Saturday 11 August 2012

If this isn't a wowser, I don't know what is

The Press has a puff piece letting Doug Sellman explain how he's not a wowser.
In short, 'wowser' suggested Christian women and other busybodies who wanted to get between a man and his drink. And not just drinking but many forms of pleasure. When Australian artist Norman Lindsay was attacked over his nude paintings in the 1930s, he said, "I am sick and tired of this wowseristic country". To this day, Lindsay's authorised online biography has "irate wowsers" in North America burning his paintings.
Closer to home and in our time, Doug Sellman has had "wowser" thrown at him a few times over the years. Along with other, less polite words. All because he has talked back to the alcohol industry.
Ok. This from the guy who got mad about the Woodstock mixed bourbon and cola drinks not just because of the booze, but also because they encouraged teenagers to have sex with their friends' mothers. Here's Sellman in an oped from the Herald not too long ago:
Mr Kerr is saying these young people and women need to be more responsible in the face of aggressive targeted marketing. But the industry he is defending is cynically trying to convert these people into heavy drinkers. Is that socially responsible?
Alcohol advertising on TV has recently reached a point that one wonders whether it can sink any lower. The latest Woodstock advert[*] aiming to get boys to drink bourbon sweetened by Coca-Cola in a product called Woodstock, associates a can of Woodstock, a "woody", with a penile erection and not unsubtly is encouraging them to have sex with their best mates' mothers.
The ad also seems to be encouraging middle-aged women to get their teenage clothes back on and flirt with their son's best mates. I presume some would defend these adverts as responsible business practice and contributing to a healthy society.
So Sellman isn't leading an old time Christian Temperance Union crusade against fun.  As the billboard says, Yeah Right.

Here's Sellman warning that alcohol is a Group 1 carcinogen, comparing it to plutonium, and ignoring that birth control pills are in the same darned category.

Here's Sellman pushing for taxes on soda.

Here's Sellman saying that muesli is addictive.

Further in the Press article, Sellman says it's all about the science:
As wowser and related insults show, alcohol reform is an emotive field where much is at stake - revenue streams included. Sellman wants to emphasise the science.
"It perhaps needs to be stated my colleagues and I are not basing our suggestions for alcohol law reform on our own opinions or life experience," he concludes. "They are based on the best international scientific evidence available at the current time."
The Press piece had earlier quoted the press release from Doug Sellman and Alcohol Action NZ colleague and U Otago Prof Jennie Connor that grievously exaggerated the findings from Chris Auld's paper on the effects of minimum pricing in Canada. Maybe that press release was "based" on the best international scientific evidence in the same way that a lot of stuff on TV is "based on a true story". Because it sure misrepresents what Auld actually found. Why should we trust anything he or Connor say about alcohol?

* I'd posted the ad here when Sellman first posted this op-ed about the moral decay of today's youths and their mothers.


  1. New rules about immigration.
    all intellects and funny people and Canada people approved forthwith.Canadians approved to say what they think. Think about it New Zealand , why are we so little in currency and actuality
    all Canadians welcome,
    fight hard Eric

  2. There is no consensus as to what constitutes "evidence" in public policy and social science. That holds even even more for "best evidence." Moreover, everybody cherry picks evidence, simply because there are so many extant empirical articles. More and more, I see politicians and voters going by homely common sense, or ideological loyalties, as those are much much easier to parse.

    It is unwise to link, in a public forum, the adjective "wowser" to the name of university professor with whom one happens to disagree. Ditto for the derogatory term "puff piece."

  3. There is a difference between cherry picking studies that illustrate the case you wish to make, and misrepresenting the results found within a particular study.

    As for the rest, a two-page spread in Mainlander was devoted to debunking the "wowser" moniker, without a single note of the concerns around the Woodstock ad...