Flat White

The great undiagnosed dysrationalia epidemic

8 June 2018

12:54 PM

8 June 2018

12:54 PM

I have long wondered why really intelligent people, like Malcolm Turnbull, say, and others, fail to see how irrational it is to accept the thrust of global warming alarmism? Then the other day I happened on a single word that explains it: dysrationalia. Maybe you know it already, but I only now learnt that the term was coined in the early 1990s by US psychologist Keith Stanovich. In 2002, psychologist Robert Sternberg edited a book, Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid, in which the dysrationalia concept was extensively discussed.

The disorder can lead to serious problems, especially when it manifests amongst policymakers.

Climate is country specific, it would seem; Australia can moderate its own warming and extreme weather events by abandoning fossil fuels such as coal as a source of energy. This is the inescapable, if irrational, conclusion implied by the draconian energy policies currently in place, abandoning the use of coal domestically while continuing to export most of Australia’s coal for other countries to burn in coal-fired power stations – $205 billion worth in 2016-17. What of the carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power stations in India or China?

Such are the absurd symptoms of dysrationalia, the inability to think and behave rationally despite adequate intelligence. The Wikipedia definition says it is not a clinical disorder, but can help explain why smart people fall for Ponzi schemes “and other fraudulent encounters” (Speaking of Ponzi schemes … the renewables industry loves dysrationalia-suffering climate activists and politicians.)

The epidemic of dysrationalia has infected whole political classes and climate activists; they have fallen for the fraudulent proposition that to shun fossil fuels is to mitigate against global warming, when Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, has admitted that even if Australia’s CO2 emissions were reduced to zero, it would make virtually no difference to the climate (if CO2 mattered at all).  They don’t hear that; obviously, selective hearing is a tell-tale symptom of dysrationalia.

The starting point of these policies, the hypothesis that manmade carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is dangerously heating the planet has not been accurately measured or the effects proven. But dysrationalia sufferers are unable to digest that information. The disorder blocks out selected scientific facts. It thrives on blind faith, supported by a vigilante mindset.


Climate scientists who are not receiving funding (directly or indirectly) have emphasised that the science of climate change is full of uncertainties due to the large number of variables. Pointing this out to those suffering from dysrationalia is grave socio-political heresy, to be met with derision. Like Galileo was, claiming the earth revolves around the sun. Heretic! Nutjob! Shut him up!

The only response to dysrationalia is, of course, common sense and rational argument. The only cure is exercising rational thought.

As Stanovich pointed out, “emotions can lead us astray on complex decisions,” and when both Al Gore and Kevin Rudd described global warming as the great moral challenge of our time, they set off an era of ‘gut feel’ policymaking in a field of extremely complex science.  ‘Gut feel’ over ‘head think’.

Decisions based on gut feelings can be disastrously wrong; examples include the overnight banning of live cattle exports to Indonesia in 2011 or the overnight decision to launch a (now plainly useless) Royal Commission Into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory in 2017. (From the Government’s response to the report: “The Government supports the Commission’s recommendations in relation to taking placed based approaches to implementing responses, and this aligns with the work the Commonwealth is already doing in relation to its programs.” Very useful.)

Ideology, too, can be an enemy of rationality. A recent example of this is the case of Rob Tiller, a relationship counsellor of 10 years at the government-funded Relationships Australia WA. He has departed after sending emails to colleagues from his work account agreeing with the premise of Bettina Arndt’s article that men were also sometimes victims of domestic violence. He shared her article on his Facebook page. The research underlying the observation was not questioned: he just shouldn’t have talked about it. This shows the effects of dysrationalia with an ideological impetus.

Australia is not the only country afflicted with dysrationalia. Activist journalist Lauren Southern was barred from entering the UK in March this year, apparently over a poster/leaflet she distributed about Islam in February – making her the latest right-wing figure to be denied entry to the U.K. after criticising the religion.

“It’s just a pity that the government wasn’t as diligent in its enforcement of border security when it came to Youssef Zaghba,” writes Henry George in Merion West (‘All voices are welcome’), “who was allowed to enter the UK at least twice after being put on a security list, despite the fact he was under police monitoring in Italy on suspicion that he had links to ISIS. Zaghba was one of the terrorists who drove a van into and slashed the throats of eight people on London Bridge on June 6, 2017. Nor does it seem to think that returning ISIS fighters pose as much of a risk to “community cohesion” and public safety as a right-winger who doesn’t support or condone terrorism of any kind.”

Here, dysrationalia has gone feral creating a clear and present danger to citizens.

When US President Donald Trump referred to illegal migrant members of the vicious MS-13 gang as ‘animals’ recently, his many enemies, led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, were outraged that the US President would seek to dehumanise ANYONE. “We all have the spark of divinity,” spouted Pelosi piously, seemingly protective of MS-13. That is surely chronic dysrationalia.

Others cited the memory of Hitler who strove to dehumanise Jews. None of them paused to condemn MS-13, though, the machete-wielding murderers and rapists. The mass hysteria among the Democrats and in much of the media overlooked the fact that Trump was simply using a common figure of speech. It triggered a perfect example of dysrationalia – as his words often to do.

Illustration: New Line Pictures.

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