Strange Ideas

Who knew? People have been eating meat for hundreds of thousands of years. And now we’re told that it’s killing us:

Sky-high sin taxes on meat have been branded “inevitable” in Britain after a study asserted that the move could “save hundreds of thousands of lives” as well as helping stop climate change.

Researchers at Oxford University urged ministers to consider the move, claiming that hiking the cost of red meat by 14 per cent and processed meat by 79 per cent could prevent 5,920 deaths in Britain a year and save the NHS an annual sum of £750 million on healthcare costs.

Lead researcher Dr Marco Springmann, from the Nuffield Department of Population Health at Oxford University, said: “The consumption of red and processed meat exceeds recommended levels in most high and middle-income countries.

So we’ve got a “researcher” with a “doctorate” at a “university” who believe that thousands of lives will be saved if people are forced to stop eating meat, by pricing it beyond their pocket.

Take away the university and the doctorate and the research, and all that will be left is a bloke called Marco, who lives in Oxford, and who doesn’t like meat, and thinks people should be made to stop eating it.

Why should I pay any attention whatsoever to this poisonous little shit?

The only thing I can think is: when are all these goddamn universities simply going to be closed down, and their doctors and researchers told to find work elsewhere, doing something useful?

Because I think that this is what is actually going to happen, once enough people simply get sick enough of them all.

Why is it that the worst ideas always seem to gain currency inside universities and other institutions? Why do they become diseased? We now have a medical profession that seems to believe that all diseases are caused by smoking. And we have a climate science in which everyone seems to believe that carbon dioxide is dangerously warming the planet. And now we have somebody in Oxford calling for meat to be banned. They all seem to have gone completely crazy.

But perhaps that’s what always happens in all social organisations: they all eventually go crazy. And they go crazy because they’re always changing, as new people arrive with new ideas. Nothing ever stays the same. And eventually they take leave of their senses, and completely spin off the road.

So, for example, the UK Labour party started out with people like pipe-smoking Clement Attlee in charge, and then 20 years later there were people like (pipe-smoking) Harold Wilson, and then Tony Blair (who banned pipe-smoking), and now Jeremy Corbyn (who would probably execute pipe-smokers). The UK Labour party becomes something completely different every 10 years or so, and perhaps even the negation of what it once was.

And it’s the same with all the other political parties as well. And it’s the same with political institutions like the EU, which started out as a community of nations, and has now become a kind of empire. And it’s the same with the Roman Catholic Church, and all the other churches. And it’s the same with Islam. And also with art and science.

We’ve been watching the process unfolding in the USA, where Donald Trump has taken over the Republican party and the US presidency. And Trump’s Republican party is nothing like the old Bush Republican party, which was nothing like the Reagan Republican party or the Eisenhower Republican party before it. And the Democrats have all gone crazy because they can’t handle such abrupt change: they thought America was going in one direction, but now, thanks to Trump, it’s going in another.

I always see societies as made up of people who are tied together in networks, pushing and pulling at each other:

And the dynamic behaviour of the whole society, whether it’s a political party or a church or a university, is determined by the interactions of the constituent atomic individuals, some of whom may carry more weight than others. And there are all kind of waves propagating through this social fabric, some of which are experienced as shocks. So for me the smoking ban of 2007 was a profound, jolting shock. And for many Americans the election of Donald Trump was also a shock. And in the UK the Brexit vote was a shock. And so on. We seem to be living in increasingly shocking times.

And WW1, which ended 100 years ago, was a huge global shock that was followed 20 years later by another huge global shock.  And the shock waves that are generated by these events leave ripples that echo and rebound for decades or even centuries in societies (my own thoughts are one of those echoes).

We think of ourselves as living on top of a volcanic planet, with plate tectonics pushing continents apart. But human societies are just as volcanic, and are equally afflicted by storms and hurricanes and earthquakes. For the world today is not at all like the world as it was 100 years ago. Back then Europe was the centre of the world, and European empires, most of them kingdoms with crowned heads, ruled over global empires. The empires have all gone now, and nearly all the crowned heads too, and Europe is no longer the centre of the world. And quite different forces are at work within it than was the case a century ago.

And who knows what people are going to believe next? If they can believe that smoking causes lung cancer, and carbon dioxide causes global warming, they can believe anything at all. These are our modern religious doctrines, which will be one day as incomprehensible to our descendants as the theological disputes of past centuries are incomprehensible to us. For all these strange ideas, whatever they are, are simply waves propagating inside societies, and carrying people along with them.

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13 Responses to Strange Ideas

  1. Dirk says:

    Frank, you wrote: Why is it that the worst ideas always seem to gain currency inside universities and other institutions?


    There were many different medical and scientific explanations for the Black Death, ranging from stellar configurations, to bad lifestyle choices. Whereas modern day opinion would dismiss the idea of astrology, to contemporary audiences it was a well-known and well established fact, which physicians and academics were hesitant to ignore. The report of the Paris Medical faculty of the UNIVERSITY OF PARIS in 1348 states the belief that the ‘first cause’ of the disease was the configuration of the heavens. The frequent mention of the three planets of Aquarius, is also referred to by fourteenth century astrologer, Geoffrey de Meaux, who explains that the superior stars of Aquarius affect the lesser stars, which represent the ‘common people’ of society. He therefore concludes that the pestilence would infect them more so than those of a higher status.

    Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran, a French army surgeon stationed in Constantine, Algeria, was the first to notice parasites in the blood of a patient suffering from malaria. This occurred on the 6th of November 1880. For his discovery, Laveran was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1907. Before that, FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS, all the university professors said that Malaria was caused by “bad air”

  2. Rose says:

    To add to Dirk’s remarks on Miasma Theory and it’s mistaken beliefs about Malaria, can I add the long forgotten theory of the Humours, which James 1st, considering himself a great scholar, used as his “scientific” evidence for his own extreme dislike of tobacco?

    The Humours
    “Humoral theory, also known as humorism or the theory of the four humours, was a model for the workings of the human body. It was systemised in Ancient Greece, although its origins may go back further still. The theory was central to the teachings of Hippocrates and Galen and it became the dominant theory in Europe for many centuries. It remained a major influence on medical practice and teaching until well into the 1800s.

    In this theory, humours existed as liquids within the body and were identified as blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile. These were in turn associated with the fundamental elements of air, water, earth and fire. It was further proposed that each of the humours was associated with a particular season of the year, during which too much of the corresponding humour could exist in the body – blood, for example, was associated with spring. A good balance between the four humours was essential to retain a healthy body and mind, as imbalance could result in disease.”

    From James 1st and his execrable Counterblaste

    “First, it is thought by you a sure Aphorisme in the Physickes, That the braines of all men, beeing naturally colde and wet, all dry and hote things should be good for them; of which nature this stinking suffumigation is, and therefore of good use to them. Of this Argument, both the Proposition and Assumption are false, and so the Conclusion cannot but be voyd of it selfe. For as to the Proposition, That because the braines are colde and moist, therefore things that are hote and drie are best for them, it is an inept consequence: For man beeing compounded of the foure Complexions, (whose fathers are the foure Elements) although there be a mixture of them all in all the parts of his body, yet must the divers parts of our Microcosme or little world within our selves, be diversly more inclined, some to one, some to another complexion, according to the diversitie of their uses, that of these discords a petfect harmonie may bee made up for the maintenance of the whole body.”

    “And that the suffumigation thereof cannot have a drying qualitie, it needes no further probation, then that it is a smoake, all smoake and vapour, being of it selfe humide, as drawing neere to the nature of the ayre, and easie to be resolved againe into water, whereof there needes no other proofe but the Meteors, which being bred of nothing else but of the vapours and exhalations sucked up by the Sunne out of the earth, the Sea, and waters yet are the sarne smoakie vapours turned, and transformed into Raynes, Snowes, Deawes, hoare Frostes, and such like waterie Meteors, as by the contrarie the raynie cloudes are often transformed and evaporated in blustering winds.”

    How anti-tobacco could have developed out of that I can’t imagine and yet it did.

  3. “Why should I pay any attention whatsoever to this poisonous little shit?”

    I seem to be thinking that almost everyday. There’s always a new poisonous little shit popping up with another demand that would make our lives just that little bit worse

  4. Rose says:

    The difference between Miasma and Secondhand Smoke – is there any?

    Passive Smoking was invented by Fritz Lickint of Dresden and reintroduced long after the war by Sir George Godber the then Britsh Chief Medical Officer in the 70’s.
    “Sir George deplored the situation where it was illegal to advertise a cancer cure but legal to advertise smoking, a carcinogen.He felt smoking should be seen as an infestation of the home, to be wiped out like head lice.”

    Miasma Theory
    “In miasma theory, diseases were caused by the presence in the air of a miasma, a poisonous vapour in which were suspended particles of decaying matter that was characterised by its foul smell. The theory originated in the Middle Ages and endured for several centuries. That a killer disease like malaria is so named – from the Italian mala ‘bad’ and aria ‘air’ – is evidence of its suspected miasmic origins.

    In 19th-century England the miasma theory made sense to the sanitary reformers. Rapid industrialisation and urbanisation had created many poor, filthy and foul-smelling city neighbourhoods that tended to be the focal points of disease and epidemics. By improving the housing, sanitation and general cleanliness of these existing areas, levels of disease were seen to fall, an observation that lent weight to the theory.

    The germ theory of disease emerged in the second half of the 1800s and gradually replaced miasma theory. Although it had been disproved and rejected, the miasma theory’s existence was not without its merits. By removing the causes of bad smells, reformers often inadvertently removed bacteria, the real cause of many diseases.”
    http: //

    Whereas in the Rest of the World.

    Medicinal Smoke Reduces Airborne Bacteria

    “This study represents a comprehensive analysis and scientific validation of our ancient knowledge about the effect of ethnopharmacological aspects of natural products’ smoke for therapy and health care on airborne bacterial composition and dynamics, using the Biolog® microplate panelsand Microlog® database.

    In this study, we have designed an air sampler for microbiological air sampling during the treatment of the room with medicinal smoke. In addition, elimination of the aerial pathogenic bacteria due to the smoke is reported too.

    We have observed that 1 h treatment of medicinal smoke emination by burning wood and a mixture of odoriferous and medicinal herbs (havan sámagri = material used in oblation to fire all over India) on aerial bacterial population caused over 94% reduction of bacterial counts by 60 min and the ability of the smoke to purify or disinfect the air and to make the environment cleaner was maintained up to 24 h in the closed room.

    Absence of pathogenic bacteria Corynebacterium urealyticum, Curtobacterium flaccumfaciens, Enterobacter aerogenes (Klebsiella mobilis), Kocuria rosea, Pseudomonassyringae pv. persicae, Staphylococcus lentus, and Xanthomonas campestris pv. tardicrescens inthe open room even after 30 days is indicative of the bactericidal potential of the medicinal smoke treatment.

    We have demonstrated that using medicinal smoke it is possible to completely eliminate diverse plant and human pathogenic bacteria of the air within confined space.
    Work has implications to use the smoke generated by burning wood and a mixture of odoriferousand medicinal herbs, within confined spaces such as animal barns and seed/grain warehouses to disinfect the air and to make the environment cleaner.
    Work indicates that certain known medicinal constituents from the havan sámagri can thus be added to the burning farm material while disposing unwanted agriculture organic material, in order to reduce plant pathogenicorganisms.

    In particular, it highlights the fact that we must think well beyond the physical aspects of smoke on plants in natural habitats and impacts heavily on our understanding of fire as adriving force in evolution.
    We have demonstrated that using medicinal smoke it is possible to contain diverse pathogenic bacteria of the air we breathe.

    The work also highlights the fact about medicinal smoke and that a lot of natural products have potential for use as medicine in the smoke form as a form of drug delivery and as a promising source of new active natural ingredients for containing indoor airborne infections within confined spaces used for storage of agriculture comodities.

    The dynamic chemical and biological interactions occurring in the atmosphere are much more complex than has been previously realized. The findings warrant a need for further evaluation of various ingredients present in the complex mixture of odoriferous and medicinal herbs, individually and in various combinations to identify the active principlesinvolved in the bactericidal property of the medicinal smoke, applied in the above discussed fashion.”

    Click to access Medicinal-smoke.pdf

    Another reason why I don’t hang about these days in crowded non-smoking places.

  5. Timothy Goodacre says:

    Poisonous little shit is exactly right. Close down all the universities, they are full of snowflakes and publicly funded academic twats. Unless they are doing medical research they all serve no purpose.

  6. Dr Evil says:

    I have thought that meat was too cheap for ages, especially the chickens. If animals were properly reared in fields and free range their meat would me more expensive and people would budget accordingly. And eat less meat. Meat would become a flavour provider not the main focus of a meal. You don’t need sin taxes. These will not save any lives. We all die.

    • smokingscot says:

      The guy seems to have an issue only with red meat, so if his suggestions pass into law the effect is likely to result in greater consumption of white meat, namely chicken, Turkey and perhaps even duck.

      Looking at the meat content in things like steak and kidney pie, the actual amount of meat in the Princess one’s is less than 25%, so it’s very unlikely many of my favourites will face a 79% hike in price.

      But it will hit corned beef, that’s essentially the waste from Brazilian abattoirs. Same with hot dog sausages. In fact many canned products that claim meat as an ingredient use parts no one would touch if offered over a counter.

      Haggis is an interesting one, especially the market leader – Grants. Mostly it’s oatmeal, spices and sheep’s lungs. People used to buy those way back, but not now.

      Certainly there will be considerable opposition to this from vested interests and even the Tory cabinet knows to not pee off farmers; they are a powerful group, as are the food processors. Even May knows they’re the one’s who keep her in power.

  7. Rose says:

    Take away the university and the doctorate and the research, and all that will be left is a bloke called Marco, who lives in Oxford, and who doesn’t like meat, and thinks people should be made to stop eating it

    Its already been tried by Blair’s lot, but not with tax, roast beef being a traditional British Sunday Dinner, instead they decided to cause scarcity and raise the price by killing a third of all cows.

    All this only 8 years after Blair’s government had killed millions of cows and burnt them on pyres not because they themselves were sick but because they lived in the area near some who were.

    Whitehall turf war saves cows’ hides

    “Let me tell you the story of a classic Whitehall farce, a tale of how the government came within a whisker of advocating bovine genocide.It all began when officials at the Department of Health decided to part-fund a piece of independent research looking at how health professionals could help combat the effects of climate change.

    The scientists came up with a rather courageous idea. Why not kill 30% of Britain’s cows and sheep? Not only would this help save the environment; it would also make us healthier.

    The theory goes like this: if you have less ruminant livestock, you emit less climate-damaging methane into the atmosphere.You also have less meat to eat, which means less saturated fat in our diets and thus less heart disease.

    Officials liked the wheeze so much they decided Health Secretary Andy Burnham should give a speech at the launch of the report by the Lancet medical journal.There Mr Burnham congratulated the Lancet on its “timely report”.

    The Department of Health put out a handy press release summarising the report’s conclusions.It even rang up the Department of Energy and Climate Change and got it involved.A useful quote from Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband was included on the press release.
    Not to be outdone, a quote from international development minister Mike Foster was produced. All agreed that health and climate change could be two sides of the same coin.

    There was only one problem: no one had bothered to tell the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and, as its name suggests, it is in charge of cows.Defra officials gently pointed out that perhaps the “kill-a-cow, save-the-world” policy might have a few flaws.

    First, the farming community would be a tad unhappy. And sure enough the National Farmers’ Union was apoplectic, raging at the “ill-informed and simplistic report”, condemning ministers for their “poor judgement”.
    Second, cutting livestock in this country will not mean people eat less meat.
    We will just import more from places like Brazil and Argentina, who will cut down more rainforest to satisfy this lucrative extra demand from Europe.

    Third, how exactly was the government going to go about culling 30% of Britain’s ruminant livestock? Not surprisingly the media began asking questions. Was Andy Burnham really advocating killing cows?

    For the Conservatives, shadow environment secretary Nick Herbert said that “careless demands like this don’t just undermine farming, they erode public support for action on climate change”.

    As the penny slowly dropped, the screech of brakes could heard across Whitehall.
    The Department of Health press office rang to make clear that Mr Burnham was not endorsing the Lancet report.
    Nothing he had said could be read as endorsing it. It was not government policy to cut Britain’s livestock.Other officials rang to emphasise that Mr Burnham was a meat-eater and not a vegetarian.
    Perhaps, it was suggested, the press office had mistakenly elided the two events. The climate change department rang to make the same points.

    In the meantime, Defra acted to calm worried farmers.

    A senior official sent out an email telling them not to worry about the Lancet report: “This, as we know, rather over-simplifies a complex issue and I don’t think that Andy Burnham has actually said anything that supports the headline that govt supports a 30% reduction in farm animals.”

    So, at the end of the day, there was no story. The government did not take on the farmers.
    Another report gathered dust on Whitehall’s shelves. No cows died on the altar of climate change.”

  8. waltc says:

    Here you go. If you live in Yorkshire and someone hurts your feelings by waving the air or fake coughing when they see you smoke, you can now sic the cops on them. (I wonder if this applies to anti-smoking ads, newspaper articles, or snarky anti-smoker online comments that come from Yorkshire-ites. Worth a try?

    • Rose says:

      No, that’s South Yorkshire.

      When I was young we had the North Riding of Yorkshire, the East Riding of Yorkshire and the West Riding of Yorkshire. There was no South Yorkshire.

      “Early inhabitants of Yorkshire were Celts, who formed two separate tribes, the Brigantes and the Parisi. The Brigantes controlled territory which later became all of the North Riding of Yorkshire and the West Riding of Yorkshire. The tribe controlled most of Northern England and more territory than any other Celtic tribe in England. That they had the Yorkshire area as their heartland is evident in that Isurium Brigantum (now known as Aldborough) was the capital town of their civitas under Roman rule.”

      “The ancient West riding of Yorkshire pre-1974 covered a vast area of land stretching from the southern borders of Sheffield to the now Cumbrian town of Sedbergh in the North. Places such as Skipton and Harrogate were all part of the old West Riding, while the modern South Yorkshire heartlands of Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster were also included in its borders. Towards the Pennines the towns of Barnoldswick and Slaidburn were also considered to be part of the county”

      “Post 1974 West Yorkshire dramatically reduced in size, with the creation of a new county, South Yorkshire.”

      You’ll have to forgive them, they are still rather new.

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