Friday, October 30, 2009

assaulted Nutt

There's a much longer post to be written about Home Secretary Alan Johnson's sacking of the government's chief drugs advisor Professor David Nutt - basically for presenting them (in exact accordance with the terms of the job he was hired to do) with some scientific data about drugs and their associated risks that happened not to tally with the government's preconceived ideas about what they wanted the answers to be - but I don't intend this to be it. Tomorrow's papers will probably take care of it.

Mainly I want to give a tip of the cyber-hat to the BBC's correspondent Mark Easton for managing to work the words "Nutt" and "sack" in close proximity into two successive headlines on his blog, within about three hours of each other. Just in case the web police tidy them up, here they are:

The only thing that needs to be added is this quote by an anonymous "source" purporting to speak for Johnson from the Times article about the sacking:

"Anything that appears to downgrade the dangers of drugs is just not acceptable and it should not have been said."

I don't want to drag religion into every single post (no, really) but this illustrates the underlying problem of which religious belief is just one symptom: most people's inability to do even the most basic critical thinking. As Professor Nutt said in his Radio 4 interview earlier this evening (starting about 30 minutes into this iPlayer link, which may disappear in due course), if the government are going to abandon any pretence of drugs policy being evidence-based and make it some sort of moral crusade, then they should come out and say so. I would add that if they are going to do that they should additionally state very clearly on what basis they are making their moral judgments. Divine inspiration? A craven desire to keep fuckwits like The Sun's Jon Gaunt happy? Let's hope not.

1 comment:

The Black Rabbit said...

Science. Public policy. Hmmm.
Not really relevant, but sort of....
You really should read (if you haven't already):
"Science and Public Policy: The Virtuous Corruption of Virtual Environmental Science"
Deals with biodiversity and climate change mainly, not medical science, but I think the book might interest you. Innit.
If you can wait til NYE and do fancy reading it, I'll lend it yoooooooouz.