Jac asks: how do you know if you are being ripped off?

In the April 22 issue I reported that the final chapter had been written on bogus ‘drugs awareness’ publisher Anderson Clarke Publications. ACP was folded by the DTI following an investigation which showed the company wasn’t printing all the copies of books for schools for which it was charging sponsors.

No sooner had this appeared than Mick Pinder, of The Corner Shop, Overton on Dee, Wrexham, north Wales, got in touch regarding another company which seemed to be a clone. This one also produces drugs educational books and touts for sponsorship from businesses. Mick had a call recently telling him that he had agreed last October to sponsor with the “minimum subscription” of £199 and asking him to name his preferred school as recipient. “I don’t remember agreeing,” says Mick. “When I get approached with stuff like this, from charities and so on, I always ask for it to be put in writing.” But his caller insisted and he was promised a copy of the publication which he received along with an invoice to supply 30 books to a primary school. They will be aimed at 8-13-year-olds. Mick has forwarded the ‘book’, a 54-page booklet in reality, and I agree with him that it does not seem suitable for the age group at which it is aimed. The first couple of paragraphs on the first page mention empty beer cans, spilt ashtrays, stale vomit and needle punctures, all of which certainly set the scene. The final paragraph on the last page begins: “Amo ergo sum. The original Cartesian dichotomy – I think therefore I am – in its separation of mind from body, alienated individuals from their very selves.”

Now then, sit up straight and listen at the back, here’s the lesson. My translation of ‘Amo ergo sum’ would be ‘I love, therefore I am’. When I studied Latin all those years ago the translation for ‘I think, therefore I am’ was ‘Cogito ergo sum’, which was attributed to French philosopher Descartes (whose Latinised name was Cartesius). He took the rationalistic view that the existence of self is proved not through one’s sense experience but through reasoning. I don’t know if he took drugs.

Back to the booklet. It’s in black and white, looks like it was written in Microsoft Word and is full of material that appears to have been downloaded off the internet. It could not strike anyone as suitable for 8-13-year-olds. And at more than £6.50 a pop these booklets seem pricey. There is no way of saying whether or not this company is doing anything untoward, and certainly no-one can argue with its anti-drugs theme. Mick has decided though that, as he does not remember agreeing to sponsor, ergo he will not sponsor.