I’m puzzled. Most of the stuff I write on this blog gets a few hundred direct hits on the first day it appears, and this trails off rapidly over the next few days to zero or near zero. Some of them carry on getting a thin stream of visitors over subsequent months, and so the hit counts on these keep on rising. With some, this raises the count to 2000, 3000, and even 4000. Of these Pall Mall Blue (the cigarettes Lan Del Rey smokes) is the highest with about 4400 hits.
But, a country mile ahead of all of them, is The Black Lung Lie. Since August it has received over 16,500 direct hits. On a good day, Pall Mall Blue will get 30 hits. But on a good day, The Black Lung Lie will get 300 hits. And, furthermore, the numbers of hits per day is climbing.
What’s going on? It seems to have gone a bit viral.
When I wrote it back in August, it was in response to a few comments. That day, I did a bit of online searching for more information, and turned up quite a few interesting things, and put them into the piece I wrote and published later on the same day. It was just another post of mine, and I didn’t think it was particularly interesting. So why is there such strong interest in it?
There doesn’t seem to be any particular sites that these hits are coming from. But yesterday, when it received nearly 300 hits, I noticed that there were 110 search engine inquiries for “black lungs” and “smokers’ lungs” and similar sets of terms. So it looks like all these hits are coming from searches. And it suggests that it’s spreading by word of mouth. People are hearing about it and going looking for it. And they’re not the usual suspects.
That doesn’t explain the depth of interest in this subject. Or at least it didn’t until I remembered that the very first antismoking message I ever encountered was, well, …The Black Lung Lie.
I was at school in the early 1960s, and the whole school was made to watch a couple of films, one of which described how smokers’ lungs turned black, and was complete with extremely graphic images from inside lungs, with bubbling black liquids. I remember wondering at the time how they’d managed to shoot such dramatic footage inside people’s lungs. It was only in the late 1960s, at the height of the psychedelic craze, when coloured oils were squeezed between sheets of glass or plastic to accompany music, that I realised that it was the same thing that I’d seen at school 5 or 10 years earlier.
And probably all children everywhere were being shown that 15 minute antismoking movie. And no doubt many of them were strongly affected, and determined that they would never, ever smoke a single cigarette, lest their lungs turned black inside.
The Black Lung Lie was perhaps the first lie. And it’s the first lie that all schoolchildren (in the UK, at least) were told about smoking. I would imagine that lots of American schoolkids saw the same movie. And lots of European and Australian and Canadian kids as well. I’d be interested to hear from any of my readers around the world, to hear if they saw it too, in Brisbane, in Dusseldorf, in Madrid, or in Baton Rouge. Who knows, maybe all children everywhere have seen that insidious little movie at one time or other in their lives.
It’s not a lie that Tobacco Control seems to openly push very much these days. I’ve not heard any of the principal antismoking zealots ever say that smokers’ lungs are black inside. But perhaps they don’t need to, if more or less everybody has seen the movie, and had it indelibly impressed in their memory.
I wonder what the movie was called? And when it was made? And who made it?
The Black Lung Lie is probably one of the foundational antismoking lies, and has turned millions of people against smoking (exactly as intended). And this would explain the depth of interest in it.
If so, it’s a lie that Tobacco Control will want to keep hidden. Which may explain another curious feature of the hit count on my Black Lung piece, which is that about a month after it was published, the hits abruptly dropped to near zero for about two weeks, before returning to their former levels. At the time, I assumed that some link to the piece had become invisible. But I’m now wondering whether search engines simply stopped referencing my piece for two weeks, before allowing it again.
Anyway, given the traffic I’m getting on the Black Lung Lie, I’d like to suggest to other (like-minded) bloggers that they write about it as well (or replicate my piece), because it rather looks like it’s something that non-smokers and antismokers are reading with shock and dismay.
It’s also set me wondering what other antismoking Big Lies could do with debunking.