Orac finds some super-cranks

I thought the denial of the link between smoking and cancer had gone out of style. The link between smoking and cancer is so thoroughly established that I thought no one could continue to defend cigarettes with a straight face.

Well, all Orac has to do is write a piece about the evidence for a health risk from second-hand smoke and soon enough the denialists come crawling out of the woodwork. The reason is pretty simple, smoking bans are unpopular with a certain group of people, and what do you do when science suggests something that people don’t want to believe? Well, you whip out the tactics of course.

Orac then follows the trail of BS back to one of the more incredible crank sites I’ve ever seen. It’s called forces.org, and it meets every single possible criteria of both crankery and denialism. It’s pretty incredible. They have conspiracy theories about drug companies being behind smoking bans to promote their nicotine replacements and anti-addiction drugs. They have quote-mines galore (every scientific paper they cite is misquoted, it’s incredible). They have these unbelievable crank fake experts. They clearly aren’t convinced by any amount of scientific evidence or expertise. And their logical fallacies are great! Not only do they conflate all sorts of different cancers, it seems that if something besides smoking can cause any type of cancer, then it must cause all cancers – including those cigarettes have been falsely implicated in. All of this is permeated by one of the more hilarious persecution complexes about their rights being violated because they can’t persist in a behavior that is a nuisance and health-hazard to other people.

The point of the site seems mostly to be opposition of the extension of smoking bans, and their reasoning is somewhat intriguing, at the same time it’s hilariously self-defeating. According to the mission statement of their West Virginia division, they have no chance to oppose smoking bans because there is no legitimate right to be a nuisance and hurt others’ health in public. Therefore they have to make sure to deny the science until they die of old age (or cancer). It’s almost like a public admission of using denialist tactics.

For ten long years, most of the activists in the United States have been fighting the smoking bans on “Rights Issues”, whether they are Property Rights, Constitutional Rights, Personal Rights, Smokers Rights – even Personal Freedoms.

They have yet to have a win that has not immediately been lost at the anti tobacco extremists’ whim and will.

The “smokers rights” arguments have yet to stop the any of the anti smokers, anywhere, with a permanent win. They get occasional concessions such as instead of a total ban, the antis will allow smoking in bars for a year or so, but the antis always come back and do the ‘total ban’.

But one would think after ten years of a losing argument they might re evaluate the argument. I put the links there so you would know you are not alone in wanting to stop this – but there is an unsuccessful way to do it also.

Let’s look a little closer at the “Property Rights” issue.

That is certainly an important consideration and under proper circumstances property rights, as well as all other “rights” should be taken very seriously.

Were ETS to actually present the extraordinary health risks that anti-tobacco activists claim, however, bingo halls and state run casinos would have no more “right” to permit it in their establishments than they have a right to serve tainted food or contaminated drinking water

When it comes to addressing well-documented and certain health risks that are credibly proven by legitimate science public health departments are properly granted very strong powers of inspection and enforcement..

Should there be a breakout of typhoid any where in West Virginia the Health Departments would quite properly demand that the business owner repair an open cess-pool behind their establishment. Were the dinking water in a bar shown to include dangerous bacteria well above established limits that bar would be required to fix the problem or close their doors.

Any bar or tavern owner who refused to do so because they had “rights” would properly be cited and then closed down if they persisted in refusing to address that threat to public health.

So, they acknowledge they don’t have a legal leg to stand on if cigarettes cause cancer and second-hand smoke is a legitimate environmental toxin. What is there left to do? Well, deny the science of course!

Orac does a perfectly good job justifying the science behind second-hand smoke, and we don’t even need to go into the proof that smoking causes cancer. But one only has to visit their EVIDENCE ARCHIVE to see these are some fantastically prolific cranks. They have literally hundreds of articles attacking the basis of cigarettes causing anything bad from cancer to emphysema! They even suggest that it’s radiation from medical tests that is causing cancer, not the cigarette smoke. One could spend their life debunking this nonsense. Luckily, since we know the tactics of denialists, we don’t need to waste our time carefully researching every single one of their claims. It only takes about one or two examinations of their sourcing as Orac does and you see, they’re just quote-mining the literature, holding on to outdated studies, and generally pulling the same denialist garbage as any other crank out there. They also have the classic crank characteristic of latching on to any theory that is critical of the established science, no matter how horribly inconsistent it makes their position.

So visit, check it out, shudder, and come back. It’s a trip.