After the pandemic we'll face a different world, having to rebuild what the virus helped destroy . The issues are still there, waiting--global warming, income inequality, child poverty and results of unemployment--all now put on hold.
One thing put on hold is this column, which in the course of business, is on furlough.
I don't want to miss the chance to help with sharpening tools to cope with the onslaught of misinformation that opportunists, trolls and some politicians can disseminate, in a time of uncertainty, through media, social, and commercial.
In America, opponents of Obamacare were able to gain traction by renaming discussions about end-of-life planning as "death panels" with all the associated fears.
A similar calculus lay behind politicians saying, "enhanced interrogation" instead of the accurate and harsher "torture".
Here, opponents of the EOLC Act, describe its purpose as euthanasia. As that term omits the essential "choice" described in the act, the more accurate descriptive term would require the word, "voluntary" as in voluntary euthanasia.
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A typical scare-mongering is prediction of dire consequence should a proposed action take place-- e.g. marriage equality, which Garth McVicar predicted would usher in a crime wave. Certainty about future events should elicit skepticism. Emotionally evocative, it stands on shaky ground. With science we can make probabilistic and tentative projections, but not of certainty.
One major confusion is that between correlation and causation. Just because one thing or event follows another, doesn't mean that one causes the other. One of the best examples is the fun fact that spelling ability in kids is directly related to shoe size. The bigger the shoe the better the speller. It's not the shoe that is the cause but the observable fact that as kids grow bigger and older their ability to spell improves.
Misapplied to cannabis, some opponents of legalization cite the people who used cannabis, and later used more problematic substances, claiming cannabis was a "gateway" to harder drugs.
Not necessarily. Cannabis buying on the illegal market gives potential customers an introduction to the criminal sellers, who do what any enterprising merchant does-- suggest that the buyers may want to expand their choices, thus increasing business and profits.
In the debate on cannabis we need to distinguish differences between habit and addiction. "Addiction" is used promiscuously by some, without defining the term, often to suggest the given behavior is beyond the control of the individual.
Habit is a repeated behavior that has as its aim and content, some reward. While complex , it gradually becomes automatic, organized in brain functions not requiring constant focus on the activity, itself. Driving a shift car for example. Negative habits can be altered in their dominance by substitution with similar patterned behavior with less harm. People who find oral pleasure in cigarettes might find a lolly as a temporary transition toward quitting.
Addiction is more complicated. To define addiction at least two components are important, tolerance, and withdrawal effects. Tolerance means that over time it takes more of the substance to achieve the desired effect. Withdrawal effects range from mild to moderate, in unpleasantness, to extreme, which can result in death.
Habit and addiction may overlap. Cigarette smoking may be reinforced by the habit of oral self-soothing but it's the nicotine with its potential withdrawal effects that makes for addiction.
The takeaway is straightforward. People making large generalizations need to be required to define their terms in the service of common understanding as a basis for debate.
Where authoritative conclusions are brought to bear, official sources need to be found and tested for objectivity.
While all this takes time and attention, our stake in democracy is worth it.
It's a great privilege to have continued in this space to a mostly tolerant audience, one willing to engage, even with a Yank.
As a parting song please recall Vera Lynn, whose long-ago verses foreshadowed the Queen's recent message: "We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when, but I know we'll meet again some sunny day."