Seriously and Literally.
Several weeks back, I received an email from a prominent scholar. He sent me this link, with the following note:
Is this guy Betech insane? I am asking the question seriously.
Yesterday, a different person, in response to the discussion at this link, sent me the following note:
I am beginning to suspect that Dr. Ostroff is literally (and I use the word "literally" in its literal sense) mentally ill.
It's quite painful to wade through the linked discussions, but those who are willing to torture themselves may find it interesting. The parallels between Isaac Betech and Jonathan Ostroff are quite remarkable. It's not about weird beliefs - after all, one person's weird belief is another person's obvious fact. Rather, it's about the way in which they are incapable of having a sane discussion. When challenged with a simple question, they constantly change the subject to their favorite topic, like a broken record, and yet they claim that they have answered the objection. It's hard to describe; you have to read it to believe it.
But unlike my correspondents, I don't think that this is actually a clinical condition that's somewhere in the DSM-IV. I think it's just a very extreme case of cognitive dissonance - the same condition that makes Rabbi Yosef Gavriel Bechoffer claim that when Rabbeinu Bechaya describes the kidneys as tools of etzah (which are therefore responsible for sin), this has absolutely nothing to do with the Gemara saying that the kidneys give etzah.
I'd be interested to hear any insights into such people and how to deal with them.