by Carl V Phillips
Last week there was a flurry of discussion about a call by UCSF’s ANTZ queen, Ruth Malone (and endorsed by that institutions chief ANTZ liar, Stanton Glantz), for a boycott of FDA proceedings that involved a dialog with tobacco companies. The demand that actual stakeholders be excluded from policy, in favor of just leaving it to the self-appointed busybodies, is so utterly insane that I am not even going to bother to respond to it. Others have done so. And I certainly do not want to try to talk them out of the boycott like others have — if they want to let their megalomania and obsessions lead them to stay out of the discussion, but all means let them.
But the discussion surrounding this has starkly illustrated one particular delusion that seems endemic among the ANTZ, something that is common among non-thinking fanatics, and can be observed in various areas where people let their ideology determine their “facts”: the belief that the one’s opponents are just like oneself, only in support of an opposing ideology, the mirror image delusion. As a genuine delusion, this is not actually a lie, though it is the cause of numerous lies. (Recall the position of this blog that actively affirming a false claim out of ignorance is still a lie if there is an explicit or implicit claim of expertise; even if you view inexcusable ignorance as different from a lie, there is still the lie about the expertise. But this does not represent a claim of expertise.)
The clearest example of the mirror image delusion is that the ANTZ do not hesitate to corrupt scientific inquiry, lie about scientific results, and otherwise produce stinking pools of junk- and pseudo-science, and so they assume that their opponents have the same lack of concern about good science and ethics. The calls by Malone and company to forbid stakeholder involvement are obviously transparent attempts to keep everyone but their fanatical minority out of the policy process. But they attempt to justify the claim with something they seem to actually believe: that the tobacco companies, and even the consumers (see, e.g., the previous posts about Glantz trying to censor consumers’ own testimonials about their success with THR), are liars.
The reality, of course, is that both the tobacco industry and THR consumer advocates conduct high-quality scientific research which is basically never challenged by the ANTZ. Despite how glaringly clear this is, and despite the fact that the ANTZ surly must be aware that they never, in fact, find any evidence of lying or even aggressive spinning by the tobacco industry and other serious researchers and commentators, for many ANTZ these claims seem to be more than a mere tactic. They seem to really believe them. The only apparent explanation is that the ANTZ’s delusion leads them to assume that the people they are attacking must be as dishonest as they are, despite no evidence to support that claim.
One of the reasons the ANTZ never challenge the accuracy and honesty of their opponent’s research and analysis is that they would lose. They have no ground to stand on. As far as I am aware, no ANTZ has ever even tried to refute the arguments presented in this blog, and that is perfectly typical of their behavior. However, I believe that another explanation is that they really do not think there is any point in disputing a claim because they do not pay any attention when someone disproves one of their claims, and they (falsely) assume their opponents act the same way. I, and most of us in THR, would withdraw a claim (whether it be a scientific claim, an analysis that shows someone is a liar, or anything else) if it were shown to be wrong or even merely seriously disputable.
But the ANTZ basically never withdraw anything they have ever said, no matter how obviously false, and their mirror image delusion means that they are incapable of understanding that others act differently. That is, they do not fail to debate merely because they would lose the debate (they would, but they often clearly are so clueless that they do not realize that), but because they live in an echo chamber and ignore everyone else, and so think that is true of everyone else also.
Another example relates specifically to their attempts to censor the stories of ex-smokers who have successfully used THR. They claim that somehow all of the consumers reporting this evidence are corrupt and are only doing it on behalf of “industry”. This seems to reflect several different bits of mirror image delusion. Most of the ANTZ would never take the time to do anything they were not being paid for, and are themselves often doing the bidding of their paymasters. For many, their delusions make them incapable of understanding that consumers and the rest of us who are genuinely concerned with public health do not behave that way. Even more important, they know that most of the “public health” people who repeat the ANTZ lies are unthinking useful idiots who are acting entirely due to the manipulation by others (i.e., by the ANTZ leaders), and so they assume it must be true of the consumers too.
Perhaps most important, returning to the topic of junk science, the ANTZ do not actually care what information their “research” provides, and so they assume the same is true for their opponents. They do not care whether or not a study shows some genuine reason to be concerned about a health effect; they just want to cook up results that seem to show a bad effect in order to support their ideology. Their mirror image delusion prevents them from understanding that actual stakeholders — the people who have some real stake in THR, as opposed to the busybodies who have no stake and so are happy to sit on the outside and lob bombs at it — care quite a lot about the science. Their failure to grasp this obvious non-similarity means that they assume that our scientific analysis must be like theirs — an attempt to support an ideology, rather than an attempt to understand and perhaps improve people’s health.
I suspect there are other good examples. If any come to mind, I welcome them in the comments.