Nannies torturing logic

June 18, 2012 18 Comments
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Read this quote carefully as there may be questions later.

Mental Health Minister Helen Morton said as there was no evidence to prove that even small amounts of alcohol were not healthy for pregnant women, no alcohol was the best advice.

I’ve read that a number of times and I really can’t spot the connection between the observation that there’s no reason, none at all, to think that a small amount of of a thing is unhealthy and deciding that therefore not having any of that thing at all is best. Oh, and spending $350,000 of taxpayers’ money one saying not to have any, of course.

The obvious reason is that this is alcohol control, plain and simple and lifted straight from tobacco control’s playbook with ‘smoking’ Tippexed out and ‘drinking’ scrawled over the top in biro. Now I’m not advocating smoking or drinking during pregnancy, though it’s worth mentioning that I was born at a time when it was still fairly common for expectant mothers to do both, and I think my mum did smoke for part and continued to drink in moderation throughout. Even in these health obsessed days it’s far from unheard of for a woman to smoke like a chimney and drink like a fish through half or more of the first trimester simply because she has absolutely no idea she is pregnant. In the case of one friend it was actually cigarettes and booze starting to taste weird that made her get a pregnancy test – turned out she was over well over two months gone.

But as I say, I’m not advocating this any more than I’m advocating abstemious purity from teh ebil weeds and spirits. I’m not advocating anything in particular, just observing that a certain pattern is being repeated here, and that not only was it very predictable that despite all the denials and claims to the contrary this pattern would be repeated it’s also a pattern that’s only wheeled out to support controls or ‘nudging’ of something that’s disapproved of. For example, let me modify that quote into a form that you will probably never see anywhere else.

Absobloodylutelymental Health Minister Angry Exile said as there was no evidence to prove that even moderate exercise was not healthy for pregnant women, no exercise was the best advice.

Same chain of logic, if you can call it that, but can you imagine the nannies ever letting something like that go out? Of course not, because what is good for the exercise goose is not for the alcohol gander (at the risk of over extending the metaphor, the smoking swan has long since been cooked and stuffed). Exercise is held by the nannies, wowsers and healthists to be as virtuous as drinking is sinful, so even with exactly the same weight of evidence that either are not healthy – to be precise, none at all – there will only ever be positive things said about the one and negative things about the other. And when you put the two messages next to each other…

‘There’s no evidence that moderate exercise will cause any harm to you or your unborn child, so do take gentle exercise.’*

‘There’s no evidence that small amounts of alcohol will cause any harm to your unborn child, so do not take any alcohol at all. You may scream hysterically at the sight of a wine bottle if you wish.’

See?

Kraft durch Freude!

* This is paraphrased but I didn’t pull it out of my arse. I did a little googling and found a few web pages, articles and papers that said there was no evidence that moderate exercise increased miscarriages or raised body temperature to a level that a foetus can’t cope with (which sounds frankly potty to begin with) etc. One of them would probably be written off as 100% bullshit peddled by tobacco industry shills because it said there was no significant increase of miscarriage risk for smoking in the first trimester, but the rest were probably suitably on message for most healthists.

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18 Responses to Nannies torturing logic

  1. Mark
    June 18, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    There are big differences between what is implied by:

    “There is no scientific proof that…..”
    “There is no evidence to support the conjecture/claim that….”

    Scientific proof is very hard to come by, and to say that there is no scientific proof of any claim isn’t saying very much at all. On the other hand, evidence that supports an idea is easy to come by, and to say that there is no evidence in support of a claim is a strong statement.

    I’m not quite sure what “…..evidence to prove that….” means. Most proofs are supported by various pieces of evidence. If there is no evidence to support this claim, why not say so.

    Since heavy alcohol consumption in later pregnancy is correlated with reduced development of the newborn baby, (I am led to believe), this could be said to constitute evidence that light alcohol consumption earlier on in pregnancy *might* also be correlated with similar problems. Whether it is or not is unproven.

    • June 18, 2012 at 4:34 pm

      I’m not quite sure what “…..evidence to prove that….” means.

      I think means that a WA politician doesn’t understand the difference between evidence and proof. Or the absence of either.

      • Mark
        June 18, 2012 at 4:52 pm

        I think you could be right :)

  2. June 18, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    So no evidence is now evidence… According to the “mental” health minister…

    • June 18, 2012 at 4:29 pm

      Yes, we’ve moved from evidence based policy to policy based evidence and now to policy based lack of evidence.

  3. June 18, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    These people never give up, never stop, never give it a rest.

    • June 18, 2012 at 4:32 pm

      Yep, and they’re still using the same methods. Presumably they’ll be happy when everyone’s smoking chop chop and pissed half blind from bathtub gin.

  4. Ed P
    June 18, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Err… as there is no evidence that even a half-hearted belief in God is detrimental, not believing is the best advice.

    I’m happy to clarify that one!

    • June 18, 2012 at 4:37 pm

      And that one goes both ways as well, so Morton would presumably want us all to be secular Christian atheists for Allah. :lol:

  5. The doctor
    June 18, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    There is plenty of evidence to link consumption of even small amounts of alcohol with impared brain development , it depends on when , during pregnancy , the mother drinks it . See PubMed or PLOS .
    The child can be born with Feotal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder , a condition that is lifelong and has no cure ; it also costs significant amounts of money to support such children .

    • nisakiman
      June 18, 2012 at 7:11 pm

      “There is plenty of evidence to link consumption of even small amounts of alcohol with impared brain development…”

      Oh really?

      Anecdotal evidence would suggest otherwise.

      In my lifetime I have known many, many mothers who drank (and smoked) throughout pregnancy, and produced bright, normal children. I don’t even recollect hearing about any children being born with a problem due to their mother’s drinking. My four are now adults, and particularly bright. Their mothers both drank (moderately – I’m not talking Gin Lane here) during the full term. And smoked. They were all born full term, full weight, and precociously bright.

      I can just about accept that the unborn child of a mother who gets totally pissed every night might have some problems passed on, but a normal, couple of glasses of wine a night woman….? Nah, sorry. I don’t swallow that. Sounds like alcohol control scaremongering to me.

    • June 18, 2012 at 7:43 pm

      The first paper I came across refers to “heavy ethanol exposure”

      link to ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

      • ivan
        June 18, 2012 at 8:58 pm

        That paper appears to be using circular logic to make assumptions.

        ‘It appears that’ appears too many times and everything appears to be based on other papers. There is no ‘actual’ physical research done at all.

        • June 18, 2012 at 9:15 pm

          Yes you are right – no physical research was done.

          • June 19, 2012 at 7:20 am

            Just as no physical research was done to come up with the ‘recommended limits’ that the BMA pulled out of their collective arse?

            Try harder, ‘doctor’.

  6. June 18, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    Does anyone reach for the bottle of Scotch when knocked up, but then think “wait, best I check government advice first” ?

  7. June 18, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    “….as there was no evidence to prove that even small amounts of alcohol were not healthy for pregnant women, no alcohol was the best advice.”

    Whoever wrote that sentence should be flogged.

    Let us assume that the Minister is not as pathetic as seems and re-phrase the sentence:

    “It is not possible at the moment to prove that small quantities of alcohol can harm foetuses. However, we would nevertheless advise pregnant women to forgo alcohol.”

    Perfectly simple and straightforward, yes? But no….the zealots cannot help but twist themselves into verbal knots in order to introduce their propaganda and slogans.

    But is there a more sinister motive? Is she trying to avoid revealing that the study or studies indicate that small amounts of alcohol do not harm foetuses? Methinks so.

    • June 19, 2012 at 9:11 am

      Whoever wrote that sentence should be flogged.

      My thoughts exactly.

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