I’ve carried on reading ‘The Plain Truth About Tobacco’. And still can’t find anything that says smoking causes lung cancer. Quite the opposite. Page 44:
smoking is an influence which increases lung cancer risk
A fundament of this craziness is the construction that smoking is the “cause” of lung cancer. It is not. Even critics of wrong-headed lung cancer research tend to apply the word “cause” casually to the statistical link between smoking and lung cancer. They should not. Indeed, it is a cardinal rule of statistics generally, that statistical association is not causation.
What is the cause of cancer? There isn’t one, not in any similar sense to the way one can consider a particular pathogen as the cause of a particular communicable disease. Cancer is cell replication gone wrong. Our cells, within our bodies, are replicating all the time. As with nearly all physical processes, cell replication is sometimes imperfect, sometimes grossly so.
What the author does seem to think is that there is a higher incidence of lung cancer in heavy smokers. But he refuses to say that one is the cause of the other. It’s just an “influence”.
Maybe. One of the things that bothers me about the research (and I’m thinking here of the Doll and Hill studies that were carried out in 1948 and 1951) was that most people smoked back then. In the London Hospitals study, 98% of the patients were smokers. In the British Doctors study, 87% of the doctors were smokers. So whatever disease was being studied, there was always going to be a majority of smokers among the patients. Just like there were going to be a majority of tea-drinking, toast-and-marmalade-munching Brits among the patients in these British studies. But Doll and Hill concluded that because most lung cancer patients in 1950 were smokers, smoking must be the principal cause of lung cancer. And the cause of pretty much every other disease as well.
To me it always seems like tobacco and the tobacco companies were framed. And they continue to be framed. Why should anyone want to frame them? Perhaps in order to conceal the true causes for lung cancer.
The article surprised me a bit by quoting extensively from Vincent-Riccardo Di Pierri’s Rampant Antismoking Signifies Grave Danger. And it offered an explanation of something I’ve always found a bit puzzling:
He refers to the purblind philosophical outlook [of antismoking zealots] as “materialist”, i.e. lacking any genuine academic, intellectual, moral, ethical, or spiritual insight, and as “medico-materialist” specifically in reference to lifestyle epidemiology and its adherents.
Is that what Di Pierri really means by “materialistic”? If he does, why doesn’t he say that it’s intellectually and ethically vacuous? Why uses “materialistic” instead?
Doctor DiPierri considers that the “anti-scientific” perspective of lifestyle epidemiology is in many respects limited to the point of total blindness, as we have seen in terms of its gallingly illogical, simple-minded statistical interpretations, but as DiPierri discusses, this simplistic and anti-intellectual perspective is blind not only to basic logic, but also, and perfectly so, to the terrible harm it does to the public and to society: e.g. in blocking less hazardous cigarettes for decades, and in much else, as we shall further describe in the course of this essay.
I think it’s an understatement to say that the “terrible harm” to society lies in blocking the production of less hazardous cigarettes. The terrible harm, in my opinion, lies in a divided society with broken communities and bankrupt businesses. And it’s truly terrible.
The medico-materialist outlook is, simply, ethically reckless and morally wretched. The medico-materialist attitude is, furthermore, arrogantly dictatorial. The former US Surgeon General C. Everett Koop (term of office 1982-1989: pictured at left) was the first among the Surgeons General to affect military garb; all his successors have “followed suit” in this. Koop saw it as his job to dictate personal behavior as a kind of Mussolini of Medicine. (Imagine the outcry if the US Attorney General dressed up as a Führer of the Law and began issuing unilateral diktats.) Doctor Koop expressed the morally vacuous medico-materialist philosophy succinctly in 1996: “From my point of view, anything that stops smoking is good.”
That is indeed morally vacuous.
Anyway, I’m still slowly reading the thing.