Combine Felicity Lawrence’s article on Chinese antibiotics in today’s Guardian
with her talk at the Museum of Comedy last week,
and you get a decent prism through which to interpret Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal.
What’s the Deal?
If Northern Ireland is to officially remain in the Customs Union and follow the EU’s food safety regulation, this is proof that they have already started to flout it.
Why all the enthusiasm from Macron, Merkel, Varadkar and even Xavier Bettel of Luxembourg?
I suppose that as the EU has painted itself as a moral organisation which exists to protect peace within and outside its borders, it is very hard for it to make noise about anything that resembles specific features from its own system of exceptions, caveats, favouritism and outright hypocrisy.
The BBC had a legal and trade academic from Cambridge University on yesterday talking about how the EU is afraid of a Singapore on Thames on its doorstep.
But what about Ireland and Luxembourg — what are they?
This is UK pitching to be a rogue state that gets to compete with everyone else in a race to the bottom taking every possible advantage it can whilst pretending to respect the rule of law and do deals with the equally hypocritical but harder to control EU.
Is there a way out of this mess? I don’t know.
The fact that nobody in the UK is made aware of the confirmation hearings for EU commissioners, let alone that at least three proposed commissioners have had their candidatures voted down by the European Parliament, indicates the outsize ignorance levels in which this country bathes.
Ignorance as a Weapon
Speaking of ignorance – I picked up Linsey McGoey’s new book The Unknowers last week.
I’ve been looking forward to this for about two years and the first few pages do not disappoint. This is looking like it’s going to be book of the year and recommended reading for anyone who doesn’t like being lied to.
The field of ignorance studies is also known as agnotology and strategic ignorance — one way of describing the tactics of those who have done so much to create our almost total lack of political awareness.
The axioms upon which the foundations of classical economics are built include perfect access to information and logical rational decision-making. One doesn’t have to be Kurt Gödel to disprove either.
As the saying goes, We are not so much Dr Spock as Homer Simpson.
Pedagogy of the Digitally Oppressed
Instead of discussing whether or not we are being lied to, McGoey gets us comfortable with the idea that being surrounded by lies and omissions is just the norm.
A good place to start. I’m not yet familiar with the principles and schools of thought in the science of agnotology, but I feel quite sure that, whatever they are, they are being deployed by and upon us every minute of every day.
Censorship, Profits, Health Claims
The book has a section on Big Pharma whistleblowers, and relates to the whole world of non-disclosure and gagging clauses:
Whistleblowers reveal FDA exacerbated Vioxx scandal https://t.co/wd9fjIGrCV
— tonibark (@doctorsensation) April 28, 2019
It is also of huge relevance now that facebook is setting up a “supreme court” to decide what can be posted and shared or not — despite bizarrely allowing lies in the world of political advertising.
— The Hill (@thehill) October 17, 2019
I heard the EU Health Claims rules mean you cannot refer to the health benefits of any product without having done tests and having a licence to do so.
The degree to which these communication rules are enforced on social media, i don’t know. I suspect it’s one rule for large corporates and another for small companies.
Energy has overtaken weight as consumers’ top health concern, as people worry more about their ability to keep up with modern, past-paced lifestyles. #nutrition #health #trends #supplementshttps://t.co/3FMAfwe8NZ
— NutraIngredients.com (@NutraEurope) May 20, 2019
Corporate criminality thrives on ignorance, but there should also be such a thing as privacy.
How best to diminish the former but protect the latter?