Monday, 21 February 2011

The evils of drink

More scare mongering, this time on the evils of drink from that well known bon viveur Sir Ian Gilmore, and backed up by Prof John Rhodes and Sir Richard Thompson. The article predictably is full of words such as “could”, “predicted”,”up to”,”if”. In other words lots of speculation padded out by phrases such as “wider harm”, and including the usual “how many have to die” from Thompson. (All of us actually, idiot) I think there should be a rule that anyone using that phrase should automatically lose the argument.

The usual stupid statistics are rolled out. Alcohol related liver disease now kills 1 in 10,000 of us, yes 1 in 10,000. I’ll drink to those odds.

In the league of alcohol consumption Britain ranks 16th from the top. Now I know that there is a tendency in reporting major sporting events to portray 16th as nearly at the top, but it isn’t really is it.

I met one of the three named above once. I quickly gained the impression that he was the sort who would burn heretics at the stake if it was still legal. The three of them have really lost site of reality with phrases such as “The regulation of population-level alcohol consumption is a duty of responsible Government.” Jawohl.

This is not to say I condone heavy habitual drinking. When I come across people who frequently drink for the sole purpose of getting drunk I think of the line from Blazing Saddles, “Why you do that to yourself”. But these people are mostly adults and while we have a duty to educate people, the urging of Gilmore et al to impose legal controls on what people legally consume should be resisted.

After all, if it were not for drink some of us would never get laid.


  1. "...he was the sort who would burn heretics at the stake."

    I have had a drink with two of them. I don't think either would burn heretics. So that leaves the third whom I have not met for decades. I suppose these people get worn down by looking after incorrigible alcoholics day after day after day.

    I have more sympathy with them than you. I too am dismayed by the number of people going out just to get drunk. There is nothing new about this but it is much worse than it was and it involves women too. And it isn't just alcohol-related liver disease that is the concern.

    Governments control us in all sorts of ways. Is trying to get us to moderate our drinking and stop smoking so very bad?

  2. I agree with your last statement but the government is being urged to do what it is rightly criticised for doing all to often.....clamping down indiscriminantly on everybody, including the great majority who drink responsibly, instead of focusing on the small core of hardened drinkers who will take the least notice of any restrictions.

  3. The problem with the government's approach on this is that it relies on sick individuals/sick populations thinking, as in Rose's classic 1990 paper The population mean predicts the number of deviant individuals. The flaw is that Rose's study is a correlation study. In the wild, so to speak, populations means do correlate with the number of deviant individuals - but being correlation, we know nothing about causation. We cannot therefore infer that shifting mean alcohol consumption downwards would automatically shrink the heavy drinker tail. It may well turn out that boozers remain forever tanked up in their deviant tail because that is what boozers do - regardless of what Mr and Mrs Average are doing.

  4. Your comments about stupid statistics reminded me of a recent headline on tbe BBC Wales website (25 Jan2011) "4 in 10 pupils below reading age in Wales". Surely this is roughly as it should be, and shouldn't be that surprising? Certainly not something to make a headline about? I would guess that there would be 4 in 10 pupils above reading age, and two in 10 equalling the reading age - but then that isn't a story....

  5. "I have had a drink with two of them" - hypocritical bastards?

    the a&e charge nurse

  6. "After all, if it were not for drink some of us would never get laid."

    Yeah! I believe you ... mirror, mirror ...


  7. It is well recognised, I would say, that the British would die out if it were not for copious alcohol as an assist to the process of sex and reproduction.