Frank Davis adds his 2 cents to the discussion.
Yesterday Chris Snowdon, writing on his blog about the current discussion here, said:
Quite so. Anti-smoking zealots now produce fabrication heaped on fabrication in an accelerating campaign to demonise smoking, smoke, and smokers. They have built, and are still feverishly building, a truly monumental house of cards – one that mysteriously defies gravity, sustained the mainstream media, and supported by government (e.g. Andrew Lansley”s backing for plain packaging of cigarettes). We have firsthand smoke, secondhand smoke, thirdhand smoke, fourthhand smoke, and by now probably even higher occult dimensions of smoke.
The whole vast, swaying edifice has been erected upon a single foundation: the conviction – nay, the absolute certainty – that smoking causes lung cancer. Once everybody had become convinced of this, then it became possible to erect upon it the further construction that secondhand smoke caused lung cancer too. And once that vaporous idea had hardened into concrete conviction, the way was open to erect an entire multi-storey skyscraper of ever more tenuously homeopathic smoke, with each floor occupied by dying children, and each new height reached demanding ever more stringent regulations, restrictions, and penalties. But take away the foundation, and the entire edifice falls. Yet while almost everybody in this present debate knows perfectly well that the entire edifice is made up of a pack of lies, some of us believe that the foundation upon which they are erected is a solid truth. If so, at what point in time did the antismoking doctors and scientists stop telling the truth and start lying? Was it when Sir George Godber declared that it was necessary to create the perception that secondhand smoke posed a significant health threat? Or was it later? Or was it earlier?
Is it actually possible to treat antismoking science as some sort of curate’s egg – good in parts? Is it actually possible to pick and choose which of its doctrines you will believe, and which you won’t believe? Would that not be rather like saying that you reject ridiculous astrological claims to be able to predict the future using progressed days charts of changing planetary aspects, but that you’re quite sure that Saturn in the third house is an ominous portent. Either you accept it all, or you reject it all. There is no halfway house.
Let us reconsider that foundational doctrine that smoking causes lung cancer. Let us remind ourselves that this began life as a Nazi doctrine, with some of the research personally funded by Hitler. That alone should be cause for profound concern. The historian Robert Proctor, author of the Nazi War on Cancer, has tried to argue that Nazi antismoking research was an example of ‘good’ Nazi research, comparable to the Nazi V1 and V2 programme. But elsewhere he admits that:
Then let us look at the methodology of this science, which proceeds by asking people to (impossibly) remember how many cigarettes they have smoked in recent years, and sometimes even in their entire lifetime. Sometimes they are even asked to (even more impossibly) remember exactly how much other people have smoked, as in a survey by Franz H. Muller (The Nazi War on Cancer p195) which asked:
This ‘science’ nowadays arbitrarily declares that a non-smoker is someone who has smoked less than 100 cigarettes in their life, but the definition has never been consistent. All the raw data used by this supposed science consists of guesses of one sort or other, including whether these ‘smokers’ and ‘non-smokers’ died of lung cancer or not. And its preferred unit of measurement – the ‘cigarette’ – comes in all sorts of sizes, ranging from matchstick thin roll-ups to superkingsize filter-tips.
In the real sciences of physics and chemistry, every effort is made to measure quantities as accurately as possible, within known margins of error. In antismoking science, nothing is measured accurately, and the margins of error are unknown and unknowable. It is only by using accurate measurements that it is possible to derive the laws of nature, such as Boyle’s law – P.V = K, gas pressure times gas volume is a constant – which could only have been found by very accurately measuring gas pressure and volume, and which would never have been found if they had not been accurately measured. Or, if Boyle had used the methodology of antismoking scientists, and guessed pressure and volume (perhaps using ‘cigarettes’ as a measure of length), we would now have Boyle’s law state that P.V3 = k, and have erected a vast edifice of crazy physics upon it.
And even if we avert our eyes from its Nazi past (citing Godwin’s Law), and excuse its manifold inaccuracies, what do we find in the very first study by Richard Doll and Bradford Hill – the 1950 London Hospitals study? In this study we find that of 649 lung cancer patients, only 2 were non-smokers. Over 99% were smokers! So impressed by this was Richard Doll, as the figures rolled in, that he gave up smoking before the study had been completed. The young George Godber was equally impressed. These numbers even appear in Sir Richard Doll’s Times obituary. But if we look more closely at the study, we discover that 98% of patients in the study were smokers. Pretty much every single patient, lung cancer or not, was a smoker. And that means that, even if smoking had no effect whatsoever on lung cancer, it would still have been found that 98% of lung cancer patients would have been smokers. Viewed in that light, not only did the London Hospitals study not show that smoking caused lung cancer, but if anything gave smoking a clean bill of health.
There are some other disturbing features of the London Hospitals study. Sir Ronald Fisher, the leading statistician of his day, was able to show (when he eventually got the raw data from Doll and Hill) that those smokers who inhaled had a statistically significant lower risk of lung cancer than those who did not inhale.
Furthermore, while the study questionnaire had asked patients about their smoking habits, it also asked a variety of other questions, which were supposed to be documented in a further paper. This was never written. Nor was a planned parallel study of smoking outside London – where lung cancer incidence was reportedly lower – ever carried out. Effectively, the London Hospitals study focused entirely on smoking, with the rest of the data discarded.
Instead, Doll and Hill immediately commenced the long-running British Doctors study. British doctors were sent a questionnaire asking one single question: how much did they smoke? Fully 87% of those doctors who replied classified themselves as smokers, making it a fair bet that when these doctors in turn started developing lung cancer, it would be found that 87% of those who died of lung cancer were smokers. Which is more or less what they found, and which results in CRUK declaring that "smoking causes up to nine out of ten cases of lung cancer."
The British Doctors study ran for 50 years, producing a steady machine-gun fire of papers as the doctors all slowly dropped dead, which ensured that it would continue to link smoking and lung cancer. And this, it seems, was its purpose:
It might be said that both these studies are now too old to be much concerned about. But they are the studies which defined the subsequent antismoking era. They are the studies which settled opinions (like those of Doll and Godber) in favour of the cigarette hypothesis. Subsequent studies are mere repetitions and footnotes. Most people don’t even remember their names.
No laboratory studies of smoking animals have shown them developing lung cancer. And intervention studies like the MRFIT study have shown no health benefits from giving up smoking (or engaging in other supposedly ‘healthy’ activities). And towards the end of his life, Sir Richard Doll became a controversial figure when it emerged that he had for years been taking large amounts of money from Monsanto and other companies, seemingly in return for favourable reports on their products (e,g, Agent Orange).
Furthermore, the tobacco hypothesis has been entirely barren. After 60 years, there has been no further progress. Antismoking zealots have no more idea today how smoking tobacco causes lung cancer than they did 60 years ago. Nor has there been in any progress in protecting people, nor much in the way of improved treatment of lung cancer. The only medical advice is to tell people to stop smoking.
None of this would really matter if life had continued as it used to do, with doctors patiently advising smokers to cut down or give up smoking. But those days of free personal choice are past history now. Smokers have been evicted from their pubs and bars and cafes by smoking bans, and they are being demonised in media campaigns, fired from their jobs, evicted from their houses, refused medical treatment, savagely fined, and even imprisoned . Smokers can no longer be permitted to choose to give up smoking. They must be forced to comply with medical dogma.
And this changes everything. A Jew living in Germany in 1920 or even 1930 might have been intellectually persuaded by the Nazi racial science of the time, as advanced by notable scientists. But 10 years later he would have been a fool to give any credence to any of it.
So also with smokers today, facing a new onslaught coming from the same direction and using the same methods. They should reject antismoking science in its entirety, from its Nazi origins, through its post-war antismoking epidemiology, right up to the secondhand and thirdhand and fourthhand smoke of today. They should reject it lock, stock, and barrel. Because this is no longer a gentle academic debate, as once it was back in the 1950s: It’s a struggle for survival.