We're all alcoholics now

I know I've written a lot about shoddy language use in newspapers recently, and about the woolly use of figures, but this is a particularly fine example of both so bear with me.

I'm a "dependent drinker". So are you. At least according to free London paper Metro today.

Its lead story is about "problem drinkers" in the UK costing the health service £1.3bn a year. It goes on to talk about "dependent drinkers"- even worse than problem drinkers - who "down up to 50 pints a week".

Now think of a number up to 50. I choose, um, 10 - but you may have a different number.

So far this week I've drunk five pints and no doubt will drink a few more by the end of the week - quite possibly 10 in total. That's a number 'up to 50', as we've just established. So that makes me a dependent drinker. Thanks, Metro.

In fact, by this logic, the only people who aren't dependent drinkers are those who drink - or rather, down, which is quite a feat - more than 50 pints a week.

(Interestingly, the version of the story on the Metro website doesn't include the offending phrase, so maybe they realised their mistake.)

2 comments:

terrycollmann said...

You really need to watch what Google Ads go up on your site, guys - on the strength of the trigger words in the above blog entry, you currently (as I write) have two that say

"Stop Binge Drinking Now
Hypnotherapy & NLP, UK & Eire Fast Results, Simply Contact Us Now
www.justbewell.comThe Drinker's Check-up"

and

"Wondering about your drinking? Get objective, no pressure feedback.
www.drinkerscheckup.com"

Actually the whole binge drinking "debate" is nonsense, with journalists unthinkingly repeating the claims of the anti-alcohol lobby about alleged costs to the NHS of drinking (how much of that is fixed costs that would have to be paid anyway?) and the assertion that a "binge" is eight units in a day - that's one pint of Fuller's London Pride at lunchtime and two and a half pints in the evening, and you're a binger. And now pregnant women are "advised" not to drink at all - "What's the evidence for that?" "Well, none, but we just thought it gave the right message ..." Wait until you have to sign a form every time you buy a pint to say you're aware of the risks you're running ...

JD said...

I'm not too concerned about the Google ads - they're more a source of entertainment than a 'revenue stream'. So far we've had ads about dental care, phobia treatment and now stopping drinking. Anyone would have thought we were a medical blog not one about language use!

I agree with your comments and must add that I am always sceptical of claims about costs to the NHS. After all, we'll all die of something and who is to say that the person who gives up drinking and avoids developing liver failure won't go on to in later life to develop a more 'expensive' condition? There are two many hypotheticals to talk about costs and savings, quite apart from the bad taste of doing so.