The writings of the admirable Professor Brignell of NumberWatch are often an example to all of us dissenting plain-speakers. He takes his facts, dresses them in down-to-earth common sense and serves them as part of a balanced diet.
Here's a case in point, his recent article on zealotry. We reproduce just enough, we hope, to make you want to go to NumberWatch and read the whole thing …
Imagine telling somebody twenty years ago that by 2007, it would be illegal to smoke in a pub or bus shelter or your own vehicle or that there would be £80 fines for dropping cigarette butts, or that the words "tequila slammer" would be illegal or the government would mandate what angle a drinker's head in an advertisement may be tipped at, or that it would be illegal to criticise religions or homosexuality, or rewire your own house, or that having sex after a few drinks would be classed as rape or that the State would be confiscating children for being overweight. Imagine telling them the government would be contemplating ration cards for fuel and even foods, that every citizen would be required to carry an ID card filled with private information which could be withdrawn at the state's whim. They'd have thought you a paranoid loon.
Every age has its dominant caste. This is the age of the zealot. Twenty years ago they were dismissed as cranks and fanatics, but now they are licensed to interfere in the every day lives of ordinary people to an unprecedented degree. When Bernard Levin first identified the new phenomenon of the SIFs (Single Issue Fanatics) many of us thought it was a bit of a joke or at most an annoyance. Now the joke is on us. In that short time they have progressed from being an ignorable nuisance to what is effectively a branch of government. They initiate legislation and prescribe taxation. They form a large and amorphous collection of groups of overlapping membership, united and defined by the objects of their hatred (industry, tobacco, alcohol, adiposity, carbon, meat, salt, chemicals in general, radio waves, field sports etc.) Their success in such a short time has been one of the most remarkable phenomena in the whole of human history.
There is no question that tobacco haters are in the van and their unflinching, ruthless, mendacious campaign serves as an example to the rest. Their remarkable success is a spur to the others and their methods a model to be emulated. These include the gross abuse of the statistical method; the invention of numbers (particularly body counts, with no actual bodies or post-mortems) that grow mysteriously with time; the eschewal of anything approaching the scientific method; above all, the relentless, unceasing drum beat of propaganda. They never give up. Each tawdry victory strengthens the appetite for more. Having achieved the ban in public places (i.e. private property) they now seek to penetrate the home.
In order to get their ban, the activists followed the advice of Adolf Hitler ("the broad mass of a nation will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one"). They needed to plant an arrant falsehood in the public mind, that secondhand smoke was a deadly poison. The charge was led by the US EPA, who in 1994 published a so-called meta-study that was then a unique example of multiple statistical fraud and revealed the lowest standards of statistical significance ever recorded (since greatly bettered by subsequent zealots). Thereafter the campaigners did not even bother with corrupt science. They simply made pronouncements that were dutifully reproduced by their allies in the establishment media. One oft repeated one is that "there is no lower limit for damage caused by secondhand smoke", which is an example of the concentration fallacy and a contradiction of the first law of toxicology (the poison is in the dose). They pioneered the virtual body count, produced from nowhere and endowed with a remarkable capacity to grow on its own. The British zealots announced a body count of 1,000 a year (considerably greater pro rata for population than the EPA claim) which became 4,000 and then 11,000, with no evidence adduced..
One of the most frequently heard pieces of propaganda is that passive smoking causes childhood asthma. Children of the fifties did more passive smoking in one visit to the cinema than modern children do in their whole lives. Childhood asthma was then virtually unknown. It has increased steadily in subsequent decades, while environmental tobacco smoke has declined. It is now a major health problem. These facts are incontrovertible. Yet to state them is to arouse wrath. The sad side-effect of the dogma is that it diverts impetus from the search for the real cause: not a unique result of zealotry.
In the world of the zealot, which is now our world, there are no simple problems. Everything is a crisis, epidemic, disaster or catastrophe. There is always the need for urgent action, which usually means taxation, authoritarian control and further loss of liberty. With typical Gorean hypocrisy, for example, the BMA called for more taxation of alcohol and a reduction of pub opening hours, while simultaneously applying for an extension of bar hours in its own headquarters.
The EU is … controlled by a bunch of green bureaucrats (anonymous, unelected, unsackable and answerable to no one) who are not obliged to take into consideration the economic consequences of their diktats ... they seize upon every scare as an opportunity to mount an attack on the wealth-creating part of the community, namely industry. On the slightest of evidence they pick on some chemical, or even an element of the periodic table, and impose a continent-wide ban, without debate or advice from specialists, other than their favoured green lobbyists. A classic example was the ban on lead in solder. It was completely unjustified by available evidence yet imposed virtually without serious thought. Leadless solder is not only considerably more expensive, it is unreliable, being subject to dry joints and cracks. We are talking about people being killed here, for there are now many applications of electronics on which human lives depend, let alone livelihoods. Notably, military applications were excluded.
Even more Alice in Wonderland is the EU policy on mercury. Mercury is a non-wetting liquid of low vapour pressure, therefore relatively safe to handle. Only the vapour form is dangerous, as the mad hatters of Luton demonstrate. So what did the EU do? They banned the safe liquid form, therefore destroying minor industries such as traditional barometer manufacture; then they subsequently insisted that the whole population of the continent replace their incandescent light bulbs with inadequate substitutes operating with mercury vapour, all on the basis of the vague global warming hypothesis.
The global warming hypothesis was a godsend to the New Left. It provided a means of attacking industry and capitalism through the one great essential to modern life, energy. Anyone who questioned the dogma was subject to insults and threats, including the appalling crudity and tastelessness of being likened to the holocaust deniers. All realistic proposals to develop workable sources of energy are bitterly opposed by the green network, while patently stupid ones, such as wind turbines, are sustained by regulation and subsidy, with the added bonus of bringing down the free market. There are related areas of activity, such as biofuels, which not only threaten the world with greenflation but also starvation.
Above it all towers the figure of Al Gore, hyper-hypocrite and monster of monetary concupiscence. If just occasionally he turned up on a bike rather than his private jet (or waived the six figure fee for his repetitious diatribes, or engaged in debate rather than diktat) he might entertain some credibility among the reasoning few. It is, however, in the nature of the faithful that they turn a blind eye to the defects of their demagogues. Perhaps the one fact that restores one's faith in humanity is that the blanket coverage of the propaganda has failed to stir a majority of the populace, though in the new age majorities have no power.
Global warming has now got to the stage where it is only maintained by media self-censorship. If the general public ever got to know of the scandals surrounding the collection and processing of data, or that there has been no detectable warming for the last decade, the whole movement would be dead in the water; but they don't, so it isn't. It has become the most powerful myth in human history, sending much of the world into a downward helix of economic decline. It is a tenuous hypothesis supported by ill-found computer models and data from botched measurement, dubiously processed.
The GOS says: As we said above, this is just a taster which hopefully will make you want to go and read this wise man's words in full. Click here. You know it makes sense.
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