Dick Puddlecote wrote yesterday:
I’ve long believed that e-cigs carry the potential to expose the lies and hypocrisy of tobacco control..
Well, he might be right. I’ve always thought that the rapidity with which TC deemed e-cigs to be just as bad as cigarettes, if not a lot worse, showed that they could produce convenient “research” findings more or less to order, at very short notice. It took about a half century before cigarettes were deemed to be health hazards: e-cigarettes were deemed hazardous almost as soon as they appeared.
E-cigarettes are a much better product than Big Pharma’s own NRT patches and gums, because users can enjoy them much like they enjoy cigarettes: they’re cigarettes in which the smoke has been replaced by vapour. If the pharma product was a bicycle, the e-cigarette is a motorbike: faster, louder, and sexier. And furthermore the e-cigarette motorbikes are rapidly-evolving into new shapes and sizes and technologies.
TC tried to stamp out smoking, but in doing so they only succeeded in triggering the invention of multiple new ways of smoking. And some of the newly invented e-cigarettes produce far more “smoke” than any cigarette ever did. Instead of being “smoke-free”, the future looks set to be smokier than ever.
For myself, while I’m delighted at the appearance of hordes of e-cigarettes, and hope that they continue to evolve, I continue to prefer old-fashioned cigarettes – although I can imagine that it’s possible that e-cigarettes could evolve to become feather-light products with a completely invisible ‘smoke’ that is warmer and richer than any tobacco smoke ever was. It just hasn’t happened yet.
And also I no longer believe that cigarettes and pipes and cigars are anywhere near as dangerous as TC claims them to be. I think that the real objection of the antismokers to smoking was aesthetic: they didn’t like the look of it. Either that, or their objection to smoking is moral in nature: they didn’t think people should smoke because smoking was unnecessary, and indicated a certain kind of moral laxity and lack of self-restraint. But these aesthetic and moral objections have both been cloaked in a garment of medical objections: Smoking kills. Antismokers don’t like smoking, and think it’s immoral, but their aesthetic and moral arguments are very weak, so they employ a much more powerful medical argument instead.
But how strong are their medical arguments? It may be true that any number of senior doctors in the medical profession are fully convinced of the dangers of smoking, but to point this out is to make an empty appeal to authority. Such appeals to authority are also being made about Global Warming, when it’s said that 97% of climate scientists are convinced that climate change is being caused by human emissions of carbon dioxide. Why should we believe these climate scientists? Why should we believe doctors? Why should we believe someone just because they claim to possess expertise? Never mind your expertise: show me the evidence!
The odd thing about both the tobacco scare and the the global warming scare is that the underlying arguments they both put forward are mathematical in nature. The climate scientists constructed elaborate mathematical models of the atmosphere, and used them to predict global warming. And the doctors – Richard Doll and Ernst Wynder – produced statistical arguments to prove that smoking caused lung cancer.
How was it that they both succeeded in convincing so many people that they were right? The answer is very simple: nobody can do any mathematics, and so nobody can counter mathematical arguments. People gaze at the numbers and graphs, and their eyes just glaze over, and they surrender. The appearance of mathematical arguments has been a bit like the appearance of tanks on the battlefields of WW1: they just rolled right over the enemy trenches, and the enemy couldn’t stop them with rifles or machine-guns or hand grenades. It’s the same with mathematical arguments: nobody has any answer to them, and so they win.
But after WW1, both sides started developing new and better tanks. And so WW2 was fought with new and better tanks. And so, if history is to repeat itself, Tobacco Control (and Climate Science) will only be defeated by bigger and better mathematical arguments.
I’ve already done this to some extent with Climate Science, by constructing a variety of different atmospheric atmospheric models. My current favourite one of these is my bouncing air bubble model of the Earth’s atmosphere, which even demonstrated Global Warming as the air bubbles boiled off into space.
But last night I began wondering if I could develop some mathematical arguments against Tobacco Control using Idle Theory. For Idle Theory is a highly mathematical idea, and one that could be adapted to consider Public Health concerns. So last night I started to think about smoking and drinking and obesity from the perspective of Idle Theory. I even got hold of a few numbers, and sketched out a few graphs. I began to piece together some new mathematical arguments that might be successfully employed in mathematical warfare. And I began to wonder whether Idle Theory might carry the potential to expose the lies and hypocrisy of Tobacco Control, in a completely new way.
I’m far from convinced, but it’s a new idea, a new approach – just like the Smoky Drinky Bar is a new idea, and a new approach.