Wednesday, June 19, 2013

"... that which is helpful to view as disease"

Glen Reynolds and Ann Althouse both catch nanny-staters abusing the notion of unhealthiness as an excuse to manipulate others. First, Reynolds' catch:
BLOOMBERG NEWS, UNSURPRISINGLY, WANTS MORE “PUBLIC HEALTH” RESEARCH ON GUNS. They call the ban on funding such research “senseless.”

The problem is, that research has been politicized junk science if not actually fraudulent. Here’s a lengthy discussion by Don Kates, and here’s a shorter one from Reason.

Meanwhile, my suggestion to the “public health” community is to focus on actual diseases, rather than politically-disapproved behaviors.
Not much more to say except that he's right.

And here is Althouse on another issue being handled the same way:
 "The American Medical Association has officially recognized obesity as a disease a move that could induce physicians to pay more attention to the condition and spur more insurers to pay for treatments."

The question whether something is a disease is really beside the point, unless you define "disease" to mean: that which is helpful to view as disease.

This reminds me of those plastic surgeons who say that small breasts are a "deformity." 
The question that Althouse leaves unasked is to whom is it helpful to define obesity and, I would add, gun ownership, as being something like a disease threatening public health.  The answer is the same in both cases: college-educated white liberals who hate middle-American culture and wish it could be manipulated into a different form such that these people would then behave in ways college-educated liberals would find more congenial.

This isn't being done as a conscious conspiracy. It's just that everything rich white liberals hate looks like a disease to them. This is, in fact, exactly the way college-educated white liberals treated racial minorities and women in the past. Now that those groups are officially off limits, white middle-American culture is the only one left for them to indulge their manipulative instincts on.

1 comment:

  1. The "public health" community has long sought to address many social problems--poverty, domestic violence, sexual abuse, the various addictive behaviors, from an epidemiological or public health perspective. Their rationale is that the goal of public health is prevention so, the theory goes, if you apply the same principles you can prevent these things. Its a nice theory but it doesn't work in the real world.