Follow the action!

For all (well, most) of the action as it happens, follow me on Facebook and Twitter!

Thursday, 6 September 2007

No News is bad news

Hold onto your hats. I've got news for you. News that might change the way you think forever... are you ready? Brace yourself, new studies out today show that:

1. Lots of e-numbers make children hyperactive.

2. Lots and lots of booze when you're a teenager is no good for you and lands you in with the wrong crowd.

Phew. I know. Earth shattering isn't it? What's so amazing about the two sets of headlines today (and most of today's papers carry the additives and e-numbers story on their front page) is that surely it is common sense? Or at least if not common-sense, old news?

I remember my mum whittering on about the dangers of e-numbers ( I wasn't entirely sure what they were) when I was about ten. ( As a result, my first major act of rebellion when I went to university was to go to the newsagents and buy a large bag of bright blue penny sweets and eat them before lunch.)

Surely consuming huge amounts of alcohol when you're 13 indicates that something is not quite right at home and your mates are probably not the best influence on you, and all that home-brewed Snake-bite will inevitably do some pretty hefty liver damage?

But in an age of information over-load, it seems that we can't realise something is the truth until we have some statistics. Parents and teachers could have told you that fizzy drinks and booze is bad for kids years ago. ( I have visited a school for disengaged boys where banning fizzy drinks and giving the boys bottled water in lessons to suck on improved behaviour dramatically.) But now we need a 'report' to prove it.

Of course policy should not be decided on superstitious whim, or fashion fad. Of course in-depth reports are important. Of course policy should be based on evidence. But today's headlines are not a sign of an evidence-based society, they are a sign of a statistics-based society. ( And we all know the old adage about lies, lies and damned statistics.) This time, the statistics paint a picture of the truth. But it is truth we should have known long ago. The real news to shock you is that all this should be news at all.

No comments: