The greyhound whisperer Terry McCrann joins tobacco fact deniers

Tue, 24 Jun 2014  |  

Former greyhound follower and now the economic dwarf at News Ltd's The Herald Sun, Terry McCrann, has been wheeled out of the loonie bin to jump on the tobacco fact denier train.

In an extraordinary error ridden piece of work, McCrann's column today perfectly reinforces his ineptitude and ignorance on most matters to do with the economy.

While Terry is obviously still feeling humiliated over the budget surplus discussion he and I had a couple of years ago (Treasurer Hockey's recent budget confirming my presentation of the facts), in a further lack of self awareness, he trots out the line that down is up and the earth is flat when it comes to the issue of tobacco consumption.

Terry noted that "in the usual cocktail of stupidity and dishonesty, the Kouk cited official statistics".

Whoa! Um, well, forgive me please Terry. Official statistics just might be better than the let's pretend ones that live somewhere in your mind. It seems official statistics are usually the ones you refer to whenever you fumble and bumble with your 'analysis' of the economy. It's how you interpret them that matters and getting the difference between plus and minus is a good start.

And fancy using official statistics to ascertain what is happening to the consumption of tobacco. Well, I never!

Compounding this embarrassing own goal, McCrann notes "What the Kouk is also unable to comprehend is that the ABS figures he cited are merely a proxy for actual tobacco and cigarette volumes; no one who understands statistics would claim they literally measure actual volumes".

Well, um, again sorry Terry but the Australian Bureau of Statistics, who compile the data, suggest it is a measure of the volume of tobacco consumed as does the Department of Health, The Australian Medical Association and Treasury, among anyone else who got past Year 10 maths.

In acknowledging his mathematical shortcomings, McCrann goes on to say "You don't have to have any particular knowledge of statistics to pick up the clearest signal from the graph".

Isn't that what all ill-educated people say when the have a strong, fact free opinions?

This lack of a particular knowledge of statistics leads Terry to misread the graph and say, "after plain packaging, the spend on smokes arguably rose and at worst went sideways."

Oh Terry! You silly duffer! The volume of tobacco consumed fell 5.3 per cent between the December quarter 2012 and the March quarter 2014, a figure that dovetails with the Treasury data which showed a 3.4 per cent fall during 2013. 

In a further humiliation for McCrann, if that was possible, he says "note that the graph measures dollar spending".

No Terry, no. For the umpteenth time, it is the chain volume measure of tobacco consumption – the word "volume" sums it up for all but the clumsiest dunderheads. Go the ABS website and look up "chain volume". It will shine a lot of light on the issue for you.

McCrann then says "What has clearly happened since the new law is that tobacco companies have pushed cut-price smokes; so if the dollar spend is relatively unchanged, it means that the actual sticks smoked or at least bought must have gone up".

Oh dear. My old maths teacher, Mr Merrill, would be sending Terry to remedial class for that sort of error. Wrong Terry – the ABS data are the volume of tobacco consumed whether they are cheap or expensive sticks. Simple. 

McCrann rounds out his foaming-at-the-mouth-rant with a disparaging look at climate data. So the climate change denier embraces tobacco facts denialism.

It say it all really.

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