This year, my nomination of the Daily Mail’s article “Just ONE cannabis joint ‘can bring on schizophrenia’ as well as damaging memory” won the award! The prize, normally reserved for the journalist authoring the piece, was awarded to Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail, because of the number of errors in the headline which is the responsibility of the editor and is normally not written by the journalist writing the piece.
This allows the Daily Fail to continue to spew out complete nonsense without risk of reprisals, only last week publishing a piece misappropriating a death to cannabis, that the coroner explicitly stated was not due to cannabis.
Professor David Nutt is a qualified Psychiatrist, Psychopharmacologist, researcher, and famously, the former chief government drugs advisor sacked for giving a lecture. In this (never before filmed) lecture, recorded at the end of last year at Oxford university, David covers the material in the lecture for which he was censured and describes recent findings that confirm all of his original statements.
Unfortunately Oxford University have censored some slides “for copyright reasons”. This is pretty regressive to say the least because the slides are clearly covered under the principles of fair use and criticism (Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988). I’d expect Oxford University to stand up for this principle in an academic context, particularly because most of the censored material is David’s own work (although publishers hold the copyright). Not to worry though, I’m prepared to stand up for this principle and have included the key censored material (or an artists impression) and more importantly, the censored references below. (To be updated as more information becomes available)
Live Update: 27/01/20 (02.17)
Prof. Nutt has replied that Oxford University were authorised to censor slides of celebrities.
— David Nutt (@ProfDavidNutt) January 26, 2012
My reply: It appears that much more than that has been censored, I have listed timestamps below. Some of the data slides are very clearly digitally smeared after the event. I guess there’s an outside chance that some of the other blurred and overexposed data slides are due to very bad camera work but the scale of the slides affected seems to suggest that the cameraman has been instructed to blur slides containing data or citations. Apart from the segments affected, the majority of text is displayed in high clarity even when wide camera angles are being used.
13.51 Image of the Prime Minister (Public domain, surely?)
14.20 Drinks industry data “but this is the truth”
21.47 European Brain Council data (visible for a split second but then the exposure is shifted)
22.14 Hospital admissions (images digitally swirled)
22.40 alcohol consumption has doubled – as the real costs have halved (lense shifts heavily out of focus)
23.28 The rise of liver deaths: Standardised mortality rates, “the most chilling data of all” (lense taken out of focus)
24.09 Drunk Exxon tanker driver crash slide (data digitally swirled)
24.35 Drunk pilot report (data digitally swirled)
28.12 Drug related deaths (lense taken out of focus)
49.30 Placebo data (digitally swirled) “this data is rather distorted” (oh, the irony)
50.16 Normalised data “he changed the statistics there.. a very very nice analysis showing how they had distorted the data” (data digitally swirled) – The irony, it’s killing me.
50.26 Regulator data (data digitally swirled)
50.35 Anti-depressant graph (data visibly digitally swirled)
56.59 Times quote (blurred and audio muted)
58.22 Daily Mail quote (muted)
NB: I’m not suggesting malintent, it appears that copyright fears are out of hand, to the point that from the video it’s impossible to determine the source or even the nature of the majority of citations. As the youtube comments make clear this is a pretty big deal for public viewers who even if they can track down the source themselves, can’t view journal papers without a subscription – nowadays normally approaching thousands of pounds for a basic sub. Without a sub, non-academics and third world academics are typically looking at £20 plus a day for 24 hours DRM restricted use of a singe article, on a single computer.
By the way, a massive thanks is due once again for all of your hard work, especially taking so much time to deliver public talks and for making so much of your work available without a paywall, a near impossible feat for todays researchers it now seems.
Censored Material (To be updated as more information becomes available):
“I ask the Government not to return to retribution and war on drugs. That has been tried, and we all know that it does not work”
Click here to read more on the continuing censuring of scientists and medical experts from drug policy.
Nutt, D., King, L., & Phillips, L. (2010). Drug harms in the UK: a multicriteria decision analysis The Lancet, 376 (9752), 1558-1565 DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(10)61462-6
Nutt, D. (2009). Estimating drug harms: a risky business? Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (PDF)
Halpern JH, Sherwood AR, Hudson JI, Gruber S, Kozin D, & Pope HG Jr (2011). Residual neurocognitive features of long-term ecstasy users with minimal exposure to other drugs. Addiction (Abingdon, England), 106 (4), 777-86 PMID: 21205042
Carhart-Harris, R., Erritzoe, D., Williams, T., Stone, J., Reed, L., Colasanti, A., Tyacke, R., Leech, R., Malizia, A., Murphy, K., Hobden, P., Evans, J., Feilding, A., Wise, R., & Nutt, D. (2012). Neural correlates of the psychedelic state as determined by fMRI studies with psilocybin Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1119598109
Measham,F. Moore, K. Østergaard, J. (2011). Mephedrone, ‘‘Bubble’’ and unidentiﬁed white powders: the contested identities of synthetic ‘‘legal highs” DRUGS AND ALCOHOL TODAY, 11, 137-146 (PDF)
Editorial team (2010). The EMCDDA annual report 2010: the state of the drugs problem in Europe. The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, also published in Euro surveillance :European communicable disease bulletin, 15 (46) PMID: 21144426 (PDF)
World Health Organisation (WHO). (2009). Report on mortality and burden of disease attributable to selected major risk. GLOBAL HEALTH RISKS. (PDF)
Institute of Alcohol Studies. (2006). The Impact of Alcohol on the NHS Factsheet (PDF)
(Note: I wasn’t at the lecture but I organised a very similar lecture, by Prof. Nutt in Bristol last year and conducted an interview with him, so I know what was on some of the censored slides)
On Monday, The Pirate Bay announced (thepiratebay.org/blog/203) that it has launched a new category for torrents, 3D printing blue-prints. This is not as ridiculously optimistic as it sounds.
IEEE Spectrum (Magazine of the world’s largest engineering organisation)
Free software such as Autodesk is available for you to make designs with and “push-button connections to online 3-D-printing services, of which there are now dozens, if not hundreds” are already in existence. This year 1000 production-quality 3-D printers will be placed in high schools across the U.S under a federal programme (IEEE).
Admittedly not a great deal is on the Pirate Bay’s page yet except blueprints for a model pirate ship, a 3D Chris Dodd engraved with the AACS Encryption Key, a dildo and a whistle. That is set to change however with databases such as Shapeways and Thingiverse already handling blueprint sharing and printing. Media lawyers have already entered the battlefield with one Shapeways user already having received a cease-and-desist order from movie studio Paramount after creating a 3D replica of a prop.
The potential for 3D printing is not to be sniffed at. The world’s first 3D printed plane flew out of Southhampton University in July, demonstrating that the possibilities really are endless.
To sum up the past couple of days:
- Nature, Time, the BBC and just about every other science publication and news outlet covered Dr. Nutt’s latest research and it’s promising findings for possible clinical use of psilocybin, provoking academic debate on the restriction on study of illegal drugs for clinical use.
- UK law took a small yet definitive step forward, reducing sentences for medical use of drugs, small time users and drug mules (Telegraph, Guardian, Sky, sentencingcouncil.judiciary.gov.uk/guidelines/forthcoming-guidelines)
- Richard Branson gave evidence at the Government’s select committee on drugs (Guardian, video – skip in about three minutes for the start, Branson’s blog).
- The legal developments are based on evidence emerging from states such as Portugal who have successfully decriminalised drug use and are reaping the benefits (rigorous, balanced analysis of the stats here).
So what did the Daily Mail run with today? This time my commentary is not even needed. I’ve simply taken the liberty of literally highlighting the blindingly obvious flaw in this ridiculous excuse for a news article.
Hughes CE, & Stevens A (2012). A resounding success or a disastrous failure: Re-examining the interpretation of evidence on the Portuguese decriminalisation of illicit drugs. Drug and alcohol review, 31 (1), 101-13 PMID: 22212070
If you haven’t spent the last decade living in a cave then you will have witnessed the recent explosion in “infographics” that are overtaking every corner of the internet. This is partially due to rapid developments that have recently occurred in the field of data visualisation.
Today we see bog standard infographics absolutely everywhere, but what many don’t realise is that to create high end interactive data visualisations you do not necessarily need a team of professional artists and coding wizards. An array of free tools are now available for you to try your hand at data visualisation yourself without the need to get down and dirty with any code.
Before proceeding I should note that there has been an upsurge of bad infographics recently, so if you are going to make an infographic first make sure you do the three essentials:
- Verify the source of the stats.
- Check that the type of visualisation you are using is appropriate.
- Make sure that you really do understand the numbers.
Andy Kirk, author of the Visualising Data Blog has created an extensive free guide to data visualisation covering dozens of different software platforms from market leading professional packages through to simple web applications. He also does an excellent monthly round-up of the best data visualisations on the web.
Kirk has recently announced a new international tour of training courses following a very well received previous series. I’ll be attending the Bristol class and working on my skills myself in the mean time, so hopefully you can look forward to a significantly higher standard of data visualisations on Neurobonkers in the near future!
Here’s the cliché “something I made earlier”, a word cloud of all the words used in this site, created in two minutes flat using Tagxedo, one of the many cheeky web-apps described in part five of Andy’s guide.
If you don’t go down with a case of information overload from the Visualising Data Blog you should also check out the infographics showcases visual.ly and visualising.org. David McCandle’s informationisbeautiful.net and the Guardian Datablog are also well worth your time. Know any more good data-vis links? Post them in the comments. Happy Visualising!
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