These days I spend much of my time building a computer heat flow simulation model, and dropping snow and ice onto the surface of an imaginary Earth. It’s what I’ve been doing for the past year or so. It also happens to be pretty much exactly what I used to be doing 40 years ago. So for me it’s a bit like going home to a familiar conceptual world.
And in the process I’ve shifted from being a global warming sceptic to something of a global cooling alarmist. There are really only three positions in this debate: you either think that the world is warming, or you think it’s cooling, or you think that it is neither warming or cooling, and isn’t really changing at all.
And this is a real scientific debate. And it’s a very important one. It’s perhaps the most important scientific debate of our present era. And it’s a debate for which nobody yet has yet come up with a definitive answer. A few years back it seemed like the warmists were on top. But most people don’t think the world is changing very much at all. And there are not many coolists around. We still don’t know whether we’re all going to be boiled alive, or gently simmer, or freeze.
The other thing that I spend my time thinking about is smoking bans. I wake up thinking about them every day. And I can only start think about my computer simulation models when I’ve stopped thinking about smoking bans.
In some ways, the debate about smoking and smoking bans is a lot like the debate about global warming. The difference is that the debate about smoking is one that was largely conducted 50 or more years ago, and it resulted in the complete and comprehensive victory of the antismokers. In many ways the current wave of smoking bans around the world is a consequence of that victory. The debate is over: Everybody now knows that Smoking Causes Lung Cancer. People may not be sure whether the world is warming or cooling, but they know with complete certainty that Smoking Causes Lung Cancer. It’s probably the only thing that anyone in the Western world knows for sure these days. They may not know if there is a God, or if the world is flat, but they’re perfectly certain that Smoking Causes Lung Cancer.
But the odd thing about the smoking controversy of 50+ years ago is that, unlike the current debate about global warming, it never had any scientific content at all. The antismokers never actually proved that Smoking Causes Lung Cancer: they simply got everybody to believe that it did. And that was all that mattered. And they did this with a massive propaganda campaign that began about 70 years ago, and has continued ever since. It was a campaign in which dissenters and sceptics (like Sir Ronald Fisher) were all marginalised and silenced. Nobody has ever heard of Sir Ronald Fisher. Nobody knows that there was anybody who was ever in the least bit sceptical about the idea that Smoking Causes Lung Cancer.
The triumph of Tobacco Control is built upon an illusion. It’s built upon the very powerful illusion that is created when the entire mainstream mass media, and the entire medical profession, and more or less every government, and every pundit, are all agreed that Smoking Causes Lung Cancer. How can anyone possibly resist such an onslaught of universal conviction?
Western society – Europe and the Americas and Australia – has been thoroughly and collectively brainwashed. It’s probably the only successful example of collective brainwashing in the entire history of the world. And it was probably something that could only be undertaken in the 20th century, because that was the century of monopoly broadcast mass media. In that era it was possible for a single message to be broadcast to millions of people either by newspapers or radio or celluloid or television, without any dissenting voice allowed, or any debate conducted. The only people who haven’t been brainwashed are those people who had the fortune to live outside Western society, and did not own radios and TV sets, and so were never conditioned into the Western belief system.
However the 21st century is one in which the mainstream broadcast media are in retreat before the two-way conversational internet. It’s no longer possible to brainwash millions of people like they could be in the 20th century. There’s now a plurality of voices rather than a monopoly. If anything, it’s become a babble of voices. It’s become impossible to send one single authoritative message. In fact, authority of every kind – scientific, political, religious – is dissolving.
For example, nobody believes climate scientists (or any other scientists) as readily as people believed them a century ago. And that’s why the belief that Carbon Dioxide Causes Global Warming has never been as universally accepted as the doctrine that Smoking Causes Lung Cancer. The global warmists arrived too late. They missed the departing bus of monopoly one-way broadcast media, and so were never able to firmly establish their beliefs in the public mind, and they met with strong dissent and disagreement in the emerging internet.
But now that it is no longer possible to implant singular authoritative doctrines in the minds of millions of passive recipient listeners and viewers, it also means that once-firmly-established beliefs like Smoking Causes Lung Cancer are likely to be gradually eroded, simply because, in the decline of the mainstream broadcast media, they are no longer being repeated enough times to enough people. It is now very likely – in fact almost inevitable – that the dogmatic belief that Smoking Causes Lung Cancer will face intensive questioning, and mounting disbelief. And because there’s nothing scientific about this belief, it’s quite likely to completely disintegrate, and burst like a bubble.
But the belief that Smoking Causes Lung Cancer remains deeply ingrained in Western consciousness. Hillary Clinton and Al Gore and almost every US Democrat politician believes it. But so also does Donald Trump and Alex Jones and Anthony Watts and more or less every US Republican politician as well. Because it’s next to impossible to even begin to think that Smoking Might Not Cause Lung Cancer. It’s quite literally unthinkable. So nobody thinks it. Or nobody thinks it yet.
And the third thing I think about, when I’m not thinking about smoking bans and global cooling, is Brexit and the European Union.
There is a debate about it today in the UK parliament, I believe. I must confess that I’ve lost track of the agonising debates surrounding the matter. I just remain convinced that Brexit is going to be thwarted, somehow or other. There are too many powerful politicians – including the UK Prime Minister – who don’t want Brexit to happen. And I think they will prevail.