Thursday, 30 December 2021

Goodbye, 2021

It's time to bid 2021 a fond good riddance and hope for better days ahead. It feels like it passed quickly, but looking back on the year's blog posts I'm reminded that a lot went on.

COVID-19 obviously dominated events, with the UK in some form of lockdown for most of the first six months. By January, the 'lockdown sceptics' movement had moved on from asking whether lockdowns were worth the trouble to denying that they had any benefit at all. I debated this with Toby Young. The second wave had destroyed most of their claims from 2020, but they carried on regardless, getting crazier and crazier. Within a few months, many of them had gone full anti-vax. Meanwhile, the Covid modellers jumped the shark with some predictions - sorry, projections - that defied belief and the legacy public health establishment told us of their plight during lockdown..

In April, the 2021 Nanny State Index was published, once again edited by my good self.

In Scotland, study after study found that minimum pricing wasn't doing what it said on the tin. The response of the temperance lobby was to demand more minimum pricing.

Dozens of studies found that smokers were about half as likely to get SARS-CoV-2 than nonsmokers. For some reason, people in 'public health' were not very keen on this discovery and did everything they could to ignore and downplay it. The BMJ published a scurrilous, Bloomberg-funded hit piece on some of the scientists who had done research in this area and a dodgy study based on Mendelian Randomisation was given excessive publicity as it was virtually the only piece of research suggesting that the protective effect did not exist.

The WHO continued its horribly misguided war on vaping and the European Commission geared up for another assault on vapers. Thanks largely to the misinformation campaign of Mike Bloomberg and the WHO, public understanding of the relative risks of smoking and vaping have been going backwards.

It continued to be open season on gambling. I wrote a report for the IEA looking at the facts and discussing some of the prohibitions being proposed by the anti-gambling lobby.

For The Critic, I wrote about the fantasy of achieving 'Net Zero' by 2050 and explained why the childhood obesity epidemic only exists on paper

For City AM, I wrote about the slippery slope, status quo bias, the base rate fallacy, and the horribly high price some people have to pay for sin taxes.

In June, ASH published their latest set of anti-smoking demands. They were really scraping the barrel by now. New Zealand went further and announced a form of tobacco prohibition. What could go wrong?

In happier news, Public Health England was disbanded and A.G. Barr completed its reverse ferret by putting the full-sugar Irn-Bru 1901 on the market permanently. I have tried it and I approve.

The government announced that it would revise the UK's alcohol duty system, partly inspired by a proposal I made in an IEA paper several years ago.

Finally, I reviewed the new Beatles film, Get Back, Stanton Glantz got some much-needed critical media coverage, and best of all, I got to interview Ronnie O'Sullivan.

I hope you've had a good Christmas. Thanks for reading and commenting. See you in 2022.

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