This popular post was originally published December 17, 2010.
Every year, Catholics renew their baptismal vows and reject, among other “snares of the Devil,” something called “the glamor of evil.” The old dead white guys who penned those vows predated People magazine and Day of the Locust by centuries, but intuited a profound truth about human nature:
We get more of whatever we glamorize.
The facts matter less than the fame; merely projecting an individual — hero or villain — onto the shallow surface of the big screen conveys implicit societal approval and permission, and always with diminishing returns. So we’re faced with the unedifying spectacle of 21st century gay activists, appointing themselves the Rosa Parks of the blood donor clinic, or who look upon Christian bed & breakfasts as Woolworth’s lunch counters of their very own.
And so the past is cannibalized to feed a self-aggrandizing present and an unlivable future.
The cult of Erin Brockovich represents one of these ill-advised misadventures in selfishness disguised as selflessness, another quest for secular sainthood. Fortunately, her heroic saga is finally unraveling — but like so many leftist, do-gooder tales, too late.
The single mother turned legal clerk turned environmental activist became an international celebrity in 2000 when Julia Roberts gave an Oscar-winning portrayal of her in Stephen Soderbergh’s eponymously titled film. (…)
She then notices a set of medical reports relating to Hinkley and because of a series of birth defects and cancers concludes that the townspeople are being poisoned. Eventually, PG&E settles the case for a record $333million. For once, the message is, the little man has beaten the big corporation and a go-getting woman with no legal qualifications has saved the day.
The trouble is that it is far from clear that the townspeople have been poisoned.
So much-needed tort reform in the US was pushed farther down the road; an innocent company was demonized and extorted; countless “socially conscious” young adults were “inspired” to bankrupt themselves and their families to attain law degrees they’d never use; professional “environmentalism” got a priceless booster shot; and the general public now had even more evidence that “big corporations” are engaged in secret, sinister conspiracies to literally poison them for profit. In short, America’s already tattered social fabric was rent further asunder.
But hey, Julia Roberts won an Oscar!
“Cancer clusters” may not cause actual, you know, cancer — but boy, do they ever cause movies!
Expect to see and hear a lot of Dr. John Connor. He’s served the local native community of “Fort Chip” for a long time, and noticed that his patients were coming down with a rare form of cancer that attacks the bile ducts. In fact, his own father succumbed to the illness.
But (…) his files showed that there had “only been two rare cancers in town, not half a dozen. Other cancer diagnoses were completely fabricated. O’Connor simply made them up….”
That hasn’t stopped O’Connor from hitting the lecture circuit and — you guessed it — starring in a movie.
Would that we would occasionally pause to calculate the real world, human ROI of all this “scientific” enviro-do-gooding. But that would mean acknowledging that God of all Copybook Headings, the dreaded Law of Unintended Consequences…
Well after construction began on the WTC towers, the campaign of Mount Sinai Hospital’s Irving Selikoff to scare the public about asbestos reached World Trade Center construction manager Rino Monti, who became worried in May 1970 that office workers might be exposed to asbestos from air passing over exposed asbestos fireproofing that had been sprayed on to the buildings’ structural steel.
As a result, asbestos fireproofing was only used up to the thirty-eighth floor of the first WTC tower and not at all in the second. Continuing asbestos hysteria eventually resulted in much of the asbestos eventually being ripped out of the first tower. (…)
The NIST report concludes that, “The WTC towers would likely have not collapsed under the combined effects of the aircraft impact damage and the extensive, multi-floor fires that were encountered on September 11, 2001, if the thermal insulation had not been widely dislodged.”
Ooops again. Thanks, liberals!
Alas, when brave, sane souls expose seductive hero-narratives as mere personality cults larded with bad math and junk science — as they’ve done with child molester Alfred Kinsey and serial killer by proxy Rachel Carson — they’re greeted with derision.
Meanwhile, the star-studded film Kinsey was released to general acclaim in 2004.
And the production of that loving biopic of Carson proceeds apace.