Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Fake Charities aye

I'm reading a book called Fat by Rob Grant, the chap who half wrote the TV show Red Dwarf. Its about the obesity epidemic, the book's a work of fiction but has some interesting reasoning in it. For example:-
'...Bald men don't live as long as hirsute men, in general.'
'As I say, in general. Its probably because they have higher levels of testosterone, which appears to lower life expectancy. Now, nobody in their right mind would suggest that giving bald men hair implants would somehow bestow on them the same life expectancy as a naturally hairy man, now would they?'

I dunno if the initial thingi is correct, that bald men don't live as long, but the reasoning is clever.

Anyhoo, it goes onto cover Austin Bradford Hill, who discovered that seven non-smokers died each year from lung cancer per hundred thousand, compared to a hundred and sixty-six smokers, that's 24 times more risk for the smokers. And points out that now everyone thinks that smoking causes lung cancer. It probably does, but that initial research doesn't prove it. If anything, it suggests that people who are likely to die of lung cancer smoke. Maybe the propensity of lung cancer causes people to crave cigarettes.

Alas, to save lives we have the creation of the nanny state, saving us from ourselves, and the burden of risk was lowered. Whereas Austin Bradford Hill proved smokers were 2400% more likely to die of lung cancer than non-smokers, now proving a risk of less than twice will get you published.

Well, that's what the book says. I was sceptical so I checked a couple of examples on google, this one has a 14% greater risk (or 1.14 times more likely to get prostate cancer if you use pesticides), this one has twice the risk of getting brain cancer, even parliament has the increased risk of cancer from pesticides at 9%. So that's me convinced.

So then the rant goes on about how 'new' links between a disease and a product are 'discovered', lawyers move in, governments draft new legislation to protect us.
'It also gave birth to the single-interest fanatic groups, such as the Soil Association, Consensus on Salt and Health, and Action on Smoking and Health: groups who weren't interested in balanced arguements or genuine research or serious discovery. All they wanted was to prove their case, and so they funded their own 'research', the entire aim of which was to give them the results they wanted.'

Aye, so over on the other channel, Devil's Kitchen has started a site, which outs charities which are funded by the government who in return lobby the government on specific issues, help draft laws, and provide soundbites for news stories warning us of risks.

The good Devil is a bit of a bitter soul and assumes any charity which receives any money from the government (or governments) is clearly a fraud. This policy seems to tie up some otherwise innocentish charities along with the bad'uns.

Brake for example, a road safety charity has an income of around £1,000,000 of which only about £60,000 comes from the government
compared to
Alcohol Concern which gets around £500,000 from the government out of a total income of around £1,600,000
the aforementioned Action on Smoking and Health which receives about £200,000 from the Department of health and £16,000 from voluntary donations.

Hmph, The Soil Association get sod all from the government (heh, 'sod' see, its like a pun) and Consensus Action on Salt and Health, have such a small budget, they barely figure on the charities commission.

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