Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Trust and irrational choice

Trust, thank goodness, is always in the gift of the one doing the trusting no matter what the one looking to be trusted might get up to. And just as love can be blind, so trust can be irrational. The more so when specialist knowledge is involved. Take these three recent examples, one of which I personally choose to trust, one I don't and one which is so bizarrely irrational as to defy belief let alone trust:

1 The husband of Sally Clark, a solicitor who had earlier been cleared of murdering their two babies, is himself accused of the crime by a paediatrition, Professor David Southall, after he 'sees the evidence' on tv. The judge throws out the accusation and calls the professor 'a dogmatic believer in his own expertise'. That's a pretty cool summation I reckon, of 'trust me' trust getting its comeuppance.

2 Another professor, this time a clinical psychiatrist at George Washington University, Justin Frank, argues in a recent book that President Dubya's tendency, when under pressure, to repeat favourite words and phrases in support of his view that his world is a struggle between good and evil, is the classic symptom of untreated alcoholism. "He reminds me of my most disturbed patients," Frank said, "being on the wagon is not the same as having alcoholism treated. Bush switched from alcoholism to religion. It takes responsibility out of his hands. Being born again is a way of denying the past." I'll drink to that.

3 The same US Food and Drugs Administration which, in response to commercial pressure from Bush political donors, redefined 'organic food' to include virtually anything, from recycled swill to mechanically recovered meat, while denying by law anyone's right to claim their products exceed FDA minimum 'organic' standards, have reclassified 'a portion of fresh vegetables' to include McDonald's fries to counter falling sales.

Sources:
David Southall story: continuing court case
Justin Frank story: The Guardian, p12, 22 June 2004
FDA rediniing organic story: Vernon Coleman, Rogue Nation
McDonald's 'fresh veg' story: The Guardian, P20, 16 June 2004