One of the common buzz words or phrases tossed around these days as an illustration of a person’s paranoia, real or imagined, is the phrase, gas lighting or to gaslight someone, but I’m not sure if many people are aware of the origin of the term. The term stems from the 1938 play, Gaslight and the movie adaptions of the same name made in the mid 1940’s and set in London.
I took the hour and twenty minute running length of the movie the other night to watch an excellent quality version on YouTube. The movie involves a newlywed, n’er do well husband of a wealthy woman trying to make his wife think that she’s going totally insane so as he can have her committed to an asylum and then run off with the money.
It’s pretty basic.
He would move things around the house and blame her. He would put his pocket watch in her purse and accuse her of stealing it. His main trick would be to ‘go out for a walk’ while she was upstairs in her bedroom and leave the house via the front door, only to sneak back in and go to the room above her bedroom and walk around so she could hear his the footsteps as he turned the gas control knob supplying the gas lights up and down.
When he ‘returned’ from his walk she would explain the she heard footsteps in the room above and that the gas lights had been fading up and down. Of course his response was to say that she was imagining it and that she needed to see a doctor. This of course only further fed her already acute paranoia. It is from this gas lighting trick to make you believe things that aren’t real or true, that the movie and the commonly used expression gained its name and currency.
All of that is by way of background as it occurs to me that we are all, collectively, being gas lit, in a mass attack. It’s not so much propaganda that can’t be disproved but a case of convincing people en masse that their eyes are deceiving and what they see is not real even when it is.
Example — A stand out is the canard that renewable energy is cheaper than coal fired energy. You can have your electricity bill from ten years ago in one hand and today’s in the other and even allowing for inflation, they will still tell you straight to your face that your lyin’ eyes are deceiving you and renewables are cheaper when the empirical evidence and your bank balance which is always a good measure, contradicts that assertion. That is gas lighting.
Another example was the much vaunted Michael Mann, Hockey stick graph which despite the actual empirical evidence to the contrary showed a hockey stick graph with temperatures flat lined for the last one thousand years then going almost vertically in the 20th century. Mann had deliberately photo-shopped out of existence the Medieval Warm period from twelve to thirteen hundred which was actually warmer than today. For many years even the U.N. we’re gas lit or hoodwinked and held out the Hockey Stick graph as evidence of anthropogenic Co2 until they were forced to admit their error. But the evidence was there all along, hiding in plain sight.
The U.N. and the global climate community had effectively been gas lit. Mann was ‘an expert’ and so they suspended their belief in what they knew to be true and deferred to his expertise.
The Trump/Russia collusion is a further example. The plot was so preposterous and over the top skepticism was again suspended. But the evidence was never there. A read of the daily papers and a couple of books demonstrated in a digital and paper trail before the Mueller inquiry had even arrived at their conclusion that this would be found to be the case but still there are those to this day in the media who cling who to and believe what they’ve been told despite the avalanche of evidence to the contrary.
It’s the same with climate modelling. NASA’s own stats demonstrate that the modelling is out of whack with the reality, not by a little but a lot, but still there are those that even when confronted with an image proving the gulf between modelling and reality, won’t believe what they see. They have effectively been gas lit.
The current mud wrestle over Trump’s phone call with the President of Ukraine is another case in point. There is the transcript of what was actually said over here but over there are the Democrats and the media telling you that that’s not what was said at all. They expect you to disbelieve what you read as they read into to it words and meanings that simply aren’t there.
Some may call it mass hypnosis or turbocharged Goebbels type, big lie, repeated often, propaganda, but if the idea is to drive you totally insane I prefer to think of it as ‘gas lighting’.