THE POISON GARDEN website      Arum maculatum berries on a Cannabis leaf 

Search thepoisongarden.co.uk:

This free script provided by JavaScript Kit

Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

Monday 28th January 2013

I think most people have their hobby horses; topics they return to time and again because they seem to be important but no-one seems to see that importance. For me, this would be a condition I describe as intellectual incest.

The best way to illustrate what I mean by that term is to look at the infamous affair of the British Airways tailfins. The BBC faux obituary1 is a good way to understand the issue if you are not familiar with it. BA decided to remove the Union Flag from its aircraft and, at a time when it was cutting staff to save money, decided to make a big fuss about the cost of the change.

Everyone involved with the project thought it was a really good idea and was shocked at the ridicule heaped on the airline by, well, just about everyone really. And that’s what I mean by ‘intellectual incest’. Everyone involved in the new livery was thinking the same way. It needed someone from outside to say ‘You are the British ‘flag carrier’ and you intend to drop the flag and brag about how much money you are spending to do so. Are you mad?’

Why bring this up now and here? Because the UK Home Office has demonstrated exactly the same sort of intellectual incest with its new advertising campaign for its ‘Talk to FRANK’ website. 

Before going any further let’s have a bit of full disclosure. I’m a 61-year old white male and I have never taken any illegal substance. I was a teenager in the ‘60s when it all kicked off but I didn’t go to dances, as they were still called, I didn’t even read ‘Melody Maker’ or ‘NME’ never mind the ‘hip’ newcomers to the publishing world who were selling the lifestyle as well as the music. If I hadn’t been inclined to be lazy, I’d qualify as a nerd but, if there were such a term, I’d describe myself as an ‘undernerd’.

Even so, dear UK Home Office;

I KNEW WHAT A JOINT WAS.

The Home Office has proudly announced its new advertising campaign2 and published a YouTube video3 telling the story of how the adverts came to be developed.

It is worth looking at some of the things the Home Office says about this campaign;

‘A new advertising campaign to remind young people to talk to FRANK for factual and trustworthy drugs advice’

I suppose saying a leg of lamb is not a Cannabis sativa, marijuana, cigarette is factual but it is far from being helpful.

‘The adverts are designed to highlight the confusion many young people feel when it comes to drugs and to point them to FRANK for the facts.’

I wonder where the Home Office finds these ‘many young people’ who are confused? I suspect the Home Office would say it has used focus groups to reach that conclusion but does anyone really think that a Home Office focus group would contain anything other than the current generation of undernerds who would never consider taking drugs of any sort?

So far, so laughable but then it gets serious;

‘Home Office Crime Prevention Minister Jeremy Browne said: 'Distorted information from their peers and popular culture can lead young people to feel confused about drugs and the risks they pose.’’

Does he really believe that ridiculous information from a government website will turn young people away from the advice of their peers? Research a few years ago showed that young people are far more likely to follow advice from peers than anywhere else. That means any adult has an uphill task to deliver drugs education. Making that education farcical is only seen as helpful by those enclosed in the circle of intellectual incest responsible for these adverts.

Browne goes on to say;

‘'We know FRANK works, 67 per cent of young people say they would use it if they needed drugs advice.'’

Look carefully at the second part of that sentence and you will see it does not justify the first. Recent figures for lifetime prevalence show that 38% of 16-24 year olds have ever used an illegal drug and 17% of 11-15 year olds. So, that 67% could be just about completely composed of people who have never taken an illegal drug.

And ‘they would use it if they needed drugs advice’ could mean they don’t need drugs advice because they don’t use drugs or they don’t need drugs advice because they know what drugs to take and how to take them.

The Home Office press release even makes it clear that Browne’s 67% figure is nonsense because it says;

‘FRANK's existence has also coincided with a sustained fall in drug use among young people, from 28.3 per cent of 16 to 24 year olds claiming to have taken drugs in 2003/04 (when FRANK was created) to 19.3 per cent in 2011/12.’

Note, that 19.3% is last year prevalence not the lifetime 38% I used to show that supporters of FRANK could come almost entirely from non-users.

The Home Office idea of being ‘factual and trustworthy’ seems to be to claim credit for FRANK for a fall in illegal drug use without having any evidence to support that claim and whilst completely ignoring the rise in New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) that aren’t monitored by the prevalence surveys but do seem to be the choice of many young people.

The thing about intellectual incest is that no-one realises it is going on. Thus, anyone involved with this pathetic campaign reading this will dismiss me as someone who 'doesn't understand'.

Telling lies about drugs is the perfect way to increase the harms they do. Spending money on a spectacularly stupid advertising campaign because the closed-loop thinking within the Home Office and Talk to Frank was not penetrated by someone saying ‘Are you crazy?’ is worse than that.

References

1. R.I.P. British Airways' funky tailfins BBC 11th May 2001
2. New FRANK adverts mark tenth anniversary Home Office 28th January 2013
3. Talk to FRANK campaign – making the adverts YouTube 25th January 2013

Submit a Comment

You can send comments via the contact page but please be sure to say what blog entry you are commenting on.

Follow @thepoisongarden on Twitter

Full Entries

2016

Tuesday 25th October 2016 Saturday 20th August 2016 Sunday 6th March 2016 Wednesday 3rd February 2016

2015

Saturday 28th November 2015 Friday 27th November 2015 Monday 17th August 2015 Wednesday 15th July 2015 Friday 26th June 2015 Thursday 25th June 2015 Thursday 30th April 2015 Wednesday 29th April 2015 Wednesday 11th March 2015 Tuesday 3rd March 2015 Saturday 28th February 2015 Sunday 22nd February 2015

November 2014

 

Monday 24th November 2014 Saturday 8th November 2014

October 2014

September 2014

Wednesday 24th September 2014 Monday 1st September 2014

August 2014

Tuesday 26th August 2014 Saturday 16th August 2014 Tuesday 5th August 2014 Friday 1st August 2014

July 2014

Sunday 27th July 2014 Wednesday 23rd July 2014 Sunday 13th July 2014 Sunday 6th July 2014 Tuesday 1st July 2014

June 2014

Wednesday 25th June 2014 Tuesday 24th June 2014 Sunday 22nd June 2014 Monday 9th June 2014 Wednesday 4th June 2014

May 2014

Monday 26th May 2014 Sunday 18th May 2014 Wednesday 14th May 2014

April 2014

Sunday 13th April 2014 Saturday 5th April 2014 Thursday 3rd April 2014 Tuesday 1st April 2014

March 2014

Monday 31st March 2014 Tuesday 25th March 2014 Friday 21st March 2014 Monday 17th March 2014 Sunday 16th March 2014 Tuesday 11th March 2014 Thursday 6th March 2014 Wednesday 5th March 2014 Saturday 1st March 2014

February 2014

Thursday 27th February 2014 Monday 24th February 2014 Wednesday 19th February 2014 Monday 17th February 2014 Thursday 13th February 2014 Monday 4th February 2014 Monday 3rd February 2014 Saturday 1st February 2014

January 2014

Thursday 28th January 2014 Thursday 23rd January 2014 Friday 17th January 2014 Wednesday 15th January 2014 Monday 13th January 2014 Thursday 9th January 2014 Tuesday 7th January 2014 Wednesday 1st January 2014

December 2013

Monday 23rd December 2013 Friday 20th December 2013 Tuesday 17th December 2013 Friday 14th December 2013 Thursday 12th December 2013 Sunday 8th December 2013 Wednesday 4th December 2013 Sunday 1st December 2013

November 2013

Friday 29th November 2013 Wednesday 27th November 2013 Tuesday 26th November 2013 Friday 22nd November 2013 Monday 18th November 2013 Friday 15th November 2013 Thursday 14th November 2013 Sunday 10th November 2013 Thursday 7th November 2013 Wednesday 6th November 2013 Friday 1st November 2013

October 2013

Thursday 31st October 2013 Sunday 27th October 2013 Wednesday 23rd October 2013 Monday 21st October 2013 Friday 18th October 2013 Friday 11th October 2013 Wednesday 9th October 2013 Tuesday 8th October 2013 Monday 7th October 2013 Tuesday 1st October 2013

September 2013

Monday 30th September 2013 Saturday 28th September 2013 Friday 27th September 2013 Monday 23rd September 2013 Sunday 15th September 2013 Monday 9th September 2013 Sunday 8th September 2013 Tuesday 3rd September 2013 Sunday 1st September 2013

August 2013

Tuesday 27th August 2013 Sunday 25th August 2013 Monday 19th August 2013 Friday 16th August 2013 Tuesday 13th August 2013 Friday 9th August 2013 Friday 2nd August 2013 Thursday 1st August 2013

July 2013

Saturday 27th July 2013 Sunday 21st July 2013 Wednesday 17th July 2013 Monday 15th July 2013 Saturday 13th July 2013 Friday 12th July 2013 Thursday 11th July 2013 Wednesday 10th July 2013 Tuesday 9th July 2013 Saturday 6th July 2013

June 2013

Friday 28th June 2013 Tuesday 25th June 2013 Friday 21st June 2013 Thursday 20th June 2013 Wednesday 19th June 2013 Saturday 15th June 2013 Sunday 9th June 2013 Saturday 8th June 2013 Saturday 1st June 2013

May 2013April 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 November 2012 October 2012 September 2012 August 2012 July 2012 blog June 2012 blog May 2012 blog April 2012 blog March 2012 blog February 2012 blog January 2012 blog December 2011 blog November 2011 blog October 2011 blog September 2011 blog August 2011 blog July 2011 blog June 2011 blog


IMPORTANT NOTE

The POISON GARDEN website is not connected with Alnwick Garden Enterprises Ltd and/or The Alnwick Garden Trust.