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MONDAY, JANUARY 15, 2018

Chotiner and Sullivan on Trump and mental illness:
In our current state of evolution, are we humans capable of conducting a serious discussion?

More and more, we'd have to say the answer seems to be no. Consider this discussion at Slate, in which Isaac Chotiner asks the Washington Post's Margaret Sullivan about the wisdom of discussing the possibility that Donald J. Trump may be in the grip of some form of "mental illness."

In our view, Trump has behaved so strangely for such a long time that the question can't sensibly be avoided. This doesn't mean that reporters or op-ed columnists should start spouting off about technical matters they don't understand.

It does mean that they should be asking qualified specialists to discuss the possible sources of the president's bizarre behavior. After all, among other obvious problems, the gent holds the nuclear codes.

Should reporters speak with qualified specialists in the way we've described? As a starter, that's what you'd do if someone in your family was behaving in remarkable ways. It's crazy to think that it shouldn't be done in the case of someone with so much power in the public realm.

That said, go ahead—read the discussion between these two upper-end thought leaders. Neither person ever establishes the basic distinction we've just outlined—the distinction between 1) journalists spouting off with their own uninformed views about mental illness, and 2) journalists interviewing experienced professionals as to what this powerful person's behavior might conceivably indicate.

It isn't that Chotiner and Sullivan didn't agree with our own conclusions. The problem is different—Chotiner and Sullivan never managed to establish this obvious distinction.

Midway through the Slate discussion, Chotiner and Sullivan go through a five-part Q-and-A on this topic. Sullivan makes five separate statements. She ends up saying this:

"I don’t think that speculating about it or interviewing psychologists about what they see from a distance is a good way to go."

Concerning that first possibility—"speculating about it"—we might be inclined to agree with Sullivan, depending on what she means. But why shouldn't a reporter "interview psychologists [or other experienced specialists] about what they see from a distance?"

Chotiner never asks; Sullivan never explains. So it goes, again and again, if you read the American press.

"Man [sic] is the rational animal," Aristotle is said to have said. Maybe it's just the lead exposure which took place in the last century, but the lunacy of that famous claim is apparent almost any time our upper-end journalists gather.

We humans donnt seme to reezun reel gud. Could it just be how we're made?

20 comments:

  1. Did I mention on these reputable pages that Those Who Dance Are Considered Insane by Those Who Can't Hear the Music?

    I'm pretty sure I did. Check your hearing aid, Bob.

    And y'know, the way you generalize about "we humans": if you feel that you're surrounded by irrational people, chances are you're the one who needs a psychiatrist...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Say what you will about Trump, but there's no denying he is a great friend to the Establishment, and the best President they've ever had.

      Delete
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  2. " 2) journalists interviewing experienced professionals as to what this powerful person's behavior might conceivably indicate."

    Those professionals said yesterday that no one should be doing that very thing. Those who do are unethical if they belong to those professions. They're also just like communist Chinese and Russian leaders who used the tactic as a way to silence and dispense of people guilty of holding a different opinion.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The president's behavior isn't bizarre. He behaves in public the way a large number of people behave in private. That is normal behavior for most billionaires and celebrities but not most politicians. Trump doesn't care about what politicians have done or what he is told they should do, and he doesn't irrationally believe that being more pleasant toward Kim Jong Un will make that genuinely insane idiot behave any differently.

    At the end of year one we have a booming economy and a few new policies. We have an administration that adheres to the rule of law. There is nothing alarming about these results and much to celebrate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anyone who thinks the President adheres to the rule of law is either deluded or as big a liar as the Stable Genius himself.

      There are a lot of billionaires in the US, including several who genuinely built visionary companies and enriched their stockholders instead of stiffing subcontractors and indulging in serial bankruptcies. But I don't think many, if any of them indulge in this sort of public behavior.

      Behaving rationally towards Kim may not make him behave any differently. Indulging in schoolyard insults just reveals the mentality of a toddler. And Kim make actually be a lot saner than Trump -- the thing that prevents an attack on NK (other than China) is to threaten a war that no sane person would ever threaten.

      Trump may not show mental problems, but he is a serial liar and fabulist strong authoritarian tendencies, a very thin skin, narcissistic personality disorder, the attitude of a toddler and is a demagogue (fortunately, only feeble minds, like anon 7:29 fall under his spell).

      Delete
  4. There's something primitive and ugly to assume that someone must be insane because s\he holds different political views than you or refuses to follow PC speech guidelines. or speaks in exaggerated terms. It's this kind of belief that leads to the tribalism that Bob deplores.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Read the transcript of his interview with the Wall Street Journal. Its a croos between Nixon and Queeg.

      Delete
    2. As a matter of fact, I did read some of it, thanks to a Daily Kos article pointed out by my cousin. Trump does throw in lots of stuff which is not directly responsive to the questions. But, he actually does answer each of the questions. You may not like his answers, and I personally doubt some of his predictions, but his answers are clear and comprehensible. I started listing his points as bullets. Here’s a partial list
      (1) Trump said the economy was a great success
      (2) Obama’s economy was a recovery, but a very weak recovery.
      (3) Under Obama the economy was going in the wrong direction
      (4) Cutting regulations and being a cheerleader for the country helped the economy.
      (5) Toyota is coming in with a very big plant in Alabama.
      (6) He’s not sure about world markets, but I can tell you I think the American market would go up if I terminated Nafta and renegotiated a new deal.
      (7) The wall will happen.
      (8) China has not been helpful enough, but they’ve been very helpful. Let’s put it this way, they’ve done more for me than they ever have for any American president.
      (9) The NK problem should have been solved by Obama, or Bush, or Clinton or anybody, because the longer it went, the worse, the more difficult the problem got.

      This is just from the first few minutes. As you can see, Trump communicated his policies and his expectations adequately. The Daily Kos effort to cherry pick a few segments that sound rambling means nothing.

      Delete
    3. It's true that most US politicians are perfectly robotic. Their every word and facial expression is group-tested and approved by the whole law-department. Al The Initiator of The Internet Gore, Bob's favorite, is a perfect example.

      Apparently Bob feels that this is the normality, and anyone not following the protocol has gotta be insane.

      Oh well.

      Delete
    4. Thee's nothing insane about Trump being the best President the Establishment could ever hope to have.

      Delete
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