Regular readers will know that for the past 18 months I’ve been constructing simulation models of heat flow in snow and ice on the surface of the Earth. For I had the idea 18 months ago that if a deep pile of snow lands on the surface of the Earth, it will act as a blanket to warm the surface, which will eventually melt the overlying snow. This idea underpinned an outline explanation for how ice ages worked: Lots of snow fell on the ground everywhere. The ground beneath the snow slowly warmed up. And after a few thousand years melted the snow. Whereupon the ground cooled down again, and when it was cold enough it got covered in snow again. And that was the ice age cycle of glacial and interglacial periods.
It all relates to the current rancorous debate about global warming. It’s my small contribution to that debate. My two bits.
But I wish I could have contributed something to the debate about smoking instead. Because my hot button issue is smoking bans, not global warming, or even Brexit. Why couldn’t I have thought about the epidemiological science of how Smoking Causes Lung Cancer? Why couldn’t I build a computer cancer model?
And that’s an interesting question. And my answer is that there is no science underpinning the idea that Smoking Causes Lung Cancer. There’s nothing there.
The same isn’t true of climate science. There’s lots and lots of real science in there. There are glaciologists and geologists and physicists busy studying ice sheets and rocks and air. They measure temperatures, weigh things, measure things, and calculate things. If I have a complaint about climate science, it’s not that I think that what they’re doing isn’t science, but rather that I don’t think their science has developed far enough for them to understand something as complex as the Earth’s climate.
I bought a book last year called Principles of Planetary Climate, by Raymond Pierrehumbert. I have no doubt whatsoever that he’s a climate scientist, because the book is chockablock full of equations and graphs. But the most interesting thing about the book is that Pierrehumbert is quite candid in saying that there are a lot of things that climate scientists don’t understand. The opening lines of chapter one – The Big Questions – are:
This chapter will survey a few of the major questions raised by observed features of present and past Earth and planetary climates. Some of these questions have been answered to one extent or other, but many remain largely unresolved.
They’ve got Big Questions? And they don’t know the answers to some of them? How much don’t they know? And these guys are telling us that Carbon Dioxide Causes Global Warming? They’re telling us that, but at the same time they’re telling us that there’s all sorts of stuff that they simply don’t understand? Can we please wait until these guys actually understand everything, or everything we really need to know, before doing something as drastic as decarbonising the economy.
But then science is always being driven by ignorance. In science, people are always trying to find the answers to questions they’ve got about things they don’t understand. It’s become a matter of such great urgency now that billions and billions of dollars are being thrown into climate science, in the desperate attempt to get to understand the Earth’s climate better. And they’re doing real science with thermometers and weighing machines and rulers. They’re measuring stuff.
So where are the billions of dollars in tobacco science research? Where are the papers showing exactly how tobacco smoke causes lung cancer? Or even the latest theory of how it does so?
The answer is that there are no dollars being piled into explaining how Smoking Causes Lung Cancer. And there never has been. There have been a few inconclusive studies with dogs. All the rest of the debate has been purely statistical in nature. For while they still have no idea how smoking causes lung cancer, they think that it probably causes lung cancer somehow or other. And they think there are other probable contributory causes, including age, HPV, radioactivity, genes, etc. The ‘proofs’ that Smoking Causes Lung Cancer are purely mathematical. The whole battle has been fought out in the field of statistics. There’s no science involved. Just mathematics.
Smoking has been banned because it’s believed that it probably causes cancer. In fact it’s been banned because there’s a small outside chance that it might just be a contributory cause of cancer, in the exact same way that Visiting West Africa is a Probable Contributory Factor for Malaria.
So while there’s a real scientific debate, and real scientific research being done in climate science, the same isn’t true of the debate about smoking and lung cancer. In climate science there’s a genuine (very heated) debate going on. But in smoking science The Debate Is Over. And the debate is over because there never was a debate. And there never was a debate because there was never any science.
What we’re seeing in the smoking non-debate is an example of Lysenko science. Lysenko believed that wheat crops could be increased using a process called “vernalisation.” Hardly anybody in Russia believed Lysenko. But one very important person did believe him, and his name was Joseph Stalin. And what Stalin thought was what everybody in Russia had to think too. And the belief that Smoking Causes Lung Cancer is a Lysenko-type idea which has become a dogma because Important People believe it. These important people seem mostly to reside in the medical profession. Somehow or other lots of doctors became convinced around 1950 that Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, and have been using the power and prestige of their profession to help drive a PR campaign – a propaganda campaign – to convince everyone else that Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, simply by repeating the assertion over and over again. And they’ve been astonishingly successful. For now everybody knows that Smoking Causes Lung Cancer as more or less the one thing in life that they’re absolutely certain about. It’s become impossible to think otherwise.
There’s a genuine debate going on about climate science because there’s real science behind it. There’s no debate about smoking because there’s no science behind it, and so nothing to debate. When it comes to smoking, we’re in the realms of mass psychology, and mass psychological conditioning. It’s not about what is the case, but what you believe is the case.
It’s why Tobacco Control must be destroyed. All they’re doing is enforce a belief system that’s unsupported by any science. And when Tobacco Control is finally destroyed, it’s going to take with it much of the medical profession and the mainstream mass media.
So I can build heat flow models of snow and ice because there’s science I can use, but I can’t build smoke and cancer flow models of lungs and tissue because there’s no science there. There’s just a dogmatic propaganda-driven belief system.