The Most Intolerant Wins

Washington Times

Actress Dakota Johnson was just one celebrity caught on camera disregarding the Big Apple’s smoking ban during a star-studded event held Monday night in New York City.

A Snapchat photo of Ms. Johnson, taken by British singer Rita Ora and obtained by the Daily Mail newspaper, shows the “50 Shades” star lighting up a cigarette in what appears to be a smoke-filled bathroom. The photograph was taken during the annual Met Gala, a fundraiser for the city’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Other Met-attending celebrities caught smoking in the girls room, so to speak, were Bella Hadid, musician Courtney Love and her daughter Frances Bean Cobain, the Daily Mail said.

Apparently Michael Bloomberg was present at the event. So he could have wandered in and found them. But were they in the girls’ room, or the boys’ room? Or does the Met have transgender bathrooms? Whichever way, some of them shouldn’t have been in there, should they? So they were being doubly subversive.

Interesting article I found yesterday by Nassim Taleb:

The Most Intolerant Wins: The Dictatorship of the Small Minority

It suffices for an intransigent minority –a certain type of intransigent minorities –to reach a minutely small level, say three or four percent of the total population, for the entire population to have to submit to their preferences….

Example: kosher lemon juice.

A strange idea hit me. The Kosher population represents less than three tenth of a percent of the residents of the United States. Yet, it appears that almost all drinks are Kosher. Why? Simply because going full Kosher allows the producer, grocer, restaurant, to not have to distinguish between Kosher and nonkosher for liquids, with special markers, separate aisles, separate inventories, different stocking sub-facilities. And the simple rule that changes the total is as follows:

A Kosher (or halal) eater will never eat nonkosher (or nonhalal) food , but a nonkosher eater isn’t banned from eating kosher…

Same with wine:

Rory wrote to me about the asymmetry beer-wine and the choices made for parties: “Once you have ten percent or more women at a party, you cannot serve only beer. But most men will drink wine. So you only need one set of glasses if you serve only wine — the universal donor, to use the language of blood groups.”

And English:

If a meeting is taking place in Germany in the Teutonic-looking conference room of a corporation that is sufficiently international or European, and one of the persons in the room doesn’t speak German, the entire meeting will be run in… English, the brand of inelegant English used in corporations across the world. That way they can equally offend their Teuronic ancestors and the English language. It all started with the asymmetric rule that those who are nonnative in English know (bad) English, but the reverse (English speakers knowing other languages) is less likely.

His conclusion:

Let us conjecture that the formation of moral values in society doesn’t come from the evolution of the consensus. No, it is the most intolerant person who imposes virtue on others precisely because of that intolerance.

The entire growth of society, whether economic or moral, comes from a small number of people. So we close this chapter with a remark about the role of skin in the game in the condition of society. Society doesn’t evolve by consensus, voting, majority, committees, verbose meeting, academic conferences, and polling; only a few people suffice to disproportionately move the needle. All one needs is an asymmetric rule somewhere. And asymmetry is present in about everything.

Of course antismokers are an intolerant minority. Perhaps that’s why they always get their way.

Just a shame that Taleb seems to be an antismoker too:

Years ago when Big Tobacco were hiding and repressing the evidence of harm from secondary smoking, New York had smoking and nonsmoking sections in restaurants (even airplanes had, absurdly, a smoking section).

I guess he must himself be one of the intolerant people he was writing about.

About Frank Davis

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23 Responses to The Most Intolerant Wins

  1. Vlad says:

    Taleb comes across as a smart guy who has some really interesting point of views. But on the smoking issue he just regurgitates the party line. No one is perfect, I guess.

  2. Taleb would likely rank as one of “The Innocents” in my Antismoker categories. He’s not overly sympathetic to and driven toward them, but simply accepts the “general knowledge” out there because he hasn’t felt motivated to investigate the other side of the argument.

    In some ways we can’t blame the innocents too much. How many of us have really investigated the JFK Assassination (Frank… Shhh!) or Obama’s birth certificate or what the conditions truly are in Palestine (or the Palestinian refugee camps so “graciously” provided by neighboring Arab countries) or the real wishes of the people in the Ukraine — etc., etc.? Heck, I spend most of my typical day just digging around in the various new claims and stories and studies on secondary smoke and smoking bans and I *still* sometimes feel like I can’t keep up with it all!

    For my part I’ve come to feel secure in my views because I keep putting them out there in front of Antis who’d **LOVE** to rip them apart in public and make me look like an idiot. I’ve done that literally hundreds (thousands?) of times… with almost never a peep other than abuse in response.

    I just had the following nice little exchange with an Anti here on a Philly board for example:

    Michael J. McFadden Daddy’s Gonna Tell You No Lie • 11 hours ago
    Daddy, you should read a bit more in the field before you write. Try Googling, in quotes:

    “not just a reduction of the onerous tax burden”

    and you’ll find my essay “Taxes, Social Cost, and the MSA” Take a few minutes to read it over and check its citations to medical journals. You’ll find that if everyone quit smoking, YOUR taxes as a nonsmoker would likely increase by a full 20% or so. Smokers are subsidizing YOU… not the other way ’round.

    Think I”m wrong? Want to show the folks here that you’re right instead? Easy: Just pick out two or three SPECIFIC and SUBSTANTIVE points in that essay where I’ve misstated anything or am in error. Go right ahead. I promise I won’t mind, and you’ll have proved your point.

    Alternatively you can run away faster than a little girl from a pack of tarantulas and hope nobody notices.

    But they will.

    – MJM

    Daddy’s Gonna Tell You No Lie Michael J. McFadden • 2 hours ago
    You wrote an essay? I’m sure that’s well worth my time.
    Yes, everything I know is wrong. Because you say so.

    Keep smoking!

    Michael J. McFadden Daddy’s Gonna Tell You No Lie • 2 hours ago
    Heh, you DO realize that other folks WILL have read it, WILL see that it’s well-argued and well-referenced, and WILL remember that all you had to say in response was that it wasn’t “worth (your) time” to read, don’t you? Do you have ANY idea how weak that makes your entire position look?

    P.S. Actually, I wrote two full books… a total of roughly 300,000 words with over a thousand citations and references to back up my arguments. If you look around the net (Or just check my disqus profile here… you’ll notice that, unlike you, I feel no need to hide my identity or what I write from examination.) you’ll find that neither of them has ever been successfully attacked in any substantive way. Why? Because they were written VERY carefully, with a LOT of research, over a period of years for each one. In the process I probably read well over 10,000 “essay” length pieces and studies and books and journal articles.

    Heh… and you’re afraid to read ONE.

    Says a lot, eh? Still keeping ahead of those tarantulas? Have any specific, substantive criticisms? I’ve got about 10,000 more words for you if you like… just go to the TobakkoNacht dot com site and you’ll find them under the “Book Selections” cover tab. You could have a field day “exposing” me… or you could just keep running… whoever and wherever you are….

    – MJM

    That total lack of ability of the Antis to find fault with my facts and reasoning affirms my belief that I’m correct in it far better than any simple introspection ever could!

    – MJM

    • Smoking Lamp says:

      MJM, You are certainly right and their abuse demonstrates their lack of understanding of the issues involved. What you (and I more times than I care to remember) face in these transactions is the hysteria and fear of the mob. The tobacco controllers rely on these ignorant ‘true believers’ to shout down dissent. It is a tried and true factor in mob politics. The tribunes of the Roman republic would have recognized it as would the burghers of the late Weimer Republic.

      • Actually, The Innocents are precisely the reason I’ve spent so much time over the years posting to news and discussion boards where there is/are loudmouthed but seemingly pseudo-knowledgeable Anti posting. By hitting them so hard with such an obvious and easy challenge and then having them run away, and then POINTING OUT how they’ve run away when they had such a supposedly easy and obvious target to shoot at…. it shakes the faith of the passers-by Innocents in a way far stronger than simply reading something we have written on their own.

        When we read something that disagrees strongly with an opinion we have there’s a natural tendency to want to avoid cognitive dissonance and flee off to reading something that will happily stoke the warmth of our confirmation bias. We’ll tell ourselves, “It’s highly unlikely that that person is right since so many people who know what they’re talking about disagree with them.” and promptly forget whatever glimmer of doubt they’d raised by presenting what we can tell ourselves was “just a clever argument.”

        BUT… when they see “One of Their Own,” one who has been speaking loudly and scoring points beaten up fair ‘n square … THEN they begin to doubt. The Antismokers make a big thing out of the old tobacco company maxim, “Doubt Is Our Product.” but it is actually a very sound maxim when confronting an adversary who has the great bulk of blind belief on their side. A written or spoken argument, standing alone and on its own, no matter HOW good it is… stands little chance against a strong inner core of blind faith, but seeing their own heroes (even if those heroes are just Anonymouses parroting Anti slogans in a seemingly authoritative manner) defeated in the public arena in a fair fight…. THAT causes lingering doubt and pries open the edges of closed minds.

        Opening minds to questioning and showing that the Antis can only “talk a good talk” when they’re not challenged to defend their basic pillars is what we do when we’re out there in our blogs and newsboards, and I’ve always felt that to be of real value.

        – MJM

    • Lepercolonist says:

      “Taxes, Social Cost, and the MSA” is one of your finest essays. Enjoyable to re-read your solid logical research.

    • Joe L. says:

      You wrote an essay? I’m sure that’s well worth my time. Yes, everything I know is wrong. Because you say so. Keep smoking!

      That is the prototypical example of the uneducated bullies that are joining the antismoking movement. He’s not the type of Anti that lacks the ability to find fault with your facts and reasoning; he didn’t even want to see your facts or reasoning. He just wanted to bully a smoker (because it’s currently socially acceptable to bully smokers) so that he could feel better about himself for a few minutes all because he chooses not to smoke.

      This isn’t your Deborah Arnott/Stanton Glantz-type bully, who has a rehearsed catalog of bullshit statistics at the ready to spew out in an attempt to shut down debates. This is the far more common “lazy bully” who would without a doubt be a racist, antisemite, homophobe, etc., if any of those types of bullying were currently en vogue. He doesn’t want to waste his time cataloging bullshit statistics. He doesn’t want to waste his time reading your essay, let alone trying to tear it apart. He just wants to bully others who are different when he needs a quick ego fix. These bullies-for-the-sake-of-bullying are absolutely despicable.

      You surprised him with your extensive knowledge and exposed him as the lazy bully that he is. Nice work, Michael! Maybe now he’ll move on to bullying fat people or soda drinkers now (that is, if he’s not one himself)…

  3. Emily Wieja says:

    Interesting points. Most people probably only think of the world as divided by smokers versus nonsmokers. And the minority of smokers is not catered to because supposedly the majority of nonsmokers finds tobacco smoke offensive (and now believes it’s incredibly harmful to their health.) However in reality, as you’ve pointed out, the true minority is (or was, before widespread indoor smoking bans) that of intolerant anti-smokers which we all know are very different from nonsmokers. I’ve observed however that indoor smoking bans have been very harmful in another way, in that they have made people become unaccustomed to tobacco smoke and now many more nonsmokers find it offensive (or at least noticeable) than before.

    • Joe L. says:

      I’ve observed however that indoor smoking bans have been very harmful in another way, in that they have made people become unaccustomed to tobacco smoke and now many more nonsmokers find it offensive (or at least noticeable) than before

      I second this observation, Emily. There has been a noticeable increase in sensitivity from nonsmokers to the slightest whiff of smoke or even just the sight of someone smoking.

      Nonsmokers are becoming increasingly sensitized to the presence of tobacco smoke because they’re not exposed it it as regularly as they were before the bans. The antismoking propaganda and groupthink only excaserbate the problem, causing more people to expend the energy required to forcibly muster a fake cough or three as they walk past a lone smoker in the open outdoors at a distance of over twenty feet.

    • Very much so. And that “noticing,” when combined with the message, “If you can smell it, it’s killing you!” is a very strong antismoking weapon, particularly when it’s buttressed by the usually unspoken argument of “Sheeesh, if they actually ban it BARS then it MUST be really bad!” It’s at that point that someone who previously didn’t normally have a care in the world about the scent of tobacco smoke mixed with all the other scents in the everyday world begins to have “reactions” that they believe are “caused” by the smoke.

      I used to be the same way back in my most radial bicycle-activist days: I’d FEEL my throat closing up when I smelled the poisonous fumes emanating from a gas station I was passing by or through. I wasn’t faking it… I could FEEL it! And it’s the same sort of psychogenic “feeling” reaction that we’re bumping into so often out there with “The Innocents” who transform or are in the process of transforming into the seemingly “Truly Affected.” The effect is not real… in any true physical sense — those of us old enough to remember the 60s and 70s *KNOW* it’s not real because we never observed any of the thousands of people we saw back then have any such reactions — but the people FEELING those things have a solid belief they ARE real. Pointing out the past however, and the total lack of filled emergency rooms and stacks of body bags, THAT makes a convincing counter-argument.

      – MJM, who wonders if there’s anyone out there who runs away from the scent of chocolate…

  4. Roobeedoo2 says:

    Tobacco is, once again, the thinnest end of the wedge…

    ‘A landmark Australian law on restrictive tobacco packaging has been upheld at the World Trade Organization after a five-year legal battle, Bloomberg news reported on Thursday, citing two people familiar with the situation.

    ‘Such a ruling from the WTO has been widely anticipated as giving a green light for other countries to roll out similar laws, not only on tobacco but also on alcohol and unhealthy foods.’

  5. Roobeedoo2 says:

    Nassim Taleb – he’s famous for his book ‘The Black Swan’…

  6. Old Wifie says:

    Have you noticed how many of the new migrant wave are all smoking? Do you think this might be pushing the numbers up?

  7. Joe L. says:

    Taleb’s antismoking bias is very strong. So strong, in fact, that his argument about smoking sections is actually the antithesis of his entire point!

    If the “intolerant minority” of smokers truly had the influence he speaks of, separate smoking sections would have never existed! All establishments would allow smoking everywhere (e.g., only one type of juice: kosher = only one type of glass: wine = only one type of public establishment: smoking allowed).

    The mere existence of separate smoking and non-smoking sections goes to show that the majority (nonsmokers) were actually being considered and catered to.

    And now (as Frank stated) it’s the antismokers who are a very real, intolerant, dictatorial minority, dictating only one kind of public establishment for all: nonsmoking.

    How could Taleb be so right about so many topics and then so absolutely wrong on the subject of smoking?

    I see this all the time, where I encounter seemingly intelligent people who see through all sorts of propaganda and pseudoscientific lies (e.g., climate change), yet refuse to question any of the “settled science” regarding smoking. I can’t understand what it is about the antismoking capaign that makes it so much more powerful and effective than all others.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I may be wrong about him, of course. It was suggested to me that I was wrong when I said Paul Joseph Watson was being antismoking, after he said something derogatory about it on Facebook. It was suggested he was being ironic. And maybe he was. So Taleb might have been being ironic as well.

    • Rhys says:

      I’m still trying to work out how you’d make lemon juice not kosher, because it is by default. I suppose you could do mad science and give lemons tuberculotic lungs, or mix together some meat and milk and throw that in with the brew before you bottle it (ugh)!

      It’s an anti-smoker thing, isn’t it?

      • Joe L. says:

        Good point, Rhys. I guess it might be possible to make non-kosher lemonade if it was processed in the same plant where hot dogs and bacon are produced, but I doubt that’s very common.

  8. narbanor says:

    I once was so attracted to Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s terse, aphoristic and stimulating type of writing as to bookmark one of his essays “Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets” on Amazon. Now that I’ve been made aware of his stupid stance on the alleged (i.e. spurious) effects of 2nd-hand smoke, I’m not so hot & bothered about reading his essays in full anymore. The least we can expect of a decent intellectual these days is being impervious to the lies TC has been spreading around the world for decades, even long before the 1975 so-called Godber blueprint; that is from the late 1930s onwards (when Fritz Lickint dared to come up with the passive smoking hypothesis, even in the absence of a decent direct smoking theory).

    • Frank Davis says:

      It’s funny how one’s good opinion of someone implodes when you discover such things about them. It’s like finding out that they are child molesters or concentration camp guards. The collapse is precipitous.

      I had this experience with Queen guitarist Brian May, and philosopher Karl Popper, who both turned out to be antismokers. It may explain why I was never a fan of Queen (Bohemian Rhapsody is my most detested piece of music of all time). But I’m keeping Taleb and PJ Watson in the “possibly ironic” category for now.

  9. Lepercolonist says:

    If Bloomberg walked into that bathroom what would he do ? Have a hissy fit and call security ? I can’t stand that phony.

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