Sunday, 1 November 2009

The Problem With Exaggeration

Well, it was a long shot and, as noted in the comments, doomed to failure. Stinking freedom thieves have no honour or morals.

In fact, sometime during my interminable Friday afternoon crawl round the M25 thanks to rubber-necking airheads at Junction 18, and probably around the time I was ripping one of the little Puddlecotes's** (the girl) Leona frigging Lewis CD out of the stereo and flinging it against the rear windscreen in irritated frustration, Labour were doggedly resisting the blasphemy of liberal-ish anti-scaremongery from a Nutt.

The Blind Cyclist has an excellent piece on this, and other cases, of Government ploughing their own furrow no matter the view of their advisers. Particularly this.

So it’s difficult, almost impossible, in fact, to imagine how Johnson could be concerned that these remarks aren’t “matters of evidence”. Clearly then, the Home Sec is defenestrating the poor prof because his rational, scientific approach conflicts with the approach the government wishes to take. Johnson is eager to leave us in no doubt that this is the case

I cannot have public confusion between scientific advice and policy and have therefore lost confidence in your ability to advise me as Chair of the ACMD

This is bad. This is in fact very, very bad indeed. Because it means that the government of the United Kingdom is happy to operate as though it were living in some fucked up fantasy land of imaginings (not unlike someone who is ripped off their tits on drugs, in fact) rather than actually dealing with reality as it is. Did I mention that this is bad?

Indeed. And while cradling a blissful cold brew in my hotel bar, gently soothing the horror of the journey. A glorious example of Labour fuckwittery was played out before my very eyes.

Two large plasma screens on each side of the room, both muted, were tuned to BBC News 24 and some music channel respectively. On one, was Prof Nutt silently gabbling away in a live link from London, with the ticker quoting thus.

"Nutt: Government overstating the dangers of cannabis for political reasons"

And at the same time, in an ad break on the other screen.


It struck me, though, that a clash with someone like Nutt was inevitable the moment Labour began to hugely exaggerate in other areas.

We have seen cherry-picked, rent-seeking data on smoking. Multiplied and manipulated to create huge relative risk at the behest of Labour-paid fake charities and righteous quangoes, the result being that smoke is now perceived as more dangerous than Sarin gas.

Similarly, the same process, also paid for by government, is advising us that more than one glass of wine a day is akin to bathing your liver in sulphuric acid, to tackle the 'fact' that "... alcohol consumption has been rising rapidly in recent years ...", as this graph of ONS male and female consumption figures clearly shows.

Little wonder, then, that Nutt, who I presume was conducting research on drugs (he being the drugs guy, and all that), not alcohol and tobacco, concluded as he did, considering he will have placed his results alongside studies from other fields to come up with his risk rankings.

Compared with some of the most comprehensive and heavily-funded demonisation initiatives in modern times, it's no surprise he found cannabis and ecstasy to be relatively harmless when set alongside the wild hysterical shrieking of the anti-alcohol, and tobacco control, lobbies.

With the whole fuss making Labour appear bloody stupid (which they, of course, are), entirely motivated by personal prejudices (which, of course, they are), and unable to call off the smoke-hating and temperance society attack dogs, they will instead likely fall back on spin and lies to turn the argument.

Even as we speak, I suspect there are trusty, favourable boffins being tasked with coming up with new studies to 'prove' that taking cannabis turns your piss radioactive; a tab of ecstasy will make your brain explode when you fart; and that sniffing a line of coke will instantly vapourise the Brazilian rain forests, while simultaneously ripping the fabric of time itself to unleash a rampaging family of velociraptors into your home to pull your innards out, while Zammo from Grange Hill sings 'Just Say No' outside your front door, backed by the massed ranks of William Wallace's bagpipers.

Wow! That was some good shit I just smoked.

** Bloody apostrophe hell, again.


Anonymous said...

Re Apostrophe Crime, you got it right in the previous Krumbs post - i.e. Puddlecotes' - even if you don't pronounce it that way.

It's probably called the possessive plural or something. Another example is "the football players' boots."

They're all just conventions really. Just like most spellings are conventions. They enable people to read quickly without having to think about what people mean, which is what they have to do if they don't use the conventions.

Or something.

BTS said...

I've taken plenty of drugs and I'm fine.

Okay, I do wear a dressing-gown to work but I have my reasons..

Did you ever find that sausage?

BTS said...

Oh, and I've talked to Frank. He was a useless ****..

Dick Puddlecote said...

BTS: No, but Fanny P reckons she can get me another one.

BTW, I didn't see Calpol in Nutt's list? Nasty bugger, that.

Anonymous said...

Highlights of an English Weekend,
Politician sacks a chemist,Elton John cancels a concert and Shay
Given saves a penalty. If only
keyboards were Kalashnikovs.

Rain drenched smoker

Mark Wadsworth said...

Dick, sure, fine, but what's even more worrying/relevant is that the Tories' chief bansturbator says that Nutt should have been sacked years ago.

Junican said...

You have confused my mind. When I saw this report today, I thought, "Hurray! At last, a minister has dared to defy a quango. At last, a quango has been put in its place. Maybe a minister might just have the courage some time in the future to deny Sir Archdeacon L Donaldson the oxygen of publicity!
How can you defend someone who puts the dangers of ecstacy below tobacco and alcohol?

Surely, the idea that ecstacy is less dangerous than tobacco and alcohol can only be a statistical one?

I would say that it is right that these quangos should be put in their place, although I am not sure that sacking the guy is the right thing to do.

Anonymous said...

"Even as we speak, I suspect there are trusty, favourable boffins being tasked with coming up with new studies to 'prove' that taking cannabis turns your piss radioactive; a tab of ecstasy will make your brain explode when you fart;"

If only I could believe that they'd be even that creative. My bet is that they've wheeled out Leah Bett's mum by the end of Monday.

Can't wait to see what they look like once all the media handlers are back at work, all they did yesterday was make them selves look stupid. Which they (of course) are.

Ta for the link love. Also for that graph, I've been looking for those very figures,

Pogo said...

@Junican: How can you defend someone who puts the dangers of ecstacy below tobacco and alcohol?

Quite easily... Should he actually be correct.

Surely, the idea that ecstacy is less dangerous than tobacco and alcohol can only be a statistical one?

Because, you fuckwit, any measure of "danger" is by necessity "statistical". For example, we can predict that some 3000 people will die on the roads in the next 12 months without actually knowing their names and adresses in advance.

Anonymous said...

Junican : "How can you defend someone who puts the dangers of ecstacy below tobacco and alcohol?"

-sigh- Another person who hasn't actually bothered to read any of the source material.

Ignorance might be blissful for the ignorant but it's a complete pisser for the rest of us.

Dick Puddlecote said...

MW: Indeed. Grayling is sounding more and more dangerous to liberal thinkers by the day.

Junican: Nutt is probably correct in terms of overall damage. But then, he was always going to come to such a conclusion when comparing with the hysteria pumped out by anti-tobacco and anti-alcohol.

Johnson was left in a quandary. He either had to relax restrictions n cannabis/ecstasy, or ban alcohol and tobacco too, when Labour are already feeling increasing heat on those issues.

Delicious. And the fact that he ducked it and sacked Nutt can be thrown back in Labour's face time and again when they talk of acting on scientific advice.

BCU: You're welcome. Your examination was a great read.

Spartan said...

Terry Pratchett must know Johnson and based his Discworld Character 'Bloody Stupid Johnson' on him.

Bloody Stupid Johnson is notorious for his complete inability to produce anything according to common sense. He also has a problem with mis-interpreting figures.

Antipholus Papps said...

Horse-riding is far more dangerous than ecstasy. Horse-riding killed Superman.

Junican said...

@ Pogo.

The news regarding the sacking of Nutt developed significantly in a report in the Daily Telegraph on
2nd Nov (page 6). As part of the article, there was a column headed, "DRUGS: the toll on society". This column said:
Tobacco 114,000
Alcohol 5,000 - 40,000
Heroin, morphine, methadone 944
cocaine 147
ecstasy 48
other .....
cannabis 16.

These 'facts' relate to the year 2004. The sources of the 'facts' are Office of National Statistics AND Dept of Health AND Ash. Fucking Ash! For heaven's sake! How could a fuckwit little organisation like Ash possibly have the resources to examine the data?
And, where did the data come from? The report said that the data came from death certificates 'where substance is mentioned' WITH THE EXCEPTION OF ALCOHOL AND TOBACCO, WHICH ARE ANNUAL ESTIMATES. This begs the question, "So how many death certificates actually mentioned alcohol or tobacco?" It may well be that the actual number of death certificates which mentioned alcohol or tobacco was NIL. In which case, ecstasy is obviously statistically 48 times more dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. Also, taking into account the much greater prevalence of alcohol and tobacco usage as compared with ecstasy usage, it would not be surprising if the harmfulness of ecstasy is not 100,000 times greater than alcohol and tobacco.
Does the above sound correct? Well, of course not!
But then, Nutt seems to arguing along similar lines. IE. That only a few people suffer from Ecstasy as opposed to those who suffer from 'other drugs' (regardless of the prevalence of the 'other drugs'), and therefore Ecstasy is 'less dangerous'.

But note how alcohol and tobacco have suddenly become DRUGS. I, personally, would not accept this idea. I regard 'drugs' as much more immediate in their actions. Drugs, to me, speak of some sort of immediate 'high', not a slow and gradual change in mood which one can stop of curtail at any time.

So, please do not call me a 'fuckwit' - examine the beam in your own eye before commenting on the mote in mine.