Will bacon give you cancer?


Fuelling the belief that every food either tastes terrible or causes cancer, a new World Health Organisation report has said that eating processed meat is as bad for you as smoking.

The report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer has found “sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer.”

This is another example of Nanny Staters using outlandish claims to scare us into purity. Eating processed meat is bad for you. No one shoves sausage rolls in to their mouth thinking they’re going to be healthier because of it.

This story has been sweeping the world, and holes are starting to emerge in the WHO’s statement. Dr Elizabeth Lund, former research leader at the Institute of Food Research, says that “red meat was linked to about three extra cases of bowel cancer per 100,000 adults in developed countries.”

The North American Meat Institute adds:

Red and processed meat are among 940 agents reviewed by the IARC and found to pose some level of theoretical ‘hazard’. Only one substance, a chemical in yoga pants, has been declared by the IARC not to cause cancer.

There is also a bigger point to be made here. People make imperfect decisions about their health. Because they want to.

Bacon and egg sandwiches are delicious. They are empirically more fun to eat than kale. If I give up bacon and egg sandwiches for a few extra weeks on my lifespan, I will spend those extra weeks not having bacon and egg sandwiches. So do I really win?

Professor Tim Key, Cancer Research UK’s epidemiologist, says that people should listen to the WHO’s warnings and “have a bean salad for lunch over a BLT.”



What Mad Max teaches us about the importance of property rights


Mad Max: Fury Road opens in cinemas today, and it is already bringing in rave reviews. The film is being praised for realising a world so foreign to us – a world of anarchy and violence ruled by warlords.

So why is that so foreign to us? What is it about our society that stops us living in a world on anarchy?

Property rights.

Having complete ownership of property, and having that ownership recognised by other members of society, is the theoretical basis from which much of our laws derive.

For example, I have a phone. I can do anything I want with my phone as long as it doesn’t interfere with other people’s property. I can lend you my phone, but only I can decide to do that. You can’t take it. If you do, you will be punished by the state.

If we lived in a society that did not recognise property rights, we would live in the society seen in Mad Max. If an individual parked himself on the outback highways the film is set in and decided that no-one could use the roads and that anyone who tried would have to hand over their possessions to the individual, there would be no method of stopping it that didn’t involve violence.

So when you watch the film, rest assured that our society’s respect for property rights means we will never be in the same frantic high-speed chases as we run away from warlords. Our society might not make a better movie, but it makes a better life.


Mo’ne Davis throws a curveball

The Australian government has recently announced the first Children’s e-Safety Commissioner, who will have the power to police social media and to force children to say sorry.

It’s an unfortunate reality of Australian politics that we cannot identify a problem in society without having to pass knee-jerk legislative measures which have a vast array of damaging unintended consequences.

Mo’ne Davis, a child prodigy baseball player in the United States, has shown us all how social media bullying can be handled without having the government interfere.

After another baseball player from a high school very close to Davis’ sent out an offensive tweet about her, she asked for his forgiveness on national TV. She told ESPN that “everyone makes mistakes and everyone deserves a second chance,” and that while she was “hurt” by the tweet, the tweeter would be “hurt even more” by what’s happened.

It’s a very mature position she has taken on this, a position the Australian government has not taken.

So the question remains, can Mo’ne Davis give up baseball and run for Parliament?


WARNING: historical smoking

historically smoking

If for some bizarre reason you choose to watch The Monuments Men, George Clooney’s latest, you will be confronted with its warning label.

We’ve all seen them, ‘Rated M for violence’, ‘MA15+ for language’, ‘R18+ for Katherine Heigl.’

Monuments Men, however, is rated PG-13 for… Continue Reading →


Celebrity of the Week: Steve Coogan

cooganWhen I started writing COTW, I thought I’d have the opportunity to offer praise to a celebrity around twice a year between taking shots at Nanny Staters and government-knows-best fools. I have been very pleasantly surprised at the amount of famous people with a decent head on their shoulders, but the glory run has come to an end. Continue Reading →


Celebrity of the week: Suzanne Collins

If you know a teenage girl, you will be aware that the latest trailer for the new Hunger Games, written by Suzanne Collins movie came out yesterday. Hang on, keep reading, I’m working towards something.

If you watch the trailer, you’ll see some strongly anti-totalitarian footage. Continue Reading →


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