The hazards of anti-tobacco stupid to the stupid themselves are well known. The loss of judgment that allows someone to participate in the tobacco control industry, and thus lose their ethics and humanity, are tragic. The images of their suffering — the compulsion to blatantly lie about the facts, the desperation resulting from trying to rationalize how they are helping the people they are actively inflicting harm upon, the doublethink — are horrible to look upon. But in some sense, these are victims of their own free choice, and they have made this lifestyle decision for themselves. The Circle of Hell that is reserved for them is chosen and accepted by those who choose to stupid.
Of course that cannot be said of the innocent children recruited by the industry’s endless stream of propaganda, which they need to replace ranks that are constantly thinned by sudden attacks of common sense. They should be protected from the marketing. And the billions of dollars in direct costs that the stupid inflict on society need to be compensated for by imposing high taxes on tobacco control, of course. We might also feel something for the families of the stupid; it must be horrible for a child to come of age in the information era and learn that her father is as widely despised as Kim Jong-il. Still, ultimately, stupid is a matter of adult choice, and must be allowed in a free society.
Second-hand stupid inflicted on innocent bystanders is an entirely different matter, and its harms have also been well documented. Hard-working people doing real public health work, on the ground in county offices or poor villages, suffer from tobacco control misappropriating the term “public health”. They suffer the spillover stupid when most of the world comes to think of public health as stupid. Similarly those working in epidemiology and other public health sciences suffer from second-hand stupid when tobacco control abuses these sciences. The entire fields are tarnished and seen as stupid by many observers. On the other hand, most victims of the second-hand stupid are voluntarily accepting their exposure. No one needs to go into a field that exposes them to tobacco control stupid, and many who choose such fields also choose to actively indulge in the stupid themselves. If there were a pushback from real public health people, honest epidemiologists, et al. against their exposure to stupid, we might be inclined to rally around them. But so long as they seem to accept it, who are we to question their choices?
But it has become apparent that a previously unrecognized exposure to stupid causes far more harm than previously realized. Third hand stupid — the exposure of countless people to residual stupid that has been deposited in the environment by tobacco control — is a serious hazard in itself. This was proven today by two responses to a tweet I posted. [nb: This is actually better evidence than was used to “prove” that “third-hand smoke” is a health hazard. You can look it up.]
In that tweet, I ridiculed a tobacco control “research” paper that claimed to quantify the hazard from third-hand TSNA exposure from deposited cigarette smoke — never mind the fact that no one has any idea what the dose-response function is for TSNAs (or, indeed, if TSNAs really are an independent cause of cancer, let alone whether they are in the environmental form — but the character limit stopped me from mentioning those). Alas, by doing this, I allowed two of my innocent followers to be exposed to the third-hand stupid from the deposition of the original toxin into our environment. One of them noted the exorbitant purchase price required to be able to read the article, suggesting he had the urge to read it and perhaps even pay for it. Another challenged the claims based on specific reported results, showing that the residual stupid had already entered his system and he was momentarily deluded into thinking that the original deposit was subject to rational analysis.
Do not fear for my two correspondents. They are both bright and healthy and have undoubtedly already recovered from their exposure to third-hand stupid. I am confident that following my twitter feed gives them sufficient immunity in any case. But following the usual “public health” practice of multiplying zero by a very large population to get an absurdly large number, we can see that the blanket of residual stupid that is deposited in the environment by tobacco control will cause thousands of innocent people to suffer serious outcomes. Moreover, the residual stupid lingers in the environment long after a the tobacco controller who deposited it has departed for his well-deserved Circle.
In conclusion, of course, won’t someone think of the chiiiildren?