back to article 'No safe level' booze guidelines? Nonsense, thunder stats profs

The heads of Britain’s statistics society have written to the Health Secretary to point out that the government’s alcohol guidelines don’t accurately reflect the numbers. Two weeks ago the British civil servant at the Department of Health responsible for issuing medical advice (who rejoices in the corporate-inspired title of “ …

Re: Governemt "expert committees"

In 1962 GDP was roughly £27.8bn and British Rail's losses were £104m or 0.37% of GDP. In 2014 UK GDP was £1,971bn and the subsidy was £5.3bn or 0.26% of GDP. However, that subsidy figure is down from the 2006 peak of £6.3bn vs £1,403bn GDP or 0.45%.

But in honesty that's a meaningless comparison as it ignores so many variables such as volume of traffic (both freight and passenger), cost of rolling cost (note that both the East Coast and Great Western are still using rolling stock developed and built by British Rail in the 70's and 80's).

Did something need doing with the Railways in 1963? Undoubtedly the answer was yes. But the implementation of the report could have been handled better.

For reference in the 1980's Japan spent 10% of GDP on railways, a significant percentage of which was spent developing the Shinkansen network.

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MJI
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Re: Governemt "expert committees"

But that 70s and 80s developed stuff is so much better than the newer stuff.

The real mistake was abandoning APT before they had perfected it (it was nearly there).

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Re: Governemt "expert committees"

The real mistake was abandoning APT before they had perfected it (it was nearly there).

The Eyeties bought some of the technology and perfected it, and that's what a Virgin Pendolino is. However, the real problem was (for both trains) betting the farm on a technology to avoid straightening out the bends in about four significant locations, when the real barrier to high speed was mainly the signalling (which was known even in the days of the APT).

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MJI
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Re: Governemt "expert committees"

The Pendodildo is actually a lot less advanced than the APT, it uses transducers to tell it to tilt rather than the G forces, uses screw jacks rather than hydraulic rams.

Found out from a chap who worked on APT-E

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Childcatcher

Policy based evidence

Nice to see the morality of our betters is to be gradually forced on us proles.

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Joke

Re: Policy based evidence

Like western civilisation, would be a good idea.

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Pint

bah!

I work on the principle that the amount of stress that comes with worrying about something and then not eating or drinking it is worse than the effect of not worrying and eating/drinking it anyway.

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I know it's not good for me...

... not drinking, that is.

I decided to go 'dry' for the first three weeks of the year and I've surprisingly succeeded without any problems. Apparently you are meant to feel better for it, but I've had more random aches and pains and twinges this past fortnight than ever before.

Glad that I get to have a beer tonight

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Re: I know it's not good for me...

Three weeks? I didn't last three days...

In my defence, it was the thought of going back to work the following day which broke my resolve.

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MJI
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Re: I know it's not good for me...

I just thought, sounds like bollocks and stick to my moderate drinking regime.

I ENJOY a quality bottle of cider or beer 6 or so nights a week.

Getting pissed is no fun (I _HATE_ hangovers). Being teetotal I reckon is bad for you

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Anonymous Coward

Bit late to the party ?

When this was discussed on R4, a fortnight ago, the person criticising it shot it down in one sentence by pointing out the reports logic assumed zero intake of alcohol was completely risk-free. Recalling the old joke that my Uncle gave up smoking and *still* died.

Controlled usage is not usually fatal and abstinence is not immortality.

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Sheffield University: Tough on facts; Tough on the causes of Facts.

When your Ideology conflicts with the Evidence then vary your frame of reference until the Evidence conforms to your Ideology. My namesake was THE poster boy for this.

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Re: Sheffield University: Tough on facts; Tough on the causes of Facts.

Great title. Have a rep :)

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Rol

Idiocracy

I see the government are avoiding setting academically proven safe levels for:- idiocy; arrogance; expense claims; selfishness; thoughtlessness...

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I just don't see advice on alcohol ever gaining the traction it needs to make any difference to people's behaviour. Alcohol is so engrained in our culture. Smoking never was ingrained into culture in the same way so a message about it being bad for you is much easier to sell (helps that the evidence is overwhelming of course)

Telling people they can only have 14 units a week when they are likely planning to down twice that in one Friday night is not going to get them anywhere. The advice is simply ignored - in fact it is openly mocked.

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Rol

Shirley

The safe level for alcohol consumption is at or about ground level.

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Re: Shirley

You're not drunk if you can lie down without holding on

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Re: Shirley

I dunno, I find a glass of brandy or three helps on transcontinental flights...

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Pint

I was on a dry January, until this debacle surfaced. Then I had a sudden urge to be contrary.

Bottoms up *hic*

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In addition, alcohol in moderation reduces anxiety, stress, and all those other bad things.

Reducing these things is a useful thing in a typical work environment. companies should be forcing their employees to drink a couple of pints every lunchtime!

The new limits are such a joke that they will actually now be totally ignored, the old limits, pulled out of thin air as they were, at least were achievable on the odd week of sobriety.

Anyway, the stats say that 40 units have the same risk as 0 units (there's a J shaped curve, 10-15 units is ideally healthy), so that's my new upper limit (if I'm feeling risk averse that week). Of course, if you are willing to take a little risk, 50, 60, 70 units is fine.

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Youer not the bboossss of mee....mmm...zzzzzzzz.

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A Little Video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxYrzzy3cq8

Nice little video, especially the bit about smoking and statistics.

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The problem with excessive caution....

Once you're deluged with warnings about absolutely everything you just start to ignore them. They really should be trying to set guidance that people who do drink might be plausibly expected to attempt, even if that level isn't entirely safe.

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Re: The problem with excessive caution....

Indeed. A friend once told me they'd been advised to try to drink one non-alcoholic drink for every alcoholic one when "binge drinking" as a way to keep blood alcohol lower and reduce dehydration. Whether or not it does your health any good I'm not qualified to say but I'm sure it keeps you from drinking as much alcohol and I know in hot climates it does make the hangover less obvious.

It is said that eating properly before drinking is a good idea also -- how about trying to encourage that?

There are lots of little "tricks" that can either help reduce consumption or, perhaps, change focus a little which I am sure could help makes attitudes to drinking more healthy.

But, no, the government hires some puritanical moron to tell people something which isn't true instead. Shows just how much contempt they hold us all in -- they can't even pretend to give a shit about the people who pay them.

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Vic

Re: The problem with excessive caution....

It is said that eating properly before drinking is a good idea also -- how about trying to encourage that?

Depends on what you're trying to achieve.

Eating first tends to prevent the peaks in blood alcohol - but if getting pissed is your target, then this actually causes you to drink more alcohol in total for the same effect. This is a net detriment to your liver.

Vic.

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What about the healthy mediterranean diet?

After all, it is incomplete without a carafe of wine accompanying the meal.

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Re: What about the healthy mediterranean diet?

You mean the one pulled out of Ansel Key's a**e ?

He happened to visiting the island where made the observations (sorry can't remember of Rhodes, Malta or Crete) during Lent ( lots and lots of no meat) , and naturally assumed this was "normal" & thus the "Mediterranean" diet was born.

Ansel Keys - deserves a place in the innermost circle of heck for the damage he has wrought

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Re: What about the healthy mediterranean diet?

"Ansel Keys - deserves a place in the innermost circle of heck for the damage he has wrought"

It's perfectly safe and valid to say "Hell" when naming the "place".

Unless you mean the tiny little hamlet near Lockerbie in Scotland.

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Re: What about the healthy mediterranean diet?

'It's perfectly safe and valid to say "Hell" when naming the "place".'

Heck is in Yorkshire http://www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?x=459500&y=421500&z=120&sv=great+heck&st=3&tl=Map+of+Great+Heck,+North+Yorkshire+[City/Town/Village]&searchp=ids.srf&mapp=map.srf as is Hades http://www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?x=413762&y=404930&z=115&sv=413762,404930&st=4&ar=y&mapp=map.srf&searchp=ids.srf&dn=841&ax=413762&ay=404930&lm=0

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Anonymous Coward

The Correct Conclusion

The results of the studies I've seen would support the conclusion that moderate alcohol intake is beneficial to your health.

However, constant exposure to bogus studies with nonsensical conclusions passed off as "science" does have an adverse impact on faith in anything the "experts" tell you.

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Anonymous Coward

Check the actual evidence on "secondhand" or even "thirdhand smoke".

This is nothing new. Medical Public Health types lie - it is what they do. The non-medical ones generally have to be restrained from kicking a clue into them.

Hence sugar taxes, plain packaging for tobacco (Which raised smoking levels in Australia), "no safe limit" for alcohol. Fat taxes (Ask the Danes about that one - it didn't last long)

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MJI
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Second hand smoke makes my clothes and hair smell

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Second hand smoke makes my clothes and hair smell

Doesn't that make people look at you strangely? I mean, noses in your hair and on your clothes...

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The "actual evidence on second hand smoking" that indirectly forced the pub smoking ban was staff blood tests regularly finding high enough levels of CO to threaten health. Doesnt matter if most exposure just leaves you stinking of smoke, some of it has more serious effects.

The pub trade got lucky, they were on the brink of a flood of lawsuits when the ban preempted the issue.

Most pub users I've talked to approve the ban anyway, including the smokers, who can still appreciate better air quality. Just a pity it took health scares to force action. Politicians and business don't have the balls to ban offensive practice's, they always need some health excuse to hide behind.

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MJI
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You stand near someone smoking, then move away, now need to change clothes and wash hair.

Used to go out and when I got home shower and change to clean clothes for next day.

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My current blood alcohol levels allowed me clarity:

This is a plot by the inebriati to keep the rest of us from becoming more successful and more powerful:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Zj50DmBFp0

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Rol

I want to invade Switzerland!

Seems like the exchequer asked the question "We want to increase tax receipts in our moribund economy"

and the computer obliged with a PR managed escalation in fun tax.

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Anonymous Coward

Beer tax rise...

It has to be the reason this wrong 'no safe level' was put out.

However, now that few trust the advice, any tax rise will stick out like a sore thumb in the March budget!

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The men/women thing...

Surely women are typically much smaller than men. I was just out with a friend who's 5' and probably 50kgs, I'm 6'2" and about 100kgs. It seems implausible that we would be equally affected by the same amount of alcohol. Of course not just women are small either, I know blokes that must be half my weight too. Shouldn't size be a factor as much as gender?

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Re: The men/women thing...

It may not be linearly correlated, but the driving limit is the concentration in your blood, so it ought to related to (at least) your water content or so.

Sadly politicians lying about facts & figures (or being "economical with the truth" as they say in parliament) has become so common that people will simply ignore the guidelines. Pushing harder on binge drinking might have made sense (less A&E trouble, etc) but they probably blew that.

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Statistical facts

politically correct do gooder fascists don't like reality to impinge on their fantasy of how they think reality should be. It's long been a solid statistical fact that moderate consumption of wines and such results in much longer life expectancy rates. Unfortunately this upsets the Apple cart in the do-gooder insanity stream somewhat.......a disease most inhabitants of the muddy island seem to suffer from...

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Anonymous Coward

Life

A sexually transmitted terminal disease.

Drink more booze. Eat more bacon.

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Models vs reality

"It appears an undocumented model has produced numbers directly contradicted by the empirical real world evidence, and then the real world evidence has been discarded. It must be some model."

Good enough for Climate Change - why shouldn't it apply to alcohol?

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It's obviously true though

There was no safe level. Even the people in the study who drank nothing at all eventually died. Clearly, the real risk is taking part in statistical surveys, and no amount of alcohol can protect you.

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Anonymous Coward

To quote the Vapours...

No sex,No drugs,No wine,No women,

No fun,No sin,No you,No wonder it's dark....

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