OAB abuse and harassment continued

The Standard Rules begin:

We encourage robust debate and we’re tolerant of dissenting views. But this site run for reasonably rational debate between dissenting viewpoints and we intend to keep it operating that way.

What we’re not prepared to accept are pointless personal attacks, or tone or language that has the effect of excluding others. We are intolerant of people starting or continuing flamewars where there is little discussion or debate.

But ‘One Anonymous Bloke’ seems to be exempt from rules there. This is from just one thread yesterday:

Norway, you tiresome fuckwit.


Yes: social democracy is the most successful political system that has ever been tried. Your flaccid attempts to smear say something about you and nothing whatsoever about your targets.

It’s worthless and tiresome and a perfect expression of everything the National Party represents.


Your allegation is a smear, motivated by hate, which has left you so twisted by bias you can’t even find a list of social democracies.

Irony that OAB may be oblivious to.

That’s funny, coming from someone whose fatuous smears are copied directly from Gosman.

More irony.

When did you stop pashing Augusto Pinochet’s corpse?

You see how this works? Shall we have a “debate” according to your witless point-scoring wank system? You seem to think you can demand answers of people, and I’m here to tell you that Pinochet pashers like you deserve jack shit.


How typical of a Pinochet pasher to hate a system that increases literacy and decreases child mortality. I guess literate healthy people are harder to abduct and torture to death.


It’s very simple: do you support throwing people out of helicopters into the sea? And when did you stop fucking your pet pig?

Is this witless pigfucker argument the best you can do, Pinochet-pasher?

Speaking of cancelling election results, ECAN. Do you support the anti-democratic actions of the NZ Prime Minister? You do, don’t you: so you’re in no position to be looking askance at Venezuela, because you support a government that appoints cronies, cancels elections, and can’t even get literacy and child mortality right. You poxy hypocrite.

Meanwhile, the NZ Left has lots in common with social democrats the world over, and you haven’t got an answer to that other than to support torturers.


I’ve got nothing to say to a Pinochet pashing, election cancelling torture lover like you.

And the targeted harassment spreads across multiple posts. Also from yesterday:

One Anonymous Bloke

Possibly you’re a delusional lying piece of shit who thinks nothing of casual defamation.

This type of persistent harassment and abuse from OAB is typical, with impunity from the site rules. “What we’re not prepared to accept are pointless personal attacks, or tone or language that has the effect of excluding others” – except that they are prepared to accept this behaviour on an ongoing basis.

But perhaps OAB attacks aren’t pointless – the whole point of their presence at The Standard seems to be to with the intention of “excluding others”.

That’s sad, particularly as The Standard is one of the most prominent left wing forums.”We’re tolerant of dissenting views” is contradicted by regular behaviour to the contrary, particularly from One Anonymous Bloke.

It’s a bad look for left wing politics in New Zealand.

Standard joins Key/police pre-blaming

Anthony Robins has joined in the pre-blaming of John Key and the police for any violence that might occur in TPPA protests.

National – trying to provoke TPP violence?

A couple of days ago Chris Trotter set out an interesting theory: Let’s Not Lose Our Tempers: If John Key wants a riot outside Sky City – don’t give him one

Now with the news that the police are visiting (i.e. intimidating) known activists, Jane Kelsy has reached a similar conclusion: Desperate Key trying to redefine TPPA as law & order issue

I think Kelsey is right, in harassing activists Key is cynically trying to blow the “law and order” dog whistle. Is Trotter right too? Would Key really go so far as to try and provoke open violence for political gain? It worked for his idol Muldoon.

I don’t believe either Key or the police will in any way try to provoke violence, I think claims that they are is either deluded or a deliberate attempt to both talk up trouble and try to divert the blame from themselves and troublemakers.

I doubt that Robins is deliberately trying to talk up violence, it’s more likely he has bought into the dirty messaging.

This is a form of dirty politics.

Added comment: I haven’t seen any evidence of police intimidation or activists, nor any evidence the Key or National are trying to provoke violence, so I condemn those making up accusations and posts. If any evidence is produced then I’ll condemn Key or the police.


Standard of sick parrots

I posted yesterday about a sensible and thoughtful post at The Standard in which Incognito suggested…

…try a different viewpoint, look at things from a different angle, literally and figuratively. It doesn’t mean you must or will give up your perspective or your opinions even but I reckon you just might do that occasionally – would that be such a bad thing?

I don’t know if it was deliberate attempt at derailment but One Anonymous Bloke obliged with some typical irony.

My point is that if we do choose a point of view and get it out there the resulting discussion is a good way to inform our own opinions, given confirmation bias’ tendency to obscure.

So I’m not talking about science, you wanker. Nor do I live or work in an “ivory tower”, shit for brains. Now fuck off.

Weka said it was a “very good post” but she seems very confused. She claims to value diversity.

I wonder if the whole unity thing is part of an outdated dichotomy. Calls for unity seem to go hand in hand with accusations of betrayal or not behaving well enough for the cause (and thus creating disunity).

I tend to think that more than unity we need diversity, and that being able to have tolerance for diversity enables us to work together whether we all agree or are united or not. That’s one of the things you post speaks to for me, because that degree of tolerance, and respect, is dependent on us being willing and able to see other people’s point of views and value them even if we disagree.

But with Weka diversity and being willing and able to see other people’s points of views only goes so far (as far as people whose points of views she finds acceptable).

It bothers me because a big chunk of NZ people are conservatives and how can we have a progressive society if we perceive them as being evil? It also bothers me because it frames the problem as a progressive/conservative conflict and that’s not NZ’s problem (it probably is the US’s). NZ’s problem is that the conservatives have been hijacked by the neoliberals and National has been turned into a proto-fascist party.

So she wants diversity as long as it doesn’t include anyone deemed to be a neoliberal or associated with a proto-fascist National party.

I think we should be building relationships with conservatives, not the likes of Hooton or BM…

…or anyone else judged to be a neofascist or neoliberal (a label applied very liberally).

Alongside this at the Standard yesterday was another post that had a very different approach to incognito and was more along Weka’s lines – it was a guest post by McFlock, about identifying, labelling and repelling anyone judged to be promoting Dead Cats and Sick Parrots.

Tory spinners have a tactic called “the dead cat (h/t for the link to RedLogix). It’s a monumental derail of the nation-wide conversation as soon as your opponent shows signs of gaining momentum, especially if that momentum is largely on the back of a single issue.

The dead cat is, in its essence, a bullshit argument: the user doesn’t care whether the argument is true, false, or even relevant to the argument. The objective is to get people arguing about the cat, and if someone accuses the cat-thrower of being disingenuous then the next move is to complain about personal abuse.

A problem is that Standard regulars apply ‘Tory spinner’ labels very liberally and often inaccurately. People simply with different points of view or who challenge ‘acceptable’ opinions are often ostracised and accused. For example I’ve been accused of being a Crosby Textor agent.

Sick parrots are more subtle than dead cats. Passers-by might not know that this is the fiftieth variation on the same bullshit this week, so can’t understand why the recipient is getting shirty.

“More subtle” means that the Tory/RWNJ/Crosby Textor/Natzi labels can be applied to just about anyone deemed to be some sort of enemy to the cause.

So does anyone have any ideas on how to deal with dead cats and sick parrots? Otherwise I fear we’ll be stuck with each bullshitter until they jump the shark and pick up a ban.

How about start by not accusing every new commenter deemed to be suspicious of not being hard left of being a dead cat or a sick parrot?

In Standard language ‘bullshitter’ could mean anyone to be targeted to harass and drive away. And this is not uncommon there.

In comments McFlock expands:

But how sick is a parrot? Is it a type of parrot, or is it another type of bird? At face value, the parrot is reasonable, plausible and maybe even relevant. It’s only after you examine it that you realise that it is none of those things, that all someone did was cut and paste some bullshit.

So even people who may appear reasonable, plausible and relevant are put under the Standard microscope (or telescopic sights). And all it takes is for one regular to yell ‘Fire!” and that’s when the bullshit actually begins.

I just wanted to know people’s thoughts on how to deal with people who “debate” in bad faith. Going to guillotines seems just a bit… much.

At The Standard I’ve seen many accusations of debating in ‘bad faith’ that seem nothing more than an excuse to drive people away who are deemed to be some sort of enemy.

These are not weapons anyone should be using. It’s a perversion of democracy.

What we need are defences against those weapons, not expertise in using them.

What they need is expertise in identifying real enemies without labelling anyone with a different opinion or idea on a topic. And less paranoia about any new or different input being that of an armed enemy.

So, basically, the relevance of your comment is thinly based solely on a subjective assertion (Labour “kowtowing”) that would require an extensive off-topic argument to resolve. That’s the “sick” bit.

Of course, the “if Labour was authentic in expressing its original values” (as you see them) it would get elected routine is a constant hypothetical assertion by yourself. That’s the “parrot” bit.

So, take your sick parrot and fuck off. You’re obviously incapable of addressing the topic of the post. Go away.

That was directed at Colonial Viper, who stood as a candidate for Labour in 2011 but is seen as an enemy within – if there are no newbies to drive away they often resort to infighting.

‘Solutions’ include dumping suspect comments into a naughty corner or labelling unwelcome commenters – they tried that with me for a while. And Weka was amongst those leading that.

And Weka continues her confusion.

My experience from here and other online spaces that have debate culture is that mostly people just like the arguing. So the energy and momentum is going to be in the conversations that have that charge to them. Plus the entertainment factor. So the problem isn’t just the trolls, it’s the troll warriors as well.

Weka has been a prominent ‘troll warrior’ (aka resident troll) at The Standard.

However I have hung out in places with better debate culture than here, and that’s largely down to different moderation policy.


In terms of online behaviour, esp here in ts, I think one useful tactic is name the behaviour (without abuse or putting in your own hooks) and then move on. Don’t engage on their terms. Learning how to name the behaviour takes time. The not engaging is the harder thing to do, because sometimes you have to keep naming the behaviour. Not engaging on its own doesn’t work, not least because other people just keep engaging.

In naming the behaviour I think it’s important to be specific, and to resist the temptation to lump all annoying behaviour under the same banner (eg calling all derailments trolling).

Except that is exactly what happens at The Standard, often to new commenters. They are either accepted, or they are lumped under the enemy banner.

Having the term Sick Parrot is going to be a boon, and we’ll need time to establish what it means esp here on ts.

Why bother establishing ‘what it means here on ts’? It’s likely to be nothing more than a general pejorative applied liberally alongside troll, Tory, RWNJ, neoliberal. Or off topic.


Not a cat. Just completely off topic.
Make your comments relevant or fuck off, fizberto.

Well down the comment thread McFlock tries to explain.

OK, just for a couple of people yet to geta handle of these things:

A “dead cat” is not necessarily irrelevant, it’s outrageous. It’s not coming to a post about debating tactics and talking about how bad Labour is – that’s just irrelevant. A dead cat is where you don’t like the way the discussion is going, so you say something like “you sucked off a horse“.

A sick parrot looks like a plausible comment that strikes a blow for the person who presented it, but upon closer inspection and unpacking its relevance is at best tangential and its truth is unimportant. The key is that any refutation or discussion of the parrot necessarily diverts the discussion from the topic at hand. It’s also generally rewalking the same tired ground from previous discussions, and is generally unimaginative or unoriginal – but it requires legwork to disprove and debate.


Good explanation.

The sad thing is that it’s not uncommon to see dead cats and sick parrots from Standard regulars, but they seem to be acceptable as a way of attacking ‘enemies’. Uneven standards are the norm there.

That The Standard has a discussion like this that promotes labelling and ostracising without it being challenged to any degree is a said reflection on debate on the flag-bearer of labour-left discussion.

It suggests a Standard of sick parrots.

Thoughtful and sensible

Having just posted RedLogix gets it wrong I see that he has also posted something else at The Standard, albeit of someone else’s (incognito’s) comments – Guest Post … Build Mass Movements continued.

I hope this is well read and digested at The Standard. Especially:

We all seem to be guilty of linear one-dimensional and dichotomous thinking from time to time. The kind of you’re wrong-I’m right black & white thinking.

Why is it so hard to take different viewpoints and possibilities into consideration?

Well, it takes time to think things through, from different angles, and we don’t want spend time on something unless it is really important …

But I think another major reason is that we’re not used to this kind of thinking; we haven’t been taught and we have learned it.

A third and possibly the biggest reason is that we resist it. We’re attached to our views, we associate with like-minded folks and this defines who we are, our identity; the way we view ourselves and others and how we’re viewed by others.

This is not a huge step away from Identity Politics, is it?

Because we tend to limit our viewpoint & thinking it is much harder for us to acknowledge that other people have different views, and respect let alone consider these. In fact, we might fear them, the other views and thus the other people.

Or we may fight them because they upset our cosy little world and threaten our identity and fragile little egos that could shatter at the slightest.

More often than not we simply swat them away saying that they’re wrong or that something is impossible.

That’s all fairly common at The Standard and in other forums. And it goes further – often anyone deemed different politically is often attacked and driven away.

This could change, but will it?

To affect a change we have to change ourselves, start with ourselves, and become more open-minded about other viewpoints. We would not lose our identity, nor would we become spineless or soft, weak, flip-flop or a lesser person or anything else that we might consider negative or ‘bad’.

On the contrary, we would become ‘a bigger person’ with much less ‘investment’ in and attachment to personal idiosyncrasies and therefore more free to choose from a smorgasbord of options & possibilities that we would never have known about – because we were blinkered, blind & deaf – or even contemplated previously.

I’d say: try a different viewpoint, look at things from a different angle, literally and figuratively. It doesn’t mean you must or will give up your perspective or your opinions even but I reckon you just might do that occasionally – would that be such a bad thing?

What do you reckon?

I reckon that considering other viewpoints, and giving different viewpoints an equal opportunity to be heard, are essential in politics.

I’ll go further and say that often you learn more from opposing viewpoints and arguments than you do from the cosy affirmatives that many seem to actively seek and try to enforce.

Changing things in forums at The Standard means risking being attacked and harassed by resident trolls like OAB, but narrowing the chorus strangles the tune and the band walks away.

RedLogix gets it wrong

In a rare post at The Standard RedLogix details ten debatable claims.

John Key will see out five or six terms in office. He will then likely hand over to his carefully anointed National party successor. National will govern uninterrupted. Key is only the dark beginning. We already know most of the reasons why:

1. Key was appointed to run NZ from within his prior role at the the US Fed. He has powerful allies not just within the local establishment, but globally. In a highly globalized world this counts for a lot more than most of us imagine.

No evidence provided, just a claim of an international conspiracy.

Key was selected by the National Caucus as party leader, about sixty MPs. As leader he has been elected by about a million voters three times. That’s a lot of people involved in his ‘appointment’.

2. Thirty five years of neo-liberal dogma that is designed to appeal to the selfish and greedy in us all has eroded the foundations of civil society. 25% of us that were born here with pre-80’s pro-social values have left, and too many of those who have arrived came from countries where they are notably lacking.

It’s highly debatable that “neo-liberal dogma that is designed to appeal to the selfish and greedy in us all” – certainly not us all – and it’s also quite debatable whether it has “eroded the foundations of civil society”.

The second sentence is odd and unsubstantiated.

3. National is funded with a landslide of money. It almost doesn’t know what to do with it all. Labour by contrast can barely afford mailouts to it’s membership.

Apart from obvious exaggerations I don’t think National funding has increased enormously. Labour is just failing to attract funds – unlike the Greens who seem to manage very well proportional to their size.

The Conservative and Internet parties received landslides of money and it didn’t do them many good.

4. The National govt runs an extremely well resourced PR organisation that the left cannot and never will match. Because the left sees itself as reformers, our internal discussions will always be louder and more rambunctious. By contrast the right is always united around the power of money, and will not only stay on message discipline … it will ruthlessly exploit any perceived dissent or weakness the left exposes.

Why couldn’t ‘the left’ have a well resourced PR organisation? Again the Greens seem to manage. Internet-Mana had a very well resourced organisation.

The ‘right’ is not always united around power and money – ACT and Dunne differ from National at times. I’m sure there are differences within National.

Of course they will “ruthlessly exploit any perceived dissent or weakness the left exposes” – and they get plenty of opportunity on a plate. That’s not their fault.

5. At present there is no credible means for the left to effectively convey it’s message to the public. We have been shut down or marginalised, to the point we are pretty much constrained to social media.

That’s utter crap.

Labour and Greens get PR repeated by media. They have access to free post. They have email contact lists. They can go out and have public meetings and go door to door like successful parties have in the past.

They try to do a lot more on social media, just not very well sometimes. That’s no one else’s fault.

They marginalise themselves and then moan about it and blame everyone and everything else.

6. A large fraction of the middle swing voters are fundamentally dubious about ever voting left because they perceive, rightly or wrongly that Labour and the Greens are prone to being captured by ‘PC gone mad’ special interest groups. Yes this is a fraught and nuanced issue … but none of this matters to a segment of the voting public who just hate it at a gut level.

Or going PC mad.

But I think a lot of middle swing voters are happy to have a bit of Green influence, especially on environmental issues. And want to see a credible Labour return.

I think most concern from swing voters is barely disguised socialist policies.

7. At the same time too many of Labour’s senior people seem to have made their peace with the Establishment. And this just leaves another segment of voters uninspired, contemptuous of ‘beltway pollies with their snouts in the trough’, and lacking an option they want to vote for, they stay at home.

And too many of Labour’s rank and file foot soldiers have been deserted. And Labour’s rank and file activists sound like they will never make peace with the Establishment, unless it is transformed into their revolutionary ideal.

8. The continued assault on left wing institutions like unions, workers education, and social entities that once allowed us to organise effectively. Activism from behind a keyboard only takes us a certain distance; it’s weak at turning ideas into reality.

It’s hardly a continued assault. Governments bring in different policies to change with the times, and the remaining unions don’t want to change, and Labour in Opposition is stuck in the middle.

Unions, workers education, and social entities go through the motions of promotion their causes but have lost their drive and sit back blaming everything else.

9. Increasing state surveillance and loss of civil liberties. What has happened to Ambrose, Hagar, Vance and others will continue to chill the public debate.

It’s an issue that requires vigilance and push back but the left overstate the dangers far too much making it easy to ignore their weekly ‘same old’ protest marches.

10. Too many activists on the left repeatedly make the basic mistake of confusing a dislike for John Key and what he stands for … for a lack of respect for his considerable political and managerial skills. It’s really time we stopped making this basic error.

They’ve been making the same mistakes for eight years and if you read through posts and comments at The Standard and The Daily Blog and Public Address there’s no sign of that changing.

They keep trying to make Key look far worse than he is rather than working on being better than they are.

I used to think RedLogix was one of the more intelligent and realistic voices from the left but if he is joining the ‘poor us, it’s everyone else’s fault’ stuck in last century attitude then I don’t have much hope for a centre left recovery from worse than the political doldrums – it’s more like they are in a slow whirlpool and keep paddling with the spiral.

Which is a real shame, because a healthy democracy is best served by strength and positive ambition across the spectrum.

How can you tell if a jet load of left wingers has landed at the airport? The whining continues after the engines have shut down.

RedLogix seems to have become RedLostit. The left has lost it’s heart and soul and purpose and all they have left is lamenting and blame of others.

Debate continues on alcohol and violence

Following the previous post  Alcohol, violence and inhibitions here are more comments on the alcohol and violence debate at The Standard post Not all research is created equal.

Psycho Milt:

“This report’s lie by omission is that alcohol weakens those inhibitions.”

What lie by omission? First, saying that alcohol lowers inhibitions is a very different thing from saying that alcohol causes violence. Second, Fox’s statement “violent people were more likely to act violently in certain situations” assumes the situation “inhibitions lowered by alcohol.” What exactly is the complaint about Fox’s research, other than that you don’t like the resulting recommendations?


“First, saying that alcohol lowers inhibitions is a very different thing from saying that alcohol causes violence.”

Tell that to the Police, Ambulance staff, and staff in Hospital Emergency rooms around the country. You might also try telling that to all the battered women, beaten by intoxicated partners.
It’s not the greatest leap of reason, to move from
“Intoxication lowers inhibitions” to
“Intoxication increases the propensity for those with a violent disposition to behave violently”.
Had Fox actually said that, then the report would not have been published, because it would have admitted that alcohol was a prime factor in many instances of violent behaviour. But No! we have the weasel words
“violent people were more likely to act violently in certain situations”
The lie is in the deliberate omission that alcohol is involved.

But Macro has omitted many things that Fox wrote in her report about alcohol’s involvement.

Psycho Milt:

Her point is that the person’s culture and personality bestowing them with a predisposition to violence is the prime factor, so she’s hardly likely to declare alcohol the prime factor. Alcohol is incidental, contributing no more than a lowering of inhibitions. It’s true that in some people, the lowering of inhibitions is a very bad idea because their true selves are malicious and violent, but the bottom line is that the problem isn’t the recreational drug, it’s the loathsome creature using it. Policy that directs itself to the drug rather than the loathsome creature is a waste of effort.


“There is overwhelming historical and cross-cultural evidence that people learn not only how to drink but how to be affected by drink through a process of socialisation…Numerous experiments conducted under strictly controlled conditions (double-blind, with placebos) on a wide range of subjects and in different cultures have demonstrated that both mood and actions are affected far more by what people think they have drunk than by what they have actually drunk…In simple terms, this means that people who expect drinking to result in violence become aggressive; those who expect it to make them feel sexy become amorous; those who view it as disinhibiting are demonstrative. If behaviour reflects expectations, then a society gets the drunks it deserves.”

Heath, D.B. (1998). Cultural variations among drinking patterns. In M.Grant and J.Litvak (eds.), Drinking Patterns and their Consequences. Washington: Taylor & Francis.

Magisterium then explains the different approaches to alcohol and violence from a health perspective versus a behavioural perspective:

There is a big divide between people studying alcohol from a health perspective and people studying alcohol from a behavioural perspective. The former tend to have as a baseline the position that alcohol is a poison and poisons are bad for your health so we should research alcohol’s health impacts; the latter tend to have as a baseline the position that drinking alcohol is something that people do and what people do is interesting so we should research the things that people do with and without alcohol.

Thus we have Doctor of Anthropology Anne Fox publishing a paper that says “alcohol doesn’t cause violence, violent people cause violence” so Miss Nicki Jackson, Auckland Uni PhD student in the Dept of Health and Medical Science calls the report “completely flawed”. These two people speak different languages, and I wonder why the Herald contacted a person working academically in the field of health and medicine to comment on a report in the field of human behaviour.

In the world of human behaviour and how alcohol affects it, the defining work of academic scholarship is MacAndrew, C. and Edgerton, R. (2003) “Drunken Comportment: A Social Explanation”. Aldine, Chicago. If you haven’t read it and you’re not familiar with its conclusions then you really shouldn’t be making claims on how alcohol affects people’s behaviour. Because some very clever people have done decades of research involving people and cultures all over the world and they know more about this shit than you, and their findings have been critiqued and dissected and reproduced by other very clever people. And if you don’t know what conclusions all that research produced then you really shouldn’t go around claiming that alcohol causes violence, because you’re like someone claiming vaccines cause autism because everyone knows that because you saw it on Facebook.

Just about all anthropological research arrives at the same conclusion (I say most because I haven’t read every single paper in the world, and who knows one might disagree, but I have yet to find it): the way alcohol affects human behaviour is entirely cultural. People who get drunk don’t become violent as a matter of course; rather, people who get drunk act the way they have learned to act when drunk, or they act the way they think they can get away with while drunk, and in some cultures that means violence.

Basically, anyone who’s done any research on drunken behaviour will be completely unsurprised by Dr Fox’s research paper because, well, it just confirms everything that every other anthropological study on the topic says. They all reach the same conclusion: alcohol doesn’t cause violence.

Public health professionals all cringe when such papers are published because, like I said at the start, they’re coming from a position of ALCOHOL BAD and anything that says drinking alcohol can be a completely pleasant and uncontroversial experience for all involved is tantamount to heresy in that academic field.

A One News report had slammed Fox’s report in Lion’s research suggesting booze has little relation to violence slammed by academics

The report was funded by booze company Lion and took just seven weeks of research, suggesting alcohol has little to do with violent behaviour.

Gristle picked up on this:

7 weeks to undertake research and write a report is pretty good going. My guess is there was no research but reinterpretation of other people’s research. I doubt the report went through the normal peer reviewing by suitable qualified people.

this sounds like the “tobacco research” where the industry purposely created dubious research and skilfully placed it in the media to create the impression that the science was not settled and no regulation was required. This same approach has occurred with lead in petrol, car safety, CFCs, global warming.

The media is being played. It is a fundamental failing of the media not to have developed skills and methods to handle scientific debate and the role of self interested corporates and their supporting institutions and funded science.

It seems to me that the media can be played by different sides of the debate.

Psycho Milt addressed the 7 week diss.

The 7 weeks involved a team of researchers looking specifically at the Aus/NZ environment. There’d already been an extensive literature review, not to mention the 20 years she’d spent researching alcohol use in non-Aus/NZ situations. Writing the report took a further year.

The report states: Fieldwork commencing in July 2013. The paper was finalised in January 2015.

That’s 18 months rather than 7 weeks.


Of course one of the tests of research is to see how often it is referenced by leading researchers in the field. Unfortunately this process takes years.

And it is more likely to be referenced by researchers who agree with the behavioural approach to the problem rather than those who have a health perspective.


this sounds like the “tobacco research” where the industry purposely created dubious research and skilfully placed it in the media to create the impression that the science was not settled and no regulation was required

No, it pretty much just confirms what every other anthropological study of the subject has concluded. It’s an entirely uncontroversial paper containing no real surprises.


There is nothing in the Fox Report to indicate that it has undergone anything like a peer-review. There are many assertions that are not backed up with literature citations but simply rely on her personal beliefs and experience and are subjectively worded.

”Elsewhere in this paper I acknowledge that alcohol has a very real physiological effect, but based on decades of research in the field, I am convinced that these physiological effects in no way determine a behavioural response.” [p# 15]

”As an anthropologist who has spent thousands of hours observing drunken behaviour, I can confidently assert that it is as predictable as any other ritually governed human behaviour.” [p# 16]


This is a pretty good metasummary of the current understanding of drunken behaviour, drawing on the conclusions of hundreds of peer-reviewed papers:


TLDR? Everyone concludes the same thing as Dr Fox.


Looks interesting, thank you; will read later if you don’t mind. I do note, in passing, that the Foreword is dated 1998.

Who’s “Everyone”? Am I supposed to take this literally, in which case it is clearly incorrect?

The debate on alcohol and violence will no doubt continue, as will research.

Some questions I have from all of this:

  • If alcohol causes violence why are most people who drink alcohol not violent when drinking?
  • If alcohol causes violence are do some people only violent some times when they are drinking alcohol?
  • Why are people who are violent when drinking alcohol also violent when they are not drinking alcohol?
  • Were humans non-violent before alcohol use began (thought to be about 9,000 years ago).
  • Were Maori and other native populations non-violent before alcohol was introduced by Europeans?
  • If we had alcohol prohibition would violence reduce?

I have never become violent or felt like being violent when drinking alcohol.

Fox’s study report: Understanding behaviour in the Australian and New Zealand night-time economies

Frequently asked questions on alcohol use at CDC.

Alcohol, violence and inhibitions

Debate has continued on whether alcohol causes violence or not. This started earlier this month with references to a study done by anthropologist Dr Anne Fox. Karl du Fresne in the Listener wrote about this in Bar None.

A recently published paper looks at alcohol and its associated social problems through an anthropological lens and concludes we’ve got it all wrong. It’s not booze that’s to blame for violence and antisocial behaviour – it’s us.

Understanding Behaviour in the Australian and New Zealand Night-Time Economies” is a paper by British anthropologist Anne Fox, who has studied drinking cultures for 20 years and worked as a consultant on substance misuse for the British Army.

A key finding is that despite a tightly regulated drinking environment, we accept a level of drunken behaviour that would not be tolerated in many other Western countries.

Scapegoating alcohol as the sole cause of violence, she argues, merely diverts attention from “maladaptive cultural norms” that allow New Zealand and Australian men to be violent and aggressive.

Fox blames our macho violent culture on violence more than the effects of drinking alcohol.

And Fox predicted:

Fox expects to be dismissed by some as a propagandist for the liquor industry, but insists that her contract with Lion stipulated no interference in her research, analysis or writing. “In fact, it was quite brave of Lion because it didn’t know what I was going to say or what the results would be.

Her researched has not just been dismissed, it has been slammed: Lion’s research suggesting booze has little relation to violence slammed by academics

Academics have slammed a report that weakens the link between alcohol and violence.

The report was funded by booze company Lion and took just seven weeks of research, suggesting alcohol has little to do with violent behaviour.

“It’s a report that’s completely flawed and it shouldn’t be informing policy on alcohol,” Nicki Jackson from the University of Auckland said.

“[The] biggest concern is that this report is being used by the alcohol industry, it’s getting into government circles to try and change the debate around alcohol harm reduction.”

“It’s just another attempt by the alcohol industry to try and create confusion and get in the way of good positive change in alcohol related harm,” Ms Jackson said.
Lion argues the alcohol industry should be involved in more research.

This has been picked up on by Anthony Robins (another ‘Academic’) at The Standard in Not all research is created equal.

Research, the scientific method, is the best tool we have for understanding the world. It isn’t a set of facts or dogma, it’s a process for evaluating hypotheses. Honest disagreement and changes in consensus are not evidence of flaws in the process, they are the process, it is “self repairing”.

Sadly however, there is material out there that dresses itself in the garb of research, but isn’t. It is paid for propaganda masquerading as science.

An anonymous editorial in The Herald yesterday managed to get straight to the heart of the issue:

“Academic research into public health problems has an uncanny way of confirming the concerns of its funder.”

Similar examples on a global scale include the “research” purporting to show no harm from smoking tobacco, and of course the climate change denial industry. It’s tragic but it’s true, in evaluating supposed research we need to apply the almost universally useful maxim – “follow the money”.

So Robins has slammed Fox, concluding her research is invalidated due to who funded it, without addressing any of her research apart from claiming:

Violence is part of our society yes – as are the inhibitions that hold violence in check.

Violence is far from held ‘in check’ in New Zealand. It is one of this country’s most insidious problems.

This report’s lie by omission is that alcohol weakens those inhibitions.

Accusing a researcher of lying ‘by omission’ is a serious accusation. Based on what? I don’t know if Robins has read the report. Here’s a link to it:

Understanding behaviour in the Australian and New Zealand night-time economies
An anthropological study by Dr Anne Fox

Starting on page 12 the report has a whole section on inhibitions.

Belief in Disinhibition

Key Points
– Alcohol is almost universally believed to be a ‘disinhibitor’: a substance that ‘loosens our inhibitions’.
– But inhibitions are rules that we follow and break only when we believe we have licence to and, as such, are largely socially, not chemically, determined.
– Likewise, in a large part, drunken comportment is also culturally determined and can largely be voluntarily engaged and disengaged even when alcohol has been consumed.
– Drunken comportment can be heavily influenced by situational cues that reinforce cultural norms.

The report continues on disinhibition for several pages including quotes and references. Robins doesn’t address any of this, he just accuses Fox of lying by omission.

In comments Magisterium challenges Robins’ accusation:

“This report’s lie by omission is that alcohol weakens those inhibitions”

It doesn’t. That’s just plain empirically untrue, in the same way that “vaccines cause autism” is untrue.

Alcohol does not “weaken inhibitions”. If you have learned through the lessons of your culture that the way you are supposed to act when drunk is stoic silence, then you will be a stoic silent drunk even if you were loud and gregarious before drinking.

If you act as if you have had your inhibitions weakened after drinking alcohol, that’s because your culture has taught you to do that. And you’ll act that way even if you’ve had a placebo that contains no alcohol.


alcohol consumption is disproportionately associated with violence and injury in a variety of cultures and settings. There is a clear association.


No, there isn’t. There just plain isn’t.

There are:

– societies in which drunkenness does not result in any ‘disinhibited’ behaviour at all

– societies in which the type of behaviour associated with drunkenness has undergone radical changes over time

– societies in which drunken behaviour varies dramatically according to the circumstances in which alcohol is consumed

– societies in which apparently ‘disinhibited’ drunken behaviour remains within well-defined, culturally sanctioned limits.

Seriously, the “alcohol as biochemical disinhibitor” theory went out the window in the sixties.

Incognito responds to this:

Yes, it does. You can read all about it in this excellent (and recent!) review in Nature Reviews Neuroscience entitled Cognitive and neurobiological mechanisms of alcohol-related aggression (it can be downloaded for free through ResearchGate).


Seriously, you’re stuck in a time warp! Please check out the review in Nature Reviews Neuroscience that I linked to in comment 10.3.

The closing sentences of that paper:

Although animal experiments provide a mostly coherent picture of the neurobiological correlates of alcohol-related aggression, more research in humans is warranted, especially considering the societal impact of alcohol-induced aggression. Such studies in humans need to take into account that, beyond the effects of acute and chronic alcohol intake suggested by animal experiments, cognitive variables such as implicit and explicit expectations regarding the effects of alcohol and previous experiences of violent encounters can modify alcohol-associated aggression.

A much more ‘nuanced’ view of the state of the field than the passive-aggressive stand by Dr Fox and many (all?) of her anthropologists colleagues.

So there is plenty to debate here without resorting to pissy dissing of a report without providing any substantiated counter arguments or facts.

In a recent post Robins criticised media:

Now you (the responsible media) might say that you’re offering a range of opinions. But when some opinions are clearly and provably nonsense that excuse is just an abdication of responsibility. It’s laziness, clickbait, and harmful.

I guess I’m asking for context and sanity checking in the media. Fact-based narrative instead of isolated and inconsistent snippets. Harder work, but much better for everyone.

How about some fact-based narrative instead of isolated and inconsistent snippets Anthony.

It’s harder for sure, but wouldn’t it be better?

Another footnote – my last post generated such a predictably facile misrepresentation by the right wing blogs (Slater / George) that I can’t wait to see what I’m going to be accused of this time!

How about your facile misrepresentation of Fox’s report?

And calling this a ‘right wing blog’ is a fairly facile misrepresentation too, isn’t it. Lazy.


Must work harder Anthony

Anthony Robins (at The Standard) has praised Lizzie Marvelly’s  poverty piece at The Herald and makes a suggestion to the media – while he claims to be an academic he wants them to publish things he agrees with (he calls that fact-based narrative) and to not publish things he disagrees with (he calls them execrable nonsense and isolated and inconsistent snippets).

He does this in a footnote to What to do about poverty (and a suggestion to the media).

Footnote (I’m an academic, I love footnotes!) on a suggestion to the media. Almost everything you publish is a piece in isolation. There is a better way.

Take The Herald for example. You publish Marvelly’s piece on poverty today, just a week after (re)publishing Whyte’s excerable nonsense. If you had any kind of overview / foundation of established fact / ongoing context on the topic of poverty you wouldn’t be publishing such wildly inconsistent pieces (the Whyte article would have been rejected as the nonsense that it was).

Take climate change as another example, no responsible media should be publishing denier nonsense these days.

Now you (the responsible media) might say that you’re offering a range of opinions. But when some opinions are clearly and provably nonsense that excuse is just an abdication of responsibility. It’s laziness, clickbait, and harmful.

I guess I’m asking for context and sanity checking in the media. Fact-based narrative instead of isolated and inconsistent snippets. Harder work, but much better for everyone.

So Robins praises Marvelly, who shames and guilts anyone who won’t go along of her framing of ‘poverty’ in New Zealand and her vague suggested solutions.

And he wants the media to reject opinions that don’t fit with his views. That certainly isn’t better for everyone.

It’s harder work providing balance and a wide range of views, even if they might not be the same as your own. And much better for a relatively free and democratic society.


Related to this are comments by ‘weka’ at The Standard.

On the Open Mike discussion on Marvelly:

The other problem I have with this is that it allows the deserving poor memes to continue which in turn allows the neoliberalis to keep treating so many people like shit.

I get why child poverty is focussed on. For socially intelligent people, if you address child poverty you are in fact addressing family poverty (not so much for the neoliberals and socially inept), and that in turn creates more healthy societies.

‘Socially intelligent’ (people she agrees with) versus socially inept (people she disagrees with).

And in response to Robins’ post:

Good punchy post r0b.

Re the footnote, does this mean the standard will no longer be publishing comments that are AGW denialist or poverty denialist? I hope so (although I appreciate the work involved may not make that possible).

She wants even more censorship at The Standard than Robins suggests for the media.

And Wayne Mapp takes Robins to task:

This item by Anthony Robins seems more like a request for Herald censorship than having a contest of ideas. It seems that you would prefer that arguments and positions you don’t like not to be published.

On climate change, while i accept that it is happening and is manmade, there does seems to be a genuine scientific debate about the rate of change. Surely a legitimate matter for the media to report.

Whyte’s piece was clearly an headed as an opinion piece, and not from a regular Herald columnist. His basic idea, on the best way to measure poverty, is clearly not nonsense. There is a genuine debate about whether poverty should be measured on whether a child is deprived of things that we see as essential in New Zealand, or whether a percentage of average incomes will in essence give the same answer.

If you disagree with his theme so strongly, submit your own item to the Herald.

More broadly modern media in all its forms allows any views to be aired. Or should these debates be confined to new Media, and that old media be tightly regulated. Just writing that sentence shows the impossibility of that. I for instance subscribe to The Spectator. There would not be one view expressed in The Spectator that you would agree with.

So what? That is what free speech means.

But forums like The Standard aren’t so interested in free speech. They seem want to want free speech as long as you are from the labour left and don’t threaten their opinions with alternative views or awkward questions.





Weka and naming bullshit

One of the most irrelevant and stupidest references I’ve seen to me, seeming to imply I have ‘set up’ an abrasive thread on Open Mike at The Standard (I haven’t commented there for nine months).


FFS you lot, is it going to be like this all day? Really?


I called out abusive language directed at another member.

Public service innit?


Looks like you want to fight RWNJ and/or trolls rather than discuss politics. I think there are better ways to do that if you want it to also be a public service.

Perhaps Weka has changed her approach, she has been involved in a quite a bit of fighting over the years. Good on her if she has decided to try and promote less vitriolic discussions.

But her references to Right Wing Nut Jobs and trolls (typical tactic at The Standard to try and shut unwelcome visitors out of discussions) suggests she hasn’t changed much.

b waghorn:

I seem to remember it getting like this last year at about the same time, its caused by the lack of fresh meat to feed them.


It did seem like a bit of a feeding frenzy this morning.

Plus I suspect the sexual offending one is a set up. Cue post from Pete George saying that the standard supports child pornography watchers.

Having just frowned on the quality of discussion Weka suggests it was caused by a set up and implies it could have been me , and then makes a stupid suggestion, even by her standards.

I note that anyone deemed a RWNJ or troll by Standard vigilantes who  posted ‘the standard supports’ there risks being attacked, abused and threatened with a ban, but Weka seems exempt from moderation.

Later Weka said:

I don’t have a problem with calling out bullshit. It was more just that I came onto OM this morning and it was full of bickering. Naming bullshit is one thing, arguing about it endlessly is another. I know how easy it is to get sucked into that, do it myself, but it was just a bit much and I thought it might be good to name it and see if it changed.

At least she acknowledges “I know how easy it is to get sucked into that, do it myself”.

But things haven’t changed much when she tries to blame it on RWNJs and trolls and then dumps on me.

So I’m calling out her bullshit.

If she really wants a better way of doing things she could try apologising for making a shitty insinuation about me knowing that I have no right of reply at The Standard – I’m banned from naming their bullshit there.

One Abusive Anonymous Bloke

One Abusive Anonymous Bloke, one toxic forum, a poor advertisement for ‘the labour left’.

There were generally some very good discussions at The Standard on Little: Labour to Defy TPPA.

However one of the most negative aspects of The Standard was also on display – one of their resident trolls, ‘One Anonymous Bloke’. They (their gender is uncertain) have a history of persistent personal attacks that are a major factor in The Standard being seen as an abusive toxic forum weighted heavily in favour of long term abusers.

‘One Anonymous Bloke’ chose to target one person, as has been their habit for years.  In one thread here are all their responses to ‘acrophobic’


Liar – the GST increase more than clawed back the income tax cut.

Why do you tell so many lies?


Something can be highly unlikely because it’s prevented by the Greens’ rules, to whit: Green Party members would have to forget that the National Party is a slow civil war upon New Zealand in order to go into coalition with them.

I expect you to fail to understand that, like a:

a: failure or,
b: liar.

Which is it?


Yes, by removing the first part of my comment, you can produce a quote that makes it look as though I said something different.

Are these sort of Kindergarten pratfalls the best you can do?

Yes, they are.

“By removing the first part of my comment, you can produce a quote that makes it look as though I said something different” is very ironic given OAB’s habit of doing just that.


Misrepresenting what Weka said too, eh Wormtongue.


Too funny: fish, meet barrel.


Labour controls the weather. You need to get out more.


Of course there isn’t, you dimwit, since the TPPA is not in force all we have to go on is informed opinion (which doesn’t include yours).

The lying Prime Minister says the government (ie: taxpayers – again not you, you’re a drain on society) will fund the extra costs to keep the retail price of medicines unchanged.

If you had a clue you’d know that, and you don’t.


I have plenty of clues, moran, not that you’ve provided any. For example, Northshoredoc is a better source on this subject: a better wingnut than you’ll ever be.


Are you dense as well as dishonest? What part of all we have to go on is informed opinion are you having trouble with?


You can call it what you like, and that says something about you. You Tory wankers want to restrain my trade to satisfy your Yankee crush: do it on your own dime, shitheel.


Criticising National Party sycophancy is not xenophobia.

If you don’t know how the TPPA restrains trade you haven’t been paying attention.


Please explain why you’re contradicting your lying Prime Minister. Do you think the lying Prime Minister is lying, or are you:

a: Lying or,
b: Running off at the mouth in incompetent ignorance for which you will demonstrate no personal responsibility.

Which is it Glibertard?


I am, liar.

Why do you tell so many lies? Can we charitably assume that you tell so many lies because you’re utterly devoid of original thoughts or opinions, or are you in fact a mendacious wretch, like the Prime Minister?


Your rote-learned lies (all of them) on the Greenhouse Effect are lies. Your rote-learned lies on Lab5’s economic competence are lies (note that I’m not saying Lab5 were economically competent, just that the rote learned lies you tell on the subject are lies). Your rote-learned lies about poverty, are lies.

Your rote-learned lies about the TPPA, are lies.

Even Bill English contradicts your rote-learned lies. Even the lying Prime Minister contradicts your rote-learned lies when it suits him.

Why is that?


I already have, multiple times, on multiple threads. “This is the rainy day the government has been saving up for” ring any bells?

Your lies about welfare have been debunked so many times by so many people – check out Werewolf’s ten myths about welfare and see how many boxes you tick – pretty sure it’s all of them.

Your lies about the Greenhouse Effect come straight from the list of denier lies, as can be seen by cross-reference with Skeptical Science.

I’m inclined to be charitable and assume that you believe these lies because you’re biased and stupid, rather than that you’re deliberately mendacious, but really, who cares: kids are still dying while you tell them.


For example: “many living in poverty do so because of poor choices”

All you’ve offered in support of this vile hate speech is to confess your disgusting betrayal of people who’ve turned to you for help.

Lie number one. I’ve referred to others above.

This is typical behaviour of ‘One Anonymous Bloke’, targeted personal attacks and attempts to discredit someone they choose to try and drive away. I’ve seen them do it frequently and have been on the receiving end.

They have been allowed to continue like this for years with little or no challenge from Standard moderators. It is accepted behaviour, it’s even encouraged. And it is onbe of the main reasons why The Standard is seen as a toxic forum that reflects poorly on ‘the labour left’ and by association, on Labour.

At the end of the thread One Anonymous Bloke’s behaviour was challenged:


Easy to tell when [deleted] has been proved a liar…it gets very abusive.
Good on you acrophobic..no doubt you will get slapped with a ban shortly for a few inconvenient truths however.

[You’re a sad wee misogynist, Mark. People don’t get banned here for inconvenient truths, and even if they were, I don’t see much truth in anything acrophobic has written anyway, so if a ban comes, it won’t be on those grounds. TRP]

You have some assumption about a word I used?
OAB gets to abuse anyone exposing his/her/it’s nastiness & lies, anyone else gets a petty little telling off.
The utter failure, nastiness, hypocracy & dishonesty of the Left exposed in just a few comments.

[Two words, Mark. I left the word “it” undeleted, just so the readers can get an idea of how you see women. TRP]

TRP targets the use of ‘it’ while supporting OAB’s persistent personal attacks. Unfortunately this is also typical of The Standard standard.

And under protection of site moderation One Anonymous Bloke continued:

My challenge to Acrophobic is very simple: to produce evidence – not personal anecdotes or assertions – of the right wing dogma they have learned so well.

Where Bill English and the Prime Minister contradict their assertions, I feel confident in calling them lies. Where the academies of science of every country that has an academy of science contradicts the right wing dogma they have learned so well, I feel confident in calling them lies.

When Epidemiology contradicts the right wing dogma they have learned so well, I feel confident in calling them lies too.

If you don’t like that, get some personal responsibility and rebut my criticisms. Why am I obliged to tolerate or be polite in the face of lies in politics?

acrophobia responded:


1. You think lied because I apparently contradict something John Key says yet you call John Key a liar?
2. You think I lied because I question some notion you have of scientific consensus. You do realise that challenging scientific theory is not only an exercise in free speech it is also part of the scientific method? Would you have accused Galileo of ‘lying’ for opposing the prevailing consensus that the earth was the centre of the universe?

If you made any criticisms of worth I would be happy to engage. Instead you resort to ad-hominem almost from the get-go, accompanied by a flurry of irrational diatribe.

My challenge to you is simple. Quote a single instance where I have lied. Just one.

One Anonymous Bloke #17:

For example: “many living in poverty do so because of poor choices”

All you’ve offered in support of this vile hate speech is to confess your disgusting betrayal of people who’ve turned to you for help.

Lie number one. I’ve referred to others above.

It’s ridiculous to call that a lie, but that’s how One Anonymous Bloke ‘argues’ against things they (presumably) disagree with, repeated accusations of lying.

This disagreement by abuse is sadly common from the left and on The Standard.

One Abusive Anonymous Bloke sadly sums up the state of left wing debate. It is also one of the most negative aspects of The Standard and it has been their trademark for years.


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