Unexpected Honesty from Tobacco Control

Hat tip to Smoking Lamp for finding this piece of unexpected honesty from Dr Marewa Glover, an NZ Auckland-based tobacco researcher, during videoed submissions on a proposed law to ban smoking in cars:

“In tobacco control over 35 years, we have exaggerated the effects deliberately to scare people off smoking,” she told the Health Select Committee on Wednesday.

“What we didn’t realise, was that years down the track, we’d be in this situation where everyone believed what we said and are now taking these extreme, punitive measures, when the evidence does not support the need for it.”

This is an astonishingly candid admission that Tobacco Control has been lying for a very long time about the dangers associated with smoking. It’s also an admission that antismoking measures that are being taken are both extreme and punitive.

She’s saying that people in Tobacco Control are surprised that everyone still believes the lies they’ve been telling. What the hell else did they expect?

She’s a truth-telling whistleblower from within Tobacco Control. If she hasn’t been already, she’ll probably be fired, de-funded, and denounced by colleagues in Tobacco Control.

She’s Tobacco Control’s Edward Snowden. Or she’s Tobacco Control’s Judith Curry, the global warming alarmist who became a sceptic.

I suppose it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that there is at least one honest person in Tobacco Control. But from the way she’s talking, it sounds like she’s not the only one, and some of her colleagues share her views. Who else was she referring to when she said “what we didn’t realise”? If it was simply her own opinion, wouldn’t she have said “what I didn’t realise”? So it would appear that there is a body of opinion inside Tobacco Control that believes that Tobacco Control has been exaggerating the health threats of tobacco, and that many antismoking measures are both extreme and punitive, and they’re surprised that everyone still believes the lies they’ve been telling them.

But why is it only now, after 35 years in Tobacco Control, that she’s chosen to speak up in front of incredulous NZ MPs? A bit more about her:

Marewa Glover is a New Zealand public health academic specialising in smoking cessation. She is Māori, of Ngā Puhi descent and is a full professor at Massey University.

Glover is long time smoking-reduction researcher, who switched from supporting tobacco taxes to opposing them for hurting the most vulnerable.

Glover’s research has been widely covered in the press.

In 2017 she was a finalist in the New Zealand Women of Influence Awards.

She appears in quite a few YouTube videos, e.g. here, here, and here. In the one below, she’s talking on Skype to what seem to be trio of vapers about the situation in New Zealand:

So it would seem that she’s not only a well-known and influential figure in Tobacco Control, but someone who actually talks to smokers (or at least vapers). Maybe that’s how she’s come to recognise that many antismoking measures are both extreme and punitive?

What she doesn’t seem to have yet realised is what colossal and irreparable social damage Tobacco Control has done over the past 40 years, leaving shattered communities everywhere, friends set against friends, husbands against wives, fathers against sons.

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Close Down Public Health England

I liked this purely as a piece of English. It’s about Public Health England’s plans to ruin food by reformulating it.

…At the heart of the reformulation delusion is an ignorance of market forces, a deep suspicion of industry and a naive faith in the power of bureaucracy to remedy supposed market failures. One of David Cameron’s greatest mistakes as prime minister was creating Public Health England in 2013. This quango, which relieves the taxpayer of over £4 billion a year, was always going to attract ideologues and activists from the clown show that is ‘public health’academia. These people are relatively harmless when confined to their echo-chamber conferences and rinky-dink journals, but are a menace when allowed off the leash. At Public Health England, they have real power and influence. It is telling that the only ‘stakeholders’ from civil society involved in the reformulation work are Action on Sugar and the Obesity Health Alliance, two mouthpieces of the fanatical Graham MacGregor, who flood the media with hysterical claims about the ‘shocking’ levels of various ingredients in normal, everyday food.

As Josie Appleton showed in her superb report for the IEA last week, these activist groups are the outriders of reformulation, working hand in glove with PHE to soften the public up for further interventions in the food supply. The bone-headed approach of these extremist pressure groups has been bought wholesale by the apparatchiks at PHE. They allow no room for personal autonomy. As they see it, the public will buy whatever products the food industry throws at them. For some mysterious reason, the industry has traditionally chosen to put lots of unnecessary fat, sugar, salt and, er, calories in these products. Therefore, all the government needs to do is to tell them to use saccharine and brown rice instead and the British public will lose weight without even noticing.

It is the kind of idea you might hear from someone who owns a collection of bongs, but thanks to Public Health England it is official government policy. As if to mask the essential stupidity of the scheme, PHE has introduced layers of bureaucracy and issued hundreds of pages of technical notes to give it the veneer of science. Once the calorie programme is fully underway, there will be no fewer than 299 different targets, covering most food products sold in shops and supermarkets as well as the dishes served in pubs, cafés and restaurants.

I didn’t know David Cameron created PHE, but I’m not really surprised. After all he re-branded the Conservative party as a sort of new Green party. He followed all the trends. No doubt PHE and food reformulation was another bandwagon he climbed aboard, to show how fashionably “With It” he was.

But I think that today’s rising populism is a reaction to growing government interference in everybody’s lives. And PHE is exactly the sort of thing that gets up everybody’s nose.

Not everybody smokes cigarettes, but absolutely everybody eats food, and absolutely everybody will have their own favourite brands of food, and so absolutely everybody will be ticked off when PHE forces them to be reformulated into bland sameness, and absolutely everybody will want to see an end to this sort of unnecessary interference. And that’s the driving force behind populism. So PHE is going to become (if it isn’t already) one of the principal drivers behind the growing get-off-our-backs populism of the day. Because everybody is getting thoroughly sick of all these bullying bastards everywhere telling everybody what they should eat and drink and believe and think.

PHE is its own worst enemy, and will largely be the cause of its own eventual destruction. For if it did not exist prior to 2013, it was because there was never any need for it back then, and there still is absolutely no need for it now.

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Inhospitable Hospitals

The natural world is full of individuals. No single tree is the same as any other tree. No single pebble is the same as any other pebble. No single river is the same as any other river. No single storm is the same as any other storm. And of course no single man or woman is the same as any other man or woman.

But when trees become logs, and pebbles become aggregate, and rivers become drinking water, and men and women become employees in companies, their individuality becomes a liability. All industries want their trees to be the same size, and their aggregate to have the same consistency, and their water to have the same purity, and their employees to share the same skills. Industry wants its raw materials to be of a uniform quality in every possible respect.

And so when people enter organisations of one sort or other, they very often must wear uniforms which carry insignia of their rank on them. All concerned must conform to certain minimum standards, because the organisation works best if there are the same sort of people doing the same things using the same materials.

And it’s the same in hospitals in which humans themselves become the raw materials which are being fed into them for treatment or processing. Hospitals will want their patients to be as far as possible as uniformly the same, in the exact same way as timber yards want their logs to be of the same size and of the same quality.

And so what’s called Public Health may simply be part of an attempt to ensure that patients entering hospitals have the same conveniently uniform characteristics. For the more individual that people are, the more different and diverse they are, the more difficult they will be to treat.

They will, for example, want them to not be too fat, particularly if they to undergo surgery of any sort. I’ve only spent a single night in a hospital, but when I was examined prior to admission, the surgeon who was to operate on me declared, as soon as he saw how thin I was: “We’re not going to have any trouble with you.” Which almost certainly meant that some “overweight” people were sometimes very troublesome to operate on. And it also meant they were really only “overweight” from the point of view of the hospital.

Nor will hospitals want their patients to be habitual drinkers. For no doubt drunken patients can be very problematic. And they also may generate waste in the form of bottles and cans and glasses. So drinking will be strongly disapproved, purely for the convenience of the hospital.

And if fat people present problems for hospitals, smokers present a different problem. Smokers are messy people, blowing smoke everywhere, and filling ashtrays with ash and butts. There are extra cleaning costs associated with smokers. And this is probably why smokers are increasingly excluded not just from inside hospitals, but even from the grounds surrounding them, once again purely for the convenience of the hospital.

It would also be most convenient for hospitals if all their patients ate the same food, that could be cheaply and easily prepared, in minimal quantities. And since vegetables are usually cheaper than meat, it would not be surprising if hospitals would prefer their patients to be vegetarians rather than meat-eaters, for a vegetarian diet is likely to be both cheaper and easier to provide. Once again, this will be purely for the convenience of the hospital.

So as Public Health organisations set out to create a low-fat, alcohol-free, smoke-free, vegetarian society outside the hospital gates, it is not doing so in order to improve anyone’s health, but instead to ensure that patients of a uniform kind arrive at the hospital for processing. It’s a purely bureaucratic, managerial decision by hospitals to disallow smoking: it simply saves them money, offloading the costs (in trudging to the hospital gates for a cigarette) onto the patients.

In this manner, the medical profession ceases to conform to their patients, accepting all comers, and instead the patients must conform to the hospitals and doctors who treat them. Increasingly inhospitable hospitals don’t want “problem patients”, and will pick and choose who they will treat.

The same sort of reasoning probably applied to the “hospitality” industry when it welcomed smoking bans. After smoking was banned, pubs were going to be a lot easier to clean. What doesn’t seem to have been foreseen is that they would also have a lot fewer customers.

And perhaps the same applies with hospitals, whose patients are their customers, as fewer and fewer smokers and drinkers and fat people have any wish to ever be admitted into any of them, now that they have become equally unwelcoming. As a result, it is almost certainly the case that there are growing numbers of smokers and drinkers and fat people who have undiagnosed and untreated conditions of one sort or other simply because they have no wish to become captives inside an increasingly intolerant medical system. In fact if smokers and drinkers and fat people actually do die younger than other people, this may be the complete explanation for it. In this manner the rise of bullying and browbeating Public Health organisations will almost certainly result in a real decline in public health, if it has not already done so. And this real decline in public health is likely to be precipitate if the undiagnosed and untreated conditions include influenza or bubonic plague or Ebola.

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Buying Greenland

Donald Trump sure thinks big:

Trump confirms he is considering attempt to buy Greenland

    • President says bid would be ‘essentially a real estate deal’
    • Danish semi-autonomous territory has said it is not for sale

It won’t be the first such purchase. In 1803, in the Lousiana Purchase, Napoleon sold Louisiana to the United States, at the price of $18 per square mile.  It was a very large piece of territory:

Alaska was bought from Russia in 1867. And in 1917 Woodrow Wilson bought and renamed the Danish West Indies. So buying Greenland wouldn’t be anything new.

[Trump] then claimed without offering evidence that ownership of Greenland was “hurting Denmark very badly because they’re losing almost $700m a year carrying it.

Trump suggested that there were “strategic” reasons why the US might want Greenland. Others have said there are lots of mineral resources in Greenland.

But one reason for wanting Greenland hasn’t been mentioned: global warming.

Global warming alarmists are forever telling people that both the ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland are melting. And if they’re right that’ll mean that once the ice has all melted, Greenland is going to become a much-sought-after piece of real estate. And a lot of people are likely to want to move there, because it will have become a new green land, covered in forests rather than ice.

If you think that global warming really is happening, then you ought to think about moving somewhere nearer the Earth’s poles, away from the scorching equator. And perhaps that’s part of Trump’s “strategic” vision.

And conversely, if you’re more concerned about global cooling than global warming, then you should be thinking about living somewhere nearer the equator.

And perhaps this is the right way to deal with this problem: just let people vote with their feet. It’s what they always used to do. I was only arguing a few days ago that the barbarian invasion of the Roman empire was perhaps really simply an escape by Vandals and Goths and Huns from an increasingly cold far northen climate to a warmer southern one. And maybe that’s happening again with all the migrants from South America now heading north to the USA, and Africans heading north to Europe. Perhaps it’s already getting too hot at the equator for some people.

A week or so back I acquired a new book: The Rise and Fall of the Carbon Dioxide Theory of Climate Change. The author is more concerned about global cooling than global warming, and thinks that there’s going to be a Solar Grand Minimum around 2030, during which the Sun’s magnetic field will weaken considerably, allowing cosmic rays to strike the Earth’s atmosphere and form cloud condensation nuclei which will reflect sunlight and cool the Earth (an idea presented in Henrik Svensmark’s The Chilling Stars). It would seem that while there are lots of highly vocal global warmists these days, there’s a growing number of far less vocal global coolists too. And at the present rate, it’s possible to imagine that political debate will be dominated by warmists versus coolists in a few years time (or in a few years’ time as apostrophes make a comeback).

In fact, I think that the coolists are going to become more vocal than the warmists. And the reason for this is that the prospect of global cooling and the return to an ice age is something that’s far more terrifying than anything the warmists are worried about. For about the worst that could happen as a result of global warming is that the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica slowly melt, and the whole of the Earth slowly gets a few degrees warmer. The emphasis here is on “slowly” and over centuries. But ice ages seem to start very suddenly and very quickly.

Ice Ages Start and End So Suddenly “It’s Like a Button Was Pressed,” Say Scientists

And that’s also what I’m seeing happen (right) in the simple glaciation computer simulation model that I’ve been constructing for the past 18 months. The reason for the sudden change is that when much of the surface of the Earth gets covered in snow, it reflects a lot of the Sun’s rays back out into space, and the Earth’s thin atmosphere cools by 10º C in a couple of decades. Equally, when the snow all melts, the opposite happens, and the Earth’s atmosphere warms up again just as quickly. In geological terms, that’s like a light switch turning off and on.

The sudden start of a new ice age would be a global catastrophe far worse than the gradual inundation caused by melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, even if it led to all the coastal cities in the world being deserted by their citizens. They’d just move further inland.

In fact, I’m beginning to wonder if the current emphasis on global warming might be a piece of deliberate misdirection to divert people’s attention away from the real threat. If Al Gore really believes in global warming, why hasn’t he bought property in highland Alaska rather than coastal California?

In a move that critics may cite as his own inconvenient truth, former Vice President Al Gore and his wife, Tipper, have added a house in secluded Montecito, Calif., to their real estate holdings.

It’s not what they say that matters: it’s what they do.

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Staying Alive

From Chris Snowdon:

…These health lobby groups appear to be dismissive of the actual public – the choices that people make and the opinions they actually have. They see themselves as speaking in the name of public health, which they present as being as a matter of life and death, and are therefore above any profane manifestation of the public, such as what people themselves may think or want. In an email to PHE, AOS said that the aim of the reformulation policy is to ‘save millions of children from disability or early death’, and that ‘[t]his is the priority – not the profits of the food industry, or even public opinion’. The interest of public health policy, then, is something that stands above – and even against – public opinion: it claims a higher mission. So AOS is able to masquerade as the true public good, as standing above the millions of people who actually form the public.

I think the key words above are “a matter of life and death.” That’s what’s used to trump all other considerations. Staying alive is the only thing that matters; everything else is unimportant.

But is it? I often cite the example of soldiers who fight in wars, and who very often die fighting, and who also very often know perfectly well that they will die fighting. They are people who have placed something else above their own life: nation, friends, family, religion.

Are such people misguided fools? If staying alive is the only thing that really matters, shouldn’t soldiers all desert their armies? And shouldn’t firefighters desert their firetrucks? And police refuse to patrol the streets? All of them saying: “Staying alive is the only thing that matters to me, and I have no wish to put my life at risk fighting enemies or fires or thieves.”

And if someone were to see a child drowning in a lake, should they say: “Staying alive is the only thing that matters to me, and I have no wish to put my life at risk saving this stupid child’s life,” and let them drown?

If it were to become everybody’s moral imperative to simply stay alive at all costs, there would follow the complete disintegration of human societies as cooperative enterprises in which people help each other, share burdens, share gains and losses.

That’s what must happen if staying alive is the only thing that matters. And yet that is the ethos of Public Health: Nothing else matters except staying alive.

Somebody once said:

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Such a doctrine can have no place in Public Health or Tobacco Control. If staying alive is the only thing that matters, it’s a damn stupid man who lays down his life for the sake of his friends. In fact, it’s a damn stupid man who lays down anything for the sake of anybody.

But how can staying alive be so important, given that everybody eventually winds up dead? Death is the one certain fact about life. Death is the only certain fact of life.

The medical profession doesn’t “save lives.” It really only defers deaths. The one truth about doctors is that all their patients eventually wind up dead.

And if we’re all going to wind up dead anyway, what does it matter whether we die young or die old? What’s wrong with an early death? What’s wrong with dying young like James Dean? Would it really have been better if he’d lived to a hundred? Wouldn’t it be a dull world that was devoid of James Deans and Marilyn Monroes?

If we all lived forever, would any of us ever do anything? Isn’t it the prospect of death that spurs us into action? Why should anyone want to make anything of their life if they can never lose it?

Death is a bit like something on a plate that you don’t like eating, but must eventually eat anyway. You may not like swedes or spinach or celery, but you’re going to have to eat them anyway. So why not eat them first, rather than eat them last? I always eat what I like least first, and what I like best last: it leaves the nicest final taste in my mouth.

A life is a life, no matter how long it might last. So why not enjoy it while it lasts, instead of devoting oneself to simply trying to prolong it as long as possible?

We got just one shot of life, let’s take it while we’re still not afraid.
Because life is so brief and time is a thief when you’re undecided.
And like a fistful of sand, it can slip right through your hands.

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Real Panic

A couple of days back I found myself listening to Brendan O’Neill talking to People Before Profit counsellor Fiona Ferguson about Greta Thunberg, the teenage Swedish global warming alarmist, and thinking that the global warming alarmism, which I had thought was mercifully fading away, was now gathering new strength.

Fiona Ferguson was a big fan of Greta Thunberg, and Brendan O’Neill was not. She said that Thunberg had become “terrified” of global warming by a teacher at her school. And as someone who was genuinely terrified of a “world on fire”, she had become the poster child and the spokesperson for all the other similarly terrified people in the world – which is why she’s become the toast of a great many alarmist politicians.

What we’re seeing here, I fear, is real panic. A lot of people (and Fiona Ferguson is just one of many) are genuinely terrified by the prospect of catastrophic global warming.

She’s terrified in the same way that a great may antismokers are genuinely terrified of tobacco smoke, and panic at the sight of anyone smoking anything anywhere.

One thing that the terrified antismokers and the terrified global warming alarmists share is a profound faith in science and scientists. The antismokers believe the doctors who tell them that smoking causes pretty much every disease known to man, and the global warming alarmists believe the climate scientists who tell them that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is causing global warming, sea level rise, hurricanes, droughts, and any number of other disasters. They are people who believe everything they’re told by anyone who claims to be an expert.

These days nobody has any faith in priests and bishops and popes. But really all that’s happened is that they instead place their faith in “experts” of one kind or other. They put their faith in doctors and scientists in the same way that they once put their faith in monks and priests and holy men.

Nothing has really changed at all. We live in an age as superstitious and credulous as any that came before it. But instead of worrying about demons and spirits, people worry about tobacco smoke and carbon dioxide, both of which possess what can only be described as supernatural carcinogenic and thermogenic powers.

And the odd thing about it is that it seems that the less anyone knows about medicine, the greater the trust they have for doctors. And the less they know about science, the greater the trust that they place in scientists.

And the doctors and the scientists and all the other experts are using this trust to sow terror in the hearts of the credulous. They’ve already made millions of people terrified of tobacco smoke, and now they’re making them terrified of carbon dioxide too.

But there are plenty of other panics to go round. In Britain there’s the great Brexit panic. And in America there’s the great Donald Trump panic, and the gun control panic. And we are probably overdue for a great financial panic as well.

We seem to be on the brink of a general, climactic, all-consuming pandemonium. Perhaps there’s no stopping it. Perhaps these things gather momentum like avalanches or forest fires, the hysteria building to an inescapable climax.

Which brings to mind an old poem:

If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
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A Neolithic Industrial Revolution

What was the difference between paleolithic (old stone) tools and neolithic (new stone) tools?

…paleolithic used mainly knapped (chipped) stone tools, as well as bone and wooden tools, the Mesolithic showed an increasing number of microliths (tools made from tiny bits of stone) for things like arrow heads and sickle blades. The neolithic saw the beginning of farming tools to fit the new agricultural lifestyle and in the west the introduction of polished stone axes and pottery…

Why did they start producing polished stone tools? Wouldn’t it have taken one heck of a lot longer to make smooth, polished tools like these?

Why go to all that trouble of grinding and polishing stones?

It’s occurred to me that there might be a very simple explanation for the difference between paleolithic and neolithic tools. And it is that neolithic tools were made from molten rock. They were cast stone tools, made by pouring molten rock into moulds or forms, in exactly the same way we still make cast iron products. And that’s why the tools have smooth and even polished surfaces. Far from taking ages to make, they were made in a matter of minutes or hours.

So how did they melt rock? In furnaces or kilns, using charcoal and bellows?

They probably didn’t have to do that either. They used naturally-occurring molten rock. of the kind that flows in streams from volcanoes in places like Hawaii.

All they had to do was figure out how to get the molten rock to flow into the moulds or formwork in which the rock was to be shaped.  Maybe they did that by diverting the molten streams. Or maybe they dropped buckets into the streams, and hauled out molten rock like water.

It was a stone age industrial revolution which began about 12,000 years ago, which seems to be when smooth, polished neolithic tools started appearing in large numbers, long before copper or bronze or iron tools. And the reason these new cast stone tools appeared first is because molten rock occurs naturally, whereas molten copper or bronze or iron does not.

It would have been an industrial revolution because the new technology allowed them to make all sorts of stone tools very quickly, cheaply, and in large numbers. Neolithic axes probably had very sharp blades, which cut through timber far more quickly than their paleolithic knapped stone predecessors. Life got a lot easier. And the inexpensive and highly effective new stone tools were traded all over the world, because everyone wanted them.

And after they’d started off making simple stone tools, they went on to make ever bigger and better ones. Here’s a neolithic stone sickle from China:

It looks like it could have been made of iron. But apparently it’s a stone sickle. There are also stone vases found in Cairo museums. In the accompanying text it is said:

At least one piece is so flawlessly turned that the entire bowl (about 9″ in diameter, fully hollowed out including an undercut of the 3in opening in the top) balances perfectly (the top rests horizontally when the bowl is placed on a glass shelf) on a round tipped bottom no bigger than the size and shape of the tip of a hen’s egg !

I very much doubt that the porphyry or diorite was turned on a lathe. Only the (wooden?) mould in which the piece was cast would have been made using a lathe.

The same applies to Inca constructions in Peru. I suggest that they also were constructed using molten rock. They probably made these walls in much the same way that concrete walls are made today, by pouring the liquid rock into formwork surrounding them, where they took the shape of adjacent rocks which had already cooled.

And if they could do all this with molten rock, why not also produce large cast stone statues as well, like the colossal red granite statue of the pharaoh Tuthmosis III at right?

So why did they stop making all these cast stone axes and sickles and vases and walls and statues?

Most likely because the volcanoes which had been producing millions of tons of molten rock ceased erupting. They ceased producing streams of molten rock. And with that the entire technology was lost. Within a century or two, nobody could remember how to make these objects.

It won’t have been the first time that technological skills have been lost. The Romans invented concrete, and used it in lots of buildings, but the secret of how to make concrete was lost for many years, until rediscovered just a century or two ago.

In summary, my suggestion: The neolithic era which began 12,000 years ago was the result of the eruption of one or more volcanoes at the end of the last Ice Age, producing large amounts of molten rock, which humans developed methods of shaping in all sorts of ways. This neolithic technology continued to be developed and improved until the volcanoes stopped erupting, at which point the required skills were lost. But they could be recovered, maybe in places like Hawaii, if some way can be found to get molten lava to flow into moulds once again.

A further suggestion: The neolithic period was fully part of the Stone Age. It just saw the production of new kinds of stone tools and artefacts. The discovery of copper and bronze and iron (and everything else) was a subsequent development. So the neolithic civilisation was nowhere near as advanced as today (with aircraft and spaceships).

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