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.


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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 .


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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