Friday, 21 June 2013

Poverty, both intellectual and actual.

I'm slightly ashamed that one of my favourite things to do is laugh at the French. I have lots of Friends there and love the country and yet their foibles amuse me no end.
At present, I'm not laughing. In 1991 anti alcohol fundamentalists managed to get a law called EVIN passed. This basically made all advertising of alcohol illegal in an attempt to reduce alcoholism. In the years that followed the law was upheld quite aggressively, famously an article in Le Parisiene entitled Le Triomphe de Champagne was deemed to be too positive and therefor was considered advertising and thus illegal. Many publications and journalists were warned that articles were overstepping the mark (though rarely was this contested in court).
Michel Reynaud 
Things may be about to get worse. Michel Reynaud, the author of a proposed revision to the law, wants to ban pretty much all internet based wine sites. Stating 'We need to formally ensure that no media about alcohol can be aimed at young people, or potentially seen by young people, including the internet (except producer sites) and social networks.’
His justification cites a supposed finding that 13 to 17 year olds who have access to smart phones, the internet, social networks and the like are three times more likely to have consumed wine than those that don't.
Exactly. I'm pretty certain that I made the same face too.
France, as of 2012 has a 79.6% Internet penetration, so we're looking at one in five teenagers (I'm assuming for the moment that distribution across the population is even, despite my guess being that there is a bias towards the elderly segments of the population within the non connected) being three times less likely than the other four to have consumed wine.
Right now lets think about what might cause this quite significant difference in consumption behaviour. Access to web based wine criticism, or poverty? Does France have a large North African Muslim population? Are they generally at the lower end of the income scale? Does Msnr Reynaud take this into account? To be honest, I don't know for certain, all I see is what looks like a spurious statistic being shoehorned into furthering an oddly fundamentalist approach to dismantling one of France's best known industries.
I really don't want to shout correlation not causation because it would make me sound like a twatty first year student. But I'm going to none the less. Mnsr Reynaud, sod off.

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