Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing - Werner von Braun
Research produces statistics - which very often conflict with the facts. Statistics are an entity so very powerful, they can only be used for good or evil. With that, let us repeat the links we provided on the cover page of this issue as sources of a vast amount of information concerning research, legislation, attitudes, trends, and many other aspects of the ever increasing threat to not only your right to smoke, but the basic parameters that wholly define the precious, but tenuous thing that our freedom is.
Throughout history few civilizations introduced tyranny in one masterful stroke. In nearly all experiences, rights of the citizenry were slowly eroded over a period of time. The fact that the effort was insidious and patient made it all the more effective ultimately, and one must observe that nearly all such efforts started with the erosion of the rights of the very few, leaving those directly unaffected with the impression that things were now better for the vast majority. Periodically, each new change affected more and more of the people until an iron-handed grip was eventually forged and nearly all but the elite few were subjugated. No Chicken Little here and the sky is not falling - at least not yet - but critical attention must be paid, not only to the changes forced on various segments of our population, but more importantly, the agendas of those who are instigating these changes. Ask questions and keep yourself informed and if you see questionable data, speak up not only to the validity of the data but to the validity of the source.
There are respected people in this country who view the American Cancer Society as the world's largest non-profit charity/lobby business and view the administrators of that organization as power hungry predators. They cite concern for too few breakthroughs in cancer research especially for an organization that has spent and collected so much financial resource for so long and they cite, as well, very large salaries and percs for those at the helm of this and many other huge non-profits organizations. I have personally talked to college students entering upper business management curriculae who were advised by their counselors that the non-profit upper management positions were the most desirable and financially rewarding among all sectors of the economy, private or public.
Our concern lies mainly in the power of the information engines organizations like this possess. People and businesses, often seeking only tax write-offs, give 'em lots of money, with no expectations of performance and with little oversight as to how the money is used. Many of these organizations are at the forefront of the anti-smoking movement. We advise you to research for yourself, using the links we provide above and throughout this site, as well as links that are easily found to the opposition and decide for yourself what the real facts are. Just as we are not smoking proponents but proponents of the rights of smokers, we are not here to provide you with the answers but instead provide you incentive to aggressively ask a lot of questions of any group who may wish to control any aspect of your private life.
Unfortunately for those on the other side, who believe (or at least give lip service to the belief for various self-serving reasons) that tobacco is the single most serious threat to the health of the world, they feel they have no reason to look or read further. Consider this quote from a member of the medical profession, **"The evidence linking tobacco to human disease is so overpowering that we should never have to do another study". Richard Bordow, MD. It should clear to all that this particular medico has his mind made up, and like the doctors of ages past, who then believed that the only cure for mental illness was pre-frontal lobotomy, he not only finds little reason to look further but has grown comfortable in his reliance on tobacco usage as the culprit responsible for many of the illnesses of his patients. The fact that his lung cancer patient also works in a coal mine or a chemical production factory, lives right next to a freeway or electrical power station, or any of the myriad other possibilities that people encounter everyday which may be far more harmful to their health, is more than likely irrelevant to his ilk. And therein lies the danger of blindly accepting statistical data without full disclosure of its thoroughness and how, by, and from whom the data was derived.
**(The above quote and the next two are taken from Don Oakley's book "Slow Burn," which we have a review of on our Reviews page. We recommend that you get this book. You can click on the graphic at right to purchase this book online at Amazon.com or you can go to the Slow Burn section of NSA website to view and download the text of the book by chapters. We recommend buying it as it is 600 pages (a lot to print out) filled with incredibly comprehensive, well-researched information regarding the anti-smoking movement from its inception.) Be warned, if you are a smoker, it will make you mad, but it is loaded with ammunition."Epidemiology is a crude and inexact science. Eighty percent of cases are almost all hypotheses. We tend to overstate findings either because we want attention or more grant money." Charles Hennekens - a medical research author and watchdog.
"It is increasingly apparent that there is something fundamentally wrong with much of the science underlying our environmental health regulations, as we have seen in recent episodes concerning asbestos, dioxin, and PCB, where risks have been dramatically overstated at simply enormous cost to the public." Rep. John Dingall
These last two quotes are indicative of the kind of awareness that already exists concerning the problems of risk assessment studies conducted in the less than ethical environment of government or foundation grant funding competition. A researcher can literally come up with "proof" of almost any hypothesis by simply pointing to previous studies that support his idea and ignoring others that do not. For instance, how hard do you think it would be to create a research study assessing the risks of getting lung cancer as it relates to what kind of car you drive. I'm serious. I would bet that statistics could easily be obtained that could be "interpreted" to show that owners of one particular brand of cars have a higher rate of this disease than those driving other makes. We would, of course, ignore all the other possible reasons that these particular people got the particular disease that had nothing to do with the cars they drive because, let's face it, in most of these studies, no other questions are asked. Not where they live, work, other contributing habits, their recreational preferences, or even how much they drive, - no, just "what kind of car do you drive." You can imagine the uproar from the auto makers were such a study published but if someone in the government grant business had a bad hair day because of an encounter with a less than patronizing auto industry executive you can bet it could happen. The historical arrogance of the tobacco companies no doubt created a lot of enemies, but more to the point, why grants are given to particular individuals and what the true agenda of both grant giver and grant taker is, are potentially far more pertinent data sets than the results that any of these kinds of studies generate. Yet these are precisely the kinds of studies referred to and relied upon in much of the anti-smoking literature and litany.
Many of the most damning of studies that are referred to by various anti-smoking groups and medical organizations are statistical analysis exercises whereby a researcher will gather data from a number of medical studies (most anecdotal -which means they asked the patients one or two questions when they showed up with a particular illness like "Do You Smoke?") Now the researcher is not required or, capable even, of having access to every study, or even understanding the parameters or the specific medical experiments (if there were any) conducted in the source study, and may pick and choose those that have results that tend to support only the researcher's initial conclusion, a conclusion made prior to funding (it is no secret that it is exponentially harder to get funding grants for research that would attempt to show tobacco consumption can be helpful than it is to get grants for the opposite hypothesis). This "research" technique which is not even close to being scientific is called Meta-Analysis. The researcher does NO science other than the gathering of CONCLUSIONS and STATISTICS from those studies the researcher finds amenable. This magazine is, in fact, Meta-Analysis, though we do try to look at both sides of the issue. I have never done a medical study on smoking risk, but I certainly could do one based simply on the findings of others. Hell. JAMA-online - Journal of the American Medical Association is right there for the picking, though I suppose you would have to pay a royalty fee to each original research project (yes somebody somewhere gets royalties). Not very original science but it might pay the rent for awhile, and as long as my goal was to put one more nail in the coffin of the tobacco industry, funding might not be much of a problem.
One of the reasons for the popularity of Meta-Analysis is that it is difficult to run true medical experiments on humans, who tend to dislike being given chemicals and surgical implants that could kill them. No surprise there, but even with animals that have short life spans like mice, and who can't object to the lethal prodding, it is difficult to show a direct causal relationship between tobacco smoke and anything. The fact is, according to EVERYTHING I have read and in the opinion of those who have read far more than I on the subject, no lab animal has ever been shown to have contracted lung cancer from breathing tobacco smoke. And even considering the huge amount of smoke the test animal ingests (literally hundreds of times per body weight that of even the heaviest human smoker), it would be most unlikely for a researcher to find direct "Original" evidence for his hypothesis. We may never "know" if tobacco causes disease for the same reason we may never "know" if OJ offed Nicole. Those in authority have stopped looking for any other culprits. Maybe Nicole's death was caused by OJ or a drug deal gone bad, I really don't know, but I do know that investigating only one possibility for the cause of any event is junk science. In fact, there is a site www.junkscience.com you might want to visit at your leisure. Tobacco is not the only victim of grant funded research hypocrisy.
As initially stated, several times in fact, in this and the January/February debut issue, we are not proponents of smoking. Despite what has been said above, we certainly don't think smoking is good for us and consider excessive smoking or any other excessive behavior for that matter, be it religious, political, chemical, sexual, or whatever (well, maybe not sex) illogical, and potentially dangerous. However, we are vehement supporters of the rights of people who choose to smoke. So for you smokers, let me, once again, make the following clear. There are few organizations out there that are in the business (and for the anti-smoking organizations it is a BIG business) of protecting your right to smoke. With a noted few exceptions, those that do exist are so closely aligned with the big tobacco companies that their merit and, therefore, effectiveness as your representatives is questionable. On the other hand there are dozens and dozens of anti-smoking groups out there, well funded and stocked with greedy attorneys and highly effective lobbyists. (By the way, a clear example of greed has risen to the attention of the voting public recently - lets hope they noticed and remember - as George Bush (governor of Texas and republican presidential candidate - the lack of capital letters in the foregoing is an indication of my antithapy for nearly all politicians), was attacked by all other candidates of both parties for being in bed with the tobacco industry because of a piece of legislation he killed regarding a law suit against big tobacco. It seems that a group of attorneys wanted to sue big tobacco on behalf of the citizens of Texas. The catch and the reason Bush fought the bill, was that the attorney fees alone would have amounted to more than $2 billion AND, the bill further proposed that the tax payers of Texas guarantee (subsidize) those fees be paid to the litigating group regardless of the outcome of the suit. Something like a bond initiative, uh huh.) While the tobacco industry is certainly guilty of misleading the public with false claims and omissions over the years, you need to to take a look at the gross distortions and patent lies that these anti-smoking zealots employ, putting their excretions on their internet sites (ash.org, tobacco.org, no-smoke.org, etc) and other advertising PSA's (public service announcements - the latest one here in Oregon states that tobacco kills 1/3 of all of its users. Even if the stats are true, which I sincerely doubt, they are basically saying that 2/3 of all smokers suffer no lethal consequence from tobacco. The question is why? If tobacco is as lethal as stated, how is it that two-thirds of its users somehow escape the grim reaper. (I truly hate statistics - like 100% of all people living today will die - bummer!)
There is a whole lot of money to be made fighting the tobacco industry and smoking in general. And there is a whole lot of number juggling going on that you need to investigate not only relating to the tobacco issue but for all of the issues in the future that are going to come up regarding changes to the structure and diversity of our society. It is on all of our tables to hold those proposing changes that would affect our private behavior accountable. There is a WEALTH of information out there and we have given you some outstanding leads.
And Now, Finally
Next time we will further examine where these anti-smoking groups (and the pro-smoking groups, who can be guilty of distortion as well) get the information (statistical) they use that is so vital to their arguments and how they manage to interpret that data so differently depending on which side of the fence they exist. We truly believe that money and power is far more of a motivator to all of the major anti-smoking groups than is the dissemination of accurate unbiased information, while the smaller, more emotional groups tend to be followers, who truly believe with almost religious zeal that which has been fed to them. The bigger, more critical issue to all should be the amount of control those at the helm of the information factories have on all of us and how we may force them to give us accurate data - ALL of the data - whether it concerns smoking or the environment or taxes or social security, and let us interpret that data for ourselves. The general population might just be capable of making intelligent choices, after all. Until next time - ask questions. - RYO
|EDITOR'S NOTE: These reviews are solely for the convenience of people of legal age who already smoke, are trying to cut down on smoking, wish to spend less money on their smoking, want to roll their own cigarettes from high quality tobacco, and, in general, wish to have a far more satisfying, and economical smoking experience when compared with smoking pre-manufactured cigarettes. We, in no way, encourage people to smoke. Further, we prescribe to a sane, more logical approach to smoking that involves common sense as to quantity coupled with a strong desire to manage the habit until it becomes an occasional, freely chosen, diversion, that can be fully enjoyed with minimal health risks. Finally, we strongly encourage those who do smoke to take it outdoors, or to appropriate environments where tobacco can be enjoyed away from those who do not smoke, most especially children. We do not sell tobacco or related products from this site; We distribute information about our perceptions of the quality of what is available and where it can be obtained. If you are under 18, it is illegal to buy tobacco and you should immediately exit this site. If you do not smoke, it would seem illogical to start.|
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