The professor who doesn\’t know about experiments

Dear Lord this is dreadful:

As a professor of marketing who has been doing research into the social and commercial aspects of alcohol consumption for some time, I have tended to sit on the fence on the issue of minimum pricing. However, at a time like this I cannot but feel disappointed that the government has not taken the initiative to try something that might work.

That it might not work, or that some people may suffer more than others from a price increase is not something I dispute. The point is that, whatever the figures tell us about some recent reductions in the consumption of alcohol in the UK, most of us have had experiences of the impact of excessive alcohol that cannot leave us in two minds regarding the need to do more about it. Therefore I would follow the utilitarian argument: that even if a few suffer as a result of minimum pricing, it would still be worth it if the community as a whole can benefit.

Of course many would argue that minimum pricing is an experiment and that we do not have the evidence it will work. In the sense that it will not solve all alcohol-related problems, that has to be true. But it is a concrete step to understanding what might and might not work. If it doesn\’t work, then I am sure the alcohol companies will present the appropriate evidence.

Not just the few might suffer so that the many might benefit malarkey.

But she seems entirely ignorant that Scotland is going ahead with minimum pricing and England is not. Therefore it is the current solution, without English minimum pricing, that provides us with the experiment to look at the efficacy. We get to look at the changes in consumption in each country.

Blimey, don\’t they teach experimental design at Birmingham?

16 comments on “The professor who doesn\’t know about experiments

  1. That it might not work, or that some people may suffer more than others from a price increase is not something I dispute. The point is that, whatever the figures tell us about some recent reductions in the consumption of alcohol in the UK, most of us have had experiences of the impact of excessive alcohol that cannot leave us in two minds regarding the need to do more about it.

    These are the people that tell us we shouldnt cut benefits because of those few purely anecdotal stories about benefit scroungers in the press, lets remember…

  2. The tossers in the Scots parliament may think they are going ahead but how are they to get around the “illegal under euuuw law” bit?.

  3. Professor of Marketing?? Does this rate above or below Professor of East-Ender*s Studies in the academic heirarchy I wonder?

    FFS!

  4. “…whatever the figures tell us about some recent reductions in the consumption of alcohol in the UK…”

    Translation: “Never mind the facts*, I want my authoritarian solution and I want it NOW”

    * or EU law, come to mention it.

    and what Pogo said.

  5. These are the people that tell us we shouldnt cut benefits because of those few purely anecdotal stories about benefit scroungers in the press, lets remember

  6. I’m very glad that this minimum pricing measure has been dropped.
    It would have had a significant effect on the people who prefer the low strength end of the spectrum, like the 4 to 5% beers (and then sometimes mix that half and half with lemonade). I quite like that myself, low alcohol but a long refreshing drink with lots of fizz. That’s where the prices would get doubled by minimum pricing.

    I do agree that there is a case to be made for dealing with alcohol fuelled crime and disorder. But it does not involve faffing around with minimum pricing. It would require a much more robust attitude to hoodlums who fight in the streets, throw up, behave like loons in the middle of the road, and then in court enter, as mitigation, that at the time of the offence they were too drunk to know what they were doing. How about making that inadmissible? In fact how about making that an aggravating factor that gets you a premium punishment?

  7. PaulB, those words follow the defence opening gambit for EVERY SINGLE COURT CASE involving alcohol Ive noted on my blog. If its not being accepted, why would the defence keep saying it?

    Oh, and are you forgetting this notorious case?

  8. JuliaM: show me a report where the judge actually says he’s treating alcohol as a mitigating factor (in a crime of ‘basic intent’).

  9. PaulB: “…show me a report where the judge actually says hes treating alcohol as a mitigating factor “

    Did you click on the link?

    ““shit lawyers say” != “the law”. “

    I’m guessing that was a does not equal sign? Well, why keep using it as mitigation if its not effective?

  10. After a conviction, the judge gives a speech in which he explains his sentence. If he’d said he was treating alcohol as a mitigating factor, then the Telegraph, which was clearly anxious to make something of it, would have quoted him.

    Apparently reports on this case in the Telegraph and other newspapers were all copied from the report in the local paper a fortnight earlier. Andthis is what the local paper has to say about the sentencing:

    The observation about the women not being used to alcohol was made by defence lawyer Gary Short. We quoted him on this point towards the end of our article but we did not suggest that this was the reason why the judge spared the attackers an immediate prison sentence.

    On the contrary. We gave the actual reason earlier in the report which was that the judge, Robert Brown, said he accepted the women may have felt they were the victims of unreasonable force from the victim’s partner (Rhea says her partner was only trying to protect her).

    Since then, I have got hold of a transcript of the sentencing which clearly confirms this was the reason that the judge decided on a suspended sentence rather than sending the attackers to prison.

    However, two weeks after our article, the story emerged in the national newspapers, where the line about the women being Muslims who were not used to alcohol was given much more prominence.

    Most of these articles reported that the attackers were freed “after” the judge heard this evidence. Even though they used the word “after” instead of the word “because” these articles clearly implied that the two things were connected.
    This was misleading and created a perception about this case which is at odds with the facts

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