Trougher of the Year Tries to Protect Patch

2013 TROUGHER OF THE YEAR Boyd Swinburn aka Boyd Swingeburn has emerged from the trough and is now complaining to all and sundry that scientists (i.e. him) are under attack.

He’s saying that ‘scientists that represent the voice of the public in policy making are being shouted down by large commercial interests and their views suppressed by attack campaigns”.

Nice to see that Boyd Swingeburn thinks he’s the “voice of the public”.

Maybe it’s the rarified air he’s sucked into his lungs at Lake Como, Italy that instilled in him the view that he’s the voice of the people.

He then bangs on about “a blanket of suppression is insidiously descending on the voices for public health”.

Maybe those voices are actually calling for accountability of the millions and millions of taxpayer dollars being hoovered up sending Boyd Swingeburn and his troughing mates on flash overseas holidays junkets conferences.

Now as the “voice of the people” Boyd Swingeburn is attacking the Government, saying Tony Ryall dismissed a letter from so-called public health experts upset that there’s an industry representative – former MP and head of the Food & Grocery Council Katherine Rich, on the Health Promotion Agency (HPA).   

They would prefer the HPA to be stacked with their troughing mates in order to have a monopoly on public health issues than have someone representing manufacturers who may provide another viewpoint.

Boyd Swingeburn is clearly frustrated that his patsy MP, and understudy for the Village People Kevin Hague, isn’t having much luck forcing Health Minister Jonathan Coleman to kowtow to their demands.

To put icing on the gluten free, sugar free, cardboard cake, Boyd Swingeburn has the audacity to say

 “…they cannot go unnoticed and unchallenged. They diminish the foundations of science, democracy and freedoms of speech that our society depend upon”. (emphasis added)

I couldn’t agree more. But I have to wonder why it is he thinks he can try and shut down my freedom of speech and that of Katherine Rich?

Surely if he believes in freedom of speech he also believes in robust debate?

Seems not, he simply can’t handle the jandal and like all those who end up teaching likes the information traffic to be one way.

Well sorry Mr Swingeburn, democracy and freedom of speech don’t work that way.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Coleman gave Hague a good slapping in Parliament saying that if current trends continue he’ll have to answer a further 8,732 questions from Hague about Health Promotion Agency board member Katherine Rich.

What Hague doesn’t get is that the more questions he asks the more amusing he becomes.

As always I will continue to hold stupid ideas, stupid people and troughers to account.


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  • Damon Mudgway

    My health is my responsibility, not Boyd Swinburn’s.

    • Billythekid

      On the button !

  • conwaycaptain

    Coleman gave Hague a right slapping on QT yesterday. Like one of those punch dolls with sand in the base he just keeps coming up for more. Just like Wussel and Material Girl.

  • Timboh

    His puffed up title says it all about this porcine professor of Population Nutrition and Global Health.

    • Des Marshall

      Exactly. How effective are these troughers and their research? Still thousands dying from obesity related illnesses, and starvation, so pretty ineffective I would say. Still I guess sucking up all that tax payer’s money beats making shampoo or toothpaste for a living.

  • Hillary Green

    Excuse me Mr Swinburn, but you are certainly not “the voice of the people”. How arrogant do you think you are, trying to tell everyone else how to live. Shame on you.

  • Worried about industry influence?? The professions always have their hands out for industry-paid junkets (sorry conferences) which always seem to be in exotic locations. In the medical profession for example the drug companies are always arranging conferences in Fiji, Tahiti, Honolulu, Europe and so on and the venues are always five-star. A great deal of research funding comes from industry and they rightly expect a return on their investment tangible or otherwise.

    • Aucky

      In the past my company had extensive experience in arranging ‘conferences’ for drug companies and budgets were never a problem. In many instances the business content of the ‘conference’ was the absolute bare minimum to meet IRD requirements for tax deductability with the majority of the time spent schmoozing the delegates and their partners at ever increasingly extravagant functions and activities. The end payer of course is us, the taxpayer and/or consumer.

      • ex-JAFA

        I’ve also organised a number of such “conferences”. Board members would attend the formal few hours and the dinner, then clear off and leave the middle management and underlings to the remaining day(s) of debauchery with which the board members didn’t want to associate themselves!

  • Second time around

    I can respect Boyd Swinburn for the original research he publishes in major peer reviewed international scientific journals. His website shows a number of publications of which he is joint author from 2010 to 2012 and the research is on topics such as the impact of caffeine in drinks on their energy content and the Epode programmes run in some countries to limit child obesity.

    As his papers state, there are a number of stakeholders in any change and they cannot be implemented without proper support from the community. If his results unequivocally support taxes on sugar, a ban on meat pies and similar initiatives, other people who have skills in the public policy arena, maybe even Jonathan Coleman and the Ministry of Health, will take up the fight for him. He does not need to battle alone.

    • Wheninrome

      Years ago he moved his entire family to Phoenix and was involved in research on Diabetes. He is always very passionate about his causes and when I was more closely associated with the family he certainly practised what he preached. To the extent when they were living briefly with my family all children had a very high fibre diet for breakfast, no coco pops, as Boyd made the breakfast I was not going to complain. The children got over it very quickly, and I have to say coco pops didn’t come back on the menu.

      • Second time around

        Interesting: it shifts the emphasis from “trougher” to someone who is genuinely committed to his causes.

        • MoggieManiac

          That’s fine, but I don’t appreciate him and his like-minded scientists trying to legislate to force me to join his causes.

          In the health and nutrition line, I’m well read and well educated, and I’d prefer that it is me that makes the decisions about what I put in my body. If other people choose not to be educated, that is their choice as to what their health outcomes will be.

          How about we change the law so that anyone who is morbidly obese doesn’t get free health care and operations in the nation’s hospitals?
          Why do these scientists only try to make laws on their side of the debate?

          • Second time around

            Being genuinely committed does not mean that his approach is effective or that the publicity he seeks works productively for him. I agree with you that for the most part it is off putting, patronising etc etc and that he should leave public policy and politics for others.

      • MoggieManiac

        So you managed to change a part of your lifestyle by being educated?

        You didn’t experience force from newly-enacted law passed by the government with the encouragement of passionate scientists who were pushing for their causes?

        • Wheninrome

          Sometimes you have to have a lead for the horses that need water. Doesn’t make them drink.
          I believe that to get a large number of people to change there needs to be a “stick” of encouragement. Ultimately it can be for the greater good in the long term.
          Think smoking and how restaurants are nicer places without smoke being puffed in one’s face.
          40 + years ago smoking and parties, now it might be unusual for most age groups to find smokers amongst their friends, they certainly wouldn’t sit at the dining table and puff smoke in your face.
          Is that a bad or good thing, and would it have come about as quickly with out gentle persuasion of the legislative type?

          • MoggieManiac

            Smoking – now that’s a situation where other people are affected and inconvenienced by someone smoking in the same room. Someone over eating, eating take-aways or drinking fizzy drinks is hardly going to affect people nearby, and certainly not what they do in their own home.
            Putting taxes on the foods these “scientists” complain about is punishing the huge percentage of the population that do “nothing wrong.”

          • Wheninrome

            Think aeroplane seats, that needs addressing, maybe weigh people as some airlines do.
            If however a huge percentage of the population are doing nothing wrong the tax won’t effect them. A bit like jail, only effects those who break the law, the crime effects others, but jail only effects the criminal.

    • Timboh

      Having spent some time in academia, peer reviewed is not as sacred as you may think. Getting like minded people to agree with your paper and publish it is all part of the game. Global warming/Climate change papers were peer reviewed to death but are still pseudoscience.

      • Second time around

        I agree with your point and in some fields e.g. sociology, an inner clique may praise each other’s work to the hilt and thus collectively scoop up an unfair share of research grants. In the present case the publications are in a variety of prestigious journals, for example The Lancet, which is known to treat fools harshly. Accordingly, rather than challenge the science, it is more productive to concentrate on the extrapolation of that research to public policy where the issue of politics arises and Professor Swinburn’s case seems far less well established.

  • jsb1685

    Would you like to fix the spelling (tougher) in the headline? It might be giving the wrong impression!

    • IainH

      Agreed. Please fix – c’mon Cam you are quick enough to slag off Fairfax for similar typos.

  • cows4me

    Science isn’t science now days it’s a sub branch of political activism. Science use to be about study and presenting the facts, now it’s an agenda. Science to many so called scientists is now about choosing sides on an issue because to be honest with themselves would mean going hungry. Science to many so called scientists is used as a shield to push an ideology, who dares to challenge a scientist, they know it all, don’t they? Some scientific views are now nothing short of religous dogma and the scientists promoting these views see themselves as high priests and expect to be treated as such. The biggest loser in all this is science.

  • Whitey

    The man is a “Professor of Population Nutrition and Global Health”, according to Stuff. Doesn’t sound like a real scientist to me.

    • Second time around

      You might be confusing him for someone else. This guy does do genuine research which can be found by simple Google searches.

      • 1951

        This Floydd Heartburn may be highly respected for his scientific research, that is NOT what the issue is. It is the attitude, the arrogance the High Priest- like authoritarianism that he and toooo many of his collegues have developed in the last decade or two. They owe their very existence to us the tax payer, their owe their comfortable lifestyles to us the taxpayers and they have by scratching-each-others-backs carved a permanent position which ensures they remain very well off on the backs of Us the Tax Payer. THAT is the issue!!

        • Second time around

          Which is the point I was making. I would hope that university teachers can live comfortably, I am uncomfortable with scientific conferences in resort areas as the ones I attend always seem to be in industrial suburbs. Objectively, scientists who “publish” their work in the NZ Herald or the Listener risk losing credibility with their peers and undermining the causes they espouse.

          • 1951

            These, The Oh Powerful Ones, seem to have an agenda. They are unable to be effective as individuals in their field, so they group together to bring undue pressure on a Minister or Government (lobbying of sorts). I have a friend in another field of health and has mixed his responsibilities up with his new-found religiosity of the green kind and wow how he has become militant. So ready to undermine those that we that who pay his way, have voted in.

      • Sunshine

        He has nil clinical experience. His practising peers think he should get some, then maybe he would be open to looking at the new nutritional science.

      • Whitey

        I looked Dr. Swinburn up on the University of Auckland website, and found the papers he lists there. The list includes a number of papers that are all talk and no actual scientific analysis, a paper with sample sizes too small to yield credible results, and a whole lot of results that are not statistically significant. I’m afraid I remain unimpressed with Dr Swinburn’s scientific credentials.

  • Sunshine

    That’s rich! Considering Auckland University takes every opportunity to discredit any academic in the nutrition field who challenges their precious research or ideas. I wonder what Boyd’s answer to “How many leading nutrition scientists has the nutrition mafia pushed out because they disagree with Auckland and Otago’s Nutrition agenda?” would be.

  • goat

    The days of what we think a scientist does are long gone -hidden away in the lab trying to build a better world like Nikola Telsa, Earnest Rutherfod,Marie Curie ,Albert Einstein ,Rosilind Franklin , etc These are the real scientist’s who have shaped our world, gave use electricity , plastics and fertilizers ,saved us from disease and let us live the way we do today in comfort and with a much longer life expectancy – they where the one that did it for the good of the world -not for lining their own pockets.
    What we see today of the modern ” scientist” is some one that is basiclly self employed, and if they make the most noise secures some funding for their next what ever is fashionable at the time ” scientific study”ie global warming ,etc
    Unfortunately this tars the reputation of the ones who are looking after us on a daily basis, keeping our food and beer safe to drink,testing all our fluids in hospitals,making sure our petrol is the right grade and all the others hidden away in the labs.
    As a side issue , has there been any fallout for the ” researchers” that got stuck in the ice last year?Or have they been funded to go on holiday again this Christmas as well?

  • Billythekid

    This is good WO, very good, in fact it’s excellent. Thank you for the exposure of such leeching imbeciles. Your honest journalism gives us the true picture of just who these troughers are and their narcissist attitude to all and sundry.
    Thank you for the worm cans you open.

  • Jonathan P

    I have to ask, who gives joe average (the public if you will) a voice in these matters?
    Business has its lobbyists and money for campaigns, the government talk amongst each other about what they think is right but where is joe public’s say or does that fact that they don’t have millions for lobbying and an affect in parliament make them somehow less important?
    Having a “voice” for the public is good BUT if they turn in to a trougher that is a different story

  • stooge alert

    I usually reading whaleoil, generally a good counterbalance to the left-wing MSM. But for this post it should called Hippo-crate.
    When you are attacking someone for an external paymaster, a real journalist doesn’t do that. This blog site is journalism? Either that you this disclose “this attack piece is bought to you by……… and 9 out of 10 doctors recommend whaleoil cigarettes”
    Or don’t claim you are journalist. It just insults people’s intelligence.
    Trougher-IN-chief how was your trip/junket to Israel.
    $$cash for comments.

    • How wrong you are.

      I won’t bother responding to your attack.

      Boyd Swinburn doesn’t believe in freedom of speech…not one thing I have said about him has ever been refuted and is backed up documents and his own statements.

      Freedom of speech is not just for academics, it is for everyone…until you and your pals realise that you will cop a flogging every time you open your gobs.

      I declared my trip to Israel and was completely open about it.