Flip My Hood Up: I’m a Climate Sceptic Sissy

Lise van Susteren is mentally ill. She says so herself. And she should know, because she’s a psychiatrist.

She’s suffering from Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which she contracted from listening to climate scientists: “.. everything the scientists are telling us, given how late the hour is, and how grave the consequences… what we are hearing about civilisation and climate change”

as she explains in an interview here:

I’m familiar with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a treating psychiatrist … and I was recognising that I had some of those same symptoms in anticipation of, or envisioning, what I had been hearing awaits us on climate. It was really a diagnosis I was making of myself…

I’m thinking of it as a condition… if you saw a family having a picnic on railroad tracks… and you had a train coming out of the tunnel, if you were pre-occupied with getting them off the tracks.. And if you couldn’t think of anything but that, that wouldn’t be very surprising. And if all of your effort went into doing this to the exclusion of everything else, and you were worried about their future, and whether or not they were going to be out in time, that would all make sense.

Indeed it would. If someone told me that there was a family having a picnic on railroad tracks, I might indeed drop everything and head to the railway tracks. On the other hand, if the same person told me that a family was going to have a picnic on the railway tracks in twenty years time, or that the frequency of people having picnics on railway tracks was increasing, I might not drop everything, but I would certainly start questioning the sanity of my informant, especially if that was my job.

Right after the picnic analogy, the interviewer brings up the subject of scepticism:

Do you think that some of the climate scepticism, the climate denial that we see, is also a manifestation of this?

Well, no. That would be a separate sort of entity. Denial and resistance…. I’ve been in the business long enough to understand that people can know things consciously, they can know things unconsciously..They’re not saying climate change is a hoax… They’re dancing around the issue. These people know full well what’s going on, and for those who have chosen to bury the reality, I always find the same set of reasons, or among them. It’s because they want to have power, preserve their power….Then there are people who make money by suggesting that climate is not a problem, or is not as big a problem…

Or there are people – I’ve found this is a real interest, because it says something about some of the men whom I have encountered, either directly or from afar, who are loath to acknowledge that climate change is a problem – and it’s often an issue of feeling emasculated. I have to say that these are typically men who might, deep down inside when you flip that hood up, have some uncertainties about their masculinity. I’m just going to come right out and say this, and the idea that Mother Nature – “Some damn woman is going to push me around…” or that, “I’m some kind of a girly man with fears about the weather”, it’s just not going to happen …

She doesn’t say any more about these men she’s encountered “either directly or from afar.” The first male that comes to mind expressing sentiments about not letting “some damn woman push me around” is Michael Mann, on the subject of Judith Curry. But it can’t be him. Beneath his tough strip bark exterior Michael is well aware of his softer, feminine side, as is shown by his comparing himself to a gazelle, and a weaker member of the herd at that, an easy prey to predators.

Then there are the sort of existential issues which are the Pandora’s box. Climate change is kind of a metaphor for ageing and death. And in our society, our culture, there’s not much room to talk about this, and when you bring up climate at a dinner party, or climate change, or what’s going to happen, it lands with a thud. I can shut a dinner party down in seconds, or empty a room.

Well fancy that. Our own George Marshall said exactly the same thing. Imagine if they were ever to meet. They might form the ultimate weapon, a kind of human neutron bomb, freezing humanity rigid while leaving the petits fours intact for them to nibble while they exchange disaster scenarios.

Lise is not just any psychiatrist. She’s a forensic psychiatrist in Washington D.C. There’s a photo of her being arrested at the White House during a demonstration against the Keystone pipeline. I bet the trial was fun. Did she call herself as an expert witness to testify that she was unfit to plead? And did the judge reject her evidence on the grounds that, you know..?

There’s a lot more, and a full analysis would undoubtedly reveal more than you could bear to know about the motivations of Lise and millions like her. For example:

…a general rule is that in trying to persuade people to take an action.. it’s a two-step process. The first step is, “Here’s the problem.” Don’t sugar coat it. Tell them so that they can see the urgency and the need to take action. If you don’t tell them that it’s a problem… I get into arguments with people sometimes, they want me to just talk about clean water and air and the image of something positive. But where’s the urgency if we don’t have a problem?

Clean water? What’s the problem with that? Dirty water only kills millions a year via malaria, dysentery etc. But what’s the death of millions compared to climate change? Flip the hood up on someone who worries about clean water and you’ll find some girly type interested in saving lives instead of saving the planet.

[Hat tip to Paul Matthews, who informs me that the idea of Pre-traumatic Stress Disorder comes from the Onion.]


  1. ‘Pre meds for pre traumatic stress disorder, then it will have to be the lobotomy I’m afraid.’

    ‘Eh? What do you mean you’ve already had a lobotomy?’


  2. The commonality of the activists against GMO, Vaccines, and CO2 is that they use fear as their primary tool. Put out as many scary scenarios as you can to get people afraid so that they will support your cause. The side effect of this is the polarization of the politics and people suffering side effects like this.

    One Climate Change podcast took a break after Trump was elected and finally came back with a podcast on how upset they were.


  3. Lise is suffering, I think, from Chronological Disorder Disorder:

    “You know, here’s the thing. I called it Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder because it is the off-spring of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder”.

    How can something which is pre an event be the offspring of something which is post an event? It’s like saying a child’s mum is the offspring of the child!

    Also, it’s a question of scale and certainty, as Geoff points out. If (as happens often) you notice a family munching jam sandwiches and sipping lemonade whilst sat at a picnic table on a railroad and notice that a train is heading directly towards them, you tend to get stressed out by playing forward events in your mind and envisioning a highly probable catastrophe if they don’t move pronto. You don’t get too stressed out if, when doing a spot of train-spotting one day, some scientist sidles up to you and tells you that 50 years hence, trains will be a lot more menacing and people will be in harm’s way by choosing to picnic on railroads. At least, not if you’re fairly normal, you don’t.

    If you’re abnormal, you do get stressed out imagining this eventuality communicated to you by an expert scientist – who assures you that most of his mates think the same way. You’re even more abnormal if you then attempt to rationalise your abnormal fears not as a disorder, but as a condition, a natural condition which, you suggest, the absence of said ‘condition’ in some person or other, is evidence of a psychological abnormality or disorder affecting that person!

    “It’s not Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s a Pre-Traumatic Stress condition that I wonder why everybody else doesn’t have?

    Maybe the disorder is not having a Pre-Traumatic Stress condition. Given everything the scientists are telling us, given how late the hour is, and how grave the consequences, the abnormality now is not having a Pre-Traumatic Stress condition.”

    This is but one layer of van Susteren’s madness. She goes on to reveal more and deeper layers in the interview, with her whacky views on girly sceptics struggling with deep-rooted emasculation anxieties in the face of all-powerful Mother Nature ‘pushing them around’ (except She can’t be all powerful because Man is supposedly pushing Her around with his industrial exhalations, but that’s a minor detail).

    I can only imagine that the greatest source of learning which has enabled van Susteren to become a professional psychiatrist is as a direct result of looking inwards at her own highly dysfunctional psyche and having just the right amount of emotional detachment to be able to analyse herself, whilst at the same time maintaining a critically important lack of self-awareness in order to externalise her diagnostic abilities. Fascinating.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Jaime puts her finger on something vital about the gender implications here. If the consensus story is that Man’s CO2 effusions are subjugating poor old Mother Nature aren’t we sceptics standing up for a woman’s right (and not just any woman) to say “let’s stick it somewhere else entirely (like the deep ocean)” or (even worse) “I didn’t even notice that, have you finished already?”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jaime. When you used your analogy of families eating on a train track upon which a train was bearing down upon them, my mind went in a different direction to that which I think you intended. This divergence was confirmed when, in the next paragraph, you extended your analogy to include the effects of being informed by a scientist of future increased hazard. My mind turned to when I worked in San Francisco but lived the other side of the Bay. The first few weeks were stressful, a near constant readiness in case “the Big One” struck. Before arriving I had read what I could about the earthquake risk, which was high, and hazard, which was considerable. If the Big One struck at an unfavourable time, casualties would exceed the total number of hospital beds in the whole of the US. But normal humans cannot live with that level of stress for long. After several months you find yourself ignoring the threat, you become inured and behave like the locals. (In your analogy, you picnic on the rails even though you know the potential danger). The fear never completely leaves, as when your BART train taking you under San Francisco Bay unexpectedly stops and the lights go out, – your mind conjures up horrors in an instant. Nor do you ignore the threat, all of us kept trainers at work in case we had to walk around the Bay to get home.
    I don’t think the general public can retain any fear it has of a possible future thermageddon for long and has to be constantly reminded by ever increasingly fearful predicted outcomes. The problem is those outcomes are more easily disproved or ridiculed. Climate alarmists have an increasingly difficult task, not necessarily to keep the populous afraid but motivated to do or support something.


  6. An Epistle ter Ms Lise van Susterin by a Se

    Living in a state of ‘*Pre*-traumatic-stress
    -disorder? …Well, who cannot sympathize
    with *Post*-traumatic-stress-disorder, …
    from front -line war experiences, or from air,
    land, sea horrific accident events – terrorism,
    kidnapping, these leave their mark, but, but,
    ‘Pre’ TSD? And you, Ms Lise van Susterin,
    ‘forensic’ psychiatrist? *Forensic,* get it, data
    investigator, not, nullius in verba hear-say
    knee-jerk response. And *psychiatrist*,
    wouldn’t you think you’d read some papers
    on power and its abuse, mebbe HL Mencken’s
    aimof practical politics to keep the populace

    Now there are times when the siren sounds,
    “Fire in the basement, every one leave the
    building!” where you run, but not when it’s
    “Temperatures to double in fifty years, or seas
    rising a mmm a year, why, there’s time to check,
    not trust, but verify. Experts have been wrong
    before, heaven knows, and so was Chicken Little.


  7. Another doom-mongering mentally ill nutter who thinks they can accurately forecast the fate of humanity centuries into the future based upon our behaviour today.


    Richard Betts rightly criticises him on Twitter.


  8. This is very much in the Poe’s law category, where you think it must be a spoof. She even uses the phrase “You know, here’s the thing” that features regularly in the mockumentary W1A.

    “The thing” is this:

    I called it Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder because it is the off-spring of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but in fact when I look at it now, and the terminology that I used, ‘disorder’, gosh, I’m here thinking to myself, “It’s not Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s a Pre-Traumatic Stress condition that I wonder why everybody else doesn’t have?”

    Maybe the disorder is not having a Pre-Traumatic Stress condition.

    The argument “I’m in a panic about climate change; if most other people aren’t, there must be something wrong with them” is what I call the Norgaard delusion, after the woman who visited a small town in Norway and was perplexed that people there knew about climate change but continued to go about their normal lives rather than constantly talking and protesting about it.


  9. Thanks to Jaime I learned about what you might call Richard Betts’ restraining tweets early today – becoming aware of them rather later in the day. His second particularly struck me, leading to the following sequence:

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Richard got involved in a lot of discussion after that initial tweet. For my money, his most significant tweet thereafter was this:

    I do believe Richard may be coming round to the idea that adaptation to climate change is a rather more feasible option than breakneck mitigation – given his caveats of course.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Jonathan Jones also commented on the outside and inside of the climate conundrum:


  12. Environmentalists always put the end of the world’s doom convieniently far away in the future: in the sixties the year 2000 was the dreaded year. However, the year 2000 came and the world was prospering. In the mean time the climate scare mongerers had decided that 2100 was a useful year, very far away, because no serious impact would be happening for the next 40 years.

    And so we have it. I call it: centennial fear, it shrinks the closer you get to it. But it is huge now.

    “Yuge”, as Trump would call it.

    Liked by 1 person

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