State of Emergency

I’m glad somebody else can see it. From The Anatomy of Virtuous Corruption (my emphasis):

The idea of ‘the atheist’ in the writings we have from the 17th and 18th centuries is far away from what it is now. In all the Reformation disputes over doctrine and rites, it remained inconceivable that anyone could not believe in God and his reward or damnation in the afterlife. Even in the face of the sociology of religion given by the likes of Machiavelli, and later by Thomas Hobbes, the scepticism towards the underlying theology and its moral imperatives – a scepticism call atheism – remained not only unconscionable but also against any possibility of reasonableness. So when it did become conceivable that there were people out there (secret beyond condemnation) who had actually fallen into unbelief, it was inconceivable that they could come to their position by way of reason. If atheism was not mad then it must be evil. There could be no rational atheists, but only moral ones. That is, the unbelievers could only be those unrepentant sinners, perhaps in league with the devil, comforting themselves that there would be no retribution for their deeds.

It is a point of wonder and speculation among historians as to what these divines really thought: Was it really inconceivable to them that one could doubt the-whole-darn-thing, without being either mad or evil? There are those that are inclined to think that for many of these divines it was. So while the social science approach made it easy for those with no vested interest in the state-church dogma to become sceptical ‘free thinkers’ released from its tutelage of their reasoning, these guardians of the divine order, inhabiting a discourse remote due to persecution, were perhaps not so privileged. And in fact such a definite ideological divide (and one is draw to Marx’s analysis of class-based ideology here) is not so strange to us today, if only we turn from the old authority for truth to the new.

In the West during the last half century, state-instituted religion has been usurped by state-instituted science as the ultimate source of legitimacy in contemporary society.* Did we really think that science was so special? That, as its power consolidated, by rule and by method, the institutions of science could resist the relentless pressure of corruption? And there need be no conspiracy and no blame. One of the first comments I recall when Climategate broke was the exclamation (by Steve Mosher perhaps): Hey, this aint no conspiracy, they really believe they are right!

Sure, they might have known they had to massage the data a bit, and protect it from misuse and abuse. But when the FOIA2009 file was unzipped, out tumbled the private emails showing to us all that any reasonable scepticism of the-whole-darn-thing would be genuinely inconceivable to many of the guardians of state-instituted Climate Change Science. Indeed, as much as the past explains the present, the present can enlighten the mysteries of history. The blinding dogmatism that we moderns associate with medieval religion — as so unimaginably foreign, and against which the founders of institutional science fought so bravely to rise above – this has by now, though the triumph of Climate Change Science, come to pervade every major institution of modern science.

I agree. But I don’t think the rot started with climate science. I think it started with tobacco epidemiology.

The whole climate change idea really only got going in the 1970s and 80s. Tobacco epidemiology started in the late 1940s. And a decade or two earlier if the Nazi tobacco epidemiology is included (as it ought to be).

And essentially it entails drawing your conclusions first (i.e. smoking is harmful), and then going and looking for evidence to support that conclusion. This is the converse of the scientific method where evidence is gathered first, and conclusions based on all the evidence are drawn second.

And antismoking zealots display blinding dogmatism. To deny that smoking causes lung cancer (and any number of other diseases) is the modern equivalent of denying the existence of God. It’s the modern equivalent of inconceivable atheism.

And, since it’s been around a lot longer than climate science, there’s a much stronger case to be made that the corruption of science started with tobacco epidemiology. It was the original bad apple that got into the barrel, and gradually infected all the rest.

You don’t like something, so you think it must be harmful, and you spend your life producing ‘scientific’ studies showing how harmful it is. And all you’re really trying to do is persuade people to agree with you. You’re an advocate, not a scientist.

With tobacco epidemiology, they didn’t like tobacco, and have been producing studies purporting to show that smoking causes lung cancer and heart disease and all sorts of other things, and they’ve managed to persuade most people that it’s dangerous, and they’ve managed to persuade governments to introduce smoking bans and plain packaging. It’s all done with statistics: lots of people smoked, and lots of people got lung cancer, so one must have caused the other. Anyone who disagrees is a denier funded by Big Tobacco.

With climate science, they don’t like modern industrial civilisation, and they’ve been producing studies purporting to show that its carbon dioxide emissions are causing dangerous global warming, and they’ve managed to persuade a lot of people that it’s dangerous, and they’ve also almost managed to persuade governments to place restrictions on carbon emissions. It’s done with statistics: lots of carbon dioxide has been pumped into the atmosphere, and the climate has been warming, so one must be causing the other. Computer simulation models show the same. Anyone who disagrees is a denier funded by Big Oil.

It’s straight out of the tobacco playbook, right down to the dangerous smoke in the atmosphere generated by Evil Corporations. Tobacco smoke causes cancer, and carbon dioxide causes global warming. They’re both health threats. And something must be done to stop them, right now.

Why are they doing it? Because it’s a way to achieve political change without having to go through the democratic process. And people don’t want to change. But if you can show that there is an emergency, you can appeal to governments to act unilaterally, over the heads of their electorates.

The smoking ban is a way to achieve political change. It’s an attack on a traditional culture. And it’s an attack that’s now widening to include not just tobacco, but also alcohol, and food. They now also cause cancer and heart disease, just like tobacco. And it’s an emergency. And so the government is being asked to raise taxes and introduce restrictions and plain packaging for those things too. And little by little, in this manner you get the government to legislate people’s entire lifestyles.

And what can be more political than that?

A century ago, if you were a revolutionary, you organised strikes and protests and marches, and you overthrew the government by force, and you then introduced your preferred political order (if you had one). But that’s old hat. These days, if you’re a revolutionary, you work in the WHO or the IPCC or some university, and you produce studies that show that there’s a dire emergency of one sort or other, and use science to panic governments into carrying out your revolutionary agenda for you. It’s revolution by remote control. It’s all about getting people – key people in government – to believe that there’s an emergency, and that something must be done about it right now, without consulting their electorates.

That’s how it worked with smoking bans. They’re never introduced democratically. Nobody really wants them. Same with carbon restrictions. Nobody really wants those either. With luck, you can introduce sweeping, revolutionary political changes before the electorate notices it’s happening. And with luck, and a continual state of emergency, you can make those political changes stick.

But eventually the electorate starts waking up.

About Frank Davis

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15 Responses to State of Emergency

  1. Angry Exile says:

    Mostly I’d agree, except that I think that tobacco in 1930s and 40s wasn’t the start because it was following much of what the Temperance Movement and anti-alcohol campaigners had been doing for a few decades. I’d also add that for a change I disagree with Delingpole and don’t think the carbon tax has much to do with the state election in Queensland – it’s a good result for anyone living up there who hasn’t fallen for the warble gloaming hype but Queenslanders had a heap of reasons for voting Bligh out of office, e.g. being the only state or territory in the “land of droughts and flooding rains” not to have bought flood insurance and leaving them all up a certain creek after the big wet flooded the place. It’s also following a four other state elections and a federal election in which Labor have done poorly, though still hung on as a minority government federally and in Tasmania. This is not necessarily good news – the Liberals (who are not particularly liberal – no shortage of anti-smoking wowsers, for instance) are little better and here in Victoria simply carried on many of Labor’s dafter projects despite having vocally opposed them while in opposition. My theory is that the Sir Humphrey’s of the public service are really the ones running things, just as their civil service counterparts often do in the UK, and since you can’t get rid of the bastards by voting we shouldn’t get too excited by elections contested between very similar parties.

  2. waltc says:

    Another profound and provocative essay. I’d add that I believe that the late 19th and the
    early 20th C. were chary of Science and saw it as potentially a force of evil. And so we got the stock pulp mag villain of The Mad Scientist, who hung around for decades. And classic Lit gave us Frankenstein’s monster and Dr. Jeckyl’s Mr. Hyde. It’s not just that science was seen as a potential opponent to religion (Darwin, eg) but an opponent to everything man had understood and was capable of understanding. Science–which talked about invisible things like germs– demanded it’s own kind of faith in authority (invisible things are there because we say so) and demanded a loss of faith in the observable world and thus in one’s own senses. I recall in his wonderful memoir, “The Education of Henry Adams” c. 1905, that Adams mourned that science had marked the end of wonder. Marie Curie had told him things that he didn’t want to know; the known had become mysterious as the mysteries became known. It was only when science delivered tangible boons– electricity, telephones, the radio, the car– that it began to be seen as good and even as wonderful. But dystopian writers continued to see its dark side and the terrible consequence of trying to order society on a rational (aka scientific) basis. Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” (which I now tend to think of as Bloomberg’s New York) and all the other versions of the Brave New Worlds. And somewhere in the middle of all that, Dr. Strangelove.

    The problem right now is that religion, as a counterforce, is practically dead, and people, still incapable of understanding science, mostly lack the wit or the will to view it skeptically. And those who view it skeptically don’t want to take the risk of proclaiming it publicly and facing the racks of the modern Inquisition.

  3. Peter Wilman says:

    Carrying on from Walt’s comment above, there are two further examples of the dystopian future (in my opinion anyway) that we are heading towards. The first is the film Equilibrium starring Christian Bale and the second is a book by SF writer Adam Roberts titled Yellow Blue Tibia. The book is set in Russia during the Stalin years, and a group of science fiction writers are gathered together to come up with a scenario of alien invasion in order to create a common enemy to unite the Russian people.

    It is why we see “bogeymen” in the the MSM – it is an attempt to get the people to unite against a common enemy. Those bogeymen are no longer the “commies”, they are now smokers, drinkers, fat people, and climate deniers. Beacuse if we don’t have something to hate or defend ourselves against we start to question the value of government.

  4. They did create something we can all hate together, its called ”PUBLIC HEALTH ADMINISTRATION”

  5. nisakiman says:

    And of course all these “revolutions by remote control” (I like that one, Frank. Sums it up nicely!) use that well tried and tested “think of the Cheeeldren” guilt trip to coerce people into acceptance. It’s below the belt, but they rely on it because it works.

    “The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.”
    (Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler; 1943)

  6. Rose says:

    Entirely OT

    There’s always one isn’t there?

    Neonicotinoid Pesticides

    Toxic pollen and the mad bee disease disaster

    “Beekeepers have long felt pesticides were to blame for colony collapse disorder, but culpability was difficult to prove – until now

    In July 1994, French beekeepers reported that their honeybee population had displayed strange, agitated behaviour and had “melted away”. “Mad bee disease” as it quickly became known was thought to have caused the death of as many of 40% of bee colonies and beekeepers looking for an explanation for the catastrophe began pointing the finger at a new type of pesticide.

    Systemic pesticides are those that are transported in the sap of a plant from the seed up through the stem into the leaves and flowers. Here they contaminate nectar and pollen and hence any insect that picks them up – including bees.

    Since then, imidacloprid and other neonicotinoid systemic pesticides, such as thiamethoxam, have been implicated in the worldwide collapse of honeybee colonies. As well as being systemic, they act as a neurotoxin attacking an insect’s nervous system on contact or ingestion and are designed to protect over 140 commercial crops, including cereals, oilseed rape, maize, cotton, sunflower and sugar beets, from specific bugs such as corn earworm in the 120 countries in which it is registered for use. But many beekeepers believe the pesticide’s presence at sub-lethal doses in nectar and pollen collected by foraging honeybees has wiped out bee populations.”

    “Laboratory and semi-field studies in France and Italy have shown that imidacloprid can disorientate foraging bees and impair their memory and communication so that they don’t return home with food and the colonies in the hive dwindle and die. But the pesticide’s manufacturer Bayer, has always maintained that bees are given much higher doses in trials than they would come into contact with in the field.

    In contrast its own research concluded that Gaucho (an imidacloprid seed treatment) “caused neither a reduced visitation of flowers nor an increased loss of foraging honeybees” and found “no records of behaviourally impaired honeybees”.

    “Even in 1604, James VI could see that tobacco was “dangerous to the lungs”. It took 350 years before that danger was properly clarified and even then the manufacturers fought it tooth and nail.

    It’s just as obvious that pesticides are dangerous to bees, but we need pesticides almost as much as we need bees and we don’t have 350 years to get it right.” etc etc.

    Perhaps our brilliant commenter has no idea that we have used to use real nicotine as a pesticide since 1690 and the bees appear to have been fine.

    “The first reference to the use of a tobacco extract for spraying plants was in 1690. English and continental gardeners early recognized the value of tobacco from the American colonies. According to present standards it must have been strong tobacco. In a letter dated January 20, 1734, Peter Gollison of London suggested to his American correspondent, John Bartram, the Philadelphia botanist, the use of tobacco leaves to protect let ters and packages containing seeds and plants being shipped to him. In 1746 he advised Bartram to use a water extract of tobacco for the control of the plum curculio on nectarine trees.

    Tobacco dusts and extracts were recommended for the control of plant lice in France in 1763. In 1773 Richard Weston developed a hand bellows for fumigating insects with tobacco smoke. The first American reference was in 1814 by Peter W. Yates of Albany, who used tobacco water against sucking insects.”

    Use of tobacco smoke against parasitic mite syndrome – 2006

    The pathological condition that has appeared in Iraqi apiaries recently has caused large losses in honeybee colonies, dwindling populations and decreasing honey production. It is perhaps similar to the condition described by Dr Shimanuki as The Parasitic Mite Syndrome’. A trial has been carried out on two apiaries, one with 50 colonies and the other with 30 colonies using tobacco leaves burned in the smokers.


    In Spring 1995 colonies showed some delay in their build up. A lot of crawling bees had been seen in front of the hives and on the ground. Hives in two apiaries were treated with tobacco leaves. 15-20 g of leaves were burned in the smoker with the material used for making smoke. It was used during routine examinations every week or as needed, in March, April and May. These colonies were shown to have greater populations and to yield more honey compared with two control hives kept near the apiary of 50 colonies. In the apiary with 30 colonies there were another 45 colonies which were not treated with tobacco smoke.


    In early August there was a check up and comparison between the colonies that had been treated with tobacco smoke and those which had not. There was a great difference in honeybee populations; those which had been treated being more populous. The bees were more active in foraging and collecting nectar.


    Whatever the disease, I believe that tobacco smoke had beneficial effect on the colonies. We know that nicotine in tobacco smoke has some anaesthetic effect on insects in general, and it might have some lethal effect on mites and therefore some beneficial effect against the condition.

    We believe now that the immune system of the bees is in some way diminished. By using tobacco smoke we are either hitting the primary target, or we might be curing a secondary pathogen. In either case we are helping our bees to get better!”

    • Rose says:

      Dying bees ‘were not a priority’ – 2009

      “A top civil servant has admitted research into bee disease has not been a “top priority” despite mounting concern about declining populations.
      But Dame Helen Ghosh, of the environment food and rural affairs department, said more money was now being ploughed into solving the crisis.

      The registered bee population in the UK has shrunk by between 10% and 15% but the real number may be much higher.

      There are fears a Europe-wide shortage of bees could affect crop pollination.

      But Dame Helen, who was giving evidence to the Commons Public Accounts Committee, played down fears food production could be affected, arguing bees were “one of many” crop pollinators.”

      “She added: “I do not believe it is a threat to the food chain.”

  7. …

    Make wish list freedom fighters………….we gonna have Health Nazi target shooting day!

    Im gonna make some life like anti-smoking nazi plywood targets……I need names for the targets!

    I can teach you about Leadership,but nothing about submission.

  8. I know Franks choise is Deb Arnot………

    • Frank Davis says:

      Perhaps because I’m a bit old-fashioned, I tend not to dream about blowing Deborah away.

      But Stanton Glantz, Michael Bloomberg, lots of senior doctors (e.g. Liam Donaldson, Everett Koop): I quite often dream of emptying machine guns into the lot of them.

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