Astonished

I woke up astonished this morning.

All yesterday, my nose had been streaming, and my head felt thick and muzzy. I was developing a cold. Last night I prepared a drink of hot lemon juice and honey and whisky – something I usually do whenever the symptoms of a cold appear, even though it probably doesn’t do any good at all. So when I fell asleep last night, it was in full expectation that I’d wake up this morning with a full-blown cold, complete with sore throat and hacking cough. I’d dug out paracetamol and cough drops and even my little-used e-cig in preparation. I was quite certain of it. I was 99% certain of it. Maybe even 100% certain.

And so I was astonished this morning when I woke up and found that I didn’t have a cold. All the symptoms had vanished. My head was clear. My nose was dry.

And an hour or two after getting up, I remain astonished. Because I thought I would be in no fit state to write anything in my blog. Yet here I am, writing in it. How astonishing! I was so sure. And usually I’m never sure about anything.

It set me thinking about how all the disputes in the world are between people who are quite sure about one thing, and people who are quite sure of something else.

Most people, for example, are quite sure that smoking causes lung cancer. Everybody knows that, don’t they? There are only a few people who don’t believe it. And they are contrarians.

And lots of people believe that human-generated CO2 in the atmosphere is causing global warming. But then quite a few people don’t believe it.

I’m staying at my brother’s this week, while he’s off on holiday somewhere. And so I can legally watch television without paying the £155 licence fee, because he’s paid it. And so last night, as I prepared for my impending, inevitable cold, I was watching a BBC hit piece on Donald Trump’s utterly disastrous first 100 days in office.  It was fronted by Jeremy Paxman, Britain’s equivalent of Dan Rather or Walter Cronkite. One person after another came on to say how he was completely unfit for his office, and kept changing his mind, and was making a complete mess of the job. But one or two of the critics weren’t so sure. One of them said that he’d been wrong about Trump every single time he’d said something. He even listed all the occasions he’d been wrong. He’d been so perfectly and exactly wrong, every single time, that he didn’t want to say any more about Trump.

But for the most part, all the critics of Donald Trump are absolutely certain that he’s mad, bad, and dangerous. And they probably meet about 100 people every day who have the exact same opinion. And so they get confirmation every day of their certainty. Because everybody they know thinks the same way they do.

I was reminded that I once saw Deborah Arnott say something like “We know that 400,000 people die from smoking every year.” That wasn’t exactly what she said, but it was something like that. And she said it matter-of-factly, as if it was a universal truth that everybody knew. But at the time I thought, “She doesn’t know any such thing. Not with any certainty. Not with any certainty at all.” In fact, it seemed to me that it would have been far more true to have said “We don’t know that 400,000 people die from smoking every year.”

But antismokers like Deborah Arnott are always perfectly certain. They never express any hint of doubt or uncertainty about anything. Deborah Arnott is no doctor or epidemiologist or scientist or expert, but she always speaks with the quiet assurance of one. Real experts don’t shout. And her quiet assurance extends beyond medicine into economics, when she quietly assures people that smoking bans have no adverse economic impacts. I think that if Deborah Arnott was to speak about global warming or Brexit or Trump, it would be to express quiet assurance that we were all frying ourselves, and Brexit was a catastrophe,  and Trump was insane (e.g.)

INSANE SHRINKS SAY TRUMP MENTALLY ILL

It’s the reason why Deborah Arnott is the boss of ASH. She’s got the air of assurance and certainty that’s needed for the job. She’s unflappable. And she can tell a whole string of outright lies with a completely straight face. No-one else can do it quite like she can. It’s a remarkable gift. It’s a part that she knows how to play, like a consummate actor. It’s totally convincing. And it convinces everyone. Or almost everyone.

If there’s a difference between smokers and antismokers, it’s that smokers aren’t certain of anything, and antismokers are certain about absolutely everything. And they’re  absolutely certain about everything that everybody else is certain about. They’re know-alls. They’re know-alls who are surrounded by identical know-alls.

And if antismokers are winning the war on smoking, it’s because their certainties are prevailing over smokers’ uncertainties. Certainty always trumps uncertainty. You’re always going to hire the guy who says he knows how to do something rather than the guy who says he doesn’t know, or is not sure, or will have to ask somebody else.

Smokers will only start winning when uncertainty mounts, and old certainties get swept away. When that happens, anyone who says they know anything with any certainty will start to look like a fool.

Most people seem to still be certain that Donald Trump is mad, bad, and dangerous. And maybe he is. But some people don’t seem to be quite as certain about it as they used to be. And if he manages another 100 days in office without starting WW3, probably quite a few more people won’t be quite so sure that he’s a madman. Maybe a few will start saying he’s a genius. And then quite a few people will start saying he’s a genius. And finally everyone will know that he’s a genius, with perfect certainty.

And that’s how it goes. The pendulum swings between two fixed certainties, the one the opposite of the other. In between, it’s never certain. In between, it’s always changing.

And my nose is running again. I was quite sure earlier today that I didn’t have a cold. But now I’m not so sure.

Advertisements

About Frank Davis

smoker
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Astonished

  1. margo says:

    Maybe it was a kind of hay fever, Frank.

  2. Frank Davis says:

    Oh dear! Has Harley died? Iro Cyzane:

    Dearest Daniel, Harleyrider, you fought hard for what you believed in. Thanks for everything you did for all of us.
    RIP my friend.
    Yes, I am afraid Harley passed away in his home in Kentucky on April 11th at 58 years old.
    He will be remembered as our no. 1 warrior.
    To respect his desire to remain anonymous throughout all these years, I can’t give out his real name or any other details, but if you have questions that I can answer that won’t give his identity away, ask away.

    I’m not sure I can believe it.

  3. garyk30 says:

    Certainty without evidence is insanity.
    Trump has been in office for only 3 months out of his 48 month term.
    It is insanity to make pronouncements about his doing his job based on his record in the first 6% of his term of office.

    How worried should you be if you had a CAT scan and then a needle biopsy and the doctor said you had lung cancer?

    Actually, you should be rather optimistic, there is only a 1 in 16 chance that you actually have lung cancer!

    There are 160,000 lung cancer deaths that happen each year to the 240 million adult Americans.
    That is one in 1,500.
    If 1,500 adults will die from lung cancer each year and there are only one in 1,500 that have lung cancer.

    If there were 1,500 CAT scans given, only 1 would show a true positive for lung cancer.
    But, CAT scans have a 35% ‘false positive’ rate.

    So, out of 1,500 scans there will be 1 ‘true positive’ and 525 ‘false positives’.

    If those 526 people had a biopsy, you could expect 1 true positive.
    Needle biopsys have a 3% ‘false positive’ rate.

    526 of the things will give 15 ‘false positives’ to the 1 ‘true positive’.

    Thus, there is only a 1 in 16 chance that you really have lung cancer!

    Dedicated to Harley Rider 1978.
    RIP gallant warrior

    • RdM says:

      I was going to suggest that you added this (and any other new ones) to
      what Frank has listed as “Gary K’s Mathematical Comments” in
      https://cfrankdavis.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/mince-pies-to-die-for/

      But perhaps you already had that body of text there…
      I’m glad to see that it was updated as recently as August 2016.
      We should indeed try to keep up a library of references to quote from.

      I’ve failed in the past to keep a record; bookmarks yes, but they become unwieldy.
      I downloaded or installed Zotero as a browser note-keeping app, but haven’t used it… it’s all too easy too read & pass on.

      Pun not intended… Harley posted lots of stuff, as we know.

      All Roses’s valuable references too, I wish I’d copy-pasted & kept.
      Now it will mean going back month by month & searching comments, making new references, copy/pasting when I should have done it the first time I read it.

      Because to counter arguments online or in person or in a submission to politicians or policy-makers, one must have references.
      Anti-smoker TC ‘experts’ live by ‘blinding with science’, footnoting references up the wazoo, even if aware that they don’t all support their argument (or ‘evidence’, which is after all only statements or arguments advanced in a cause, not ‘truth’ as such) and knowing that politicians & policy makers will likely never read them, possibly even being unable to because of a paywall, let alone time, even if they wished to;- but rather accept the ‘suggestions’ and ‘arguments’ because they have all those ‘sciency’ footnotes.

      So maybe a way to disprove the lies & false or mis-representations and bring them into the public and political & MSM spheres is to both (a) delve into and expose the weaknesses of their advanced ‘evidential’ footnoted studies & therefore their arguments, with a tool like sci-hub, and (b) advance one’s own arguments (the benefits of tobacco, the propaganda & lies of the past, the falseness of the common ‘beliefs’ about it) with well – referenced and easily accessible footnotes to them.

      As so many of you have already been doing… it would be nice to see a central repository starting to be created… I know Frank has already started “References” above.

      Or perhaps rather a portal to such repositories. More of them.

      I should too. In a very minor way I’ve started, but must do more.

      I was a bit saddened when Forces went to a forum format, although they have kept the old pages as an archive… although many of the links in that are now dead – data-yard links, for instance.
      And now the forum itself is dead, only found by archive.org

      Oh well!
      _

      “Go oft to the house of thy friend, for weeds choke the unused path”

      “There is not a tendency for things to right themselves.”

      “When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand.”

      “It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them. ”

      Ralph Waldo Emerson

  4. margo says:

    Terrible news. Does anyone know how it happened?

  5. nisakiman says:

    Damn. That’s bad news.

    Harley was a stalwart, a fighter and an indefatigable champion of our rights. Not to mention a master of his subject. I’m going to miss him. We all are.

    Damn.

    RIP

    • smokingscot says:

      Harley told us he’d been exposed to some pretty nasty substances when in the military. I believe he was used as an unsuspecting guinea pig in some sort of trial or experiment. At least that’s my take on it.

      There were several discussions here about the medication he received from the VA, some seemed to make him a great deal worse. I recall he stopped one and felt loads better.

      Certainly from the many photos he posted under the name of Daniel Hammond, he looked far older than the 56 – 58 years of age that he must have been at the time (the photos started two years ago).

      It was against this backdrop, of a man in quite considerable pain, that he earned my respect and admiration. He was remarkable in his industry and determination, very possibly from his own prior experience of being conned by the military.

      I sincerely hope he finds peace. My deepest condolences to his wife, children, grand children and his family (I know he has a brother and believe his dad’s still with us).

      One helluva character. Thank you so very much Harley Rider.

  6. Tony says:

    Very sad news. We’ve lost a truly great fighter.
    RIP.

  7. beobrigitte says:

    Very, very sad news. RIP Harley. Thank you for your unwavering commitment to our cause. We will continue to fight.

    “The fight against the smokers is a new class struggle, a class struggle from above: health hysterics and organization people allied themselves, in order to deprive one third of their fellow men of freedom and joy of life. As the workers’ movement once fought with powerful organizations for their rights, today the smokers have to fight against the increasing oppression attempts. Smokers of all countries, unite! “
    http://www.ropohl.de/5.html
    Prof. G. Ropohl (14.06.39 – 28.01.17)

    [Like Harley, Prof Ropohl and his wife were vigorous fighters against the ever increasing oppression of smokers. They all will be dearly missed. RIP. ]

  8. beobrigitte says:

    I was reminded that I once saw Deborah Arnott say something like “We know that 400,000 people die from smoking every year.” That wasn’t exactly what she said, but it was something like that. And she said it matter-of-factly, as if it was a universal truth that everybody knew.

    Harley was not afraid to use the term Nazi. Perhaps this is the reason why:
    Joseph Goebbels was appointed Reich Minister of Propaganda On March 13th1933. Goebbels proved to be an expert in his mastery of the dark art of propaganda. Goebbels had no formal training in any aspect of propaganda. However, he did seem to fulfil what Adolf Hitler wrote in ‘Mein Kampf’ with regards to the truth: if you are going to tell a lie, tell a big one and if you tell if often enough, people will begin to believe it.
    http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/nazi-germany/joseph-goebbels-and-propaganda/

  9. Smoking Lamp says:

    Rest in Peace Harley. You will be missed. In fact you already are. I look forward to the day I can legally light a cigarette indoors in a major U.S. city in your memory!

  10. cherie79 says:

    Very sorry to hear this, RIP Harley.

  11. Joe L. says:

    Sad news indeed. Harley spent a lot of time seeking out antismoking articles and posting comments with links to contrary information. It seemed like every article I stumbled on contained a slew of comments posted under one of his pseudonyms. That widespread effort of exposing lies will sorely be missed.

    I will also miss his undying optimism here on Frank’s blog. He always spoke as though smoking bans were on the verge of being repealed.

    RIP Harley.

    • RdM says:

      Sad news indeed. Harley spent a lot of time seeking out antismoking articles and posting comments with links to contrary information. It seemed like every article I stumbled on contained a slew of comments posted under one of his pseudonyms.

      Unfortunately, and I had wanted to take him to task on this, he never gave attributions.

      So, wildly scattershot spraying of quotes, even plagiarisms of others work in his name, without credit to or acknowledgement of the source, made them useless in any real fight.

      OSHA. I downloaded the actual manual;- no reference to that in there.
      I’m still looking for it.
      I can’t use all or any of those statistics in an argument unless I can provide a source.
      Where is it?

      Maybe some wouldn’t have been so offended about seeing their writing reposted without accreditation, but I felt offended just seeing it gushed out without any attribution.

      Quoting others work, often not even bothering about correcting formatting, and presenting it thoughtlessly if enthusiastically as his own led to quite a few people being deceived;- I saw a young girl address him as “Dr.” after some such post, no correction.

      And all the enthusiasm about guns, and bullets.
      Were each one, or 1 in 10, or 1 in 100, intended to kill another human being?
      What argument was that supposed to win?

      That widespread effort of exposing lies will sorely be missed.

      I will also miss his undying optimism here on Frank’s blog. He always spoke as though smoking bans were on the verge of being repealed.

      All that, despite the above, and especially the last, I can totally agree with! ;=})

      RIP Harley;- if that’s the way it really is;- and be glad others can build on your efforts!

      • I think the pseudonyms were mainly a byproduct of him getting banned. The bans weren’t so much for the political content of his postings but for the fact that so many of them were just cut’n’pastes, possibly without authorization, often somewhat only vaguely related to the news topic under discussion, and sometimes far too dominant in a thread where other people were carrying on back and forth discussion. Yes, it was great to get the information out there, but his enthusiasm led to “too much of a good thing” sometimes… and that would get him banned… and that would lead to a new pseudonym.

        He didn’t intend at all for folks to think he was writing that material himself but since it was cut’n’paste some of the pieces didn’t have any evidence of attribution.

        Re OSHA: I think I might have what you’re looking for but I’d need a bit more info to pin it down.

        – MJM

        • RdM says:

          Thanks, Michael;- it’s taken a little time to find my way back here.
          And I’m aware that I’m behind on several, maybe many replies;- a bit crisis stressed.
          Roses’s below as well; thanks. I’ll try to catch them all up. Apologies!

          But I’ve just found possibly the original source of the (truncated often) source of the OSHA comments, I might have done a search on Daniel Hammond OSHA, as I all I remembered, and found https://disqus.com/by/disqus_vJy7Iz5kdu/
          Then, scrolling down a bit, to
          WHO: Japan needs anti-smoking law beforeTokyo Olympics
          I found the words “According to independent Public and Health Policy Research group, Littlewood & Fennel” – and a search further led me to possibly the original site & origin
          http://www.nycclash.com/CaseAgainstBans/OSHA.html
          I’d been frustrated because I’d downloaded the OSHA manual and found nothing of that… clearly I should have got out and about more, and remembered NYCLASH!

          ~ RdM

      • beobrigitte says:

        Unfortunately, and I had wanted to take him to task on this, he never gave attributions.

        So, wildly scattershot spraying of quotes, even plagiarisms of others work in his name, without credit to or acknowledgement of the source, made them useless in any real fight.

        Yes, Harley quoted a lot without references. It doesn’t matter, anyway. Perhaps Harley understood that quoting research is getting us nowhere.

        If you want to search, add the number of tobacco control + friends financed “research” and what you can find on independent research.
        I soon gave up.

        Then, you do need to painfully look into the kind of research – and you will find that there are impressive words and convincing bits. However, most of the time you find this in the molecular biology area. And it’s all in isolated cell lines, or worse even, in isolated DNA. And with that all our normal (!) human physiological functions are excluded. Best example (one of many!) is putting our body into starvation mode. This alone affects gene expression and things like ‘transposition’.
        There won’t be a real fight on real science. Real science no longer exists.
        Most people know virtually nothing about it and it takes years just to get the basics.
        Neither did Harley. But he was cautious, nevertheless eager enough to challenge the people I regard as my enemy.

        It is common sense questions we need to ask them over and over again. I believe Harley started smoking at a later age than I did. I’m still alive and kicking. I was not exposed to the chemicals nor the microbes Harley was.
        Lyme’s disease alone is a bastard.
        And we all conveniently ignore the replication thus mutation rate of the various micro-organisms.

        Yes, the smoker haters will rub their hands and gleefully declare yet another “smoking-related” death without being able to explain my (I’m older than Harley) HEALTHY existence. Of course I can see the signs of aging; I have got mirrors! But I still do 45 Kg 3x 10 pushes. (Haven’t been to the gym this week because I’m renovating one of the spare bedrooms – and will hit the road for up north in a few days again).

        Harley was making a point of inspiring questions – even though he wasn’t healthy.

  12. prog says:

    That’s terrible news. One of the best…

    RIP Harley

No need to log in

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s