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May 15, 2004
Max Gammon on the dark side of "education"

Last night I attended a talk given at the Evans household by Max Gammon, one of the regular Friday evening meetings that Tim Evans and I take it in turns to host (he on the second Friday of the month and me on the last). It eventually became an argument between Christians and Atheists, but before that, Gammon made many interesting points about the degeneration over the years of the National Health Service.


One point of relevance to this blog he made with particular force, which is how bad it was when nurses stopped being trained in wards, doing nursing, and instead did an "education" in classrooms and seminar rooms. In Gammon's mind there was clearly a direct relationship between what many people regard as "education" and that other, much more malign modern tendency, "bureaucracy".

"Education", in other words, came across as more like malignant disease than as a modern blessing.

As for the ruckus about Christianity, I felt, as the devout Atheist that I am, that if Gammon had confined himself to saying that Christians make better nurses, or that a revival of Christianity might make it easier to run hospitals, I might have gone along with him. But instead he went out of his way to present Christianity as the logical outcome of his analysis of the NHS. Paul Coulam, veteran of many Samizdata comment wars, was present, and he put the case against Christianity with his usual lack of equivocation, egged on by the likes of me growling from the floor, and by Patrick Crozier, who pointed out that an identical nationalised degeneration had occurred in the railways and nobody blamed that on the decline of religion.

Nevertheless, a most stimulating and enjoyable evening.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 12:37 AM
Category: Medical training

Has Max written anything on this thesis? Sounds interesting and fairly convincing...

Comment by: David Foster on May 15, 2004 03:21 AM

David Foster - He has written his thesis in the autumn 2003 issue of the Salisbury Review.

Dr. Gammon unfortunately allowed the fact that he is a fanatical Christian to spoil what was otherwise an excellent presentation on why the NHS is bad and giving it more money will only make it worse. He didn't like this being pointed out to him at all. Mind you I had drunk quite a lot of strong lager by the time I was called upon to make my point and as I often find on such occasions, polite equivocation deserts me and I end up being much more ..err.. 'direct' than I had planned on being before I opened my mouth. I only intended to point out to him that the stuff about Christianity made what had been a good talk seem a bit silly; though I fear I might have been a little bit more provocative than this in actuality.

Comment by: Paul Coulam on May 17, 2004 02:36 PM

I would like to point out as politely as possible that screamed abuse never comes over too well as an argument. And it was interesting that when the all-important quantum question was raised the only people who seemed to know anything about it were us two beleaguered Christians. You really should try to find out something about it, and admit that the old nineteenth century science on which the old-fashioned simple atheist viewpoint is based is now out.

Comment by: Judith Hatton on May 20, 2004 06:41 PM


I, one of the Ambushed Atheists, admit no such thing of course. The idea that Quantum Physics proves the existence of God is one of many, MANY ideas swilling about in the world today that, to me, is so ridiculous that I have no plans to bother with it.

By all means reply, if you want the last word in this argument.

Comment by: Brian Micklethwait on May 20, 2004 07:10 PM

Does Quantum Physics prove that there is no God? Science does not deal with the eternal "is there a God?" question - it's aim is not to prove or disprove His possible existence and hence to ask science for The Answer is like asking....like asking.....ah, heck, I forgot what I was going to say.

Comment by: Johan on May 26, 2004 10:01 AM

Atheists so often defend their views with - shall I say politely? - warmth, because they reflect the human passion for denial of that terrifying thing, free will. Most of the world's religions deny it, of course - all is fate, karma, kismet, the will of Allah, the stars, or what have you. In fact, it isn't ME. If (or when) the human race destroys itself, the words it wants on its tombstone are just that.
Only in the Judaeo-Christian tradition does the other turn up, and so revolting is it to our feelings that even there predestination crops up from time to time, usually to be diluted or denied quite
quickly, but leaving nasty traces. Modern atheists, nourished in old-fashioned 19th century science, find the Marxist view (all conditioned by economics and the class you are), Darwinian (all conditioned by the struggle for survival), and Freudian (all sex and your mother's fault), very soothing. But of course from time to time FW raises its head, nd the thought that perhaps it is ME makes for hysterical reactions. Love to Brian Judith
head, and then the thought that perhaps it is ME

Comment by: Judith Hatton on May 26, 2004 04:38 PM

Sorry about intrusive last line in last comment. Can't think how it happened - trying to learn how to beat this machine but feel it'll always get the better of me.

Comment by: Judith Hatton on May 26, 2004 04:43 PM

I have only just caught up with this correspondence following my talk to the Putney Debate group in May. The argument over Christianity arose after I presented a graph showing a steady rise in numbers of hospital beds in England between 1928 and the inception of the NHS in 1948 and thereafter the number of beds falling each year irrespective of government in power or amount of money spent on the service.

I pointed out that prior to the inception of the NHS about half of England’s hospitals were already in the public sector under the management of Local Authorities, based on old workhouses or infirmaries - squalid and dreaded by patients. Some very old doctors may remember the plea, “Don’t send me to the infirmary, Doctor.” The remainder of our hospitals were independent charitable institutions. These were the Voluntary Hospitals which included our teaching hospitals, the best of our large provincial hospitals and large numbers of small local Cottage Hospitals. It was among the voluntary hospitals that beds were increasing and new building was taking place even during the slump years of the ‘thirties while the public sector was stagnant and decaying.

Some of the audience became restive when I said that the majority of the Voluntary Hospitals were Christian based and then put forward an hypothesis which could provide a causal link between Christianity and their success.

In brief, my hypothesis arises out of the second law of thermodynamics which states that in an isolated system entropy (disorder) always increases as a result of a spontaneous process. In practice we attempt to counter this by pumping in more energy (and directives) but in centralised bureaucratic organisations this becomes progressively more inefficient (see Gammon’s Law). By opening a system to the power and guidance of God the destructive build up of entropy may be reversed, banished or reduced.

“The idea that Quantum Physics proves the existence of God” (Comment: by Brian Micklethwait May 20) is a vulgarity which was certainly not proposed. I spoke briefly about Alain Aspect’s experiments in connection with the EPR Paradox simply to show that “This universe is not only queerer than we think, it is queerer than we can think.” - a proposition with which both physicist and metaphysician, Christian and atheist can, I believe, agree.

Comment by: Max Gammon on July 13, 2004 12:41 PM

I am urgently trying to contact Dr Max Gammon . Can someone give me his email or contact details. I am the executive director of the Australian Doctors Fund .

Comment by: stephen milgate on September 30, 2004 08:21 AM
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