Dalrymple declares his pride at having caught pneumonia at the tender age of 27, and shares the results of a recent study on the disease:
I was rather surprised by the frequency, or rather the infrequency, with which a causative organism for the pneumonia was found…The investigators found evidence of at least one pathogenic organism in only 38 percent of cases: they found viruses in 27 percent of cases and bacteria in 14. Obviously, then, there were some patients with both.
…But still, the figure of 62 percent of indeterminate cause surprises me.
The triumph of medicine over infectious disease is perhaps the greatest of its achievements. But evidently there is still much to learn – as there always will be.
In the second part of Dalrymple’s new piece on drug legalization, he disputes the notion that most of the harms associated with drug use are caused by its illegality and would disappear with legalization.
The considerable harms caused by a psychoactive substance with which most of us are familiar, alcohol, are certainly not caused by its illegality or by the restrictions placed upon its sale. No one ever died of alcoholic liver disease because alcohol was prohibited. The same is true of tobacco: no one ever died of lung cancer because he couldn’t buy cigarettes. Since on most calculations tobacco is one of the biggest causes of preventable disease in the world, this is not an entirely trivial matter. It is wishful thinking to suppose that harm may be done by psychoactive substances only, or principally, if they are made illegal.
Read it here (I was wrong to say in the earlier post that this was a two-part piece, as he says there will be at least one more).
In the first of a two-part piece on drug legalization at the Library of Law and Liberty, Dalrymple looks at the philosophical side of the issue and says that the arguments of the legalizers, based on John Stuart Mill’s famous dictum, are too simplistic:
Man is a social as well as a political animal, and except for the very few who live in genuine isolation, almost all that we do affects someone else. Of course, the degree to which one’s actions affect others varies; but the fact that the degree is a continuum rather than categorical means the authority to interfere, prohibit, or control is a matter of judgment. That authority cannot be exercised or not according to a simple principle. The fact that we sometimes think it right, and sometimes not, to interfere in a man’s actions does not mean that we have, or must have, a clear abstract line of demarcation in our minds.
…Trying to make the law conform to “natural” boundaries without any arbitrariness whatsoever is what Mill and the legalizers… try to do. But nature is not organized for the law’s convenience.
Read it here
Dalrymple, former stamp collector, notes a change in the complexity and subtlety of French stamps after spotting a childish one bearing, not images of historical French achievement, but the message “Bonnes vacances”.
The crudity of the design and colouration of the stamps, however, is part of a general trend to the use of such designs and primary colours. One has only to think of MacDonald’s restaurants, or the logo of Toys-R-Us to understand this. Children’s toys, which make up in quantity what they lack in quality, are now largely of plastic in the brightest reds, blues, greens and yellows. Public playgrounds have slides and climbing-frames in the same colours; and the universally recognisable iconography of Winnie-the-Pooh has changed from the subtle and tender drawings of Ernest Shepherd to the crude and highly-coloured Disney drawings.
Children are attracted naturally by bright colours, of course. That is why their tastes should be educated and not just indulged, or we will end up with a world of Bonnes vacances.
Earlier this month the Library of Law and Liberty posted this lengthy interview with Dalrymple on his latest book. Worth a listen.
We are sometimes criticized for never, or rarely, disagreeing with Dalrymple. Guilty as charged, but his dislike of shopping for clothing, expressed in this piece in Taki’s Magazine, is one such point of disagreement. (Naturally, I am going to excerpt some other portion of the column.)
I used to ask my patients what they were interested in. It was a question that terrified them. Eventually, after much searching of what psychological and therapeutic charlatans like to call their “inner space,” they delivered themselves, with as much pain and difficulty as that occasioned by the delivery of a breech baby, of a single word (I knew in advance what it would be): shopping.
“Shopping,” I said, “is not an interest. It is a lack of interest.” And they knew what I meant.
Probably very, is the answer. But as usual with Dalrymple’s Pajamas Media columns, the most quotable part is the introduction:
Man is a creature that likes to change his mental state, even if it is for the worse. It is the change that he seeks, not the end result; Nirvana for him is a constantly fluctuating or dramatic state of mind. This, for obvious reasons, is particularly so for the bored and dissatisfied. In the prison in which I worked, for example, the prisoners would take any pills that they happened to find in the hope that they would have some — any — effect on their mental state, irrespective of the dangers that might be involved in producing it.
The impressive creativity of other European countries in denying disproportionate German contributions to the continent is once again on display. This time it is a French politician complaining about the supposed costs (in pollution) of German chemical production. But what about the benefits?
Nor was there any mention of the health benefits of the chemical industry. Suppose the German chemical industry were to shut down tomorrow, what would the costs (to European health alone) be? Almost certainly they would be incomparably greater than the present costs: Imagine life without any of the chemicals that the industry produced. In other words, based on the logic of the article, the rest of Europe owes Germany even more than it pays for the chemicals it buys from it. But the thought of the writer of the article dates from before the development of double-entry bookkeeping. In his world there are only costs, no benefits, except where there are benefits without costs, and which depends very much on a preexisting political stance. You always get the answer you first thought of.
Dalrymple writes at Salisbury Review on a phrase he would like to ban:
It is obvious what those who use the words ‘European construction’ in a positive sense mean: namely, a European super-state that will, on account of its size and economic weight, be a super-power. How otherwise could a former Prime Minister of Luxembourg take his place in the sun of power?
Why are synthetic cannabinoids becoming more popular? What is their attraction? For a clue, let’s start with their names:
Some are merely antinomian: Voodoo Gold or Damnation, names to attract suburban Satanists. Others, such as Pandora’s Box, suggest the release of one’s inner demons, or perhaps of one’s talents and abilities… Space Cadet suggests either the exploration of that vast vacuum known as one’s inner space, or being spaced out.
But the names that most caught my attention were Exodus and Annihilation. From what captivity were the consumers of Exodus seeking escape? Who was their Moses (or their Charlton Heston)? To what Promised Land were they going to be led by this noid?
Perhaps the answer is to the land of Annihilation.
Read the whole piece at Dalrymple’s Psychology Today blog