Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The reasoning of Professor D. Nutt.

Professor D. Nutt (honestly, it is the best name). Do you think he got picked on at school? (Bristol Grammar) and determined to show them all by swotting really hard (Cambridge, Guys, etc). Anyway, the good prof opines that there is no safe dose of alcohol for these reasons:
Alcohol is a toxin that kills cells such as microorganisms, which is why we use it to preserve food and sterilise skin, needles etc. Alcohol kills humans too.
This is true, as far as it goes, but then this is true for Oxygen also. So, the problem here is one of over-generalisation. What is true for alcohol in a certain context needn't be true for alcohol per se. A similar claim could be made for bricks. They kill mice and humans if dropped from a height onto them, but are generally considered safe as building materials.
Although most people do not become addicted to alcohol on their first drink, a small proportion do.
As a clinical psychiatrist who has worked with alcoholics for more than 30 years, I have seen many people who have experienced a strong liking of alcohol from their very first exposure
Just a liking then?
and then gone on to become addicted to it.
Oh, and then "gone on", so not addicted at first exposure then?
We cannot at present predict who these people will be,
Because you've just made it up.
so any exposure to alcohol runs the risk of producing addiction in some users.
Jeez, that sounds like a job for a Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology, perhaps you should look into that, David. Instead of wasting time grandstanding in the press?
The supposed cardiovascular benefits of a low level of alcohol intake in some middle-aged men cannot be taken as proof that alcohol is beneficial. To do that one would need a randomised trial where part of this group drink no alcohol, others drink in small amounts and others more heavily. Until this experiment has been done we don't have proof that alcohol has health benefits. A recent example of where an epidemiological association was found not to be true when tested properly was hormone replacement therapy.
I suppose the value of an epidemiological association is OK when we're talking about smoking, David? You cherry-picking devil, you.

Anyway David, you miss the point utterly. We like the booze. Some of us also like the E and the weed and that. Some of us would probably like a new magic pill from your lab. Fantastic. Get on with that, why don't you.

But remember, booze isn't just a dilute aqueous solution of ethanol. Beer particularly, is loaded (so we're told) with healthful goodies, anti-oxidants, silicon, fibre, goodness knows what. So, on balance, overall, is there a safe, or indeed positively beneficial, level of boozing? Don't ask the prof, he doesn't seem to care.


Jeff Pickthall said...

We've all got to die of something.

Continually seeking to reduce self-inflicted damage, we actually increase the risk of dying of cancer, as dying of cancer is increasingly likely as we get older.

I'm off to the pub.

StringersBeer said...

It's sad but true Jeff, the incidence of death is something like 100% and there seems to be little to be done about it. (Although some would argue otherwise.)

dredpenguin said...

I'm glad someone in the UK blog scene chose to pick up and pull apart this pile of tat. the Guardian should really know better then to publish unfounded hearsay and supposition, but of course it does not.

If only we could get some way of answering back in the mainstream media then this kind of crap would not be taken as gospel.

Flagon of Ale said...

Ah Nutter. In fact, they do not use ethyl alcohol to sterilize needles or skin.

I won't hear anymore about banning alcohol until they successfully ban sex. Sex is the real root of over population and starvation etc. Once they get the whole sex thing figured out, I'll be more than willing to listen to arguments about banning alcohol.

StringersBeer said...

No indeed Flagon, it's generally isopropyl alcohol in products like this. You'd expect a medic would know that, wouldn't you? But, like they say, why let facts get in way of good argument.

Nutt seems to believe that it's his job to influence public policy on booze. As Becky says, it's not. Not any more. It's his job to look after the sick people in front of him. We're not sick. We don't need him. Thanks very much.

Ed said...

That is appallingly unscientific drivel. And to think I used to like him when he seemed to be bringing some science to drug classification.

StringersBeer said...

Theres a longer (better) dismantling of Nutt over on the "libertarian" blog
"libertarian" as in "complaining about anti-tobacco
". No but srsly, this piece is worth a read.)

You should note that the author may be associated with the
"Democracy Institute, probably.
Which may, or indeed, may not, be covertly funded by the Tobacco industry. Or again, not.
But maybe.

HardKnott Dave said...

I can't help being amused that Scientific Temperance Instruction acronyms to STI, which is also short for Sexually Transmitted Infection......

"they succeeded in having mandatory STI in almost every school in America."