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Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

Wednesday 19th February 2014

There have been ‘cons’ since the beginning of time. My last piece mentioned the way that belief in the Doctrine of Signatures was exploited by charlatans selling an alleged remedy for toothache. And, today, Internet based scams of all sorts are widespread.

Whenever I hear people getting angry about some scheme for parting the public from its money I always say that the perpetrators aren’t entirely to blame. Put simply if these schemes didn’t work, they wouldn’t happen. It is the combination of poor judgement and the desire to make or save money that leads people to ignore the risks and make poor decisions.

I put the word ‘cons’ in quote marks because I’m not just thinking about wholly illegal scams. I’m including the perfectly legal activities that nonetheless rely on poor judgement from the target market for success. There’s nothing illegal about, say, making a cheap screwdriver and selling it at a ridiculously low price but someone who doesn’t stop and think there must be something missing from a screwdriver selling for 10p when the normal price is nearer £5 is showing that very poor judgement.

This train of thought comes about because, driving home from the supermarket, I saw this sign;

advert for hay

I’ll stress that, other than some technical infringement of road traffic law or planning regulations, I’m not saying there is anything illegal going on here. I have no way of knowing the circumstances of the production of the hay on offer and no basis for doubting the claim that it is suitable for horses. I’ve pasted over the second half of the telephone number but left the first digits so that you can see this is a number for a mobile phone.

I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t know that Jacobaea vulgaris (syn. Senecio jacobaea), common ragwort, can be harmful to horses and I’ve never read anything that doesn’t point out that ragwort in hay is the greatest risk. For that matter, I’ve never come across a horse-owner who doesn’t profess that their prime interest is in the welfare of their animal(s).

So what does it say that, based on my ‘if it didn’t work they wouldn’t do it’ theory, there are horse-owners who are willing to buy hay from some unknown person on a mobile phone and accept the claims for it at face value? I hope I’m wrong. I hope no-one has been foolish enough to buy hay as a result of this advert.

I’ve reported this to the local authority and it should be removed quite quickly.

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