When Politicians Go Too Far

I haven’t written anything for a couple of days. I have been rather busy since the leaves on my plants are maturing at a rate of knots and need to be cured. That is my hobby and I enjoy it. But there are other things as well which are not much fun.

Anyway, let us not sink into the depths of despond. There is a lot to be cheerful about.

Is there not something weird about politicians? They always seem to go too far. I think that it is a consequence of the political monopoly. Nothing is right and nothing is wrong; nothing is true and nothing is false. Everything is is in a state of flux.

I was reading something elsewhere (I forget where) which emphasised the importance of ‘perception’ as compared with ‘reality’. But there is a problem. Of several possible perceptions, which actually portrays reality? EG, if ASH does a survey which show that 70% of smokers want to quit, does that survey conform to reality? Perhaps it does at a superficial level. But it has been shown that many people, in response to such a survey, indicate their SECOND preference. Their first preference is to continue to enjoy tobacco. Many such people might indicate ‘health’ as a primary reason to quit, when their real motivation is cost.

We all have our own tales to tell. My first attempt to stop smoking was entirely financial. I wanted to buy a car and I could not afford it while I was spending money on ‘luxuries’. I decided to stop smoking rather than stop drinking beer. Drinking beer was more important than smoking because of the social aspect of drinking beer. I stopped smoking for twelve months. After six months, I bought my first car. After a further six months, I started smoking again, and – believe me – that first drag on a cig, even though it made me dizzy, was WONDERFUL!

During the twelve months that I stopped smoking, I had no ‘perception’ that I was harming myself by denying myself the pleasure of smoking.   Only when I started smoking again did I realise how much pleasure I had deprived myself of. By the way, I am not saying that the deprivation of smoking pleasure was not worth it. Buying my first car was a HUGE event, and an event which brought me and my family much pleasure. Perhaps my point is that, after twelve months of depriving myself of smoking pleasure, I had the income to provide both the car pleasure and the smoking pleasure (and the beer pleasure).

Politicians do not see these nuances. They see big groups of people who are all the same. One big group supports the Tories and another supports Labour. A smaller group supports the Libdems and even fewer support the Greens. But enormous ‘elephants in the room’ appear. The Scot Nats got about 50 seats in Parliament with a lower total of votes than UKIP, which got one MP.

So what drives MPs? I have no idea at all. And this is the point of this post. What drives them? Why do they vote for cig packets to be covered with medical porn when they do not direct that cars should be painted with pics of death and destruction due to crashes? What was the ‘truth’ which convinced politicians to vote for PP on the vague basis that it would ‘save lives’ when they would not vote for a proposition that speed limits of 30 mph should apply to motorways? Surely, saving the life of one child should be paramount?

And that is where politicians ‘Go Too Far’. They fail to see the repercussions of what they do.

The ascendence of TC, with its power, is a prime example. It is so powerful that it can destroy the careers of anyone who dissents.

And it works like this. There is a sort of ‘bible’ which is revealed truth. It cannot be questioned. That ‘bible’ might be Doll’s Doctors Study or the 1964 American Surgeon General’s report. That ‘truth’ is supported by 70% of The People, who believe it. Therefore, that truth is true. 50% of smokers will die prematurely because they smoke. No one in authority asks what is meant by ‘prematurely’. We do, and we find that ‘prematurely’ means ‘before non-smokers’. Thus, we find that people who enjoy the pleasures of this world tend, for whatever reason, not to live as long as puritans.

OK!!! Let puritans live longer. Who cares?

Politicians are supposed to care, that’s what. And that is the problem. They vote for any legislation which ASH ET AL propose on a puritanical basis. It has little to do with the NHS. If everyone leads a frugal and safe life, then almost everyone will consume less. Thus will the UN Millennium Goals be achieved. Everyone in the world will become ascetic, denying the pleasures of the flesh and living a life introspection. Lovely. But the ‘Revealed Truth’ is that the rich will go on enjoying the pleasures of the flesh ad inf. That is human nature.

But everyone will die. Better to drop dead by smoking than drag on death forever by being puritcanical.

Has any politician ever spread JOY? What do politicians have to do to spread JOY?

They do not seem to know what JOY is.





7 Responses to “When Politicians Go Too Far”

  1. Samuel Says:


    • Tony Says:

      A good article in many ways but the author slings a great deal of mud at Fisher and none at all at the anti-smoking fanatics. Whilst he gives some rather grudging respect for Fisher’s achievements in mathematical statistics he fails to mention that neither Doll nor Hill were statisticians.

      Instead he seems content to believe in consensus as the key to understanding the issue. He says:
      “And yet we know how this debate ends. On one of the most significant public health questions of the 20th century, Fisher got it wrong.”

      Aside from noting a rise in lung cancer rates that correlated fairly well with an increase in cigarette smoking, he doesn’t provide anything other than this “consensus” as evidence for his claim.

      He fails to note that the correlation of the rate of change only really works for UK and US men. It fails with many other groups. He also misses the fact that lung cancer is poorly correlated with cigar and pipe smoking. So clearly the issue cannot be tobacco smoking per se.

      Having studied this in considerable depth, I consider that Fisher was entirely correct. The so called debate never really occurred. It was more a matter of fanatics, led by Doll amongst others and supported by politicians, simply shouting down any opposition.

      Just to be clear, I am certainly not condemning the author for going along with the consensus. It is a consensus that is ferociously enforced.

      • junican Says:

        Yes, an interesting article, but full of holes. As you say, neither Doll nor Hill were statisticians. Their ‘evidence’ that smoking causes lung cancer relies entirely upon the BIG correlation. The implication is that the BIGGER the correlation, the more certain the ’cause and effect’. The reality is that such conviction is superstition. “The gods cause thunder and lightening because they are angry”: “Infections are caused by a miasma in the air”. To make matters worse, there is ‘the delayed effect’. What is the reality? There is no actual evidence of a ‘delayed effect’ – it is a supposition produced by the correlation.

  2. Timothy Goodacre Says:

    Yes Junican these Puritans are a real drain on us.

    • junican Says:

      They are worse than a drain. At least a drain just takes away bilge. They are creating bilge where there is none. EG, banning smoking on beaches.

      • Rose Says:

        “The seashore (which is synonymous with foreshore) is the area between the mean high water mark and the mean low water mark.

        Below the high water mark, i.e. the seashore and the seabed, generally belongs to the Crown.”

        As we know Crown Property is exempt from Smoking Bans and any theoretical bans have to be voluntary like the arrangement at Westminster. But they won’t necessarily mention that when they put up their little signs.

      • junican Says:

        Well spotted Rose. Quite amusing, really.

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