Friday, 5 February 2016

Living in the past

"Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever 
correctly reported in a newspaper"
George Orwell

Some, er, interesting journalism from Andrew Whitaker in the Scotsman...
Calls for action as Scotland records highest rate of alcohol deaths in UK 

Scotland had the worst rate for alcohol-related deaths in any part of the UK, according to figures recorded over the past 20 years. 
Alcohol death rates for men in Scotland have risen dramatically, according to the figures published by the Office for National Statistics. In Scotland they stood at 31.2 per 100,000 of the population, compared to 18.1 per 100,000 in England, 20.3 in Northern Ireland and 19.9 for Wales. 

Risen dramatically, you say? Oh dear.

The latest findings from 2014 led to renewed calls for the introduction of the Scottish Government’s plan for a minimum alcohol price, aimed at tackling alcohol abuse. 

Well, there's a shock.

Dr Peter Bennie, chair of the British Medical Association (BMA) Scotland, said: “It is disappointing to see the rise in the number of alcohol-related deaths, but it does underline the importance of tackling the culture of heavy drinking in Scotland.”

Terrifying stuff, eh? Until you look at the Office for National Statistics' data that formed the basis for this report...

Scotland is the top line: the one that's been going down while all the other ones have been flat or rising; the one that saw the rate of alcohol-related deaths fall from nearly 50 per 100,000 to barely 30 per 100,000 since 2003.

Does Scotland have the highest rate of alcohol deaths in the UK? Yes. It has for decades. Has this rate 'risen dramatically'? Once upon a time, yes - as it did in all the other home nations - but the story of the last thirteen years has been steep decline, in contrast to England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

How strange that the Scotsman is still reporting a rise in alcohol-related deaths that came to an end in 2003 while ignoring the 33 per cent decline that has taken place since. Is this a newspaper or a historical journal?

It's almost as if there's a fixed narrative that no amount of facts can shift, isn't it?

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