As government public health policy becomes increasingly ridiculous a group of researchers from the Faculty of Investigating Utterly Stupid Public Health Policies (USPHP), led by Professor B. F. O'Grant, think that they might have hit on an explanation. Professor O'Grant explains “Utterly stupid public health policies and utterances are quite normal amongst politicians, but we have developed a method for identifying the spectacularly bad from the routinely daft background noise. In recent weeks we have seen a huge spike in total stupidity that is practically off the scale, so we began to look at possible causes amongst the worst afflicted.
RBFS - Is forehead size related to specific intellectual dysfunction?
Amazingly, the prestigious research team found a link that suggests a significant inverse relationship between intellectual ability and forehead size which seems to apply mostly, but not entirely, to politicians advocating public health policy. They have christened the condition Really Big Forehead Syndrome (RBFS) and have published a peer-reviewed paper in a leading medical journal explaining it.
Sufferers are afflicted by a range of symptoms that affect their ability to think clearly, or even at all, whenever public health interventions are mentioned:
• They often demonstrate a complete lack of common sense, so believe things that the average schoolchild instinctively knows are ridiculous. Such as the idea that charging 50p for a unit of alcohol will deter hardened alcoholics, and kids, from drinking
• They invariably lose all ability to weigh the evidence and make balanced judgements, so are unduly swayed by single issue campaigners exhorting them to excesses that normal people feel are not justified by the available data. This is accompanied by a fidgety restlessness that makes them feel that something must be done. “God alone knows what they would do if alcohol consumption and binge drinking were actually increasing” said Professor O’Grant.
• They also lose all sense of perspective and pursue policies such as plain packaging, and banning shop displays, despite the fact that virtually none of the population that they allegedly represent supports such pointless and annoying stupidity.
• Proportion follows perspective and the victims become obsessed with enforcing their daft draconian policies. This results in punishments for allowing someone to smoke in a bar, or showing them a branded cigarette packet, often being more severe than those for getting hammered and trashing the local town centre.
• They lose all ability to quote statistics consistently. One subject used 3 different figures for alcohol related hospital admissions in as many weeks.
• They regress to a childlike “doctor knows best” state and believe virtually anything that the medically qualified tell them, however dishonest and however far outside the normal scope of medical principles.
• They become paranoid and avoid debate with more rational uninfected people for fear that their version of reality, based on stories told to them by pressure groups, might be criticised for not actually being the truth.
• They are also haunted by hallucinations in which perfectly legal industries are run by living demons spawned by Satan himself.
• They believe in fairies.
"They associate with the wrong kind of obsessive lunatic"
The USPHP team admit that the fairies part does seem odd but point out that they have shown a statistically significant relationship between all the above symptoms and forehead size.
Some people dispute that forehead size automatically indicates stupidity with respect to public health and claim that this particular form of intellectual dysfunction is the result of nurture rather than nature. “These people mean well but when they take up office, they associate with the wrong kind of obsessive lunatic, get in with a bad crowd, and before you know it they are banning something ... well everything really”, said the leading psychologist Professor I. V. Bigagrant.
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) claim that the USPHP team are secret Ninja academics hired by horned big tobacco devil lizards to discredit their perfectly reasonable proposals. In any case they point out; if RBFS does turn out to be real then they reckon that 50% of the sample probably consists of ex-smokers, so is certain to be smoking-related.
Alcohol Concern claim to have canvassed a representative group of young people, and have already requested that RBFS sufferers be excluded from pre-watershed TV programming with a view to a complete ban in the near future.
The World Cancer Research Fund claim to have already completed a meta-analysis that definitively proves RBFS to be caused by eating too much red meat. They are now working on alcohol and coffee.
The BBC has no idea what RBFS might be but has promised to bore everyone rigid tomorrow over breakfast with non-expert non-entities from its favourite charities, and tame GPs who want to be writers.
Professor O’Grant and his team are upbeat about their findings. They admit that their sample size is too small to claim a causal link without a lot more very expensive research, but claim that their evidence is compelling.