Three Matters Of Interest

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.

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10 Responses to Three Matters Of Interest

  1. Uncle Nick says:

    Given a long enough timescale, both opposing points of view will be correct. We’re going to boil alive when the sun goes pop (about 5bn years?), and then we’ll freeze to death after that ;)

  2. All points of view have their merits. If the earth is cooling it’s probably getting warmer somewhere else. If smoking causes lung cancer why are they trying to ban diesel cars, and not talking about 500 or so atomic weapon tests? And finally, we will eventually leave the political idea of Europe, but possibly not till it freezes, or boils, or simply legislates it’s self into oblivion. Having a wonderful day watching our politicians twist themselves into knots….fools.

  3. Smoking Lamp says:

    You are correct, the foundations of tobacco control and their persecution of smokers are not scientific. The smoking bans and attacks on smokers are based on propaganda and the illusion promoted by ideologues. There is a wide body of dissenting research on the health consequences of smoking. The problem is few are aware it exists due to the systematic suppression of dissent.

  4. waltc says:

    There’ve been a lot of collective brainwashings in the annals of history with no empirical backing and no mass media as we know it. . The sun revolves around the earth. Which is flat. Various whimsical gods control the weather. God created man as a separate species. Wait! no he didn’t. Sin causes disease. Witches cause disease. Masturbation causes blindness. Chinese immigrants cause plague. Jews cause typhus. Blacks cause yellow fever.

    But, moving on into the mid 20th c, it’s not the “smoking causes cancer (and heart attacks and blindness and impotence and wrinkles)” that caused the mischief, it’s the Secondhand Smoke (even brief outdoor whiffs) causes all the above plus asthma and SIDS. A mass hysterical belief in the impossible that’s swept across the globe.

  5. Colin Smith says:

    I think you are wrong about the idea that the internet changes everything – in the long run at least. It is becoming all too clear that access to the internet is via corporate gatekeepers who have their own political sympathies. Their grip is tightening on what you are allowed to view, read and say, and it is well known that their sympathies are against Trump, for example.

    Most people’s access to the internet is via an operating system and applications that track everything they look at. If a person routinely looks at dodgy political web sites (as the corporations would see it), and starts his own Youtube channel or whatever, it would be the simplest thing in the world for them to simply fail to promote his channel in search results – this would be an automatic, passive process without any human intervention, but effective at killing off the spread of ‘wrong’ opinions on the web. I could imagine other strategies involving automatic AI scanning of text, monitoring of comments and who posts them, etc. tied to how they are promoted in order to nudge online behaviour and shape the web into the way they want it to be.

    I keep seeing Youtubers of the ‘wrong’ political persuasion suggesting that their viewing figures are mysteriously shrinking – already having had their incomes from advertising eliminated. Even if they only do it for love, that motivation is being killed off too. Even if they already have an army of loyal followers, Youtube merely needs to ‘attenuate’ the displayed view count in order to reduce motivation and shape behaviour without resorting to bans and other obvious measures. I think it was ‘The Britisher’ who was saying this only the other night.

    Technically, there is still an option to use an anonymous encrypted browser and for independent forums, alternative video channels, etc. to be set up, but if this became popular it could be outlawed or at least smeared with the implication that anyone who uses it has something to hide and is probably a paedophile or drug dealer. And as far as I can tell, OS providers or ISPs could simply decide not to allow access via this means if they wanted to – or were directed to by government. Or could charge more for it.

    As far as I can tell, there is no potential limit to this convergence of the web onto being an arm of government, an offshoot of the BBC and ITV, a commercial advertising medium – and an all-powerful tool for controlling the electorate. It needn’t be obvious and in the open; merely done behind the scenes algorithmically, with passive damping down of the ‘wrong’ political views and the rewarding of the ‘right’ opinions.

  6. Colin Smith says:

    Just an aside related to my previous post. I have seen it mentioned that if you type in any word or phrase to the Google search engine, there is a ‘News’ button that you can press in order to restrict search results to just the latest news. Except… if you search for ‘gilets jaunes’…

    • Frank Davis says:

      I tried out Gilets Jaunes in Google, and there was indeed no News button at the top. When I searched Google for Brexit and Climate Change there was a News button shown.

      However, when I searched Google for Yellow Vests a News button did appear. So I suppose that Google doesn’t get many searches for Gilets Jaunes outside France, because Gilets Jaunes is a French term, and they’re mostly called the Yellow Vests outside France.

      More alarmingly, when I searched for Celery, there was no News button there either. But if I searched for Celery News, a News button did finally and grudgingly appear, and I was offered:

      Not Into Celery Juice? Here’s Another Way To Get Your Fix.

      Why you should think about incorporating celery into your food plans.

      This Is How Much Kathy Wakile Believes in the “Miracle” of Celery

      Yuk! And RIP Kathy Wakile.

  7. Pingback: Response to a Couple of Comments | Frank Davis

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