Strange Ontology: Week beginning 15th December 2008

I’m afraid I’ve lost track of how many of these are open access – click links with wild abandon and you should get quite a few full texts.

Original research

16th December

Breast cancer risk warning reignites fears over HRT

Right, a messy one to start with, I think this is a report on: Chlebowski RT et al. (2008) Breast cancer after stopping estrogen plus progestin in postmenopausal women in the womens health initiative, paper presented at 31st San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, 13th December. The reason I’m doubtful is that the name the Mail quotes is Dr Claudine Isaacs, who isn’t an author on the paper. She’s given only as a talking head in other coverage of the story (eg. here). However, the other three studies mentioned in the report are: Women’s Health Initiative Investigators (2002) Risks and Benefits of Estrogen Plus Progestin in Healthy Postmenopausal Women, JAMA, 288:321-333; Radvin et al. (2007) The Decrease in Breast-Cancer Incidence in 2003 in the United States, New England Journal of Medicine, 356:1670-1674; and (although again the details given don’t really allow me any certainty) Heiss et al. (2008) Health Risks and Benefits 3 Years After Stopping Randomized Treatment With Estrogen and Progestin, JAMA, 299:1036-1045.

Popular test for signs of bowel cancer ‘misses 40 per cent of cases’, warn doctors

A report on: Baxter et al. (2009) Association of Colonoscopy and Death From Colorectal Cancer: A Population-Based, Case-Control Study, Annals of Internal Medicine, 150:

18th December

Male circumcision ‘may protect women against cervical cancer’

A report on: Neilson et al. (2009) Associations between Male Anogenital Human Papillomavirus Infection and Circumcision by Anatomic Site Sampled and Lifetime Number of Female Sex Partners, The Journal of Infectious Diseases 199:7-13


A report on: Auvert et al. (2009) Effect of Male Circumcision on the Prevalence of High-Risk Human Papillomavirus in Young Men: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial Conducted in Orange Farm, South Africa, The Journal of Infectious Diseases 199:14-19


A report on: Warner et al. (2009) Male Circumcision and Risk of HIV Infection among Heterosexual African American Men Attending Baltimore Sexually Transmitted Disease Clinics, The Journal of Infectious Diseases 199:59-65

see also the issue’s editorial: Gray et al. (2009) The Role of Male Circumcision in the Prevention of Human Papillomavirus and HIV Infection, The Journal of Infectious Diseases 199:1-3

20th December

Hope for children with leukaemia as scientists find new way to ‘buy time’ for transplants

A report on: Colmone et al. (2008) Leukemic Cells Create Bone Marrow Niches That Disrupt the Behavior of Normal Hematopoietic Progenitor Cells, Science, 322:1861-1865

A report on: Yang et al. (2008) Case-only study of interactions between DNA repair genes (hMLH1, APEX1, MGMT, XRCC1 and XPD) and low-frequency electromagnetic fields in childhood acute leukemia, Leukemia and Lymphoma, 49: 2344-2350


A report on: Draper et al. (2005) Childhood cancer in relation to distance from high voltage power lines in England and Wales: a case-control study, BMJ 330:1290

Causes in brief

16th December

Tax cut hits cancer jab

“the HPV virus… is the main cause of cervical cancer in adults.”

(see also 16th December, Ditching cancer vaccine is a big step back, says expert, 17th December, HSE backs cancer jab Harney scrapped in Ireland, Interview: Health minister Mary Harney on why she won’t fund the cervical cancer vaccine for girls in Ireland and IRISH MAIL COMMENT: Must they destroy our girls’ innocence as well?

17th December

Join the Irish Daily Mail’s cervical cancer vaccination campaign today

“The Health Information Quality Authority has advised the Minister than the HPV vaccine combined with the recently rolled out cervical cancer screening programme will cut deaths from the disease by 80 per cent.”

19th December

Cancer causing dioxins found in Irish beef – but some products are already on UK shelves

“Studies suggest that only high-level exposure to dioxins over many years can increase the risk of cancer and damage to the immune and reproductive systems.”

20th December

The day I took on Olympic cyclist Chris Hoy, by Gethin Jones

“Exercise such as cycling can also prevent cancer. The risk of colon cancer, for instance, is three times higher among sedentary people than for the most active.”


17th December

‘Miracle’ recovery for mother given months to live after experimental cancer treatment

“Debbie Brewer was diagnosed in November 2006 with mesothelioma, a lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, but has beaten the odds thank to pioneering treatment in Germany.”

19th December

Couple to have Britain’s first baby genetically modified to be free of breast cancer gene

“Without screening, any girl they had would have been likely to develop a fast spreading, hard-to-treat form of breast cancer.”

If Del Boy was around today, he’d be trading in carbon offsets

I suppose it goes without saying that I was surprised by Littlejohn’s column today, I’m not really his target audience, but I genuinely didn’t believe that there was still anyone out there who didn’t accept the evidence for climate change. After all, there is a scientific consensus behind it (see Oreskes (2004) for a brief introduction, this letter by various national academies in 2005  or this statement from the World Meteorological Association in 2006) and general governmental agreement (this is the text of the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and these are the signatories). Poor naive fool that I am, I took this on good faith and started adapting my life accordingly.

What I foolishly failed to notice is that it’s cold at the moment, and has been warm in the past. If we were really warming, you’d expect it to be the other way around. Ergo, as Richard bravely points out, we can’t be warming. The fact that scientists missed this is probably a sign of some sort of agenda.

“None of this has in any way deterred the ‘global warming’ fascists. They dismiss this glaring, incontrovertible evidence as a ‘blip’ and continue to insist the world is burning up.”

The short answer to this is that Richard has got things the wrong way around – we have consistent findings of global rises in temperature (glaring, incontrovertible evidence, as it were) which he is writing off as anomalous, based on some localised instances of weather that doesn’t fit with the general trend. The trend and the instances are not incompatible though – a trend reflects the set of instances, it doesn’t determine individual ones. It is more than possible to have an unusually cold winter in the midst of generally warming ones – for example, our current cold spell is attributable to the effects of La Niña, the cold end of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (see the Met Office’s explanation here). It in no way undermines the consistent findings that global temperatures have risen.

On one level I can understand Richard’s mistake – it seems common sense that if we’re warming we should be warmer. However, the obvious thing to do when faced with something that runs against logic would be to find out if there was any satisfactory explanation, rather than assuming that the scientific community were a bunch of lying chancers you’ve easily proved wrong. What is striking is not just the solipsism of this (which must be difficult to avoid when you’re being paid for any and all of your thoughts) but the misconception of ‘science’ as an authoritarian monolith.

I’m being slightly unfair here, because Richard isn’t really interested in the scientific consensus – he seems to assume that there isn’t one. His real targets seems to be politicians and busy-bodies who are seizing on poor evidence to justify impositions on honest, hardworking people.

“That’s because this isn’t about the planet, it’s all about them.

‘Global warming’ gives them a reason to believe, provides meaning and purpose to their dismal little lives.”

This, again, seems to be upside-down. I would argue that, given that those who will suffer most dramatically (and who are already suffering) from the consequences of global warming are the world’s poorest (see here for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 working group report), acting to reduce carbon usage is actually about making sacrifices for others. Jacking up the heating because you’re damned if some government minister is going to tell you what to your own house is ‘all about you’, especially if you’re basing your actions on your own experience of the weather rather the evidence and opinions of those best placed to judge.

This kind of self-satisfied and wilful ignorance is irresponsible. There is a dishonesty in attacking a movement because it has the support of politicians when that support is based on apolitical evidence – however untrustworthy you think politicians are, some little investigation shows that in this case they are justified, a fact which should mitigate the mistrust. Instead, the lack of faith in them is extended sideways by association. Meanwhile, the fear of Richard and his readers is focused on the monster under the bed, when they should be worried about the water lapping at their door.

What the sacking of Posh Ed tells us about the BBC’s hang-ups over class

It’s odd to hear the Mail clamouring for positive discrimination, but here we are, cunningly disguised as an attack on inverted snobbery.

“Almost every day, we see on our screens or hear on the radio reporters and presenters whose only obvious credentials are that they are young, or female, or black, or possibly gay, or boast a Celtic or regional accent.”

Indeed. The observation arises from the removal of Edward Stourton from the presenter’s chair at the Today Programmme after ten years. Possibly because he was considered to be ‘a toff’. Perhaps. Maybe.

Now, there’s a lot to be said for Ed, but apart from the fact that his sonorous tones are well suited to reading things early in the morning, he has very few ‘obvious credentials’. The job requires that he has a voice. That box is ticked. What further credentials does he need? Beyond the fact that he has one, there’s not much his voice could tell you of any relevance. The reverse is also true – just as the nature of his voice doesn’t necessarily mask a lack of qualification, neither do those of any of the Jewish black gay (possibly) provincial Johnny-come-lately presenters. The fact that they don’t sound like Edward Stourton makes them no less able to read a script or ask people things on live radio.

What’s particularly peculiar about this farrago is not just that Hastings is dealing in an anti-toff bias which is merely alleged, but that he happily accepts that this isn’t a case of the wider dumbing down he links to it¹. Justin Webb, Ed’s replacement, not only has a voice but a track record of radio journalism. The only complaint is the toff-bashing one – there is a slowly creeping erosion of toffs in the media and this is one toff too many. A line should be drawn. Essentially, he wants a quota system.

That’s fair enough, but let’s be honest and open in saying that that’s what we want. He worries that the Beeb is “dominated by unlimited numbers of Scottish, Welsh, Geordie, Devon, Irish, Norfolk, or Essex accents” and wants fair weighting for all niche voices. That’s fair enough – the aristocratic accent is a pretty one, the airwaves are better with it included in our chorus. What is slightly more irksome is dressing this up as a buffer against the erosion of standards. This simultaneously suggests that you can’t pursue high standards with a regional accent and confounds extending the representation of the audience with ‘dumbing down’ (as in “It must be right to promote diversity on air. The BBC’s mistake, however, is to elevate popular culture, and those who peddle it, to represent the highest good.“).

Again, we’re not talking here about Today – that’s gone from one respected figure to another. What Max is complaining about is people on stations he doesn’t listen to². The argument is the same as it ever is: “Any national broadcasting organisation which thinks it clever, or indeed acceptable, to allow celebrity interviewers and chefs to exchange obscenities on air, because that is how their viewers and listeners are thought to talk, must expect us to respond cynically to its decisions.” Except that that is how the viewers and listeners talk. Max doesn’t, but he doesn’t watch shouty chef programmes anyway. He listens to Radio 4. Which is still a bastion of people who talk a bit like Max Hastings.

Cynicism isn’t the BBC moving away from ‘talking to’ to ‘talking with’. It’s taking advantage of a non-upsetting non-change and using it as a weapon to hit things you don’t like other people listening to or watching. Max gets the same value for his licence fee that he ever did – Radio 4 is still there. It’s time to stop letting the other stations upset him.


¹ Not, actually, that you’d know it from his conclusion: “The Today programme remains one of the best things the BBC produces. However, if the foolish doctrine of ‘accessibility’ takes over even there, then another blow is struck against the case for the compulsory licence levy.” Taken with the column that proceeds it, this is roughly equivalent to saying ‘Playschools are some of the safest places in the country. But if knife crime starts there, another blow will be struck against the government’s record on crime.’ It’s an entirely empty point.

² This may be unfair – he might be objecting to Eddie Meyer and John Humpries as well, high-water marks of yoof culture media saturation that they are.

Strange Ontology: Week beginning 8th December 2008

Hurrah, whoever it was who was away is now back, and normal service is resumed. Quite a few this week from the 31st San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium – I’m not sure how the abstracts will work on that, because I had to click a ‘I have understood the terms and conditions’ before I could get to them, but they are easily accessible through their webiste. The Lippman et al. paper is open access.

Original research

8th December

How teaching children to eat more slowly ‘cuts cancer risk’

A report on: Llewelyn et al. (2008) Eating rate is a heritable phenotype related to weight in children, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 88: 1560-1566

*this is provisional – there are very few details in the story with which to place the research, and the research I’ve found doesn’t look like an exact match. It’s the only CRUK press released research recently that fits though (press release here).

Women with ‘aggressive’ breast cancer likely to spread ‘could be spotted by a simple blood test’

A report on: Philippar et al. (2008) A Mena Invasion Isoform Potentiates EGF-Induced Carcinoma Cell Invasion and Metastasis, Developmental Cell, 15: 813-828.

9th December

Cancer to overtake heart disease as world’s biggest killer by 2010

A report on: Stewart, BW and Kleihues, P (2008) World Cancer Report, Geneva: International Agency for Research on Cancer

New study shows supplements don’t lower risk of prostate cancer

A report on: Lippman et al. (2009) Effect of Selenium and Vitamin E on Risk of Prostate Cancer and Other CancersJAMA, doi:10.1001/jama.2008.864

11th December

Walking for an hour a day can ‘halve risk of getting breast cancer’

A report on: Suzuki et al. (2008) Effect of Physical Activity on Breast Cancer Risk: Findings of the Japan Collaborative Cohort Study, Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, 17: 3396-3401


A report on: McClain et al. (2008) Association between physical activity, sleep duration, and cancer risk among women in Washington County, MD: A prospective cohort study, poster at the Seventh Annual AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, 16-19 November

Teenage girls who lack vitamin D ‘risk weight gain and stunted growth’

A report on: Kremer et al. (2008) Vitamin D Status and its Relationship to Body Fat, Final Height, and Peak Bone Mass in Young Women, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, doi:10.1210/jc.2008-1575

New breast cancer drug cuts risk of death by a fifth compared to NHS treatment, research shows

A report on: Mouridsen et al. (2008) BIG 1-98: A randomized double-blind phase III study evaluating letrozole and tamoxifen given in sequence as adjuvant endocrine therapy for postmenopausal women with receptor-positive breast cancer, paper presented at 31st San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, 11th December

12th December

New test ‘could spare breast cancer patients from harsh chemotherapy side effects’

A report on: Bartlett et al. (2008) Chromosome 17 polysomy: a unifying hypothesis underlying benefit from adjuvant anthracyclines?, paper presented at 31st San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, 14th December

Found: The ‘Kevin and Perry’ hormone that makes teens unbearable

A report on: Topaloglu et al. (2008) TAC3 and TACR3 mutations in familial hypogonadotropic hypogonadism reveal a key role for Neurokinin B in the central control of reproduction, Nature Genetics, doi:10.1038/ng.306

13th December

Drug that can prevent breast cancer could offer hope to 300,000 women at high risk

A report on: Cuzick et al. (2008) Change in breast density as a biomarker of breast cancer risk reduction; results from IBIS-1, paper presented at 31st San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, 13th December

Causes in brief

10th December

Controversial plans could see Britain’s first nuclear waste dump built… in the Lake District

“And as outraged councillors condemned the decision, an expert pointed to research in Germany which showed an increased incidence of cancers and leukaemia around nuclear installations.”

(I believe the research mentioned is this. I can’t find the original paper it’s based on (it seems to be some sort of report to a German governmental body), but a useful meta-analysis on the subject is here).

11th December

GPs ‘are making up to 600 errors every day on patient safety’

“The Commission’s report, which reviewed the last five years, praised ‘dramatic’ improvements in waiting times, lower rates of MRSA and C.diff infections and cuts in premature deaths from heart disease, stroke and cancer.”

(The ‘Commision’s report’ is this.)

A quarter of children starting primary school are overweight or obese, NHS warns

“‘This is important for cancer because scientists now say that, after not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight is the most important thing we can do for cancer prevention.'”

(The report that prompted the article is here.)

None of us wants to be kept alive for ever. But we must never give the state the power to finish us off

Great little example of a straw man argument here from our good friend Stephen Glover. Euthanasia, he feels, should not be permitted because it opens the door to the state bumping us off.

“And I don’t believe that many of us want to live in a society in which servants of the state are officially empowered to finish us off.”

There is an obvious answer to this.It is not an objection euthanasia, but the possible configuration of a future euthanising system. The concern can be avoided simply by insisting that only private practitioners – hospices, say – can carry out the treatment. Without really saying why, Stephen probably wouldn’t agree to this either as in places he seems to want a system where assisted suicide is a family matter:

“When my time comes, I would far rather leave all such judgments to those who love me, if there are any around, and to a friendly doctor, than to a practitioner charged with the power to kill me off.”

This, however, doesn’t chime with the next paragraph, in which he expresses concern that the law is not acting on parents who took their son abroad to end his life, so should probably be interpreted as meaning something closer to ‘I’d rather my family had the power to say when the conditions of my living will had been met rather than a doctor with the power of euthanasia’.

The obvious problem with this is that removing the possibility of euthanasia simultaneously removes any power from your family. In the cases we’re looking at, we’re a few steps ahead of the living will that says ‘switch off the machine’, we’re still trying to actively avoid the machine. If your family agree that dying with assistance is preferable to reaching the stage where it’s a matter of machines their views are disregarded as much as yours are. They can’t enforce or interpret your living will. The best they can manage is a too-little-too-late ‘do not resuscitate’ or turning off of ventilators, a decision probably taken on the recommendation of a servant of the state anyway.

The reason that the argument seems a little half-hearted is that it is a little disingenuous. A fairer reflection of Stephen’s thinking is closer to:

“I do believe that life is sacred  –  or infinitely precious if you prefer non-religious language  –  and that we should strive to preserve it for as long as it is worth living.”

Which still isn’t quite right, because ‘as long as it is worth living’ is not a decision he’s leaving to the individual, but to a blanket rule imposed by the state. It also clashes with his earlier fear that “none of us can know what we will feel when we are close to death or be sure that we might not wish to hang on a little longer when we are faced with it.” This is a fear that he won’t be able to choose his moment of death under a system in which he can sign up for euthanasia in advance. He can’t under the present system, which is why people have to go abroad.

It’s that first bit, about sanctity, that seems to underpin the column, from the second sentence onwards (“My suspicion is that an increasing number of sensible and normally moderate people reject the teachings of the Church and most leading politicians on the subject.”). The straw men are a post hoc scrabbling for secular justification. The Church may teach what it likes, but Stephen should explain why everyone, including any that disagree with the idea that their god (or a god) would want them to prolong a life they didn’t appreciate, should be forced to do just that. To avoid the question is a bit weak. To try and paint a picture in which the state ‘kills us off’ because you want to bolster and argument you accept you can’t justify to non-fellow-travellers is irresponsible.

Strange Ontology: Week beginning 1st December 2008

Another quiet week this week, which either means that the Mail is going quiet on the cancer front, that my search method has stopped working or, possibly most likely, whoever it is at Cancer Research UK who normally feeds the stories is on holiday. (Just in case you haven’t all been reading the stories diligently as they arise, your basic Daily Mail cancer story runs roughly:

1. [Insert everyday food/activity here] could contribute to the fight against cancer

2. Name check lead author, and institution of researchers (this is important, mentioning their university makes the researchers sound more impressive)

3. Rough outline of how many people took part, and the benefits in percentage terms

4. Quote from researcher

5. Quote from Cancer Research UK

I have a faint suspicion it’s templated and the details are inserted by mail merge. The research often has Cancer Research UK funding, which is, I’m guessing, why they get included rather than any of the other hundreds of possible studies in any given month. Given that it is, every time, a story to the effect of ‘Cure for cancer still decade away’, this is probably as good a reason as any for favouring particular research. It’s very impressive, the press office at Cancer Research UK are clearly very good at what they do. I’m still not convinced that we need ‘Cure a decade away’ stories, or that they’re open enough in saying that that’s what they are, but it is a very hopeful section of the newspaper, so I’m not going to knock it.)

New research

4th December

Wartime diet of regular fasting slashes prostate cancer risk

A report on: Bonorden et al. (2008) Cross-sectional analysis of intermittent versus chronic caloric restriction in the TRAMP mouse, The Prostate, doi: 10.1002/pros.20878

there are four other studies cited, but none, unfortunately, has enough details for me to track it down, or appear to have been covered in the paper previously. If anyone has any suggestions as to possible candidates, they would be much appreciated.

5th December

Women in tumultuous marriages have smaller breast cancer tumours, report says

A report on: Kricker et al. (2008) Effects of life event stress and social support on the odds of a ≥2 cm breast cancer, Cancer Causes and Control, doi: 10.1007/s10552-008-9257-z

Causes in brief

2nd December

Ask the doctor: Will light therapy help beat my blues?

“Don’t be fooled into thinking visiting a tanning salon will give the same benefit [as light boxes for Seasonal Affective Disorder] – these use ultra-violet rays which increase the risk of skin cancer (the light boxes used for SAD are designed to filter out these harmful rays).”

7th December

Irish pork cancer scare forces British supermarkets to pull meat from shelves

“A group of products from some Irish farms were found to contain between 80 and 200 times the recommended safe levels of dioxins, chemicals that cause a variety of cancers.”


5th December

Introducing the world’s first personal supercomputer

“‘This exceptional speedup has the ability to accelerate the discovery of potentially life-saving anti-cancer drugs,’ said Jack Collins from the Advanced Biomedical Computing Centre in Maryland.”

Not sure what the justification of this story is, but the company’s website is here.

Paddington Green nick, that’s where our bleating MPs belong

There are a couple of sentences that pretty much save you reading this little piece by Peter Hitchens:

“If you abolish the distinction between right and wrong, don’t be surprised if the police are neutral between criminal and victim.”


“Socialism, alas, always leads to tyranny by one route or another.”

We’re in a crisis, there’s no longer a distinction between right and wrong, the police no longer distinguish between criminal and victim and we’re heading towards socialist authoritarianism. But, not to worry, with the danger comes the solution:

“You can deal with Britain’s crime and disorder crisis only by undoing the Left-wing revolution of the Sixties.”

This is presented as common sense – no arguments are adduced. Peter just gives us a series of things he disagrees with, lets the reader nod sagely to the ones he knows about while the rest get through by association and we’re all set for our conclusion. Somehow we’re meant to infer a link between terror legislation, police hair cuts, welfare, the Human Rights Act and the student activities of members of the cabinet, andconclude from it all that law and order has collapsed and we’re heading towards a socialist dictatorship. The fact that there are no links, and that the shopping list of gripes is contradictory and largely imagines is missed in the speed of the attack.

So let’s take a stop back. What would it mean for the distinction between right and wrong to be abolished? Well, we might reasonably expect rape to be legalised, murder to be OK, and to be able to deal drugs, rob houses, commit fraud, lie under oath, assault people or speed, all with impunity. This is not the case. It is, however, harder to hide your wrong-doing with silence¹, it’s harder to get away with crimes on technicalities and the risk of convictions failing because one juror is swayed by non-relevant factors is diminished. Human rights defences protect the innocent from politically motivated attacks, and it is much harder to stich people up without evidence. If anything, the distinction between right and wrong has been more clearly drawn.

The idea that the police are now indifferent to victims is also unsubstantiated, both by argument and in reality. The police cannot hit criminals any more, but beyond that, what is Peter basing this libel on? No police officer I’ve ever met.

Essentially, what we’ve had is a list of real and imagined things which he disagrees with, regardless of their contribution to his argument. The double jeopardy rule was presumably valuable because it was an ancient right, the fact that abolishing it serves the purposes of justice is unimportant. The police are now threatening, delighting in the persecution of the innocent because Peter says they are. The reader picks the bits that chime with his perceptions, based on previous statements in the same publication, until they hit Peter’s conclusion.

That conclusion is persuasive because we all know socialism is bad. It means paying more in taxes, money you have earned, essentially to support charitable cases you’d rather not support. And in that way its tyrannical – it makes you do things you’d rather not. Other things which appear tyrannical include the arresting of members of the opposition and terror laws and so we have a direct line linking the two.

So let’s go back to our earlier list – human rights, double jeopardy, right to silence, majority juries – or the ‘subsidis[ing of] fatherless families‘, ‘deliberately destroy[ing of] discipline in schools‘, ‘transmit[ting of] mental slurry by broadcasters‘. Is any of this tyranny? Tyranny would be sterilising women, beating unruly children and censoring broadcasts. Tyranny would be the police targeting blacks, beating up gays, fitting up Irish people and the ‘obviously guilty’, allowing rape and domestic violence on the quiet. Tyranny would be the rich getting off their drunk-in-charge convictions on technicalities. Tyranny would be homeowners murdering people.

Tyranny is not the rule of law – an independent judiciary backed up by an international court of appeal who will deal with the allegations against Damien Green in due course.

The world which Peter Hitchens writes of is not one that exists. Who are the armed paramilitary social workers? Where is the invisibility between right and wrong? Where is this crisis of law and order? Where is the socialism that’s coming to tyrannise us? There is no basis in reality for these assertions. But in the repeating, the story becomes myth. The things we should welcome we’re told to fear, the people who protect us we’re told to mistrust, the liberalisation of our society becomes oppressive. Peter creates a fear where none exists. On that basis its him we should be afraid of.


¹ The right to silence hasn’t been abolished – you can remain silent, but if it transpires at your trial that you didn’t say something that would have been relevant to the investigation into your possible guilt then the jury is allowed to take that silence into consideration.