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Speaker: Science and Democracy

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  • BenWilson, in reply to Jack Harrison,

    The obvious path into a marijuana law is to have it used for medical purposes.

    Yes, it might be a consolation as I die of cancer 30 years from now that at least I can get painkilling cannabis, even if the law is still against it being available for fun. A law that will have stopped almost no one who actually wanted to have it for fun, but it will have made a lot of them have some distinctly not-fun experiences as well.

    Hopefully science will find that having fun is actually good for you at some point.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    Hopefully science will find that having fun is actually good for you at some point.

    wahey! :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19706 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Good to see someone speaking forthrightly. There are other people in more secure positions than Lisa (including the other scientists behind Fizz) who should stand up too.

    Hate merchants at it again with smear tactics

    Sunday, 28 September 2014, 1:00 pm
    Press Release: Association of Salaried Medical Specialists
    Hate merchants at it again with smear tactics

    “It’s disappointing to see the hate merchants at it again with yet another attempt to smear and silence a health professional who’s doing research they disagree with,” says Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS).

    “Cameron Slater’s Whale Oil blog has repeatedly attacked the work being done by public health researchers, for example in the areas of nutrition and smoking, and now he’s having a go at Otago University nutrition expert Dr Lisa Te Morenga.

    “Once again we see him using the word ‘trougher’ in a blog post in an offensive attempt to undermine the credibility of a health professional who is using her expertise to improve public health, and then on Twitter we see Carrick Graham and Jordan Williams also laying into Dr Te Morenga.

    “These smear tactics were well documented in Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics book and the resulting political revelations in the lead-up to the general election, and they’re unacceptable. Critiquing the conclusions of research is a valid part of health debate and discussion but this is just nasty stuff on the part of Whale Oil and others. New Zealand’s health professionals should be able to carry to carry out research and other investigations without fear of intimidation.”

    Mr Powell says this latest attack on a health professional follows the recent visit here by British anti-tax spin doctor Christopher Snowdon to talk about the evils of taxing sugary soft drinks.

    “It’s all part of a relentless campaign to undermine and silence people who are working to address issues like obesity, diabetes and public health. Our view is that sunlight is the best disinfection for those tactics.”


    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22825 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Bravo! Let's which (if any) media run with this...

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2108 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    This is a thought provoking post Thank you Nicola.

    recent visit here by British anti-tax spin doctor Christopher Snowdon to talk about the evils of taxing sugary soft drinks.

    So he kinda snuck in quietly, talked to like-minded people and away. Wonder what those evils are hmmm...

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • st ephen,

    At the end of the day there's only one kind of evidence that the Nats want for policy development, and that's the evidence supplied by David Farrar to tell them whether voters (or at least the ones they care about this week) give a shit or not.

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 254 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    Oh, come on st ephen, they also like policy that earns them favour from donors, policy that makes Labour look bad, policy that personally enriches their ministers of cabinet, policy that divides society to make the poor fear each other, policy that pumps up our dollar to make local wealth more valuable, policy that pumps up house prices to help their housing portfolios, policy that degrades the public education service to lock poor people out of the intelligentsia, ... and then just run polls all the time and dump the ones that people take most offence at.

    Which means they also like policy that will draw people's attention away from their other policies, so they can dump it later after the real ones are through.

    Since Nov 2006 • 609 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to tussock,

    In the eyes of the usual suspects:

    Mike Joy, Lisa Te Morenga and Nicholas Stern are "academics".
    David Bratt, Mansel Aylward and Christopher Snowdon are "scientists".

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5429 posts Report Reply

  • Marc C,

    Quote from the above post:
    "What I do believe, is that any privilege we have as scientists is a privilege based on public trust in scientific activities. Such trust should not be based on myths about scientific objectivity, nor on nonsense about us being best placed to make policy decisions: it should be based on a culture of honesty and integrity, and of open criticism and discussion of the facts without fear nor favour. These are the values that make science work, and we (scientists) need to stick up for them. And we (the public) need to stick up for them too."

    I am still finding little in the way of independent expert science feedback on the "research" that a Professor Mansel Aylward from the so-called 'Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research' at Cardiff University in Wales, for many years sponsored by controversial health and disability insurance giant UNUM, which also had its own name included in that Centre's name.

    The NZ government (like before the UK government) appears to have fully accepted the "findings" by him and some of his colleagues, that most health conditions are not as disabling and serious as previously thought, and that much of what sick, injured and impaired suffer from is nothing much more than "illness belief". I remember one report by Aylward that suggested there was simply too much "malingering" and the likes going on.

    Some info on Aylward and his associations:

    Aylward is known for presentations, publications and messages like this:

    In some publications Aylward has been blunt and open about how he and his fellows intended to achieve change, by stating the following:
    “Changing beliefs and attitudes: the evidence base:
    Getting politicians and key decision makers on side”.

    Aylward's and Waddell's "findings" have also been happily adopted by WINZ's Principal Health Advisor Dr David Bratt, who goes further and compares benefit dependence to even "drug dependence":
    (see pages 13, 20, 21 and 35)

    Researching the internet for presentations by Aylward et al, a fair few have over recent times "vanished", and it raises the suspicion that they have been deleted or made inaccessible, due to critical publications like the following:

    Even the Deputy PM and Finance Minister Bill English has recently discovered and adopted the same line of thought:

    More sources revealing what is really behind Aylward and his "science":




    Also worth to consider:
    "Govt's skewed pathways to work and ME/CFS", 'Prohealth' discussion, May 2008:

    While one must not simply view such "researchers" like Aylward as being totally without some credit, I am unconvinced by his "findings" and reports, which seem somewhat one-sided, and just too "convenient" for governments, insurers and other institutions, organisations or businesses with vested interests to serve their interests.

    Having private enterprises "invest" in, or "sponsor" research bears risks of the results being driven by ulterior motives.

    Given the blind acceptance of the mentioned research by Aylward and similar "experts" by the NZ government, allowing them to use the "advice" to drive controversial, very questionable welfare reforms, should raise major questions and concerns amongst the public and the scientific community. The UK experience with Aylwards devised Work Capability Assessment, with the use of ATOS as assessor for the DWP, and the involvement of UNUM should send loud warning signals here!

    Akl • Since Oct 2012 • 437 posts Report Reply

  • Marc C,

    Here is more about how Fiance Minister and Deputy PM Bill English has adopted his own new position on welfare reform, apparently based on the kind of "science" that is being taught, spread and "sold" by persons like Professor Aylward and his loyal "student" or follower, Principal Health Advisor, Dr David Bratt, working as a public servant, paid for through our tax dollars:


    Akl • Since Oct 2012 • 437 posts Report Reply

  • Trevor Nicholls, in reply to Russell Brown,

    (Quoting Ian Powell)

    this is just nasty stuff on the part of Whale Oil and other

    Just a thought, but I think it would be preferable if WO was always attributed by name not by monicker. "This is just nasty stuff on the part of Cameron Slater and others". The man should own his vile outpourings and be held accountable for them as much as possible.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 324 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Marc C,

    Fiance Minister

    someone showing a higher level of commitment than the Minister for Foreign Affairs? ... but sadly, a commitment to ideology rather than critical evaluation of evidence.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1923 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Marc C,

    One ring to rule them...

    Fiance Minister

    I love that New Zealand has a Minister Of Engagement!
    :- )

    Hmmm, continuing his 'Benefit/Crack Cocaine' addiction metaphor ... it seems from that site, that English also thinks Education is addictive as well...

    We know hooking adults back into the education system and getting them off benefits into work in seven years rather than 20 saves the country millions," he said

    and he really begrudges those on a sickness benefit...
    Ivory-towered twit...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7943 posts Report Reply

  • Marc C, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Haha, yes, a typo, result of too quick commenting, and not double checking it.

    Sorry for that, but at least you can get a humorous side of it.

    FINANCE MINISTER English, of course applying an ACTUARIAL approach to welfare, which boils down to achieving cost savings, no matter at what "price" on the downside later on. He is one of the main architects behind it all, and Bennett is just the sock puppet fronting it all.

    And in an open letter John Key did a day ago announce, that welfare reform would be a "priority", in the coming term of government. Prepare to dress up warm, all those affected!

    Akl • Since Oct 2012 • 437 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie, in reply to Trevor Nicholls,

    Just a thought, but I think it would be preferable if WO was always attributed by name not by monicker. "This is just nasty stuff on the part of Cameron Slater and others". The man should own his vile outpourings and be held accountable for them as much as possible.

    Another way of looking at it Trevor is that using this person's real name and/or the name of his site donates him a little Google juice, and we don't want to do that. Personally, I think 'odious slug' fits the bill nicely.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1434 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody,

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report Reply

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