The following parable accompanies my article The Paradoxical Origin of Climate Alarmism in American Thinker.
Once upon a time there was a healthy, wealthy, and generous man. Let’s call him Sam. Sam is honest and brave, but slightly naïve and hypochondriac. One day, Sam found a small discolored spot on his skin. He went to the doctor, who examined the spot and told Sam he was fine, but that he should do annual checkups.
But Sam had enemies in the neighborhood. Some of them simply coveted his wealth; others hated him because Sam was not allowing them to terrorize the neighborhood. When Sam’s enemies heard about the discolored spot, they saw an opening. So they dressed up as doctors, went to Sam, and told him that the spot was actually a dangerous disease. Sam listened, then went to a local hospital and asked for a comprehensive examination, with all possible tests and many doctors involved. The doctors came to the same conclusion – no problem. But they produced a pile of papers, containing various conjectures and obscure medical terms. When Sam’s enemies got their hands on the papers, they picked pages that suited them and threw around the scariest words they could find. They ignored the fact that the examination had rejected any links between the spot and these diseases. Then they ran around with those pages, speaking to media and promoting their “discovery” of the dangers of discolored spots.
Of course, very few real doctors bought into their narrative, so the miscreants started paying hookers and pimps to pose as doctors. Well, the truth cannot be hidden — some of Sam’s employees participated in this masquerade, and so did some janitors in Sam’s hospital. Finally, after one big conference, attended by some real doctors, the miscreants announced a new “medical consensus” – these spots were declared not simply dangerous, but deadly. Even some hospital janitors recoiled when they heard that, but they quickly folded back into the “consensus”.
This news confused the real doctors. Most doctors specialize, and respect the opinions of other specialists. On a TV screen, a hooker dressed like a specialist looks like a specialist. The doctors knew that some types of skin pigmentation could be symptoms of future cancer. So they listened to the TV hookers, took information in cautiously, but occasionally passed it to their colleagues. Such hearsay convinced many doctors that Sam’s small spot was really a disease.
Convinced by the TV, Sam went to the hospital again. His doctors repeated that he was healthy – but this time with some hesitation. They suggested that he take actions that would not hurt — exercise, lose weight, avoid excessive exposure to the sun, and so on. Above all, they suggested that Sam see more specialists to do more tests. So Sam started throwing piles of money at these specialists and tests. That created an industry that could do only one thing — investigate such spots and recommend “treatments” for them. Naturally, it was also big on self-promotion. Unfortunately, the mere creation of this cottage industry signaled to Sam’s family that the problem was real. Eventually, Sam’s wealthy friends joined this madness for their own reasons. Sam’s enemies were ecstatic.
One inglorious day the city got a new vice major, responsible for health care. His name was Albert, and he had been frequently seen smoking dope (and who knows what else) in the company of the miscreants. He also used to congregate with Sam’s ill-wishers, discussing how unjustly rich Sam was and strategizing about robbing him. Albert knew nothing of medicine, but he was obsessed with even the slightest freckle. He moved even more money from real medical practice to his obsession, and filled the hospital’s management with obsession promoters, who quickly hired pickpockets, swindlers, and some crafty janitors as doctors. Most doctors supported Albert’s party, so they did not resist much. Those few who did were fired and forgotten.
The new “specialists” came up with a treatment. For starters, they said, we will cut off Sam’s fingers. Sam was naïve, but not stupid. He said that everybody had discolored spots in one place or another. Why was he being singled out for the “treatment”? The obsessed crowd left Sam’s fingers alone, but continued gutting the hospital, corrupting Sam’s employees and slandering Sam in his own neighborhood. Some of Sam’s friends actually agreed to the treatment, and lost some limbs for their trouble.
To be continued…