Denialism and Psychopathy in the age of Choler*: What does James Cook think the Scottish Government can do?

The Blame Game begins: BBC Scotland blurs the lines to imply ...

From sam:

“In the psychology of human behavior, denialism is a person’s choice to deny reality as a way to avoid a psychologically uncomfortable truth. Denialism is an essentially irrational action that withholds the validation of a historical experience or event, when a person refuses to accept an empirically verifiable reality.”

That is from Wiki.

This is from The Nine

James Cook refers to problems with landslips that are raised in 2014 and 2019. He asked Michael Matheson what action did the Scottish government take on it. Mr Matheson said in reply that mitigation efforts were put in. This is true. Network Rail reported:”Remediation of cutting slope, following emergency after mudslide due to flooding” at Carmont. The work was done in 2014.

What does Mr Cook think the Scottish government might reasonably do about the report he raises? It is the responsibility of Network Rail to deal with such matters as the ORR shows in its statements. Nowhere does the ORR refer to action the Scottish government might take to deal with resilience problems due to bad weather in Scotland.

Mr Cook also suggested to Mr Matheson that the Scottish Government suspend the running of trains in exceptional weather at high risk areas. The assessment of risk and the judgement of actions to take is now that of Network Rail, a commercial body which owns and operates the track and is accountable to the UK government. it is not clear to me that the Scottish government has the devolved power to take such action. It is not credible to suppose that either Network Rail or the UK government would tolerate what would be seen as interference.

Here, James Cook is in denialism. What, I wonder, brought it on. Was it because he was interviewing a SNP politician?

Iain Gray, MSP, has been a regular critic of ScotRail and the Scottish government. Mr Gray told readers of his local paper, “ScotRail’s performance had plummeted to such a level that it should have breached its franchise”.

At the time 10% of delays by ScotRail were the responsibility of other train companies but the majority (60%) were caused by Network Rail. Network Rail delays arise out of infrastructure faults (80%), vandalism, cable theft, weather and trespass.

Public performance measurement figures combine together figures for reliability and punctuality. It is the industry standard. PPM is the percentage of trains that arrive at the terminating station on time compared to the total number of trains planned. A train is on time if it arrives within 5 minutes of the planned arrival time for a regional service or ten minutes for a long distance service. Where a train fails to run the complete planned route calling at all timetabled stations it is a PPM failure.
The national PPM (England, Wales, Scotland) moving annual average for 365 days to 15 September 2019 when Mr Gray made his complaint  was 86%. ScotRail scored 88%. It was better than 22 other franchised rail companies. It was lower than five other companies a number of which have shorter runs such as London Overground and Heathrow Express.
Mr Gray was in denialism. Why? Is it because he has no prospect of ever being in government  in Scotland?

Denialism turns reality on its head. It subverts truth and replaces it with a different truth based on lies.

Abraham Lincoln said that no man had a good enough memory to be a liar.

Mark Twain said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

The Psychopathy Checklist defines psychopathy in terms of shallow affect  (little emotion/empathy), dominant and narcissistic interpersonal style, an irregular, antisocial and irresponsible lifestyle and a born liar. Now who do you know that fits that description? A World Beater!

12 thoughts on “Denialism and Psychopathy in the age of Choler*: What does James Cook think the Scottish Government can do?”

  1. Thank you for tracking down this ‘interview’ and explaining it so well.  The only issue I would still raise is the aggressive attitude of the interviewer (who I now know is called James Cook). I don’t believe he would speak to a Westminster Tory this way.  Maybe it’s time the SNP gave their MSPs additional media training. Like

    Liked by 3 people

  2. As I was reminded elsewhere, this is the same James Cook who claimed to the FM he had seen the non-existent email between her and the French ambassador and which landed Carmichael in Court.

    He is no stranger to lying in the face of a SNP Minister, that ABC continue to employ him in full knowledge of that speaks volumes.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m humiliated! Sam meant ‘Choler’ but I lacking erudition added the ‘a’.

    He emailed me kindly to protect me from mockery but I’m gonna take this on the chin!

    He wrote:

    “Choler” was a choice.


    (in medieval science and medicine) one of the four bodily humours, identified with bile and believed to be associated with a peevish or irascible temperament.
    anger or irascibility.



      1. Tsk, you an educated man too John, tut tut 😉

        Interesting piece thanks Sam – I think ‘denialism’ can be applied far and wide too! Along with choler ,,,,


      2. And John wins the CholerFlower in this week’s CrackerAlister…
        I’ll get my own coat thank you


  4. I remember James Cook in a state of near hysteria, interviewing the FM, when he tried to surprise her at an outdoor event. It was obvious he thought he had a surefire ‘I got you’ question.
    She calmly relied, ‘you come to me with unsourced comments and expect an answer?’ Paraphrasing but that was basically what she said.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes, Contrary, denialism abounds. Iain Gray is permanently engaged in it in his weekly column in my local paper. So too was Rachel Hamilton when she had a column.

    Michelle Ballantyne does not believe that health inequalities have structural causes.She believes such inequalities arise from individual choice. So she told me in an email. Brian Whittle, MSP, can be found deep in denialism here.

    It is hard to overestimate the worthlessness of these people or the damage they can do to good government.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. James Cook tweeted.

    mes Cook
    Aug 14
    Mr Matheson had ample opportunity to reply in any way he saw fit. And the notion that Scotland’s transport secretary, who chose to visit the crash site, could not have read or raised concerns about railway safety reports just because some aspects of them were reserved, is absurd.

    It is not just some aspects of railway safety, it is all of them. The responsibility for railway safety is carried out by Network Rail, a commercial company that owns and manages the track. The UK government oversees the performance of Network Rail.

    Mr Matheson was asked by Mr Cook what action the Scottish government took regarding the problems raised in 2014 and 2019. Mr Matheson relied that mitigation efforts had been put in. This is true. In 2014 Carmont was identified as a high risk area and work was completed in 2014. Network Rail stated with regard to work at Carmont: “Remediation of cutting slope, following emergency after mudslide due to flooding.”

    With regard to what Mr Cook tweets today, is he saying or implying that, after the remediation work of 2014, Carmont was still a high risk area? What “railway safety reports” is he referring to and do they mention Carmont as a high risk area after 2014? If they do not why should he expect, as he clearly does, the Scottish government and Mr Matheson to raise concerns about Carmont? It is not for the Scottish government to make the work of Network Rail accountable to itself. There is nothing in ORR reports that suggests it should. Why then should Mr Cook suggest such a thing?

    Mr Cook stated that it was an obvious and simple thing to do to suspend trains running in extreme weather with at risk areas. The implication in that suggestion is that Carmont is still a high risk area despite the remediation work in 2014. The landslip and tragedy that followed suggests that might have been the case. What is not clear is whether Network Rail regarded Carmont still as a high risk area after remediation. If Network Rail thought it had made Carmont safe and reported the completed remediation efforts why would the Scottish government wish to suspend the crash train from running? Why would the Scottish government wish to raise the matter as a safety concern?

    Also, does the Scottish government have the devolved powers to override the responsibilities of Network Rail the owner and operator of the track? If it does not, what would be the reaction of Network Rail and the UK government to the Scottish government suspending the running of trains?

    If Mr Cook thinks the suspending of trains running in extreme weather is an obvious and simple thing he is deeply in denial. It might be an obvious and simple thing in an independent Scotland. The current arrangements, not the action or inaction of a Scottish Minister ,are more likely to be a part of this tragedy if there is any blame due and it is not clear that blame is due.

    Mr Cook’s petulant, occasionally aggressive tone tells what is going on here. It is SNP = bad.


  7. I suspect James Cook was ill prepared for his interview with Michael Matheson. I think Mr Cook knew nothing about the remedial work done at Carmont on the cutting slope after a mudslide in 2014.

    If he did know about that work by Network Rail, recorded in their Scotland Route report, he would and should have wanted to talk to Network Rail and the UK government about the adequacy of that work. So why did he fail to let viewers see an interview with those responsible for doing that repair work?

    Why would Mr Cook think the Scottish government should have been raising concerns about work for which they had neither responsibility nor accountability.? Mr Matheson was clearly aware that remedial work had been done. He told Mr Cook that, something Cook simply ignored as he ploughed on to suggest the Scottish government should have been halting the running of trains.

    But ignorance of the remedial work at Carmont, if true, is not the only possible flaw in Mr Cook’s position. He stated in his tweet responding to Prof Robertson’s blog that not all rail safety matters are reserved. Is that true? What are the ones that are not reserved and are they relevant to discussion of the Carmont tragedy? If there are no powers on rail safety that are devolved why does Mr Cook say that there are?

    He did not tell viewers and listeners whether the Scottish government has the powers to stop trains running. I am pretty sure it doesn’t. What is the legislation that confers those powers? How exactly does that legislation interact with the powers given to Network Rail as owner and operator of the track and which, presumably, makes money when trains run on the tracks. If there are no such powers available to the Scottish government then suggesting that a Scottish government do something for which there is no legal basis is not only stupid. It appears to the viewer as harassment of the interviewee.


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