Thursday, 31 December 2015

Review of the year: the limitless stupidity of 2015

Will we look back on 2015 as the year when the pretend public health lobby jumped the shark and went too far? They certainly tested the credulity of the public like never before, but I suspect worse is to come in 2016. Worse is always to come.

Here are some lowlights from the past twelve months..


Nanny statists throw a wobbler when a study declares that most cancers are not due to 'lifestyle factors', despite having been happy a week earlier when Cancer Research said virtually the same thing with a different emphasis. (A counter-attack was swiftly put in motion which dominated headlines at the end of the year. Don't you love settled science?) Meanwhile, the NHS cut spending on cancer treatment so it could keep wasting money on faux public health, including on the fat salaries of their leading lights.

While alcohol consumption fell to where the temperance lobby claimed they wanted it to be and the anti-soda loons demanded the abolition of sugary drinks by 2025, ridiculous predictions about obesity continued to be made.


Tobakko kontrol invent a new Orwellian oxymoron for their assault on the outdoors: the 'voluntary ban'. Starting in Bristol, this pops up in various towns in 2015.

While David Nutt writes utter nonsense about alcohol, the pseudo-academic campaign to make people question the health benefits of drinking sinks to new lows in the BMJ.

The BMJ prints some conspiracy theories about the food industry courtesy of the world's worst investigative journalist (Jonathan Gornall). Meanwhile, the BBC's worst health journalist (Nick 'feels strongly about this' Triggle) continues to drool over the idea of tobacco prohibition.

The link between smoking skunk cannabis and psychosis gets more coverage but few point out that this is another reason why cannabis should be legalised.

The cranks at Action on Sugar claimed that 'sugar levels keep rising' in breakfast cereals despite their own evidence showing the opposite.

There were two pieces of good news this month. Firstly, ComRes conducted an opinion poll on behalf of the IEA which found that people were generally against the nanny state and in favour of personal responsibility. Secondly, the Department for Communities and Local Government announced an 'anti-sockpuppet clause' to stop local authorities squandering money on pressure groups. Nevertheless, February sees yet another 'public health' sockpuppet launched: Give Up Loving Pop (GULP - geddit?) is formed in the North West on the taxpayers' shilling.

The answer to everything


As that utter halfwit Aseem Malhotra begins his evidence-free campaign against physical activity (using increasingly bizarre claims), the Irish sockpuppet state goes into overdrive to campaign for anti-drinker policies that have since been adopted.

While plain packaging dies on its arse in Australia, desperate attempts are made to pretend it hasn't been a failure. With the inevitability of a man who loves gravy seeing a gravy train pass by, veteran anti-smoking twonk Stanton Glantz jumps on the anti-sugar bandwagon, claiming that 'Big Sugar' is the new 'Big Tobacco'. Major 'public health' organisations start publishing material that is indistinguishable from tobacco industry parodies from a few years earlier (for more, see here).

There was some good news in March, however. After years of being victimised by anti-science fanatics in California, James Enstrom won his case against unfair dismissal and a whole bunch of 'public health' troughers were prevented from going to their luxury conference.

Oh, sweet irony. A genuine graphic used by Aseem Malhotra


While Malhotra pushes his pitiful anti-exercise bullshit, the Scottish government achieves what every pretend public health policy aims to achieve by knackering an industry without benefiting anybody at all.

April was a big month for denialism. The campaign to undermine the mountain of evidence showing that drinking is good for you gathered pace in the pages of Addiction. In the USA, efforts to deny that increased vaping leads to less smoking reached ridiculous new heights, just as the Irish Cancer Society was trying to breathe new life into the obsolete 'gateway effect'.

Just because you're not obese doesn't mean you're not obese

As the government launched a stupid and unworkable ban on 'legal highs', Ben Goldacre confirmed that he was as prone to emotional biases as the people he once claimed to debunk by promoting an anti-vaping press release while ignoring all the evidence that supports vaping as a harm reduction strategy.

There were more bollocks obesity predictions, but there were also slivers of good news when the odious Royal Society for Public Health had to retract a press release which claimed that alcohol consumption was rising and there was a splendid spoof that showed how gullible the media are on matters of popular science. The IEA also published my review of so-called 24 hour drinking which was, I concluded, the best thing Labour ever did.


Despite assurances from the authorities that there wouldn't be a massive riot if an Australian prison banned smoking, a massive riot takes place after an Australian prison bans smoking (recently confirmed in an official review - Deborah Arnott still insists that there is 'no evidence' that smoking bans cause prison riots).

Elsewhere, the chairman of Action on Sugar confirms that he is an extremist lunatic and Jamie Oliver, the simpleton chef who hadn't been on telly for a while, suddenly becomes an anti-sugar warrior.

Meanwhile, I write an article for The Spectator about why the real cost to taxpayers is people living long and healthy lives. It is a subject I returned to at full length recently.


In a classic unintended consequence, Australian businesses reacted to a ban on smoking in outdoor dining areas by banning people from eating outside. The sugar tax campaign gathered momentum with a series of lies, including a whopper from those past masters at the British Meddling Association and a story about a non-existent tooth decay 'crisis' in the Sunday Times. A sober paper about sugar from myself and Rob Lyons was no match for the truly deranged ramblings of Action on Sugar's chairman, Graham MacGregor.

In other news, Brighton consulted on another 'voluntary ban' to go along with their voluntary sugar tax and a de facto voluntary speed limit. Subsequently abandoned, I had my say about it with Deborah Arnott on Sky News.

The good news of the month came when Tesco felt the wrath of the British public after falling for the rhetoric of the public health shysters and taking Ribena off the children's shelves. In the North West, a temperance sock-puppet was finally closed down.

Genuine public health ad. Not a satirical mock up.


While gullible Guardian idiot George Monbiot claimed that obesity was 'incurable' it became increasingly clear that higher tobacco taxes were bringing in less and less revenue. There was yet another smoking ban miracle study which, like all the others, was total pish. And The Lancet responded to a sensible, evidence-based report from Public Health England on e-cigarettes by smearing the authors.

In Australia, where another smoking ban caused another prison riot, conclusive evidence showed that tobacco sales rose in the first year of plain packaging, an awkward fact that was ignored by the media. The Aussies held a much needed enquiry into the nanny state which I gave evidence to via Skype.

August's moments of light relief both involved that charmless nerk Simon Chapman getting his comeuppance. First, a Senate Committee took him to task for his endless garbage and then he was forced to publish an apology to somebody he'd denigrated. By law, he can never take the apology down - it's here.

Spelling is not Nina Teicholz's strong suit. What is?


Jamie Oliver produced a piece of television propaganda that Kim Jong-Un would have rejected for being too crude and I calculated how much alcohol use really costs the taxpayer, getting some indirect coverage from the Daily Mash into the bargain.


The gospel temperance crowd got Scottish taxpayers to pay for their conference in Edinburgh (which looked mental). Sarah Wollaston held her ludicrous sugar show trials and Public Health England decided it was time for the government to take over the food supply.

The lunatics really took over the asylum in October. This was the month when bacon was as dangerous as plutonium and cheese was as addictive as heroin.

The anti-meat crusade began to take shape, the British Medical Journal jumped the shark and the ever-magical secondhand smoke started to go through walls


December saw the Chief Medical Officer equating being fat with terrorism. There was some blatant lying about A&E attendances, some early movement in the campaign for plain packaging of alcohol, maximum sock-puppetry from ASH and others, as well as the 2015 Sugar Summit and some hilarious bollocks about pets being made fat by thirdhand smoke. In happier news, minimum pricing took a pounding at the European Court of Justice and I published Death and Taxes with the IEA. 

What a time to be alive.

Finally, a few of my better scriblings of the year...

The Prohibitionist's Dilemma

The Ineffectiveness of Food and Soft Drink Taxes

Fact-checking Action on Sugar

The long tentacles of temperance 

Nina Teicholz's Big Fat Surprise

Reflecting on the election

Binge Britain has ended - get over it

Vapers deserve to be angry - they're under attack

Nanny state name-calling

Smokers are paying the price for plain packaging's failure

The EU's attack on e-cigarettes will bring a golden age of vaping to an end

The useful and the true

The reverse paranoia of 'public health'

A letter to the Telegraph

An interview with Christopher Snowdon

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