The concept of insanity is not necessarily so easy to get a fix on. Sure, there are the people who wander the streets screaming -- you run into lots of those here in Manhattan. They are easy cases. But even among the seemingly "smart," the veneer of sanity and rationality is remarkably thin. For example, back in my days at fancy Ivy League schools, I was always amazed at how many of the seemingly smartest students (as measured by standardized test scores or grades) had fallen hook, line and sinker for Marxism. This was at a time (late 60s/early 70s) when the mass murders of Stalin had been fully exposed and the mass deaths and famines of the Chinese "Great Leap Forward" and "Cultural Revolution" were fresh in the minds of anyone paying attention. The Harvard Crimson in those days explicitly followed the Maoist party line, Brezhnevism being not nearly pure enough for them. Today, the "smart" students of those days have moved into senior positions in university faculties without modifying their political views in the least, while the acceptance of Marxism among the current students has if anything increased.
So the trendy thing in academia and journalism today is to declare that President Trump is "insane," or some close variant of same. Among many examples from academia, the prize for attention-grabbing goes to one Bandy Lee, "Yale psychiatrist," who claims she has provided her expert diagnosis of our President to multiple members of Congress. As quoted in Newsweek on January 4:
A Yale psychiatrist who spoke to more than a dozen lawmakers about Donald Trump’s mental health believes the president is “unraveling” and “falling apart under stress" . . . “Trump is going to get worse and will become uncontainable with the pressures of the presidency,” she added, having warned lawmakers: “He’s going to unravel, and we are seeing the signs.” . . . The psychiatrist is also the editor of The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, which looks into the president’s “dangerousness” and features interviews with a number of mental health experts.
The estimable Dr. Lee and her coterie of "mental health experts " seem to have lost track of Rule 7.3 of the Principles of Medical Ethics of the American Psychiatric Association. That Rule states:
[I]t is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.
As David Patterson points out in The Federalist today, the APA's Rule, sometimes known as the "Goldwater Rule," was promulgated after a debacle where some 1189 of the APA's members purported to have declared 1964 Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater "unfit for office" without ever having met the man.
Journalists appear to have no comparable ethical rule (do they have any ethical rules at all?), so we should not be surprised to find many journalists even more emphatic in their proclamations of presidential insanity. Among New York Times opinion columnists, I think it's completely unanimous, but my favorite is relative newcomer Michelle Goldberg. From her December 1 column, "Trump is Cracking Up":
There is a debate over whether Trump is unaware of reality or merely indifferent to it. He might be delusional, or he might simply be asserting the power to blithely override truth, which is the ultimate privilege of a despot. But reports from the administration all suggest an increasingly unhinged and chaotic president.
Unhinged! Or, there is this from January 4:
They [members of the administration] are willing, out of some complex mix of ambition, resentment, cynicism and rationalization, to endanger all of our lives — all of our children’s lives — by refusing to tell the country what they know about the senescent fool who boasts of the size of his “nuclear button” on Twitter.
So I guess we need to look among some of Trump's prominent critics for examples of the few grains of sanity remaining in this crazy world. For some easy examples, I'll turn to my favorite subject, that of climate change alarmism. Trump has famously proclaimed climate change alarmism to be a hoax. Insane! So let's see what some of the "sane" people have to say about the subject, recognizing that we have just gone through two weeks of record-breaking winter cold throughout the center, east, and south of the country. Surely record cold cannot be blamed on "global warming"? Don't be so sure! Paul Matthews at Climate Scepticism has helpfully compiled a collection for our perusal. Examples:
- Al Gore, January 4: "It’s bitter cold in parts of the US, but climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann explains that’s exactly what we should expect from the climate crisis."
- Climate "scientist" Michael Mann, January 4: The bitter cold and snowy conditions gripping the US are “an example of precisely the sort of extreme winter weather we expect because of climate change.”
- New York Times, January 3, "Why So Cold? Climate Change May Be Part of the Answer": "As bitter cold continues to grip much of North America and helps spawn the fierce storm along the East Coast, the question arises: What’s the influence of climate change? Some scientists studying the connection between climate change and cold spells, which occur when cold Arctic air dips south, say that they may be related."
- IndyStar, January 3, "This is how science links cold weather and global warming": "[W]hile it may be counterintuitive, Indiana's cold spell — with wind chills as low as -20 to -35 degrees — may be a result of rising global temperatures, according to climate scientists." However, "Cold snaps are not exclusively a global warming-caused phenomenon. . . ."
Of course, all of those examples come from journalism sources intended to be read by the general public. But how do climate alarmists talk about climate change when they are among their own crowd of friendly academics? Matthews has a good example of that as well. The following is from an academic journal called Environmental Politics. I'll bet you can't read all the way through the whole thing:
Investigations of the interconnectedness of climate change with human societies require profound analysis of relations among humans and between humans and nature, and the integration of insights from various academic fields. An intersectional approach, developed within critical feminist theory, is advantageous. An intersectional analysis of climate change illuminates how different individuals and groups relate differently to climate change, due to their situatedness in power structures based on context-specific and dynamic social categorisations. Intersectionality sketches out a pathway that stays clear of traps of essentialisation, enabling solidarity and agency across and beyond social categories. It can illustrate how power structures and categorisations may be reinforced, but also challenged and renegotiated, in realities of climate change. We engage with intersectionality as a tool for critical thinking, and provide a set of questions that may serve as sensitisers for intersectional analyses on climate change.
Got that? And, of course, we can all agree that Donald Trump is insane!