Optimistic Smokers and Pessimistic Antismokers

I’m so used to hyped-up health scares that I’m more or less convinced that the new coronavirus scare is just another one.

If you fear the worst, this is a fiendish bioweapon that’s going to kill tens of millions of people in a replay of the Black Death.

If you hope for the best, it’ll all be over by April.

It seems that some people always fear the worst, not just about epidemics, but also about climate change and tobacco smoke and any number of other things.

Antismokers are pessimists: they fear the worst. And smokers like me are optimists: we hope for the best. And we inhabit very different worlds. Their world is dark and overcast, while mine is sunny.

Donald Trump is an optimist: he thinks that the coronavirus epidemic will all be over by April. Democrats like Nancy Pelosi are pessimists who are trying to start a panic about it.

And Greta Thunberg is a pessimist who thinks that we’re facing an imminent climate catastrophe. She’s probably a pessimist about everything else as well.

And I’m a climate optimist. In fact, I can’t see how anyone can be a pessimist. After all, as far as I can see, even if you accept that global warming is happening, and that the Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets are melting away, and sea levels are going to rise by 60 or 70 metres, it’s going to take hundreds or even thousands of years for this to happen. In what sense can something that takes so long to happen be called a “catastrophe” or an “emergency” or a “crisis”? Aren’t such things sudden events, not slow processes taking hundreds or thousands of years?

If anything I’m now a climate super-optimist. I think global warming is a good thing. If pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere actually has served to warm the planet, then I think we should do more of it. Because I’m far more worried about a new ice age than I am about global warming. Our current Holocene interglacial has already lasted about 12,000 years, and these interglacials seldom last much longer than that. And a new ice age could start very suddenly. All it would take is for a blanket of snow to cover much of North America and Europe and Russia, and the Earth’s atmosphere would start to rapidly cool, with global air temperatures dropping by an average 10 Cº in less than a decade. And that would be a real catastrophe, and a real emergency. But fortunately our current slight global warming may well be just enough to prevent it from happening. And that’s why I think global warming is a good thing, and we need more of it, not less of it.

Furthermore I have good reason to believe this because for the past two years  I’ve been building my own simple climate model in which I calculate the heat gain from the Sun and the heat loss from the Earth at different locations on the Earth’s surface, and I can get a glaciation cycle working with long periods of cold glaciation punctuated by brief warm interglacials. Here’s one of my ice ages, with snow covering North America, Europe, and Russia:

So I’m not relying on somebody else’s calculations. I’m not relying on experts. I’m not relying on climate scientists. I’m thinking for myself.

And I’ve come to believe that the climate scientists don’t understand how ice ages work. In my model, the snow and ice in the ice sheets melt because they act as a layer of insulation on the surface of the Earth, and cause the surface to slowly warm up and eventually melt them. But climate scientists seem to be unaware of this simple thermostatic process. They try to explain the glaciation cycle using variations in the Earth’s orbit (Milankovitch cycles) and a number of other things including, of course, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. And in the process, I think they’ve exaggerated the importance of  carbon dioxide. I think they were desperate to find something that could start and stop ice ages, and somehow or other they convinced themselves that carbon dioxide was the only possible explanation. And that’s why we’ve got Greta Thunberg.

But I’m not a climate scientist. And I’m not an expert. I’m just someone who spent years and years building heat flow models of buildings with sun shining on them, and I’ve taken that knowledge, and added snow and ice and geothermal heat and an atmosphere. In my little model I’ve got Milankovitch cycles, and I can simulate global warming as well, and also mad schemes to stop global warming by pumping sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere (guaranteed to start a new ice age, in my opinion).

I know a bit about heat flow. I don’t know very much about viruses. And as far as I can see neither do all the expert virologists. For the simple truth of the matter is that us humans know very little about anything. And we know least of all about tobacco smoke.

About Frank Davis

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17 Responses to Optimistic Smokers and Pessimistic Antismokers

  1. “If you fear the worst, this is a fiendish bioweapon that’s going to kill tens of millions of people…
    If you hope for the best, it’ll all be over by April.”

    Is it ok to hope for the worst?

  2. Rose says:

    I agree with your hypothesis, smokers are optimists.
    And here is the science that may explain it.

    How dopamine enhances an optimism bias in humans.

    “When predicting financial profits, relationship outcomes, longevity, or professional success, people habitually underestimate the likelihood of future negative events. This well-known bias, termed unrealistic optimism, is observed across age, culture, and species, and has a significant societal impact on domains ranging from financial markets to health and well being. However, it is unknown how neuromodulatory systems impact on the generation of optimistically biased beliefs.

    This question assumes great importance in light of evidence that common neuropsychiatric disorders, such as depression, are characterized by pessimism. Here, we show that administration of a drug that enhances dopaminergic function (dihydroxy-L-phenylalanine; L-DOPA) increases an optimism bias. This effect is due to L-DOPA impairing the ability to update belief in response to undesirable information about the future. These findings provide the first evidence that the neuromodulator dopamine impacts on belief formation by reducing negative expectations regarding the future.”

    Parkinson’s Inhibitor Fingered in Tobacco

    “They ground up tobacco leaves and tested representative samples in a test tube to see if they inhibited MAO. From the fraction containing the most potent MAO inhibitor, they isolated a chemical known as 2,3,6-trimethyl-1,4-naphthoquinone.

    To find out whether this was a key MAO-inhibitor in cigarette smoke, Castagnoli’s team examined mice in which dopamine-producing neurons were killed with a compound called MPTP that’s converted to a toxin in the brain, causing symptoms much like Parkinson’s disease. Without the naphthoquinone, dopamine levels in the mice given MPTP dropped 60% below normal.

    Yet when the mice were pretreated with naphthoquinone, dopamine levels fell only 40%. This suggests that naphthoquinone “is a good [MAO] inhibitor–not gangbusters, but a good inhibitor,” Castagnoli says.

    Napthoquinone had previously been found in tobacco smoke, but not linked to dopamine.The new finding suggests it might be protecting dopamine in smokers”
    https: //www.sciencemag.org/news/2000/04/parkinsons-inhibitor-fingered-tobacco

    This optimism is counteractive to the activities of the FCTC though, however they try to encourage us to stop smoking with taxes, bans and constant defamation, it doesn’t seem to work.

    FCTC/COP/5/9 Annex 3 page 12

    “Researchers have found a marked decrease in the levels of monoamine oxidase (MAO) in the brains and peripheral organs of smokers . MAO is an important enzyme responsible for breaking down dopamine.

    The decrease in MAO results in higher dopamine levels and may be another reason that
    smokers continue to smoke, i.e. to sustain the high dopamine levels that lead to the desire for repeated drug use.

    It has been suggested that this change is likely to be caused by a substance in tobacco smoke other than nicotine.
    Certain tobacco constituents are reported to be MAO inhibitors, such as
    2,3,6-trimethyl-1-4-naphthoquinone …”

    Click to access FCTC_COP5_9-en.pdf

    It may well have been counteractive to Project Fear as well.

    • waltc says:

      That last part (in tobacco other than nicotine) is interesting and may explain
      why nicotine replacement doesn’t work, aside from the fact that it doesn’t require the regulation of breathing that smoking does. It also makes me question the successful substitution of vaping if tne vapor just contains nicotine, except for the fact that it also involves deep inhalation. What do you think, Rose?

      • Rose says:

        Walt, I have long thought that the drugs companies backed the wrong horse in 1999

        Nicotine was the only plant chemical in tobacco that the early prohibitionists had ever heard of, which doesn’t make them right.

        In study after study even scientists trying to cure non smokers of debiliating illnesses assume it must be the nicotine.

        For example

        Nicotine: does it have a role in the treatment of ulcerative colitis?

        “Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory disease state of unknown etiology. Its progression is erratic, with patients experiencing periods of exacerbations and remissions. Current therapeutic options have yielded less than satisfactory results.

        With the discovery of the potential relationship between nonsmoking status and the onset of ulcerative colitis and the development of various nicotine dosage forms came the hypothesis that nicotine may play a protective role against the development of ulcerative colitis and maintenance of remission.
        Hence, investigators began conducting clinical trials on the use of available nicotine dosage forms in the management of ulcerative colitis.”

        “Overall, investigation of nicotine in the treatment of ulcerative colitis has yielded disappointing results.

        CONCLUSION: Nicotine cannot be recommended as adjunctive or single therapy for the treatment of ulcerative colitis and will not alter current treatment options.”

        Carbon Monoxide Soothes Inflammatory Bowel Disease

        “Doctors have long known that smokers rarely suffer from a common form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) called ulcerative colitis, but they didn’t know why.

        A new study in the December 19 issue of The Journal of Experimental Medicine might help explain this apparent resistance. Scott Plevy and his colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh now show that carbon monoxide (CO), a component of cigarette smoke, helps shut down the intestinal inflammation that causes ulcerative colitis.”

        “.recent scientific studies have shown that CO — at least at low concentrations — has a redeeming quality: it acts as an anti-inflammatory agent”

        “The group traced the action of inhaled CO to a protein that is produced by immune cells called interleukin (IL)-12. IL-12 is normally produced during infection and helps activate the immune cells that fight off the invading pathogens.
        But chronic production of IL-12 in the gut also drives the inflammation that causes ulcerative colitis.
        Inhaled CO inhibited the production of IL-12, short-circuiting the disease-causing inflammation.”

        https ://web.archive.org/web/20030211043229/http://www.who.int/inf-pr-1999/en/pr99-04.html

        WHO Europe evidence based recommendations on the treatment of tobacco dependence

        “This was a three year project, funded largely by three pharmaceutical companies that manufacture treatment products for tobacco dependence, but managed by WHO Europe and a steering group which included government representatives and many public sector organisations.”
        https ://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/11/1/44.full

        Must have seemed like a good idea taking over the market for an addictive drug that isn’t.

      • RdM says:

        There are upmarket vape juices with the otherwise missing alkaloids now.
        Search (in your favourite or habitual engine – tried startpage com?)
        WTA whole tobacco alkaloids

        One of many brands:

        Some old geezer still convinced it’s best to get off tobacco, but still, interesting notes?
        And so much more out there.

        Personally, I’ll keep smoking while I can, but if I had to vape again I’d try for WTA.
        Preferably mixed at home with some WTE flavours whole tobacco extract flavors.
        By then, may as well smoke the real tobacco, but must be getting a better vape!?

  3. Rose says:

    “There Are Bad Times Just Around The Corner”

  4. Igrowmyown says:

    Anybody seen any interviews with people who have had coronovirus and recovered? Me neither,strange that,you would have thought that the media would have been all over them wanting to know what it was like and how bad they felt when they were infected. Perhaps their experience doesn’t fit the official narrative.

    • beobrigitte says:

      Anybody seen any interviews with people who have had coronovirus and recovered?
      David Abel. English guy who was on the Diamond Princess. Missed the flight back to England, is still in a Japanese Hospital recovering from his pneumonia. He said he is getting better.

      • Igrowmyown says:

        Hi beobrigitte but that was his own blog and not a media interview,he said that they are nearly recovered and haven’t needed any treatment!

        • beobrigitte says:

          Not correct. His son brought his parents’ plight (obviously no-one, including the company that owns the ship) seems to understand that ISOLATION means exactly that.
          I can assure you that Mr. Abel needed and received treatment.

        • Igrowmyown says:

          “He said the couple did not receive any treatment ( for pneumonia) and their bodies were getting rid of the virus.” David (74) can be seen dancing in a hospital gown to the sound track of ” I’m having the time of my life” This is not somebody who has had pneumonia.

  5. Rose says:


    Nicotine as an Addictive Substance: A Critical Examination of the Basic Concepts and Empirical Evidence

    “There are so many findings that conflict so starkly with the view that nicotine is addictive that it increasingly appears that adhering to the nicotine addiction thesis is only defensible on extra-scientific grounds”

    Click to access atrens.pdf

    Includes descriptions of animal experiments.

    But even if you can train a monkey to administer nicotine injections by strapping it to a plank, leaving one hand free to press the lever and refusing water until it does, you can not get it to believe.

  6. Pessimism/Optimism, CV2019, and ice blankets insulating the world.. :) Fasinating ideas and well-argued as always! Wish I could get over here more often than Quora, but unfortunately it eats up an enormous amount of time: The Antis are NOT happy that our side’s arguments are more prominent than theirs on the platform: they’d LOVE to see us demoted to “Flat Earther” status.

    I’ll be sharing that nicotine 2001 paper with some Quora folks too!

    – MJM, who’s gotta go crawl into bed soon: sun is going to come up!

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