The Apocalyptic Vision of Impending Doom

Lots of insightful comments today. Too many to address. Nightlight kicked it off:

But to start educating smokers (i.e. creating millions of Gian’s), one needs web sites, with videos, blogs and other viral techniques to replicate an equivalent of a simple message “smoking is good for you” (or a clumsier form “smoking is at worst harmless, but it is likely beneficial to most” or “smoking doesn’t kill, smoking is not a sin”).

Even that stage requires few preliminary phases, such as collection of scientific materials, creation of wiki & well written articles where the language of science is translated into language accessible to those millions.

Only then a viral movement can be kicked off, focused exclusively on mass awakening of smokers, helping them out of “smoking kills => smoking is sin” Matrix. Forget debating antismoking loudmouths and others about SHS or rights or fairness… etc. First get those millions behind you, outside of the antismoking Matrix where few of us are, and only then your message can be amplified enough to make a difference.

The problem Nightlight identifies is that there are far too many of us smokers who think that smoking is wrong, and that we shouldn’t really be doing it, and so mount little or no resistance to the War on Smoking. And there are not very many of US who think that smoking is good for you, or is at least harmless and enjoyable. And until the majority of smokers can be convinced that there is nothing wrong with smoking, it’s not going to be possible to raise an invincible army of angry smokers. There will only be a resistance movement.

It is this moral issue that needs to be addressed. The War on Smoking is primarily a moral crusade, and its primary moral purpose is to punish sinful smokers. Antismokers begin with the conviction that smoking is wrong, and proceed then to convince themselves that therefore smoking must kill, and are forever trying to show that it does. But where does this initial moral conviction, shared by both antismokers and a great many smokers, originally come from?

This is actually the same question of why many people believe that drinking alcohol is sinful, that engaging in more or less any sexual activity outside marriage is sinful, that gambling is sinful, that dancing is sinful, that ostentatious wealth is sinful, and so on and on and on. Smoking-is-sin is really just one (very minor) sinful card in a whole pack of sinful cards. They’re all “naughty”. And such beliefs aren’t restricted to Western (post-)Christian society. The same convictions are found in Islam and Buddhism. Atheists share them too. These values are ubiquitous.

But why? Why exactly are all these things so wrong? And why are these moralisers so utterly certain of it?

The one common feature to all these prohibited activities is perhaps not just that they are all pleasurable, but that they are all surplus to the minimum requirements for survival. They are unnecessary luxuries. And so the underlying moral code that proscribes them is minimalist in character. It is ascetic. These are the values of nomads who must of necessity travel light, carrying the minimum of baggage. Or else they are the values of people who have endured some catastrophe, and must survive on the barest minimum.

These might be values suitable for desert nomads, or nuclear war survivors, but are they really suitable for prosperous industrial civilisations? The answer seems to be that if it’s all very nice right now, it won’t be in a few years time, after nuclear war, or global warming, or global flu epidemic, or asteroid impact, or whatever, has decimated the population, and returned humanity to a bitter struggle for survival, rooting through ruined buildings for food and drink.

For the minimalist ascetics are always talking up the likelihood of apocalypse just round the next corner. They even helpfully supply dates, from time to time. And these days there are armies of disasters just waiting to happen. Ours seems to be an age in which we have not only central heating and cell phones and well-stocked refrigerators, but also the haunting fear – the terror indeed – that it’s all about to disintegrate and collapse, and be swept away by a tsunami or a storm surge, or an earthquake or a drought or a famine, or maybe just a plague of killer bees. Life cannot be enjoyed, because it is about to end. You don’t need beer and cigarettes: you need a water filter, a compass, a map, and iron rations sufficient for a year or more.

Within this apocalyptic vision of impending doom, health and safety becomes paramount. And all threats become vastly magnified. Smoking ceases to be a mere habit, and becomes an epidemic. So also does obesity and alcoholism. Everything becomes fraught with danger. And children need more protection than ever.

But what we really need is something that is devoid of such exaggerated, irrational fear, and which talks down potential problems rather than talking them up, and which encourages people to enjoy their lives to the fullest in what would otherwise be regarded as the best of times.

P.S. Very relevant video:

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28 Responses to The Apocalyptic Vision of Impending Doom

  1. Jariel says:

    I’m so glad you wrote this! I’ve been thinking about “smoker’s guilt/shame” since yesterday. After a long meeting, I stood out in the parking lot enjoying a cigarette. A woman came out of the building, saw me smoking and asked, very shyly, if she could bum one. I smiled and said, “Of course!” and handed her two. She lit up and began apologizing – not for having bummed a cig, but for SMOKING. “I KNOW I should quit – it’s such a filthy, horrible habit – and I have a little daughter, and I try not to smoke around her, but sometimes she does see me smoke, and I don’t want to make her sick – etc. etc. etc….” I felt so bad for her. And she was apologizing to ME, a smoker! I basically told her, “It’s okay – it’s okay – enjoy your cigarette – there’s no reason for you to feel guilty ” – and I would have said more, but she quickly left.

    • Junican says:

      A fairly typical scenario, Jariel. And yet it is all artificial. It occurs because the ‘prohibitionists’ have gained the high ground. However, it seems that the prohibitionists are losing ground very rapidly because of the ecig revolution. They oppose it, of course, because it interferes with their carefully laid plans. But there are clear signs that the prohibitionists are becoming dinosaurs.

    • Frank Davis says:

      More or less anything can be made to seem “filthy”. It’s not just tobacco. More or less all sex has always been “filthy”, as far as I can see. Alcohol is regarded by many people as being poisonous. Car exhaust fumes are regarded as poisonous too. I was thinking a week or two back that it wouldn’t be too difficult to make the simple act of eating into another filthy habit – all those dirty dishes – to be carried out in private or in secret. And indeed, lots of people feel ashamed of eating. The antis can turn anything into poison, and this is why they are such poisonous people. They are poisoning the whole world.

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        Totally agree Frank they are poisoning everything and let them. Its an Achilles hill!

        The more folks they mess with the more the army against them GROWS!

      • beobrigitte says:

        More or less anything can be made to seem “filthy”. It’s not just tobacco. More or less all sex has always been “filthy”, as far as I can see.

        I beg to differ on that. (Part-answer refer to my post lower down).
        The “filthy bit” comes in only when you have to deal with some liar who is too much of a coward to state EXACTLY what he/she wants. It degrades something 2 people should decide on the same level – truth.
        I believe that these days f*ck buddies are quite the norm when I listen to some of the youngsters. The “sexual liberation” has born fruit. Funnily enough, it is the males who find it difficult to deal with when it involves a female close to him.

    • prog says:

      Two things. First, it is likely that you had no choice but to smoke outside, second that she she felt guilty because she believed she was harming her daughter. Both the result of the greatest lie perpetrated by the antis.

      Echoing Junican’s comment, this is one reason die-hard antis hate e-cigs – they cannot seriously claim that first hand, let alone second hand, vapour is harmful, and this is seriously threatening the future of the denormalisation process. Ironically, vape world, despite sharing/exploiting some of the anti tobacco sentiment yet finding itself targeted by the zealots, may prove to be precisely what we’ve been waiting for – widespread recognition of the corruption and deceit that now underpins the tobacco control industry.

      PS, things aren’t going to plan down under either…

      http://www.shelflife.ie/article.aspx?id=4521

      H/T to Sheenadon (F2C).

  2. harleyrider1978 says:

    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

    A Tale of Two Cities (1859) is a historical novel by Charles Dickens.

  3. harleyrider1978 says:

    http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/11/11/jesse-kline-the-uncomfortable-connection-between-muslim-fundamentalists-and-anti-smoking-crusaders/

    Jesse Kline: The uncomfortable connection between Muslim fundamentalists and anti-smoking crusaders

    fullcomment.nationalpost.com

    The practice of smoking hookah is a centuries-old tradition that is coming under attack, both in the Middle East, where it is extremely popular, and here

  4. Steve Kelly says:

    I’ll go ahead and probably upset some readers here today by saying I don’t think smoking is harmless. Smoking is a great pleasure to me. It’s soothing. It benefits concentration of the mind. I just plain love it. And I also think moderate smoking is harmless.

    However a substantial cigarette habit continued over decades, like mine for instance, very certainly does carry risk in my opinion. Sometimes I wish I never took up the habit. But I did, as many do and always will, and yes as I just said, I just plain love it. I’ll never apologize for loving it. Under present conditions, under the anti-smoking Nazis, I’m actually damned proud of loving it. It could hurt me, too, though. I know that.

    This is why I particularly decry the stifling of Gio Gori’s safer cigarette project, by the fanatics, years ago. Cigarettes can be made vastly safer than they are. Gori and his brilliant team were right about that. I’m very sure about that myself. Gian Turci, who’s been cited here recently, was just as sure about that. He often spoke and wrote on the subject.

    Real tobacco cigarettes, made virtually safe and also satisfying, can be made and should have been made available for decades now. Real safer cigarettes were and are the perfect answer to legitimate concerns about smoking and health. Blocking safer cigs is one of Anti’s greatest crimes amongst its innumerable crimes.

    Lots of things carry risk when used immoderately. In my opinion substantial smoking is one of those things. We all die at some point and our collective habits can play into how & at what age we die. I wouldn’t crusade that “drinking kills” (most people drink without thereby killing themselves) and I’m not for booze prohibition. But too much drinking can get you. I know that too.

    Along similar lines I wouldn’t crusade that “smoking kills” either. But I don’t on the other hand go around advising folks to booze it up or to chain-smoke all day every day. “Cause” and “influence” are certainly not identities, and that is a very important point in terms of assessing health factors closely, but in practical terms, yes, too much of smoking or drinking, or of many other things I might bother to mention (but you know them already), sure enough can kill you.

    Moderation is a virtue in all things but in nothing more than in thinking. Prohibitionists are fanatics, and they tend to believe in crazy things, and tend to see doom in the slightest indulgence. That is crazy. But it doesn’t mean there is no risk in any level of indulgence. I would like to think there was no risk in any level of any indulgence folks like to indulge in but I don’t think that. I know some do but I don’t.

    Nearly all research on smoking and health is flawed. Statistics for instance can be extremely misleading. The originators of biostatistical techniques were themselves grotesquely flawed men, both morally and intellectually, as most readers here probably know. I’ve looked at tons of smoking research over many years and I’ve looked at it very critically indeed. The researchers themselves generally don’t. They generally never have. Most of them come to crazy conclusions.

    But not all of them do. Gori, for instance, does not. He says the prohibitionists live in crazy land. I agree. He plainly calls ETS propaganda a “fraud”. I agree. He also says habitual and substantial smoking of conventional cigarettes carries real risks which can be dramatically ameliorated while still producing a product satisfactory to smokers. Right again.

    The most typical cigarette smoking habit is around or about a pack a day. Virtually safe cigarettes would indeed make that smoking level virtually safe. That would be nice. Instead of safer cigarettes, for the last thirty-plus years or more, we’ve had a hate and fear campaign foisted on us by fanatics.

    These are self-righteous and profoundly evil people. They’re the kind of people who threw Christians to lions, burned witches, enforced racist policies, chased and harassed homosexuals, and who always lie in wait at the fringes of civilization, looking for opportunities to wreck civil society in the name of “purity” or of “progress”. In my grandfather’s day, where I live in the US anyway, their targets included blacks, and homosexuals, and alcohol.

    Today their big crazy cause is anti-smoking. Whether or not safer cigs were possible, their campaigns would be atrocious, and utterly indefensible. Life carries lots of risks. You can take or leave of particular indulgences as you like. But when fanatics gain power they inevitably make life a living Hell for everybody. When that happens the only sane choice, for everybody, is to destroy the bastards.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      I simply ask again ”WHERES THE PROOF” There is NONE!

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        It seems the world is in this condition of accepting statistical manipulations as proof of causation.

        How did we slip to this because the epidemiology pointed to the mosquito as the cause of Yellow Fever.

        Because a triangulated epidemiology study in New York pointed to a single well for an epidemic of Typhus………..

        In each of these cases the lead was statistics but were simply educated guesses to a point or a theory until they were proven via the microscope and actual factual science.

        With each of these examples I point to there was NO propaganda machine or hatred pushing the studies to create a demon out of thin air!

        With Tobacco studies we have all the Prime Motivators for a Crime against tobacco before it even began.

        With Tobacco we have NO factual microscope science to prove the claim!

        NOTHING!

        What was used in the past to find Infectious diseases worked but after that NOTHING!

        So they took a science of statistics and used it easily manipulate outcomes and try and make folks believe it without having to provide any proof at all!

        Then to make matters worse and to manipulate science even more they introduce a new thought the ”PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE”…….To basically add more Hype to having no proof at all yet again and make it stand even on higher ground in the world view of the international brotherhood of countries!

        Science has become JUNK SCIENCE because of the manipulation via tobacco control and ENVIRONMENTALISM to one end.

        The end is a world ruled by socialism………………

        • harleyrider1978 says:

          Id even add in the use of made up words to further the effect of the claims they make;

          Causal effect

          Biologically plausible

          and about another 100 fanciful terms to create a Myth out of NOTHING!

        • harleyrider1978 says:

          Do we convict people based upon a simple belief or do we DEMAND PROOF!

          Until we as a species get back to demanding factual proof as in eye witnesses and actual forensic evidence of FACT! That cant be manipulated we as a people are living the Dark Ages all over again.

          We must demand proof not created proof!

    • Frank Davis says:

      He says the prohibitionists live in crazy land. I agree. He plainly calls ETS propaganda a “fraud”. I agree.

      I agree too. But when people engage in outright fraud, I don’t just disbelieve what they say about ETS: I disbelieve EVERYTHING they say.

      If someone lies to me about something, I don’t just stop trusting them in respect of what they’re lying about: I stop trusting them at all.

      Equally, there wasn’t any good Nazi racial science mixed in with bad Nazi racial science: the whole thing was a crock.

      All that is necessary is to see how some so-called “science” is being used. And antismoking “science” is being used to demonise and exclude and rob smokers. The whole of it must be thrown away.

      • Steve Kelly says:

        I do not and wouldn’t ever trust in liars or in Nazis or in bad science or bad scientists. On the other hand plain sense tells me Gio Gori and Gian Turci and I, and lots of others I do trust in, who aren’t Nazis or bad scientists (or even scientists at all), have no reason to lie and don’t ever set out to lie. Plain sense — all by itself — also tells me that moderation is wise in most things including smoking. I’ll stand by that, for myself. Of course I know some people think smoking 20, or perhaps any unlimited number of potent cigarettes per day for decades on end, could never be anything but health enhancing. In a free world (I guess we still have some freedom) those folks are certainly entitled to believe that, and stand by their beliefs forever if they like, but I simply don’t agree with that point of view. It’s just my opinion. I knew some folks here wouldn’t very much like it so I’m not going to plan to bring it up again. I’m still smoking myself, but as my dad and grandad did in their old age, I might just give it up one day. They both also gave up hooch by about their seventies. Your tolerance for things can diminish with age. If I do eventually give up the indulgences, though, I’ll surely miss them, and never lecture those who partake. I’m all for freedom. People should think and do as they see fit.

      • beobrigitte says:

        If someone lies to me about something, I don’t just stop trusting them in respect of what they’re lying about: I stop trusting them at all.

        I have the tendency to go further; If someone needs to lie, he/she has nothing of importance to say. I ignore them.

        Do we convict people based upon a simple belief or do we DEMAND PROOF!

        I demand the truth.

    • margo says:

      I agree with that, Steve. Anything taken to wild excess over many years probably has the potential to do you some harm. But I find the ‘smoker’s cough’ tends to keep my smoking within some limits.

      • Steve Kelly says:

        I’ve always found the same. Lately I’ve been showing my age more than before so I’m taking it easier in some ways. I don’t know when or if I’ll give up tobacco but I know I won’t ever like doing it!

        • beobrigitte says:

          Yeah, of course we all feel our age. It’s NATURE doing it’s job. Until a couple of years ago I used to be physically much more active and did get out of breath very often. It helps to keep lungs fit; if you don’t use a muscle it will “waste” away.

          In my case (and this pretty close to retirement age!!!) my work-life balance has shifted too much in that I have very little life. I have to work weird and long hours with an ever increasing work load. My hobbies fell by wayside and with that the activity I most enjoyed (which incidentally did provide the training for my lungs)

          Frank has had quite a number of post addressing this Work – Life balance. They are well worth reading.

    • jaxthefirst says:

      Fab comment, Steve! You should write your own blog! If you don’t already, that is. And if you do – where is it?

      • Steve Kelly says:

        Thanks, Jax. I enjoy Frank’s pieces and all the comments here so read whenever I can. Sometimes I agree & sometimes I don’t but that’s all part of the enjoyment. No I don’t write a blog. Years ago (from about 2003-2009) I used to contribute, along with others, to the general news pieces at the FORCES site. Andy Ludlow, and Gian Turci and I, in particular, wrote tons of those unsigned pieces back then. Andy & Gian had started at it back in 1996. We had good help in preparing some of those pieces, particularly on occasion from Gio Gori who was very generous with his valuable time, in reviewing our research for accuracy. Occasionally I get the urge to run on again as I used to do at FORCES, at this or some other forum, but I’m getting old, and am pretty much written out on the smoking subject I think; in fact I’m a bit sick of listening to myself at this point! There’s a long piece (a PDF) at my website http://www.olivernorvell.com. It’s close to a book, though, so don’t bother with downloading it unless you’ve got lots of time to kill!

  5. margo says:

    Moralists and puritans have been around since the year dot, trying to rid the world of the Devil’s pleasures (cigarettes and whiskey and wild wild women, in a nutshell). It’s my view that Anti-Tobacco is about more than that.
    From the 1950s onwards those with a vested interest have had to present a plausible scapegoat to explain the ever-increasing rates of cancer and other illnesses properly caused by the higher and ever higher amounts of environmental radiation we all live with. These rates continue to rise.
    Smoking was a good one to push for lots of reasons, not least because it was already on the ‘naughty’ list of the puritans, who were only too glad to have an excuse to take up the banner.
    I don’t think we can do much about it. I think Harley Rider is right and that this will eventually go the way of all past prohibitions.
    Not too long to wait, I think. Thanks to the Internet (because various parties make sure not much gets into the mainstream news), what’s going on in Fukushima can’t be completely hidden and it may sound the death-knell. Anyone who’s been following from Day One, as I have, knows that it’s appalling and it may yet get a lot worse. (Apocalyptic may turn out to be not too strong a word). I think, because of it, the world is going to wake up pretty soon, see Anti-Smoking for the nonsense it is and realise what is really threatening everyone’s health and how direly. That’ll be the end of Tobacco Control.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I haven’t been following Fukushima very closely. But the last I read was that it had now become much, much worse, and they’re filling up tank after tank with highly radioactive water at the facility, and quite a lot is leaking into the sea. But I’m not sure how dangerous it is. Our environment is always slightly radioactive. But radioactivity isn’t something I’ve ever studied much (although I have suggested in the past that the rise in cancers in the 20th century might better be laid at the door of radioactive fallout from nuclear bomb tests)

      • margo says:

        Yes. Masses of radioactive fallout from the bomb tests, and then from dirty bombs (not least in Iraq) and every now and then the many leaks from nuclear power plants (most unreported and all of them lied about). At the moment in Japan they’re preparing to remove spent fuel rods, a very difficult task given the state of the plant, and since they haven’t done anything right yet I’m holding my breath; if they get this wrong, I think we’ve all had it irretrievably. Meanwhile, the Pacific Ocean is now highly polluted and it’s already showing in marine health, and that’ll get worse, not better. I wouldn’t eat fish from there any more – and of course the seas are all connected. It’s very hard to find out facts as they are being suppressed and lied about beyond a shadow of doubt. I get most of my info from EENews (I think it’s called).

      • beobrigitte says:

        I haven’t been following Fukushima very closely.

        I have.

        Very, very simplistic:
        The natural levels of background radiation are something that screws up the picture. Especially for people working with radioactive substances.
        These background radiation levels vary greatly in areas; somebody who lives in a high background level area and works 15 miles down the road with radioactive substances will certainly be subjected to more radioactivity than his/her neighbour who works 15 miles down the other way on a farm. The badge worn by the first one will only register the dose at work, so he/she will be in “safe” levels.

        Fukushima:
        they’re filling up tank after tank with highly radioactive water at the facility, and quite a lot is leaking into the sea. But I’m not sure how dangerous it is.

        I guess we all will find out in 30 – 50 years.

        These days we hear a bit more about Thorium reactors, which, on the surface looks the production of a lot cheaper energy with the advantage of easier and complete shut down in areas along major fault lines.

        • roobeedoo2 says:

          I read somewhere, I think it was The Slog, that thorium was not pursued as a safer method of producing energy because it cannot be weaponize. I’m not sure how accurate this is.

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  7. beobrigitte says:

    Within this apocalyptic vision of impending doom, health and safety becomes paramount. And all threats become vastly magnified. Smoking ceases to be a mere habit, and becomes an epidemic. So also does obesity and alcoholism. Everything becomes fraught with danger. And children need more protection than ever.

    I’ve got something really good to scare the health fanatics: The Daniel Project

    Unfortunately on youtube it’s in a lot of bits.

    It is rather lengthy and very suggestive. A few things mentioned sparked off a few thoughts, though.
    In the final 7 years there is a list of how humans fail; lies, deceit, greed, destruction of social structure and so on. One point made me think; people living for their pleasures.

    Sure, we all like our pleasures but if you have them all the time, they just simply become unimportant. My pleasure is smoking a cigarette (and a good beer!), which, prior to 2007 was not really something important. My mind was focussed on work and other things that needed to be done and sorted.
    Now I feel I have to fight for my pleasure. Clearly my pleasure has started to become something IMPORTANT.

    At some point the Antichist comes in.
    If I remember correctly, he is to be born in the 1970s in one of the 10 nations, and begins as a kind of “saviour” before eventually causing Armageddon.

    I am only guessing; the 10 nations ?EU. (oh… cr*p…. not again… *sigh*)
    And, what if the Antichrist is instead of a single man is an organisation that actively pursues the persecution of a section of the population; turns children against their parents; spreads lies etc.etc.?
    It would be interesting to find out what has been written about the ancestors of the Antichrist.

    But where does this initial moral conviction, shared by both antismokers and a great many smokers, originally come from?

    This is actually the same question of why many people believe that drinking alcohol is sinful, that engaging in more or less any sexual activity outside marriage is sinful, that gambling is sinful, that dancing is sinful, that ostentatious wealth is sinful, and so on and on and on. Smoking-is-sin is really just one (very minor) sinful card in a whole pack of sinful cards. They’re all “naughty”. And such beliefs aren’t restricted to Western (post-)Christian society. The same convictions are found in Islam and Buddhism. Atheists share them too. These values are ubiquitous.

    Good question. The religious people refer to the bible without first reading up on local customs at the time.
    Sexual activity outside marriage: It ALWAYS carries the risk of sexual transmitted diseases. Living 2000 year ago this would have meant a lot of ill people with offspring directly affected.
    However, it was custom to give a guest what he desired; it was not unusual that the guest asked for one of the daughters. The daughter, however, was after a night with a visitor still regarded as a virgin.
    Alcohol: Wine was always available and being enjoyed. If you drank too much wine too often, your hangovers prevent you from doing your job properly. (Herding sheep, selling carpets, tending to crop – whatever.)
    Gambling: some you win – some you lose. As nowadays, families all of a sudden find themselves pennyless with a lot of debts. Nowadays we have social benefits; back then they just had to starve.
    Ostentatious wealth: back then as nowadays; it corrupts. Removes you from the community.
    Smoking: has NEVER been listed as a sin until some scared-of-death people having an issue with tobacco growers/sellers/companies thought of it.

    Correct me if I’m wrong.

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