Sunday, October 28, 2007

My Lady Nicotine

David Warren on the deleterious effects (epistemological and physical) of not-smoking:
More widely disseminated medical literature has documented other risks of non-smoking, that include neurotic depression, violent irritability, and obscene weight gain. But these tend to be discounted because they lead to death only indirectly.

Likewise, indirect evidence for the dangers of not smoking comes from the 150th anniversary number of Atlantic magazine. P.J. O'Rourke points to (actual, serious) U.S. historical statistics showing that, in the period 1973-94, annual per capita consumption of cigarettes FELL from 4,148 to 2,493. In the same period, the incidence of lung and bronchial cancer ROSE from 42.5 to 57.1 cases per 100,000 population.

In the past I have flagged U.N. statistics showing that life expectancy was nicely proportional to tobacco consumption, internationally -- so that e.g. Japan and South Korea were respectively first and second in BOTH life expectancy AND tobacco consumption. Whereas, the lowest tobacco consumption was in “basketcase” Third World countries, where we also found some of the shortest life expectancies.

I think we could also find historical statistics showing that there is a reliable, worldwide relationship between rising tobacco consumption, and rising life expectancy, nation by nation, throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

As Al Gore likes to say, "the science is irrefutable."

The weakness in that last statement being, that there is no such thing as irrefutable science. There is nothing in the whole history of science, including physiology and meteorology, that is not tentative. And while, in astronomy, I remain convinced that the earth revolves around the sun, I would not put all my money even on that proposition, but, given attractively long odds, reserve a penny bet on the sun going round the earth.


There is one more hypothesis with which I would like to leave my reader today. It is that the kind of quack “science” that was used to ban smoking has now mutated into the kind that is used to flog global warming. It should have been resisted then; it should certainly be resisted now.
And Bernard Black: