Greetings! My name is Niko Ovenden, and I am working with Prof. Rebecca Cassidy this semester on a research project interested in the changing/changed landscape of the Gambling Studies field over the last couple of years. I will be spending the next couple of months hoping to meet and discuss with a variety of colleagues – industry, academic, policy, charity – with interests in the Gambling Studies area; with a particular interest in how Gambling Studies may (or may not) have changed since the publication of Fair Game by Goldsmiths, University of London, in 2013.
My own background is an Undergraduate degree at the University of Edinburgh in Social Anthropology. Graduating in 2006, my primary interest was in poker play, predominantly online, although my Undergraduate dissertation studied play in both online and “bricks and mortar” establishments. From 2008-2016 I worked at the University of Edinburgh in a variety of administrative positions, completing an MSc by Research in Cultural Studies between 2013 and 2015: I now live outside Cambridge, England.
I retain a keen interest in gambling studies, not limited to card games such as poker, but also more broadly in the area of play and games (card, board, video). If you would be interested in discussing the changing landscape of Gambling Studies from an academic, professional/commercial, or policy background I would very much welcome being contacted at email@example.com. Interviews will be conducted in early November either via Skype or, if viable, in person.
When Sally Gainsbury announced International Gambling Studies’ new policy on disclosures of interest on November 13 last year she described the aim as ‘full transparency’. In addition, in their editorial announcement, Alex Blaszczynski & Sally Gainsbury state that they are attempting to adhere to the guidelines set by the International Society of Addiction Journal Editors (ISAJE).
What would disclosure look like under such a regime? The ISAJE is extremely demanding. They require that ‘all authors disclose to the corresponding author any actual or potential conflict of interest including any financial, personal or other relationships with other people or organizations within three (3) years of beginning the work submitted (e.g., research project, review paper, etc.) that could inappropriately influence, or be perceived to influence, their work.’ And the ISAJE provides a series of detailed questions that they suggest journal editors ask of their authors to determine if real or apparent competing interest may exist:
- List all funding sources for the work. If the present work was supported directly or indirectly by the alcohol, gambling, tobacco or pharmaceutical industries, or by third-party organizations funded by these industries, please give both the name of the organization (e.g., the International Center for Alcohol Policies) and describe its connection with the industry if that connection would not be apparent to the reader of your article. Please see list of organizations at http://www.isaje.net for examples. Also declare whether some or all of the financial support came from governmental or other public sources even if the work has been performed as part of your salaried responsibilities. If none declare “None”; if yes, please describe organization and type of financial award.
- Please declare any contractual constraints on publishing that existed with regard to the research being reported; for example if the contract gave the funder a right of veto regarding the content of the work or requested a delay of the report. If the work was not supported by contract were there any other governmental or institutional constraints that affected the authors’ freedom to publish the work? If none declare “None”; if yes, please describe the constraints.
- Have you in the three years prior to the beginning of the work accepted financial awards from an organization (see list of organizations at http://www.isaje.net for examples) that represents an interest which may in any way gain or lose financially from the kinds of research described in your original study or the topic of your review, editorial, or letter? Please declare any direct or indirect connections with the alcohol, gambling, tobacco or pharmaceutical industries, or by third-party organizations funded by these industries, regardless of whether the funds are connected with the present work, Awards that should be declared include: reimbursement for attending a symposium; a fee for speaking; a fee for organizing education; funds for research (other than those declared above); travel funds to attend a meeting; or fees for consulting. If none declare “None”; if yes, please describe organization and type of financial award.
- Have you in the three years prior to the beginning of the work been employed by an organization that may in any way gain or lose financially from the kinds of research described in your study or the topic of your review, editorial, or letter? Do you hold any stocks or shares in an organization that may in any way gain or lose financially from the kinds of research described in your study or the topic of your review, editorial, or letter? Have you been paid to serve as an expert witness on the subject of your study, review, editorial, or letter? Have you served as an unpaid expert witness for governmental committees? Do you have any other competing financial interests? If none declare “None”; if yes, please describe organization and type of employment, stocks, or paid activity.
- Do you have any significant or obvious non-financial competing interests (real or apparent) that the editor and/or the reader should know about in order to judge the objectivity of a particular article or other work? If none declare “None”; if yes, please describe.
The ISAJE provide the following example of what a conforming declaration of competing interests may look like:
RS has been reimbursed by the International Centre for Responsible Drinking for attending several conferences; TD has been paid by Monte Carlo Resorts Casino for running educational programmes and has her research registrar paid for by the company; JS has shares in the Kingfisher Brewing company.
Note that this statement is specific and detailed enough to enable the reader to make up their own mind regarding the nature and extent of the competing interests.
How close is IGS to achieving this aim? I had a look at the articles published in response to my editorial with this question in mind. [My editorial is now open access, and available to read without subscription]
Young and Markham include individual statements listing current and previous research funders and funders of employers and membership of scholarly and professional organisations. They also provide a joint declaration of constraints on publishing and individual notes on contributors.
Clark includes a declaration of interest broken down into three subheadings: funding sources, conflicts of interest ad constraints on publishing. The funding sources declaration includes details of specific funding sources.
Ford makes a declaration of interest in his letter to the editor, noting his employment by a state government.
Blaszczynski and Gainsbury make no disclosures after their ‘Editor’s Notes’.
Reilly and Smith provide ‘Notes on Contributors’ and ‘Acknowledgements’. These notes disclose support to write their editorial from the National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG) and their employment by NCRG. They direct readers to the NCRG website for more details regarding the funding for NCRG, although the Funding page only lists a handful of historical funders. More specific information is provided on the Current Donors page.
Wohl and Wood provide ‘Notes on Contributors’ only, without disclosing funding sources, constraints on publishing or conflicts of interests. The ISAJE, the organisation referred to in IGS’s policy on disclosure, is quite clear about this:
every manuscript should have headings labeled “Funding Sources” and “Competing Interests” even if the answers to the questions on the Transparency form were “None.”
IGS’s policy is also clear:
If there were no funding sources, constraints and/or no competing interests, this will also be declared.
Michael Wohl’s biographical notes give no indication of real or apparent competing interests. However, his university CV lists a number of financial interests that require disclosure under the ISAJE guidelines, including research funding from a variety of organisations including the NCRG and consultancies and contract research from Atlantic Lottery Corporation, British Colombia Lottery Corporation, Interprovincial Lottery Corporation, Playscan, and Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation.
In his biographical note, Richard Wood describes himself as president of GamRes Limited, though he does not offer any further details. According to their website, GamRES is ‘an international research and consultancy company that examines gambling behaviour’: ‘Our mantra is “putting research into practice” and if you want to develop an RG solution, or have us develop one for you, then please contact us to discuss your idea.’ GamRes provides a number of services including online training for gaming staff:
We can tailor a training package to meet your specific requirements, and offer a service that allows maximum flexibility for participation, together with an effective system for managing and recording who has completed each training module within your organization.
GamRes’ website boasts over twenty international gambling operators among their clients. Does this matter? Does it change the way we read Wohl and Wood’s research, or their opinions on the issue of competing interests?
In their article, Griffiths and Auer provide individual notes on contributors as well as a joint disclosure of conflicts of interest covering funding sources, competing interests and constraints on publishing.
The declaration of interests states that Mark Griffiths “has received funding for a number of research projects… from the Responsibility in Gambling Trust, a charitable body which funds its research programme based on donations from the gambling industry.” Griffiths’ 2013 CV also lists numerous grants and consultancies from gambling operators on four continents, in addition to funding from non-gambling sources. Mark Griffiths is a non-executive director of Richard Wood’s company, GamRES.
The declaration of interests does not note any real or apparent interests of for Michael Auer. In his biographical note, Auer describes himself as a ‘director at neccton ltd’ without providing any further detail. According to recent conference publicity, Auer’s full job title is Business Unit Manager, Responsible Gaming. He described neccton’s services in Casino International in April 2013:
we support companies when it comes to managing their data, to retrieving insights about customers from their data. One aspect of our business is gaming, so we support gaming companies when it comes to improving their customer experience.
His role at neccton is not identified as a competing interest. His joint declaration with Mark Griffiths refers only to ‘consultancy for various gaming companies in the area of responsibility in gambling.’ Is this declaration intended to include his role at neccton? To be clear, the guidelines of the ISAJE regarding ‘competing interests: financial’, include the question:
Have you in the three years prior to the beginning of the work been employed by an organization that may in any way gain or lose financially from the kinds of research described in your study or the topic of your review, editorial, or letter?
Wood and Auer, like Dave Excel of Featurespace, do not think that direct commercial relationships with gambling operators constitute a source of competing interests. The ISAJE guidelines suggest that people reading their research should be given the opportunity to make up their own minds.
In a series of articles which focus on gambling research funding and publishing one would expect the editors of IGS to follow their own policy to the letter.
Why was Wohl and Wood’s article published without disclosures of interest? Will IGS publish articles without any declaration of competing interests in future?
In part, this situation arises from IGS’s position (contrary to that of the ISAJE) that commercial relationships with the gambling industry do not necessarily constitute a competing interest. On the IGS website Alex Blaszczynski combines a negative declaration of interest:
I do not hold any ongoing position, receive ongoing or significant funding, and am not engaged in any business or organisation that creates a conflict of interest (real, perceived, actual or potential) in the work I would conduct as Editor of International Gambling Studies.
With the additional information that ‘I have had financial professional dealings with the gambling industry and various State and Federal governments over the last three years including’:
Received research grants from gambling industry corporations, governments, and research bodies within Australia, USA, and Canada.
Expertise and reports provided to governments and gambling industry corporations within Australia, USA and Canada and, with compensation and reimbursement for expenses provided for some of this work.
Such disclosures are deficient when compared to the ISAJE standards for authors.
Furthermore, the ISAJE holds journal editors to a higher standard, given their crucial role as gate keepers. The ISAJE’s foundational Farmingham Consensus notes that journals must:
maintain openness in regard to connections which a journal or its editorial staff may have established which could reasonably be construed as conflict of interest.
In an influential article Goozner et al. (2009) go further in their standard for disclosure, asserting that “If a journal editor or senior editorial manager has a conflict of interest, it must be disclosed in each edition of the journal near the masthead and be found easily in the online edition. Such notice should also be included on the author guidelines or information page for electronic sub-missions. The same rules that govern author disclosures should govern editor disclosures.”
These five disclosure statements are abstracted in the table below. In short, only two of the five responses contained adequate disclosures of interest. This is disappointing given that they occurred in the context of a debate regarding the belated introduction of compulsory declarations of interests in IGS.
Disclosures of interest are not a panacea. They are a step towards a more accountable and transparent field. But we can do better.
Some people might be sceptical about negative disclosures and be tempted to ask, ‘how helpful is it to know what people have NOT done?’ For an example of how important this information can be, see the negative disclosures provided by Luke Clark. Having described the funding for his current role, consultancy undertaken for a named company, and funding from the UK Medical Council (including a grant reference number so that we are able to find out more about his other work), he adds:
I have not received any other direct or indirect payments from the gambling industry or any other groups substantially funded by gambling to conduct research or to speak at conferences or events.
This is a helpful precedent.
What a difference it would make to gambling studies if all published manuscripts included negative declarations and, on the other hand, if commercial interests were adequately declared without fail.
I’m grateful to Luke Clark for his response to my article in International Gambling Studies. Luke recently left Cambridge to set up the Centre for Gambling Research at UBC (University of British Columbia). The centre is funded by the Province of BC government and the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC). For non-Canadian readers, BCLC conducts and manages gambling across the province.
Luke is at the coal face of making a particular funding structure work, trying to put money raised from gambling to good use. His insights are invaluable.
The centre is an example of the blurred boundaries between the gambling industry and government identified as a source of ‘influence and bias’ by Blaszczynski & Gainsbury (2014). According to Griffiths and Auer, ‘It is our experience [in relation to writing consultancy reports rather than research reportds (sic)] that it is work commissioned by government agencies that receives far more scrutiny and criticism than that funded by the gambling industry.’ (2015) Wohl and Wood concur, saying that, ‘From our collective 30 + years of experience, working with all types of funding agencies, the least interference with our research endeavours has come from the gambling industry.’ This point of view was also well represented in Fair Game.
But the interference of government officials in publishing and agenda setting is not an argument for accepting money from industry. On the contrary, it supports the argument that we should be doing more to ensure that these activities are undertaken independently of all beneficiaries of gambling including the industry.
Luke is wrestling with the thorny question, “What does…‘academic independence’ mean in practice?” The approach that he is developing at UBC is threefold: the research programme is determined by the centre and ‘funding is not tied to any specific projects’. ‘Second, there are no restrictions on publishing, or requirements to submit advanced copies of outputs to any bodies. Third, all outputs from the centre clearly disclose the financial support.’ Able to set the agenda for research, Luke and his colleagues have created a ‘casino lab’, an initiative which failed in the UK. Luke is ‘cautiously optimistic’ that their work will produce findings that will translate into evidence based policy but, ‘on this point, only time will tell’.
Two important experiments are taking place here: the first in machine gambling, the second in research economies. We await the results of both with great interest.
Last year I was invited to write an editorial in International Gambling Studies based on Fair Game. The responses to that editorial have just been published, and, as expected they include a strong defence of the status quo.
I welcome the opportunity to engage with colleagues about the structure of funding gambling research. After all, the question for all of us is: have we got it right? Will the current structures enable us to better understand the impact of gambling on our communities? Are they the best possible way to produce independent advice for the public and policy makers?
Mark Griffiths (MG) and Michael Auer (MA) argue that ‘research and consultancy are two very separate activities’ with different aims and ‘the real issue is whether doing consultancy with the gambling industry in any way impacts on independently funded and subsequently published gambling research.’ Their answer is emphatically no: ‘We believe the gambling industry can benefit from our expertise and that there is nothing morally wrong in what we do. To us, this is totally separate from research activity.’
I think they need to elaborate. How is this total separation achieved? The interests of operators and research intended to inform policy makers and the public are not identical, or even easily reconciled: they could be loosely tagged as profit versus public health. Can we really expect individuals to set aside their relationship with the industry when they work for the public sector and vice versa? Are researchers funded by the industry equally ‘free’ to critique their activities as those who do not accept their support? What about industry funded published research? How is this to be accommodated within their binary opposition?
MA is Business Unit Manager, Responsible Gaming, at neccton. neccton ‘support(s) gaming companies when it comes to improving their customer experience’. Speaking in Casino International in April 2013 he describes how “We [MG and MA] did one analysis with the data from Austrian Lotteries, who are the only internet gaming operator in Austria. In return for using our software, we used their data to publish scientific papers.” How are reciprocal arrangements such as this to be understood? Consultancy? Or research?
MG and MA ask what I think is a rhetorical question:
If an invited speaker is provided with a business-class flight that has at least in part (or in full) been paid by the gambling industry, does that really have any influence on that person’s published research? (Griffiths and Auer 2015: 3)
I think that the answer to this question is, obviously, yes. I suspect that MG and MA think that the answer is, equally obviously, no. What do other people think? Is there such a thing as a free lunch / flight after all?
MG thinks it’s ironic that I attended an industry sponsored conference in Las Vegas, ‘Was Cassidy herself at all influenced by the fact that she was attending a conference subsidized (in part) by many international gambling companies?’ My answer is that I was indeed influenced by this experience, and many others like it. Encounters during fieldwork (funded by the ERC) informed my understanding of how gambling research is produced. They encouraged me to drag discussions taking place in the margins of conferences into the spotlight where we could submit them to greater scrutiny.
MG agrees that researchers are under increasing pressure to bring research money into our universities. While writing this blog I’ve been sent an email by an ‘Enterprise Officer’ at Goldsmiths urging me to apply to the RGT call for research into remote gambling. This speaks to MG and MA’s first point about the separation of consultancy and research. MG is an established and highly decorated academic. Will an early career scholar, under pressure from her institution, be equally capable of resisting the temptation to please her funder in order to increase the chances of securing more money?
An early career scholar may be acutely aware of conflicts of interest, but also needs to publish, secure a permanent position, pay the mortgage and so on… Is it right to place this much pressure on researchers? Is it right to locate responsibility for the integrity of the research with the individual, rather than seeking to embed it in the structure of research funding? Or should we give the funding to research councils and protect them from some, but not all, of these dilemmas?
I totally agree with MG and MA that researchers need access to data. They suggest collaborating with industry. I want access to be part of licensing. In this I happily inhabit the ‘ideal’ rather than ‘real world’.
What’s the point of our work if we simply accept things the way they are, while simultaneously acknowledging their shortcomings?
If we defend what is possible right now then how can we ever change what might be possible in the future?
The much awaited RGT machines research was published on 1 December 2014, and launched at a one day event in London on the 10 December.
Why does this research matter?
Firstly, because it was a chance to see how the collaboration between bookmakers and researchers would work in practice.
Secondly, because politicians of all stripes have repeatedly invoked it when asked to take action against Fixed Odds Betting Terminals in High Street betting shops.
At a Westminster event I’ve written about previously I told Clive Efford that the research would not answer the impossible question, ‘Do FOBTs cause problem gambling?’, partly because (as Heather Wardle has been careful to say throughout) the research was far more limited in scope, and partly because the question, as posed, is a giant, unanswerable, red herring.
The RGT research program has been one of the central planks of the strategic inertia which has enabled politicians to ask civil society to ‘wait and see’. As such, it fulfils one of the most important functions of all gambling research that is supported and influenced by the industry. Something is seen to be done, even though it has no hope of producing the sort of evidence that politicians claim to need in order to make policy decisions.
Senior researchers including Jim Orford and Linda Hancock have already begun to carefully examine the content of the research. Before I do so I would like to write more generally about the launch itself, a performance rich with symbolic significance.
What happens when the collaborative or partnership model favoured by industry supported gambling research charities all over the world is given its fullest expression?
The launch aped the conventions of an academic conference, techniques which were deployed most effectively by the commercial interests that were (theoretically) under scrutiny. So, for example, Ladbrokes CEO Richard Glynn impersonated a cross headmaster, repeating the word, ‘complex’, peering out at the audience over his glasses and disciplining Professor Jim Orford for asking reasonable questions by referring to him as a ‘provocateur’.
Earlier in proceedings we heard from Dave Excel, CTO of Featurespace. Excel has been poorly served by the RGT who allowed him to veer into territory which he is completely unqualified to traverse. After all, he was crunching the numbers of some of his best customers, and presenting his findings to them. ‘How did you manage this conflict of interest?’ I asked him. He looked panicked and said, ‘What we’ve presented is what the data says… It’s not us speaking, it’s what the data has told us’.
Featurespace launched their report by saying: ‘World-leading research has shown that the £2 stake limit on #FOBTs is ineffective in reducing gambling harm.’ a tweet clearly intended to engage directly with the campaigns to limit stakes on FOBTs to £2.
A £2 stake is not the focus of the Featurespace report, nor does the data enable this claim to be tested, let alone proven. I’ve asked Featurespace to reconsider their position, but the soundbite has already gained traction and will continue to be influential, because it is favourable to the industry’s position.
Featurespace also provided a display of their products outside the main entrance to the ‘Lecture Hall’. Their glossy leaflets were packed with endorsements: ‘Featurespace gives you much more compelling information [than other solutions] at a much lower price point’ enthused William Hill.
When I stopped to look and see what on earth might be on the table that was so assiduously attended by three lively and articulate young people (Gamcare, perhaps, or the Gambling Commission?) and was asked whether I would like to hear how Featurespace can help my business detect fraud, I felt myself sliding even further down the rabbit hole into Wonderland.
Perhaps the regulator could bring some sanity to proceedings? Here was a fantastic opportunity for the Gambling Commission to hold the industry accountable for a product that is causing considerable public concern.
We already know that Matthew Hill, Director of Regulatory Risk and Analysis at the Gambling Commission interprets the aim to permit gambling as, ‘not really a million miles away from a growth duty anyway…We are quite used to taking an interpretation that builds the desirability of growth into our action.’ At the RGT event we also heard (not for the first time) how closely he adheres to the industry mantra (repeated by Richard Glynn) that ‘we should be looking at the people not the product’.
The result of the partnership between the RGT and the industry was a triumph of mutual satisfaction over critical attention. The conflicted, flawed and incomplete was wrapped in pseudo academic trappings and pedalled, virtually unchallenged, to a compromised audience dominated by industry and industry dependent organisations.
Join me in asking the RGT to make the databases public so that we can interrogate them for ourselves by tweeting #RGTopenaccess.
Mike Daube: researchers who accept funding from the gambling industry are ‘knowingly contributing to that industry’s political strategy’
Mike Daube* spoke recently at the National Association for Gambling Studies Australia (NAGS). Mike is a highly experienced tobacco, alcohol and public health researcher and it’s very interesting to see what message he had for gambling researchers.
In a speech which apparently divided opinion, with some saying that it was ‘the best talk that they had heard at 20 years of gambling conferences’ while others sat stony faced, Mike made eight main points, as well as many astute observations about our field and its failings. I reproduce an edited version of them here, with his permission.
- First, while there are of course clear differences between gambling and tobacco and alcohol, just as there are between tobacco and alcohol or alcohol and food or any of these and a range of other harmful industries, gambling should not sit apart, has much in common with the others and should learn from them.
- Second, there is an onus on the public health community to develop an agreed set of policies on gambling – as we have done with tobacco and alcohol – and to work together promoting these to governments and the community. These should be evidence-based, with evidence not only from gambling, but also in the McKinsey phrase, with “logic based on parallel evidence”.
- Third, gambling researchers should follow the recommendations of Adams, Cassidy, Livingstone, Thomas and others and ensure complete disclosure of all funding and other interests when they publish, comment or advise politicians and other decision-makers.
- Fourth, there should be a much greater focus on prevention,
public policy and obstacles to implementation of that policy. I do not argue against treatment and services for individuals; but that is not prevention; it should not be represented as such; and research or programs in this area should not be used as an excuse for lack of preventive action.
- Fifth, there should also be a much greater focus on research around the vector of gambling problems – the gambling industry: how it works, how it exercises influence, how it lobbies, how it promotes, how it contributes to political parties and their support groups; how its networks operate; how it funds research and what outcomes there are from this funding; where it does not fund research; how decisions are made in the industry’s favour without transparent processes; who benefits directly and indirectly from the industry’s funding…
- Sixth, while this may cause discomfort to some here, my view is unequivocally that any researcher who accepts funding from the gambling industry is knowingly contributing to that industry’s promotional and political strategies. Research funding may be hard to obtain; but that applies across any number of other areas where people would not dream of accepting alternative sources of funding. It is more than legitimate to press governments to fund research on gambling. It is, however, not compatible with either independence or public health principles to accept funding that directly or indirectly supports the vector. The evidence from parallel areas as well as this one is absolutely clear: they fund you to serve their interests, not those of the community. I absolutely do not argue against the freedom of researchers to work for the gambling industry – but if you want to do that, you should be clear that you are working in and for that industry, not seeking to sit under the umbrella of academic independence.
- My seventh theme is that bona fide conferences on gambling research should not accept participants from the gambling industry. At such conferences there may be discussion around possible policy directions, areas in which action from governments may be sought, issues around research into the industry and its practises. These are areas in which gambling industry interests should not be involved. Further, their participation – as we have learned from tobacco, alcohol and food – allows them to skew the discussion and conclusions. They don’t invite us to their strategy meetings – why should we invite them to ours?
- Eighth, I would argue that bona fide gambling researchers should press governments to establish significant funds for gambling research that are totally independent of any gambling interests (including those government agencies that are themselves involved in gambling).
What do you think of these principles? Can we work together to bring gambling closer to the professional and ethical standards of tobacco and alcohol research?
*Professor of Health Policy at Curtin University and Director of the Public Health Advocacy Institute and the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth and former Director General of Health for WA and Chair of the National Public Health Partnership.
At the launch of Fair Game, the Gambling in Europe team were joined by esteemed academics Peter Adams (University of Auckland), Mark Petticrew, and Justin Parkhurst (both London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) who each gave a paper.
Over at our Goldsmiths pages you can find the full audio recordings and accompanying literature from Peter Adams and Justin Parkhurst’s papers, alongside Rebecca Cassidy’s introduction to the Fair Game report.
A discussion on the current state of gambling research followed, which you can listen to below.
Part one features Steve Donoghue, Marc Etches (RGT), Matt Zarb Cousins (CFG), Jim Orford (Gambling Watch), Peter Adams (University of Auckland), Rebecca Cassidy (Goldsmiths) and Jonathan Wolff (UCL and RGT), among others.
Part two includes contributions from Eddie Chan (CNHLC), Gary Fooks (Bath), Heather Wardle (NatCen), David Miers (RGSB), Liz Karter (Level Ground Therapy) and Adrian Scarfe (Gamcare), among others. At the 22:00 minute mark Jim Orford (Gambling Watch) sums up the discussion and urges us all to ‘clean up our act’.