VGIF recently highlighted a report in the British Medical Journal arguing that Santa was bad for the nation's health. He quoted all the best snippets in his piece here, but this is one example.
Santa is a public health hazard - promoting obesity and drink-driving, experts have claimed.
Images of a fat, jolly and somewhat tipsy Father Christmas send out the wrong message and could damage millions of lives, they said.
Snowdon ended the article in almost pleading tone.
The full article is behind a pay wall at the moment. I'll read it all tomorrow and it had better turn out to be an elaborate hoax, because if this is meant to be taken seriously, there is no hope.
Fortunately, via antipodean freedom-lover Crampton, the report author, Nathan Grills, explains his bafflement that no-one got the joke.
Most of the 'Santa- A public Health Pariah' article is meant to be tongue-in-cheek. It's a Christmas spoof. It's supposed to be spreading a bit of Christmas cheer, but with a tinge of seriousness to provoke a bit of healthy Christmas dinner table conversation. The BMJ Christmas edition is a special edition with much humour.
Unfortunately, the article has spread like wildfire but it has lost a bit of the Christmas cheer element.
I don't think Nathan quite understands the make-up of humour. A spoof can't readily be taken as a spoof, especially one published in the generally condemnatory BMJ, if it's possible that it could be true.
It would appear that Nathan himself believed that no-one could possibly take such nonsense seriously, but then he is an epidemiologist who is no doubt blissfully unaware of the contempt with which much of the public view some of the guff produced by his colleagues.
Christmas cheer? We suffer these alarmist nuisances criticising every aspect of our lives for the whole of the preceding eleven and a half months, why would we be cheered by Santa being condemned as a public health threat?
It's no more stupid than many other studies we have seen in 2009, so is quite readily credible.
After all, as Crampton points out.
A piece 40 years ago advocating banning smoking in public outdoor places would have been seen as satire too though.
Compared with such lunacy, the idea that Santa is easing your kids into an early coffin doesn't strike one as so bizarre.