We are out of matches, and I need to light the grill. Rummaging around the back of the junk drawer, my fingers find an old Bic lighter, a relic from my smoking days. I hold it up to check the butane tank, and my 6-year-old son asks, “What’s that?” His ignorance stirs something.
Smoking culture, its hardware and miscellany, tactile and once so familiar, is on the verge of extinction. To my son, the mechanical masterpiece I hold, with its depressible release valve and rough-edged spark wheel, is a relic. It might as well be Amenhotep’s scarab.
Actually, I think lighters are going to be around for a long time.
Roughly one in four people in Erie and Niagara counties smoke, even though there is clear evidence this can be a deadly habit.
Why? That’s one of the questions I asked Maansi Bansal-Travers, a research scientist with the Department of Health Behavior at Roswell who focuses on tobacco advertising and promotion.
“It’s a complicated answer,” she said. “There are still misperceptions about the health risks. Two-thirds of people believe that nicotine is the cause of cancer. Nicotine is not the cause of cancer. It’s other carcinogens in cigarette smoke. There’s a real physical addiction with cigarette smoking and there’s also a very strong behavioral component.”
How quickly can someone become addicted to cigarette smoking and how powerful is the addiction?
“It can be as fast as the first one,” Bansal-Travers said. “It’s stronger than cocaine, heroin, alcohol. Nicotine is physiologically the strongest addiction you can have.”
She and colleagues across the globe have spent the greater part of their professional lives trying to better understand why smokers can make a choice that flies in the face of their best interests.
Perhaps it’s because people enjoy smoking cigarettes, just like they enjoy drinking coffee, or anything else they enjoy doing? It’s just a thought. But it seems not to have occurred to Maansi Bansal-Travers.
And if she’s a “research scientist”, God help us all.
A little story I read somewhere, I forget where:
Years ago, an elderly, frail Japanese martial arts master once boasted a 200-0 record against his opponents.
He claimed to have a unique power that allowed him to inflict serious injury on people without actually laying a finger on them.
Was it Chi? Magic? None of the above. It was a total scam. But that didn’t matter.
You see, the legend of the master’s powers turned out to be far more powerful than reality.
His core following of students believed in the master so much that they would fling themselves across the dojo whenever he raised his pinky finger.
And anyone who saw the display would become transfixed by the perception of the mater’s extraordinary abilities. It was an incredible case of mass delusion.
Everyone believed it, including the master himself. He was so confident in his skills that he put up a $5,000 challenge that he could beat any fighter in the world.
A mixed martial arts champion accepted the wager, and the result wasn’t pretty.
As you can see in the video, the master is quickly knocked to the ground with a broken nose and a pool of blood. Observers scramble to find a doctor to come to his aid.
You can almost hear the sound of reality quickly taking hold from the gasps of his students. No one could bring themselves to believe that the master had been so quickly beaten.
To an outsider, it seems so obvious that this guy is a phony (just watch the video). But mass delusion is an incredibly powerful force.
We see the same effects in the West today—mass delusions everywhere.
Same goes with the Global Tobacco Epidemic and Global Warming: they’re delusions too. And they’ll go the same way as the Japanese ‘martial arts master’.
And finally, H/T nannyknowsbest, an exposé of charities:
The figures are astonishing. There are more than 195,289 registered charities in the UK that raise and spend close to £80 billion a year. Together, they employ more than a million staff – more than our car, aerospace and chemical sectors – and make 13 billion ‘asks’ for money every year, the equivalent of 200 for each of us in the UK.
But many charities have become hungry monsters, needing ever more of our money to feed their own ambitions. And while registered charities claim that almost 90p in every pound donated is spent on ‘charitable activities’, many spend at least half their income on management, strategy development, campaigning and fundraising – not what most of us would consider ‘good causes’.