dijous, de juny 26, 2008

Response to T.C.

Hmmm, I've been reading some of these posts you leave behind, and I must confess a modicum of distress and concern. While clearly Dr. Novella is an intelligent and classically trained medical scholar and practitioner, he is also a man on a mission, a zealot. I've known many intelligent, educated self-proclaimed skeptics over the years who, like Dr. Novella appears to be, turn out in reality to be cynics. Not content to stick to their research and to things which science can solve, in a desperate search for temporary meaning in a transient world, they turn on the hapless victims of the same quest for meaning who are looking for something to believe in, but who have chosen "alternative" and certainly unprovable positions. Of course, some of these individuals really are charlatans. On the other hand, many, if not most, are sincere seekers of meaning in a world where God is, if not dead, on life support. The so-called skeptics and their minor militia of debunkers seem to scour the planet in search of anything science cannot, at present state, prove and pillage it in effigy, planting the ever-so-winsome banner of Nietzche in the wreckage left behind.

What I find so ironic about Dr. Novella is that he is a man supposedly dedicated to preserving life, and yet, what world does he offer to his erstwhile patients? Evidently one in which while one's life may be extended as much as humanly possible, one ultimately meets the same wretched fist at the end of the valley as the baby who died at birth. This cohort of intelligent, although rather narrow-minded people, smile gleefully as science extends a life and a consciousness which they ultimately deem as visceral, fleeting, and at the end of the day, while many of them will make shallow statements to the contrary, must be meaningless, pointless. IF, all there is to our lives is the observable and quantifiable, IF these unreflective adherents to Nihilism are correct, then what is the possible harm in letting people believe in something that may not be real? What? A person's life may be cut short? Possibly. On the other hand, medical treatments kill plenty of people every day in science's best attempts to prolong the ever-so-brief journey into eternal night. The best they can offer the world then a gleeful smile proclaiming: We were right and you were wrong! Now we shuffle off the same as you... but... but, we've set you free. Indeed, free to die in a world of worry and sadness that this is all there is. It's almost as though they take some sort of sadistic pleasure in crushing the last treasure in Pandora's box.

And while their message is generally bleak to say the least, they pursue their victims with the fervor of the Inquisition. At the end of the day, their resolute closed-mindedness, their self-righteous indignation, their smugness, puts them in the same social paradigm as the Conservative Right. They choose to proclaim rather than to observe and experience. They choose to mock rather than to listen.

As the Druid said to Gwenole when he took his leave: When we each cross that final threshold, we may both find that we were wrong. To me, that's sage advice, and a dose of which would go a long way on blogs like Neurologica.

Incidentally, it would be interesting to see Dr. Novella's tax return some time...

This response is in reference to: http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/?p=309