky swings his famous analytical cannon around, leveling it at himself.

I look away. It’s involuntary—I’ve seen enough carnage in the cli psy wars; I know what Lewandowsky’s balls do to men downrange. Ugly, closed-casket things. Finally I hear the sonic boom.

“It’s… my brain,” he concludes.

“My brain is afraid to ask.”

Things are getting more and more frequent, he points out.

Things are getting more and more frequent, Lewandowsky often argues.

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No means no: protecting yourself from Illegitimate Insertion

Guest post by Stephan Lewandowsky
Bristol University • School of Theoretical Conspiracism

In a way, today’s scientists have it better than Hypatia of Alexandria. They don’t have to worry about being flayed with sharpened stones—yet; but they do endure things no scientist should.

acclimatise-5

Victims of bullying—like climate scientists—become bullies themselves, warns Lewandowsky, who knows of several climatologists who’ve now progressed to enuresis and fire-setting.

They never signed up for this. Nobody said their life’s work would be critically scrutinized, repositioned from fact to theory, slandered as “uncertain,” forcibly disclosed, competitively replicated (usually with different results), pedantically ransacked for errors and fallacies, refuted in and out of the peer-reviewed literature, ignored, investigated by two-dozen independent inquiries, debunked by amateurs of no scientific standing, and disbelieved.

(It’s the disbelief that hurts the most.)

The methods may have changed over the centuries, but whether the Roman Inquisition is interrogating Giordano Bruno or some head-in-the-sand blogger is intimidating the ANU by asking for information, the point of questioning academics is always the same: to stifle inquiry.

Psychologists familiar with the way deniers behave have called it “bullying.” Wikipedia tells us that,

The word “bully” was first used in the 1530s meaning “sweetheart”, applied to either sex, from the Dutch boel “lover, brother” […] The meaning deteriorated through the 17th century through “fine fellow”, “blusterer”, to “harasser of the weak”.

I have an uglier term for harassment of the weak: illegitimate insertion.

When Inboxes Attack: safety tips for email recipients

Because bullying campaigns take the form of email, they can be hard to distinguish from email.

But bear in mind at all times that:

  • A real scientist will always use the email address of a reputable institution.
  • A real scientist will always state his/her credentials and repeatedly acknowledge yours, thus establishing a basis of mutual legitimacy for the interaction.
  • A real scientist will never ask for your credit card number.
  • A real scientist will seldom threaten to rape and murder your family; this is an admission of losing the argument.

Deniers often take advantage of the fundamental and absolute openness that is the sine qua non of all science to disguise their attacks as requests for information.

There are, however, some subtle tipoffs. A mala fide email often gives itself away when the sender

  • claims to be a scientist but says words only a conservative would use: bitter, cling, guns, religion, Rush, Limbaugh, Popper, Feynman, etc.
  • claims to be “skeptical,” but later makes a comment that reveals detailed knowledge of your work. Remember, real skeptics know almost nothing about climate science, which is why they’re not convinced yet. But if they understand the science, that’s mens rea right there—they are (by definition) denying it.
  • has a paranoid or distrustful tone. If you sense even the slightest subtext of suspicion, this should set off major alarm bells.
  • casts aspersions on you as a man, then proceeds to hustle you with inflated claims about expensive supplements and weird exercises that just don’t work. Remember guys: if the “results” sound too good to be true, why haven’t you read about it in the peer-reviewed literature?

What do people really want when they ask for data?

A Freedom of Information [FOI] request isn’t necessarily a vexatious, chilling assault on science. It probably is; but what if a legitimate scholar simply needs some data to strengthen the consensus?

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Science mit Stefan

What is the instrument by which skepticism is pursued?

Peer review.*

Peer review is literally the instrument by which scientific skepticism is pursued.

I already explained this to you.

Stephan Lewandowsky

Stephan Lewandowsky is Professor of Cognitive Psychology, but only at Bristol University. Psychology is defined as the study of the mental disorders of rats. “Brains” too, he adds [pictured].

*“Skeptics” often claim the answer is “science itself,” or “the scientific method.” Unfortunately there is no such thing, as half-scientist half-historian Naomi Oreskes has already explained (p. 80) to you.


Did You Know?

Stevan comes from a small village in Wisconsin where they say the word “pursued” instead of “um”!