Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Submitted as a complaint to the BBC

As I saw yet another fucking BBC article uncritically citing the limits on alcohol, your humble and incensed Devil decided to submit an official complaint.
Dear Sir,

I notice, once again, that you have quoted the government's statistics on alcohol consumption limits in the attached story. In fact, you uncritically quote them in almost every story about alcohol consumption.

What I have never seen mentioned on BBC News is the fact that these limits have no basis in science whatsoever. This was admitted by Richard Smith, a member of the Royal College of Physicians working party that produced the 1987 report on which these limits are based. This was revealed in a Times article in October 2007, in which Smith is quoted:
"... it’s impossible to say what’s safe and what isn’t ... we don’t really have any data whatsoever ... Those limits were really plucked out of the air. They were not based on any firm evidence at all. It was a sort of intelligent guess by a committee".

The article also pointed out...
One [report] found that men drinking between 21 and 30 units of alcohol a week had the lowest mortality rate in Britain. Another concluded that a man would have to drink 63 units a week, or a bottle of wine a day, to face the same risk of death as a teetotaller.

Why do we never see this fact reported on the BBC? Why does the BBC parrot the government's entirely arbitrary alcohol unit limits without criticism?

This is very far from being impartial reporting and is, instead, quite obvious bias towards government propaganda.


It pisses me right off every single fucking time that I see it. Let us see what their pathetic justification for this piss-poor level of reporting is, shall we?


Claus Lundekvam said...

Its just lazy/ignorant journalism, not some sort of BBC conspiracy to help the government.

And to be honest, the arbitrary nature of the alcohol limits are not something that is very well known, so understandable.

Perhaps more should be done to publicise the dodginess of the recommendations, though if they encourage people (including myself) to think about drinking a bit less then perhaps the end justifies the means

cornishgiant said...

Could you also consider making a similar complaint about their covergae of "global warming" or whatever the fuck it's known as these days?

As soon as some monkey publishes something that reports that global warming is happening more quickly and will be more devastating than before, it makes front page on the BBC website and on newscasts. (I thnk there was one like this 2-4 weeks ago).

However, when some scientist pipes up and says, "Global warming? Load of old shit, mate", they never even feature it (ref: the Japanese article recently).

Propoganda machine they are, impartial news reporters they are not.

Anonymous said...

DK - Unfortunately, you're unlikely to get a response. I wrote to them a couple of weeks ago to suggest that they follow up a story to reflect recent developments, and had no response whatsoever.

Claus - I don't think it is the job of the BBC to encourage people 'to think about drinking less'. It is, however, the BBC's job to present news and current affairs information accurately and without bias. The current alcohol limits are constantly being sold to the public at large as measures that will ensure our safety - surely it is important that the public be informed as to how accurate these limits are?

Rachel Miller

Dennis said...

Dear Mr Kitchen

Thank you for your recent letter, the entire contents of which we unreservedly reject.

Yours sincerely

Venetia Toynbee-Hobspawm
Customer Relations & Licence-fee Evaders' Persecution Dept

John B said...

Claus has it right (in his first two paragraphs). The BBC tries very hard not to show bias in favour of, or against, the government or the Tories.

But when there's a policy they both support, or a worldview they both share (e.g. 'broken Britain, we drink too much, etc' crap), it assumes that mirroring the consensus and getting a Labourite, a Tory and sometimes a Liberal to say 'we agree this is Terribly Terribly Bad' is impartial, factual reporting.

IMX the BBC is a hell of a lot better than *any* other news organisation at responding to queries, complaints and comments, so I'd be very surprised if they didn't get back to you one way or another. The response will probably be an insipid "our reporting reflects the consensus among politicians and doctors' organisations", though.

saucepan said...

I was livid watching the news yesterday, as apart from the unsubstantiated 'limits' you mention, they dutifully wheeled out a 'spokesperson' from, yes, you guessed it, Alcohol Concern a bona fide fake charity. So, we have the public funded BBC airing the public funded Government's crap supported by a public funded 'charity' front group. Fair and balanced reporting my arse.

This was EXACTLY how they dealt with the smoking issue, and before you know it the 'debate is over.'

If only all those non-smokers and pubcos hadn't been quite so happy to welcome smokefree venues huh?

They didn't think for one minute it could ever happen to them.

James Higham said...

Mind you, twelve pints in an evening might seem overly excessive. Six would be better for the health.

DaveA said...

DK can you keep us up to date on your complaint? There was also a recent study done in California that if you are a smoker for every glass of wine that you drink per month reduces your chances of contracting lung cancer by 4%. Hence 25 x 4% = 100% reduction :)

Most news agencies just reported the findings. The BBC wheeled all manner of doctors to finger wag the wine drinkers about excessive alcohol consumtion.

DK I have written to the BBC on numerous occasions about the harmlessness of second hand smoke (SHS) and out comes the ASH/DoH PR crib sheet.

Centaur said...

As well as that little piss-boiler, we have the debate between shrill SNP facists, doctor facists who would legislate every pleasure out of existance "for our own good" on one side, and the drinks industry on the other.

Nowhere are ordinary people involved - we are just the children, and can listen to the debate, but not be involved in it. Once the adults have reached their (predetermined) conclusion, we will just be told what to do.

Anonymous said...

Is it just me or have the units also changed on the goverment guidline advert

John East said...

I fear your words of wisdom are wasted on the BBC. Like most of their "news" today, it's the Nulab objective that drives them, not any desire for objectivity or truth.
I saw a clear example of their socialist agenda yesterday in a programme about doorstep loan sharks. The group of people who avail themselves of these services, who you and I might refer to as "the poor" are now being described in BBC speak as "economically excluded". What a fucking stupid phrase, but I won't bother writing to complain. What good would it do?

Anonymous said...

Can I just offer an anecdotal alternative to those who say Labour show no bias / attempt to show no bias. My someday to be in-laws have spent, combined, something around 50-60 years working for the BBC and as a result have / had positions of considerable repute as well as a friend circle containing a majority, if not exclusive, BBC co-workers. I have attended a number of their social gatherings and found without fail that every one of them are Labour supporters and voters. One glorious gathering occurred on the day of the recent Mayoral election; safe to say my appearance with a hot off the press copy of the Standard emblazened with 'Boris is Mayor' did not go down at all well.

Anyhow, I digress, my point is that from my experience, the BBC's upper echelons are dominated by Labour sympathisers who cannot see past 1980s Britain and do not care what state the country is in as long as it does not return to Tory rule. There is very little rational conversation to be had, just an immovable belief that there are few, if any flaws, with those currently in power. There is no way this does not influence their reporting and cause bias throughout.

Anonymous said...

*and by Labour I obviously meant BBC... Apologies

John B said...

I also know quite a few Beeb people, most of whom - although left-liberal by inclination - are absolutely furious with the rubbishness of the current government.

(I'm suspecting that Anon @ 15:47 approaches his Beeb people with the starting point 'socialists like you and New Labour are responsible for everything that's wrong with the world; we should bring back hanging and Enoch Powell'. This causes Defensiveness. On the other hand, if you approach them with the starting point 'isn't the current government brilliant', then you get a fairly resounding chorus of 'err, no'. Most of which is liberty-based rather than not-lefty-enough-based).

RareBreed said...

I agree with all you say but i think the reason that so many Teetotaller die early is because the vast majority of them are recovering Alchoholics...

Just shows what statistics can do.

Chalcedon said...

It's much easier to parrot stuff like this. Good article in the times saying about being on CCTV in London 300 times. This is hypothetical, not founded in a real study. But quoted as gospel.

As for alcohol, the Americans have the same number re limit, but their units are twice as big. So Americans can safely drink twice the amount recommended for us. It's all bollocks. Oriental people get pissed much faster than Westerners for exanple becuae they have lower levels of alcohol dehydrogenase and alcohol oxidase in their livers than we do. This is a biological difference.

Anonymous said...

JohnB - you couldn't be more wrong... I speak as a previous Labour voter and someone who sees nothing in the Tory party to distinguish them from the current mess in charge. I do not want a return to anything, rather a move away from where we are currently. I cannot tell you what that would be, if I could I'd be out there shouting it from the rooftops, but I expect those attempting to obtain my vote to at least offer some sort of alternative! Furthermore, I'm pleased you found your experiences with those you know / have met differ to mine, it gives me a glimmer of hope. I don't want to write people off and my previous tale may have come across rather more arrogant than i wished. I admit the Boris victory did give me cause to celebrate, but only because I had previously spent time with the same group and been shouted down and derided for offering alternative views (a long way from right, i may add). It was nice to have the populist view behind me for once and it did give rise to some smugness.

Back to the BBC... How are they talking about global warming / climate change in a story about how the winter was so cold? Where are the met office getting the info on which they are basing their claims that global warming stopped the winter just passed being colder, when they are at the same time stating it was colder than average? Why will extreme winters only occur every thousand years now rather than every 100-200? What is this based on?


Anonymous said...

Comrade Devil,
This little one really isn't worth getting upset about.

After all nobody in the real world gives a shit about Units. No really we don't... I mean obviously Alan Johnson, Liam Donaldson and all those useless health Nazis think it's important, but frankly they are fucking idiots for even thinking we'll take any notice of what they have to say.

Indeed I'd be interested to know if there is any published research proving a link between the shite that comes out of Alan Johnson's mouth an increasing levels of alcoholism. As for Donaldson his anaemnic interviews would have me reaching for the heroin, spoon and a lighter if the batteries on my remote control ever ran out.

The adverts are actually quite good. They remind me that I should really be opening a fresh bottle of wine. Thanks New Labour! You fuckers!

Anonymous said...

Claus: "if they encourage people (including myself) to think about drinking a bit less then perhaps the end justifies the means"

That is the Noble Lie. It's still a lie. It is especially evil for a scientist or doctor to lie to the public.

Lies are important; it is amazingly difficult to do a lot of harm without lying.

Lexander said...

Absolutely spot on DK. Christ almighty the BBC does annoy me a lot.

Mark Brentano said...

Christ, I wish I could remember the details of this, but I checked the 'units per week' figures when I was a sub-editor seven or eight years ago, and the Department of Health denied responsibility and seemed to claim the recommendations had been proffered by the drinks industry! As I say, can't remember details, but then I am completely drunk.

Why are we even considering Govt Views said...

These things are just to wind us up, they want civil unrest.
Just ignore them.

Forget the BBC Listen in to Radio Truth Radio Here

Hugh said...


It's what the government wants.

Telly Tax Rebel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Telly Tax Rebel said...

Listen you dumb fuckers, booze is bad for you - and it offends our muslim friends. Smoking is bad for you and it offends our muslim friends. Sex outside of marriage is bad and offends our muslim friends. Bombing Hamas rocket bases is bad and offends our muslim friends. Dogs are bad and they offend our muslim friends. The ritual slaughter of animals is good and doesn't offend our muslim friends. - you get the message?

(all reported by the BBC)

Now shut the fuck up and pay your licence fee.

Ed West said...

Isnt there a clear link between early death and living in a Labour constituency? Perhaps the prescence of a Labour MP actually cuts short your life. I know people in Gazza live to 70 and in the East End of Glasgae it's 54.

Dave H said...

Mr West, there may be amusment to be had by comparing the two, somehow I don't think highlighting the link would make a great campaigning issue.

I'm sure you could find a link between the Doner Kebab consumption and cirrhosis of the liver.

Anonymous said...

Chalcedon (04:59 pm) said:

"As for alcohol, the Americans have the same number re limit, but their units are twice as big. So Americans can safely drink twice the amount recommended for us."

I don't think your figures are correct. Americans use a Standard Drink containing 14g of alcohol while the UK uses a Unit of 8g alcohol. The limits are:

US 196 g/week
UK 168 g/week

Non pregnant women:
US 98 g/week
UK 112 g/week

Australia is the highest at 280 g/week for men but to be reduced by a factor of 3 this year.

Anonymous said...

The banning of smoking in pubs took around 30 years - Now that the government worked out the formula, I guess banning alcohol in pubs should take much less time - assuming Labour stay in power (which unbelievably is still possible if 30% still vote for them in force - and the rest of us show apathy and hope that Tory voters will vote on our behalf!)

I reckon 10 years of this units bollox should do it - and the end result will be only those who ignore the anti smoking and any drinking who are able to feel good at the end of a working day ( again assuming any of us are working in 10 years time!)

Not cynical - just too realistic for my own good!