Monday 23 January 2017

More Cuts Required For The Good Of Public Health

So today's vitally important 'public health' message from our cash-starved 'austerity' government was about the colour of toast. Yes, really.

The awareness campaign, entitled Go for Gold and backed by athlete Denise Lewis (geddit?) was faithfully shared by state-run Nanny Beeb.
Bread, chips and potatoes should be cooked to a golden yellow colour, rather than brown, to reduce our intake of a chemical which could cause cancer, government food scientists are warning. 
Acrylamide is produced when starchy foods are roasted, fried or grilled for too long at high temperatures. 
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) recommends carefully following cooking instructions and avoiding browning.
If you're a hypochondriac - and/or are gullible with no understanding of risk whatsoever - you will naturally be terrified on hearing this new information. The truth, however, is in plain sight within the article, not once but twice.
"However, Cancer Research UK said the link was not proven in humans." 
"as yet there is no conclusive evidence."
No, and as David Spiegelhalter points out today, it's not for want of trying either; a massive report by the European Food Standards Agency found nothing worrisome in 16 studies and 36 publications they analysed. Spiegelhalter also went further and questioned the wisdom of the FSA publishing such advice in the first place.
Reactions to Go for Gold may range from the extremes of encouraging obsessive concern in the worried-well, to irate editorials on yet another intrusion from the ‘nanny state’. More worrying, people may just consider this yet another scare story from scientists, and lead them to dismiss truly important warnings [...] the FSA provide no estimate of the current harm caused by acrylamide, nor the benefit from any reduction due to people following their advice. To be honest, I am not convinced it is appropriate to launch a public campaign on this basis.
That didn't matter to The Sun though, who slapped the tale of "killer" toast on their front page as an "OFFICIAL WARNING", no less.

So there we have the UK's most respected news broadcaster and the country's best-selling newspaper both parroting absolute codswallop which will be believed by millions (Mrs P tells me that some of her white collar office colleagues did today).

Those of you with long memories might remember a similarly hysterical Sun headline from August last year - also a result of irresponsible junk science - which was equally devoid of truth, an original of which has been kept by Professor Peter Hajek who waved it at a South Bank Uni audience last week as an example of "total nonsense".

Now, there are quite a few things to note about the increasing absurdity we are seeing from 'public health' studies and campaigns.

Firstly, it is very easy to dismiss The Sun's front page today as gutter journalism, except that the BBC also prominently covered it over all platforms despite the health risk being so negligible as to be unworthy of comment. The cult of self-perpetuating 'public health' is now so entrenched that supposedly respected news sources will vomit it out as pliantly as derided red top rags. Irresponsible clickbait in journalism is now endemic.

This moves us onto the second point. I find it quite ironic that the 'public health' industry is packed full of lefty ideologists who consider The Sun and the Daily Mail to be abhorrent shitsheets which will print any old garbage, yet they are in the front line for spreading ignorant junk science. This should, surely, flag up a message as to how corrupt and shabby the output of tax-sponging 'public health' professionals really is.

Thirdly, we are living in an age where brows are being furrowed at the prevalence of "fake news" and how so many gullible individuals are susceptible to it. Well, when you have supposedly credible authorities such as the FSA producing contemptible and evidence-free arse-gravy reports of killer roasties, anything else is possible, isn't it?

Fourthly, while the media's attraction is the page views they will gather, it's quite clear that the FSA is guilty of confusing the public with the similarly selfish motivation of pursuing salaries. The NGO is state-funded, with a web address, but on this evidence seems more concerned with being seen to be doing something than actually weighing up if the information will have a beneficial effect on public health and well-being.

Which leads us onto the final point, that if the FSA has time and resources to waste on such trivial crap, we need to see far more cuts to public sector spending. There has been no benefit gained for the public's health today, all that has happened is a bunch of overpaid rubber band-flickers have panicked many people and caused a large proportion of the public to make choices which make their lives just that little bit more miserable for no reason whatsoever.

More cuts required please Mr Chancellor, the public's health and enjoyment of life depends on them. 

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