By George Sandeman

I was fortunate to attend a British boarding school where, apart from learning to play rugby, I was educated in a number of more or less interesting topics. Not much good at most academic subjects I quite enjoyed offsetting the louder ‘’60/’70s music with classical symphonies and the rather stodgy (to my mind) Flemish Renaissance painters with Impressionism. Among these modern artists, Jackson Pollock stood out as the creator of coloured squiggly lines, blotches of paint and random chaos, which looked at from the right angle became extraordinarily alluring, drawing you into a myriad of colours and shapes.

Anyway, that’s not what this is about! However, it did cross my mind the other day as I re-read the second version of the Global Burden of Disease (I must get a social life!) that science can have a Pollock-like effect when it lures you in with squiggly lines and blotches but as you turn it round you realise that it is in fact has a different meaning.

When The Lancet, an eminent journal of medicine published the paper from 2018 on the GBD, headlining that even a single drop of wine was unsafe for human health, there was generalised concern among wine drinkers and growers alike. However, when independent scientists looked beyond the squiggly lines and blotches there were hypothetical cries of “fake news”, because deep down the facts were hidden.

Having been called out, the artists (well, actually, the original scientists) reviewed the GBD data and corrected themselves to show that the results ended up in a J curve and that the "the no safe level [used by so vehemently by WHO] is not scientifically supported!"

So, I thought to myself, it’s a little like hanging your Jackson Pollock upside down; the science is the same, but the results depend on how you analyse (“massage”) the data. But what if you do it knowingly? With the objective of reaching a predefined objective… would this bring cries of “forgery”?

So finally, my question is; if the WHO communication of “No Safe Level” to influence policy decisions is based on the first Global Buden of Disease study, why haven’t they updated the message with the corrected analyse from the second GBD study?

Isn’t this a little bit like hanging your Jackson Pollock upside down and telling everyone it’s the right way up?

Wine is more than terroir. It is culture, community, gastronomy, rural economy and social interaction. In moderation, wine is great!

Note: The opinions expressed in EX AMPULLA “Out of the Bottle” BLOG are exclusively my responsibility.
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