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Memories of the 28th Century

Public Policy Lies

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Today I was reminded, yet again, how much of the information that the general news media provide is wrong. I would prefer to use a milder word for the incorrectness, because reporters often just report things that they donít understand, and many facts are dropped, because they donít fit, or the reporter doesnít understand what is being said. Then there are the things that are deliberately misreported; much deliberate misreporting is done, because public policy or editorial policy says that certain things are facts regardless of actual fact.

And there I was, talking to a young woman, and tobacco prohibition came up as an aside. And as a further aside I mentioned what good stuff nicotine is and how tobacco got a bad rap, because the way that the matter of tobacco and lung cancer was reported didnít mention that defective genes were the actual cause of the cancer, and tobacco, or some other irritant, was just a trigger.

Unjustified condemnation of tobacco isnít the only way that a prejudice against tobacco is shown. There is also the matter of nicotine being an effective anti-depressant and brain stimulant; these characteristics have been ignored by the press, and major investigators only recently started to look into these characteristics. Nicotine fills acetylcholine receptors, and this causes dopamine, endorphins, and glutamate to be released. Dopamine and endorphins act as anti-depressants, and glutamate is a memory enhancer. Nicotine is now being studied as a treatment for Parkinsonís Disease and treatment for Alzheimerís Disease. It has been said that nicotine cures Parkinsonís, but the results with Alzheimerís are not as complete, but it has been shown to slow the onset. The federal government, which has led the effort to demonize tobacco, is involved in research on nicotine against Parkinsonís. So there is a sign that the public policy condemning tobacco may start to crumble. All of this was completely new that person I was talking to, and she may not have believed a word of it.

Tobacco isnít the only thing that gets a bad rap that way. Sunlight is commonly called the cause of melanoma, but that isnít what the evidence shows. Melanoma is caused by any of several genetic defects that appear to cause, but it is not certain that all such defects have been recognized, and some people without genetic defects do acquire melanoma. But exposure is only a small part of the whole, and there are other advantages to exposure to sunlight. If we have a few more years of evidence that will show that sunlight is a trigger, at most, in causing melanoma, then public policy might again favor the Sun, not that it needs our approval.

The funniest example of policy opposing something causing reporting problems was in regard to a study that had found that alcohol was good for health in all quantities; that is, that moderation was not necessary. I was listening to the radio fairly early one morning when that report was read. The reader made some surprised comment after reading it. I expected to hear more about it later in the day, but there were no more reports about alcohol that day. Apparently the reader let his prejudice get the better of him, so he ignored new evidence. Oh well.

Nicotine isnít the only psychoactive drug that has been condemned by the government, etc. Pretty much all psychoactive drugs are condemned by public officials. Marijuana is now getting a lighter treatment, because it is very common and very, very safe in addition to having therapeutic value. Apparently public policy has decided that the good that marijuana can do outweighs the calm and relaxation that it can provide people. It also helps that it was completely unregulated until a few decades ago. I havenít been able to figure out why legalization didnít become public policy after the Prohibition Era. As with alcohol, drugs are not as harmful as the battle to stamp them out became, and the experience with the prohibition of alcohol should have shown how things would work. Marijuana wasnít criminalized until after alcohol was legalized again, which makes no sense at all. Anyone who has known any drug addicts or users of any illegal drugs knows that the problems are not with the drugs; the problems involve the illegality of the materials.

A few years ago it became public policy to desire government intervention in the medical industry after decades of it being public policy to keep government out of peopleís lives. The government intervention was supposed to make medical care available to everyone, even though it had been available to anyone who wanted it. And there started to be more pushes to sell more medical services to more people and to make payments for the services through insurance companies, which would do nothing except put money into the insurance companies. But all this was supposed to make medicine cheaper. Even without all of the changes in place it has become clear that this activity is making medical care more expensive and limiting how much care some people can get. The changes were supposed to be paid for by getting more healthy people covered by medical insurance, but it turned out that the healthy people already had medical insurance, so the new people were starting to demand more services. Anyway, the public policy was wrong; healthcare reform has not made medical care more accessible for anyone, and it has not reduced the costs of medical care, and it has not provided care for more people, because many people who had medical insurance have lost it. We donít know how things will end up, but it will be uglier than it already is.

Through history there have been times and places where public policy was on the right side of an issue, but that hasnít been in the United States recently.

Donít forget to tell me how wrong I am in clear and accurate terms.

Updated 03-07-2014 at 10:31 AM by PeterL

Tags: ignorance, lies, media