Tides of Opinion

As Climategate unfolds, I’m fascinated by how rapidly public opinion can swing so rapidly, and have been thinking how people form opinions.

Many years ago, I began to wonder whether anyone’s opinion about anything was just the sum total of all the opinions they’d heard expressed about it, for or against. So if you’d heard 100 people say “the sun goes round the earth’, and 60 people say “the earth goes round the sun”, you’d be broadly of the former opinion. There was at least one slight modification that I added, and this was that people’s opinions were given different weights. The opinions of people who were trusted, or who were authorities, or friends, were ascribed higher weights than those of most other people. And people who were distrusted, or ignorant, or enemies, were ascribed lower than average weights, and sometimes even given negative weights. So, for example, if Nasty Harry said that “the earth goes round the sun”, and he was an ignorant dickhead, negative weighting of his opinion would increase your conviction that the opposite was probably true.

And how did you learn to give more weight to what some people said than others? In precisely the same way as you formed all your other opinions. The more you discovered that Edward the Swot almost always got the right answers to difficult mathematics questions (like, what is 127 times 289?), the more highly you rated his opinion, about mathematical problems leastways. And how did you know what the right answers were? Because the maths teacher wrote them on the blackboard, and he was God. Which meant that his opinion had such a high positive weighting that his opinion outweighed that of the whole class, Edward the Swot and Nasty Harry included.

And how certain you were about anything depended on just how strongly one-sided your own balance of received opinion on it happened to be. If you’d only heard the same opinion all your life, it would appear as an unquestionable certainty, a fact of life. And if you’d heard many conflicting opinions, you’d be not at all certain.

I toyed for a while with producing a geographical matrix made up of lots of different people regularly expressing opinions to each other, wondering whether fads and fashions of one sort or other might propagate through these societies in waves, or maybe stabilise in some fixed opinion. So one day all the women would wear miniskirts with tasselled hemlines, and then the next day they go back to wide frilly skirts.

This way of thinking about opinions explained why kids who grew up in Catholic families were usually Catholics, and kids who grew up in Burnley were usually Burnley supporters, and so on. They’d spent their lives surrounded by people regularly singing “Ohhh Burnley is Wonderful” So they had pretty strong opinions about Burnley F.C. And when you have these sorts of strongly re-inforced opinions, you’re inclined to believe that people who don’t agree with you (like Watford fans) are misguided or stupid, and you’ll say so in a very loud voice when you encounter them, in order to educate them about the true facts of life. And they in turn might strongly disagree, and reply with a hail of re-educational coins and bottles.

It also explained why kids were highly impressionable. And that was because kids had heard very few opinions about anything. So it only needed somebody with a high weighting, like a parent or teacher, to tell them the opposite and change their minds. And why their minds would promptly get changed back again when their pals at school told them the opposite again. Adults who had heard millions of opinions throughout their life weren’t so easily impressionable. They were set in their ways. It would take a few million further expressed opinions to change their mind about anything at all.

And it also explained how propaganda that repeated the same message over and over again also worked to change people’s minds. It too got added in, and it had extra weight if it came from people who were highly rated, like film stars or rock stars.

What’s obviously inaccurate about the idea is that it portrays people as being entirely passive, like planets going round the sun under the pull of gravitation, with opinions which aren’t really their own opinions at all. And this isn’t true. Or at least it isn’t entirely true. Because people can themselves change their own minds. They’re not entirely passive recipients of other people’s ideas. They can look at ideas critically, in their own right. For example, even if everybody tells you that 127 x 289 is 36,702, if you work it out for yourself, and you keep on finding it comes to 36,703, you’re quite likely to stop believing people who tell you otherwise, particularly if you know that none of them have ever tried to work it out for themselves. So if 10 people tell you that the answer is 36,702, but you work it out for yourself 10 times to be 36,703, you’ll slowly start believing yourself, and stop believing everybody else. And in the process, you’ll probably rate your own opinion more highly.

So the picture of opinion-formation, of just averaging what everybody else says, doesn’t work with people who think for themselves.

But then, thinking takes time. And not everybody has the time to think through everything for themselves. And so even people who think for themselves about lots of things, like whether the sun goes round the earth or vice versa, may not have thought about whether women should wear tasselled miniskirts or whether to support Burnley F.C. And if they’ve not thought about these things themselves, their opinion will be the average of what everybody thinks. So Isaac Newton, thinking for himself day after day in his Cambridge college room about the motion of the planets, and with nobody disagreeing with him because he never talked to anybody else about it, developed some deeply held convictions about them. But he probably supported Cambridge United. And he probably also believed that women’s skirts should be of ankle length, with a strip of embroidered flowers down one side, just so. And furthermore, he was probably highly impressionable about these matters, precisely because he spent all his time thinking about planets and gravity and stuff, and very little time sitting in pubs gassing about the dire state of football in Cambridge, and the impropriety of modern women’s skirts.

So, while people can change their minds about things, they very seldom actually do. So most of the time, however independently-minded they might be, most of what they think will be what everybody else thinks. Ask me my opinion about more or less anything, and you’ll most likely get a pretty run-of-the-mill response, because I’ve not thought about most things. Ask me about smoking and tobacco, and you’ll get something quite different. I’ve been thinking a lot about that in recent years, and slowly changing my mind.

And I’ve been thinking about global warming too. I started out with no strong opinion either way. But I became a sceptic the second I heard Jon Snow announce on Channel 4 news one evening early in 2007 that “the debate is over”. To me, that meant that climate science had ceased to be a science, and had instead become a secular religion. Nor did it help that Jon Snow went on to say, in the same breath, “Humans are to blame”. How like a religion to lay blame at the feet of us sinners! My good opinion of climate science collapsed. And so did my opinion of Jon Snow, who was, I thought, one of the UK’s better news presenters. It’s one reason why I no longer have a TV set.

Which brings us back to Global Warming and the University of East Anglia and Professor Phil Jones. Here’s someone who’s obviously been living in a kind of Burnley. And what’s happened there is the reputation of Phil Jones and co has just taken a tremendous hit. The weighting of their opinion has just fallen from university professorial heights to zero, or maybe even gone negative. They were found, at least on first inspection, to have been cooking the books and making stuff up, and their opinions now aren’t worth spit. And as the news about this has been propagating in a wave around the world, first driven by sceptic blogs, but now the mainstream media too, there’s been a tidal wave of rising disbelief as everybody adjusts their weightings of what climate scientists say sharply downwards (and at the same time marks their weighting of the opinions of sceptics upwards). Which has meant that formerly derided (“flat-earther”)sceptics are now getting a hearing as never before.

And this leads on to smoking and smoking bans, where the situation isn’t much different than in Burnley either. With global warming, the alarmists managed to convince each other that a possibility was a certainty. But when it comes to smoking, Everybody Knows That Smoking Causes Lung Cancer. It’s all they’ve heard all their lives, and nobody has ever disagreed. And that’s a recipe for total certainty. The debate actually is over, to the extent that any debate is ever over. And on top of this certainty about lung cancer, there has been erected the further edifice of the danger of secondhand smoke. And on top of that the perils of thirdhand smoke, and so on. And none of it is questioned. Which is why smoking bans are never in the news. Nobody is doubting the increasingly wild claims made by the antismoking movement.

Or hardly anybody. But in many ways, these increasingly wild claims themselves generate scepticism. It’s one thing to believe that smoking causes lung cancer, because it’s a very plausible idea. But the notion that secondhand smoking is just as dangerous, and perhaps even more dangerous, may stretch credulity too far. And for someone like me, who was initially only mildly inclined to believe that smoking caused lung cancer, these further claims were too much. It’s a bit like telling Burnley fans that not only is their football club the best football club in England, but it’s the best football club in the world. It’s almost as implausible and offensive as telling them that it’s the worst. Overstating something is almost as bad as understating it. The antismoking movement has been generating sceptics by overstating its case.

The multi-storey edifice of antismoking is like a big wave coming ashore on a beach. When you see it in the distance it’s not very high, but as it gets closer it gets higher and higher. And it keeps getting higher until you begin to wonder whether it’ll just go on getting higher and higher indefinitely. But then it breaks, and the bigger the wave, the bigger the roar as it collapses, and the deeper the ensuing flood of boiling foam rushing up the beach. The wave of global warming hit a rock: but for the Climategate emails, it’d still be getting higher. But the wave of antismoking is just getting higher and higher, and has got some of us running up the beach in panic away from it. But it will break. That edifice of supposition piled upon mad supposition is simply not sustainable for very long. Maybe it’ll just break of its own accord. But when it does, it’s going to be with a far louder crash than the wave of global warming.

P.S. I was halfway through writing this when I learned that there was a tidal wave crossing the Pacific ocean from Chile. The rather wonderful thing about it is that people ahead of it are being told it’s coming. I hope they all survive.

About Frank Davis

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19 Responses to Tides of Opinion

  1. Anonymous says:

    Opinion Formation
    I believe you are broadly correct about opinion formation, but I think you underestimate the influence of mass media and acceptance of it as an authority by the general public (Although I note you have dumped your TV). Also, something to consider is that Jaques Ellul argues convincingly in his book ‘Propaganda’ (highly recommend if you are interested), that public opinion is entitely different to private opinion. That is to say that public opinion does not amount to the aggregate or sum total of all private opinions and can in fact be shifted in the opposite direction. Something which happened in the case of AGW I feel.

  2. Frank Davis says:

    Re: Opinion Formation
    I think you underestimate the influence of mass media and acceptance of it as an authority by the general public
    In what way do I underestimate it? I accept that people are receiving opinions from the media (which is what I meant by ‘propaganda’, although not all media output is propaganda). And I think that people do regard the media as authorities. So they give weight to the opinions they receive from them.
    This isn’t always so. I read about a German during WWII saying that his belief in Nazi propaganda fell away as he realised that the ‘great victories’ being trumpeted on the news were getting nearer and nearer.
    public opinion is entitely different to private opinion.
    I can well imagine that this is true if people dare not express their private opinion in public.
    Or I can imagine it’s true if ‘public opinion’ is sampled selectively, for example by only asking non-smokers about smoking bans.
    What’s Ellul’s line?

  3. Anonymous says:

    There’s another element to opinion-forming, and that is the “theory versus reality” element, in that all the time something is at a distance from them personally, or just being discussed, or just being theorised, people may well say – and genuinely believe – that they agree with it. People may say, for example, that they can’t stand Americans, spouting stuff like “they’re all so loud/crass/dumb/arrogant” or whatever. Then they go on holiday to America, where they meet lots and lots of Americans, most of whom are perfectly nice, friendly, sociable, warm people. And rarely, after that, do they make the same sweeping generalisations, because they’ve realised through personal experience that those sweeping generalisations are plain wrong, or even plain stupid. But if they never go to America, they keep on saying it.
    Direct experience plays a huge part in forming and/or changing a person’s opinions, and I think that this element of opinion-changing is even more pertinent to the smoking ban than it is to global warming, although the recent long, cold, snowy winter has certainly helped. Prior to the ban, I knew a fair few people who, even though they couldn’t be described as “raging antis” generally felt that the smoking ban was “a pity, but probably the best thing to do.” But that was before it was actually here, affecting them in exactly the way that smokers like myself (who, at the time, of course, fell into your category of “not very authoritative” because of my assumed bias as a smoker myself) had said that it would. Since the ban’s been implemented, however, these very people have seen their local pubs become quieter – or close altogether, their evenings out become fragmented, their circle of friends shrink or become less regular than previously, nights in the pub or at restaurants become shorter and more businesslike affairs (In. Order. Eat. Pay. Home – no hanging around for long chats over pudding or coffee or a couple of brandies), and some friends stop visiting so much or not inviting them to as many social gatherings of their own.
    All of these things, I think, have contributed to what I, as a smoker, sense is a “softening” of attitude from people previously generally supportive of the ban (dyed-in-the-wool antis, of course, still keep up the front, but that’s religious zeal for you), and the resulting greater interest in blogs and articles such as yours highlighting the inaccuracies and exaggeration and lies which form the foundation of the anti-smoking movement has continued this process, even, in some cases I know, resulting in some ex-ban-supporters becoming almost as concerned and angry about both the ban itself, and its implications for the future, as I am. Good! Long may it continue. Because the more ex-ban-supporters cross the house to join the opposition, the greater is the chance that some day, hopefully soon, the anti-smoking movement will suffer a similar denouement, and subsequent collapse, as the AGW movement has done.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately (and I say unfortunately, due to being the home of Stanton Glantz, UCSF, outdoor smoking bans, $500 fines on outdoor smoking displayed on signs city-wide, gold plated outdoor smoking ban signs, tobacco retail bans, tobacco retail license elimination, local tax on top of federal and state tax on tobacco to pay for trumped up charges of cig butt trash being the bulk of all waste, indoor private home smoking bans, apartment and condo outdoor smoking bans, city park and beach smoking bans and damn, can’t find an ashtray – anywhere) – San Francisco – it survived.
    Repeat, San Francisco survived the tsunami.
    Prepare for more smoking bans, beginning Monday.

  5. Anonymous says:

    That’s really a very good and thought provoking post, Frank. I want to honor it with a relevant reply, and I’ve tried a couple of times now, but the topics you present here concisely get me going off on so many lines of thought that it seems better to simply contemplate what you wrote, rather than try and add onto it.
    That book by Ellul actually looks quite interesting, though. From the Amazon reviews, it appears that his premise is that a higher degree of education also means a higher degree of conformity.
    I’ve come to that conclusion myself. People who succeed within the mainstream are usually also people who conform to the mainstream. It’s a tragic statement on our society that conformity is emphasized over independent and critical thinking. We’re sure to pay for it.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Again, the inset link didn’t work. WS.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I’m not concrete on some issues, I hear good points from either side. The wierd thing I think about global warming; is that on one side we have those who strongly believe it’s real and we have to deal with it, and the other side doesn’t think it exhists. Anyways; we do put alot pollution into the enviroment. So why not agree if we can, we should reduce our pollution. Which gets me to the part I think is intresting; behind all the fighting, no one has proposed a good solution.
    Aside from that, I’m trying to create a site where people can talk about local U.S. politics. I wanted to add summary descriptions on issues like this that included all sides and my influence should be neutral, and I think for global warming I’m on track: http://activepolitic.com:82/2/Global_Warming.html
    I’m completly unable to do the one for smoking as a category; It always sounds too biased and angry, but we’ll see. Site still under construction, feel free to leave feedback tho http://activepolitic.com:82/

  8. Frank Davis says:

    And rarely, after that, do they make the same sweeping generalisations,
    I see your point, of course. But I’ve also seen the opposite happen. A friend of mine went to India for a few months some years ago, and when he came back he clearly regarded himself as something as an authority on India. He would talk about “the Indian” as if there was one person (or one type of person) who lived in India, and the “the Indian” had all sorts of character traits which my friend had observed, and he would declare authoritatively that “The Indian is…” or “The Indian does not…”. He wasn’t derogatory about Indians at all, except in the sense of lumping them all together.
    I, as a smoker, sense is a “softening” of attitude from people previously generally supportive of the ban
    I sense something similar. But it’s a glacially slow change. Smokers and non-smokers now seem, in my experience, to live in separate worlds. The non-smokers world is one which remained exactly the same after the ban as before, just a teensy bit improved by the lack of smoke. The smokers’ world is one in which 1 July 2007 was a kind of catastrophe, leaving many of them buried under a pile of rubble, shouting for help. I’m one of these. The non-smokers are almost entirely unaware of this. Even if you explain it to them, they just don’t get it. And believe me, I’ve tried.
    Using my theory, outlined above, we now have two societies. In the society of smokers, the smokers are getting more and more angry, as they talk to each other, and confirm each other’s experiences and beliefs. In the society of non-smokers, things continue much as they did beforehand, but with less input from absent smokers. All are agreed that pubs are “better” than before the ban, but they never talk about the ban, because it never affected them. But they probably get enough powerful disagreement from people like me, who will talk about the ban, to begin to slowly entertain misgivings. But it’s a very slow process.

  9. Frank Davis says:

    I’m not sure if it’s relevant, but I thought that a great deal of conformity and lack of critical thinking was demonstrated by a bunch of journalists who met up at some public meeting in Oxford.
    The rough transcript (which the author insists is accurate) on the Bishop Hill blog makes mind-boggling reading.

  10. Frank Davis says:

    You managed a bit of bold text, I notice. Are you using my “How to do HTML” advice in the sidebar? You have to get it exactly right if you’re trying to to create a hotlink. It’s second nature to me these days.
    You’re welcome to fill up my comments with failed attempts. Like with anything, it’s all about try, try, and try again. If you can’t delete failed attempts, I’ll delete them instead.

  11. Frank Davis says:

    In San Francisco, the antismoking tsunami just seems to get higher and higher, and people really do have to run away. I believe there’s been something of an exodus of smokers from California. I’ve certainly read reports indicating that.
    I can’t imagine what it’s like living there, to be honest. If people there “survived the tsunami”, I can only imagine they do so like some witches survived the 17th century witch-hunts in Europe, in fear and dread of the ubiquitous witchfinders.

  12. Frank Davis says:

    Re: –
    Anyways; we do put alot pollution into the enviroment. So why not agree if we can, we should reduce our pollution.
    If we can agree what “pollution” is.
    The EPA has recently declared CO2 to be a pollutant and a toxin (I’m not sure of the exact word, but it’s a Bad Thing). In no way do I agree that it’s any such thing.
    Same applies to cigarette smoke. For some people it’s an irritating and toxic pollutant. For me, it’s just a friendly, warm, enveloping aroma, and not a “pollutant” at all. Or, if it is, so also is wood smoke, incense, and any sort of smoke produced by the combustion of more or less anything. And so also is any odour whatsoever.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Re: Opinion Formation
    Ellul – 20th Century French professor at law and social history, social and political philosopher.
    In ‘Between Two Ages’ Zibignew Brezinski asserts that people will go to the media to get their opinions. If this is true, and I believe it is, then the mass media has become Edward the Swot for most people and their cultural and social norms are set (and altered) by the media. Anyone now asking 100 people about whether or not the earth revolves around the sun or not will hear the answer of the media parroted back to them from 90% of people.
    Having said that, personal experience can, but not necessarily does, overcome propaganda. So, in the case of a maths question it is possible to work out for yourself the correct answer (but very few people will bother so the incorrect answer is still the received opinion). Or if your city is being leveled by air raids and artillery barrages and enemy soldiers and bayoneting your neighbours clearly your army is not having great victories.
    Propaganda is not lies, it involves magnifying and embedding the information which you want people to give the most weight to so that they are then brought to their ‘own’ conclusions.

  14. Anonymous says:

    it appears that his premise is that a higher degree of education also means a higher degree of conformity.\
    Ellul hypothesises that a population which is illiterate cannot be effectively propagandised and that governments ought to push to increase literacy rates for that reason.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Re: –
    Anon 10.19
    Re your comment: “ …. is that on one side we have those who strongly believe it’s real and we have to deal with it, and the other side doesn’t think it exists ….” I’m not so sure this is entirely the case, although I’m sure that you’re right in that there are both extremes in the AGW debate, just as there are always extremes in any other debate. The problem is that those extremes – being just that – tend to make the most noise and thus give the impression that those are the only two stances which anyone takes on the matter. In my experience, the general consensus amongst people I know tends to be that “climate change” is a naturally-occurring phenomenon on this planet which we’ve all known about for centuries and about which we pathetic little humans can’t actually influence very much one way or another, and although our cars and our industries and our light bulbs might not be helping very much, they’re certainly not causing the problem, and stopping using them or giving out “carbon credits” or measuring everyone’s “carbon footprint” isn’t actually going to make any more than a minimal difference.
    But I think your point about pollution is a valid one and actually a much more urgent one because excessive pollution has a much more direct – and faster – influence on our lives than any perceived effect (or non-effect) than global warming can ever dream of having. As Frank points out, however, the problem is that not everyone agrees on what constitutes “pollution” and what doesn’t and, needless to say, in these bandwagon-jumping days any push to reduce or eliminate “pollution” would inevitably lead to a jostling of elbows amongst different pressure groups to see whose “bandwagon” was the most urgent one to secure that all-important funding. As individuals, I think that the best we can do is to apply good old-fashioned common-sense to our daily lives (something which we’ve been actively encouraged not to do over the past few decades) and to remain vigilant and questioning about quoted “facts” by self-appointed experts and single-issue lobby groups (their name usually gives the game away). That way, we might force our elected representatives to take a more realistic (and less self-interested) view of the environment, and we might – just maybe might – see some sensible policies coming out as a result.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Re: – the pollution guy
    traditionally the pollutants we want to avoid are the smog causing ones like carbon monoxide, and methane from commercial cow farming. If we replace combustion with fission as an energy source than we’re looking at Tritium, depleted uranium, and possible radiation leakage. Which in anycase is irrelivant without a way to deal with it. There is not a single voter on the planet who wants energy costs to be so high that they can’t afford it, and a slight increase in price won’t chance anything. Another issue here that people are overlooking is that politicians are not scientists. Where as you say it’s easy for corrupt agencies to confuse people when it comes to the roll of co2. We have politicians in America that passed a law that air bags should be require on all cars in the early 90’s. Airbags can be positioned and engineered to be safe and usefull. The politicians aren’t engineers, they didn’t include and specifications in the law so American auto manufacturers just came back with numbers of how many people have been killed by their airbags.

  17. Anonymous says:

    “I’m not so sure this is entirely the case”
    Sorry this is more or less what I’m reading here in America where both extreme’s are lead by our political parties and have an intrest in exaggeration. Usually with the smoking laws and regulations that have come here, we see the same arguements being injected across the UK ,but this issue maybe more complicated.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Many ran across the state line to Nevada and everyone was living in peace. But then anti-smoking put up a ballot measure to ban smoking in Nevada, which narrowly one by a small margin, but for which the campaigning was deceitful, claiming if voters did not ban smoking then another ballot measure, totally unrelated asking to legalize marijuana, would become law instead. Actually, it was none of it true and there was even a lawsuit filed to have the smoking ban annulled immediately after the election for the fact anti-smokers did in fact lie and deceive to obtain the narrow margin necessary to obtain their Nevada smoking ban.
    After the Nevada ban went into effect, immediately small bars and restaurants began to shut down, thousands lost jobs and their lifelong businesses – and eventually Las Vegas fell into the economic state it is today, which is all the housing has lost value, even large casinos where smoking is just barely legal in restricted areas have been shutting down and the whole economy plummeted.
    Yes, some escaped to Nevada 14 years ago and since then, which was when the first California bans started up. But now with California at the final solution stage – private home banning and all outside areas banned to boot – and of course California is nearly bankrupt, in worse shape than Greece it is said, then what happens here may surely cross over state lines and the same lunatic anti-liberty-obsessive thinking might overtake Nevada next, not that it already hasn’t – look at who they put in to the Senate, Dingy Harry Reid, who’s almost as Marxist as Madame Nancy Pelosi, who truly IS a communist – and proud of it out here on the west coast, where it’s no secret what-so-ever what her political affiliations are.
    So goes California, then goes Nevada. And Oregon is sliding down the same path – since a lot of the “progressive liberals” from San Francisco started moving up there and turning it into the next illiberal anti-smoking sh*thole, which as recent history has shown out here, will eventually slide into the muck next.
    I thought to move to Nevada, but then after reading blogs coming out of Nevada, listening to some of the same anti-smoking hoo-hah and diatribe I hear in California, San Francisco in particular and the worst, I decided there’s no great rush to run across the state-line just to find the same sh*t there that’s already been here for way over a decade and a half and getting worse by the day.
    Maybe total financial collapse at the city and state level is the only time when reality will catch up to the false ideology of the need for state fascist control of peoples’ lives and in California, perhaps that is where the day will come first, before it starts falling apart in other areas.
    Currently local housing is getting pressure at the apartment and condo building level to ban all indoor smoking inside one’s private residence as well as outdoors on landlord and homeowner-association’s prissy private lands. So that is what is coming next down the pike in this area. The $500 fines are most true as are the signage in gold plating as I’ve indicated, nothing made up about it, the disgusting Hitlerian truth.

  19. Frank Davis says:

    That’s very interesting. And you sound like you’re still living in California. Perhaps you might consider writing a longer piece setting out the history of smoking bans in California and adjacent states? And I’d think about putting it up as a guest post.
    What happens in California tends, for some unknown reason, to happen elsewhere. And over here in the UK, you’re regarded as “progressive” if you borrow any US idea and adopt it as your own. I’ve read lots of stuff about smoking bans, but I’ve yet to read a potted history of any of them. I usually just get snapshots of how it is right now.
    The whole of the USA is a rather mysterious area, in fact. There seem to be smoking bans creeping slowly all over it, city by city, state by state. And there’s also a counter-movement, less strong, that succeeds here and there in overturning the bans. That wider story is interesting too.

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