Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Dissing The French

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This hilarious streaming video of Bill Maher discusses the bad habit that American conservatives have for dissing anything that is “French” — especially their health care system, which is the best in the industrialized world, which means that America should steal it from them [3:47].


  1. #1 Joe
    May 29, 2007

    Uh, didn’t 16,000 people die in their heat wave a couple years ago? Just exactly why is the French health care system is the best?

  2. #2 Ed Yong
    May 29, 2007

    Excellent. Given the propensity for French dissing, I always found it deliciously ironic that the Statue of Liberty herself – as iconic a symbol of America as you can get – was designed and engineered by Bertholdi and Eiffel (two Frenchmen) and given to the US by France as a gift.

    And a 120 years later, we have freedom fries. Sigh 🙂

  3. #3 J-Dog
    May 29, 2007

    So, actually then, what Alberto Gonzalez does is “Freedom-Kiss” Bush’s bunghole?

  4. #4 Bob O'H
    May 29, 2007

    Oi! This is wrong! Dissing the French is the job of the English! We’ve had more experience at it! The only reason we voted to join the EEC was to annoy them. Oh, and for the cheap wine.


  5. #5 Ambitwistor
    May 29, 2007

    Joe: heat wave deaths in France had a lot more to do with the lack of air conditioning than the quality of the health care system. However, family doctors on summer holiday were also blamed.

  6. #6 Baratos
    May 29, 2007

    Uh, didn’t 16,000 people die in their heat wave a couple years ago? Just exactly why is the French health care system is the best?

    Very few people own air conditioning in France, because of the excellent climate. Not like around here, where the normal reaction to going outside is “MY SKIN IS BOILING!”

  7. #7 blf
    May 29, 2007

    Ambitwistor and Baratos have already identified some of the reasons for the wave of deaths–which, incidently, was Europe-wide (not confined to France)–but another, shared by the USA and other countries, is that older people (many of the victims were older) are nowadays, unfortunately, much more likely to live alone. That is, an insufficient eye was being kept on the vulnerable people.

    I understand the same problems, plus a lack of health insurance (mostly needed in the USA to obtain (pay for) medical treatment), can be observed in the heatwaves that strike Chicago and NYC (to name two USAian examples).

    What I’m not keen on about the French system is the propensity to issue prescriptions.

  8. #8 matt
    May 29, 2007

    Despite my objections to mandatory health insurance and Maher’s history this is an excellent quip, hell I speak French and love the place having visited once. The part on public intellectuals rings the truest for me.. that would be phenomenal. Worship of intellect in the US? I wish.

  9. #9 travelgirl
    May 30, 2007

    i lived there for a while, and i have to agree with those who say the french health care system is exceptional.

    before arriving, i had suffered through a painful neck, arm, and shoulder issue that doctors in the states (three of them in three different locations) diagnosed as tendonitis, with prescriptions for pain and steroids for inflammation… i could not move my arm away from vertical more than 20 degrees from straight up/down.

    while in france, the pain recurred with a vengeance. between my poor french and my rural doctor’s few bits of english, he diagnosed a stenosis between C3 and C4 after doing something the US doctors failed to do: he listened, then took lots of XRays…

    his care has me almost pain-free over one year later… oh, and the total cost, including the XRays (from a different clinic), several in-clinic visits (average time spent WITH DOCTOR for each visit: 30-45 minutes), and medication: less than $200 US…

    i’d have been lucky to get away from a US clinic for less than $1500 for the exact same services, and having been misdiagnosed several times, i’m guessing i’d still be in pain…

  10. #10 MikeB
    May 30, 2007

    I agree with Bob H – its us ‘Roast-beufs’ who should really take the lead in dissing the Frogs. Of course it might be just envy, with their cheap booze, good food, excellent trains, cheap country properties (just waiting to be bought by middle-class English people), long lunches and summer holidays. Oh, and the cheap wine. We really hate the French (for living better than we do).

  11. #11 Mag
    May 30, 2007

    Don’t worry, Bob H, MikeB. We have always known you just had a bad case of envy from over the channel…
    Mag (who loves many things about the British Islands, by the way)

  12. #12 TomDunlap
    May 30, 2007

    Things to remember when dissing France:

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