Michael Mann and Richard Doll

I today received my signed copy of Mark Steyn’s “A disgrace to the profession”: The world’s scientists in their own words on Michael E Mann, his hockey stick, and their damage to science. Volume 1.

In 2012, Michael Mann sued Mark Steyn and others for defamation, for saying that his hockey stick was “fraudulent”. Various people filed “amicus briefs” opposed to Michael Mann because they saw the court case as an attack on free speech. Steyn had expected similar briefs to be filed by global warming alarmist organisations in support of Mann. But none were filed.

Steyn was puzzled by this. We’re always being told that 97% of climate scientists believe that global warming is real and being caused by human carbon dioxide emissions, so why weren’t they stepping up to show their support for Mann? With the defamation case languishing in the US justice system, Steyn decided to find out what other climate scientists actually thought of the hockey stick. So the book has 120 short chapters, each giving the opinions of individual scientists, both alarmist and sceptical, on Michael Mann and his hockey stick. Which I suppose could mean 120 new defamation law suits get filed by Michael Mann (but not against Mark Steyn). hockey_stick_original

 

Michael Mann was granted his PhD in geology and geophysics in 1998. The Mann, Bradley and Hughes reconstruction covering 1,000 years (MBH99) was published by Geophysical Research Letters in March 1999 with the cautious title Northern Hemisphere temperatures during the past millennium: inferences, uncertainties, and limitations. It was immediately dubbed The Hockey Stick (above) by Jerry Mahlman. A version of the MBH99 graph was featured prominently in the 2001 IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR), in which Mann was one of the lead authors. It was also used by Al Gore in The Inconvenient Truth (2006).

The Hockey Stick has become (and arguably remains) an iconic graph. And Michael Mann has since enjoyed an illustrious career, currently as a climatologist at Pennsylvania State University.

Michael Mann enjoyed a meteoric rise in a few short years from being a just-qualified climatologist to a world-renowned figure, who had linked global warming to human carbon dioxide emissions.

Which is very like Richard Doll, who as a young doctor teamed up with Bradford Hill to produce the 1950 London Hospitals study, which linked lung cancer with cigarettes smoking, and who went on to enjoy a long and illustrious career.

The two stories share many similarities, even if they are separated by 50 years: Two young unknowns publish surprising statistical studies indicating dire effects from trace amounts of gas, and their theses rapidly become the new orthodoxy. At the time of the publication of the 1950 Doll and Hill study, smoking was regarded as a harmless pastime. And at the time of the publication of IPCC Third Assessment Report, most people didn’t think that carbon dioxide had any dangerous warming effect. But within a few years, many (most?) people became convinced that smoking caused lung cancer and carbon dioxide caused global warming, despite there being strong criticism of both studies. How did this happen?

Perhaps one key feature of both studies is that they immediately made headline news, and lots of people came out either for or against them. They were both subjects of public controversy that was being played out in the mass media rather than in the corridors of science. Sceptics were demonised as front groups for big tobacco, or big oil.

If some people immediately accepted the studies, it may have been that they were people who would readily accept the latest scientific hypotheses, in whatever field of inquiry they appeared. For some people, newer always means better, and old ideas are regarded as waiting for new ideas to knock them on the head. And if some people didn’t accept the studies, it was because they were conservatives who wouldn’t readily change their minds.

Similar public controversy does not always accompany such paradigm shifts. When plate tectonics superseded prior scientific teachings, there seems to have been very little controversy. But this seems to have been because the entire geological community recognised that the evidence in favour of plate tectonics had become overwhelming, once sea floor spreading had been documented.

If public controversy accompanied both the new smoking-causes-lung-cancer hypothesis and the new carbon-dioxide-causes-global-warming hypothesis, it may have been because not everybody in the relevant scientific communities accepted the new findings, and they were thrown open to public debate. And the media took positions in the public controversy. Once this happens, it’s ceased to be science, and has become religion.

The public response was probably also determined by how simply the new hypotheses could be summarised. In the case of the 1950 study, 99% of lung cancer patients had been found to be smokers – case closed. In the case of the 1999 Hockey Stick:

Because the graph so neatly strengthened the case for man-made warming, Dr Broeker says, “a lot of people grabbed the hockey stick.” (Steyn page 84)

And once these simple ideas or images had been established in the public mind, it was almost impossible for them to be erased.

But this doesn’t mean that they’re not pseudoscience:

Nobel Prize winner Ivar Glaever: “In pseudoscience you begin with a hypotheses which is very appealing to you, and then you look for things which confirm the hypothesis.” (Steyn page 5)

There are a lot of people who don’t like smoking, and love the idea that smoking causes lung cancer. There are also a lot of people who see catastrophe looming from all directions, and like the idea of catastrophic global warming.

Or there hasn’t been a rush to judgment:

Dr Las Kamel: “Common sense in science tells you to be a bit skeptic about any investigation which throws old truths  away and gives a completely new picture… Not so in this case.” (Steyn page 81)

Or statistical malpractice. Richard Doll was a doctor, not a statistician. As also was George Godber and most of the other advocates of the statistically-based smoking hypothesis. What do doctors know about statistics? The statistically-based Hockey Stick was constructed by climatologists. What do climatologists know about statistics? And what for that matter do the general public know about statistics?

Professor James Zidek: “How such an expensive project was launched and collected so much data without having statisticians on board is a mystery.” (Steyn page 67)

There are so many similarities between the global warming controversy and the tobacco controversy that I’m surprised that more people don’t point them out. Perhaps it’s that the global warming controversy broke out in an internet era in which information was readily available, while the tobacco controversy broke out in the pre-internet era in which information was much harder to obtain. Nevertheless, almost all the criticisms of global warming hypotheses can be applied to the tobacco hypothesis. It’s about time they were.

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33 Responses to Michael Mann and Richard Doll

  1. harleyrider1978 says:

    Professor Woodcock told the Yorkshire Evening Post:.

    “The term ‘climate change’ is meaningless. The Earth’s climate has been changing since time immemorial, that is since the Earth was formed 1,000 million years ago. The theory of ‘man-made climate change’ is an unsubstantiated hypothesis [about] our climate [which says it] has been adversely affected by the burning of fossil fuels in the last 100 years, causing the average temperature on the earth’s surface to increase very slightly but with disastrous environmental consequences.

    “The theory is that the CO2 emitted by burning fossil fuel is the ‘greenhouse gas’ causes ‘global warming’ – in fact, water is a much more powerful greenhouse gas and there is 20 time more of it in our atmosphere (around one per cent of the atmosphere) whereas CO2 is only 0.04 per cent.

    “There is no reproducible scientific evidence CO2 has significantly increased in the last 100 years.”

    He also said:

    “Even the term ‘global warming’ does not mean anything unless you give it a time scale. The temperature of the earth has been going up and down for millions of years, if there are extremes, it’s nothing to do with carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it’s not permanent and it’s not caused by us. Global warming is nonsense.”

    Professor Woodcock dismissed evidence for global warming, such as the floods that deluged large parts of Britain this winter, as “anecdotal” and therefore meaningless in science.

    “Events can happen with frequencies on all time scales in the physics of a chaotic system such as the weather. Any point on lowland can flood up to a certain level on all time scales from one month to millions of years and it’s completely unpredictable beyond around five days.”

    Also, the only reason we regularly hear that we have had the most extreme weather “since records began” is that records only began about 100 years ago.

    “The reason records seem to be being frequently broken is simply because we only started keeping them about 100 years ago. There will always be some record broken somewhere when we have another natural fluctuation in weather.

    “It’s absolutely stupid to blame floods on climate change, as I read the Prime Minister did recently. I don’t blame the politicians in this case, however, I blame his so-called scientific advisors.”

    When asked how can say this when most of the world’s scientists, political leaders and people in general are committed to the theory of global warming, Prof Woodcock answered bluntly:

    “This is not the way science works. If you tell me that you have a theory there is a teapot in orbit between the earth and the moon, it’s not up to me to prove it does not exist, it’s up to you to provide the reproducible scientific evidence for your theory.

    “Such evidence for the man-made climate change theory has not been forthcoming.”

    This lack of evidence has not stopped a whole green industry building up, however. At the behest of that industry, governments have been passing ever more regulations that make life more difficult and expensive.

    “…the damage to our economy the climate change lobby is now costing us is infinitely more destructive to the livelihoods of our grand-children. Indeed, we grand-parents are finding it increasingly expensive just to keep warm as a consequence of the idiotic decisions our politicians have taken in recent years about the green production of electricity.”

    Professor Woodcock is the latest scientist to come out against the theory of man-made global warming. James Lovelock, once described as a “green guru”, earlier this month said that climate scientists “just guess”, and that no one really knows what’s happening.

    Judith Curry, chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, also said that she was “duped into supporting the IPCC” and added “If the IPCC is dogma, then count me in as a heretic

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      First it was Global Cooling circa 1975
      Then it became Global warming Circa 1983-5
      and then and then and then ………How can a lie so many times busted keep on getting new names to keep a lie alive…….Truly the so called climatologist term is just as much Bullshit as climate change or any of the other hockey puck they toss about.

      Is been the same with anti-tobacco studies or agenda driven dribble. Both groups evn employed the same story tellers to author pieces in the past to aid each movement.

      Professional BULLSHITTERS is all they ever were looking for some poor sod to buy into their agenda driven communistic/soclialistic wannabe take over of the world.

      Enter the UN and all its Depts and you find the heart and soul of what must be destroyed.

  2. harleyrider1978 says:

    Low Cholesterol Levels Associated with 990% Higher Mortality After Heart Attack –

    See more at: http://healthimpactnews.com/2015/low-cholesterol-levels-associated-with-990-higher-mortality-after-heart-attack/#sthash.1rIBDnmI.dpuf

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Folks, we have been hoodwinked to believe that we must all take cholesterol-lowering medications in order to prevent and/or treat heart disease. People do not get heart disease because their cholesterol level is elevated. Remember, 50% of patients who suffer a heart attack have normal cholesterol levels.

      I have written extensively about the failure and danger of statin drugs in my book, The Statin Disaster. If you are taking or contemplating taking a statin medication, I would encourage you to educate yourself about what statins do in the body. Unfortunately, you cannot depend on your doctor to give you a balanced view of statins as most do not understand how statins poison the human biochemistry and the adverse effects associated with their use. I feel, since they fail the vast majority who take them—over 97%–and they are associated with serious adverse effects, statins should be pulled from the market place.

  3. harleyrider1978 says:

    Hard Evidence: “We Are In A Full Blown Global Depression”

    Mac Slavo August 11th, 2015 SHTFplan.com For the last several months there have been warnings of a coming economic storm, with many forecasting serious…

    http://investmentwatchblog.com/hard-evidence-we-are-in-a-full-blown-global-depression/

  4. Lepercolonist says:

    From Clevelandclinic.org website :

    What’s the link between smoking and heart attack?
    A person’s risk of heart attack greatly increases with the number of cigarettes he or she smokes. There is no safe amount of smoking. Smokers continue to increase their risk of heart attack the longer they smoke. People who smoke a pack of cigarettes a day have more than twice the risk of heart attack than nonsmokers.

    Smoking is banned on the Cleveland clinic campus. Total property ban. Also they do not hire smokers.

    How in God’s name can they scientifically state that there is no safe amount of smoking ?
    Even one little puff ? They expect rational people to believe this nonsense ?

  5. jltrader says:

    Researchers trawled through the health records of hundreds of thousands of patients and found no statistical link between eating saturated fat and falling ill with heart disease, strokes or type 2 diabetes.
    The findings, published in the British Medical Journal, raise further doubts about 32-year-old guidelines that warn people to avoid butter, full-fat milk and other meat and dairy products with high levels of saturated fats.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3194376/No-link-eating-fatty-food-early-death-Findings-raise-doubts-advice-avoid-butter-fat-milk-meat-dairy-products.html

  6. margo says:

    Here’s my problem with all this, and my position:
    I see no similarity whatsoever between the science of anti-smoking and the science of climate change: the one (from Doll’s research onwards) seems to me pretty pathetic, full of holes and reliant on spurious statistical association; the other seems to me very complex, multi-disciplinary (to do with historical records, tree-ring, ocean and ice-core measurement, and so on) and by and large convincing, despite some controversial details, despite the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age and regardless of the ‘hockey-stick’ saga.
    If there is any connection between these two areas, I think it may be that the anti-smoking ‘evidence’ has been created in order to hide the health effects of human-made pollutants.
    Somebody, at some point, has lumped together the deniers of ‘tobacco causes cancer’ and the deniers of ‘humans cause climate change’, possibly in order to discredit both. I don’t know who first did this (I think it may have been the tobacco-harm deniers), but I don’t think we should fall for it.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Somebody, at some point, has lumped together the deniers of ‘tobacco causes cancer’ and the deniers of ‘humans cause climate change’,

      I’ve been doing it for ages. For while there are, as you say, indeed many differences between the two, there are also many similarities. The principal difference is perhaps that climate science physics is real science, with temperatures and concentrations being accurately measured – while in tobacco ‘science’ nothing is accurately measured at all. But, that said, climate science is a new science in which a lot of things aren’t well understood, like clouds and aerosols. And the result of this is that the computer simulation models, which may have the heat flow analysis exactly right, have got quite a few other things wrong (or not right), and aren’t very accurate, and so the ‘science’ of climate prediction isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

      Furthermore, even the raw data that people like Mann have been using – temperature data from all over the world – is patchy and doesn’t seem to be very accurate, as Anthony Watts surface stations study showed (weather stations next to air conditioning vents). Worse still, people like James Hansen have been busy ‘adjusting’ the raw temperature data. And all these adjustments entail the use of statistical methods of one sort or other. Michael Mann used statistical methods to get rid of the Mediaeval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age using tree rings as if trees were thermometers, when they’re not.

      Anyway, at present I think far more people would agree with you than would agree with me. You think there’s just a problem with tobacco science, and all the other sciences are just fine. I think we have a structural problem with science in general, which perhaps grows from the way it’s funded, and the need for scientists to keep producing results to keep their funding.

      • margo says:

        No, it’s not just tobacco science I have a problem with – it’s all the health stuff. For instance, I agree with Harley here about the cholesterol scare, and the saturated fats. All the health stuff seems to me the same as tobacco science – unproven, statistical association gone wild. And it’s very dangerous and is probably killing people who believe it and follow it all. Yes, climate science contains a lot of uncertainties, and I agree about the inaccuracies of computer simulation models and so on. I see it as having a long way to go. But at least there are real scientists working on it and there is real science involved. That makes all the difference.
        My point is: if you deny one, why is it assumed (in nearly all the Internet articles on Deniers) that you deny the other?

  7. petesquiz says:

    I for one happen to believe that the Hockey Stick graph is real – but I disagree with the conclusion drawn by the climate alarmists.

    Periodically the Earth warms and then cools to give us another glacial period. We’re currently in an interglacial period that started between 100,000 and 20,000 years ago. I’m not sure if this link will work, but this graph shows repeated ‘Hockey Sticks’ over the period of the most recent (current) Ice Age – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interglacial#/media/File:Ice_Age_Temperature.png

    If it doesn’t appear, this is what the graph shows – over the past 450,000 years the temperature has risen to above current levels on four occasions. Each time it was followed by a rapid drop off and descent into another glacial period. It looks to me that this is a more likely outcome from what is happening now on the basis that it has happened before.

    Because I am scientifically trained I am willing to believe that the climate scientists MIGHT be right, but to my mind there is more than enough doubt to make no position to be certain without a lot more understanding of what is really going on.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I think you’re confusing two different “hockey sticks” here. The Mann Hockey Stick applies to the past 1000 years. The graph you cite (which I’ve got somewhere or other) is a much longer term trend of repeated glaciations over hundreds of thousands of years. We are indeed living in an interglacial which has lasted some 10,000 or 12,000 years so far, and which looks likely on past performance to last at most another 10,000 years. I sometimes wonder why more attention isn’t given to this than to supposed AGW

      • petesquiz says:

        Although in one respect you are correct, the graph I cite is over a much longer period, I think it gives a much better perspective on the situation than just by looking at the past 1000 years only. The longer term graph also would tend to show that the next glacial period isn’t as far away as you might think! (which was the opinion back in the 1970’s!)

  8. harleyrider1978 says:

    The entire climate agenda has but one reason for existing, CONTROL just like anti-tobacco science is used. And to get money into the hands of the ones pushing it via tax payers money.

    This money is used to make them rich and the rest of us slaves to their new laws and regulations besides taxes and loss of our freedoms and liberties. None of us want to lose those things. That’s just what the wackos are doing using it against us and stealing us all blind besides making criminals out of the groups they hate……….

  9. harleyrider1978 says:

  10. garyk30 says:

    Mann’s ‘Hockey Stick’ chart is a perfect example of using a chart to make a small effect seem greatly exaggerated.

    Note that the chart is calibrated in 2/10ths of a degree C.
    This is a rather small amount.

    If the chart was to show actual temps, the range would be much smaller.

    Temps in the 2000’s are about 58.1 degrees F/14.5 degrees C.

    Temps in 1000 AD and 1900 AD were 0.6 degrees C cooler or 13.9 degrees C/57.0 degrees F.

    The sum total of global warming over 100 or 1,000 years is 0.6 degrees C/ 1.1 degrees F.

    On a wall thermometer,calibrated in degrees, such a small change would not be noticeable.

    Hell, there is probably that much variance between rooms in my house!

    http://www.currentresults.com/Environment-Facts/changes-in-earth-temperature.php

    Global Mean Annual Temperature Average per Decade
    Decade °C— °F

    2000s——- 14.51—— 58.12

    • garyk30 says:

      CO2 and temps F are not correlated.

      57 degrees F(1900) to 58.1 degrees F(2000’s) = a 2% increase in temp F
      CO2
      280 ppm(1800) to 400 ppm(2013) = a 43% increase in CO2

      CO2 and temps C do not go up together.

      13.9 C(1900) to 14.5 C(2000) = a 4.3% increase in temp C

      • garyk30 says:

        Here is how they tie it all together.

        They would have us believe that; because the 3’s are alike, 3/6ths is the same as 3/20ths.

        They say:
        Caution: The match of the CO2 and temperature graph above is somewhat deceptive. Since one is temperature and one is CO2 they cannot be graphed on the same axis, so the two axes have been adjusted to align the two.

        (NOTE: Somewhat deceptive is like being ‘somewhat pregnant”!!!)

  11. harleyrider1978 says:

    Now the cultural cleansers want to ban a familiar Southern word

    Cultural progressives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina want to change the name of the Dixie Classic Fair.

    They say the word “Dixie” is offensive.

    Click here to join Todd on Facebook for conservative conversation!

    Councilman James Taylor told FOX8 that some folks find the word “offensive” and some folks are “angry” with the name. He said that as a progressive city – they need a name that “everyone can appreciate.”

    The fair is just the latest victim of a cultural cleansing of the Southern States by angry liberals wound up tighter than a pair of Daisy Dukes.

    They’re trying to dig up a dead Confederate general in Memphis. They want to sand blast Robert E. Lee’s face off the side of Stone Mountain, Georgia. And Lord only knows what they want to do with Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben.

    The Dixie Classic Fair has been around since the 1950s – and nobody around town seems to be all that irate – according to FOX8. They said their reporters could not find a single person who took offense at the name.

    “I thought it was ridiculous,” resident Dina Nelson told the television station. “I mean, there’s no reason to change the name of the Dixie Classic Fair. I mean, it’s a Southern name – but there’s nothing racist about it.”

    If the cultural cleansers succeed in their quest to ban the word Dixie – don’t be surprised if they start banning Dixie Cups and Winn Dixie and the Dixie Chicks.

    I really hope they don’t try to ban Dixie Cups, folks. How else would you be able to drink Dixie Beer?

    Of course, American progressives aren’t the only folks engaged in cultural cleansing. So is the Islamic State – and they’re not whistling Dixie.
    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2015/08/12/now-cultural-cleansers-want-to-ban-familiar-southern-word.html#

  12. waltc says:

    The similarity between the two “sciences” is that they’re both agenda-driven, both use highly selective cherry-picked (and occasionally jiggered) studies as the basis for their “incontrovertible facts” and both censor and malign any opponents or contradictory views. These things alone and in themselves put them out of the realm of genuine science.

    Harley, I suggest you go to Amazon and get Gary Taubes’ “Good Calories,Bad Calories” which is actually an anatomy of how the anti-cholesterol idea began– with peer pressure and politics, all of which sprouted from the gleam in one man’s eye, and how contradictory evidence was ignored, suppressed. Perfect parallel to anti-tobacco, and not btw, it also comes down pretty hard on statins

  13. smokingscot says:

    O/T (though this shaggy dog’s been the subject of recent discussions).

    Mr. Varoufakis is now on record as stating (today) the blindingly obvious:

    The latest Greek bailout deal “is not going to work”.

    And having seen the “finance minister of Germany go to the Bundestag and effectively confess this deal is not going to work”.

    One has to question the sanity of these people and have at some degree of sympathy for the German taxpayer.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-33880217

    So in about 2.5 years we’ll see who’s correct. My bet’s on Varoufakis.

  14. garyk30 says:

    Anti-smokers say:
    “‘smoking kills 50% of those who indulge’. ”

    Since 100% of those that indulged die, they have just said that: “50% of smokers’ deaths are caused by smoking.’

    Thus, 50% of smokers’ deaths are not ’caused’ by smoking.

    ASH has thusly claimed that:
    1) “50% of smokers’ lung cancer deaths are not ’caused’ by smoking.”

    2) Only 50% of smokers’ deaths from the diseases ’caused’ by smoking are actually due to smokers having smoked.
    or:
    3) 50% of smokers’ deaths from the diseases ’caused’ by smoking were not caused by their smoking.

  15. harleyrider1978 says:

    Reduced nicotine in cigarettes failed to help smokers quit: Study

    New findings published in the journal Addiction examine research on low nicotine content (LNC) cigarettes and how reducing nicotine (N) in cigarettes might function as a measure to help reduce addictiveness. Unfortunately, the study findings revealed that lower nicotine levels may not be enough to achieve those goals.

    Nicotine absorbed from inhaled cigarette smoke is highly addictive and is primarily responsible for the maintenance of cigarette smoking (although the addictive power of smoking is much more complex, including other psychoactive smoke chemicals and the ritualistic/behavioral patterns of smoking). For many years, a tactic involving federal regulation of the nicotine content of cigarettes — reducing the level of nicotine permissible gradually, making smoking less addictive, in theory — has been suggested as a means to reduce the toll of smoking. Many scientists involved in the smoking/nicotine issue believed that, on the contrary, lower N levels would lead smokers to draw/inhale more deeply and/or more frequently to obtain their craved level of nicotine, leading to more, rather than less, smoking-related disease. Further, those advocating this method asserted that if nicotine levels were low enough, cigarettes would be much less addictive, and as a result, fewer young people who experiment with cigarettes would become addicted while adult smokers and previously addicted smokers would find it easier to quit. The regulatory authority to promulgate such a public health strategy was provided by 2009’s Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Although it forbids reducing N-content to zero, the act does not prohibit the FDA from lowering the allowable N-content to much lower levels than currently allowed.

    The two-year-long study, led by UCSF’s Dr. Neal Benowitz, looked at 135 smokers who were given five levels of progressively lower nicotine content cigarettes over the course of one year. The lowest nicotine content cigarette was smoked for 7 months while those in the control group smoked their usual brand of cigarettes for 12 months. Participants were then followed for another 12 months after returning to their own cigarettes or quitting.

    During the 12-month follow-up, the results — objectively monitored by measuring levels of cotinine, a nicotine breakdown product found in blood or urine — showed that those who received lower levels of nicotine returned to similar levels of smoking compared to those in the control group. In other words, quitting was just as likely among those in the control group as those who had received LNC cigarettes. Thus, the findings suggest that reducing the nicotine content in cigarettes may not be enough to eliminate smoking dependence.

    “We don’t know that very low nicotine cigarettes will not work to reduce nicotine dependence and enhance quitting, but progressively reducing nicotine content of cigarettes in the way we did, without other means of supporting smokers, did not produce the desired results,” lead author Benowitz told Science Daily in a news release.
    I should point out that Dr. Benowitz has been a long-term advocate for reducing N levels in cigarettes to help addicted smokers quit and lower the likelihood of youngsters becoming rapidly addicted, as all too often occurs. Indeed, in an article in Tobacco Control in 2013, he wrote this: “Preventing children from become addicted smokers and giving people greater freedom to stop smoking when they so decide to quit by reducing the addictiveness of cigarettes is a policy that increasingly appears to be feasible and warranted.” Unfortunately, it will not be that simple, it seems, to get smokers to quit. Tobacco harm reduction, on the other hand, seems to be helping many smokers to finally escape smoking’s lethal grip.

    http://acsh.org/2015/07/reduced-nicotine-in-cigarettes-failed-to-help-smokers-quit-study/

    • junican says:

      They are messing us all about. Who now has any authority to ensure that tobacco quality is maintained? For all we know, the zealots might be deliberately poisoning tobacco. We do not know, and no one gives a shit. It is probable that the underground supply is better than TobCom supply. I like using pure leaf tobacco mixed with my home grown stuff. Tobacco control has eradicated any control over the quality of tobacco, merely on the grounds that all of tobacco is dangerous. Well, I do not know, but I suspect that modern high explosives are more vicious than saltpetre.
      There is only one real answer – tobacco control must be moved from the Health Dept to Health and Safety. But Cameron et al are like putty. They are malleable for a time, in the hands of ‘experts’, but become very, very hard and dense once left to their own devices. After a while, the ‘putty’ politicians disintegrate.

  16. Philip Neal says:

    Frank, I agree entirely. Risk factor epidemiology, incorporating the war on cigarettes and the war on dietary fat, is exactly the same kind of thing as climate science. The sequence of events is as follows.

    Somebody notices a correlation. If correlation is evidence of causation, it amounts to the career-making discovery of a sensational threat. The precautionary principle is invoked and correlation is declared to be causation. A new scientific specialism emerges and confirmation bias is raised to the status of scientific method. Sceptics are suppressed for their alleged ignorance of the new specialism and denounced as hirelings of big business. The new theory becomes government policy and the public is subjected to ceaseless propaganda. Social science gets in on the act, an entrenched bureaucracy is created to tackle the threat – and the rest you know.

    I would only question the analogy between Michael Mann and Richard Doll. The equivalent of Doll is James Hansen, the founder of the IPCC who lobbied the US Congress during a heat wave in a committee room with the air conditioning turned off. Mann arrived on the scene as the bandwagon was starting to roll and is more the equivalent of Richard Peto, both of them statistical sophists who could tell the nascent crusade what it wanted to hear.

    @petesquiz and @margo

    The case against Mann’s hockey stick diagram of temperatures since AD 1000 is explained in lucid detail in The Hockey Stick Illusion by Andrew Montford (Bishop Hill). That book, based on the work of Steve Macintyre (Climate Audit), shows that what appear to be historically unprecedented temperatures in the twentieth century are an artefact of Mann’s statistical procedures. The artefact has to do with the norming of modern thermometer data against historical data such as tree rings and involves a quite specific statistical mistake called short centering. Mann is under suspicion of plenty more sloppiness and sharp practice, but short centering is what the issue is.

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