A Little Gem


H/T Bishop Hill for what one of his commenters aptly described as “a little gem” of an amicable half-hour conversation between writer Melanie Phillips and playwright Richard Bean.

They’re discussing the way that anyone who disagrees with the likes of the global warming party line gets labelled as ‘right wing’, and subjected to ferocious attack.

Sample transcript (nicked from one of BH’s comments):

MP: You write this play, I write what I write – you may not agree, I’m sure you don’t agree with some of the things I write – that’s not quite the point – there are certain things which, if you say them in a play or in an article, there is no argument adduced against them, the facts in question are not questioned. Instead, one simply gets labelled “right-wing”. Now what is this label “right-wing”. What does it mean? Does it mean anything to you? Do you think of yourself as right-wing?

RB: Absolutely not. Not at all. I think of myself as a rather old-fashioned community socialist. And if there was anyone I could vote for I would vote for them. But I certainly can’t vote for the Labour Party because they represent what you’ve just described which is, as if they’ve got a hope of the way that society will be and everyone has to conform to this perfect ideal that we”ll never attain. Can we talk about the Guardian? Do you want to talk about the Guardian a bit?

MP: Well I try not to, but all roads seem to lead back to the Guardian, so why don’t you say what you..

RB: Well, I think the Guardian punches above its weight. That’s one of the first things that’s got to be said about it. It is the BBC’s house magazine as well, so its influence is more pervasive than the relatively low circulation that it’s got. The Guardian seems to eschew both science and common sense, and yet has fantastic influence over our politicians.

MP: But it’s a conundrum, isn’t it. I mean, you know, we’re in the most rational era in the most rational country in the most rational civilisation ever known to man, and yet, as you say, common sense gone out the window, but more than that, there seems to me, I don’t know whether you agree, but there seems to me to be on these controversial issues an absolute refusal, or inability even, to grapple with evidence, to grapple with facts, to understand that if something is a fact, and, guess what, it’s different from an opinion, and the fact is an objective truth. Mention the word “objective truth” to the younger generation and they say: “How can you be so incredibly imbecilic?” I mean, is it me? Have I lost the plot somewhere? What’s going on here?

RB: The younger generation maybe are not interested in objective truth and objective facts. And – does it go back to this God-sized hole? That they need something? I mean, the Green Revolution, the global warming alarmism? That desire for an end of the world scenario? Narcissistic though it may be, it’s our generation that destroyed the world..

MP: Yeah, amazing parallels

RB: It’s a form of hubris, arrogance. The number of King Canutes there are out there is unbelievable. We have our own.. you know, Tony Blair started it, King Canute, Obama’s the latest King Canute. Al Gore, the king of all King Canutes..

MP: Holding back the tide … of what?

RB: Holding back the tide .. exactly. How are they going to influence..? And the other thing about King Canute is that he, when he stood in the waves he wa demonstrating that he couldn’t control the waves. We’ve all forgotten that, because we all characterise King Canute as a loony who stood i the waves trying to stop them, and he didn’t. He knew he coiuldn’t stop them, and it was his followers, his court that thought he could. He only stood in those waves to demonstrate that he couldn’t.

The comments under the BH article are worth reading too (the ones that are directed at trolls, at least).

P.S. A complete transcript of the discussion is available here.

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24 Responses to A Little Gem

  1. Frank Davis says:

    Notes to self:

    To embed audioboo, rightclick on ‘play’ button and copy link address (to .mp3 file).

    Remove ‘s’ from https:// and trailing text.

    Place .mp3 url between [audio http://audioboo.fm/boos/1513302-richard-bean-in-discussion-with-melanie-phillips.mp3 ]

    • Barry Homan says:

      Listening to this broadcast calls to mind a George Smiley quote I once posted here from Le Carré’s novel. I found a few other noteworthy quotes from his pen:

      “He’s a fanatic, so we can stop him, because a fanatic is always concealing a secret doubt.”

      The zealots aren’t trying to silence us. They’re silencing that tiny voice deep down inside their heads.

      “By repetition, each lie becomes an irreversible fact upon which other lies are constructed.”

      “Unfortunately it is the weak who destroy the strong.”


  2. Frank Davis says:


    Northern Kentucky CHOICE

    Call 1-800-372-7181 and ask to leave a message for all members of State House, to “oppose HB173, the statewide smoking ban”. Ask to leave the additional message that “a statewide ban would override our local decision, violating the spirit of home rule.”

  3. harleyrider1978 says:

    Smokers deny links between cigarettes and ill-health: new study

    SIMON SANTOW: It seems staggering or perhaps it’s just a case of denial, but a new study shows one in 10 smokers in Victoria still don’t link their habit to health problems.

    The data is being released to mark the 50th anniversary of a landmark report on smoking. That report, by the US surgeon-general, was the first to use science to prove the relationship between smoking and cancer.

    The CEO of Cancer Council Victoria, Todd Harper, is speaking here to the ABC’s consumer affairs reporter, Amy Bainbridge.

    TODD HARPER: This was monumentally significant and indeed controversial because this was the first time that smoking had been conclusively linked to, in this case, lung cancer.

    It was a finding that was heavily contested by the tobacco industry who spent years subsequently trying to qualify, belittle and fudge the findings from the US surgeon general’s report so that they can keep people smoking for as long as possible. So the tobacco industry did much to muddy the water and confuse the situation and create this false perception that the evidence was conflicted.

    AMY BAINBRIDGE: On the 50th anniversary, if you’re to reflect, are you satisfied with what’s been achieved on this issue in that time or do you think realistically more could have been done?

    TODD HARPER: I think both are true. Undoubtedly more could have been done if it hadn’t been for the tactics of the tobacco industry.

    But also when we think about we had a billion dollar industry promoting a deadly and addictive product that killed one in two of its customers, an industry that had great financial incentive to keep people smoking and recruit new smokers – despite those challenges, to achieve what we have achieved is a public health success story without peer.

    AMY BAINBRIDGE: Can you talk me through the headline results of this latest research that you’re releasing to coincide with the anniversary?

    TODD HARPER: What the data showed was that only about one in 10 still could not link smoking as being associated with serious illness and about a quarter who couldn’t spontaneously nominate that heart attacks were caused by smoking.

    I think what we’ve also seen is some improvement over that period of time. We now have a majority of people who recognise the harms of passive smoking but we still have much more to do.

    SIMON SANTOW: The CEO of Cancer Council Victoria, Todd Harper, speaking there to the ABC’s Amy Bainbridge


    • Rose says:

      Harley, I’m surprised that it’s only one in ten, but then again they have been at this for a long time.

      I remember reading when I started researching that apparently the problem with smokers was that they just didn’t recognise that they were sick.

      “As a company, our commitment is to fighting disease. Tobacco dependence is in every sense of the word a disease with major but reversible health implications. Together, we can defeat this disease.”
      Sir Richard Sykes, Chairman, Glaxo Wellcome plc


      Did you know that you had a disease? I certainly didn’t.

      Selling sickness: the pharmaceutical industry and disease mongering – 2002

      “There’s a lot of money to be made from telling healthy people they’re sick. Some forms of medicalising ordinary life may now be better described as disease mongering: widening the boundaries of treatable illness in order to expand markets for those who sell and deliver treatments.

      Pharmaceutical companies are actively involved in sponsoring the definition of diseases and promoting them to both prescribers and consumers. The social construction of illness is being replaced by the corporate construction of disease.”

      “Within many disease categories informal alliances have emerged, comprising drug company staff, doctors, and consumer groups.
      Ostensibly engaged in raising public awareness about underdiagnosed and undertreated problems, these alliances tend to promote a view of their particular condition as widespread, serious, and treatable.

      Because these “disease awareness” campaigns are commonly linked to companies’ marketing strategies, they operate to expand markets for new pharmaceutical products.”

      “As the late medical writer Lynn Payer observed, disease mongers “gnaw away at our self-confidence.”


      So what’s the answer?

      “The way forward may be in immunizing ourselves psychologically against the messages from Big Pharma that invade our lives on every hand. We have to learn to stop being suckers.

      How? Heath believes our fear of suffering and death make us susceptible to disease mongering. Today, because the comforts of religion are no longer real for many people, death seems more final, resulting in a panicky rush to use anything that offers better health and increased longevity.

      So it may be that the best way to resist disease mongering is not to beat our heads against the fortress of Big Pharma, but to develop the psychological and spiritual maturity that makes us resistant to their efforts to instill fear and dread in our lives.”
      http: //www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-larry-dossey/big-pharma-health-care-cr_b_613311.html

      So it seems that one in ten smokers in Victoria has done exactly that.

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        Miss Rose it compliments the lowering of all disease levels and pre-disease states that I have in one study and when those levels were lowered and how many it added to the diseased category in America………….Thanks

      • beobrigitte says:

        Rose, brilliant!!!

        It’s just, that I do have questions:

        “As a company, our commitment is to fighting disease. Tobacco dependence is in every sense of the word a disease with major but reversible health implications. Together, we can defeat this disease.”
        Sir Richard Sykes, Chairman, Glaxo Wellcome plc

        Right. I have a “disease” that kills me and people around me when I light up but all will be reversed if I don’t light up? What a curious disease!!!!!

        There’s a lot of money to be made from telling healthy people they’re sick.

        There is a lot of money to be made from ‘curing’ healthy, sick people….

        As the late medical writer Lynn Payer observed, disease mongers “gnaw away at our self-confidence.”
        Disease mongers kill common sense. Best example: smoking. If smoking and especially PASSIVE SMOKING is so deadly, why do we have a baby-boomer generation getting ready to claim their due pension, scaring every government due to their NUMBER? shouldn’t all baby-boomers be dead by now? All the SHS and active smoking in the 60s, 70s, 80s ….. ?

        • cherie79 says:

          Totally agree, I have asked every Dr. and surgeon I have seen why, with almost everyone smoking and being surrounded by smoke almost everywhere we have the longest lived generation ever. I told them if anyone can answer that and ignore the evidence of their own eyes I would stop smoking. I have never had a response just mumbling about surveys, no explanation of why we are living so long. I ignore everything now and intend to carry on smoking, enjoying my red wine and eating what I enjoy.

  4. harleyrider1978 says:


    Sugar harms your body as much as smoking: ‘Sugar is the new tobacco’

  5. harleyrider1978 says:

    Prior to the 1950s almost nobody in everyday life would have suggested smoking was harmful, let alone deadly. It was even a recommendation of doctors on occasion, an experience encountered by my own grandmother during her pregnancy, on the advice that it would prompt her to eat less. Cigarette adverts remain on YouTube, providing a glimpse of a bygone era in which doctors advocated smoking – including the famous Camel advert that declared doctors favoured that particular brand over others.[1] Smoking was not only socially acceptable, it was the norm; almost everybody did it. One look at classical Hollywood will show just how prominent smoking was at the time. Not only was it an almost ubiquitous act, it was also seen as classy and elegant – who can forget the classic picture of Audrey Hepburn with her cigarette holder? Even today smoking is widely used in films and art to symbolise anything from a phallic symbol to independence. An example of this can be seen in the film Fight Club, in which a cigarette was used to symbolise masculinity. Until more recent times, it was commonplace in Europe for people to keep spare cigarettes and an ashtray to offer their guests upon arrival in their home. Smoking was so entrenched within society that when the idea that it could be harmful first came to light in the 1950s most doctors, and indeed civilians, refuted the idea as preposterous.

    Dr. Isaac Adler conducted the very first study linking smoking to lung cancer in 1912. As early as 1928 there were studies in Germany also purporting to demonstrate a link, although Fritz Lickint of Dresden found the first formal statistical evidence in 1929. This study was far from conclusive, though, as the link was simply ‘discovered’ because men smoked more than women and had higher incidence of lung cancer than women – notably, this is the same research used today: a dependence more on statistical correlations than on real biologically determined causation. The subsequent German studies will be looked at in the sub-chapter ‘The Nazi Discovery of Smoking and Cancer’


  6. harleyrider1978 says:

    •1920-10: OPINION: “” in Atlantic Monthly says, “scientific truth” has found “that the claims of those who inveigh aginst tobacco are wholy without foundation has been proved time and again by famous chemists, physicians, toxicologists, physiologists, and experts of every nation and clime.” (RK)

  7. margo says:

    Well, I’m certainly with Melanie P on this matter of people being labelled ‘right’ or ‘left’ on the grounds that they don’t or do accept the existence of global warming. And each side is guilty of doing this. It totally turns me off, this lumping of people into imaginary categories and chucking at them as an insult the word ‘right-wing’ or ‘leftie’. And God knows why both sides also lump together global warming and tobacco harm. It’s perfectly possible to accept/deny one but not the other, because they are completely different and the ‘science’ of each is completely different.
    There’s no Right or Left any more (certainly not in England), the terms are meaningless.

  8. cherie79 says:

    Thanks for that, nice to know there is some sanity left in the world.

  9. Frank Davis says:


    Has an online vote (in right hand margin) on whether minimum pricing will save lives.

    • margo says:

      Thanks for spotting that, Frank – I’ve just voted (in case every little helps),

    • beobrigitte says:


      Minimum pricing will aid the production of home brewed drinks with a variably above the alcohol content of drinks available in shops.
      Also minimum pricing aids the black market of “fake” brand labelled drinks in which methanol is being used. NHS, brace yourself for a large number of – at best- temporarily/permanently blind people turning up.

      Quite frankly, it never occurred to me to ‘home brew’ until I came to England many years ago. Even back then the price for a beer was compared to what I was used to already extortionate!

  10. beobrigitte says:

    This really is a little gem, thanks, Frank!

    They’re discussing the way that anyone who disagrees with the likes of the global warming party line gets labelled as ‘right wing’, and subjected to ferocious attack.

    This “the-ones-that-don’t-agree-with-me-are-against-me” philosophy is not exactly proof of the truth in “global warming”, is it? Even that the climate change believers label those that express doubts, ‘right wing’ raises a number of questions….

    Just take wind turbines:
    Quite some time ago a (very much nature loving) friend bitterly complained about the wind turbines erected near her home. These wind turbines are quite noisy, thus devalued her property. Protected species of birds are found dead near these wind turbines. If her cats are found devouring these by the wind turbines killed birds, they will be shot as they were found to be “hunting endangered species” of birds.

    My first question was: How “green” wind turbine produced energy? It is sold to the public as being a wonderful thing.
    What I found isn’t wonderful at all.


    summarizes quite well, although it lacks detail.
    Growth in the wind industry could raise demand for neodymium by as much as 700 percent over the next 25 years, while demand for dysprosium could increase by 2,600 percent, according to a recent MIT study. The more wind turbines pop up in America, the more people in China are likely to suffer due to China’s policies. [...]
    [...] While nuclear storage remains an important issue for many U.S. environmentalists, few are paying attention to the wind industry’s less efficient and less transparent use of radioactive material via rare earth mineral excavation in China. The U.S. nuclear industry employs numerous safeguards to ensure that spent nuclear fuel is stored safely. In 2010, the Obama administration withdrew funding for Yucca Mountain, the only permanent storage site for the country’s nuclear waste authorized by federal law. Lacking a permanent solution, nuclear energy companies have used specially designed pools at individual reactor sites. On the other hand, China has cut mining permits and imposed export quotas, but is only now beginning to draft rules to prevent illegal mining and reduce pollution. America may not have a perfect solution to nuclear storage, but it sure beats disposing of radioactive material in toxic lakes like near Baotou, China.

    Not only do rare earths create radioactive waste residue, but according to the Chinese Society for Rare Earths, “one ton of calcined rare earth ore generates 9,600 to 12,000 cubic meters (339,021 to 423,776 cubic feet) of waste gas containing dust concentrate, hydrofluoric acid, sulfur dioxide, and sulfuric acid, [and] approximately 75 cubic meters (2,649 cubic feet) of acidic wastewater.”

    Perhaps “green energy” means “glow-in-the-dark”?

    I begin to dread further man-made interference in order to “save-the-planet-from-man-made-global-warming”. It makes more sense to adapt to the natural cycles of “climate change” that a wobbly planet tends to produce and get on with life.

    When ideologists influence politics, common sense dies as a result of fearmongering and only REAL disasters can be the outcome.

  11. Rose says:

    Deal reached on tobacco firm corrective statements

    “RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The nation’s tobacco companies and the federal government have reached an agreement on publishing corrective statements that say the companies lied about the dangers of smoking and requires them to disclose smoking’s health effects, including the death on average of 1,200 people a day.”

    “The corrective statements are part of a case the government brought in 1999 under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler ruled in that case in 2006 that the nation’s largest cigarette makers concealed the dangers of smoking for decades.”

    “Each corrective ad is to be prefaced by a statement that a federal court has concluded that the defendant tobacco companies “deliberately deceived the American public.” Among the required statements are that smoking kills more people than murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes and alcohol combined, and that “secondhand smoke kills over 38,000 Americans a year.”


    Thank goodness anti-tobacco warned us never to believe a word that those wicked tobacco companies say.

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