In Praise of Restraint

Dalrymple makes several interesting points about censorship in this article at Taki’s Magazine — on self-censorship, for one:

Normal people care about many things, but only to a moderate degree; for monomaniacs, their one thing is the meaning of their existence. So while they can devote their miserable lives to the persecution of those who think differently from them on that one, only moderately important subject, the persecuted do not care enough about that subject to risk much discomfort in order to expound what they see as the truth about it.

Thus censorship comes to exist in a supposedly free society, without any need of government oppression; it necessitates self-censorship, but it is censorship of the worst kind, for it leads to a situation in which only one view of the subject can be aired in public.

British National Health Service Offers Dementia Bounties

Dalrymple reports in a piece at the Library of Law and Liberty that the NHS has begun to pay doctors “55 pounds sterling ($90) for each diagnosis of dementia that they make in their patients.” Besides the obviously troubling premises and implications of this policy — that doctors are either unwilling or unable to make such diagnoses without financial inducement and that false diagnoses might be encouraged — Dalrymple points out a larger issue:

The suspicion grows that this is the beginning of an attempt to corrupt the medical profession that will do its bidding for this, and other future tasks that may be even more sinister. And all the while the government extends its control, claiming that it is concerned—oh so concerned—about the people (or is it the flock of sheep?) for whose welfare it deems itself responsible. Nothing is more delightful than to be compassionate and generous at other people’s expense, and with other people’s money, and so benevolence in rulers is therefore as much to be watched as vice.

Quarantine Nurses & Doctors Returning From Treating Ebola in Africa?

It’s not necessary, says Dalrymple, since someone with Ebola is not infectious until after he has started to have a fever. Why the push for such a policy then?

The problem is that the public is always much more concerned by unfamiliar but infinitesimal risks than by much larger but familiar ones. Political leaders – or is it followers? – know this only too well and behave accordingly.

Read the entire piece at Pajamas Media

Being Mortal: Ageing, Illness, Medicine, and What Matters in the End

We missed an article in the Times from last month, where Dalrymple reviewed Being Mortal by Atul Gawande:

Once as a medical student I was deputed by a hospital consultant to tell a family that their loved one was dying of lung cancer. The imparting of such information was not regarded by him as very important, indeed he thought it almost as a distraction from the serious business of curative medicine.

Without any guidance as to how to do it, I told the family in a very straightforward way, not because of any commitment to honesty but because I could think of no other. To my horror, one of the relatives was very hard of hearing…

Read the rest at the Times (subscription required)

Do You Have Confidence in Doctors?

Most do, though not as many as before:

You might have supposed that trust in the medical profession would have risen as medicine became more effective at warding off death and disease, but you would have been mistaken. In fact, precisely the reverse has happened throughout the western world, but particularly in the United States. Half a century ago, nearly three quarters of Americans had confidence in the medical profession qua profession; now only about a third do so.

Killer Emotions

Dalrymple is featured here in the first half of an interview on the podcast “Uncompromised Truth”. I would call this one of the best interviews I have ever heard of him. The American hosts do a great job of getting him talking in a relaxed, conversational manner as they discuss his criticisms of modern sentimentality. There will apparently be a part II soon.

The site includes other items that may also be of interest, such as an interview with Roger Scruton. It is all very well done, and our readers will certainly find many of the hosts’ insights cogent and accurate. Definitely worth a visit.

Driven Mad

Stating “there is no gain without loss”, Dalrymple outlines the aesthetic drawbacks of cars:

…the traffic jam would make a wonderful setting for a dystopian novel of the J. G. Ballard variety, illustrating the swift deterioration of human conduct, the almost immediate descent to barbarism, under the stress of a perpetual traffic jam. How long would it be before the people in the cars started to loot the shops along the side of the road in search of food, or attack one another in search of a bottle of water? Not very long, I would imagine, not more than a few hours, a day at most, so that the story would illustrate not just the fragility of civilisation but also the thinness of its veneer over the ‘real’ nature of Man. Why extreme situations should be considered more revelatory of our true nature than everyday ones is rather a mystery: perhaps it is to give us scope to descant on our own moral turpitude as a species, which is always a great pleasure.

Eternal Youth, Eternal Kitsch

“[H]eres [sic] to forever being a teen,” said the handwritten dedication of a novel to a friend. But why would anyone want to remain an adolescent forever?

Adolescence, it need hardly be said, is an age of bad taste, when all that is garish and meretricious attracts, and all that is subtle and meritorious repels. To make of adolescence the state in which one wishes to remain is to wish upon the world the permanent triumph of the kitsch, the shallow and the gimcrack. And accordingly, the adolescent sensibility is one that prevails in much of the art world, where the most adolescent of goals, transgression, is still aimed at. Shock the parents, épater le bourgeois, such is the golden rule.