Hate mail and cyber trolls: great article on science versus vested interests (reprint)

A great article on The Conversation today about the relentless war waged against scientists and science communicators by vested interest groups, conspiracy theorists and internet trolls. Obviously this resonated with me – as I’ve said a number of times on this blog, the climate debate can feel like trench warfare. It’s not for the faint hearted.

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By Simon Chapman, University of Sydney (The Conversation 6 September 2012)

The Charlotte Dawson troll saga shocked many Australians, with revelations of vile tweets, death threats and online intimidation. Nobody should have to endure this kind of abuse, but unfortunately it’s surprisingly common for those of us working in areas that challenge strong interest groups.

Over 35 years, my work as a public health researcher and advocate has upset many disease-promoting industries, their cheer squads and various nut-job cause leaders.

In the 1990s, after lobbying for gun law reform, I got lots of feverish hate mail from “decent, law-abiding shooters” and a traced death threat. Each anniversary of the Port Arthur massacre I’m sent anonymous white feathers. Sixteen years on there has not been another mass shooting.

A leading anti-vaccinationist challenged me to bare my backside on TV while I was injected with all the evil vaccines I supported, calibrated up to match my weight. I didn’t do it but by coincidence, the next day I had five vaccines for an African trip. I write from the grave.

More recently, Gerard Henderson told readers that because I have no medical degree, no one should believe a word I say about the problems with prostate cancer screening – despite similar concerns having been raised by every expert group that investigated the issue. I’m sure Gerard wouldn’t listen to Oxford’s Sir Richard Peto, the world’s foremost epidemiologist, either. After all, he’s a mere mathematician.

Gerard’s sentiments are shared by UK blogger “Big” Dick Puddlecote, who sounds like he might be a Beatrix Potter villain. According to Dick, I’m a “swivel eyed loon … a sociologist who has posed as health expert for the past 30 years.”

The pro-tobacco people also have a way with words. And the growing momentum toward plain packaging has made their heads spin like Linda Blair in the green projectile vomit scene in The Exorcist.

According to the tobacco lobbyists, I am “the Worst Public Health Person In The World … the perfect storm of a card-carrying public health person who is harmful to both public health science and the public’s health.” I am also “responsible for the most pointless deaths of his countrymen since the guy who ordered the army to Gallipoli”.

All this is because in the 1980s, I advised the government to ban smokeless tobacco (chewing tobacco and snuff) in Australia, thwarting a circling US tobacco company hoping to start a whole new route of addiction here.

For years, the author of this nastiness, “Professor” Carl Phillips who “runs a university-like research shop”, took money from the smokeless tobacco industry. Unlike the fools who awarded me various medals for my work, Carl notes that “nothing Chapman ever did made any substantial difference in the inexorable flow” away from smoking. Apparently, it all happens by itself.

Bathing in cyber sewage

Within the blogosphere is a sewer of frothing, often anonymous, swill. The comments are today’s equivalent of the threatening call from a phone booth. A dozen or so blogs I check on occasionally – with the compulsion we have to look at car crashes – are echo chambers for the same small group of serial hate mongers.

Jay, who has the gift and never exaggerates, says of me: “Like a vicious herpes infection, or a stinking, floating turd that just won’t be flushed, Simon Chapman won’t go away. To say he is a petty, hateful bastard is being way too kind. This man is quite possibly the root of all evil in modern society. In the fullness of the time, the world will see him as one of the most hateful beings to have lived.” I don’t believe we’ve met, Jay.

Always on the spot with timely comparisons, Lou observed recently, “The similarities in reasoning between Simon Chapman and Anders Breivik are terrifying. Both are convinced of their own ‘right’ and thus their justification to take life. Simon Chapman only wants official sanction to do this and I have no doubt he would derive great pleasure in shooting smokers. Indeed I suspect he would spend many years doing little else.” Lock your doors.

One commenter suggested that April should be “make Simon Chapman regret saying silly things on Twitter month”. Terrified, I locked myself in my lead-walled bunker.

Patsy had a red-hot go, insisting I earn $3 million a year (that’s around the total competitive grant funds I share with various colleagues, spread across five years, all of which pays for staff). But Pasty won’t hear a bar of it. She says I’m “a dangerous sociopath and he scares me.”

Another troll says I’m “the kind of vermin that now infest our society … I believe he’s been involved in producing several studies which I would dearly love to boil down in fish oil and force feed him every rotten scrap.”

But nothing prepared me for the UK’s Christopher Snowdon, an “independent” blogger who is now a cyber errand boy for Big Tobacco. I’ve copped “grandpa”, “scrotum-faced head-banger” and “wrinkled rocker”, all because I have attained the advanced age of 60 and sing in a band. With life expectancy of at least another 20 years, about half of young Master Christopher’s age, I plan to be around for a while.

Meanwhile, smoking rates are the lowest on record and still in free fall. Today’s male lung cancer rates per 100,000 were last seen in 1962 and female will never get to half the peak seen in males.

Simon Chapman does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation.
Read the original article.

59 thoughts on “Hate mail and cyber trolls: great article on science versus vested interests (reprint)

  1. A note first of all: although I think Simon Chapman might rank me in there with his list of severe critics, I have also defended him to some extent in the past. I believe my characterization was of him being sort of halfway between Stanton Glantz and Michael Siegel.

    Now some criticisms and questions:

    1) Simon, as a non-“frothing anonymous swill” you should be more careful than some of your opponents in your characterizations. You take a quote from Carl Phillips (The “perfect storm” and Gallipoli quotes) and say it is from a tobacco lobbyist. Do you have any evidence AT ALL that Carl Phillips ever received money to do lobbying? Would you answer that clearly please? (Would you feel comfortable being called a “Big Pharma lobbyist” if you had taken some grants in your lifetime from RWJF or Pfizer?)

    1b) You also put “Professor” in quotes around Carl’s name. Can you elaborate on the reason for the quote marks? Do you have any evidence of him inappropriately naming himself as “Professor Carl Phillips”?

    2) You mention that Pat Nurse mistook a $3million dollar five year grant as simply being a one year grant and that it was spread among colleagues and staffers. Would you be willing to share the text of your grant application, and what your total grant income was (both generally and in terms of (roughly) whatever your salary is for whatever positions you may have been occupying during that five year period that might not have been given to a person who brought in no grant money? And did you submit a response to Pat Nurse correcting her “misinformation”? If not, why not? I know that I regularly try to correct misperceptions about my own situation: is there a reason you would not?

    3) You say Dick Puddlecote refers to you as “a sociologist who has posed as a health expert” and feel there is something wrong with that. Are you not a sociologist? Do you not in any way present yourself as a “health expert” in smoking ban, tax, and related issues? If the answer to both is in the negative (i.e. not a sociologist or professed/perceived health expert) then you have a valid complaint — but if either was true, you should admit it and apologize to Dick.

    4) You note that Chris Snowdon is “an errand boy for Big Tobacco.” This is a clear claim that he is being paid by one of the big tobacco companies. Can you tell us which one and how much he is being paid? A summary of the duties that they pay him for would be nice too. Or perhaps an apology at the same time you’re apologizing to Carl, Pat, Dick, and some of the other “pro-tobacco” folks you mention specifically and non-specifically in this article. Would you consider Dr. Siegel to be “pro-tobacco” by the way? I believe he’s expressed strong agreement with Snowdon, Phillips, myself, and some of the other ”

    5) The article above, by “shooting” at Snowdon, Patsy, Dick, Carl, Jay, Lou, et al, is clearly supportive of the Big Pharma folks who they also often criticize. Yet at the end of your article the signature clearly indicates “Simon Chapman does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.” Are you *sure* that is true with regard to all NRT-related pharmaceutical companies and their major stockholding/grant-giving foundation arms? And if it is true, is it only true for the moment … or do you have a history? After all, TobaccoScam discounted some research I did several years ago by pointing out that a co-researcher, Dave Kuneman, had worked as a “Tobacco Industry Researcher” (Dave had worked as a soda-flavoring chemist for 7-Up for several years in the 1980s when Philip Morris had bought and sold the corporation.) We got “exposed” for this DESPITE the fact that we’d openly and specifically pointed it out in the disclosures section of our study however, so I’d expect you would be doing the same here for such peripheral past connections.

    Michael J. McFadden

    Michael J. McFadden is the author of a book in the area, “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains.” Aside from that potential “competing interest,” Mr. McFadden does not (do any paid) work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article. He is however, affiliated, without pay, with many groups that are active in promoting Free Choice with regard to tobacco usage.

  2. I should add one note: I *DO* sympathize with your feelings about some of the name-calling that’s taken aim in your direction. I’ve had similar examples aimed at me over the years. Generally though I’d recommend you take the same path I do: unless those people are making outright false claims or inferences about you (e.g. if they characterized you as a “pharma lobbyist” when you had never taken any funds/grants as I spoke about) you should simply take it as credit that you’re disturbing people enough to be noticed. And, if you have a proper defense, it also provides you with the opportunity to offer it and educate those who might not otherwise be familiar with your reasons for your positions.

    – MJM

  3. Very interesting. WIthin ten minutes of making my post above over on “The Conversation” where Simon Chapman has been quite active in interacting with a number of his supporters on the original article there, my comment was suddenly censored into nonexistences and the commenting period was “CLOSED” just six hours after it had been opened!

    Was what I had to say truly THAT scary?

    – MJM

    • Whoops! LOL! CORRECTION: While the comments were indeed suddenly closed (in somewhere under ten minutes) just after I published my comment there, the comment itself *IS* still there. It simply got moved up the ladder because of its place on the response tree and was truncated (as is the norm there for longer comments.) So while the closure was certainly odd, my comment does NOT seem to have been censored.

      – MJM

  4. Simon Chapman says:

    I’m sorry to disappoint you Michael, but I’ve actually never heard of you. You seem to think you know a lot about me.

    Phillips as a lobbyist: Where did I say Phillips received money for lobbying? I wrote “According to the tobacco lobbyists …” Some lobbyists are paid and some are not. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lobbying Phillips is a frank and open lobbyist for smokeless tobacco. Do you disagree? You can read all about Phillips’ industry affiliations here http://www.tobaccotactics.org/index.php/Carl_V_Phillips
    “Professor” Phillips. The hyperlink in the text shows Dave Atherton, the pro-smoking lobbyist, refer to him as “Professor” – that’s why I hyperlinked it (please don’t arrange to have it edited — I have a screen shot). Atherton & Phillips go way back. Atherton has academic pretentions, so would know Phillips is not a professor. Phillips has not issued a correction. The anti-wind industry regularly refer to Phillips as professor, I have never seen a correction from Phillips.
    I did not “mention .. Pat Nurse” I mentioned “Patsy”. You mentioned “Pat Nurse”. My grants are all listed on my CV http://tobacco.health.usyd.edu.au/assets/pdfs/publications/CV.pdf which also shows I have been a tenured academic of many years. In Australia, that means that none of my salary comes from my grants. You are not very well informed. I seem to recall I tweeted “Pasty” about the error of her ways, but you’ll forgive me that I have better things to do than sift through 1000s of tweets to find it.
    Sociologist: My undergraduate degree (completed in 1972) was in Arts with a major in sociology. My PhD, completed in 1984, was in the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine. I am an elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences. I have a personal chair in the School of Public Health in the Faculty of Medicine. The obvious inference (“posed”) in Puddleduck’s comment is that someone with a background in sociology is not a legitimate health expert. I suggest he writes to my Dean.
    Snowdon the errand boy. I also did not say that he was a paid errand boy. Errand boys are often happy to hang around potential employers hoping to gain favour. However, Snowdon used to have on his website that he received no money from the tobacco industry. He then removed that (I have a screen shot of the old site). Why did he do that, I wonder? Snowdon does not declare which company, companies or third parties acting on their behalf pay him, if any do. In 2011 Snowdon wrote a report on plain packaging for the Adam Smith Instutute which receives tobacco industry funding. http://www.tobaccotactics.org/index.php?title=Adam_Smith_Institute
    I’m not interested in discussing with you my views on Siegel.
    My competing interests: Competing interests are commonly said to extinguish three years after they have concluded. Here’s the BMJ Publishing group policy for example. http://www.bmj.com/about-bmj/resources-authors/forms-policies-and-checklists/declaration-competing-interests. I had a grant (with others about 10 years ago from GlaxoSmithKline) which has long expired. The idea that I could be still seen as having competing pharmaceutical is absurd. The pharmaceutical industry were hardly pleased with this http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1000216.

    Thanks for your interest in my work.

    • Watching the Deniers says:
        And thanks for you comments here Simon. Your presence is appreciated.

        Mike @ WtD

    • Pat Nurse says:

      FYI – I am a lifelong smoker from childhood and no one ever gave a damn about me smoking as an adult until five years ago. You push the idea that people like me are : “Malodorous, employment liabilities, health liabilities, etc…” Awful to deliberately brand people that way and cause them to be shunned and avoided in their communities because it fits your agenda to eradicate smoking by now attacking the little consumer like me whose only crime is to not want to quit something i have enjoyed since before many of your followers drew their first breath..

      I apologise for mistaking your funding as personal – but it’s still £3 million more than the smokers you have put out of work with your endless hatemongering propaganda. You are not on our side. You don’t fight this because you “care” about usd. You fight it because you’ve made a career of it and you get paid a handsome salary all the same.

      I do not promote tobacco or smoking, incidentally, I promote an end to the bullying for that is what your campaign is. All I want is to be left alone because I have never done anything to you or yours neither have I hurt another living soul in my lifetime despite your propaganda which aims to make people fear me and abuse me.

      I would be happy to be a million miles away from people like you who can only be described as smokerphobic. Leave us alone and we’ll stop chucking back the bricks you chuck at us first.

      • Pat Nurse says:

        Hello moderator. I do hope you allow the above comment through which appears to have got through the window when comments were reopened. After all Mr Chapman makes unfounded allegations about me being “pro-smoking” and it would be nice if the right of reply was granted. I promote my right only to be left alone in peace without harassment and for the abuse to end. That is hardly the same as actively trying to promote people to take up smoking which I don’t and have never done but I do support and defend those who already smoke, choose not to quit, or who get attacked or excluded because of the abusive propaganda devised by Chapman and his staff.

        • Watching the Deniers says:

          I’m letting these comments through for now – but be very mindful of accusations of bullying. There is a difference between health advocacy (which Chapman does, and I strongly support) and your claims.

      • Watching the Deniers says:

        I’ll be honest Pat – I think you’re overstating your “victim-hood”.

        And FYI like many others, my life has been impacted by tobacco. I watched my father die from smoking related illnesses. And an uncle from cancer. Both died years before the birth of my daughter: she will never know them. They will simply be faded photographs sitting in my study to her. Strangers to her, people from her father’s past.

        Both made the same arguments you make: they said it was their “only vice” and “it didn’t hurt anyone”.

        “Didn’t hurt anyone?” I used to ask my father “Funny argument that…” I’d say.

        Coz mate, there’s always a price.

        Like the day I had to politely ask the supportive and caring hospital staff to turn off my fathers life support machine.

        Or lets talk about the smoker’s regret?

        As teenage boy I recall the last time I saw that uncle, sitting in a chair, gasping into an oxygen mask. He’d been a strong, barrel chested man – tough as a bull. By that time if he weighed more than 50kg I’d have been amazed.

        Last thing he said to me?

        He begged me – yes begged me – never to smoke.

        Funny thing about death?

        Brings clarity. Sometimes too late though.

      • Pat, the cutoff wasn’t here, but over on “The Conversation” board that the lead-off posting here seemed to have been copied from.

        WTD, I don’t think Pat is “overstating [her] victimhood” at all. One doesn’t have to look very hard around the internet to find a good deal of hatred and hate-language expressed toward smokers, AND stories of sad results of that hatred. I can briefly share some details of that, and of the sort of incidents Pat refers to in her followup below, if you like.

        – MJM

    • George Papadopoulos says:

      I guess we can safely presume that Simon Chapman is an unpaid wind industry lobbyist?

      • john byatt says:

        Ah george, the man who can hear the roar of wind turbines above the nearer roar of the highway. start a blog George

        • George Papadopoulos says:

          And why not John? The wind turbines spin at 240km/h on the tip end. The speed limit on the highway 14km away is 110km/h, and the trucks don’t fly 100m above ground level…

  5. I truly do not mean to overwhelm this poor little board here, but I just visited the conversation board again and despite the fact that it has been closed to commenting by normal people like me for several hours, it seems that they opened it back up for a brief moment about 40 min. ago (from the time of this posting now) so that Simon Chapman could make a comment in which he disagreed with me. Unfortunately, they immediately clamped the censorship blanket down tight again as soon as Simon was through speaking, so I am not able to respond to him there. May I ask the board master here for permission to make such a public response?

    – MJM

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      I allow debate here – it has always been robust – but the rules are simple:

      – polite and respectful engagement, no ad hom
      – back up scientific claims with with material from peer reviewed literature
      – treat all members of the WtD community with respect
      – stick to the point: no Gish Gallops
      – DO NOT repost large slabs of cut-n-paste text. I will remove because it is ruins the design of my blog
      – conspiracy theories don’t wash. I find them amusing, but then I’ll jump in just for the fun of it🙂

      I’ll monitor.

      Mike @ WtD

    • Simon Chapman says:

      Michael, before you get too choked up with emotion about the heroics of being censored, the reality is rather more banal. The moderator at the Conversation contacted me this afternoon and said that the past hour of posts had been onanistic rubbish (not her words) Did I agree that she should close it off? Yes I said. I had not looked at it for a while but then saw your post which I couldnt resist. I requested that she allow me to respond which he did, and then he losed it off agin. In the meantime a colleague alerted me to our opting the same post here.

  6. Pat Nurse says:

    I watched as my mother died through sheer neglect from our local hospital which is short on funding due to the immoral amount of cash that is pumped into what you call “health advocacy”. You may not call it bullying because you are not on the end of it but when people are encouraged to call people like me “smelly” “selfish” and “employment liabilties,” even calling for us to be denied healthcare in some instances, then call for our social exclusion from all places even those outdoors where not one single study shows there to be any harm towards anyone who does not smoke. There have been cases where smokers have committed suicide because of being bullied at work because of smoking out of work or kids who have killed themselves rather than be exposed as smokers and you think this is OK? It seems to me that whatever a smoker says in defence of themselves is always going to be dismissed by smokerphobics as “abuse” just because it goes against everything that you believe in. You might think that if you never smoke you won’t die but, I am so sorry to inform you, we all die sometime from something. You know that smokers have been deliberately stigmatised – and you don’t think that is bullying and that I am over stating my “victimhood?” Try walking a mile in a smoker’s shoes and you might just see it differently – but somehow I doubt it. I was wrong to come here and try and debate. You can’t debate, you only denigrate.

  7. Moderator, no problem at all: those are quite valid rules for a board such as this. I had to refresh my memory on what a Gish Gallop was though… LOL! I’ve been subjected to those at City Council hearings a good number of times when one side gets large flexible slot times to push a bill and the other side is largely limited to “two minute Citizen Responses” to try to refute the hours of what came before. I try to stay brief, to the point, and focused; and rarely do posts quite as long as my opener here. :>

    Simon, thank you for a polite and detailed response. I *did* notice that the moderator was having to do some extra work on moderating, but the six removed (onanistic?) comments had all gone up in a period ranging from three hours before mine to five hours before mine, so that didn’t seem to account for the sudden closure just ten minutes after mine. In the dozen or so posts in the two hours directly before mine nothing needed removal work to prompt the moderator’s request, nor did I notice obvious onanistic exercisers in them. Although in the hour directly before my post I did find one by you referring to “The foul-mouthed troll Mohan [who] has been blocked, I’m advised.”

    So at some point during that hour after your post and before my post the board moderator contacted you about closing off the board because of the hours-earlier onanistic posts and you said OK and then checked back a couple of hours later to find my posting? The timing just seemed a bit odd, so censorship seemed the natural conclusion..

    I have no problem at all with you having a chance to respond of course, and I’m glad you got a chance to do so here. I think cutting off internet debate midstream is extraordinarily rude and unbefitting a webmeister except in extreme circumstances. I’ll respond to your post here in more detail later today, and I guess it’s fair to assume that you’ll intervene again with your webmaster contact there to allow us to continue that debate with neither being cut off?

    – MJM

  8. Phil J says:

    Watching the Deniers says: FYI WtD, 9 (yes nine) of my wife’s family have died from a variation of cancers. Their ages ranged from 34 –> 92 (I think it was) yet none of them smoked and nor did their partners. They were all ‘Godfearing’ people who observed the Sabbath and if they had a sherry or brandy on Christmas day, well, that was the extent of their drinking!
    Her mother was the last to go-3 years ago-from stomach cancer and the doctors summation of it all-“it runs in the family”; ie, it is in the genes!
    The tenth and last surviving member? her dad who smoked for 50 years before he gave up. He’s now 82 and with no signs of anything cancerous!
    None of the deceased objected to any family member smoking in their presence and none blamed any of their smoking family members for their plight-somewhat different to the present day squawking at every turn or twist of fate.
    What has happened since ASH used their infamous ‘smoke and mirrors’ campaign to con our MPs into a ‘ban vote’ is absolutely akin to the Nazi ‘war on Juden’. To stigmatise, denormalise,and discriminate against 25% of our population simply because some people do not like the smell of tobacco smoke is despicable.
    I am a non smoker but you don’t have to be Einstein to work out exactly how the junk science has been incorporated to suit the cause. I was born in a country that valued its freedoms-I will be dying in the country that has either lost those freedoms or simply given them away. There should always be CHOICE!

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      Thanks for the drive-by libertarian rant! So would you like crack cocaine with that tobacco stick sir? It is not the smell. The fact is the product, if used as intended, kills.

      According to those crazy socialists over at the World Health Organisation tobacco has killed over 100 million people: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs339/en/index.html

      Death toll for the 21st century is estimated to top 1 billion.

      I know, I know… all lies!

      I note you do the usual denial schtick of ranting, use of personal anecdotes and no references. And I luuuuuuuurv the junk science reference: straight from “junkscience.com”

      • Phil J says:

        I’ve already told you that I don’t smoke so why on earth would i want “that tobacco stick”?
        Quote: “The fact is the product, if used as intended, kills.” so do exhaust fumes and they infiltrate babies lungs the first time they are taken out into this big wide
        world! Ban all diesel transport and pay regard to Dr kitty Little’s enormous research on the subject.
        And you state I use no reference-do you actually want me to produce, online, a death certificate for each of the 9 that have died of cancer? Is it because I do not
        concur with your view that I have to prove my words? And as for your quote of 1bn, well, will world population growing at an enormous rate are you really surprised?
        What I find exceedingly galling and highly hypocritical is that they quote 4,000 children dying per day in Africa but have not used our money to help them. Instead the WHO concentrates on smoker bashing. Aren’t the Sth african children worth saving anymore?

        • Watching the Deniers says:

          That is a Gish Gallop – and has nothing to do with the discussion. Yes, those other things are terrible. Let’s fix those as well. Is talking about 4,000 children dying a day and not talking about smoking related deaths also hypocritical?

          And by the way, if you’re worried about babies: the risk of second hand smoke dramatically increases the risk of Sudden Death Syndrome.

          http://www.sidsandkids.org/wp-content/uploads/Smoking-2009_Cit-sugg1.pdf

          But you know, that’s hypocritical.

          Would you like me to add footnotes to references to any form of preventable death and list every known preventable death as well?

          Second warning.

      • WTD, you criticized Phil’s “usual denial schtick” of “use of personal anecdotes,” but you seemed to follow that up directly with personal anecdotes of your own in responding to Pat? Or was that simply illustrating what a poor argumentative technique it is? Actually the heartstring-plucking unsupported personal anecdotes seem to be FAR more heavily used by Antismokers than Smokers on the net.

        You also gave Patsy a warning for “unsupported claims.” I believe they are actually fairly well supported: e.g.

        Child Suicide: (Boy smoker hanged himself): http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1467468/News-in-brief.html

        ETS Fear producing torture: “Four Hours Of Torture”: http://www.bromsgroveadvertiser.co.uk/news/1080397.four_hours_of_torture/

        Pat’s claim ” outdoors where not one single study shows there to be any harm towards anyone who does not smoke.” Er, I believe she’s correct. Can you cite a few to the contrary? Note: ones showing harm — not subnanoscopic presence measured by 21st Century technology or momentary peak concentrations that even the EPA refuses to acknowledge to be harmful. The EPA’s documentation on under-24 hour claims is worth reading. See http://www.epa.gov/ttn/naaqs/review.html and http://www.epa.gov/ttn/naaqs/standards/pm/data/20110419pmpafinal.pdf for more on that.

        While I can’t find the story on it at the moment, I believe Patsy’s claim on the smoking worker who committed suicide after smoking-related bullying by antismoking co-workers and boss is something I have read as well, and there have been at least several incidences of such things as antismoking-inspired shootings, murders, and beatings over the years which I can reference for you if you like. Does that “balance” the “100 million” figure you bring up? Maybe not, but that doesn’t make the original claims any less supported. And there’s a big difference between real and individual deaths and death numbers created by SAMMEC’s tortured algorithms: change a value for a formula or an assumption for a relationship here or there and you can make those numbers say virtually anything you want. If you’re at all familiar with the debates in climate science I’m sure you’re aware of such games.

        – MJM

        • Watching the Deniers says:

          I’ve seen this kind of stuff before. Very underwhelming, sorry.

          Hey here’s a thought: maybe all those “smokers-as-victims” would never have suffered such terrible abuse if smoking was banned?

          In fact, we should be giving the victims of tobacco companies all the support we can: get them off this drug and free them from their perceived social stigma?

          Actually everything you say points to the immediate removal of a drug that causes such trauma.

          Sure, wave away the death of 100 million!

          One death is a tragedy: 100 million is a statistic right?

  9. Simon Chapman says:

    Phil — what a textbook example of misinformation. I imagine you understand that melanoma (skin cancer) is caused by UV radiation; that mesothelioma (a pleural cancer) is caused by asbestos? They are examples of cancers that are not caused by smoking. Smoking doesn’t cause every type of cancer, just a good few (plus many other cardiovascular and respiratory diseases). You mention stomach cancer in your family — smoking is not a risk factor for stomach cancer either. Not everyone wh smokes dies from it either — only about half, making it much riskier than Russian roulette where 1/6 is the probability. It’s been about 20 years since 25% of Australians smoked. Its about 15% today. And what did ASH “ban”? Junk science? I think I’ve just read a lot of it

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      Thanks Simon – you’re more patient than me in your rebuttal. Fascinating for me to watch multiple forms of denial play out. Note: I am carefully monitoring replies and comments in this thread for the reasons your original article discussed. Mike @ WtD

    • Phil J says:

      Simon-what misinformation am i guilty of then-my wife’s family history perchance? Do you know more about her family from the other side of the world than I do here? tell me Simon, what was the SCOTH Committee’s predetermined report based upon? Whose distorted figures did they finally plump for? And who died aged 55, from a sarcoma after spending a lifetime as far away from tobacco smoke as humanly possible? Oh yes, Konrad Jamrozik-the man who made 1 + 1 = 11. If I remember correctly it took proper statisticians all of 24hrs to totally debunk his rubbish!
      Oh btw WtD, I am fully aware that as soon as anyone hits a nerve you have the power to eradicate their post-your comments fully indicate that you don’t want
      reasoned debate only your anti tobacco views whereas I don’t really give two hoots about smoking-all I see is the slippery slope of freedoms being evaporated!

      • Watching the Deniers says:

        Yes, a “reasonable debate”. From the SIDS and Kids site: http://www.sidsandkids.org/wp-content/uploads/Smoking-2009_Cit-sugg1.pdf

        Babies who are exposed to tobacco smoke after birth are at an increased risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy, including SIDS. To avoid exposing baby to tobacco smoke, don’t let anyone smoke near your baby – not in the house, the car or anywhere else your baby spends time. It is often hard to quit smoking so ask for help.

        Evidence: effects of smoking

        Babies and young children are especially vulnerable to the poisons in second hand smoke because their bodies are developing. Babies of mothers who smoke or who are exposed to second hand smoke are more likely to be born prematurely and of low birth weight. Specific effects of passive smoking on babies and children include SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome); respiratory infections and conditions including croup, bronchitis, and pneumonia; ear infections; learning difficulties;

        How’s that concern of yours working out? Doing about the same? Your Freedoms being taken away? Thanks for the libertarian free-market-they-can’t-take-our-freedom-rant.

  10. Simon Chapman says:

    Phil, sarcoma is not smoking related either. I’m sorry mate, but I have better things to do than argue with someone who looks like he is back at square 1, denying that smoking is harmful. Even most tobacco companies have given up on that one now. Show me one example (with link or reference) of ANY other product which illustrates your thesis that I am intent on firing up your slippery slope. I have zero power to delete your posts. Only the moderator can do that.

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      Yes I do.

    • Phil J says:

      Where have I actually stated that smoking is NOT harmful.? I don’t smoke but I certainly don’t see why others should be denied the right to smoke if they so wish. There should be choice for individuals & business owners-had there been so, we would not have lost 12,000 once viable businesses (and still mounting) in this ruined country!
      Oh, and by the way If SIDS was attributable to smoking/SHS then it would no longer be SIDS would it-there would (suddenly) be a cause!

  11. Sorry for my delayed response: Busy day. I’ll do two posts: a longish response to Simon, and a shorter one offering simple direct references showing that WTD seems mistaken in characterizing Pat’s claims as “unsupported.” WTD, I believe that bringing in smoking deaths is a “red herring” with regard to Pat’s statements about antismoking-inspired deaths.

    ===

    Simon, taking your points in turn:

    (1) No, actually I don’t know much about you. You’re mentioned on Siegel’s blog and I believe you’re an Australian antismoking activist who’s claim to fame is urging colleagues to rework their statistics with a thesaurus for better media consumption http://members.iinet.net.au/~ray/ETS1.jpg . However I must confess I’m a bit surprised that you’re not familiar with me, since along with Rick Di Pierri, I authored one of the few extensive and well-referenced academic works in opposition to your efforts until fairly recently. You might want to check your local library for it.

    (2) It’s true you did not say Carl Phillips was a “paid” lobbyist, however, the term lobbyist in popular perception clearly involves payment. As I asked in my note to you, how would you feel about being called a Big Pharma lobbyist because you promote programs/ideas favorable to NRT products? Would you and WTD feel it’s fine in the future for people to call you a “Big Pharma Lobbyist”? In terms of Carl’s professorship, your own link gives us this: “Phillips is a former Associate Professor of the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Alberta,” yet you find fault with his not correcting another so-called “pro-tobacco lobbyist,” for having called him such at some point. I know nothing about Carl and the “anti-wind industry.” Are you saying he is a lobbyist for that industry as well? Could you or WTD be fairly called lobbyists for the “pro-wind industry”?

    (3) Pat Nurse: your reference to Pat made me think you had material more substantial than a twitter. My mistake. And yes I am aware of how grants and academic affiliations/situations operate: If you don’t produce enough grant money you tend to lose your livelihood and end up on the street. So in essence those grants that you have depended on, and that the consistency of your position and performance supporting that position depend on, have the same sort of relationship to your life that a salaried position for producing a standard product would have.

    (4) Thank you for sharing your sociological qualifications, but it would seem that Dick was actually correct: you are a sociologist without strong formal credentials as a “legitimate health expert.” I have no such credentials either, but I’m always careful to specify that I am simply a writer and researcher (sometimes noting a background in propaganda analysis, research methodology, and mild statistics), honestly presenting and backing up an opinion with research, studies, analyses, and facts.

    (5) Re: “Snowdon the errand boy.” Another example of someone working without pay? Does he at least get grants that support his employment at an academic institution? As far as I know he does not. I believe he may have gotten paid several hundred pounds or so for writing an article for an organization that seems to receive less than 5% of its income from the tobacco industry. Have any organizations/institutions you’ve received payment from received such levels of income or more from the pharmaceutical industry? If so, would that have made you a “good errand boy” for the pharmaceutical industry? Or do you think that, perhaps, you’re being somewhat unfair in your characterizations of Snowdon, Phillips, et al.?

    (6) Regarding your competing interests: I fully agree Glantz’s TobaccoScam dredging up of a 20 year old soda flavoring affiliation as being relevant to current tobacco research was improper. Direct payments/grants from Big Tobacco or Big Pharma for research in the smoking area itself during the last decade or so would be far more relevant and should be stated for propriety regardless of professional minimum requirements.

    If you feel I’ve mischaracterized anything, these feel free to ask me about it. I’d also appreciate your speaking to your “Conversation” friend so your response to my posting does not simply go unanswered to that audience.

    Thank you.

    – MJM

  12. Simon Chapman says:

    Hi Michael – I looked up your “extensive and well-referenced academic work” in Google Scholar but oddly couldn’t find it there — certainly no evidence of any academic citation. Seems to be published by Athena Press. So I googled that to see what sort of publisher it was — looks like a vanity press outfit (just like the one that publishes Chris Snowdon’s books!) — you pay, they’ll publish. Right? Those books are ineligible to count as academic publications at my university.

    Phillips was once an associate professor. Where I come from, associate professors calling themselves “professor” tend to get a bit of a reputation as getting ahead of themselves. But Philips doesn’t seem to have had a job in any university for a few years now, yet it was just this week that Atherton called him professor, which is still uncorrected. Do a quick Google check — you’ll find plenty of other examples and no corrections. I’m struggling to find the correct word for someone who allows others to call them professor without correction when they actually do not have a professorial title. What would you suggest?

    If I promoted BigPharma products I would think it would be entirely appropriate to call me a BigPharma lobbyist. But seeing I don’t and gave you a link to a piece that has caused apoplexy in BigPharma, yes I’d be pretty cheesed. I have no problems telling you exactly where I get my funding — it’s all on my CV. Maybe you should ask Snowdon & Phillips to be similarly transparent. I’ll put the kettle on. Let me know when it’s up on their websites

    My engagement with the wind issue is entirely about deflating the nonsense that anti-wind groups put about. I don’t get any grants or favours from the wind industry. If I did I’d put it on my CV along with all my other grants. I often get called pro-wind, but that’s OK because I am.

    I’m curious to know which disciplines you regard as legitimate health expertise. In my Faculty (Medicine) there are biomechanics, biostatisticians, psychologists, epidemiologists, economists, anthropologists, historians, anatomists, physiologists, acousticians, pathologists .. just to name a few. None of these people have undergraduate degrees in medicine. So, with your advanced understanding of academic medicine, could you let me know whose doors I should knock on too as I pack my own bags and leave the building?

    I won’t ask the Conversation editor to re-open it .. this current location has the exact same stuff on it.

    Have a good weekend.

  13. WTD, you wrote, “One death is a tragedy: 100 million is a statistic right?” No, 100 million is a number made up by a computer program called SAMMEC, as I’m sure you must be aware. I could make up the same sort of numbers regarding McWhopperie products or alcohol: just gotta plug the right numbers/assumptions in. One of the Appendices in “Brains” was titled “Deaths Due To Eating,” and it applied estimates from the heart and cancer societies to dietary-caused coronary disease and cancers and such. The number produced was about 900,000 US deaths per year: roughly double what’s claimed for smoking. And that was BEFORE the “obesity epidemic” hit full stride.

    They could largely be eliminated, according to some folks at least, if we all switched over to diets of soya milk and wheat grass, topped by an occasional strawberry and sprig of parsley, perhaps with a little lemon juice and a cantaloupe on the side (perhaps a single semi-sweet chocolate bit per day just for fun ‘n giggles as well?). The single 800 pound 30 year old hot dog eating contest winner who dies of a heart attack is a tragedy. The 900,000 deaths a year is a statistic. Both have elements of truth to them.

    Remember the reason for my posting however: Your comment about the underwhelming nature of the individual tragedies that I pointed to has nothing to do with the claim that Patsy’s citing of such things were “unsupported claims” worthy of a warning.

    I note you didn’t respond to my point about her comment on outdoor smoking? Was that an oversight? Or were you unable to find/cite any actual studies showing real harm to people from the levels and durations of exposure that would normally be encountered outdoors?

    – MJM

  14. Sammy Jankis says:

    I’ve heard about tobacco apologists, but I never thought I’d actually see one in the flesh. This is fascinating.

    • Sammy, was that you I heard outside my back window a little while ago? Hmmm….. I’ll have to let the dogs out. ;> I’m interested though: how do you define the term “tobacco apologist”? Could you be a bit more specific? If you wanted to know a bit more about me you could check my bio at either the SmokersClub or at AntiBrains.com — it might be a bit different than what you’d think.

      • Sammy Jankis says:

        By “tobacco apologist”, I mean someone who argues, despite the evidence to the contrary, that smoking (and/or second hand smoke) is virtually harmless.Tobacco apologists like to pretend that regulation of tobacco is more about party-pooping and crushing the God-given freedoms of Joe Citizen, than about public health. They will offer the most flimsy defenses of tobacco imaginable (“My great uncle George smoked a pack a day and lived to be 80!”) combined with absurd nonsense like “Smoking restrictions KILL!” (see above). What’s abundantly clear, is that any “science” that they offer to prop up their attack on tobacco regulation is the product of motivated reasoning. The reason being, it’s not about science or evidence. It’s about their aversion to regulation and their perception of restrictions imposed by government as the authoritarian nanny-state in action.

  15. A quick response Simon! Nicely done.

    You are correct, “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains” does not seem to be listed in Google scholar. It is, however, a 400 page book with over 600 references and it has never been criticized by anyone on the basis of its content or for any errors or misstatements. There was an interesting Amazon review however, that concluded that its pages really could not be expected to replace toilet paper because they were scratchy and didn’t leave one feeling totally clean “down there.” I actually liked that review: it was funny and it well illustrated the general depth of review that had been given to the book by any of its actually negative critics. I am a bit surprised that the positive review by Dr. Jerry Arnett in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons didn’t make it into Google scholar though.

    Regarding the use of the term professor for people who have been professors in the past I had always thought of it as something of an honor term that was retained even if a professor had retired. Perhaps I was wrong in that. In terms of what to call someone who allows the possible misuse of such terms as professor or doctor by Internet bloggers (such as Dave Atherton regarding Carl’s professorship) or by TV or newspaper news people (such as when they refer to Stanton Glantz as “Dr. Glantz” when soliciting his medical opinion), I’m not sure. How about you check with Stanton Glantz and I’ll ask Carl Phillips?

    I had not checked your CV with regard to your past possible funding from pharmaceutical companies. I apologize for raising the inference without first checking on it. I was not just referring to personal funding in that regard, though, but more the assumed likelihood that your university probably has received funding from pharmaceutical companies at some point in its recent history. Since you felt that Snowdon’s funding from an organization that had received a few percent of its funding from tobacco was relevant I felt that if indeed your university employers or granting organizations had received any pharmaceutical funding that it would be similarly relevant. But, as noted, it’s possible your university system is completely divorce from such funding – our US universities are not similarly unencumbered — and that none of your grant funders have any pharmaceutical connections.

    I would expect that both Snowdon and Philips have public CVs that are accessible, but again, perhaps I’m wrong in that. Your comments on including the wind industry on your own CV would indicate that you would expect them only to note any possible tobacco connections if they had actually received “grants or favors from the tobacco industry.” Is that a fair assumption to make? Would you expect then that Mr. Snowdon would have to put anything on his CV about the detailed sources of single digit funding for the group he wrote an article for?

    Re: legitimate health expertise: generally I would consider medical disciplines as being grounds for claiming legitimate health expertise. I’m surprised there that you would not want the conversation editor to reopen commenting on an article that you clearly put so much effort into, and had published primarily on their site. Looking over their other articles I found only one, one that had generated almost 200 comments in a short period, that had similarly had the commenting cut off. I would think you would look forward to the opportunity of engaging people in that for since it seems to be one in which you are generally active.

    – MJM

  16. WTD, when you approve my response to Sammy just now, you are more than welcome to expose my incompetence with your own trenchant analysis of “The Lies…” You’re more than welcome to assist in my calibration.

    – MJM

  17. WTD: Please check upward in your file here: You’ll see I left a response for Sammy an hour or two ago — at 9:38. It had three links in it for his so it seems to have been moved into “moderation” mode.

    Thanks!

    – MJM

  18. WTD? My comments sat in moderation, without explanation, and have now disappeared into cyberspace? You have my email if there is some problem I am unaware of, though that seems unlikely given their content. I’m sure Simon would not have wanted a productive exchange cut off here after the folks at “The Conversation” so abruptly ended the discussion over there — it certainly wouldn’t look very good. And Sammy must be waiting for a proper response as well. Is it possible that this thread has simply fallen into some blog-glitch where you’re not seeing these comments? I’ve noticed you’ve been quite busy with a number of new posts.

    😕
    MJM

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      Thanks Michael.

      I am watching the comments carefully. I received a large number of very angry posts and personally directed insults. Not from you, but I felt the situation was spinning out of control.

      I am respectful of everyone’s right to speak their mind, and encourage it. But some of the comments, directed personally at me, crossed a line. Thus the conversation needed to be stopped. As someone who has managed online communities I have always adopted a risk management approach. I applied my understanding of examples of when dicussions move from heated to dangerous based on previous experience.

      I encourage you to hang around. I note you have tried to stay within the guidelines of the blog. But holding comments back is not censorship.

      Firstly, this is my blog and my rules. I’ve allowed all forms of commentators on WtD, including holocaust deniers. 99% of comments made by sceptics come through. Even sceptics have noted I do not reflexsively ban them. What does not get posted is the personal, threatening or abusive.

      Secondly, in my opinion, the discussion was spinning out of control, and moved from “robust” to personal and vitriolic.

      I will not tar you with the same brush, but this is the very first time in the three years of this blog that I have had to forcefully intervene in such a manner. My instincts – quite correct I believe – told me to slow the discussion. Indeed, I was a little shocked with the stuff coming through and what was said about me and Simon.

      As is wont to happen on the Internet, some impassioned individuals make comments through their perceived anonymity.

      I would ask everyone to read and meditate on Simon’s post and the points he makes.

  19. WTD, I’m sorry you experienced something that disturbed you that deeply, but you should most certainly share those emails so that the rest can see. Obviously such sharing is called for after your generalized description of them as vitriolic and shocking to you and Simon. I think the same holds true for the postings you considered “dangerous.” Hiding danger under a rug only makes it fester and grow worse — plus, actually, making such claims without validation is exactly the sort of “conspiracy claim” that you specifically indicated wouldn’t be tolerated here. LOL! I don’t think you’d want your opposition to turn *that* on you someday down the line!

    Meanwhile though, I think you should allow Simon the privilege of responding to my last posting above to him (Sept 7th, 7:22am) so readers won’t have the impression that he simply ran away from the questions about “Dr.” Glantz’s use of a medical-sounding title in medical discussions, the comparison of Snowdon’s funding and funding from a University that might have received pharmaceutical funding, and the reopening of The Conversation discussion. You should also allow me the privilege of posting my response to Sammy after the comments he aimed at me (which some might feel bordered on personal and vitriolic) about being a “tobacco apologist” and the total misstatement that I have ever implied that “smoking … is virtually harmless.” and that I “pretend that regulation of tobacco is more about party-pooping and crushing the God-given freedoms of Joe Citizen, than about public health.” My response to him spoke to those in detail.

    Also, I must admit, I was slightly offended that, despite having *very* strictly stuck *exactly* to the rules you outlined above at 9:03 on Sept 6th, that my comments were suddenly thrown into “moderation mode” for no reason. You had specifically averred that you would “allow debate” as long as those rules were followed. Heck, I didn’t even advise Simon to to read about the Dunning-Kruger effect, and I most certainly never posted anything that could be called “dangerous”! My request to you et al to share a few citations of studies showing physical harm from normal outdoor smoke exposures certainly couldn’t be called “dangerous” in any usual sense of the word!

    In case my response to Sammy has gotten buried or simply expired, I will repost it in a following post to make your webmeistering easier.

    – MJM

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      Thanks for your reply MJM, and your sentiments.

      I have deleted most of the messages, and thus won’t publish them. This is not cause for conspiracy mongering, or that I am making false accusations.

      But I will not release them, sorry. I do not want such material on my blog. I do not want to log into my blog and see them sitting there in the admin section.

      I’m pretty robust, indeed I’ve been involved in online communities in one way or another for almost 20 years. So, I know all about smack talk, l33t speak and the robust nature of online conversations. Indeed, I can bring the snark and give it back if its directed at me.

      I’ve given a fair degree of latitude to posters on the blog. I’ve said it many times, but given how overwhelming the issue of climate change can be I see it as a form of venting for many… Both sceptics and those that accept the scientific consensus. Also, I respect free speech and it’s vital role in democracy.

      So if someone like Jo Nova, David Evans or Anthony Watts – all of whom I have been critical of – posted comments here then I’d have no issue. I wouldn’t censor them. But I note that I have been censored at their blogs.

      But there are lines. And respect. And choices.

      I decided not to let myself or my readers, regardless of their views on climate, be abused in such a way. I have a responsibility to the posters and readers… That includes both the Klem’s (a sceptic) and supporters of this blog.

  20. Thank you Sammy! Interesting definition. I’d like to point out a problem with it though: you conflate “smoking and/or secondhand smoke” as though they were pretty much one and the same thing when actually they, and the magnitude of their claimed and likely effects are extremely different.

    Unfortunately, I don’t fit very well with parts of your definition. I don’t generally argue about the health effects of smoking and I don’t “offer the most flimsy defenses of tobacco imaginable”

    I do however argue that the harms of secondary smoke exposure are far less than generally stated and believed, and I will argue that scientific research has been twisted to magnify those harms in the public mind. As Simon Chapman pointed out in the link to his memo to colleagues, if you simply present the statistics without massaging them properly for effect it can be reasonable to conclude that any “secondhand smoke deaths” at all are more of a joke than a reality. (See Chapman’s memo at my earlier link to ETS1.jpgl)

    You can see more details of my position and argument (and you are most certainly welcome to offer any specific, substantive criticisms you may have — I promise I won’t mind) at http://tinyurl.com/SmokingBanLies or you might want to read my thoughts on secondary smoke specifically at http://Antibrains.com/shs.html

    What you offer as to a definition of a “tobacco apologist” is incredibly close to what I would offer as a common definition of an Antismoker (or at least of one of their predominant types):

    “Any ‘science’ that they offer to prop up their support for smoking bans is the product of motivated reasoning. The reason being, it’s not about science or evidence. It’s about bringing about a reduction in smoking itself through creating and magnifying fears around such things as secondhand and thirdhand smoke.”

    I look forward to your criticisms of “The Lies” at that link. Please be specific though. You’ll note that it is an openly one-sided argument/presentation in fairly simplistic form: I have no funding to provide wide distribution of something like a book to communities under attack by smoke banners, but “The Lies” offers a virtually cost free weapon to the bars, restaurants, casinos, and individual smokers who *know* they’re being bamboozled but aren’t familiar enough with the playing field to see the tricks being used against them. So it *is* one-sided, but its facts are accurate and their presentation is honest. And I think you’ll agree that it rather turns your “tobacco apologist” position somewhat around.

    – MJM

    • …I think you’ll agree that it rather turns your “tobacco apologist” position somewhat around.

      Not at all. I looked over your links, and they contained a lot of the stuff I expected:

      – Back of the envelope calculations which supposedly disprove all of the peer reviewed literature
      – People who support smoking restrictions in bars and restaurants are “extremists”
      – It’s all about FREEDOM vs “government meddling in [our] private lives”
      – The science behind SHS is all a big “LIE” and “fraud” to justify “social engineering”

      I just don’t find any of it convincing. Furthermore, this is a public health battle that has been fought and won. It seems not even tobacco companies are willing to argue the health side of things these days – they prefer to keep it in the realm of individual freedoms etc. I’m not really inclined to sift through contrarian opinions on this issue, given the strength of the consensus amongst health researchers. It’s sort of like how I don’t rush off to read all the the literature recommended by young earth creationists when they tell me that the earth is 6000 years old and that all of geology is a “LIE” used to help “ram the atheist agenda down our throats”. I also don’t recall any concession on your part that smoking causes cancer (I may have missed it though) — that concerns me. I still think tobacco apologist is a perfectly apt term.

      Anyway, this blog is about AGW denialism. If I ever become interested in the denial of the health effects of tobacco maybe I’ll search out some blogs on that topic. Until then, I won’t be spending any more time on it.

  21. And thank you for your prompt posting of my posts this evening and your thoughtful reply. Yes, as a blogmeister you *do* have clear responsibilities about controlling potentially harmful material that might go up. But in any contentious debate area like this, I’d urge you to strongly err on the side of free expression unless you’re faced with material that’s really over the line (and even a lot of the “over the line” material is better being shared — so that people are seeing it and aware of the dangers out there rather having the hate/etc hidden like a boil.)

    – MJM

  22. john byatt says:

    Simon “All this is because in the 1980s, I advised the government to ban smokeless tobacco (chewing tobacco and snuff) in Australia, thwarting a circling US tobacco company hoping to start a whole new route of addiction here.”

    well done Simon , I wondered why it was not in Australia

  23. Thank you for your response Sammy, although I hope that readers of our exchange will check out your evaluation and description of the http://tinyurl.com/SmokingBanLies link: Personally I don’t feel it was accurate, nor do I feel it consisted of “back of the envelope calculations,” but I agree with both you and WTD that this topic is not directly related to climate change issues. I was new here and thought the “deniers” discussion was of a more general nature than Climate, plus Simon’s background is generally more strongly related to tobacco issues and this particular article *was* after all by Simon.

    WTD, as noted, I fully agree that it’s your call as to what’s appropriate in your blog, but I would urge you in the future to consider expanding the consideration of claims of denialism beyond the climate sphere when there is either sound scientific argument to back them up or when there are legitimate criticisms of “established science” that should be defended. I offered my “Lies” booklet as an example of such criticisms of several specifically cited peer-reviewed studies for Sammy, Simon, you, or others to comment on, and also asked for specific scientific citations showing significant harms from exposure to the levels of smoke that would commonly be encountered outdoors or in well-ventilated indoor settings. Clearly such requests fall well within the realm of normative scienitific discussion and enquiry and should not simply be dismissed with references to the “Dunning-Kruger effect” or ad homs about people being apologists or lobbyists simply because they support and provide sound arguments and evidence for their position.

    If you wanted to generally close off this thread as irrelevant to the theme of “Watching The Deniers” I would not object, *however* I think it should be clear that if anyone has any valid, specific criticisms of the claims I put forward in that linked booklet or can offer specific studies to cite regarding the harms of outdoor-type smoke levels and such that it would be constructive to have that continue — after all, it *would* provide a stage for showing how the “tobacco deniers” are wrong, true?

    – MJM

  24. George Papadopoulos says:

    Oh my gosh! The good professor that ritualistically attacks and denigrates any prominent personality who raises concerns about wind turbines and health has actually got a point here.

    It’s nice to know he has a sensitive side to him.

  25. Heh, I just realized I’d missed something completely in Simon’s last comment. I’d asked him to talk to his friend at “The Conversation” about reopening the blog so that Simon’s last comment there could be responded to. Simon’s response was “I won’t ask the Conversation editor to re-open it .. this current location has the exact same stuff on it.”

    Simon, if that was the way you felt … then WHY did you ask him to re-open the blog for YOU to make a response there? You should have been happy simply making it at “this current location (with) the exact same stuff on it” ?

    – MJM

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