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Frank Davis

Banging on about the Smoking Ban


The Community Advocacy Toolkit
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H/T Rose for a link to an article in CAGE Canada, which in turn linked to a Community Advocacy Toolkit that helps advocates of "smoke‐free outdoor air".

This is a fascinating document, produce in September 2010. It was written by Janice Forsythe (short bio), of Cypress Consulting, Ottawa. She was the executive director of the Canadian Council for Tobacco Control from 1992 to 1997. She cites a list of antismoking "leaders", who appear to all be doctors, academics, or health professionals. You yourself, the recipent of this toolkit, will of course be working in Tobacco Control:

You are likely already working on tobacco control issues in a coalition of health organizations. It could be to your advantage to broaden that coalition to include non‐traditional groups for the smoke‐free outdoor spaces campaign. The more organizations politicians and the public see supporting an initiative, the more credible it will be in their eyes.

And your antismoking activities are expected to be funded from a variety of sources. You aren't some lone amateur. You're part of a team.

As you no doubt have a variety of funders you are accountable to, you must keep detailed and accurate financial records, based on a realistic budget. All expenditures should require submission of receipts or an invoice and cheques should require two signatures...

Reports to funders should have both narrative and financial
components. Some funders require you to use a specific form or format

You create a coalition of organisations. The more of them the better. Campaign partners may include cancer, heart, and lung societies, hospitals, health associations, doctor and dentist and nurses' associations, university and college and school groups including girl guides and boy scouts, environmentalist groups, zoos, sports associations, local festivals, fairs, and farmers' markets. Note that these are all organisations of one sort or other. There is no heading for "ordinary people".

.....write (or sign ghost written) letters to the editor, etc. (pages 31 & 33)

.....submit at least two letters to the editor each month during the campaign, under the names of different authors”. (page 33)

...Plant stories in the media about non‐smokers politely asking smokers to move to a designated smoking area or outside the smoke‐free area and smokers complying. Create the impression that the bylaw is working and it will! ( p48)

What is important with any online advocacy tool is that you have to drive traffic to the site to get the numbers that you need to influence politicians. (page 37)

Public consultations will undoubtedly be held before Council takes a vote on the bylaw amendments. This is an ideal time to pack meetings with volunteers who will speak out in favour of the amendments. This will make it clear to councillors and the media that these are real people who are being affected: restaurant and bar staff, children, adults with health conditions, etc (page 41)

Be sure to have key members of your coalition inside and outside Council Chambers for the debate and final vote of Council. You need to fill the room with volunteers to show community support for the issue and for the councillors who vote in your favour (page 47)

It offers advice about recognising the influence of Big Tobacco (my emphases).

What do to if the Tobacco Industry Comes to Town
How do you tell if the industry is involved? Is there a “grassroots smokers’ rights group” in your community that surfaced recently? Have you noticed a postcard campaign supported by the opposition? Are smokers and others being asked to speak out against your efforts? Is the opposition garnering a lot of media attention, complete with expensive news conferences and slick materials? Are you hearing from councillors that the opposition has been in to see them? Are tobacco industry studies being cited in the media or in the comment sections of online articles? If you release a study, do you receive letters from “the public” that question your methodology or in some other way try to cast doubt on your findings? These initiatives are invariably undertaken by tobacco industry front groups or plants, not ordinary citizens. If this is happening in your community, try to follow the money and you’re sure to find the tobacco industry behind the scenes.  

But in the next breath concedes that most non-smokers aren't bothered, and that there are such things as "angry smokers" and that they form a "significant minority".

A key aspect of any smoke‐free campaign is to mobilize the silent majority. Most non‐smokers don’t speak out against smoking, but you have to tap into their power to win your case.

Angry smokers who feel they are losing what they feel is their right to smoke will likely speak out in a variety of ways – letters to the editor, comments sections of online articles, radio call‐in shows, etc. Their voices can seem very loud, even though they represent a significant minority of the population.

It also includes a set of answers to questions posed by smokers, although most of them don't answer the question asked.

Countering the Arguments
Argument Response
It doesn’t harm anybody if you smoke outside. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, so even a small amount of smoke can cause harm, especially to children, the elderly and people with breathing problems. Studies show that secondhand smoke can be just as harmful outdoors as indoors under some conditions. It depends on how many smokers there are, how close you are to the smoker and the wind conditions.
Smokers are being ostracized. Where are we supposed to go to smoke now? Where smokers can go to smoke outside is a concern to us, too. We don’t want them smoking in their homes. That’s why we have not regulated smoking on sidewalks (or whatever places you have left unregulated).
What are they going to regulate next? Where we can breathe? Communities all across Canada and the United States are now regulating where people can smoke publicly outside. The reasons are to protect people from secondhand smoke, to encourage smokers to cut back or quit, to reduce the social acceptability of smoking so that kids don’t start and to reduce cigarette butt and packaging litter.
It is our right to smoke and we should be able to do it outside where we’re not hurting anybody. They’ve been telling us for years to go outside to smoke. It is far better to smoke outside than inside, but new studies show that smoking outside can still cause harm to others. We believe that people should be able to breathe smoke-free air wherever they go in public.
They won’t let us smoke in our cars. The next thing they’ll do is ban smoking in our homes. The issue we’re focusing on is creating outdoor smoke-free places where people can congregate in public. We don’t think it is too much to ask smokers to go elsewhere to smoke so that we can protect the children in our parks and on our playgrounds, people trying to enter a building, etc. You can’t drink in public and smoking shouldn’t be treated differently.
All they really want is for there to be no smokers. It is just Big Brother telling us what to do! Governments have a responsibility to regulate behaviours that protect people’s health. We have seatbelt laws and people can’t drive drunk. Both of these laws protect the individual driving, as well others on the road. Laws to regulate where you can smoke in public are just the same.
Where are we supposed to go now to have a smoke when we want to go out to eat or have a drink? All restaurants and bars are now smoke-free indoors. This law was brought in to protect not only the public, but more importantly, the people who work there. They should also be able to work in a smoke-free environment. The smoke on some patios can be just as heavy as inside the restaurant or bar.
Why didn’t we hear about this before? The City and health organizations have been working on this issue for several months. There has been a public awareness campaign with ads in newspapers, on the radio (list wherever they’ve been); there has been widespread media coverage and public consultations so that community members could be heard. Public opinion is strongly supportive, with X% of our citizens in favour of these bylaw changes.

The picture that emerges is one of a well-funded (from a variety of sources), full-time professional Tobacco Control team which builds up coalitions of a number of organisations, feeds news to mainstream media outlets, cultivates connections everywhere, and actively seeks out volunteers to write letters and attend council meetings. None of it would happen but for their organisational skills. And they've got so good at it that they can provide a how-to-do-it toolkit.

It provides an invaluable insight into the "Smoke and Mirrors" used by ASH's Deborah Arnott to create a swarm effect. No doubt politicians suddenly find themselves facing entire coalitions of social organisations ranging from doctors and nurses through to boy scouts and environmentalists and zoo-keepers all demanding outdoor smoking bans, and sending in postcards and letters with the right talking points.

And up against them there's next to nobody, apart from a few angry smokers, who can be confidently dismissed as shills for Big Tobacco, and whose protests and questions can be met with suitably evasive answers. Is it very surprising if politicians believe that they're seeing a genuine grassroot movement, and readily implement whatever bans are being demanded?

What is the effect of all these bans? There are no improvements in public health, because SHS poses no real threat at all to anyone. But, despite all the talk of "community" what the bans most certainly do is to take a sledgehammer to local communities, driving smokers into isolation and exclusion and stigmatisation, and very often bankrupting the cafes and bars and restaurants where they used to meet.

But there is zero recognition of these ill effects in the toolkit. Only the positive outcomes, meagre as they are, receive any stress. Everything else simply doesn't happen.

Nor is it that the denormalisation process even has the desired effect of 'helping' smokers to give up smoking.

although the 'denormalisation' environment had encouraged several participants to quit smoking, the majority continued to smoke, raising ethical and practical questions about the value of denormalisation strategies as a way of reducing smoking-related mortality and morbidity.

Last word for CAGE Canada:

The late Gian Turci often said that this was a war. Sometimes we thought he exaggerated. To our dear freedom and justice-loving friends, we must now admit that Gian was right and that this is in fact a real war.

A New Kind of Civil War
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I'm going to have to disagree with Junican, fond as I am of him. He thinks the war against the antismokers must be fought in Europe. In one comment he writes:

"Forget the USA. Too much under the thumb. Forget Bhutan. Irrelevant. The battle must be fought in Europe, and especially by those people who felt the Nazi jackboot on their necks. The fact that we Brits (including Ireland) did not feel the jackboot partially eliminates us as a battleground. Spain can be included because of Franco and the Nazi connection, and the civil war. Do not underestimate the Spanish civil war - it left terrible, terrible scars."

Well, the Nazis still matter, because Hitler was the archetypal antismoker, and much of modern antismoking research began in Nazi Germany, along with "passive smoking" (passivrauchen), and a variety of partial smoking bans. Furthermore, in Nazi Germany it was the medical profession which was among the first to enthusiastically adopt the eugenic creed which identified a whole variety of undesirable 'subhumans' that needed to be expelled from the German body politic . This eugenic 'cleansing' programme was launched primarily against Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and variety of other peoples, with results that don't need to be recapitulated here.

Consequently, it's not improper to say that these days we are confronted by a new army of Nazis, whose principal targets are the new untermenschen of smokers, drinkers, and fat people. Their eugenic world view is exactly the same as that of their jackbooted predecessors, and so are their methods of lies and propaganda and demonisation and exclusion. They may even be contemplating the extermination of these new undesirable social groups (although this time it will be done covertly).

But that's as far as it goes. We are not faced now with an exact repeat of history. We're not fighting the Germans. This time, if anything, they are our allies. What we are instead seeing is the revival of the eugenic ideology which underlay much of Nazi thinking, and which was never as comprehensively crushed as was the Nazi state in 1945. This ideology lingered on in America and Britain, largely in the medical profession, and over the past 70 years it has been gradually regaining its strength and influence. And now it has become sufficiently powerful to launch a global war on tobacco and alcohol.

It's not just in Europe that the war on smokers is being conducted. It's also being waged in America, in Canada, in Australia, in New Zealand, in Japan, in Bhutan. It's a war on smokers that is being waged everywhere. And as such it's a war which must be fought everywhere.

If anything, the key battleground is in America. Because this is where much of the momentum of the antismoking cause has been gathering over the past few decades. Yet it's not as if Americans are "too much under the thumb" of the antismokers. They're not. Smoking bans in America have been implemented on a city by city or state by state basis. There is no federal smoking ban in America applicable to all states. The result is that in America there are still lots of places where people can smoke. And there's still a healthy plurality of opinion.

If anywhere can be described as "too much under the thumb" of the antismokers, it's Britain and Ireland and parts of Europe. Here there are no exceptions. There are no city limits or state borders that can be crossed to reach a welcoming smoky bar. There's no smoking anywhere, full stop. And this regime has the support of all the major political parties, and the whole of the mainstream media. An enormous cultural change has been imposed on the whole of Britain and Ireland, deceitfully and undemocratically, without any real public debate of its prior justifications or of its posterior consequences. And now the antismokers wish to tighten the screws further, with outdoor smoking bans, car smoking bans, plain packaging of tobacco, and hidden tobacco displays.

Back to Junican:

"Isn't it a pity that we in Europe do not have a common language? From the point of view of fighting against tyranny, it does not matter what language that might be. Wouldn't it be wonderful of the Americans spoke Japanese? Then we would not be able to understand the intellectual sick which flows from their mouths."

I don't think such an attitude is either accurate or helpful. It portrays all Americans as antismoking zealots, when nothing could be further from the truth. It's a piece of anti-Americanism that probably owes its origins to a time when Americans were said to be "overpaid, oversexed, and over here".

And I would also add that five years ago I spent many happy hours in a smoky little restaurant in Japan, where nobody could speak a word of English, and I couldn't speak a word of Japanese, and where I mostly got by with gestures and nods and smiles and proffered banknotes, and yet felt as at home as if I'd been sitting in an English pub.

Sentiments of this sort really have no place in our struggle. We are all smokers together, brothers and sisters, whatever our race or colour or creed. The Smoking Community, if it is anything, is a global community.

There are many ancient animosities floating around in our societies. In Britain, much of the animosity is between the warring Scottish and Welsh and Irish and English (anglo-saxon) tribes. We have been fighting each other for centuries, after all. And in Britain as a whole such animosity is often directed elsewhere as well, when we're being anti-French, anti-German, anti-Italian, anti-American, or anti-whoever-we-last-fought-a-war-with.

But we smokers can no longer afford such sentiments. We are all in this new war together, whether we're English or Scottish or Welsh or Irish or French or German or Italian or American or Japanese or Bhutanese. We are all brothers and sisters together, and we must put aside these animosities in the face of our ubiquitous new enemy.

Our strength is precisely that there are so many of us, from so many different places in the world, speaking so many different languages, yet all enjoying the shared pleasure of tobacco, and able to instantly recognise each other by the cigarette or pipe or cigar we hold.

Junican for the last time:

"Do not underestimate the Spanish civil war - it left terrible, terrible scars. Why, only last year our taxi driver, taking us to our hotel in Majorca, talked to us about the Spanish civil war and about how some of his relatives were caught up in it (because he originated from the mainland). He was a young man in his thirties."

I've visited Spain every year for the past 10 years, and I have a number of Spanish friends. There are indeed deep scars in Spanish society from their civil war. And I was told by my Spanish friends that it was a civil conflict that divided families across the whole of Spain, mother from son, brother from sister.

If the Spanish civil war has any lessons for us today, it is that the war that smokers are fighting is a new kind of civil war - a global civil war -, which is dividing families and friends everywhere in exactly the same way they were once divided in Spain (and where they are now being divided once again). It's also a low key civil war which is unlikely to turn into an actual shooting war. It's also a war conducted almost entirely by states against their own peoples - for although the antismoking zealots are relatively few in number, and they are strongly concentrated in the medical profession and mass media and government. There isn't any popular grassroot antismoking movement. All the antismoking campaign groups are astroturfed, and almost entirely funded by taxes. A small minority of antismokers has managed to hijack the state and the mass media, and impose its doctrines upon everybody else.

If this new war has any relation at all to the war on Nazi Germany, it is that this time it is a war against the eugenic ideology that underpinned Nazism. And this time, when these new Nazis have been defeated (as they must be), their eugenic ideology must be eradicated as it never was after 1945.

Spain and New York
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H/T Sue Swbk on Facebook:

Madrid, Spain (CNN) -- Authorities on Thursday ordered the closure of a restaurant for repeatedly violating the nation's tough new anti-smoking law, the first such shutdown in Spain, officials told CNN.

The owner of the restaurant -- El Asador Guadalmina near the popular southern Mediterranean resort of Marbella -- earlier this week defiantly told Spanish media he would not pay a nearly $200,000 fine for allowing clients to smoke in his locale, despite the new law which prohibits smoking in all indoor bars and restaurants.
A health inspector accompanied by local police was to go to the restaurant later Thursday to inform the owner of the closure order and shut the establishment, a spokeswoman for the Andalusia regional government health department told CNN...

A restaurant employee told CNN by phone on Thursday that Arias was in Madrid and that no authorities had yet arrived at the restaurant with any closure order.

"We're open, and we're full," said the employee, who declined to give his name, around 1 p.m., before the start of Spain's lunch hour.

Closing down restaurants would seem to be a rather heavy-handed escalation. Which could backfire. What if it stayed open, and the customers refused to budge, in a prolonged siege?

Also H/T Michael McFadden for antismoker comments on New York City's proposed outdoor smoking ban:

chillchic says:
January 10, 2011 at 6:52 pm
My Lungs are jumping for joy. I actually no longer live in New York but I hate to visit downtown Manhattan because of all of the smoke. I have asthma and I hate people breathing their toxic stinky fumes right into my face. If you want to kill yourself, go right ahead but don’t inflict that on me.

For all of those folks who are complaining about freedom, I want freedom as well, freedom to go shopping, to walk to class, to wait for a taxi, to walk down the street without your cancer-fumes clogging my airways.

The Taker says:

January 10, 2011 at 4:44 pm
Yessssss!!! I absolutely hate smokers. Every freaking time they blow their nasty smoke, I hope their lung explodes abruptly in their chest right then and there. They blow their smoke every which-a-way, acting as if they’re only damn person on the streets. You think I wanna inhale your bad habit as I walk past a**h***. The air is polluted enough. As a born and bred NYer, you’d think I’d be used to this but Im not. Im getting more pissed off by the day and I hope that this ban comes into effect very,very soon. LETS DO THISSSSSS!!!

Viva Lola says:

January 9, 2011 at 1:36 am
YES!! with all caps… SMOKING SHOULD BE BANNED FROM OUT DOORS. IF SMOKERS FEEL THE NEED TO SMOKE THEY SHOULD SMOKE AT HOME ARE IN THEIR CARS. SECOND HAND SMOKE IS DEADLY POINT BLANK PERIOD. LI, NY NEEDS A ROUND OF APPLAUDS FOR THE BANNED ON SMOKING OUT DOORS. I THINK NON SMOKERS SHOULD BE ABLE TO SUE SMOKERS FOR SECOND HAND SMOKE! SECOND HAND SMOKE LEADS TO CANCER.

P.S I HATE SMOKERS!! IT’S A NASTY HABIT AND IT AFFECT OTHERS!!!

I guess these people just uncritically accept everything they're told.

Mad Utopian Fantasies
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frank_davis
Last night, Leg iron wrote:

Probably as close as a year ago I would have laughed off talk of Common Purpose or One World Government or the Bilderbergers as tinfoil hattery. I'm not laughing now.

I can't say I've ever laughed it off, but I can't say that I've ever placed any credence in any of it either.

Who are the Bilderbergers? They're just a bunch of politicians, mostly from Europe and America, who've been holding an annual conference every year since the 1950s, when they met up at the Bilderberg hotel in Holland. You'd think that was a good thing, for politicians to meet up regularly, and chew the fat a bit. But, no, they're somehow imagined be planning a New World Order, a fricking World Government. These people! People who couldn't run a whelk stall.

And, who knows, perhaps they have been planning a New World Order? Does it matter? It used to be a subject of debate back in the days when I was in school sixth form. Would it be very surprising if politicians have been discussing the same possibility as us schoolkids once did?

Trouble is, it's just wishful thinking. Maybe one day, when the interests of all the countries in the world coincide, and in the face of some common threat (something more plausible that Global Warming, please), a world government will be formed.

But we're nowhere near anything like this. The world is the same as it has always been, with nations vying with nations just like they always have. America does what's good for America, and China what's good for China, and Russia what's good for Russia. And that's what they're going to continue to do for the foreseeable future. There isn't going to be any World Government, or New World Order. Because the moment it ceases to suit Russia or China or India or anyone else, they'll withdraw from the New World Order and go their own way.

The New World Order is an utopian fantasy. And the EU 'project' is an utopian fantasy too. The moment it ceases to suit individual countries in Europe to be a member of it, they'll get out. And the Euro is an utopian currency. But for their membership of the Eurozone, countries like Greece and Ireland (and maybe Italy and Spain and Portugal as well) would be devaluing their currencies, and encouraging tourists to spend money there. But they can't, because they are part of the eurozone. Instead they've been laden with crippling debt to other countries in the EU. And other countries in the EU (notably Germany) aren't in the least bit happy about throwing money at them which will most likely never be repaid.

And also, just when Greece and Spain need to attract tourists, they're both busy killing off their hospitality business and scaring away tourists with draconian smoking bans. And these smoking bans are also pieces of utopian fantasy legislation, intended to create some sort of ideal world, but actually creating its opposite.

EU politics, as best I can see, is fantasy politics. It's playstation politics. The EU government produces utopian fantasy legislation that regulates Europe to death. The proposed EU-wide smoking ban is just another example of this sort of legislation.

It doesn't really matter what kind of wild, utopian fantasies that European (or American) politicians entertain about a New World Order, or an EU Federal Superstate, or smoking bans, or health and safety regulations, or mackerel quotas. It's all idealistic nonsense. It's what politicians get up to when they're not under proper democratic supervision, and can hold G7 or G27 or G88 conferences in Bali or Dubai or wherever. They may as well have all got stoned on cannabis or opium. In fact, they probably have.

Same with Common Purpose. I watched a set of Youtube movies about it a few days ago, and the only thing I found out was that they'd been training people as "leaders" during two or three day seminars. You can't even teach people plumbing in that sort of time. What do they think is going to happen when, in some crisis or other, these halfwit "leaders" try to start leading? They'll be laughed to scorn. The idea of training "leaders" is anyway utterly laughable. It's another example of utopian fantasy thinking. It's hopelessly unrealistic.

That's what all these pipe dreams share in common. They're all crazily unrealistic. The New World Order is an unrealistic fantasy. The EU superstate is an unrealistic fantasy. Smoking bans are unrealistic. Common Purpose is unrealistic. Global Warming is a fantasy. It doesn't matter if thousands of these stupid bastards are holding conferences right now on how many spoons of sugar people will be allowed to put in their cups of tea or coffee. It's not going to happen. The daydream will come to an end when unpleasant reality intrudes, and the world falls in on them. Which it's bound to do. And is well overdue to happen.

And then, overnight, the whole lot of them will be swept away, as down-to-earth, practical, immediate, pressing problems are prioritised, and utopian fantasies are shelved indefinitely. It may require sweeping away an entire political generation. In fact, it probably will.

And the sooner the better.

The Coming EU Smoking Ban
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I'm not sure what happened to the EU smoking ban that the EU parliament voted through over a year ago, but it seems that another one is being prepared.

Commission preparing pan-European smoking ban

The European Commission is preparing to introduce legislation in 2011 to ban smoking in public places right across the union.

While partial or total smoking bans have been introduced in many European countries ending patrons' ability to smoke in bars, cafes and other public venues, it is still relatively easy in some states to find a bolt-hole where smokers are welcome, whether due to exceptions to such laws or owners flouting the bans.

John Dalli MaltaHealth commissioner John Dalli has said he wants to put a stop to this.

"We need a complete ban on smoking in all public spaces, transport and the workplace," he said in an interview on Monday (11 October) with German daily Die Welt.

Announcing that Brussels is currently preparing a bill to be brought forward next year, he said that exceptions should no longer be tolerated, as the matter "is not only about the health of visitors, but also the employees."

Der Spiegel reports Dalli saying:

"Because of the higher levels of illness it creates, smoking damages the economy by diminishing productivity and burdens the health care system each year with billions of euros in costs," he told the newspaper. Around 650,000 Europeans die each year as a result of smoking, he has estimated.

Gulf Stream Blues reported in late 2010 that:

Last year the European Commission took a rather half-hearted stand on public smoking, merely encouraging member states to adopt their own smoking bans by 2012. But since then a new commission has come to power and the new health commissioner appears to be more aggressive on the issue than his predecessor...

So that's what it was. Just a recommendation?

For European federalists, it would be impressive if the EU were able to enact a union-wide social/health law that the United States has never even attempted to enact federally. But for Eurosceptics, such a move will surely be seen as an inexcusable intrusion not only on member state sovereignty but on people's individual civil liberties. There will likely be those within the commission who will make the argument that such a law is unnecessary when the member states seem to be going in that direction on their own on a national level. Why give the Eurosceptic press further ammunition for accusations of EU overreach?

Then again, there will likely be those within the health department who will argue that many of these national bans are not working because they are not being enforced or they are being drafted inappropriately allowing loopholes to be exploited. A European directive, they will argue, will force the member states to adopt national bans in a consistent and ironclad way – and they will be forced to do proper enforcement or risk being taken to the European Court of Justice for infringement of the directive.

My own guess, for what it's worth, is that the EU is seeking "harmonisation" across the EU before capping it with EU law which will act as another few metres of concrete under which to bury European smokers. Because, after that to recover their rights they'll have to overturn not just their own national laws but EU law as well.

And it would indeed by impressive piece of oneupmanship if the EU could introduce the equivalent of a US federal ban on smoking before the USA did. It would no doubt enhance EU prestige no end if they could manage to do that. And gaining international prestige is probably what this game is all about.

And perhaps this is why Spain has been put under strong pressure to beef up its previously relaxed smoking policy, and introduce the most draconian ban in Europe yet. It's part of the "harmonisation" process, with 2012 the target date to roll out an EU-wide ban. Member states have to get with the programme. Including Greece.

January 19, 2011. Greece said on Tuesday it will enforce a largely ignored smoking ban with hundreds more inspectors, the third time in recent years it has tried but failed to stop the EU's heaviest smokers flouting the ban.

"The Greek state cannot continue to be made a laughing stock," Health Minister Andreas Loverdos told reporters. "We are starting tomorrow -- the ban will be fully implemented."

Most cafes and restaurants had shrugged off the latest, September 1 ban and taxi drivers smoke with impunity while driving.

Yeah, you don't want Greece to be a laughing stock, do you? Like I said, this is about international prestige. Never mind what your own people want. They don't count any more.

Because according to a recent Bruges Group report EU policies (H/T Ian PJ) receive little or no democratic input. Policies are formulated in the unelected EU Commission.

In terms of legislative production, the European Commission receives recommendations from internal EU agencies and committees which all have the pre-defined primary aim of looking at how to harmonise member-state policies in their given areas. These recommendations form the bases for legislation because these are what the Commission use as research to create it. Therefore, the nature of EU interests, as referenced to throughout this paper, immediately replace those of the citizen because they are predefined by institutional bureaucracy.

In terms of how the Commission is created, as it is not publicly elected, Commissioners are selected by the Commission President (nominations from member-state governments), the list of which must be approved firstly by the Council and after that down to the Parliament. At no point is the citizen included and parliament comes last in the hierarchy

You can be pretty sure that neither the opinions of smokers nor tobacco companies will be taken into account by the internal EU agencies and committees, as Forest's Simon Clark found out three years back, when he was asked to leave one of them.

...as soon as the meeting began, and we had all formally identified ourselves, two or three hands shot up. As I suspected, some of my fellow delegates were none too happy that a representative of Forest was in the room. If I didn't leave, said one, she would. Others nodded their heads in agreement.

So the EU consultation processes actively exclude representatives of smokers or tobacco companies while formulating policy and drawing up legislation. No wonder the outcome is increasingly draconian and one-sided. The only democratic input is via the elected EU parliament. But this has no hand in formulating policy or framing legislation.

It's all just politicians deciding among themselves whatever the hell they want to do.

Merkel Sarkozy Cameron


See also: Der Spiegel EU Commissioner Pushes for a Smoke-Free Europe

Spanish Protests Continue
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frank_davis
In Spain, one month after the new smoking ban came into force, protest continues. Last week there were 884 complaints about breaches of the smoking ban, making a total of nearly 1500 for January.

The following video shows some of the TV coverage in Valencia, showing cigarette machines (which provide the government with a lot of tax revenue) taken out of commission, and protesters on the streets.



Más vídeos en Antena3




In Vigo, a bar owner stood dressed as a beggar outside his bar for 12 hours, complaining that his takings had fallen 40%.

The National Police yesterday arrested a 38 year old man in Gijon who refused to stop smoking inside a bar and even assaulted the officers who tried to reason with him after attempts by the owner and the other customers to make him go outside were unsuccessful.

The Club of Smokers for Tolerance has prepared a dossier of more than 300 news reports that summarize the social and economic unrest of the smoking ban, delivered on 25 January to the Ombudsman, María Luisa Cava de Llano.

The singer Javier Krahe has stopped playing chess. On Mondays he no longer goes to the bar where, for 25 years, he has participated in tournaments. During that quarter century, the pieces were moved to the rhythm of the puffs on his cigarette. With smoking prohibited on the premises, the singer has given up his hobby and, with it, the friends he made across the board. "I do not want to play without smoking," he says. Smoking and chess no longer being compatible, Krahe has opted in favor of smoking.

The month of January has been "disastrous" for Pilar Gutierrez, owner of the bar "La Gondola" in the Valencian town of Bétera. Her income has decreased by 50 percent and, if things do not change, this month she will have to lay off Vanessa, 19. It will be her daughter and her in front of a business that is their only source of income. "I do not know how much we can endure." In January she had to use 3,000 euros out of pocket to "pay the payroll and local expenditures."

Postcript: H/t Harleyrider in the comments. The owner of the restaurant in San Pedro de Alcántara, Marbella, who has conspicuously been ignoring the ban on smoking in closed public areas from January 2, is being served a 145,000 € fine. Stamping the jackboot down hard, eh? He's got 15 days to appeal.

Quit Smoking, Drop Dead
frank_davis4
frank_davis
I've never tried to quit smoking. And I don't think I ever will. But lots of people do try, sometimes using drugs like Chantix. Here's the Douglass Report on Chantix:

Smokers have been dropping like flies lately, and it’s not because of the supposed risks of their habit.

It’s because of the very thing that’s supposed to save them: quitting.

A series of lawsuits claim more than a thousand people who took the popular anti-smoking drug Chantix tried to kill themselves — and lawyers say more than 100 succeeded in this ultimate quit.

It’s like a death penalty for smokers.

It seems that, apart from suicide, Chantix is 18 times more likely to be linked to violence than any other medication. It's even explicitly pointed out, at great length, in some of the ads for it. Douglass continues:

... who knows, maybe all that drug-induced violence and suicide is part of the master plan.

If the smokers don’t kill themselves, they’ll kill each other. Heck, that could be why the FDA gave this thing fast-track approval and rushed it to market before all the research was complete.

One less smoker is one less smoker — and who cares if it’s one less person, right?

Interesting that Dr Douglass should wonder if it's all part of a plan. The same thought has crossed my mind. Are they trying to get smokers to kill themselves? Would Tobacco Control do something like that?

Maybe they would.

After all, we been told that smoking is a disease. And eradicating the disease of smoking requires eradicating the carriers, just like eradicating malaria requires eradicating the mosquitoes that carry the Plasmodium malaria parasite. If you really want to wipe out smoking, you have to wipe out smokers.

And we know that Tobacco Control doesn't give a damn about the health and well-being of smokers. Smoking bans always drive smokers out of their bars and cafes to stand around in the cold, wet streets outside. And cold and damp are killers. To drive people outside in all weathers is to greatly increase their chances of catching colds, flu, bronchitis, pneumonia, and so on. But no health expert ever points out these dangers. Why not?

And why aren't the same experts demanding that Chantix, with its long litany of known dangers, get pulled off the market - while they're lobbying hard to ban e-cigarettes which have no known side-effects?

The simple answer is: because they really do want to kill off smokers just like malaria control officers want to kill off mosquitoes. If that's what it takes to rid the world of the plague of tobacco, that's what has to be done. If smoking tobacco does not itself kill off smokers, then smokers are going to have to be encouraged to do so themselves. Driving them out onto the cold, wet streets is one way to set about it. Refusing them medical care is another. Firing them from their jobs, and evicting them from their homes is another. And isolation and loneliness will claim the lives of a bunch more. And then there's Chantix, if the other methods don't work.

Perhaps what we're looking at here is an extermination programme minus the gas chambers. After all, you don't want another bunch of Nuremberg trials, do you? Smokers are killing themselves anyway, and you just help them do it, by making life more and more impossible for them to live. And when life has become impossible to live, all that there is left is death. But there won't be any incriminating gas chambers or mass graves or photographs this time. Smokers will have done it to themselves, and no blame will fall on the drug companies or the medical profession. Clever, eh?

The calculation may well go something like this: Smoking is a fatal disease, and it's got to be eradicated just like malaria or dysentery or rabies. When that's been done, there'll be no more lung cancer or heart disease and so on, because everybody knows that tobacco causes more or less all diseases. So you'll have this wonderfully healthy human population. Yes, of course it's cruel to expel smokers from society, to vilify them and demonise them. It's even more cruel to give them drugs which will make them commit suicide. But these things have to be done. Somebody's got to do the dirty work of ridding the world of smokers. With a concerted effort, the job can be done in a few decades. It's a matter of being cruel in order to be kind. The world will be a better place once smokers and smoking have been eradicated.

And this is probably the cold logic that underpins the political deal that has been struck between governments and Tobacco Control. Government has to turn a blind eye to smokers and their protests while the extermination programme is under way. Governments know perfectly well that smoking bans shatter communities, and bankrupt bars and cafes, and cause all sorts of other ill effects. But they've promised to turn a blind eye while the necessary deed is being done. Because it's all in a good cause - improved health. And that's also why they nod through every new request that Tobacco Control make. Plain packaging? No trouble. Hidden displays? Sure thing. Outdoor bans? Certainly, sir. This isn't social engineering: this is large scale social surgery, with governments standing at the back of the operating theatres as the surgeons bloodily saw the legs off every smoker in the land.

And to get governments to agree to this sort of drastic measure, governments had to be convinced that smoking poses a health threat on a par with the Black Death. And this is exactly what Tobacco Control has been telling them. Tobacco Control has been telling governments that millions of people are being killed every day by either firsthand smoking, or secondhand, or thirdhand, or whatever. And governments believe the experts, because nobody contradicts Tobacco Control's scientific consensus. Nobody except denialists paid by Big Tobacco.

Governments had to be convinced to take these drastic measures to combat the global epidemic of smoking just like they had to be convinced to take drastic measures to combat the awful threat of global warming. And if you're some half-educated Minister of Health in some backward country (like Britain), and lots of very senior doctors called Sir This or Sir That show you lots of images of black lungs and cancer tumours and tell you that you've Got To Do Something Right Now, well you'd do what they asked, wouldn't you? They're doctors, after all. And they wouldn't lie, would they?

Governments won't have second thoughts until they see political resistance mounting, and evidence appearing that the smoking "threat" has been hugely overblown, just like they've begun to discover that the AGW "threat" is vastly overblown. While Health Ministers may not be able to resist the incessant demands of Tobacco Control for ever stronger measures to combat the smoking epidemic, they will relish even less the prospect of sitting on a bench with other defendants at another Nuremberg trial, charged with the mass murder of smokers.

It's a gamble. If Tobacco Control win, then smoking (and smokers) will be eradicated from much of the world. The eradication programme will cause great suffering and social damage (much like sawing someone's legs off causes great suffering). But this won't be reported, and people will soon forget what they never knew. The history books will say that smoking bans were eagerly adopted by grateful people everywhere in the world, particularly by smokers, 95% of whom wanted to give up their terrible addiction. The same history books will record that when the smokers departed from the pubs and cafes, large numbers of non-smokers filled them in their place, boosting sales to record levels.

But if Tobacco Control loses its gamble, then it will be annihilated. The World Health Organisation will be shut down. And the medical profession will be subjected to a root and branch reform which will see thousands of antismoking zealot doctors expelled from the medical profession, and in some case tried and sent to prison. And the government ministers and media overseers who were fully complicit in the programme will face much the same sorts of sanctions. The whole world will fall in on them. They will face ignominy and oblivion.

At the moment, all these various bureaucrats seem to think that this insane piece of social engineering surgery is actually going to work. They feel perfectly secure. Arrogant and assured, even.

But as smokers all over the world begin to mobilise and protest, the occasional doubt must flit through their ministerial minds, perhaps as they're driving home in their limos from some glittering antismoking conference, and they catch sight of a few smokers standing in the rain outside some bar or restaurant along the way, bitterly and unpleasantly reminding them of all the millions of people they have betrayed.
Tags:

The Fox and the Leaf
frank_davis4
frank_davis
I've been wondering what happened to the temperance movement, which seems to have grown steadily through the late 19th century, through into the first half of the 20th century, and then almost completely vanished.

The earliest organizations in Europe came into being in Ireland in the 1820s, then swept to Scotland and Britain. Norway and Sweden saw movements rise in the 1830s. In the United States, a pledge of abstinence had been promulgated by various preachers, notably John Bartholomew Gough, at the beginning of the 1800s. Temperance associations were established in New York (1808) and Massachusetts (1813). Thanks largely to the lead from the pulpit, some 6,000 local temperance groups in many states were up and running by the 1830s.

Musing in the comments earlier, I opined that one difference between the pre-war temperance movement and our current Tobacco Control is that the temperance movement was very much a grassroot movement, led by passionate campaigners, while Tobacco Control is a well-funded government lobby group.

The temperance campaigners took their message to the streets, with marching bands, and rallies, and posters and flyers. They knocked on doors, They got people to Sign The Pledge.

Well, in America that's what they did, until the temperance campaigners managed to get Prohibition in the form of the 18th Amendment, which was ratified in 1919.

I'm wondering if that was the kiss of death for the temperance movement. While people were signing the pledge, they were making voluntary choices. That's what signing a pledge means. But once you've got outright prohibition, it ceases to be an individual, personal choice to quit alcohol. You have to quit whether you like it or not, because it's the law.

Whatever they might feel about alcohol, a lot of people are going to object to having their freedom of choice revoked.

The same applies to smoking bans. It used to be a personal choice that people made, to give up smoking. With the advent of smoking bans, it ceased to be a personal choice for many people. That creates resentment.

But also, once the government takes over the job of driving an anti-alcohol or anti-smoking agenda, the grassroot movement that started it all becomes redundant. There's no need for marching bands, rallies, leaflets, posters, pledges, and all the rest. The government is doing it all. And so they wither away. And what was once driven by passion and conviction becomes a well-paid profession. It becomes absorbed into the bureaucracy.

Furthermore, the ill-effects of bans and prohibitions gradually become obvious to everybody. In America, one result of Prohibition was the rise of organised crime.

But, now that alcohol prohibition was being carried out by the state, all that was needed to end it was to revoke the 18th Amendment, which is what happened in 1933. And because there was no longer an active grassroot temperance movement, nor any rallies and marches, that meant that the entire temperance movement came a dead stop once government prohibition ended.

And because America had been the principal motor of the worldwide temperance campaign, the wider global campaign also ground to a halt. But the fear of alcohol that the campaign had whipped up over the preceding half century continued to reverberate for decades afterwards.

The most well-known temperance effort since the movement's heyday has been Alcoholics Anonymous. This widespread and venerable organization advocates total abstinence, but treats alcoholism as a disease and does not seek governmental control of the liquor industry.

One difference with Tobacco Control is that there has never been a powerful grassroot antismoking movement, with marching bands, songs, flyers, rallies, and so forth. It's been a campaign run primarily by the medical establishment. And as with the temperance movement, it was voluntary. People made their own choices. And over half a century, the prevalence of smoking dropped from 75% or higher to less than 25%.

But this wasn't enough for the antismoking campaigners. And they determined that the government should introduce and enforce something akin to a tobacco prohibition. At which point a lot of people started to deeply resent the resulting compulsion. And the unintended consequences began to multiply, in the form of broken communities, closed pubs, tobacco smuggling, and so on.

In Europe, with a draconian EU-wide smoking ban awaiting ratification, it's now the central state (the EU federal government) which is more or less completely in charge of the antismoking agenda. Any grassroot antismoking movements, to the extent that they ever existed at all, have long since faded away.

And this lays the antismoking movement open to precisely what happened to the temperance movement in Prohibition America. All that needs to happen is for one EU law (the equivalent of the 18th Amendment) to be overturned, perhaps in the courts, for the entire antismoking movement to be completely derailed. Overnight, all across Europe, the ashtrays would come out in bars and restaurants and cafes, and the antismoking propaganda would halt, and Tobacco Control would vanish into thin air.

It's like the story of the fox and the leaf. A fox that was infested with fleas took hold of a leaf between its teeth, and then backed slowly into a river. As it slowly became covered in water, the fleas escaped towards the fox's head, and ended up gathered on the leaf when only the fox's nose remained above water. And then the fox released the leaf, and it was swept away with its cargo of fleas.

Whether the end will come for Tobacco Control in this manner remains to be seen. But there's a good historical precedent for what happens when the state takes over from a grassroot movement. Any grassroot movement.

Bacon
frank_davis4
frank_davis
In response to my last post, somebody in the comments drew my attention to Forest Eireann.

No wonder Ireland is on suicide watch

The topic of suicide was highlighted by all three of our national broadsheets this week, and for a change they were accompanied by a voice of common sense.

Dermot Kirwan of Friends of the Elderly said that, "Growing isolation and the closure of traditional meeting places like the pub is to blame for the rising number of suicides among older people in rural communities"

It wasn't just Friends of the Elderly who were saying this. It was also the coroner.

The coroner for Kerry South, Terence Casey, addressing the root causes of suicide, said, "Some of these deaths must be attributed to our new 'puritanism' surrounding even the most restrained cases of drinking and driving". For many of these lonely isolated men, the weekly trip to their local was the only interaction they had with another human being.

So now these men (and women) must sit at home in fear of losing their driving license, thus losing their independence and mobility and rendering them helpless. The puritans would probably be unble to find these pubs (even with a map) but they can sit smugly in their own homes, knowing their fellow man is being harassed and frightened.

When the righteous puritans first arrived, it was with the holy aim of saving lives. Even if the lives of a few bartenders could be extended for a few years by a smoking ban, they were precious lives worth saving.

Now that both a smoking ban and a virtual drinking ban have shattered convivial Irish pub communities, driving many pubs out of business (about a quarter of them, I've read), evidence of the consequent terrible social damage is emerging with a spate of suicides.

Will the righteous own up, and admit that these suicides were an unforeseen side-effect of their smoking ban? No, of course they won't. They'll blame the Irish economy. Or the turbulent Irish political situation. Or the weather. Or something. Anything. The one thing that they'll absolve is their smoking ban. That will remain blameless.

And if anyone tries to relax their precious ban, they'll fight like mad to keep it in place, however many people kill themselves.

And it'll gradually become obvious to absolutely everybody what smokers and drinkers have known for years. This isn't about health. This isn't about keeping people alive. This isn't about 'helping' anyone. This is about punishing people for smoking cigarettes and drinking beer and having a grand night out. This about hatred.

I suspect that this how these moral crusades always end. At the outset, the righteous are full of moral fervour, determined to "save lives" and "improve health". Anyone who disagrees with them is someone who approves of mass murder. Of children. Nobody dare speak up against them, as they enact bans and prohibitions.

But after a while, people gradually realise that the righteous are devoid of any morality at all, and they're not trying to save lives or improve health. They're just trying to punish and exclude people. They're wolves in sheep's clothing. Their moral fervour was a sham behind which their vindictive real intent was hidden.

And as more and more people realise this, support for bans and prohibitions dwindles away. The politicians are probably the last people to cotton on to the changing mood, the growing disenchantment.

I think there are waves of this kind of righteousness. And I suspect that I was born at the end of the last great wave of anti-alcohol fervour that swept the Western world, bringing Prohibition to America. Both my mother and my maternal grandparents were terrified of the stuff. I heard numerous stories of friends and relatives who had succumbed to the demon drink, and drunk away their entire fortunes. There was a real climate of fear surrounding alcohol, although my grandfather would religiously drink a single small bottle of Pale Ale every afternoon (laced with with vodka, my mother insisted). Nobody was in the least bit bothered about cigarettes.

But by the 1950s, the reign of terror had largely subsided. I'd guess that most people had simply had enough of several decades of browbeating and fearmongering and exaggeration. I don't even remember any school lectures about the perils of alcohol. Over the next few decades, the numbers of pubs gradually multiplied, and they filled up with customers.

Now, of course, we're living in a new reign of terror. Only this time the principal target is tobacco, which now causes all the ills known unto man just like alcohol used to do 50 years before it.

And it's a reign of multiple terrors, because we've also got the War on Terror, and the nightmare prospect of global warming as well.

But I suspect that, as with the alcohol prohibition crusade, one day the wind will go out of its sails, and nobody will speak of "passive smoking" or "global warming" ever again. But it will reverberate for years long after the steam has gone out of it all.

And all the righteous antismokers will vanish overnight. And politicians who'd been at the forefront of the antismoking campaign will say that, of course, they'd always known it was an irrational craze, and had said so many times in private.

And then, 50 years on, the righteous will be back, with a new target for bans and prohibitions and demonisation and persecution. What will the target be next time?

What hasn't yet been subjected to a campaign of demonisation? I think I can make a shrewd guess.

Bacon.

It'll start with bacon, and gradually extend to ham, and then to all meat products. Meat will be said to be energy-inefficient. People should eat vegetarian food. Wheat. Rice. Beans. And meat will be condemned as a health risk, naturally. Causing cancer and heart disease and, well, all the things that tobacco used to cause, and alcohol before it. And the restaurant trade will fall over itself to introduce "meat-free" menus. And people will complain about the awful "stink" of bacon and roast beef. Eventually all meat will be banned in restaurants. And people will stop going to restaurants, stop meeting friends over dinner. And bacon addicts will have a hotline they can phone for advice about how to stave off the cravings. And there'll be pharmaceutical drugs which shut down the bacon receptors in people's brains. And there'll be loud complaints about meat-free "bacon" products which look like bacon and taste like bacon, but aren't actually bacon. E-bacon. And Man in a Van will be selling legs of lamb from Mongolia which will actually be legs of yak.

And after a while, people will gradually realise that the righteous aren't demonising bacon because it's energy-inefficient, or because it's a health risk, but because it tastes very nice, and people really, really enjoy eating it. That was what they really hated. And when people realise this, the steam will go out of the anti-meat campaign. And the righteous will return to their burrows for another 50 years. And think of something else.

The Disease of Loneliness
frank_davis4
frank_davis
H/T Phil Williams, the Campaign to End Loneliness:

Loneliness is bad for your health. The World Health Organization (WHO) rates loneliness as a higher risk than lifelong smoking.

Interesting comparison. Not one that I've heard before. The report distinguishes loneliness from isolation. The former is a subjective response to an objective state of isolation.

Loneliness is a psychological state, an emotional response to a perceived gap between the amount of personal contact an individual wants and the amount they have. It is clearly linked to, but distinct from, the objective state of social isolation.

Smoking bans destroy communities. I have firsthand experience of this. It's quite simple. After a smoking ban is introduced, pubs and cafes becoming unwelcoming places for most smokers. They no longer feel relaxed and at ease inside them. They can no longer be themselves. So they stop going. Or they go less often. Or they stay for a shorter time.

And this fragments pub and cafe communities. It's not just that smokers are worse off. Everyone is worse off. It's not something that happens overnight. It's a process.

And it doesn't stop there. One thing that I noticed after a while was that I no longer shared the same world as my non-smoking friends. They were still valued members of society. But I had become an outcast. I could see the visible symbol of my prohibition on every street. x - the Universal No. Their world continued unchanged. Mine had become a dark and unwelcoming place. We no longer shared the same world.

Either way, the result is the fragmentation of communities. Everyone is a loser to one degree or other. For some people, this isolation will bring loneliness.

‘When friendship disappears, then there is a space left open to that awful loneliness of the outside world which is like the cold space between the planets. It is an air in which men perish utterly.’ Hilaire Belloc

It always seems to me that the really terrible damage that smoking bans do is to communities. It's not the visible pub closures that really matter. It's the invisible broken communities behind all those closed and boarded-up pubs that matter.

Communities are invisible things. They consist of a network of invisible bonds of friendship between people. And it is in these invisible communities that people find meaning and purpose. Take away community, and you take away everything.

I've yet to come across an antismoking study that addresses the social damage that smoking bans cause. I suspect that this is because health-obsessed antismokers believe that the only things that are real are things that can be seen and touched, and everything else is imaginary. In their view, lung cancer and heart disease are real. You can see them with the naked eye on the dissecting room table. But community and friendship and isolation and loneliness aren't real because they can't be seen and touched. They can't be measured. So they don't exist. Not really. They're imaginary.

For the antismokers, health is above all physical health. And smoking and drinking and fat and sugar and salt are regarded as destructive of objective physical health. The smoke and the beer and the hot dogs and the fat and the sugar and salt are also themselves all visible, as is the disease they are said to cause. And this physical reality is the only thing that matters. Everything else is unimportant or imaginary.

People might hate the smoking bans, but that doesn't matter to the antismoker who knows that they produce an objective improvement in health. Fewer cancers and heart attacks and so on. Measurably improved longevity, etc. By contrast, the exclusion and the loneliness and the hatred and the anger that smoking bans evoke are of no consequence. They are purely imaginary, and therefore insignificant.

But I suspect that it's going to be all that purely subjective and illusory and non-existent exclusion and loneliness and hatred and anger which will come back to haunt the antismokers one day. Because even if these things can't be seen and touched, they are no less real because of it. Just like a man's love for his country, or for his wife, or his children, is no less real because it can't be weighed and measured and sold by the kilogram.

Tobacco Control can't understand why people fight back against smoking bans which make them objectively healthier. TC can't understand that people value things like love and friendship and community, and that's what they're fighting to preserve. They're fighting for those things now just like people have fought for their country, or for their religion, or even for abstract notions like equality or freedom and democracy. All of which are probably regarded by antismokers as equally illusory or imaginary and unreal. Because they can't be excised from a lung, or scraped out of an artery, weighed, photographed, and pickled in brine.

‘What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.’ Kurt Vonnegut

Surfing the medical web this afternoon, I came across the following passage on, of all places, the WHO website, under the heading of the Disease of Loneliness:

The Germans dumped a young Soviet prisoner in my ward late
one night. The ward was full, so I put him in my room as he was moribund and
screaming and I did not want to wake the ward. I examined him. He had obvious
gross bilateral cavitation and a severe pleural rub. I thought the latter was the
cause of the pain and the screaming. I had no morphia, just aspirin, which had
no effect. I felt desperate. I knew very little Russian and there was no one in
the ward who did. I finally instinctively sat down on the bed and took him in
my arms, and the screaming stopped almost at once. He died peacefully in
my arms a few hours later. It was not the pleurisy that caused the screaming
but loneliness. It was a wonderful education about the care of the dying.
- The Foundations of Primary Care: Daring to be Different (9)

Asymmetric Warfare
frank_davis4
frank_davis
There've been some interesting things happening on the blogosphere today.

Claes Johnson, the Swedish mathematics professor who doesn't believe there's any such thing as "back-radiation" from the cold atmosphere to the warm surface of the Earth, has been having his new book, Slaying The Sky Dragon, chewed over on climatologist Judith Curry's blog. The book is an attack on the fundamental physics underlying global warming, which Johnson thinks that both climate alarmists and climate sceptics mistakenly adhere to.

Some people have just been plain rude about Johnson in the comments, dismissing him as a crank. Johnson has responded by asking them to show him their maths. None of them have done so. And none of them has criticised his maths either. Bit hard to argue with a professor of mathematics about mathematics, I guess.

But it's also a bit hard to write equations in blogs. Perhaps there's a convention that I don't know about, but it's pretty laborious. I think you need a chalkboard or the online equivalent of one. It has to stifle debate if there isn't a facility to do that. Just imagine if Einstein and Bohr and co could only communicate with typewriters.

Another interesting event was the publication of a piece by BBC climate journalist Roger Harrabin on the Watts Up With That science blog. The BBC weather forecasters did not predict December's icy weather. But recently Roger Harrabin has claimed that the BBC actually did privately tell the government that it might be pretty damn cold. People have been demanding to know who told who what, and when.

For the most part, it seems that the BBC looks upon the climate sceptic blogosphere with disdain. They do their level best to ignore it completely. But since the blogs are where all the real news is to be found, that's harder and harder to do. Now Harrabin has done something unheard of, by sending in something for publication on WUWT. I suspect that the big institutions and the big media outlets are finding it harder and harder to ignore the unruly blogosphere. They've lived in their own little gated community for decades (perhaps even centuries), and now this shanty town of bloggers has grown up around them, full of people with their own opinions yelling at the top of their voices. They can't be ignored forever. Looks like Harrabin at least can see it, even if he didn't have that much to say.

Commenters on WUWT are about as rude about Harrabin as they were rude about Claes Johnson elsewhere.

In other news that's been conveyed to me, it seems that Tobacco Control simply don't understand why the Dutch Smoking Ban has been (partially) overturned, and are desperately trying to find out what went wrong. How could it happen? They're convinced that Big Tobacco must've been lobbying ministers and funding protest groups. But in fact in Holland it was the small bars who came together to fight the ban with their own money. Big Tobacco played no part in it at all, despite allegations that they did. But Tobacco Control is stuck in a mindset that can only recognise wealthy tobacco companies as their enemy. They don't seem to understand that smoking bans actually do a great deal of damage to a great many people, and some of those people are going to fight them, using their own resources. It seems that TC believe their own propaganda, that they're 'helping' people, when in fact they're trampling on millions of people. All over the world, ordinary people are becoming activists of one kind or other in the fight against TC. And, as with global warming, the principal forum is the blogosphere. But TC still has all its guns aimed at the tobacco companies, and they're all facing the wrong way to deal with this mounting global upsurge of grassroot resistance.

It seems that the problem in Holland was that Tobacco Control had a monopoly on the tobacco-related information supplied to the media and to the government. They could tell any lie they liked, and it would be swallowed whole. But in Holland the stranglehold of TC has been broken by the concerted resistance of the small bars and their private supporters, and the media and the government has begun to find out that there are people who contest many of TC's claims, and who can show that TC has been lying. The credibility of TC has been tarnished. They are no longer being believed quite as readily as they were before. And the news is gradually spreading from Holland to Belgium and England and Spain, where TC has a similar arm-lock on news.

Tobacco Control is beginning to face the same sort of problem as the IPCC and the high priesthood of the global warming movement. It's a wealthy institution (some $800 million of taxpayers' money from smokers helps fund TC's war on smokers), and it's used to fighting with other big, wealthy institutions - like tobacco companies. These ponderous, muscle-bound institutions have no idea what to do about the blogosphere on which thousands of little one-man (or one-woman) blogs and forums have started talking to each other, and increasingly ignore the established institutional authorities who used to have a monopoly on information.

Can Tobacco Control (and the global warming priesthood) adapt to the new situation, and mount a successful defence of their respective orthodoxies? Probably not. They're too big and unwieldy. And they're stuck in rigid, outdated mindsets. They're like conventional armies facing guerrilla armies in asymmetric warfare. They have big howitzers and tanks to fight other conventional armies, but these are no good against a dispersed guerrilla army that never engages in pitched battle, but instead constantly harasses the conventional army, and slowly wears it down.

I can think of one or two things that TC might do restore the situation. Because one obvious message is that... But, hey, wait a minute! Why the hell should I help these bastards out?

Tobacco Control is something to be destroyed.

Meet The Climate Sceptics
frank_davis4
frank_davis
I watched Storyville Meet The Climate Sceptics last night. It had been trailed as being the second hatchet job in a week on climate sceptics, this time with Lord Christopher Monckton in the sights instead of James Delingpole.

In the end, I thought it was actually a lot more balanced than Science Under Attack. The alarmist reporter who had obviously followed Monckton everywhere for months, and gained his trust, provided a quite sympathetic portrait of Monckton. Most telling was Monckton asking for disabled people to be given special care at his talks. Also Monckton on his knees welcoming a wheelchair-bound old lady. Here was a kind and considerate man.

Perhaps it was that Monckton had spent 25 years suffering from Graves's disease, and knew what it was like.

Monckton was also described as having a phenomenal memory. He was able to absorb huge numbers of facts.

And he was shown wowing crowds here, there, and everywhere. And he's a remarkable speaker, as I discovered last year when I saw him speak without notes for about half an hour at the UKIP conference in Torquay.

Monckton was also permitted to set out the standard sceptical stall. Yes, carbon dioxide caused global warming. Yes, human emissions were raising its concentration in the atmosphere. But on its own, carbon dioxide would only raise temperatures a degree or two. It required a multiplying feedback effect of some sort, a high sensitivity of the climatic system, to ramp this up into a serious threat. And the sceptics didn't agree that the climate system was highly sensitive, and likely to be tipped into some sort of runaway global warming.

What got slipped in, however, was that Monckton wasn't a scientist. And, in particular, not a climate scientist. Monckton, as he was presented in this programme, was something of a loner with his own unique sceptical take on climate science.

And this was one of the background themes of the documentary. Monckton was a remarkable man, but he was up against the entire climate science establishment, who were introduced one by one to damn him. And these were the guys who really knew what was going on, obviously.

And it perhaps wasn't so much Monckton who was coming under attack in all this, as his supporters, who seemed to be either elderly Australian ladies, or gun-toting American rednecks, who saw the global warming scare as an attack on freedom. The freedom to do what the hell they wanted. And some of them - including broadcaster Alex Jones - were shown saying that Global Warming was all a plot to bring in a fascist/communist One World Government. They were obviously crazies.

Monckton was portrayed as a super-savvy, loner English Lord with a whole bunch of elderly hillbilly fans all over the world.

And he was also portrayed as the personification of world-wide scepticism, more or less as if he was the arch-sceptic, the very pope of scepticism.

Which isn't true. Scepticism takes many forms. There are a lot more sceptics around than just Christopher Monckton, and for a variety of different reasons. For example Swedish mathematics professor Claes Johnson who claims that there is no greenhouse effect at all.

As the programme wore on, I began to think that the plan was to build Monckton up, only to cut him and his worldwide fan club back down to size. And maybe that's the plan behind what looks like a climate alarmist counteroffensive: isolate and destroy the sceptics one by one.

And it was all going very well, until they interviewed some guy with a beard who said that the crisis we were facing was one that required democracy to be suspended (or something to that effect - NASA's James Hansen said the same thing -). And with that, everything that Alex Jones was saying about a One World fascist/communist Government suddenly looked all too plausible. That was exactly what some people wanted!

In the end, the programme suggested, it all came down to who you trusted. Did you trust the sceptics? The presenter then nailed his colours to the mast, and declared that he believed that the threat humanity was facing demanded that he surrender his freedom. He personally would agree to this. He would gladly become a serf.

Which was a tremendously shocking admission.

And I think that, as the programme suggested, it actually all does come down to who you trust. But it's not about whether you trust the sceptics. It's really about whether you trust the climate scientists. Whether you trust anyone at all.

And in this respect, it seems to me to be a matter of faith, because nobody really knows all that much about climate science. Not the climate scientists. Not Christopher Monckton. Not Richard Lindzen. Not all the TV stations and newspapers in the world. You can't trust any of them. Or, if you do, it's a pure act of faith on your behalf.

And that throws you back on your own personal experience and judgment. What do you think? Do you personally think that the climate has been warming over the past 50 years? If you hadn't been watching all these global warming alarmist TV programmes, would you be worried?

Fernando Tejedor
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frank_davis
More Spanish news.

ALICANTE - THE knock on effect of Spain introducing anti-smoking legislation is now emerging. With no smoking allowed inside bars and cafes and without a terrace on which customers could smoke, many small cafe bar owners have called for a change in legislation relaxing the rules over terrace licences.

Currently a terrace is not permissible where the pavement is less than four metres wide. In most older barrios in Alicante, and indeed many Spanish towns, the pavement width is well below these minimum requirements.

It also happens that these older areas tend to be less affluent, and so affected bar owners believe the current law unfairly impinges on the less well off.

Los Angeles in Alicante being an older such barrio where terraces are few and far between, and so the local population are disproportionately affected by the combination of anti-smoking and anti-terrace legislation.

Change the Road Occupation Laws, Neither Inside Nor Outside. Say Where, Madam Mayor!” proclaims a banner strung across Calle Javea in the Los Angeles district.

It makes perfect sense. If your bar is landlocked, there's nowhere for smokers to go. The result?

Since the smoking ban has come into force on January 2 "Sales have fallen by more than half” said Antonio Sanchez, a bar owner in Calle Javea.

““In the morning we have lost about 25 clients who came every day for breakfast. We need to put tables outside to continue working. As restaurateurs we haven’t been given any consideration, they (the Ayuntamiento) do not bother to see the real problems of the city," he said.

The Spanish equivalents of Nick Hogan and Tony Blows are emerging. Fernando Tejedor, the proprietor of a bar in Castellón, has continued to allow smoking:

Two inspectors arrived midmorning at the premises and took notes of what they saw inside, "such as people smoking, ashtrays, and posters" in reporting that the establishment allows smoking, as the owner of the bar Fernando Tejedor explained, saying that the Act does not provide any financial penalty. "I imagine that will come after the corresponding report," he added...

However, the bar owner, despite the "warning", said that he will "continue fighting" so that people can smoke in his establishment, and has stressed that he is not afraid of a penalty... "What if I do not pay, what will I do? Go to jail? There you don't have to work, are fed, what more do you want? " he asked.

Elsewhere, an online petition explains the situation:

Our revenues have been significantly reduced and if it continues like this, soon many local bars will close forever.

Our suppliers of all type (beverages, food, cleaning ... etc) have also seen their income diminish even more.

We cannot close our business as it is the only source of income we have to continue living.

It is the only way to feed our families, not to mention to provide the revenues earned by the government through our tax-and contributions we provide, helping to pay for the retirement of many older people.

The Anti-Tobacco Act is a smokescreen they have created to keep us occupied, while the country sinks.

We cannot allow an increase in the number of unemployed!

Spain already has something like 20% unemployment, and most likely unemployment benefit and social security are nowhere near the levels of the UK. For many Spanish bar owners, their businesses may indeed be the only way to feed their families.

But, as I wrote yesterday, the WHO has been demanding that the Spanish government enforce the law, and has been complaining that the media is reporting protests against the ban rather than the widespread compliance with the ban. And it's clear that the Spanish government takes its orders from the WHO rather than its own people.

Creating New Realities
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frank_davis
H/T to F2Cscotland for this article in typicallyspanish:

The WHO's Armando Peruga said the government must show it is prepared to enforce it [the smoking ban].

The World Health Organisation has warned Spain that the first six months of the new anti-smoking legislation will be key in the application of the law.

Armando Peruga, who is coordinator for the WHO’s Tobacco-Free Iniative, was speaking at a conference on Tuesday entitled, ‘The law for smoke-free spaces has been approved. And now what?’ He said that simply approving the law is not sufficient, stressing that it is vital that the public sees that the Spanish government is prepared to enforce it.

EFE quotes him saying, ‘It is just as important that people believe the law is being complied with, as is actual compliance’.

Peruga also warned, as had happened in other countries, that the government must expect strong opposition from the tobacco industry. They should be prepared for legal challenges in the courts, he said.

He had some critical words for some of the media in Spain. ‘Reading the headlines,’ he said, ‘could make you think that the country is up in arms’. In Peruga’s view, compliance with the law is very good, with a marked contrast between what is reflected in the media and the reality of the situation.

Peruga is concerned not so much with realities, but with appearances. It's more important that the appearance of law and order be maintained than that there be actual law and order.

That's why his remarks are directed at the Spanish media, which has been reporting on the loss of trade in bars and cafes, and protests by smokers and bar owners. Their job should be to report on the high levels of compliance.

This is rather like saying that if two people are shot dead in Valencia, it is the job of the media to report on the 800,000 other Valencians who were not shot dead. And if there are floods in Pakistan, it's the job of the media to report all those countries in the world where there is no flooding. And in this manner preserve the appearance of normality and tranquillity.

In Peruga's view, the Spanish media are not doing their job properly in the way that, say, the UK media did. The UK media didn't report any protests against the smoking ban, or even the customers standing outside pubs, or the pub closures which followed in the wake of the smoking ban, or the stand made by publicans like Tony Blows. It may have been that these things were happening, but the important thing was that they were not seen to be happening, and the appearance of public support and approval of the ban be maintained.

That's why the first 6 months matters. If the perception can be maintained for long enough, it will become the reality. If the media report complaints and protests and strikes, this will encourage people to complain and protest, and organised opposition will gain strength. And if the media do not report these things, people will be discouraged from complaining and protesting, and opposition will lose force, and eventually fade away. Furthermore, after 6 months or say, many bars will have been driven out of business, and there will be nothing left for their proprietors to fight for. If the Spanish people can be crushed for long enough, they will stay crushed.

Peruga, of course, suggests that the only opposition to the smoking ban is coming from tobacco companies, despite the clear evidence that it is the Spanish customers and bar owners who are making the loudest noise.

It is also suggested, of course, that any shortfall in customers will be made good by the rush of non-smokers newly willing to visit Spain.

Europa Press meanwhile reports that an international survey carried out by the flight portal ‘Skyscanner’ shows that more non-smokers would be prepared to visit Spain for a smoke-free holiday now that the ban is in place. Sixty one percent of those who answered the survey said they would feel more comfortable in bars and restaurants and would consider booking a trip.

This won't happen, of course. It never does. And it won't happen because more or less all of Europe is "smoke-free", and the minority of antismokers are already spoilt for choice. And most non-smokers never minded whether places were smoky or not, so it will make no difference to them. But smokers who wanted somewhere where they can smoke will most likely cross Spain off their list of destinations, and maybe head to Eastern Europe instead, where attempts to impose bans have not been successful because there are a lot more smokers.

And when Spanish bars and cafes and restaurants start closing en masse, it will be put down to the global recession. Which will partly be true, but by no means the whole truth.

The entire process is one of creating new realities. The old reality was that people liked to go to pubs and bars and drink and smoke. The new reality is that people now "like" to go to pubs and bars and not smoke (and perhaps not drink either). The new reality is created in the media by simply ignoring anyone who objects, and giving weight and airtime only to voices of approval, and in this manner making it seem that everyone likes the new scheme of things.

The process can be applied to everything. The new reality of the EU superstate will be (and already is being) ushered in regardless of the disapproval of many of the people of Europe. Their objections and protests will not be and are not being reported. Only voices of approval will be and are being aired. There will lots of coverage for marching bans and balloons and fireworks and cheering crowds at the inauguration of the EU superstate. All dissent will be airbrushed out, like cigarettes from movies or adverts. The important thing is to ensure that the mass media speak unanimously of the "success" of the new arrangements, and its high public approval ratings, even if it is actually not in the least bit successful, and actually everyone hates it.

It's the mass media which are the key in every case. But the likely result will be that the credibility of the mass media will be eroded, as more and more people find that the grim reality of their everyday lives doesn't tally with the cheerful and optimistic reports in the media. The media will come to be regarded as dishonest, and increasingly be ignored. Other, more honest sources of information will be sought.

Western Europe is already beginning to resemble the former Eastern Europe, as the mass media line up to broadcast the party line, whether it about smoking bans, or global warming, or the EU. Dissent is driven out of the mass media and onto the internet.

And the internet can be switched off.

Seasick
frank_davis4
frank_davis
I haven't been to a pub since I left Devon and the River. The nearest one to where I now live never seems to open in the afternoons when I usually like to drop by, after going out shopping.

But a few days ago, when I was out shopping in the biting cold on the high street of one of the nearby towns, I found my fingers and toes rapidly getting numb, and decided that the best treatment would be to find a warm pub, buy a drink, and sit inside until I'd warmed up again.

So I stepped into the first pub I came across, and ordered a drink (which I didn't really want), and spotting a fire burning brightly in one corner, with empty seats nearby, sat down beside it to warm my fingers.

It was a small, half-timbered traditional pub, with a red carpet and creamy walls cluttered with pictures and bits of brass, and polished tables and chairs dotted around. And apart from me and the landlady, it was almost empty. One man sat silently at the bar with a pint of beer. Another stood at the bar with another near-empty pint. There was complete silence. There wasn't even any music faintly playing, or fruit machine burbling. There was only the crackle of the fire, beside which I sat, with hands extended towards it.

After a while, the standing man finished his beer, and ordered another. The flurry of activity somehow seemed to break the spell of silence, and all began to speak.

Standing man said that he never got flu, and hadn't been to a doctor for 30 years, thanks to his regular pint, which he tapped with one finger. The landlady replied that some people seemed to go to their doctor every day, but she couldn't abide sitting for ages in the waiting room.

Standing man went on to say that about the only thing he suffered from was seasickness. Even if the sea was a flat as a millpond, he'd still get seasick. He said that once he'd been seriously considering becoming a trawlerman, but was glad he hadn't, because he wouldn't have lasted a single trip. He then went on to say that even the sight of waves on a TV screen made him feel seasick. And finally he added that even talking about the sea and waves made him feel seasick. With this, and beginning to look a bit green, he took a long draught of beer, and fell silent.

One or two people came and went through the pub, not stopping to buy a drink, each one being greeted by the assembled company. I began to surmise that the back entrance of the pub provided a shortcut through to some back alley, or perhaps another secret bar.

Their conversation continued, and as I watched, I wondered how many of them were smokers who, but for the smoking ban, would be puffing away on cigarettes. Eventually, one of them got up and stepped out onto the high street, returning a few minutes later. Unless he had just popped out to buy a leg of lamb or a couple of pounds of potatoes, I guessed that he was a smoker.

And now that smoking was banned, I wondered what would happen if (or perhaps when) drinking was banned as well. Would this small assembly still convene, over ginger beer and orange juice, to chew the cud about doctors and seasickness? Perhaps it was just one another's company which was what drew them to this their local pub?

An alcohol ban would probably be introduced in much the same way as the smoking ban. First there would be mandatory alcohol-free areas in pubs, which hardly anyone would use, much like the smoke-free areas hardly ever got used. And there would be an intense media campaign demonising alcohol and drinkers. Alcohol would be said to cause virtually all the diseases known to man which tobacco had previously caused. Drinkers would be portrayed as morons who alternated between bouts of random violence and throwing up everywhere. Finally, all sales of alcohol in pubs would be banned, and a variety of drinks which looked like beer or wine or whisky would replace the real thing, much like e-cigarettes have begun to replace cigarettes. There would be e-beers and e-whiskies and e-wines. Of course the righteous would complain that, even if they weren't actually drinking beer, it looked like they were drinking beer, and the ingredients of these e-beers were probably as dangerous as the real thing, and call for them to banned as well.

But what if landlady and standing man and sitting man still kept on coming to the pub, to sit with their e-beers, occasionally musing about doctors and disease? What would the righteous do to stop even that?

They would, I thought, as my fingers began to show signs of renewed life, ban talking. Talking bans would be introduced in the same way as smoking bans and drinking bans. There would be quiet bars and loud bars. No talking would be allowed in quiet bars, and hardly anybody would use them. But in company with this it would begin to be unacceptable to use a variety of words - like "nigger" and "cunt" and the like. And it would be impermissible to speak on a variety of topics - like religion and politics. The scope of conversation, and the language used in conversation, would gradually be restricted. Perhaps the government, in media campaigns, would introduce lists of proscribed words - like "cigarette", "alcohol", "chocolate", and so on. Eventually all speech would be banned, after researchers had found that simply overhearing someone complaining about the performance of their local football team could result in raised blood pressure, and an increased risk of cardiac failure or apoplexy in at-risk groups. People would say how nice the pubs were, now that you no longer had to endure listening to other people's conversations. They would resist calls to re-introduce talking in designated pubs or bars, because they'd say that the sound filtered through doors and walls, and you could even hear people talking hundreds of yards away.

But perhaps landlady and standing man and sitting man would endure even this? And would sit in silence sipping their e-beers, and occasionally indicating with sign language their need for another e-pint, and packet of e-pork-scratchings.

By then, it occurred to me, the pub would have become functionally identical to a doctor's waiting room. In fact, the landlady might readily be replaced by a doctor or chemist, dispensing a variety of medications, with his patients sat in rows silently waiting. And there would be no more haven't-been-to-the doctor-for-30-years from either ex-landlady or standing man. Everywhere they went would be a doctor's waiting room, and everything they ate or drank would be a prescription drug.

But by now my fingers had warmed up, and were beginning to complain that they were too hot. And my toes had recovered their customary vigour. I stood up, a little unsteadily, and picked up the bottle of my prescription drug, and the glass dispenser from which I had been slowly drinking it, and took them both back to the receptionist's desk, and left them on the counter, wordlessly tipping my hat to her, before stepping out onto the street, feeling slightly queasy as the medication hit, and perhaps even seasick.

Smoking Is A Disease
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frank_davis
I've been following the Spanish response to their draconian new smoking ban, and reading (as best I can) Spanish blogs and news reports. Today, in El Pais, I came across an article in which the following words appeared.

el tabaquismo es una enfermedad crónica, como recoge la Organización Mundial de Salud.

which I translated as

Smoking is a chronic disease, as recognised by the World Health Organisation

Unsure whether I'd translated it right, I googled "Smoking is a disease". And found lots of links. Like this:

A group of researchers led by professor Edward Ellerbeck from the Department of Preventive Medicine & Public Health at the University of Kansas say that doctors need to be more forthright when dealing with smokers and to consider the smoking habit to be a chronic disease in itself.

Now I don't mind people arguing that smoking causes disease. A month back on this blog we were arguing over whether smoking caused lung cancer. But saying that smoking is a disease sets off alarm bells. In my understanding of the word "disease", smoking isn't any such thing.

But there seem to be a number of people who've been claiming that it's a disease. Like this chap, who seems to have got hauled up before a tribunal, and told:

"Smoking is a habit it is not a disease or condition even though It may be a contributary cause of, or may aggravate, a disease or condition such as bronchitis, carcinoma of the lung, arteriosclerosis and so on."

He wasn't alone:

Medical definitions have reinforced the idea that smoking is indeed a disease. For instance, tobacco dependence was included as a psychiatric condition by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in 1980. Eight years later, the U.S. Surgeon General's Report declared smoking to be an addiction. Since then, the majority of doctors have treated smoking as a disease requiring medical attention.

Once smoking was labeled a disease, research into its causes and effects increased and advanced our understanding of tobacco addiction. Scientists consequently developed medical treatments such as nicotine replacement patches, gums, sprays and even vaccines. Each treatment is based on the premise that smoking is addictive and leads to compulsive drug seeking.

Nor is the attitude particularly new. Lennox Johnston, who was an anti-smoking campaigner back in the 1940s (Chris Snowdon has a few pages on him in Velvet Glove, Iron Fist) also regarded smoking as a disease.

"Smoking is a disease, “one of our most serious diseases." "Smokers show the same [delusional] attitude to tobacco as addicts to their drug, and their judgment is therefore biased [in denial] in giving an opinion of its effect on them [and others]."—Lennox Johnston, "Tobacco Smoking and Nicotine," 243 The Lancet 741, 742 (19 Dec 1942).

But I think that to claim that smoking is a disease is to twist and deform language.

And if smoking is a disease, then what other behaviour might not also be described as a disease? Why not Drinking Is A Disease? Or Eating Fast Food Is A Disease? Or Reading The Daily Telegraph Is A Disease? Or Voting Conservative Is A Disease? Once smoking is classed as a disease, then any behaviour that might be construed to be compulsive or addictive can also be called a disease, and clinics and therapies set up to treat the patients.

And, in fact, this is exactly what is happening. It's not just smoking, but it's also drinking and over-eating. Why not reading the Telegraph, and voting Conservative?

Dissent becomes disease. And exactly this happened with dissidents in the late Soviet Union. They were sent to mental institutions, and injected with drugs in an attempt to "cure" them.

In our new version of the Soviet Union, it's not just a few dissidents here and there who are incarcerated in lunatic asylums, but entire social groups. No need for closed institutions. Our towns and cities have become open prisons in which social groups like smokers and drinkers and fat people are subjected to continuous assault and harassment.

I suppose that it's not too difficult to understand how the word "disease" should have changed its meaning. Once we just had physical diseases, whose symptoms would be those of weakness, coughing, sneezing, running a fever, coming out in spots or sores and so on. But now we also have psychiatric disorders whose symptoms are those of fears, delusions, "inappropriate behaviours", and the like. There are no physical symptoms with such mental disorders. And once one sort of mental disorder has been identified, then the road is open to identify lots more. More or less any behaviour can be identified as "abnormal" or "inappropriate" or "self-harming" or "antisocial" or whatever. And this is what has happened.

But the word "disease" is almost self-defining. It means "dis-ease". "Ease" is a subjective state. One is either "at ease" or "uneasy" or "ill at ease". And "ill at ease" means "dis-eased". The patient presents himself to the doctor, and announces himself to be "ill at ease" or "ill" or "dis-eased". The doctor then tries to discover what it is that is troubling his new patient. He prescribes some treatment. And if this is successful, the patient discharges himself by saying that he is now "well" again, and "at ease". It is the patient, not the doctor, who decides if he is unwell. And who also decides that he has been cured.

But the new doctors, the Lennox Johnstons and their descendants, feel able to inform people that they are "diseased" and "sick". Smokers and drinkers and fat people might declare that they are "very well, thank you", and say that they actually enjoy smoking and drinking and eating stuff, but the new doctors ignore this. They know better. They know that they are sick as soon as they learn that they smoke or drink or eat Kentucky Fried Chicken. Because these are all diseases, recognised by the WHO. They are addictions. They are recognised forms of psychiatric disorder. Like reading the Daily Telegraph and voting Conservative. You don't tell them that you're sick. They tell you. And in doing so they debase language.

I'd like to end with a quote from Friedrich Hayek's Road To Serfdom, the chapter on The End Of Truth:

In this particular case the perversion of the meaning of the word has, of course, been well prepared by a long line of German philosophers, and not least by many of the theoreticians of socialism. But freedom or liberty are by no means the only words whose meaning has been changed into their opposites to make them serve as instruments of totalitarian propaganda. We have already seen how the same happens to justice and law, right and equality. The list could be extended till it includes almost all moral and political terms in general use.

If one has not oneself experienced this process, it is difficult to appreciate the magnitude of this change in the meaning of words, the confusion which it causes, and the barriers to any rational discussion which it creates. It has to be seen to be understood how, if one of two brothers embraces the new faith, after a short while he appears to speak a different language which makes any real communication between them impossible. And the confusion becomes worse because this change of meaning of the words describing political ideals is not a single event but a continual process, a technique employed consciously or unconsciously to direct the people. Gradually, as this process continues, the whole language becomes despoiled, words become empty shells deprived of any definite meaning, as capable of denoting one thing as its opposite and used solely for the emotional associations which still adhere to them.

Milankovitch
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frank_davis
After watching Horizon last night, and writing about it, I carried on thinking about climate today, and how we're currently living in a 10,000 year long warm interglacial period in the Earth's history, after having endured 100,000 years of a period of glaciation when temperatures were perhaps 8 oC colder than now, and glaciers covered much of Europe and North America. And in particular I got thinking about Milankovitch Cycles.

Milutin Milankovitch was a Serbian mathematician who, back in the 1930s, developed the idea that the Earth's long term climate was governed by slight variations in the motion of the Earth.

There were three variations that he considered. The first was the precession of the spinning Earth. Precession is the slow "wobble" of the Earth's axis, which is the sort of thing that can be seen in a spinning top. One wobble takes about 26,000 years. And the result is that, while the Earth's axis is pointing at the North Star, Polaris, right now, over the next few thousand years it will describe a circle in the star field, before coming back to Polaris in about 26,000 years time.

The second variation was the obliquity or tilt of the Earth's axis. This is the angle at which the Earth precesses or wobbles. This also changes by a few degrees in a 41,000 year cycle.

And finally there is the eccentricity of the Earth's orbit around the Sun. Planetary orbits are elliptical, and the eccentricity of an orbit is the degree to which it deviates from a perfect circle. The Earth's orbit is very nearly circular, but it becomes a bit more elliptical before returning to nearly circular again in a 100,000 year cycle.

Milankovitch calculated all these slight changes, and also the resulting changes in the amount of sunlight warming the Earth at different latitudes due to the changing precession and obliquity and eccentricity of the Earth. And he argued that when the warming by sunlight at 65 degrees N was at its greatest, glacial ice covering the northern hemisphere would be at its minimum, and that when the warming from sunlight was at a minimum, glacial ice would be at its maximum. Or that was the rough idea.

But the changes in the amount of sunlight are really quite small, because the variations in the Earth's precession and obliquity and eccentricity are rather small. It didn't seem to be enough to cause ice ages.

Neither did it seem to fit very well with ice core data (for example from the Antarctic Vostok ice core) which was subsequently used to estimate ice volume and temperature and CO2 concentrations over the past few hundred thousand years.

milankovitch1At right, the graph shows the variation in the sunlight warming at 65 N over the past 400,000 years as calculated by Milankovitch, ranging from around 460 W/m2 to 540 W/m2 per day - an anomaly of +/- 40 Watts. Below it are the temperatures (in degrees C) over the same period derived from the Vostok ice cores, with the peak temperatures corresponding to ice minima like in our current interglacial period.

And it's a bit hard to see much correlation of one with the other.

The result is that, while Milankovitch's theory is intellectually very attractive, its popularity has waxed and waned. Most often, while people concede that the cycle might have some small effect, it had to be amplified in some way to explain the cycles of glaciation over the past few million years. Global warmists have argued, for example, that the Milankovitch cycles might cause a little bit of warming, which resulted in CO2 being released from the oceans to cause more warming, ultimately flipping the Earth's climate from a deep glaciation to a warm interglacial.

But today I learned that a Washington University researcher, Gerard Roe, suggested a few years ago that people were looking at Milankovitch's theory all wrong. They were supposing that when the Milankovitch cycle was at its peak, this would correspond to an ice minimum, and when it was at its lowest, that would correspond to an ice maximum. What they should have been looking at was the change in the ice volume. For at the peak of the Milankovitch cycle, it wasn't that the climate was warm, but that it was getting warmer, and the ice was melting. As Roe put it:

While most studies have focused on the connection between insolation and ice volume (V), there is a more direct physical connection between insolation and the rate of change of ice volume (dV/dt)

So Roe went back to the ice core data, and worked out the rate at which the glaciers were expanding and contracting. And then he plotted the Milankovitch cycles over (on top of) the rate of change of volume of the glaciers.

milankovitch2


It's an almost perfect match. And, according to Roe, there's no need to invoke any CO2-driven warming. In fact, he doubts that CO2 has much effect at all.

And it figures. The changes in the amounts of sunlight might be small, and wouldn't melt very much ice. But just a single slow drip of water of melt water would have added up, over tens of thousands of years, to an entire kilometre-thick ice sheet over half of Europe.

Roe's paper only came out a bit over 3 years ago, and physicist Lubos Motl, for one, only found out about it about 6 months ago. So it's a bit of news that's still slowly filtering out into the world. It's obviously not going to be reported by the global-warming-obsessed mass media. So the only way you'll ever hear about it is through the internet.

And it also illustrates beautifully how science is a process of finding things out, and how "the debate is never over", and how there will always be people like Gerard Roe who come along and point out something obvious, which everybody else had overlooked (including Milankovitch himself, who seems to have thought that the 40,000 year obliquity cycle would predominate).
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The Death Ride of Science
frank_davis4
frank_davis
I've just watched Sir Paul Nurse in Science Under Attack. Nurse has a Nobel prize for his work on cell division. He's a biologist.

But the programme mostly wasn't about biology, but about climate science - or rather climate scepticism. Or "denial", as Sir Paul preferred to call it.

The impression I had of the entire programme was that it said, in a multitude of different ways, that climate scientists knew what they were talking about, and global warming was happening, and people should believe what they said, and be very, very worried.

There was the segment with a NASA scientist with a giant split screen showing the weather as it actually happened, and the weather as it had been predicted, and they were almost indistinguishable, with clouds popping up in the same places all over the planet.

Fred Singer, the climate sceptic, was briefly interviewed at one point, with his stalactite data. After the interview, Nurse pointed at a small tree, and said that the single tree (the stalactite) was just part of the picture. You had to look at the whole picture. i.e. stalactities are not enough.

He also interviewed Professor Phil Jones of the Climatic Research Unit at UEA. It was a very sympathetic interview, in which the single Climategate "hiding the decline" email was put forward as being the substance of the entire Climategate affair. Which it isn't. There are lots of emails. "Hiding the decline" was just one line from one of them.

There was also the Delingpole interview where the question was put to him whether he'd trust the consensus medical opinion on treatment or follow some obscure guru. Delingpole, after a moment of thought, asked if the discussion could return to climate science. This moment in the discussion has been seized upon as the moment that Nurse broke Delingpole. I couldn't see it myself.

Nurse also talked about bloggers (e.g. me) who he described as having reached their conclusions first, and then cherry-picked their data to suit.

Well, you know that's just like me, don't you?

At the end, Nurse was reverentially holding Newton's manuscript copy of Principia, and gazing at the signed copy of The Origin of Species that Darwin had given the Royal Society.

But at the end of the programme, it wasn't the subtle and not-so-subtle hints to the viewer that the climate scientists were totally on top of their job, and knew what they were talking about, and the climate deniers were all, well, ...people like me, that stuck in mind.

What stuck in my mind was that the way that Sir Paul described science was that it was a unified whole, and you were either a "scientist" or a non-scientist, and that there was a kind of unity to all this science, such that "scientists" all knew pretty much the same thing.

For example, he said that all scientists knew that plants contained things called "genes", even if stupid laymen didn't know a thing about them.

Do they? He's probably right, but how many quantum physicists or climate scientists know exactly what a gene is? And how many molecular biologists could give a good summary of Newton's laws of motion or the physics of atmospheric greenhouse gases? Most of them probably know no more about scientific disciplines outside their own narrow specialisation than any other TV-watching layman.

And exactly how much does Sir Paul Nurse, Nobel-prize-winning biologist, know about climate science? Has he tried, like I have, to build his own simple climate simulation model? Can he write computer simulation models? I can. And if he can't write them himself, and do the maths and science himself, is he not trusting that other scientists have done so? If he can't work it out himself, doesn't he just have faith in other scientists? Is that not all he was expressing in his support for climate science - faith that they knew what they were talking about?

As Nurse presented it, "Science" was a sort of unified whole. It was a kind of church. All scientists were united in a scientific consensus not just about climate science, but all science of whatsoever nature whatsoever.

Or at least, that was the idea of the church of science that Sir Paul was presenting. Believe it all, or believe none of it! If you were sceptical about climate science, then you were sceptical about Newton and Einstein and Darwin. It was all or nothing.

But I think that, in adopting this line of defence, Sir Paul has embarked upon what might be called the Death Ride of Science. He is, as President of the Royal Society, throwing the full majestic weight of Science behind a really rather novel and uncertain climate science.

It's as if he threw the full majestic weight of Science behind the headline antismoking "science" study which showed a 17% fall in heart attacks since the UK smoking ban.

What Sir Paul should be doing is to get rid of this sort of pseudo-science, expelling if from the body of established Science like a plague virus - as fast as he possibly can. Instead, he's going to embrace it. If your peer-reviewed papers are published in established, recognised scientific journals, what you're doing is Science, and deserves the support of all other Science.

This will prove to be a catastrophic strategic error. Sir Paul will have spent the accrued capital of hundreds of years of scientific research simply to defend one or two outlying positions on climate science and tobacco research.

Sir Paul refuses to retreat anywhere. Not just in physics or chemistry or biology, but also in climate and tobacco research. The line must be held everywhere. There must be no retreat anywhere. This was, it might be remarked, Hitler's advice to his more flexible generals - like Manstein or Rommel - who were able to imaginatively concede ground in one place in order to win it in another.

It is Sir Paul's Hitlerian inflexibility which will bring about the death of science. Refusing to concede anything, he will end up conceding everything. Science is set to face a catastrophe, simply because this inflexible man refuses to ever retreat from anywhere.

I know just one of them durned'd bloggers, but I care about science, and I care about finding out the truth, and I think that Sir Paul Nurse is leading science to disaster and defeat.

Inside the BBC
frank_davis4
frank_davis
Fascinating reading in the Daily Mail, where veteran BBC anchor man Peter Sissons' biography is being serialised.

For me, though, the most worrying aspect of political correctness was over the story that recurred with increasing frequency during my last ten years at the BBC — global warming (or ‘climate change’, as it became known when temperatures appeared to level off or fall slightly after 1998).

From the beginning I was unhappy at how one-sided the BBC’s coverage of the issue was, and how much more complicated the climate system was than the over-simplified two-minute reports that were the stock-in-trade of the BBC’s environment correspondents.

These, without exception, accepted the UN’s assurance that ‘the science is settled’ and that human emissions of carbon dioxide threatened the world with catastrophic climate change. Environmental pressure groups could be guaranteed that their press releases, usually beginning with the words ‘scientists say . . . ’ would get on air unchallenged.

It's nice to see confirmed by an insider what you recognised as an outsider.

But the same, of course, applies to much else. Like the smoking ban. To the extent that there was any coverage at all of that, it was equally one-sided.

But what was also interesting was stuff I didn't know.

It’s the lack of simple curiosity about one of the great issues of our time that I find so puzzling about the BBC. When the topic first came to ­prominence, the first thing I did was trawl the internet to find out as much as possible about it.

Anyone who does this with a mind not closed by religious fervour will find a mass of material by respectable scientists who question the orthodoxy. Admittedly, they are in the minority, but scepticism should be the natural instinct of scientists — and the default setting of journalists.

It's a bit strange to think of someone like Peter Sissons reading Richard Lindzen and Climate Audit online, and finding out that there are quite a few sceptical scientists out there. I suppose I imagined that researchers would do this sort of work for someone as busy as Sissons, and send him a summary. But no, he seems to have been doing it for himself.

I was on duty on News 24 and it had been arranged for me to ­interview the leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas. She clearly expected, as do most environmental activists, what I call a ‘free hit’ — to be allowed to say her piece without challenge.

I began, good naturedly, by observing that the climate didn’t seem to be playing ball at the moment, and that we were having a particularly cold winter while carbon emissions were powering ahead.

Miss Lucas reacted as if I’d ­physically molested her. She was outraged. It was no job of the BBC — the BBC! — to ask questions like that. Didn’t I realise that there could be no argument over the science?

There's also a little insight into the BBC's internal health and safety culture:

It was then explained to me the modern news studio was a complicated place technically (I’d never have guessed) and that there were a number of potential hazards — robotic cameras, for example, and glasses of water on the newscasters’ desk.

Apparently, although it has never happened, the robotic cameras had the potential to go out of control and could inflict a nasty injury. As for the glassware, if it broke it might just cut the wrists of an unaware presenter.

Curious, I asked what was being done about these dangers. I was told that there was a red emergency switch in the studio that immobilised the cameras, and that glassware was being replaced with plastic cups, which were to be kept out of vision.

Proper water glasses would be available only for discussion ­programmes, when it might be aesthetically pleasing to have them in shot. The floor manager would receive a special payment for handling them.

So it's not just smoking. It's everything else too.

Anyway, it was rather cheering to see a prominent figure from the BBC breaking ranks, even if he no longer works for them. It will probably have some impact within the BBC. Maybe more of them will speak up.

Wood Smoke
frank_davis4
frank_davis
Last time I was in the River, there was a log fire burning in its traditional fireplace. How long before those become illegal?

Hard as it may be to believe, the fireplace — long considered a trophy, particularly in a city like New York — is acquiring a social stigma. Among those who aspire to be environmentally responsible, it is joining the ranks of bottled water and big houses.

“The smoke from a fire smells very nice,” said Diane Bailey, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council in San Francisco. “But it can cause a lot of harm.” The tiny particles, she said, “can cause inflammation and illness, and can cross into the bloodstream, triggering heart attacks” as well as worsening other conditions.

Yeah, yeah. Heard it all before. But what's wrong with bottled water and big houses? The American Lung Association chipped in too, naturally.

Wood smoke contains some of the same particulates as cigarette smoke, said Dr. Norman H. Edelman, the chief medical officer for the American Lung Association, as well as known carcinogens like aldehydes; it has also been linked to respiratory problems in young children.

How long before burning anything anywhere becomes illegal? Not just wood or coal fires, but candles, incense, and even matches? Can't be long now.

Karen Soucy, an associate publisher at a nonprofit environmental magazine, isn’t swayed by that argument. She refuses to enter a home where wood has been burned, even infrequently.

Ms. Soucy, 46, blames fumes from a wood fire for sending her to the emergency room 25 years ago with a severe asthma attack. She had been staying at a friend’s house in Stowe, Vt., for about a day, she said, when her lungs seized up. She was taken to a hospital in an ambulance, and got two shots of adrenalin; the doctors blamed her friend’s cat.

“It was only later, working with a team of allergy doctors and pulmonologists, did we determine the culprit to be the wood-burning fumes from the various fireplaces,” Ms. Soucy said.

Now her husband scouts out any place they go in advance, to be sure it’s free of fireplaces, and she passes up countless dinners and parties. “I’m the one who feels guilty for always being the one to decline invitations or for making people go out of their way to clean their home,” she said. Even then, she added, “the smell lingers on everything.”

Associate publisher at a nonprofit environmental magazine? Well, what else would she be? And pity her poor husband, always a day or two ahead of her, like a private detective snooping round people's houses, or checking for telltale signs of coal or wood or smoke or ash through his binoculars from the roof opposite.

And how was she so sure that it was wood smoke, and nothing else, that triggered her asthma attack all those 25 years ago? Did she have samples of the smoke that she'd kept in a bottle? Or of the wood they'd been burning?

More than anything, why the heck would anyone want to invite someone as professionally hypersensitive as her to a dinner party? Wouldn't the simplest thing to do to just not bother? And wouldn't it be the wisest thing too? If she came, you'd be eyeing her warily all evening, afraid that she'd suddenly start gargling and coughing, and 25 years later her army of doctors and pulmonologists would finally determine that it was your egg flan that nearly killed her.

Why not tell her to just stay at home? After all, it seems to be okay to do that with smokers. Why not just phone up and say, "Hey listen, Karen, we're having a party but we're not going to invite you, because we're just sick to the back teeth of bending over backwards to try to accommodate hypochondriacs like you with their laundry lists of things that make them ill, and because we'd just like to have an evening where we relax and eat hamburgers, and drink beer, and smoke cigarettes in front of our blazing log fire with the cat and the dog curled up next to it."

And, of course, “the smell lingers on everything.” But you knew that.

And before I forget, what about that cat? Why haven't cats and dogs and pets of any sort whatsoever been banned everywhere yet? Lots of people are allergic to them, it seems. Can't be long before they're all banned.

And it all works through generating paralysing guilt, it seems.

Wickham Boyle, 60, a writer and consultant for nonprofit arts organizations, installed a soapstone stove in her Hudson Valley house after a saleswoman explained that it had a catalytic combustor that converts smoke into water and carbon dioxide. Guests sometimes ask her if she feels guilty about burning wood, she said, but she recites a laundry list of the stove’s high-efficiency features...

Sally Treadwell, a 51-year-old public relations executive in Boone, N.C., said nothing makes her happier than building a fire on a cold winter night. But most of the time she doesn’t, she said, because she feels too guilty about the damage it may do to the environment...

Sue Duncan, a 52-year-old landscaper in Austin, Tex.,.. Every time she builds a fire, it causes “inner conflict,” she said. “It’s a guilty pleasure.”

It's all come from showing consideration for other people, I suspect, and for being "inclusive" of people who've been "discriminated against". And so allowance was made for all the asthmatics and the disabled and the young and the old and every species of the lame and the halt. And it was the fit and the able who were asked to make way for them. And as more and more of them arrived, each with their own special requirements, the fit and able gradually made way, and made way, and made way, until they finally ended up shivering outside.

In this manner inclusivity bred exclusivity. And one kind of discrimination gave way to another, and anyway discrimination of one kind or another never went away for a single moment.

It was better the way it was before. At least it was no worse.

The Scaremongers
frank_davis4
frank_davis
The more I think about passive smoking and global warming, the more I think that we've entered a new religious era. It's not what you know that matters. It's what you believe. Or don't believe.

The old religion, which in the much of the western world was Christianity, has been sidelined, and a new bunch of priests and bishops and cardinals have stepped into their shoes. They are scientists and experts of one sort or other. They don't use the Bible to justify their doctrines, but the modern canon of mathematics and science.

Somehow or other, the old bunch of priests lost credibility. The congregations melted away from their churches. People stopped believing in the old authorities. They instead paid much more attention to doctors and scientists who had a track record of getting things right, from preventing or curing dozens of previously intractable diseases, to building ships and planes and cars using the extraordinary technologies they had developed. Clear moral guidance was lacking.

The solution to the deepening moral vacuum was simple. The doctors and the scientists became the new priests. They used the credibility of their science to take over the vacant moral leadership of society.

And their message is much the same as before. "Repent, for the End of the World is nigh!" Stop smoking, else be damned to endure lung cancer, yeah even until the end of thy days. Stop burning oil and gas, lest verily ye be consumed by Fire from the Sky. You carry on scaremongering just like the previous scaremongers did.

Your family doctor has replaced your local vicar. Sir Liam Donaldson had taken over the job of the Archbishop of Canterbury until he stepped down last year as Government Health Officer. In the USA, the Surgeon General, C Everett Koop, started wearing his admiral's uniform, and so too does the current Surgeon General. It helps to have a snappy blue chasuble if you're an archbishop preaching damnation and hellfire.

The UN and the WHO are a new Vatican, and the UN Secretary General is a modern pope. The UN International Panel on Climate Change is a modern Council of Nicaea, thrashing out a modern Nicene Creed. That council was convened by the emperor Constantine, when the new religion of Christianity was being adopted by the Roman state. It was necessary to find a consensus of opinion among the bickering Christian bishops and theologians back then. And it's just as important to find a consensus among climate scientists today.

What this new priesthood is exploiting are the grey areas on the borderlands of science. Nobody really knows what causes lung cancer, but if it's possible with a little statistical chicanery to plausibly lay the blame on tobacco, nobody can conclusively prove the matter one way or the other. Nobody really knows how the climate works, but if a little scientific legerdemain can be used to indict carbon dioxide, nobody can conclusively prove it one way or the other. Nobody really knows. And when nobody really knows, all that's left is belief.

And either you believe what the scientists - the scientific consensus - say about tobacco and carbon dioxide, or you don't. It can hardly be said to be a crime to place one's trust in the scientists and doctors who made such tremendous real progress over recent centuries - before they decided to become priests and politicians.

Over on Smoking out the Truth:

I can deal with intelligent people being fooled from time to time. It’s a by-product of keeping an open mind on things and knowing that the debate change as newer facts emerge. But, those same intelligent people closing their minds and settling on something false, that nevertheless fits into their comfort zone, is infuriating. The debate on ETS, far from being over, never actually took place. A false fact was placed with the proviso that it must never be questioned and otherwise intelligent people choose to swallow that, hook, line and sinker.

Is it a crime to place one's trust in doctors and epidemiologists? Not really. They're the ones who're supposed to know, after all.

But, in the end, is such trust any different from blind faith in the teachings of the Church? In the end, it all boils down to trusting what someone else says, whether they be a scientist or statistician or climate scientist or bishop or theologian or pope. And trusting and believing somebody else very often entails disbelieving yourself.

If I'm sceptical about the reputed dangers of tobacco and carbon dioxide, it's partly because these claims contradict my own personal experience. Nobody in my family has died of lung cancer, or any form of cancer at all. My 60-a-day father remained as strong as an ox until more or less the day he died at age 79 after a series of strokes. My hard-smoking grandfather died aged 71 after a bout of flu. The only person I ever met who was dying of lung cancer was a non-smoker.

The notion that secondhand tobacco smoke is any threat to anyone's health is also contradicted by personal experience. It never happened. Ever. It's so implausible as to hardly need saying at all. Why should I start believing something that I've never believed in my entire life?

Same with global warming. The English climate today doesn't seem very much different from what it has been for the past 60 years. From time to time it's been slightly freakishly hot. But just a month back it was freakishly cold. Why should I start believing now that the whole world is warming when it's something I've never believed in my entire life? To do so would mean ceasing to trust my own judgment, and starting to trust the judgment of self-styled experts.

It would've been different if friend after smoking friend had died of lung cancer. Or if ambulances had showed up regularly at smoky pubs to cart away the dying. And if I'd dispensed with woollen clothes and central heating, and watched the grass turn brown. But those things didn't happen either.

And furthermore I've stopped believing the scientists and the doctors. I think they're all trying to use their authority and expertise to pull the wool over my eyes. I think that they're all pretending to know more than the science has so far discovered in those foggy borderlands of science. I think they're pretending to be more certain than they actually are. They exaggerate. These days they even tell outright lies.

But I can understand why lots of people still believe them, even if I don't. Maybe those people know lots of smokers who've died slow, agonising deaths from lung cancer. Maybe they were present when an ambulance showed up to take someone from a smoky pub to Accident & Emergency at their local hospital. Maybe they remember a bitterly cold climate in their childhood, and hot weather last summer. Maybe their personal experience doesn't contradict the dire warnings of scientific authorities, and it's easy for them to believe them.

E.g. Duncan Bannatyne:

He used to be a smoker. His father died of cancer, and Bannatyne in his infinite wisdom decided that it was the smoking that caused the cancer.

No, it wasn't "infinite wisdom". It was instead that Bannantyne's personal experience agreed with the authoritative medical consensus. There was no conflict. It all fitted together. And created complete certainty.

By contrast, someone like me endures conflict and uncertainty, because my experience does not concur with authority. There's no certainty, but instead an ever-shifting stalemate in a tug of war.

What's remarkable, if anything, is not that so many people trust what medical and scientific authorities tell them, but that so many people don't trust them. Twenty or thirty years ago, everybody trusted these authorities.

There is a growing epidemic - a pandemic - of distrust sweeping the world. Not just in doctors with respect to tobacco, but in doctors with respect to alcohol and food and almost everything else. MMR vaccine and swine flu being a couple of examples.

Distrust of climate scientists is rising sharply, and with it distrust of all of science.

And who trusts politicians these days? Who trusts any of them at all?

What's remarkable about these times is perhaps not so much the waves of scaremongering (about passive smoking and global warming and global terrorism), but the deepening public loss of faith in scaremongering authorities. People simply stop believing scaremongers.

The new IPCC Nicene Creed of Global Warming is being rejected almost as soon as the ink has dried on the paper.

Where does it end?

In a complete loss of trust and faith in all authorities. People will fall back on their own judgment, and the judgment of trusted friends. And when people don't trust governments, governments must fall. And when people stop trusting scientists, scientists will stop getting grants of public money. When people stop trusting formerly trusted authorities, it's time for new authorities.

Insincerity and artifice cannot persist indefinitely. In the coming era, it will be honesty and trustworthiness that people will demand, and which it will be for politicians and scientists and doctors to step up and provide. There will be new politicians and scientists struggling to find credibility in a climate of pervasive suspicion and distrust. They'll have to be new ones, because the old ones have comprehensively blown it.

The era of propaganda and spin and fashion is coming to an end. The coming era will be one in which people speak honestly and openly and plainly. It will be one in which both sides of the argument will be heard. In which a political correctness which prevents open and honest debate will retreat. In which nothing is stage-managed to reach a predetermined outcome.

It will be a time when the scaremongering stops, and all the scares lose their force, because nobody believes a word of them anymore. And the world will once again seem serene and placid. Nobody will worry about global warming, because there isn't any. Nobody will worry about the threat of passive smoking, because there isn't one. Not in their personal experience, anyway. It takes experts with statistics and charts to conjure up these threats out of nothing.

It will be a giddy time. It will be a scary time in which, in the absence of guiding authority, nobody will know what anyone else believes, or even what they themselves believe.

Perro Fumando
frank_davis4
frank_davis
I suspect that the following video is from a Spanish antismoking ad. But it seems to have become a pro-smoking ad.

"Perro fumando" is Spanish for "Why bother?", or something, I think. And if I were Bennett, I'd want to finish my cigarette too.


A New International Brigade?
frank_davis4
frank_davis
Josie Appleton in Spiked:

As in 1936, a battle is playing out in Spain that resounds beyond her borders.

On one side are the government and health establishment, who on 2 January introduced one of the strictest smoking bans in Europe, prohibiting smoking not only in enclosed public spaces but also in the vicinity of schools, hospitals and in children’s playgrounds.

On the other side are furious bar owners who are ignoring or evading the law, with some stepping forward in outright rebellion and posting ‘you can smoke here’ signs or calling public demonstrations.

In this battle it is crystal clear what is at stake in smoking bans, and what the different sides represent. This is not a conflict between smokers and non-smokers, but between those who are for the bureaucratic regulation of social life and those who are for tolerance and liberty.

The bar owners seem to be putting up a spirited fight. And hoteliers are also beginning to join in.

Los hosteleros cumplen pero se arruinan

(Caterers comply but are ruined)

The Federation of Hotels will campaign to modify the smoking ban as has been done in most European Union countries.

Two weeks into the ban,

The tobacco law threatens to close bars and the situation is becoming desperate for many entrepreneurs, who in turn will fire employees if they want to continue their business.

and

A group of six major Spanish hoteliers is considering suing the state to compensate them for the expense of work that they were required to carry out on their premises for the previous Anti-Tobacco Act 2006.

and a Manifesto:

harassed and cornered, we will fight until the end for our jobs, our families, and our businesses.

Assuming that the Spanish government has introduced the ban (and now jacked up the price of tobacco as well) after intense pressure from the EU, the Spanish smoking ban looks set to become a collision between the EU and the Spanish people (and perhaps through them all the peoples of Europe), with the Spanish government caught between the two. On the one hand the Spanish government is feeling the weight and power of the EU, and the other hand it is feeling the growing wrath of its own people.

Who will triumph?

It may indeed be a conflict as significant as the Spanish Civil War in 1936, but this time between an emerging EU superstate and the people it purports to govern.

If the EU wins, and the Spanish are bludgeoned into submission, an even more draconian EU-wide smoking ban will probably be the next law to roll off the EU presses. After that, there will most likely be a deluge of laws regulating every aspect of behaviour. Not just smoking, but also drinking, and eating, and much else, will be regulated by Brussels.

If the Spanish people win, then the EU-wide smoking ban will be put on hold, and along with it all the other totalitarian healthist legislation that is no doubt being prepared to be rubber-stamped by the compliant EU parliament. Furthermore, other EU countries may take a lead from Spain, and mount a belated counter-attack against their own smoking bans.

The future of Europe may be decided in the bars of Barcelona and Madrid.

For it may well be that throughout Europe national governments will increasingly be tugged one way and then the other, as first their EU paymasters force them to introduce new rules and regulations of one sort or other, only for their own people to respond by rejecting these with increasing fury. Crushed between the EU on the one hand, and their own people on the other, governments will be unable to satisfy both, or either. After all, European governments (such as the UK government) are already increasingly merely proxies for the EU central government, and expected to police their own peoples in accordance with EU diktat. The outcome could well be a gradually escalating low level civil war between the totalitarian EU and all the peoples of Europe, waged simultaneously everywhere. And the EU, rather than being a bulwark against continental war, will have perversely proved to be the cause of just such a new European conflict.

If the EU wins in that wider struggle, the future of Europe will be as an updated version of the Soviet Union, only worse, because tobacco and alcohol were not banned in the Soviet Union. And if the EU wins, you can kiss goodbye to freedom and prosperity and conviviality.

If, however, the people of Europe triumph, a new free Europe will emerge, in which most of the repressive EU-driven rules and regulations which have been enacted over the past few decades will be revoked. And it will also be a surprisingly united Europe, because the peoples of Europe will have had to unite to overthrow the oppressive European government that has grown up amongst them like some volcano spewing out torrents of laws.

It may even be time to start thinking what that new post-EU Europe would be like, once Barroso and Rompuy and all the rest of the new upstart European aristocracy have been consigned to exile on Elba or St Helena. Should the whole European project be dismantled? Was there nothing good in it at all? Should Europe go back to being a bunch of fretful, warring states? Or might something yet be rescued of the pacific founding dream of Europe?

In the mean time, it's worth recalling that George Orwell headed off to Spain in 1936 to fight in the Spanish Civil War. Perhaps it's time for a new anti-fascist International Brigade to be formed, packing not rifles this time, but instead packets of cigarettes and bottles of whisky and takeaway ham and curry pizzas, with which to meet the EU health-fascists in pitched battle, fork to fork, in the bars and restaurants of Barcelona.
Tags:

Morons and Halfwits
frank_davis4
frank_davis
I found myself reading comments on global warming alarmist Joe Romm's Climate Progress today. They were complaining about denialist Mark Morano and his highly effective Climate Depot website (which I'd just visited). I thought the following comment was (unintentionally) quite funny:

Maybe we’re going about our approach to climate change all wrong. Maybe we should just be concentrating on building a Space Ark.

It’s probably already too late for Earth anyway. So let’s pack our stuff and get out of here for a few dozen generations, and leave this place for all the extremist conservautomatons to just wipe themselves out.

The sooner us “crazy eco-nazis” bail, the sooner the Earth actually hits the reset button. In a few thousand years our descendants would inherit not only a relatively refreshed planet, but one where they don’t have to compromise it for a bunch of backward entitled loudmouth idiots.

The only trace left will probably be some last gasp angry cave paintings depicting “them damm libural yugenesists”.

It set me thinking that just a few years ago, when I was a bit left wing, I'd probably have joined in taking shots at backward, knuckle-dragging, palaeo-conservatives. But now I'm on the other side, and it's not like that any more. After all those years of being a bit of a trendy leftie, I've myself become something of a backward, knuckle-dragging, palaeo-conservative.

Strange, eh? How did that happen?

Well, the smoking ban was mostly what did it, although I'd been slowly drifting that way for quite a long time. Once I'd been expelled from society on 1 July 2007, suddenly everything looked very different. More or less overnight, the people that I had regarded as being good, rational, and progressive all started to look like so many jack-booted authoritarians shallowly repeating drivel they'd read in the Guardian. They no longer seemed in the least bit "good". Or "rational". Or "progressive". It was like one of those horror movies where a beautiful woman rapidly turns into a haggard old crone after she runs out of immortality pills, or the life-force generator is switched off, or maybe both.

Sometimes I wonder if one day I'll switch back. And when the smoking ban has been repealed, and I'm back in the pub again, drinking and smoking and playing pool, all my leftie progressiveness will also be restored. Hey, I might even start reading the Guardian again.

It reminds me of the adage that "A conservative is a liberal who has been mugged," (where "liberal" is meant in the American sense, perhaps "libural" or "librul"). I didn't quite understand it before, but I do now. Because on 1 July 2007, I got mugged. So did a lot of other people.

Round about the same time was when I turned against Global Warming. It happened when I watched Channel 4 News' Jon Snow ringingly declaring that "the debate is over", and I instantly thought: "Oh no it isn't! The debate is never over!" Right that minute I became a sceptic.

And not long after that, the formerly bright and shiny and modern EU parliament started to look like a sinister piece of Stalinist wedding cake architecture staffed with Soviet apparatchiks and KGB generals.

And in this disturbing new world, much of what I'd formerly believed no longer fitted the new reality. It stopped making sense. Now that my world had been turned upsidedown, up became down, and left became right, and everything fell off the table onto the ceiling.

I now think that people maybe go shopping for beliefs that fit with their underlying disposition. It's like buying shoes or furniture. If they live in a dark place, they buy dark clothes and dark furniture to match the darkness, and if they live in a bright shiny place they buy bright clothes and bright shiny furniture. And if their room turns from light to dark, or vice versa, they have to change all their clothes and furniture and other impedimenta. And this was what had happened to me. And I was having to go shopping for new clothes and furniture at the Conservative shop rather than the Librul store like I used to. The old values and beliefs no longer matched the decor.

In the case of something like Global Warming, I've more or less come to the conclusion that there really isn't anything rational about it, irrespective of whether one is an alarmist or a sceptic. You just naturally gravitate to one point of view or the other. Because nobody really understands the climate science. The climate scientists don't understand the science. And neither do the sceptics. Nobody really knows a damn thing about it. Even the fundamental physics is in dispute. The planet might be warming, or it might be cooling. Nobody knows. But everyone has a firm opinion about it, because they are disposed to think one way or the other, like loaded dice which always come up with 6. And they also know with equal certainty that the other side are just total morons who just can't see reason.

You're disposed to believe in Global Warming if you basically think the world is a dangerous place, teetering on the brink of annihilation, and we've gotta Do Something to stop it happening. And you're disposed not to believe in Global Warming if you think that nothing really ever changes, except that if these crazy Global Warmist types ever get the upper hand, they'll drive us over the brink of extinction.

And you're disposed to believe that Smoking Kills if you have your eyes fixed on some bright, shining, clean, new world in which there aren't clouds of smoke coming out of everybody's mouths. And you're inclined to believe that smoking is pretty harmless if you think that the old world with its quirky old architecture and its half-timbered saloon bars with people sitting around drinking beer and smoking cigarettes was a far better place than any idealistic, antiseptic, barren, soulless new world dreamt up by a ruthless KGB general somewhere in the EU parliament.

Anyway, I've flipped from one way of looking at the world to another, and much of what I believe - about smoking, global warming, the EU, and much else - has changed with it.

George Orwell was a leftwinger when he went off to fight in the Spanish Civil War. But was he still a leftwinger when he wrote Animal Farm and 1984? Or had he too flipped from one state to the other? Did Orwell get mugged?

With these thoughts in mind, I moved on to read the next comment.

I urge everyone who hasn’t read it to get a copy of Merchants of Doubt and read it cover to cover. The depth and breadth of denier actions over decades on a host of topics from smoking to climate change is mind boggling.

I could feel the bile rising. Oh yeah? Mind-boggling, is it? Well, it probably is for you, you pathetic little scatter-brained halfwit.

Tidal Waves of Lunacy
frank_davis4
frank_davis
Lots of news today.

California. Where else? We always sort of knew that, when it comes to antismoking studies, the conclusions are drawn first, and then the "post-normal" research is carried out second, rather than the other way round, as in old-fashioned "normal" science. But now it's official.

an anti-smoking research group in California has admitted, in its grant application summary itself, that the purpose of the research is to generate data that will support a pre-determined conclusion that thirdhand smoke is toxic to exposed nonsmokers in order to promote smoking bans in private homes....

the researchers stated that their proposed work "will be a critical step in a timely assessment of whether the THS exposure is genetically harmful to exposed nonsmokers, and the ensuing data will serve as the experimental evidence for framing and enforcing policies prohibiting smoking in homes, hotels, and cars in California and elsewhere in order to protect vulnerable people,"

So why bother to do the "research"? Why not just go ahead and ban people from smoking in their own homes, since that is obviously what they want to do? I suppose they need the figleaf of being able to say that "Studies show that..." or "Scientists have found...", so that they can pretend that they're not just raving antismoking bigots, and that there's a "scientific" basis for what they're doing.

What's the likelihood of the "research" being funded, and then laws enacted to ban smoking in the home, first in California, and then more or less everywhere else in the world, as politicians jump on the bandwagon?

Pretty good, I'd say. Given that it's already happened with the current wave of public smoking bans sweeping the world.

Spain is the latest to impose a draconian and divisive ban, of course. And yet Spanish Prime Minister Rodriguez Zapatero is a smoker, and apparently regularly lights up in his executive jet. And the Spanish Minister of Health, Leire Pajin, has also been accused of being a smoker.

What is it with these politicians, that they support or enact laws that criminalise their own personal behaviour? Zapatero and Pajin are hardly the first such hypocrites. In the UK we've got Cameron and Clegg, after all. Why is it that none of them seem able to stand up against this tidal wave of destructive pseudoscientific zealotry? Is some sort of epidemic sweeping the political classes?

But the people of Spain don't seem to like their new smoking ban one bit. Bar after bar is refusing to comply. Smoking clubs are being formed. Signatures are being gathered to support an initiative to overturn the ban. In Saragosa, hundreds of people, waving cigarettes, have publicly protested. Even El Mundo is talking Hitler and the Nazis (the sort of thing you only ever read on blogs like mine).

It's not much better in Greece either, apparently.

The smoking ban in Greece could be amended just four months after it was brought in with the introduction of a smoking tax.

The Greek government is planning to introduce smoking licences for wet-led venues so that customers can smoke.

The cost will be decided based on the size of the establishments and any venue that allows smoking without the licence will be closed.

The government believes it could bring in “at least” €50m (around £42m) from issuing the smoking licences.

Smoking will still be prohibited in public areas and restaurants.

Since the introduction of the smoking ban in September last year, around 450 penalty notices have been issued in Athens alone.

It's not as if these smoking bans are the only pieces of lunacy around. There are tidal waves of lunacy coming from everywhere. Global warming being another one. And the EU "project" yet another. And politicians line up to vote for them all. And newspapers and TV channels repeat the gibbering nonsense straight-faced. Have they all gone mad?

I suppose that in the cases of Spain and Greece, with their economies tottering, it's probably the case that if they don't impose these vindictive bans on their own people, they won't get bailed out by the antismoking EU or the antismoking World Bank. Zapatero and Pajin, and most likely Cameron and Clegg, have no option but to go along with it all. Their hands are tied, it seems, and they're just so many marionettes being worked by hidden hands. Only the people on the streets can stem the tide. And can even they?

P.S. Maybe Greece isn't going to introduce smoking licences after all.

Playing With Fire
frank_davis4
frank_davis
Picking up on a conversation in the comments. Junican wrote:

Another example (and we are now in the realm of 'ideas' pure and simple), is the statement by Baroness Elaine Murphy, that the purpose of the smoking ban was NOT really about SHS, but was about turning people against each other. That statement was SO revealing.

And Rick S followed up:

"the purpose of the smoking ban was NOT really about SHS, but was about turning people against each other".

Brilliantly put. Yes, we all know that this is the point of "denormalisation" and designating certain modes of behaviour as "unacceptable", and we all know people have indeed turned against one another, with all the "selfish smokers and their vile, carcinogenic stench" comments, but I don't think anyone has nailed it quite so succinctly before.

Well, yes, it is about turning people against each other. In the first place, quite a few non-smokers have turned into antismokers. Over the years, to some extent, I've watched this happen, as friends have first given up smoking, and then stopped going to pubs (because they're "too smoky"), and then progressively banned smoking in their own homes. I've yet to encounter anyone who's actually virulently antismoking, but I know they're around.

I never minded too much if people gave up smoking, or even banned smoking in their own homes. There were plenty of other places to go. But with the smoking ban, most of those other places vanished, and my attitudes changed. I began to see my antismoking friends as being allies of an oppressive government. Particularly if they approved of the ban (as some of them did). But also if they just weren't that bothered by it. I was now on one side, and they were on the other, and that changed everything.

In fact, I think that now I feel far more intensely about the whole issue than most of the "antismokers" I know. I wouldn't be writing this blog if I didn't.How many antismoking blogs have you read? None.

So it works two ways. First the growing numbers of antismokers, largely driven by antismoking propaganda, started disapproving of smoking and smokers. But then growing numbers of smokers (like me) started disapproving of antismokers. And disapproving far more strongly of antismokers than the antismokers disapproved of smokers. In my case it's borderline homicidal hatred.

And it's not just that I disapprove of antismokers. It's also that I disapprove of the attitudes of many smokers. I was shocked that several smokers I knew were completely apathetic, and said that "There's nothing that can be done, and there's no point doing anything".

And it's a division that's set to deepen. The more smokers get excluded and persecuted, the more angry they'll get at antismokers. And the longer the war on smokers continues, the more antismokers there will be, as convinced of the dangers of secondhand and thirdhand and fourthhand smoke as they are of the dangers of global warming.

And smokers have no easy way out. On the one hand, they've been expelled from society, and they don't like that one bit. But the only way they can rejoin society is if they give up smoking, which most of them no more want to do any more than drinkers want to give up drinking, or newspaper readers want to give up newspapers. Smokers simply detest the new non-smoking pubs. They're about as much fun as dentists' waiting rooms. So smokers are between a rock and a hard place.

Is this a good way to engage in large scale social engineering? Setting people against each other? I suppose that, if Baroness Elaine Murphy were to speak further of it, she'd probably say that smokers were simply being gently "nudged", and that at the end of the day, once smoking had been extirpated from society, everything would be exactly as it was before, one big happy family, only minus the smoking. And in this it appears she would have the support of the government and many of the MPs in parliament, all of whom are still congratulating themselves on how "progressive" and "enlightened" they are.

But what I see and experience happening is the simultaneous atomisation and polarisation of society. It's becoming an atomised society, because smokers become atomic individuals disconnected from more or less everybody else. This doesn't just affect smokers: it also affects their non-smoking friends. When I lose a friend, they also lose a friend. And at the same time society becomes polarised between the die-hard smokers on the one hand and the virulent antismokers on the other (always bearing in mind that the numbers of both are rising).

To me that looks like the perfect recipe for something very like a civil war.

Sometimes I think that they actually want such an atomised and polarised society. And that it's the ancient method of "divide and rule". But mostly I think that they simply have no idea whatsoever what they're doing. They're like kids playing with matches. They're playing with fire.

Because there are other things happening as well. Smokers like me no longer believe anything that antismoking doctors say any more. Not even the lung cancer stuff, as was explored a bit last month. I used to trust doctors, but I don't any more. Not just about smoking, but about lots of other things too. In fact, with the global warming thing, I no longer trust scientists in general. And I don't trust the BBC or any other TV channel (which is why I haven't owned a TV for over a year now). And I don't trust newspapers, so I no longer buy any of them either. And I'm not going to vote for any mainstream political party either. Why should I? I've been expelled from society. Why should I care what anyone who still belongs to "society" now thinks?

How much more totally alienated can you get?

I think that most antismokers believe that smokers are people who will always defer to them and their demands. That they'll just all move another mile down the road.

But I think those days are over. And that there's a terrific explosion coming.

Collapsing Authority
frank_davis4
frank_davis
I was reading this today:

In 2003, an eminent British astronomer published a book entitled Our Final Century with the subtitle:

A SCIENTISTS WARNING:
How terror, error, and environmental disaster
threaten humankind’s future in this century
– on earth and beyond.

It tells of how during the 20th century, humanity was first presented with the real risk of its own self-destruction through nuclear catastrophe, and how now, with so many more dangers, it is down to an even chance that our species will extinguish itself before this new century is through. Thus, the title Our Final Century refers to the likelihood of the extinction of the human species before this century is out. The message is clear: The end is nigh.

The eminent doom-mongering astronomer was Martin Rees, the current president of the Royal Society, which recently celebrated its 350th anniversary. It went on...

For those who celebrate science there is much to celebrate here. And yet there is one disquieting disjunction between the promotion of science in those early days and the promotion of science in recent times. This is that in those early days there would have been no place for the sort of apocalyptic alarmism advanced by Lord Rees. On the contrary, the early Royal Society promoted empirical science as a sober and reasonable alternative to those speculating scary scenarios of future calamity. Natural science was promoted to calm existential fears, not to inflame them. The first break-though was achieved by marketing science not only as opposed to the apocalyptic fear-mongering but also as a remedy for it...

In the last decade the most successful mode of science promotion has been by fear, not against it. After three and a half centuries we have indeed reached an extraordinary moment in the history of institutionalised science. Whether this is an anomaly or a turning point it is hard to say, for it is still early days and science is still riding a wave of good-will driven by centuries of trusted protocol and practice...

The same motivation that caused panics to sweep across medieval towns and villages, the same old apocalyptic storyline that scared to their deaths young men in the Civil War; such terror is now being used to draw attention to science, to increase its support (and so funding) and to demand obedience to its authority (The time for debate is over, for the science is settled!). While at its foundation, the Royal Society positioned itself for success in quelling fear with science, it now uses fear to drum up support.

The same is true, of course, of "lifestyle medicine" which is now using terror to try to ramp up fears of secondhand smoking to now include thirdhand smoking. The high status of the medical establishment is being used to lend credibility to increasingly outrageous claims about tobacco, much in the same way that the high status of science is being used to lend credibility to increasingly outrageous claims about climate change.

The article refrains from drawing any conclusions about this strange turnabout whereby formerly neutral scientific authorities became zealots and "enthusiasts", but it seems to me that the most likely outcome will be the collapse of the authority of scientists and doctors.

What we are looking at, I suspect, is a repeat of a process seen elsewhere, whereby some puritanical, self-denying industrialist starts an oil business, and scrimps and saves to build it up into into a multi-million dollar industry (and I'm thinking J P Getty here), only for his sons and daughters, lacking his necessary self-denial, to blow the whole lot on drugs or something. Science has built up a considerable capital, in the form of a reputation for the disinterested study of nature. So also has medicine, in the form of a benign reputation for the disinterested study of disease. In a world of partisan opinion, they had gained street credibility. Sooner or later somebody was going to come along and blow it all on something stupid. After all, what else is there to do with it?

The inevitable result must be a collapse in the status of scientists and doctors. They used to be automatically and unquestioningly believed whenever they opened their mouths (a bit like the Pope in the 14th century). Why would they lie? But now that this is exactly what they're doing, people are beginning to wise up. Respected authorities are rapidly losing respect.

So what happens then? What happens when people stop believing authoritative scientists and doctors? Willis Eschenbach, in a piece on WUWT, may have realised sooner than everybody else.

In 2011, curiously, we’ve gone back to the customs of the 1800s, the public marketplace of ideas — except this time it’s an electronic marketplace of ideas, rather than people speaking from the dais and in the halls of the Royal Society in London.

We're returning to a state where there aren't any authorities, because nobody believes any of them any more. Trust in these various authorities is currently draining away as quickly as bathwater out of a tub. Pretty soon there won't be a consensus about anything any more. Everything will be up for grabs. Because there will no longer be any trusted and respected authorities about anything.

In the absence of authority, I suspect that new and strange ideas will begin to multiply.

Antismoker1
frank_davis4
frank_davis
I've been fooling around with Xtranormal, which allows people to make video cartoons with computer voiceovers. I first came across it a week or two back in Global Warming Panic Explained, which went a bit viral. And today I noticed that Stewart Cowan had done one too, this time about the EU. So I thought I'd try it out myself.

It proved very easy to use the online moviemaker facility to create and edit a little cartoon. Below is my first effort, Antismoker1, slightly over a minute long. It probably took an hour or two to put together and edit. I didn't really plan it out or write a script. I just did what came into my head. And I'm quite pleased with it.

The unfortunate thing was that I had to pay $10 to buy 1200 credits in order to get the 400 credits needed publish the thing. Since I was given 300 credits on joining, I had a total of 1500 credits, so that's probably enough for nearly 4 mini-cartoons like the one above. i.e. $2.50 each. Which is round about the price of a beer in the UK. Apparently it was all free until recently. But $2.50 a pop won't break me.

Now I just need to make another 3 videos with my remaining credits.


Cello Scrotum
frank_davis4
frank_davis
On the back of yesterday's quote from Sir George Godber, today I found myself thinking about this quote from Baroness Elaine Murphy, who is yet another senior bigot-doctor, and who wrote to Michael McFadden (author of Dissecting Antismokers' Brains, and occasional commenter here) to say:

"Dear Mr McFadden,
You and many others have completely missed the point about smoking and health. The aim is reduce the public acceptability of smoking and the culture which surrounds it. We know that legislation which discourages all public smoking will have the better impact on public understanding and perception of smoking as an unacceptable habit. Hence fewer people will smoke, hence health overall will improve."

baroness elaine murphy


McFadden commented that this was 'Basically an admission that the smoking ban is based on a lie... the lie that it's about secondary smoke and "protecting the workers' health"'. Which is quite true. Here's a senior doctor admitting that the smoking ban is a piece of social engineering.

But there's a lot more packed into those few words than that.

I found myself wondering whether the "public acceptability" of smoking can be determined by governments. What's publicly acceptable is what people (i.e. the general public) actually accept. The general public consists of millions of people with their own set of values. Governments can't change people's values overnight, just by (in the case of smoking) making something illegal.

And in fact, in the case of the smoking ban, in Devon I never had anyone come up and complain to me about my smoking, or even indicate the slightest disapproval. Everyone carried on accepting it exactly as they always had. The public acceptability of smoking did not change, regardless of the smoking ban and the media war on smokers. People's values and cultural norms are not easily changed.

It's like how, within hours of Hitler's suicide in his Berlin bunker, pretty much everyone inside it was smoking. After 12 years of Nazi rule, smoking hadn't been in the least bit "denormalised" at the very nerve centre of the Nazi regime. As soon as the regime failed, everybody went back to normal. i.e. to smoking.

And that's exactly what will happen when the current neo-Nazi antismoking regime fails. The pubs and bars and cafes will fill up with smokers within hours. Because it's only the force of law which is stopping them. Remove the straitjacket of the law, and everything will revert to its former shape.

I also wondered about the last line: "Hence fewer people will smoke, hence health overall will improve."

It's understandable that doctors should be concerned about health. It is, after all, what their job is about. But doctors like Murphy seem to have elevated health to the status of the One Good, the only thing that really matters. She's clearly indifferent as to whether people will enjoy themselves in the healthy new "smoke-free" pubs. Pleasure is not important. Gaining a few extra days of life is the only thing that matters.

It's as if architects were in charge, and the only thing that really mattered was whether the buildings people lived in had good, clean, modern lines. Or hairdressers ran the world, and the only thing that mattered was how people's hair was done. It's a one-eyed view of life, from which all perspective has vanished. And, oddly enough, Sir George Godber only had one eye.

"He lost an eye aged ten and could not play cricket because he could not catch the ball "

I wonder if Baroness Murphy only has one eye too? Or cello scrotum?

What matters to me is freedom, and clearly Murphy doesn't give a damn about freedom or happiness or anything like that. Health is all that matters. And she's quite happy to use the law to make people behave healthily. Although she engages in the deceit that the law merely "discourages" smoking.

What she wants is a world of healthy people. And healthy people are above all else people who are able to work. Murphy, I suspect, sees people as simply being workers. Indeed, not just as workers, but more or less as slaves. Slaves whose personal aspirations count for nothing. One wants one's slaves to be healthy so that they can work well, work effectively. One definitely does not want one's slaves to be free. Nor does one want them to spend their days sitting around in pubs drinking beer and smoking cigarettes, not because there's anything terribly unhealthy about such activities, but because slaves should be working.

What Elaine Murphy wants is a busy, working society filled with fit, healthy workers. But what I want is an idle, playful society whose pubs are filled with free, happy people drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. These two visions are polar opposites of each other. They cannot coexist.

And when, one day, our current coercive healthist political regime collapses, as it inevitably will, and people go back to smoking and drinking in pubs, we must make sure to get rid of people like Elaine Murphy. They must be stripped of their titles, and expelled from their professions and from public life, exactly as they once set out to expel from society hundreds of millions of the smokers and drinkers and fat people that they so haughtily pronounced "unacceptable".

Petulant For A While
frank_davis4
frank_davis
A quotation that somebody left in the comments filtered back to mind today, so I went looking for it. It was left by Magnetic a week or so back, and it was a quotation from Sir George Godber, who'd said:

“Need there really be any difficulty about prohibiting smoking in more public places? The nicotine addicts would be petulant for a while, but why should we accord them any right to make the innocent suffer?”

I wonder how long that George Godber thought that "a while" would last?

Somehow, I think that Godber imagined that they'd be a bit sulky and cross for a few days, or a few weeks. At most, after a few months, the last of them would have come in from the cold, grinning sheepishly, and saying, "It's a fair cop. I've learned my lesson. Let me buy you antismokers a round of drinks. But for you people nothing would ever have changed. And, y'know what? I've given up smoking!"

Godber was probably drawing on his experience of previous smoking bans. Like ones on buses and trains and airline jets, where smokers had just shrugged and accepted it. That was how I responded myself to all those creeping bans, after all. I noticed them at first, but a week later it was just water under the bridge. After all, I didn't particularly want to smoke on buses or trains or airline jets.

But when all those earlier bans came in, smokers weren't expelled from society. They didn't lose their communities of friends. They didn't get vilified and demonised in the media. They didn't get fired from their jobs. Or refused medical treatment.

Which is what happened with the pub smoking ban, of course. Smokers were pushed and prodded for years. And then they were hit with a really big stick.

It hurt a lot of people. Like Eastenders star June Brown:

"You can't go anywhere and smoke now - it's ruined my life. It's ruined the whole end of my life."

And to the extent that people really have been badly hurt, and really had their lives ruined, it's safe to say that those people are never going to forget, and are never going to forgive what was done to them. They're not going to be angry for a day or a week. They're going to be bitter for the rest of their lives.

George Godber's "while" is going to be of indefinite duration.

And one day, when it finally filters through to the powers that be that the smoking ban was a mistake, they'll relax the ban. The existing law will be seen for what it is - ineffective and unnecessarily draconian -. I think this is bound to happen sooner or later.

But when it does happen, and smokers get their own smoking rooms or their own pubs or whatever, it won't be a cure. It'll just be an improvement. For the bitterness and the anger won't go away. That really is permanent. Because people can't be given back their communities or their friends. They can't be given back the jobs and the businesses they lost. Maybe they can't even be given back their good name.

Whatever happens, the smoking ban will leave a permanent bleeding wound.

And a very large, permanent, bleeding wound. Because this isn't just one or two people who have been run over by a truck. This is millions of people all over the world. Millions of permanently angry and resentful people.

It's going to be a very big problem, I think. Politicians and pundits are going to deeply regret what they did. Not the ones who actually inflicted the damage, of course. They'll never admit fault, ever. But the ones who come after them, who have to pick up the pieces, are going to be shaking their heads and wondering what sort of madness afflicted their predecessors that they could have so vilified and expelled from polite society fully a quarter of their own people. There'll probably be academic papers about it. "The epic lunacy of the smoking bans: what had they been smoking?"

It'll be a problem not just here in Britain, but all over the world. Ten, twenty years from now. Longer than that even. And regardless of whether bans have been amended or repealed in the mean time.

That's my guess, anyway. From looking at my own anger. Three and a half years into the smoking ban, I'm still angry. And I think I'll always be angry. Even if they repeal the ban, I'll carry on being angry.

It isn't going to go away.

But some good may yet come of it. Tobacco Control must be destroyed. Inherently divisive 'lifestyle medicine' must be comprehensively discredited and rejected. Epidemiology needs to be refounded. The medical profession must be reformed, and every single antismoker expelled from its ranks.

That would be a good start.