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Find below an interesting essay By Paul Russell that I reproduce under its Creative Commons license from Online Opinion. I think that Paul makes a quite persuasive argument that Dr Nitschke goes too far in trying to make suicide seem more rational than it often is one thing we can be sure of and taht is its not as sweet as its presented in Soylent Green
Bouquets to Jeff Kennett and the Beyond Blue organisation for their clear and appropriate condemnation of the actions, or rather inactions, of Dr Philip Nitschke in relation to the suicide death of a Perth man in the story that ran on the ABC’s 7:30 report a little over a week ago.
According to the media reports and to Dr Nitschke’s twitter feed, he is basing his defence, in part at least, on his claim that there is such a thing as rational suicide.
The idea that suicide can be somehow a rational choice is not new. In fact, an organisation exists in the UK called the ‘Society for Rational Old Age Suicide’ and there has been one study that I am aware of that canvasses the issue.
Dr Nitschke has consistently maintained that every adult should have access to the means to their own end. The faux lower limit, in light of this, seems more about trying to soften the public perception of this macabre death industry than it does about any corporate sense of public duty.
When we think of suicide we commonly understand that people who contemplate ending their lives will be viewing their problems through a very dark lens that does not, at that time, offer them any hope or possibility that what troubles them could be dealt with in a less dramatic fashion.
But there is always hope; there is always some other solution. Time, good counselling, talking to family and friends, taking exercise and a good night’s rest can all help us see past those solitary, dark moments. We can all help.
Some years ago now, my work with homeless and at risk youth gave me a very clear window into this issue. That’s why I’m so grateful for the work of Beyond Blue and other suicide prevention organisations. Suicidal people can often appear to be quite rational; their plan and their reasoning behind it, quite compelling. Were we to have accepted the assertion that any of these people should simply be left unchallenged and unsupported because they could put up a calm and cogent argument for their actions we would have been abandoning them in their time of deepest need. The intuitive assessment that suicide should be shunned and is never the only option is natural, normal and something hardwired into humanity. Thank goodness!
And while the argument about whether or not someone can be genuinely rational is, intuitively false – an oxymoron as one commentator put it – it is largely academic and should not be brought to bear upon suicide prevention nor our natural responses to those in need. The message would be a dangerous one and bears within it the distinct possibility of an implied endorsement of some suicides.
Think about it. At the end of this article and of every story on this subject we’ve grown to expect that responsible media will always carry a closing line saying something like: “If this article troubles you, phone…….. for confidential help.” If Dr Nitschke’s argument holds true, would public policy then demand that we add something like: “Unless you consider yourself rational; in which case contact Exit on….”? Yes, I know an example in extremis but I think it makes the point.
That the public commentary has focussed on the WA man is understandable in as much as he had direct contact with Dr Nitschke. But the ABC’s story also told of the suicide death of a 25 year old Victorian man who used the services of Exit to purchase information and thereby, a prohibited substance to end his own life. Nitschke’s defence here that the man lied about his age on a tick box on an Exit website is as ludicrous as is Exit’s self-imposed supposed lower age limit of 50 years for such services.
It is this supposed right-to-die that is the false over-arching philosophy by which the death of a young person can be somehow ‘rationalised’ by Nitschke and Exit. In 2010, in response to a Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine Report showing that two thirds of deaths in the preceding decade using the Exit drug-of-choice, Nembutal, were for people under the age of 50 with nearly one-third being younger than 40 and six being in their 20s, Nitschke said: ”There will be some casualties … but this has to be balanced with the growing pool of older people who feel immense wellbeing from having access to this information.” Tell that to the families of the two men featured in the 7:30 Report! Suicide prevention should never accept the notion of acceptable casualties!
And herein lies a bigger question which suicide prevention organisations and the Australian public generally need to come to terms with: How is it that we have somehow grown to accept that it’s okay for older people to seek to end their lives; that there’s somehow a distinction to be made about access to suicide methods and suicide ideation, generally, based upon age?
This notion that somehow ‘older people…feel immense wellbeing’ from having the means to kill themselves is very odd indeed. Certainly, studies on people who have accessed suicide methods in Oregon under their legalised suicide system do point to this as an outcome for some. But if we apply the same general thinking towards people who are suicidal as described earlier (and I argue that we should), we should be thinking clearly about the reality that there is always another way past presenting difficulties and dilemmas – even if these problems ultimately include advancing age or a difficult prognosis.
We should be preventing suicide by treating every suicidal person with equal respect and act the same in every case. If not, then aren’t we at risk of failing people in the same way as Nitschke’s cry for the recognition of rational suicide would?
It’s about time this macabre and clandestine industry was subject to public scrutiny.
COPENHAGEN – Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital, wants to be the world’s first CO2-neutral city by 2025. But, as many other well-meaning cities and countries have discovered, cutting CO2 significantly is more difficult than it seems, and may require quite a bit of creative accounting.
More surprisingly, Copenhagen’s politicians have confidently declared that cutting CO2 now will ultimately make the city and its citizens wealthier, with today’s expensive green-energy investments more than paying off when fossil-fuel prices rise. But how can deliberately limiting one’s options improve one’s prospects? These sound more like the arguments of green campaigners – and they are most likely wrong.
The first challenge that Copenhagen faces in reaching its zero-emissions goal is the lack of cost-effective alternatives for some sources of CO2, particularly automobiles. Denmark already provides the world’s largest subsidy to electric cars by exempting them from its marginal 180% car-registration tax. For the most popular electric car, the Nissan Leaf, this exemption is worth $85,000 (€63,000). Yet, just 1,536 of Denmark’s 2.7 million cars are electric.
If there is one thing that distresses me more than any other when it comes to warministas is their naive belief that the so called “alternatives” can be viable as this piece form Bjørn Lomborg argues in the piece that I quote that it needs much more than creative accounting and the pretense of viability .
Ok Comrades its time to admit that something has surprised me in politics, thankfully for my dear readers that does not happen very often. You see I did not expect the Palmer Gore love in that we saw yesterday in the media who were going on as if what was announced would be upsetting the Abbott government. First the positives the hated Carbon tax will be abolished and its repeal bills passed and also a positive is that the “direct action policy appears to be impossible to pass. The renewable energy target thing is a relatively minor inconvenience as is the block the government’s plans to scrap the Clean Energy Finance Corporation especially if the cost savings from no direct action policy is taken into account. The final positive is that Palmer has proven, with one fell swoop, that he is about as real and genuine as one of his robot dinosaurs. Talk about playing both ends of the field! After this we need a brand new superlative for hypocrisy, here is a coal miner getting up close and personal with a high priest of the Green religion, Ah well they do have utter hypocrisy in common.
What we can be sure of is that the Palmer circus is going to be entertaining us for a while yet with or without imported clowns like Al Gore
But, as Cook points out, this means that ‘only four per cent of the authors “voted”‘ which is hardly grounds to claim a consensus.
Here is a lovely exposition of the way that statistics can be manipulated and distorted as a propaganda tool and then cited ad infinitum as if they have some intrinsic meaning, sorry in advance to the true believers in Climate change but this may just upset your apple cart just a little next time you cite the “97% consensus” claim.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday 28 May 2014
Media Contact: Tim Black
+44 (0)207 40 40 470
Today on spiked, Michael Cook takes apart the claim, cited by President Barack Obama, that 97 per cent of scientists are in agreement that climate change is man-made and poses a serious danger.
‘Do 97 per cent of scientists really agree on both propositions? Let?s do a reality check here’, writes Cook. ‘On what issue do academics reach 97 per cent agreement other than that they are being underpaid? That the sun will rise tomorrow? No, some of them will say, because the sun doesn?t rise; the earth revolves. No, because we can only assert that it is probable, not certain. No, because we might be living in a multiverse where the sun will not rise on 28 May, etc, etc.’
So how did an Australian scientist at the University of Queensland, and several colleagues, arrive at the this now famous figure of 97 per cent?
Cook discovered that the researchers had sorted through thousands of academic abstracts featuring the words ‘global climate change’ and ‘global warming’, dividing them up into four piles to indicate whether they held a position on climate change (the biggest pile (66.4 per cent) held no position)
Cook writes: ‘Of the smaller piles which did express an opinion, 97.1 per cent “endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming”.’
The researchers then emailed a survey to 8,547 out of the 29,083 authors who ‘endorsed the consensus position’ on climate change, of which only 1,189 responded (nearly all of whom did agree that climate change was man made (97.2 per cent)).
But, as Cook points out, this means that ‘only four per cent of the authors “voted”‘ which is hardly grounds to claim a consensus.
Furthermore, Cook points out, ‘Obama rashly added the word “dangerous” to the claim. Not even [the Australian reseachers] dared to assert that 97 per cent of scientists believe that global warming is “dangerous”.’
Cook concludes: ‘Scientists and politicians do themselves no favours when they use shoddy statistics and public relations flim-flam to sell scientific hypotheses to the public.’
Read the full article:
When we are given any numerical value as a signifier of a proposition’s veracity we should, of course always ask the obvious question of just how was that number made or settled upon. Especially when it is a major dot point in the climate change debate. In any event in scientific terms “consensus” is and always has been close to utterly meaningless, not that any of the true believers will ever admit that because to them its their ticket to ride in the Chariots of the Dogs.
We all want faster Broadband but sadly the ALP stuffed up the delivery of the NBN, especially in the bush.
Isn’t it amusing that dyed in the wool Abbott government haters are so willfully blind to the ineptitude of the previous government when it comes to the management of their big ticket schemes like the NBN? Now that the grown ups are in charge its very clear that in every possible way the Labor party were up top their necks in Africa’s longest river. As long as they rely only upon the broad brushstrokes of policy design and a futile hope that the details will resolve themselves they will not deserve to hold the treasury benches at a federal level. Design matters, and a good design takes real thought and real understanding of the need that you are trying to meet. Now if only the ALP could truly assimilate that idea then they might be electable again.
I never wanted to be the sort of blogger who writes about their Tweeting stoushes but the exchange that I had yesterday was both amusing and revealing about the nature of the devotees to the Green religion,
@theiainhall ok I get it. Being a dickhead just comes naturally.
@evcricket Thirdly that enduring global cooperation for the next millennium (or longer) could be achieved
Isn’t the attitude of my interlocutor just so cute? He really believes that everyone should be happy that policies like the Renewable Energy Target raises the cost of energy for ordinary people, I have no doubt from previous writings of the author that he believes that the Carbon Tax is the best thing since sliced bread and its immanent repeal will be a terrible sin against Gaia. But most sadly amusing is his intense faith in “Experts” and is total suspension of any reasoning when it comes to what they say. Its what the faithful used to say about the clergy when they held far greater sway over the lives of the people the sad thing is we are consonantly told by the trendies and social media wonks that this is the age of the individual who is both connected and contribution to our collective wisdom through the wonders of social media. To the likes of Evan Keith Beaver though all that matters is that those with the “correct” political orientation, the cultural elite that he sees himself as part of, should impose their ideas and values upon the rest of us. Notions of social democracy go straight out the window so his “experts” are to remain unchallenged.
I actually like the idea that social media can be an important tool in a vibrant and active democracy but it saddens me that so many of the leftists who have been its early adopters now think that it should forever be their instrument of control, that their clicktavissm should be supreme and anyone who dissents from their orthodoxy is to be derided and ignored. The irony is that the review of the Renewable Energy Target has been scheduled since before the last election, in fact its part of the legislation under which the target was created in the first place so there is no reason at all to think that it means that this article of faith for the Green religion is, of necessity , going to be abolished. Personally I think that having a diverse variety of energy sources has great virtue. However the quest to achieve this through subsidies and overly generous feed in tariffs and other incentives has had some rather nasty consequences for those who are least able to afford them. I am talking about those who rent, those who can not afford to put the solar panels on their roof, the poor who struggle to pay their energy bills all of these people subsidise the likes of Evan Keith Beaver ‘s religious belief in Climate Change while he and his Latte sipping cronies think that they are “doing their bit” for climate change the poor and downtrodden in our country are struggling to pay those ever increasing energy bills. Its not just , its not fair and the hypocrisy of minions of the left who think like this is just breathtaking.
Its no secret that I am far less than keen on any sort of sport, I can see its sociological value as a surrogate for war and for its participants it provides a way to channel their inner warrior but in this age of the professional athlete it also has a tendency to suck up some young people into the maelstrom of fame and unbridled adulation entirely bereft of very much humility and on top of that many of the particular sports are incredibly wearing on young bodies never really designed to be so focused on the choreography of “scientific” training. Thus in some sports an athlete is burned out by the time they are truly adults. Add to this the seductive song of fickle adulation and you have a heady brew that would be despised as much as tobacco products were it not for the fact that the gurus of the sports industry want very much to foster the notion that sport is good for you and a harbinger of good health.
Which brings me to Ian Thorpe, now in rehab with depression:
The thing about swimming is that it would have to be one of the most mind numbingly boring sporting pursuits out there, spending hours after hour watching the black line on the pool floor would be enough to do anyone’s head in. I suspect though that its more about a lack of direction in and very high expectations upon the shoulders of this young man that may have precipitated his troubles.
So in the end I just have to put the obvious question. Can “sport” really be that good for anyone if it takes fine young men and women wastes their youth on essentially useless activities, like swimming up and down a concrete puddle, imbues them with the hubris and adulation of being “champions” and then spits them on the scrapheap with no ability to do something else in their lives by the time they are thirty…
What does being a sporting hero really mean Comrades?
It is entirely unsurprising that The Abbott Government will run a tight financial ship, that is what they promised to do when in opposition and clearly its what they are doing now in government. I for one think that if the new way of dealing with parliamentary travel expenses has a great deal of merit:
Imposing a hefty and proportionate penalty for incorrect expenses claim should make all MPs think twice about making dodgy claims for travel expenses. This seems like a rather simple and elegant solution to the frankly rather small problem that has so enraged the minions of the left over the last few weeks. Well done Mr Abbott 😉
Which brings me to the victims of the Abbott Axe, those poor dears in the Labor bloated public service who will now find themselves out of a job:
Its clearly sad for the “scientists” who will find themselves down at Centerlink but I can’t help wondering if we as a nation will even notice their absence from the public payroll. frankly I think that just because what they do comes under the “science” descriptor should not mean that we as taxpayers can not expect some real bang for our bucks. Am I the only one who thinks that “science’ has become like a secular religion? And scientists its anointed priests? Like another religion its devotees think that questioning the holy is blasphemy and that those who do so are agents of the dark lord. I personally respect those who are learned in any field but I am just arrogant enough to question that which so many think to be unquestionable. Sadly mine is a heterodox position when it comes to “science” all that I can do is thank the blessed Saints (not of Kilda) that they no longer burn heretics…
- An Open Letter to Laurie Oakes (theaimn.com)
- Abbott acts: crackdown on travel rorts affair (smh.com.au)
- Tony Abbott set to crack down on politicians’ dubious travel claims (theage.com.au)
- Abbott can’t simply ride out the expenses furore (abc.net.au)
- ‘Bills to fall’ after carbon tax scrap (skynews.com.au)
- The Abbott government: Climate policy as culture war (reneweconomy.com.au)