Various News Items

Following from yesterday, and the way things gradually metamorphose into something else, Greenpeace founder Patrick Moore:

His fellow directors were unqualified in science, whereas he has a PhD in ecology and environmental science.  When they decided, against his advice, to campaign to ban chlorine, he split.  “I told them, ‘Adding chlorine to drinking water was the biggest advance in the history of public health. Most synthetic pharmaceuticals and medicines are made with chlorine.’ But Greenpeace had drifted away from science and logic, and its tools now were misinformation, sensationalism and fear, all designed to get public donations.”

Sounds familiar. Tobacco Control is just the same. Except there was never any science or logic to it in the first place.

These days Moore seems to go round the world telling people that the outfit he helped found has become a monster.

Elsewhere:

The House of Lords has invited the so-called UK Centre For Tobacco and Alcohol Studies to present them with evidence.

This body informed peers that drinking should be subject to many of the same prohibitions as smoking.

It is demanding legislation to impose new restraints on marketing alcoholic drinks, an end to sponsorship of sport by drinks companies, and a blanket ban on representatives from the drinks industry attending meetings civil servants.

It is tempting to dismiss these demands as preposterous. This would be most unwise. The anti-smoking lobby has proved extremely effective in recent years…

And

Ebola crisis: DEC launches unprecedented appeal for public help

Why don’t they go and ask the WHO to release money earmarked for antismoking campaigns and conferences instead?

And finally an article by Gabriela Segura M.D., which I’ve mentioned before, but in which I don’t remember reading this:

Professor Chris Busby, Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, explains that we are probably only looking at the tip of a very nasty radioactive iceberg. In a meeting which took place in Stockholm 2009, he said:

“The global death yield of the nuclear age to 1992 has been horrifying. According to objective calculations by the European Committee on Radiation Risk (using weapons fallout radiation exposure) there have been (up to 2003) 61 million cancer deaths; 1,600,000 infant deaths; 1,880,000 fetal deaths. There has been a loss of life quality of 10% (in terms of illnesses and ageing effects). The blame for this can be squarely placed at the door of those scientists and administrators (WHO, UNSCEAR, ICRP) who developed and supported the scientific risk models. This is a war crime far greater in magnitude than any that has occurred in recorded human history.”

Not sure how seriously to take Busby, partly because he’s a Green activist who chains himself to railings.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 12 Comments

The End of the Progressive Era

Following on from last night’s post about sanity and insanity, I’ve been wondering today if there’s been any consistent feature in modern madness – such as the sheer insanity of people now being frightened of tobacco smoke, and worried about carbon dioxide, and a whole bunch of other things – which nobody worried about, or even dreamed of, 50 years ago.

It seems to have been a process of gradually inflating or exaggerating the trivial into the monstrous.

That’s what’s happened with tobacco smoke. In fact it’s happened twice with tobacco smoke. Maybe even three times. The first ratchet step was made 60 years ago (80 if Nazi Germany is counted), when smoking began to be associated with lung cancer. This is something which more or less everyone now believes, and which allowed the next ratchet step to be made in about 1975, when secondhand, ambient tobacco smoke began to be associated with lung cancer as well. And lots of people believe this too. Which is what is now allowing ambient nicotine vapour to be treated like tobacco smoke, and the new fad of vaping banned, just because it looks like smoking. The whole thing has been one slowly growing insanity.

The same thing has been happening with global warming alarmism, but on a much shorter time scale. 25 years ago, nobody was worried about carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but now (just like with tobacco smoke) hundreds of millions of people believe that it’s going to result in the atmospheric temperature rising by several degrees, the ice caps to melt, and humanity to be all but completely extinguished. And it’s all sheer lunacy.

Both of these new terrors were more or less completely unheard of 50 or 60 years ago. If our forebears had known that their descendants would believe such nonsense, they would have been open-mouthed in disbelief.

And what about the European Union? That’s another piece of lunacy that has gradually gathered momentum. At first it was just a simple trading community with open borders and shared standards. But with a continuing push towards “ever closer union”, the European Community gradually metamorphosed into the European Union, which is a monolithic, undemocratic superstate. It’s a sort of new Habsburg Empire, being run from out of Brussels and Strasbourg by unelected bureaucrats who make laws about absolutely everything. And, just like previous expanding empires, it has now come into collision with Russia in Ukraine. Yet, in the face of these and other deepening problems, European zealots like Manuel Barroso always call for “More Europe.” i.e. more centralisation, more laws, more restrictions, more taxes. And all brought about by the slow inflation of the notion of “ever closer union”.

The problem of immigration in the UK is once again something by which a small influx of people gradually increased to a veritable flood. Once again, this has been through a slow process of amplification or acceleration.

Gay marriage is another example. In 1967, homosexuality was decriminalised in the UK, thus ending the needless persecution of a minority. But did anyone imagine back then that the result, 40 years later would be that homosexuality would be taught in schools, and homosexuals allowed to get married? Once again, a trend has been steadily amplified and exaggerated.

Chris Snowdon has another example in Health über alles, which is about how one measure of health – longevity – has been gradually amplified to become the sole measure of health. Which is sheer lunacy, of course.

Another example might be found in the Highway Code, and road signs. 60 years ago, Britain’s roads had hardly any signs along them. Now there are signs everywhere, giving directions, warnings, announcing speed limits and lane restrictions. And the roads themselves have been painted with white lines and yellow lines and parking spaces and zebra crossings and lane directions. It’s another kind of slowly-growing bad craziness.

There are probably any number of other examples of creeping madness.

It always happens the same way. Some small and apparently innocuous step is made in some direction. But it turns out that this is only the first step in a long march, during the process of which what started out as innocuous gradually becomes more and more oppressive and obstructive and crazy.

Now I’m sure that most people would agree that, as time goes by, opinions gradually change. I don’t, for example, have the same opinions about everything as my parents had. And I don’t think that they had the same opinions as their parents. If nothing else, each generation has a slightly different historical context and personal experience to shape its opinions.

But my parents retained their set of opinions throughout their lives. They didn’t ever stop believing something, and start believing something completely different. It seems to be only the present generation who are being asked to stop believing one thing, and start believing another. And being asked again and again and again. Asked, for example, to stop believing that ambient tobacco smoke is harmless, and start believing its harmful. Or to stop not worrying about the Earth’s climate, and start worrying about it.

It seems to be believed that all that’s needed to change a population’s mind about more or less anything is to send them a different very loud message, and they will all dutifully go along with the new doctrine, particularly if it’s backed up by accredited authorities called Sir This or Professor That.

Certainly there seem to be some people – many people, in fact – who will swallow whatever they’re told. And these are the people who not only gave up smoking (if they ever started), but are also now terrified of tobacco smoke. And these seem to be the same people who believe that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is dangerously warming the planet. Such people seem to trust authorities implicitly.

But there are plenty of other people who will carry on thinking what they always thought, regardless of all attempts to change their minds. In fact, one might say that the majority of people have pretty fixed opinions about everything, much like my parents did. And when such people are told by authorities to start believing something else, they don’t go along with the advice: instead, they stop believing the authorities.

The combined result is an increasingly deeply divided society. One bunch of people – ‘progressives’ or ‘modernisers’ or ‘true believers’ – always go along with the latest fashionable set of authoritatively decreed dogmas. And the other bunch of people – ‘conservatives’ or ‘sceptics’ – carry on thinking the way they always did, and consistently reject new dogmas. And in between them an ever-widening gulf opens up.

And this is round about where we are right now. And the divisions are only ever deepening, because such is the pace of change that more or less every year there is some new doctrine announced, which progressives immediately adopt, and which conservatives reject, and which becomes yet another matter about which they disagree.

I used not to think that I was a conservative, but I’m beginning to think that I actually am one – simply because I’ve carried on thinking the way that I’ve always thought. And I’ve even moved contrary to fashionable trends – for example by ceasing to believe that smoking causes lung cancer. And these days I find myself more or less automatically rejecting anything that looks even faintly ‘progressive’.

And I suspect that there are a lot of people who fit much the same description. They are people who have also been asked to believe any number of ‘progressive’ new doctrines, and who can no longer swallow any more. And may have even begun to cough back up some of the ones they swallowed. And because I believe that most people are pretty fixed in their opinions, it follows that most people (in Britain at least) are conservatives of the kind I’ve just described. It’s really only a small minority of people – 10%? – who are genuine ‘progressives’ and ‘modernizers’ who can’t wait to deck themselves out in the very latest fashionable beliefs when instructed to do so.

And since I think that UKIP is really just a small-c conservative party, it seems to me to be entirely possible that it could end up stealing most of the vote, leaving a tiny rump of ‘progressive’ Labour, Conservative, and Lib Dems. This won’t happen, of course, because it requires a change of mind to end a lifetime habit of voting for just one party, and start voting for another. And an arch-conservative (like Norman Tebbit, for example) is never going to do that. Conservatives tend to be conservative not only in their beliefs, but in their voting habits.

UKIP, I believe, is picking up votes from people in all walks of life, who have become heartily sick of the current all-party ‘progressive’ consensus. And the more ‘progressive’ new initiatives that are launched, the greater the flood of new recruits it gains. If, for example, the EU was to decree that the Ode To Joy replace all national anthems played in cinemas or on TV, it would more or less guarantee another flood of defectors to UKIP.

UKIP’s real problem is most likely that everyone in it has a slightly different idea of which conservative utopia they wish to return to. Is the clock to be turned back to 1990? Or 1965? Or 1914? Do we go back to pounds, shillings, and pence? And to feet and inches and miles? And the Gold Standard?

But I think we have come to the end of the current ‘progressive’ era, and that the future is going to be conservative, and things like the European Union, and Global Warming, and smoking bans will soon be nightmare memories, with which to frighten children in bedtime stories.  And it will all be because the ‘progress’ was too rapid for most people to keep up with, and wasn’t genuine progress anyway, and because most people are naturally conservative.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 28 Comments

Sanity and Insanity

I keep seeing stuff like this:

Europe commits economic suicide – agrees to massive emission cuts.

Eric Worrall writes: The European Union has just committed economic suicide, by agreement a landmark deal, to cut CO2 emissions by 40% by 2030.

Given that European emissions, by any rational measure, have been rising steadily, this would at first seem to be an impossible goal.

But anyone who is expecting a rational re-appraisal of European environment policy – don’t underestimate the blind determination of Europe’s green elite, to fulfill their dream of an emission free Europe. They will, in my opinion, happily bomb the European economy back into the stone age to achieve their ridiculous goal.

and this

Richard Lindzen – Professor Emeritus, MIT, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Cato Institute

“This year is the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I: a war where Europe demonstrated its capacity to harness hysteria in the service of suicide.  It is only fitting that the EU is celebrating this anniversary by harnessing the hysteria over speculative global warming (a phenomenon that has actually been hiding for 18 years), in the service of economic suicide by calling for a roll back of the industrial era despite the clear evidence that such action will serve to increase unemployment, ruin competitiveness and increase poverty.”

and wondering if everyone has simply gone mad. And perhaps they have? Perhaps they really have?

Have a listen to Ted Turner talking about climate change. It’s only a minute long. And remember that this is the guy who gave $1 billion to the WHO:

I think the guy is insane. He comes over like some drunk in a bar, jabbering about UFOs or Area 51 or Nibiru or something. The kind that make you mutter some excuse, finish your drink quickly, and hurry away.

But it’s guys like him that are the movers and shakers in our world. And they’re mad people. People who have collectively gone mad. People who are frightened of carbon dioxide and tobacco smoke, FFS.

It’s why I’m increasingly thinking that the next election is really going to be a choice between sanity and insanity.

And in the UK, the Labour party and the Conservative party and the Lib Dems all seem to me to be insane to greater or lesser degrees. It only seems to be UKIP that seems to be the voice of sanity. And maybe one or two sane politicians in the otherwise insane mainstream parties. I’m not trying to plug UKIP: I’m trying to plug sanity.

It’s not really about the EU or immigration or even the smoking ban. It’s about whether we’re governed by sane, commonsensical people – or governed by mad people.

It’s not just a problem in the UK. There’s the same problem in Europe, and in the USA, and Canada and Australia.

But I think that in the UK most ordinary people are actually pretty sane. They’re mostly not frightened of carbon dioxide. They’re mostly not frightened of tobacco smoke either. But more or less every day they see their government doing something that’s just barking mad. I think they must be getting really sick of it. I know I am.

And so I’m hoping that next year the British people are going to start voting for sanity. Or at least stop voting for insanity.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 33 Comments

Keep Following The Money

As criticism of the WHO mounts, H/T Sheldon for this Daily Mail article:

Champagne, caviar and salmon carpaccio … and we might talk about Ebola: World Health Organisation spent £1 million on lavish conference hosted by Putin as number of infections passed 10,000

And H/T Smokingscot for this piece in the Express:

‘Broke’ WHO host £1.6 million caviar-fuelled beano

WITH two types of caviar, Champagne and an ocean of salmon, it’s a world away from Ebola ravaged West Africa.

Yet the World Health Organisation has hosted a lavish £1 million conference in Moscow, while complaining about the lack the funds to deal with the killer disease.

Last night one senior Conservative MP told how he would be asking parliament why senior British delegates were sent to the week-long Conference of the Parties (COP) in Moscow when both the US and Canada boycotted it after learning it would be hosted by Vladimir Putin.

And H/T Carol for drawing attention to antismoker Ted Turner, who gave a total of  $1 billion to the WHO from about 1998, apparently in violation of the UN Charter, Article 17.2 of which requires the UN expenses “to be borne by the Members”.

turnerThis means that huge amounts of money can be – and are being – donated to the WHO by wealthy individuals, and earmarked for particular purposes. And large amounts of money have been been earmarked for antismoking measures (see right, “single largest grant ever made to prevent and discourage international tobacco use).

And with people like Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg having followed in Ted Turner’s footsteps, it would seem that many of the WHO’s programmes (e.g. antismoking) are in effect privately funded. And what would appear to have been the product of a consensus of opinion among the WHO’s medical professionals are actually the product of the personal ideologies of a few very wealthy individuals.

Which might be regarded as wholly benign, if the wealthy individuals were solid, stable, dependable citizens. But as described by Nassir Ghaemi in A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness, Ted Turner suffers from manic depression, for which he was prescribed lithium:

turner-lithium

In addition, Ted Turner seems to have been “very conservative” until Jane Fonda showed up in his life, according to his son Teddy:

Teddy Turner, son of billionaire media mogul Ted Turner and Republican candidate for Congress, said his father’s marriage to Jane Fonda prompted his major left turn.

“I was raised in a different time at the Turner household … a very conservative household with capitalism and all of that kind of stuff,”…

“He started becoming more and more environmentalist and then Jane helped move things over as well,” Turner told Malzberg. “Then when you start hanging around and everybody you’re hanging around with is liberal, then you tend to move more liberal.’’

Teddy Turner, a 49-year-old high school teacher, said he – not his father – has always been consistent in his political orientation.

“I’m not a liberal,” he said. “People say how did you separate from your dad? I didn’t separate from my dad. My dad separated from me.”

Furthermore, Ted Turner’s father committed suicide (Jane Fonda’s mother committed suicide too). Jane Fonda on suicide:

“I’m a suicide survivor,” she admitted. “Suicide survivors are workaholics, people raging, mourning, grieving. The pain never leaves, but you have to get on with it.”

Jane Fonda on Ted Turner:

“He needs someone to be there one hundred percent of the time. He thinks that’s love. It is not love. It’s babysitting,” Fonda said. “… We went in different directions. I grew up.”

and

By 1996, Jane had been with Turner for nearly eight years and was painfully thin and frankly exhausted from all the travelling. ‘His nervous energy almost crackles in the air,’ she says. ‘He can’t sit still, because if he does, the demons will catch up with him.’

‘I feel sorry for him — he can’t be alone,’ she says. ‘Sometimes, I take him into my lap and rock him like a baby.’

And that’s just Ted Turner. It wouldn’t be too surprising if both Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg are similarly dysfunctional, afflicted individuals, whose principal shared characteristic is that they have one heck of a lot of money with which to advance their various private agendas.

But it’s a crazy way for the WHO to be funded.

Ted Turner’s UN donations are now almost complete, and his UN Foundation is now looking for new donors.

And if no big donors show up, maybe – just maybe – the WHO Tobacco Control will be de-funded, and fade out of existence almost as rapidly as it first emerged – and we’ll find that all the coughing, spluttering antismokers were only ever driven by the power of money.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 21 Comments

Follow The Money

As two US nurses are declared Ebola-free, a new case crops up, this time in NYC.

Authorities in New York confirmed on Thursday night that a doctor who had recently returned to his home in Harlem after working for Doctors Without Borders in Guinea helping treat patients with Ebola had tested positive for the disease and had been put in isolation at a Manhattan hospital.

It’s a new episode in a terrifying farce.

NYPD Stunner: Cops Exit Ebola Victim Apartment, Dump Gloves, Masks In Sidewalk Trash Can

Ebola has now reached Mali.

Mali’s health minister says the West African country has confirmed its first case of Ebola.

and

Worse still, the baby girl in Mali is reported to have been bleeding from her nose while she traveled from Guinea on a bus that stopped in several towns in Mali. WHO is now warning that a large number of people may have been exposed to the girl while she was infectious.

Criticism of the WHO seems to be mounting.

The epidemic has exposed a disconnect between the aspirations of global health officials and the reality of infectious disease control. Officials hold faraway strategy sessions about fighting emerging diseases and bioterrorism even as front-line doctors and nurses don’t have enough latex gloves, protective gowns, rehydrating fluid or workers to carry bodies to the morgue.

“We cannot wait for those high-level meetings to convene and discuss over cocktails and petits fours what they’re going to do,” exclaimed Joanne Liu, international head of Doctors Without Borders, when she heard about another U.N. initiative. Her group was among the first to respond to the viral conflagration, and it kept its staff in West Africa throughout the crisis.

And if you follow the money, here’s a revelation about what’s been going on inside the WHO.

The WHO is governed by the 194-nation World Health Assembly, in which, as Garrett put it, “Vanuatu and China” have equal voting power. Throughout the early 2000s, the member states consistently failed to vote to raise their own membership dues, “so in 2013 they were paying the same dues based on per capita GDP that they were in the 1980s. The core budget, adjusted for inflation, was going steadily downhill.”

This meant that donations from rich countries and private entities like the Gates Foundation had to fill the gap. But these donors can earmark their donations for specific issues—say, HIV/AIDS or smoking prevention. As former WHO assistant director-general Jack Chow put it in 2010, this means the budget is “increasingly divvied up before it ever reaches the WHO.” Margaret Chan herself acknowledged this problem in a recent interview, saying, “My budget [is] highly earmarked, so it is driven by what I call donor interests. When there’s an event, we have money. Then after that, the money stops coming in, then all the staff you recruited to do the response, you have to terminate their contracts.”

“There was more and more of a sense that if you’re part of the developing world, if you’ve left the ranks of the impoverished world, you no longer think that infectious diseases are part of your agenda,” says Garrett. “You become part of the rich club when you start worrying about cancer and heart disease. So there was a lot of pressure to shift the priorities of the organization away from disease identification and rapid response and toward normalizing programs for treatment and prevention of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, etc.”

Not just Gates earmarking money for specific issues, I bet. But almost certainly Michael Bloomberg as well. And maybe others too. Here are WHO’s 2008 donors.

Was the WHO in effect bought by Gates and Bloomberg and co.? As core funding gradually dried up, did rich “philanthropists” like Michael Bloomberg step in with offers of money to fund WHO antismoking and other lifestyle initiatives? So that while there was plenty of money to fund gigs like the recent closed-door FCTC conference in Moscow, attended by WHO Director General Margaret Chan, there was next to nothing left for latex gloves and protective gowns in West Africa.

Maybe this is the complete explanation of the WHO’s shift to lifestyle medicine, which got seriously under way with the arrival of Gro Harlem Brundtland in the 1990s. Maybe that was when antismoking ideologues like Bloomberg started buying influence, and began to gradually twist the WHO to their own ends?

This means essentially that the WHO is up for grabs to the highest donors, and that it must set its health policies and projects on those issues, which will bring in the most donations. In other words, its global health priorities are now being determined by what appeals to its biggest donors rather than by the actual needs of the world’s poorest and sickest populations, the very population WHO was set up to serve.

And that’s why we’re now seeing scenes like this in West Africa:

redemption_hospital

 

Bodies lying on the floor of Redemption Hospital, Monrovia

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 31 Comments

Sine Qua Non

A couple of weeks back, I was pleased to report that at its Doncaster conference UKIP had announced that:

UKIP will amend the smoking ban to give pubs and clubs the choice to open smoking rooms properly ventilated and separated from non-smoking areas.

Today, in Breitbart UK, UKIP deputy leader Paul Nuttall wrote a piece with the title:

BRITAIN’S PUBS ARE DYING, ONLY RADICAL MEASURES CAN SAVE THEM

 Early in the piece, he wrote:

Certain sectors of the hospitality and leisure industry, such as pubs, have been in the doldrums for over a decade. Indeed, a massive 10,000 have closed since 2002. This is particularly sad because part of our British culture is being destroyed before our very eyes, yet our political class seem at best ambivalent at best towards this loss.

I become livid when I hear politicians try to justify the closures with excuses such as ‘oh well it’s the market’ or ‘people’s tastes have changed’ because both statements are blatant drivel.

The reality is that senseless and harmful legislation, such as the draconian blanket smoking ban in 2007, has led to a dwindling footfall and declining revenue. Indeed, it is the same politicians that use the ‘market’ or ‘tastes’ excuses who told us that more people would actually go to pubs after the ban came into force. However, on the contrary, over fifty a week on average were closing in the first year of the smoking ban.

This is pretty much true. And it’s good to see the blame placed squarely on the smoking ban. Although he points to other reasons as well:

Successive governments have also allowed the pub industry to become dominated by a cartel of large companies who are bleeding the industry dry. These companies, known as PubCos, are making running a pub such an unprofitable job that tenants are simply walking away because they can’t afford to live.

and

Finally, pubs are facing unfair competition from supermarkets, which in some cases are selling alcohol for less than the price of bottled water, thus leaving making it impossible for pubs to compete on price.

Well, alcohol is cheaper in supermarkets, but I think that the idea that in some it’s cheaper than water is a bit of a myth.

It is now clear that something needs to be done. At the moment over 30 pubs a week are closing their doors. This leads to job losses and in some cases the loss of a community’s focal point. If this trend cannot be reversed, then we must at least do something to halt it in its destructive tracks.

So far, so good.

We must make pubs appealing to people once again and the first way to achieve this is by making them affordable, and that doesn’t mean taking a penny off beer duty here and there as the Tories seem happy to do, it means something more radical.

This is why I support a reduction in VAT for the leisure and hospitality industry from 20 percent to 5 percent.

No, no, no, no , no!!!!!

As a smoker, I don’t go to pubs because I can’t afford them. I don’t go go because, since the smoking ban, they no longer have any appeal for me. I’ll only ever go to them on warm sunny days when I can sit in a pub garden like I would have done in the past.

Affordability is not the same as appeal. For even if alcohol in pubs was cheaper than in supermarkets, I still wouldn’t want to spend time inside one. In fact, if they handed out free beer in pubs, I still wouldn’t find them in the least bit appealing.

The price of beer is irrelevant. What matters is to be able to sit on a chair, and drink a pint of beer, and smoke a cigarette.

The smoking ban is what is destroying “part of our British culture”. In fact, smoking bans are destroying a global culture all over the world.

In fact the smoking ban is really nothing but an attack on our culture. There is no medical justification whatsoever for them. The smoking ban is simply a top-down attempt to change people’s behaviour, and make them conform to a set of wholly alien, healthist dogmas. The smoking ban is a fundamental attack on freedom – the freedom of people to live in ways that they themselves choose, rather than some ‘expert’ or ‘authority’ doing the choosing for them.

Of course, Nuttall didn’t actually say that UKIP wasn’t going to introduce smoking rooms. And maybe he wasn’t speaking for UKIP, but just for himself. And maybe he was just thinking of lowering VAT in addition to introducing smoking rooms.

But for me the re-introduction of smoking into Britain’s pubs is the sine qua non of UKIP getting my vote, and the vote of many people like me – who utterly detest what has been happening to our country for the past 7+ years.

UKIP can chop and change all it likes over Europe and immigration. It can raise or lower VAT to its heart’s content. It can do a deal with the Conservatives or Labour or anyone else. It can do more or less anything it likes. But if it ever waters down or drops the promise to bring back smoking to Britain’s pubs, my vote will go elsewhere. Because it’s the only reason why I’ll ever vote UKIP.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 34 Comments

Lifestyle “Improvements” Don’t Work

I’d like to welcome back Klaus K, with a translation of an article by him about the recently-published results of a Danish 10-year random intervention study: “Effect of screening and lifestyle counselling on incidence of ischaemic heart disease in general population: Inter99 randomised trial” (NCBI link). The results – that lifestyle “improvements” have no effect on health – are in line with earlier studies such as the Whitehall and MRFIT studies (described here). Which raises the question: Why, if intervention studies invariably show no improvement in health, are large scale population interventions (such as smoking bans) being undertaken anyway? Obviously not for health purposes! 

Some of the links given are to Danish texts.

Public health failure: Lifestyle improvements do not lead to less disease and death

Translated from Danish article by Klaus K, 180grader.dk:

Sundhedspolitisk fiasko: Livsstilsforbedringer udskyder ikke sygdom og død

“Lifestyle disease”: – Politicians’ eagerness to push the Danes to improve their lifestyles is beginning to look like a gigantic health policy failure. It is now clear that the political focus on the prevention of “lifestyle diseases” will not lead to less disease and death.

Despite the many expert claims that smoking cessation, exercise, and other lifestyle improvements will prevent illness and death, there is actually no proof that this will happen. Even if you could make all Danes stop smoking, it is unlikely to reduce cancer, according to high quality studies.

Experts talk nonsense about smoking again

This is shown by solid evidence from 40 years of costly human trials – the so-called random controlled intervention trials – where health researchers have succeeded in having thousands of healthy subjects switch to healthier lifestyles – including smoking cessation – without any effect on the participants’ disease and death rate over time (12).

The negative results were recently confirmed by a large Danish random trial, the Inter99 study, which examined the effect of medical checkups and “intensive lifestyle advice.” Despite the fact that many of the participants improved their lifestyle, the study ended after 10 years with no effect on morbidity and mortality (3), just like the other studies.

Health checks of the population is money down the drain

And there is reason to pay attention to the results of the random trials. For unlike the comparative statistics of lifestyle and diseases, which is routinely mentioned in the media, random trials can actually tell us something about causes. They are simply of a higher quality than the normal statistical studies, and therefore often called the “gold standard” in statistical studies of diseases (4).

The methodology of these random trials is that the subjects are divided into two groups at random, one group is helped to a “healthy” lifestyle – including smoking cessation – while the other group continues its “unhealthy” lifestyles. Researchers then compare diseases in the two groups over time – for example after 5, 10 or 15 years.

The results have been a big disappointment to the health sector – but they have been clear-cut: Switching to a healthy lifestyle, including smoking cessation, led neither to the reduction of disease nor increased lifespan in healthy subjects. The results of all the trials has been a big round zero.

Result after 10 years of lifestyle improvements in huge Danish study: No effect

At the start of the Inter99-study a team of Danish doctors and health professionals gave intensive assistance to 6,091 locals to get them to improve their lifestyle – with great success: Participants in the “healthy” group stopped or reduced smoking on a large scale (5), they ate more healthily (6) they drank less alcohol (7), and the men did more exercise (8), while the control group continued its “unhealthy” lifestyles.

But alas – after 10 years of lifestyle change, there was no difference between the two groups in any of the measured diseases, neither in heart disease, stroke or in total mortality.

Results: Although significant changes in lifestyle were described among participants after five years, we found no effect on development of ischaemic heart disease, stroke, combined events, or death in the entire study population over a 10 year period.

6.091 people in the intervention group participated at baseline. No significant difference was seen between the intervention and control groups in the primary end point, ischaemic heart disease HR: 1.03, CI 95%: (0.94 – 1.13) or in the secondary endpoints, stroke HR: 0.98, CI: (0.87 – 1.11); combined endpoint HR: 1.01, CI: (0.93 – 1.09); total mortality HR: 1.00, CI: (0.91 – 1.09).

And as the authors note in the article, no one has ever succeeded in reducing cancer in similar trials.

Stop health paternalism – it does not work …!

There is, in other words, still no evidence that it will lead to less cancer and heart disease or fewer deaths if you get people who otherwise are healthy to stop smoking and start living “healthily”. Indeed, there is strong evidence to the contrary: that it will have zero effect.

This evidence is a blow to supporters of the ruling public health paternalism and to successive governments’ health policies focusing on prevention of so-called “lifestyle diseases”.

It has already been shown very clearly that health paternalism does not work: Diseases and hospital admissions in Denmark have skyrocketed since politicians began to interfere in people’s lifestyle – with the smoking law in 2007 as the most significant intervention, and with the other health paternalism that has followed:

alle_indl_graf560c

Significantly more disease in Denmark after smoking legislation and health paternalism

According to some doctors the disease increases may be due to the so-called nocebo effect: When politicians and the media start talking a lot about health and disease, people tend to speculate more about health and disease too, and thus the fear of getting sick increases. This anxiety itself may be causative.

Health Politicians have naively thought that they could be seen as “good” by making the Danes “healthy”. Instead of respecting people’s chosen lifestyles, they have spent billions of tax dollars on an at best completely useless and at worst harmful crusade upon peoples private lives.

This crusade has been organized with advice of pharmaceutical lobbyists who orbit the politicians at Christiansborg on a daily basis. The situation is starting to look like a public health disaster – and pharmaceutical lobbyists have reason to be satisfied. After all, disease is what they feed on.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 53 Comments