Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Round-up: The Drugs Debate

The fallout from the government's sacking of Chief Scientific Advisor Professor David Nutt has sparked a major political debate, which local bloggers have been all too willing to participate in.

Science versus politics

Alistair McRonald is fascinated by it all as he says it cuts across traditional left-right lines and divides opinion between logic and emotion.

Giovanni at Push The Red Button says it highlights the pretence of government policy-making processes and that "it is a sad day for government, science and society" when an emminent British expert who is a world leader in the field is sacked for having the courage to call for more honesty in politics.

Jonathan at Digital Toast calls Professor Nutt a "complete wibbling loon candidate for mistruth" as he accuses him of 'bad science' and 'blatant statistic mangling'.

However Steve Borthwick provides the benefit of his scientific experience - that intuited knowledge may conform to personal moral frameworks, but it is usually contradicted by reality.

Meanwhile I had a look at some of the science behind the debate on Cannabis classification in an attempt to clear up some of the confusion about the reasons behind the legal framework, while analysing some of the political manoeuvering which informs policy-making by this government.

Which only leaves the unsettling question hanging: why bother asking a question when you already know the answer?

The unfolding events

Mark Reckons has kept up a furious pace providing a running commentary on the unfolding debate, which he thinks more accurately highlights the reasons why government is seen to be failing and the choices facing society going into the next election.

Mark immediately picked up on the brewing controversy, asking: would Home Secretary Alan Johnson take the sensible route by listening to his advisors?, before raising the point that Labour wants to dictate scientific conclusions according to their own percieved interests.

He followed up by noting Conservative support for this doctrinaire approach, commenting that
"the most depressing thing about this whole latest drugs policy farago is that it is looking like things will not be any better if the Conservatives get in after the next election."
As the weekend progressed and two further scientific advisors walked out in protest at the Government's behaviour he noted that the rise of Alan Johnson from Berkshire postman to one of the great offices of state could quickly go into reverse as not one member of R4's Any Questions audience supported the action by the government.

He then cited Iain Brassington's biting response to the sacking letter on a Britsh Medical Journal group blog which paraphrased Mr Johnson's own words:
"I cannot have public confusion between scientific advice and policy and have therefore lost confidence in your ability to make decisions as Home Secretary. I would therefore ask you to step down from the Government with immediate effect."
Mark kept it up by noting Downing Street's refusal to accept any dissent on the issue, before concluding with his perspective on the session in the House of Commons when Alan Johnson faced questions from MPs.

He said it was an occasion which made him feel proud to be a LibDem, as the only side which disagreed with the action taken by the government.

Elsewhere Bracknell Blog has a look behind the headlines and advertises the facebook group which has been set up demanding an evidence based drugs policy which calls for Prof Nutt to be reinstated - you can join the group here.

And finally...

Ludicity satirises the farce by claiming the Government will now appoint an official 'Drugs Rasputin' to repudiate all that the former 'Drugs Czar' represented.


Update: Chairman Bill offers some words of advice from Bertrand Russell.

Jim Beer takes the side of the professor against the politicians, and he's not timid about saying so.

1 comment:

  1. Blimey! Thanks for the summary of what I have said on this. To be honest I hadn't realised I had done quite so much related to it!


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