This week on my podcast, I read "I Quit," a column I wrote for @medium that connects the dots between smoking cessation, tobacco denial, climate inaction, and anti-maskers.
Specifically, it's about how the cancer denial playbook has been iterated and sharpened by successive generation of corporate murderers and their enablers in the Paltrow-Industrial Complex.
The goal of science deniers isn't necessarily to convince you that covid isn't real, or that vaccines are bad for you, or that privacy is overrated, or that there isn't a climate emergency - their goal is to convince you that these things just *can't be known* for sure.
It's a form of weaponized skepticism and it has deep roots, going all the way back (at least) to Darrell Huff's famous HOW TO LIE WITH STATISTICS a book I held in high esteem...
Until I read Tim Harford's brilliant THE DATA DETECTIVE and learned that Huff was a paid shill for Big Tobacco and his major motive wasn't to debunk bad stats, it was to obscure the link between tobacco use and cancer.
When I quit smoking 17 years ago, a wise doctor counselled me that if I was going to resist cravings, I needed a more immediate reason than "I won't get cancer in 40 years."
My answer: "I spend two laptops per year on a product whose makers want to murder me and my friends."
More importantly: "These companies invented the science denial techniques that are on track to render my species extinct."
I wrote this column at the urging of my friend Matthew Rimmer, in honor of #worldnotobaccoday2021.
It's never too late to quit smoking. See your doctor. And if you want a catchy, profane anthem to see you through the hard times, check out Allen Ginsburg's incredible "Put Down Your Cigarette Rag (Don't Smoke)."
Here's the podcast episode:
and here's a direct link to the MP3 (hosting courtesy of the Internet Archive; they'll host your stuff for free, forever):
and here's my podcast feed:
@pluralistic Honestly, in the long run, smoking cigarettes saves you a LOT of money. You die years before you otherwise would have, so you save on the cost of living for all of those years. Life hack.
@pluralistic My understanding is that Huff wrote How to Lie With Statistics first (1954) and then only after became a paid shill for Big Tobacco.
I could be wrong, but in any event, the book doesn't offer any argument against smoking stats and is in fact a necessary and quite good analysis of the ways marketers in general have lied with statistics.
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