Stupid, and rather evil…

This BBC article: “Obesity ‘contagious’, experts say”

Imagine what the kids in the playground might make of it, if they knew (and some certainly would) the meaning of the word “contagious”? Looking at this definition, only meanings one, two and three could be relevant in a medical context. The BBC’s report about fatties and whether they have the lurgy is totally irresponsible.

Bonus points for anyone who can find the word contagious in the scientific article to which the BBC refer.

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15 Responses to Stupid, and rather evil…

  1. BaggieJonathan says:

    In fact the BBC story actually contains a sentance saying ‘experts’ said the study was not conclusive but the rest of the article makes out it is.
    You are forced to read the whole woeful article before realising that it is highly speculative in the last paragraph.

    Strange indeed that it is called contagious, by my dictionary it clearly is not. Strange too that social factors are deemed more important than genetic factors when parents are not even mentioned!

    When in doubt have a go a the lardies seems to be the BBC mantra, presumably anything to try and deflect from its deceptiongate scandal.

    If they had followed this unscientific ridiculous argument to its natural conclusion we would have to suspect that other activites were also ‘contagious’, smoking, drug misuse, speeding, adultery, trainspotting, you name it.

    You’ll also note that they continue to link in the see also to the ludicrous microwaves spark obesity and obesity fuelled by cheaper food stories, the latter having been flatly contradicted by findings that wealthier people (who had no problem affording food) are just as likely to be obese as poorer people.


  2. garypowell says:

    They have spent their time turning Scotland and Wales against England. Black against White. Muslim against infidal. Gentile against Jew. Socialist against liberal. Immigrant against indigious. Poor against slightly less poor. Criminal against victim. Smoker against non-smoker. Child against parent, ect ect ect.

    So why the shock that they now are trying, child against child.

    The BBC create the problem and Cameron or whoever or whatever the BBCs favourate target is at the time gets the blame. This ones probelly “George Bushes along with his baby eating right-wing mates in the oil industrys’ fault yet AGAIN”.

    I am sure the BBCs employees must have had this golden rule imprinted in their DNA at birth.

    Which is the only way one can put forward an excuse for this type of socialist collective and therefore deliberately divisive not to say very very like deeply EVIL National Socialist behavior.


  3. Muslim against infidal (sic).

    It wasn’t the BBC that did that!


  4. Compare and Contrast says:

    Compare and contrast:

    Children 500% more likely to be obese if both parents are obese. Health survey for England reported by BBC.

    57% more likely if a friend is obese per some spurious highly conjectural report as reported by the BBC.

    So its clear social factors are more important than genetic ones – NOT.

    The bbc does not like to let even its own articles get in the way of having an irresposible pop at groups it doesn’t like – fatties, americans, christians, jews, conservatives…


  5. sandown says:

    The BBC’s staff are leftists, for whom social factors are always presented as being more significant than genetic ones, or indeed than willed behaviour.

    The BBC offers the mental equivalent of junk food. Why should we continue to pay for it?


  6. archduke says:

    sorry i just HAVE to comment on this..
    and i am sorry for invoking Godwins law, but it is necessary.

    does anyone else get the feeling that this sort of language is veering on the Nazi like?

    “contagious” implies a virus, infected, scum, filth….

    remind anyone of anything? like a certain language that was used in “Die Sturmer”?


  7. garypowell says:

    A warning to ALL parents.

    Get your children to lose weight even if you have to periodically starve them and run the risk of them hating you personally, maybe forever.

    Either this or have your children taken into care or at least a long patronising lecture on your obvious inability to bring up your own children according to strick government regulations. Which you will then be forced by threat of large fines followed by imprisonment if you fail to controll the eating behavior of your offspring.

    Unfortuately for most chav and many other parents out there that think they are doing a perfectly great job at bringing up the kidds. They will quickly find that, what is a wonderfully great job by their personal reasoning bares very very little relationship to what social workers and the state concider acceptable or in anyway desirable at all. Once they have their claws into the situation, and especially if they still have a man anywhere near the home.

    In my personal experience having been married to a highly qualified specialist child care social worker for Southwark social services for 7 years. Is that even the most Nazi thinking social workers like my ex wife are often surprised at the purely arbitary and destructive concequences to many families caused directly by social services ‘just doing their job’.

    So be carefull parents these laws will apply to YOU whether you think you are perfect or not.

    They do and will take your kidds into care. Even if the concequences of such an action is seen to be counter-productive and ends up destroying the rest of your whole extended family. Its you and your families butt or just maybe the social workers.

    So no prises for guessing who WILL win in court, even if the social worker has to make it all up and lie though their teeth on a stack of religous fairystories. Which beleive me they do constantly, and almost as a matter of procedure. The word of a social worker to any family judge carrys more weight then that of another judge.

    These characters have more power to missuse and abuse then Scotland Yard and the Customs and Excise stazi have all put together.


  8. Squander Two says:

    Hmm. To be fair to the BBC here, I think what they’ve done is confuse this study with other interesting studies that do indicate that obesity can, at least in some cases, be contagious. There is a lot of evidence (that’s evidence, not proof) that obesity can be caused by a transmitted infection. The BBC have done what science journalists often do and drawn a link between the study they’re reporting on and some other study they’ve reported on in the past and then reported on them as one and the same thing. This is erroneous, but it’s certainly not Nazi. They’ve attributed the word “contagious” to the wrong group of scientists here, but they’ve not invented it themselves. And this idea that the BBC might be involved in a massive conspiracy to turn thin children against fat children is one of the most stupid conspiracy theories I’ve heard in quite some time.


  9. ed says:

    Squander Two- to be fair to me, I never suggested a conspiracy. However, since you mention it I think that I can discern a concerted move on the part of the left to involve itself with the most basic decisions made in households- such as what the children will eat. One only has to read the latest thinking from Nu-Lab gurus like Anthony Giddens (ok, “only”- I admit it’s a sacrifice) to see that “pro-active” welfare is where it’s at- which means pre-emptive action against perceived social problems.

    No, actually I think you have it pretty squarely wrong, squander- there IS a conspiracy on the left to alter lifestyle choices with all the means available, and that would include raising social pressure on fatties as one strand in their thinking. The BBC fully buys that social agenda- indeed one could say it’s their raison d’etre from a leftist perspective.


  10. Squander Two says:

    Hi, Ed. To be fair to myself, my reference to conspiracy theories was in response to some of the somewhat insane comments above, not your post.

    You may well be right about the new demonisation of the overweight — though I think it may be one of the few areas where there’s still a real distinction between left-wingers and statists: statists want to control what people eat while left-wingers tend, I find, to view obese people as oppressed victims of poverty and American food — though I suppose their efforts to “save” them amount to much the same thing in practice. But I honestly think this particular piece is far more likely to be your run-of-the-mill dodgy conflation-prone science reporting that Ben Goldacre’s always going on about. It’s evidence of the bias against scientific education prevalent in the media, rather than political bias in the BBC.

    The point of your post seems to be that using the word “contagious” to describe obesity is irresponsible because kids might use it as an excuse to be nasty to other kids. The reason I mentioned the other research is that it is also sometimes accurate to use the word “contagious” to describe obesity. If the BBC used the word “contagious” in a report about one of the scientists who believes that obesity is contagious, would that be irresponsible? It’d have exactly the same effect on kids.

    Kids will use anything as an excuse to be nasty to other kids. Start using that as evidence of irresponsible journalism, and you’re going to find a lot of irresponsibility out there. You’ll need to ban all documentaries about mentally disabled people, for a start.

    I think the BBC are appallingly biased, but you’re tilting at windmills here.


  11. ed says:

    Squander Two.

    If I said you can catch mental illness from, say, a child with cerebral palsy, would that be irresponsible?


  12. Squander Two says:

    Not if there were evidence it were true, no.

    Like I said, you’re not dealing with a situation where the BBC have made something up here: they’ve simply conflated two findings, as happens constantly in science coverage in the media. But, while their report is therefore misleading on the subject of this one particular study, the general assertion that some scientists reckon obesity might well be contagious is correct. By all means lambast them for their typically shoddy science coverage, but it’s not irresponsible to put a correct sentence in the wrong story; it’s just sloppy.


  13. ed says:

    Well I don’t think your interpretation holds up S.T.. They specifically refer to the one study and misquote it.

    If you look at the study they specifically refer to, you find that it is couched in terms that are suggestive of “contagion”, but are in fact exclusively sociological. I’ve come across attempts to spice up sociology, and lend “scientific” spin to the findings, but this is about the worst and most inappropriate example. Frankly there is a cohort among academics that I’m reluctantly coming to despise. Am I exonerating the Beeb in this? Well, no; they play ball with the silly pseudo-scientists. One happy publicity seeking family.

    Btw, I’d love to see your real science that you claim suggests that obesity is contagious. There are so many factors. I’ve friends who are obese; my own father is obese. I, well, I’m not- nor is my brother or my sister- but it’s not actually been straightforward for me. Nowadays I go running a lot and it works for me; I never was obese (whatever that means according to whoever’s latest definitions) in a visible way. What I am saying is that I’ve lived around the obese, observed the whole phenomena from many angles- and been generally damned introspective about the whole business. Still, I wouldn’t rule out that getting some virus suppressed something that suppresses the build up of weight and fat. There are possibilities already out there- off the top of my head for example an underactive thyroid or water retention- that could somehow link to a disease. But the tone of blanket “fat contagion” is both inaccurate according to the quoted report, and very far-fetched for anyone with an ounce of common sense, fellow feeling, observational skills- in short, sentience.

    Now you could retort with some boilerplate about the scientific method, but really, I do recognise the scientific method when I see it, and there’s precious little to see on this from the BBC. What I do detect a lot of, and this is just one noteworthy example, is social engineering masquerading as journalism, sneaking under the radar under the guise of “informing” the public.

    Now, where was that REAL science you spoke of…


  14. Bernard says:

    All that stuff is irrelevent.
    What the BBC is trying to say is how it hates those disgusting ‘proles’ that inhabit the world that is outside their own.
    Loathsome organisation.


  15. Squander Two says:

    Didn’t take long to find:
    Dr. Nikhil Dhurandhar

    It was all over the news a couple of years ago.

    > I’ve friends who are obese; my own father is obese. … I’ve lived around the obese, observed the whole phenomena from many angles … very far-fetched for anyone with an ounce of common sense, fellow feeling, observational skills

    Well, the best response to that might be some boilerplate about the scientific method. But I’m curious. If the BBC were to report on all scientific studies by relying on common sense, fellow-feeling, and the personal observations of their reporters, would you approve?

    My question is very simple: would it be irresponsible of the BBC to write an accurate report about AD-36, in which they reported accurately that obesity can be contagious?

    Like I said, it’s bad science reporting. It fails to draw a distinction between inferences that look right and inferences that have been proven. It’s irresponsible because, like most other science reports in the media, it contributes to the poor public understanding of science. But what you suggested is that it is inherently irresponsible to say anything that might encourage some children to victimise other children, and you suggested that that was part of the BBC’s grand plan. And you demand evidence from me? Got any leaked internal memos saying “We must increase childhood bullying”? I’m just applying Occam’s Razor here.

    And I’m puzzled by your contention that it is irresponsible to report things that might hurt people’s feelings. We’ve had this argument ovet things like the BBC’s use of the words “terrorist” and “immigrant” and I rather thought this blog was not on the side that you now appear to be on.