Your good article on the "rising tide of irrationalism" [F. Hoke, "Scientists See Broad Attack Against Research And Reason," The Scientist, July 10, 1995, page 1] starts appropriately with a picture captioned "GROWING FEARS" and ends with a mainstream scientist's plaintive cry: "We are the oppressed. We have to find a voice." In between, we read about "the vitriolic tone of many of the speakers . . . polarizing vehemence . . . extreme and virulent form, almost hate- mongering. . . ." This is not intellectual dissent, it is the voice of fear.
Robert L. DuPont, former president of the Phobia Institute, studied similar rhetoric many years ago and called it clinically phobic -- not a rational fear of a present danger, but an hysterical reaction to an hypothesized possibility. DuPont was referring to the response of the media and much of the public to nuclear power. He took...
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