A fancy job description is one sure way of having the bloody news media savour and publish anything you say.
Alf accordingly expects them to regurgitate the stuff on booze preached by one David Nutt when he comes here, blissfully ignoring the caution that should be sounded by his surname.
They will give time and space to him because he is a psychiatrist and neuropsychopharmacologist.
What was that again?
Oh, yeah. He’s one of them neuropsychopharmacologists.
If the news media were doing their job and had their wits about them (whatever few wits they might be able to muster on a good day), they would break down that nomenclature and take special note of the psycho bit, as the assiduous Alf has done because he regards it as the critical part of the whole word.
Further warning bells should clang when the media buggers spot that this Nutt bloke has been fired by the British Government for shooting his mouth off.
Indeed, all the warning bells were sounded (and ignored) within the first two sentences of a report in the Press today:
An outspoken drug expert who was fired by the British Government for his views on alcohol has slammed New Zealand’s decision not to lower the drink-drive limit.
Psychiatrist and neuropsychopharmacologist David Nutt will arrive in the country this week to speak at the national pharmacy conference in Auckland.
He will also address a Dean’s Lecture at the Otago University School of Medicine’s Christchurch campus tomorrow on the classification of drugs and alcohol.
Alf was oblivious to plans for a Dean’s Lecture, and presumes it has nothing much to do with Robbie Deans, although Robbie may well be giving thought to the comfort that can be provided by the right pills or a shot of booze after the thrashing of the Aussies at the weekend.
No, this will be some other Dean. The academic sort, drier than a conference of the Temperance Society.
As for the visiting lecturer, Alf observes the following:
Nutt made international headlines last year when he was sacked as chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs after he said alcohol and tobacco were more harmful than LSD, ectasy and cannabis.
Nutt told The Press from Britain that the New Zealand Government’s decision not to lower the drink-drive limit from 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood to 50mg or lower was a cop-out.
Introducing zero tolerance for 18 to 20-year-olds was a start, but there needed to be a stronger approach if alcohol-related deaths were to be reduced, he said.
“That’s poor. If you want to reduce deaths on the road, you’ve got to reduce the drinking level, and halving the drinking level will reduce deaths by about two-thirds, I would think,” he said.
“No government has the balls to do it because the drinks industry is so powerfully manipulating politicians.”
Alf draws attention to the somewhat flabby scientific rigour underpinning these utterances.
If we want to reduce deaths on the road, we’ve got to reduce the drinking level (rather than reducing the number of cars on the road).
And halving the drinking level will reduce deaths by about two-thirds, he would think.
Alf was given a D-minus in political studies, back in his university days, for expressing himself as loosely as that in an essay on the economic benefits to the nation of seriously reducing the numbers of Labour politicians in Parliament.
Come to think of it, Alf proposed reducing their numbers to zero, or even lower if that could be done.
Nutt has gone on to tell the Press that New Zealand has a similar binge-drinking culture to Britain’s, and changes to alcohol pricing and availability need to be made.
At his lecture in Christchurch he would explain his 21-point approach to alcohol, as well as drug classification and his sacking.
“I’m going to be telling people that drug laws don’t reflect the evidence and they actually do more harm than good because they distract people from what is probably the most dangerous drug, which is alcohol,” he said.
“When I said that in Britain, I was the Government’s chief adviser about drugs, and I told the truth about that and they sacked me because they didn’t like that.”
There’s no hint in this that it has dawned on him he was sacked for being wrong.
Nor is there any hint that Nutt recognises the extent to which any social mischief is done by younger boozers, rather than mature ones.
Hence, as should be glaringly obvious, the answer lies in raising the legal drinking age, to ensure that only mature boozers are allowed to drink the stuff. Alf has no problem with raising the bar as high as age 45 or more.
Just so long as he is above it, wherever it is set.
Meanwhile he is musing on studying to become a neuropsychopharmacologist.
Maybe Barry Soper and the rest of the Press Gallery would then pay some heed to his media statements and the quality of public debate would be hugely uplifted.