Will on Therapism

Nobody beats George Will when he's disgusted. His target today is "therapism," the notion that just about nobody is psychologically qualified to handle life's ups 'n' downs on his own.

Observes Will:

Vast numbers of credentialed – that is not a synonym for "competent" – members of the "caring professions" have a professional stake in the myth that most people are too fragile to cope with life's vicissitudes and traumas without professional help.

So there's a decent about of money at stake in promoting said notion; the media aren't particularly skeptical about it. The results are predictable, ranging from amusing (teachers using purple pens instead of red, to avoid stressing their students) to outrageous ("[A] study released in 1990 claimed that half of Vietnam veterans suffered from some [post-traumatic stress disorders] – even though only 15 percent of Vietnam veterans had served in combat units.")

UPDATE: Once you've read Will, Joel Achenbach has a response you might want to check.

Last Modified 2012-10-26 4:47 PM EDT

Government Policy Guided by Science? Fat Chance!

Yet another case of someone else saying exactly what I would have said if I could only type faster, and better: writing at Tech Central Station, Radley Balko reacts to the recent news that (a) obesity kills far fewer people than the "experts" previously thought and (b) being "overweight" is almost certainly not a health hazard all by itself, and may even be better for your longevity than being of "normal weight." (Here's a news story about point (a); here's a link to the paper from JAMA concerning point (b).)

Radley lowers the boom on this particular quote from an AP story:

CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding said because of the uncertainty in calculating the health effects of being overweight, the CDC is not going to use the brand-new figure of 25,814 in its public awareness campaigns and is not going to scale back its fight against obesity.

Radley oh-so-correctly points out that Dr. Julie and her ilk (I love saying "ilk") always manage to err on the side of nanny-statism. When the science seems to indicate high risks that might support intrusive paternalism, they'll use that as a justification; but when the science indicates that risks are much lower than previously thought, that does not matter: full steam ahead with nagging people about what they should and should not be eating. Feh. Bring me many cheeseburgers!

Last Modified 2005-04-21 6:08 PM EDT