The coasts of the US take a lot of criticism in the science community for being opposed to well-understood science like nuclear power, natural gas, cell phones, agriculture, and, until 2021, vaccines.

The surest sign the pandemic is in the past is that they are reverting to their old ways. A movement is on to create a clinical diagnosis of "fire brain" - psychological trauma suffered as a result of natural disasters that can be attributed to climate change.

The Maui fire is the latest inroad. The Maui fire was not related to climate change, a tree fell. Hawaii, like California, is generally opposed to science so it is standard for a utility not being allowed to clear dead trees and brush from power lines - and sometimes a tree falls. The kind of people promoting the malady known as "fire brain" have a ready answer for that. They argue the tree might not fallen at all if not for climate change. And they will claim that even if people were not actually near the fire, virtual particulate matter - PM2.5, small micron particulate matter so tiny you need an electron microscope to see it - is causing physical brain changes also.

It reads science-y but there is a reason brain image papers are placed in the EXPLORATORY pile rather than the science one.(1) 

If you believe in ghosts, astrology, and acupuncture, this is plausible. The anecdotes in use (Washington Post, of course) are something like a couple who fled from a fire in California and now remember things they lost vividly, but don't feel like mowing the lawn. 

Look, for the most part, fires in California are both caused by nature and willing victims. Willing victims? Yes, California maybe gets two months of rain per year. The rest of the time the climate is arid, and therefore perfect to start fires, especially in remote areas. The Camp Fire, for example, is a known high-risk zone. It is the state's job to implement fire suppression and prevention, but since people who move there do so despite knowing the risk of fires is high, the state imposed a fee on owners.

Yet those who moved to a known high-risk area were outraged that they had to pay a tax in order for state workers to spend an inordinate amount of money preventing fires for a tiny number of residents.

And the state did a terrible job. Due to over-regulation, PG&E can't just maintain lines. They are not even allowed to own the lines they use without the state approving it first. So the state hires more government union employees and residents don't want to pay, and politicians express their outrage that the state is subsidizing million-dollar solar installations for actors in Malibu but won't more pay to suppress fires for people who live in a tinderbox.

If you wrap yourself in a trauma label because you moved to an area where insurance companies don't want to insure you, State Farm and Allstate are the two latest to say they won't add new policies in California, because the state tells them that people living in high-risk zones have a cap on how much more they must pay, that malady will get you into the New York Times.

It just shouldn't get you in DSM 6.


(1) Event-related potential responses (ERPs) elicited on the interference processing task and their relationship to behavior. (A) Group averaged ERPs ± standard error are shown at frontal (F3, F4) and parietal (P3, P4) channels corresponding to the directly exposed (red), indirectly exposed (blue) and unexposed control (green) groups. Red and orange bars depict significant peak amplitude differences between the directly exposed vs. control group, and the directly exposed vs. indirectly exposed group (p<0.05, permutation tested across time). (B) Group averaged ERP scalp topographies are plotted in the peak 125–175 ms latency window. (C) Peak ERP scalp topographies of the directly exposed group masked by group ttest comparisons show significant left frontal and right parietal activity differences; group comparisons at all electrodes are thresholded at p<0.05. (D) Significant partial correlations are observed between peak left frontal activity (average of F3, FC3 channels) and interference processing efficiency, accounting for exposure group. (E) Peak left frontal activity is significantly greater in individuals reporting recent trauma (p = 0.006).