Monday, 29 March 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different...

Dr. Polly Taylor has just resigned.

No, I've not heard of her before today and I doubt that many other people will have, either.  She was a senior official from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs in the UK.  Why did she resign?  Apparently over the past six months five other members of the ACMD have also resigned following the dismissal of the group's chairman, Professor David Nutt.

Professor Nutt was, obviously an academic as well as the chairman of the ACMD and as such lectured on topics that he was qualified to... including the classification of cannabis and ecstasy in the UK.  A scientist, gave a lecture according to his views and one would hope reasonable scientific grounds, so far, so normal.  Only one problem:

The UK government didn't like his findings and he was dismissed.

So, you set up a group with independent scientific advisors, presumably to advise you and when it transpires that you don't like this independent advice you sack them?  What on earth is going on?  I'm sure that you can hire a bunch of people to agree with you and tell you want to hear all day long if you wish, but don't you dare go on and claim that your new "advisors" are "independent".

Dr. Taylor's resignation comes just as the latest "health-scare-drug-craze-that-all-the-kids-are-addicted-to", mephedrone is about to be banned, now I know very little of this drug, save what I've heard in the media (I'm kind of innocent that way!), but apparently the scientific evidence of this drug's supposed lethality doesn't hold up.

Now, whether or not mephedrone is, or is not the greatest cause of human suffering since Girls Aloud released their first album is not the point.  The point is that the UK government (and the media) have already made up their mind about it and it's going to be banned.  If they can find scientific evidence to back up the claims of the danger of this drug, then that evidence will be put to use.  Contradictory evidence will be ignored.

You call that "science"?

That isn't how science works, that's manipulating evidence to justify your personal beliefs.

Big difference.

So, next time that someone tells you that something is good or bad for you, you might want to stop for a second and have a little think about what you've just been told.  Who told them that this thing was bad (or good) for them and who told them?  Follow the chain, find out where it leads.  If it leads to an "independent advisory body" you might want to ask yourself if they really are independent...

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