Respectful Insolence

After a long run of arguing against global warming and indoor smoking bans, it appears that our favorite Libertarian comic with a penchant for bad arguments and ad hominem attacks on scientists has temporarily left the field of blog combat in a huff of “giving up” that reminds me of a certain Black Knight telling a certain King that he’s not beaten and that it’s “just a flesh wound.” I’m not worried; I’m sure he’ll be back whenever he returns from his vacation to speak for himself. In the meantime, while the blog silence is golden, I’d like to step back a minute. I don’t want to rehash old arguments or beat up on Tim scientifically or intellectually any more (well, not any more than necessary for my purpose here, although I’m sure he won’t see it that way and will think I’m being a “bully” again), because Tim Slagle’s forays into the comments of this blog and his posts on the topics of global warming and secondhand smoke started to remind me of something, and this realization led me to see a possible pattern that perhaps I hadn’t seen quite as clearly before, a pattern that could well be generalizable to many forms of antiscientific arguments.

As much as I hate to say it, they reminded me of creationists and alties.

Tim is nowhere near alone in the use of these sorts of fallacies, and, unfortunately, nowhere near the worst offender. Indeed, to be fair, I will point out that I know for a fact that Tim is not a creationist, and I’m pretty sure he’s not an altie (although, given his Libertarian tendencies, I can’t help but wonder what his stance is on requiring vaccination before children can attend public schools). Also, to be fair, I need to point out that, although the science showing that secondhand smoke is harmful is generally a well-accepted scientific consensus, it is still nowhere near as settled as the science of evolution, which is so strong that it is given the scientific honorific of being called a theory. Similarly , while the scientific consensus behind global warming appears to be stronger than than that of SHS, but it too is still not as well established as the theory of evolution. But, then, few things in science are. Even so, the sorts of arguments that Tim made regarding both global warming and SHS, especially towards the end of our little exchange, really did echo similar arguments made by creationists and alties.

Tim assures us that he is not antiscience and that in fact he really, really likes science. I’ll once again give him some credit for accepting that science does indeed support the contention that prolonged exposure to SHS is harmful to health. However, what really seems to be the case is that he likes science until it tells him something he doesn’t want to hear. The parallels to creationism and alternative medicine are hard to ignore. Moreover, despite his claims otherwise, Tim really has a major bug up his butt about scientists and physicians, particularly those who tell him that SHS is harmful and that indoor smoking bans are worthwhile to protect workers in bars and restaurants, so much so that he says some rather offensive things about them. For example, here’s a comment directed at me about scientists said this about scientists who argue that something needs to be done about greenhouse gases or secondhand smoke:

My speculation is, that smart kids who are bullied in school, grow up to be bullies themselves. Only, they become intellectual bullies. My liberal use of insults on stage is one symptom of that syndrome. Your need to publish the response to my question on your blog, without even asking me if I would mind, is another…Such behavior is indicative of someone still hurting from those dodgeball welts. I think perhaps, the reason you didn’t find the bit funny. is because it made those welts sting again. Your remark about getting laid a lot, doesn’t do much to alleviate my suspicions either.

And:

I think some scientists might also harbor a version of the Bureaucrat Complex. I think when a person spends too much time in the laboratory, he starts looking at everything as a lab experiment. People become less like individuals, and more like figures on a report, that can emotionlessly be pushed around to achieve a favorable result. So what if a few people lose their livelihoods, if it will marginally increase public health?

So, not only are scientists power-hungry, but we have no empathy either. I do applaud Tim, however, for refraining from mentioning Nazi doctors such as Josef Mengele. It must have taken enormous self-control, and I am suitably impressed. However, this seems to be what really galls:

Just in case any of you missed it, I spent the better part of last week trying to teach some science geeks about how business works. Turns out they don’t care. Perhaps their youthful forays into Dungeons and Dragons have reinforced their confidence at role playing, and they now believe they can do anything.

i-0d485d78134474556a7f6f682c19f2f5-ogre01.jpgI find that last remark quite amusing to contemplate when Tim claims that I somehow misrepresented his whole “revenge of the nerds” argument about “bullied” geeks who couldn’t cut it on the dodgeball court now using their newfound powers for the nefarious purpose of depriving smokers of their puffs in bars and keeping rich people from driving SUVs and building energy-wasting McMansions. If anything, I think I represented him quite accurately, particularly his stage routine, which, as we’ve discovered in his blog posts, is consistent with his core beliefs.

But perhaps here’s what’s most telling:

What I’ve been saying, is that kids who grew up being bullied, sometimes grow into adulthood with a tendency to bully. The fabled Napoleon Complex is one example of this phenomenon. The way I got treated by scientists, for suggesting that a bicycle emits the same amount of CO2 per mile as a Moped was another. (I still have a few bruises, from what happened on THAT playground.)

And there you have it. Tim doesn’t like having it driven home in no uncertain terms that he didn’t know what he was talking about when it came to basic chemistry and thermodynamics in the post in question. An all too human trait, he doesn’t like being told that an assertion of his regarding science is, quite simply, wrong. Moreover, although a few commenters were a bit hard on Tim, it’s easy to understand why, given the analogy that he used. However, some commenters were quite patient with him. (Indeed, one in particular showed the proverbial patience of a saint in explaining the errors in Tim’s science.) Although he ultimately admitted that relative risks less than 2 are not automatically to be ignored and that science does support the contention that health risks from SHS are real, he clearly bristled at having to admit that, just as he bristled when it was pointed out that his parroting of right wing talking points about Al Gore were based on misrepresentations. When backed into a corner and forced to admit that the science supports these points, the prime reason for not liking the conclusions of science surfaces:

Actually, I am anti regulation, and anytime somebody tells me that science has proven a need to regulate my life, I get really suspicious.

In other words, he doesn’t like us pencil-necked geek scientists telling him what to do, and he frames the debate almost entirely in terms of personalities, rather than facts, in terms of a lust for power, rather than science:

On the other side of the debate, is a motivation far more insidious. It is a desire for power. Many people who see the debate as manipulated solely by tobacco money, never look at that angle, nor recognize that for some, power is far more seductive than profit. There was a very power-hungry person, who once advocated smoke free workplaces. He is the one who cannot be named. (Not because there are dark powers associated with the name, it is because current protocol dictates that the first person to invoke his name, automatically loses the debate … spend a little time playing with you Googler, and I’m sure you’ll figure it out.) But I think it’s no coincidence that one of the worlds’ most infamous megalomaniacs, didn’t want people smoking around him.

Ah, yes, argumentum ad Nazi-um! Just like our creationist friends like to use! But, leaving the Nazi analogies aside, let’s compare Tim’s words to what our old “friend,” the creationist neurosurgeon with a considerably bigger penchant for bad argument and a real love of pseudoscience, Dr. Michael Egnor said about scientists in his most recent column for the house propaganda organ for the Discovery Institute:

What arrogance. Dunford and his colleagues in the evolutionary-thought-police have enjoyed a federally enforced monopoly on biology education for 50 years. It’s a federal crime to question Darwin’s theory in a public school.

Of course, it’s a load of crap to claim that it’s a federal crime to question Darwin’s theory. In reality, it’s a federal crime to teach a religious doctrine (creationism and its “intelligent design” variant) as science. Next, look at Robert Crowther’s whine about “Darwinists”:

You seldom see this kind of arrogance outside of academia. And you would never see scientists making such proclamations to the general public. Or to doctors. Not if they didn’t want it noted on their permanent record.

The bottom line for Reuland and other dogmatic Darwinists is that scientists are Darwinists because they’re smarter than you. And biologists are more likely to be Darwinists because they’re even smarter than other scientists.

I see echoes of the “arrogance” of scientists and the “it’s all about power” canard coming through loud and clear from the “intelligent design” movement. But what about the alternative medicine movement? Of course, in that movement, it’s all about “health freedom,” very much as the anti-smoking ban activists paint the issue as a matter of the “freedom” of bar owners to allow smoking. (I wonder if they would support the “freedom” of factory owners to choose not to use pollution controls, or, to go further back into the mists of time, the “freedom” to use child labor. But I digress.) Modern medicine, just like “Darwinists” and those nasty scientists saying that global warming is a problem, are “tyrants”–like Napoleon, or even Darth Vader, perhaps:

When studying the actions of the FDA, the American Medical Association, the American Cancer Society and the behavior of doctors, medical journals and drug companies, the phrase “evil empire” quickly comes to mind. Modern medicine is a medical racket, a drug monopoly and disease treatment scam that has been foisted upon the people of western nations (America, Canada, United Kingdom, etc.) in order to maximize corporate profits.

And the FDA has become the Darth Vader of the empire, using the power of the dark side to inflict pain and destruction upon its enemies in its quest to become the dominate power center of all things related to health…

In all, the FDA is very much like Darth Vader: powerful, corrupt, evil-minded and willing to destroy anything in its quest for ultimate power over consumers. In Star Wars, Darth Vader promised to “bring order to the universe” through oppression, intimidation and control. The FDA appears to be protecting Big Pharma by using the very same tactics.

You know, you could substitute “Darwinists” trying to “suppress” religion and seeking to become the “power center of all things related to biology” or “smoking Nazis” trying to prevent bar owners from letting their patrons have a smoke (in order to protect big pharma’s sales of nicotine patches, ironically enough according to some) or “global warming fanatics” trying to dictate what sorts of cars that we can drive. Often, such attitudes are reinforced by vigorous well-financed campaigns, something that is especially true of global warming “skepticism” and, to a lesser extent, in “intelligent design.”

The reason that these arguments succeed is that scientists are human, too. Thus you can always find arrogant scientists or doctors. Moreover, each of these issues does to some extent or other involve a power struggle between science and a belief system that does not like what science is telling it. In the case of creationism, it’s religion fighting against the science that is telling it that the creation myth of an ancient text is not true or, in the case of “intelligent design” that the claims that evolution cannot account for the diversity of life and hence a designer who may or may not be God (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) must be involved. In the case of alternative medicine, it’s that dastardly scientific medicine telling “empathetic” healers that their “healing” doesn’t work when subjected to rigorous scientific testing, even though confirmation bias and a number of other biases allow these “healers” to believe honestly that it does. In other words, it’s the personal against the cold, unfeeling scientific. In the case of global warming, it’s portrayed as science saying that human industry and automobiles are causing a problem on a planetary scale; in other words, science versus free enterprise. In the case of secondhand smoke, it’s scientists telling bar owners and smokers that their habit harms more than just the person puffing on the cigarette and that workers shouldn’t have to subject themselves to that risk as a condition of employment; in other words, science versus freedom itself!

i-ecc52440c6f64c89a4793eedfb807f32-trekkie_nerds.jpgOnce science is framed as nothing more than a power struggle or, even worse, nothing more than scientists wanting to impose their will on the populace, then it’s natural to wonder what the motivation is behind the lust for power. In the case of evolution, such motivation is easily caricatured atheism leading to hatred of religion and the desire to destroy it by proving that a creator was not necessary to generate the diversity of life. In the case of global warming, the motivation is often portrayed as that of ultraleftists who hate free enterprise and want to bring industry under state control, using global warming as the cudgel to do it. In the case of alternative medicine, it’s arrogant doctors and greedy pharmaceutical companies that can’t stand the competition by “cures” not controlled by them. I think you get the picture. I’ll actually tip my hat to Tim for coming up with a motivation for this “arrogance” and “lust for power” gambit that is a favorite of deniers of science that I had never heard used before by anyone, that of geeks growing up to be scientists and using science to get even.

Of course, there is a continuum here. Evolutionary theory is clearly so overwhelmingly supported by the evidence that there really is no question of tradeoffs to accept anything less than what science says about it. The same is true of many varieties of alternative medicine, such as homeopathy or the Hoxsey therapy, both of which don’t work and are nothing but quackery, while some other alternative treatments (such as some herbs) may have some value. There is a middle ground, tenuous as it may be. However, when it comes to global warming or banning indoor smoking, there are real tradeoffs to discuss. For example, how much economic pain are we willing to endure to forestall human-caused climate change? In the case of smoking bans, is a total ban necessary to protect workers? How much should a bar owner’s freedom to run his bar as he sees fit be constrained in order to protect workers from SHS? The problem is that the ad hominem approach doesn’t address any of those questions. Of course, it’s not meant to. It’s meant to turn science into a question of personality (and, more importantly, personality flaws) rather than conclusions based on evidence, facts, and the scientific method. It’s a blatant appeal to emotion, rather than to rational thought. That’s probably why it works all too well.

So, to bring things back full circle, I have a word of friendly advice for Tim. As long as he sticks to discussing the balance between the consequences and benefits of acting on what science tells us about human-caused global warming or prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke, he can come up with reasonable (or at least semireasonable) arguments, as long as he acknowledges data from the other side and doesn’t use dubious studies and sources to support them, we can have a respectful, even if sometimes heated dialogue. After all, even I realize that there are real tradeoffs involved in acting on the science of either of these issues. However, when Tim starts attacking motivation (scientists as frustrated geeks wanting revenge, as power-hungry, or as viewing humans as research subjects), making cracks about Dungeons & Dragons, or ranting about being oppressed, particularly when he couples such “arguments” with dubious scientific assertions, he should not be surprised to find himself being lumped together with cranks and denialists such as creationists or alties. Use crank arguments frequently enough, and, sooner or later, you start to become a crank. Besides, the motivations of scientists, even if Tim’s overblown caricatures were true, are pretty much irrelevant to the scientific questions being debated. Contrary to some popular misunderstandings, science is not a democracy, nor does scientific understanding rise or fall based on the personalities of the people doing science.

Comments

  1. #1 Bronze Dog
    August 7, 2007

    I find it funny that D&D was used as a source of ad homenim again. Had one Bleep who summarily handwaved away my arguments because I mentioned playing D&D in response to another ad hom about me supposedly not having any imagination.

    What it amounts to: “Don’t listen to him, he’s a NERD!”

    As if being in a particular subculture renders everything I say false.

  2. #2 Infophile
    August 7, 2007

    I’ll actually tip my hat to Tim for coming up with a motivation for this “arrogance” and “lust for power” gambit that is a favorite of deniers of science that I had never heard used before by anyone, that of geeks growing up to be scientists and using science to get even.

    I actually heard something pretty similar to that before, except it was geeks growing up to be skeptics and turning into a clique of their own to fight back. Same motivation blamed for slightly different actions. You can see the post in question here, and you might remember my reply to it, which was in a Skeptic’s Circle a while back.

  3. #3 Iskra
    August 7, 2007

    In reference to the Argument from Star Wars above, is there a handy pamphlet somewhere explaining why cultural critiques are not rebuttals to scientific arguments? I don’t care how witty your allusion or bon mot is, it proves nothing about physical science.

  4. #4 T. Bruce McNeely
    August 7, 2007

    That “Revenge of the Nerds” argument is always good for a laugh. Sure, we nerds grew up to become scientists, engineers and doctors, but the Kewl Kids at my school mostly went into Law. Guess who’s passing all these Fascistic laws? Hint: it ain’t the nerds.

  5. #5 Icepick
    August 7, 2007

    And biologists are more likely to be Darwinists because they’re even smarter than other scientists.

    Has anyone mentioned that bolded piece to the physicists?

  6. #6 Joseph Hertzlinger
    August 7, 2007

    This is one of the most preposterous discussions I’ve ever heard. Speaking as a Libertarian, we’re the anti-social malcontent party and don’t you forget it! After all, the likelihood of a society run by nerds is of the same order of magnitude as the Statue of Liberty turning cartwheels. We have to settle for the next best thing, which is to ensure the mundanes have as little power as possible.

    On the other hand, this might be a deliberate parody of similar nonsense from the Other Side.

  7. #7 coracle
    August 7, 2007

    I liked this bit:

    So what if a few people lose their livelihoods, if it will marginally increase public health?

    What if we turn the implications around? So what if a few people die, if it will marginally improve employment?

    Nice order of priorities there.

  8. #8 Icepick
    August 7, 2007

    I wonder if they would support the “freedom” of factory owners to choose not to use pollution controls, or, to go further back into the mists of time, the “freedom” to use child labor. But I digress.

    Not only do you digress, but you’re committing your own crimes against logic. There’s a substantial difference between a factory which is polluting the environment at large and a bar that allows smoking indoors. To escape the effects of the smoke in the bar, all one has to do is leave the bar. It’s much more difficult to have to escape the effects of factories belching filth into the sky.

    The child labor comparison is even worse, and I can’t believe you even used that.

    The problem, of course, is that the ad hominem approach doesn’t address any of those questions. Of course, it’s not meant to. It’s meant to turn science into a question of personality (and, more importantly, personality flaws) rather than conclusions based on evidence, facts, and the scientific method. It’s a blatant appeal to emotion, rather than to rational thought. That’s probably why it works all too well.

    Correct, ad hominem arguments don’t address the issues at hand. So, when Al Gore said that global warming “is not a partisan issue, it’s a moral issue” (thereby implying that anyone who didn’t share his views was morally bankrupt or worse), was he addressing the issues or merely attempting to bully those he disagreed with? You make it sound as though the ad hominem attacks only work one way on these issues, and that’s hardly the case.

  9. #9 Icepick
    August 7, 2007

    Nice order of priorities there.

    You’ve changed the statement substantially, rendering any judgement about Slagle’s priorities meaningless. He spoke of marginal improvements to public health, which != deaths automatically.

    It’s also important to know what is meant by “few” and “marginal”. How many people would you leave unemployed to save one life? One? Ten thousand? Ten million? A margin of 10% on 150,000,000 is a big number. Essentially, by leaving terms undefined neither Slagle nor you, Coracle, have said anything of meaning. You’re both playing to emotions instead of reason.

  10. #10 Orac
    August 7, 2007

    Not only do you digress, but you’re committing your own crimes against logic. There’s a substantial difference between a factory which is polluting the environment at large and a bar that allows smoking indoors. To escape the effects of the smoke in the bar, all one has to do is leave the bar. It’s much more difficult to have to escape the effects of factories belching filth into the sky.

    You missed the point.

    Workers can’t “leave the bar” unless you subscribe to the idea that it’s a piece of cake to find another job in a nonsmoking environment. The point, of course, is that business always resists restrictions that are imposed for a greater societal good, be it cleaner air, not subjecting children below a certain age to work that could harm them, or, yes, restricting indoor smoking to protect primarily workers and, to a lesser extent, customers. (The use of pollution regulations and child labor laws were meant as intentionally extreme examples of this principle.) Depending upon the specific cases, it can be argued about whether the estimated benefits of such restrictions are worth the estimated cost or when and under what conditions such restrictions restrict freedom too much, but the history of such regulation is that business almost always resists it, often fighting it tooth and nail.

  11. #11 Coin
    August 7, 2007

    Actually, I am anti regulation, and anytime somebody tells me that science has proven a need to regulate my life, I get really suspicious.

    I think it’s worth backing up to this quote, because I think it neatly demonstrates one of the really key impulses that drives most antiscience viewpoints: The tendency to judge facts not on whether the evidence shows they are true, but rather whether or not you like the consequences should they turn out to be true.

  12. #12 Ryan S.
    August 7, 2007

    t’s also important to know what is meant by “few” and “marginal”. How many people would you leave unemployed to save one life? One? Ten thousand? Ten million? A margin of 10% on 150,000,000 is a big number. Essentially, by leaving terms undefined neither Slagle nor you, Coracle, have said anything of meaning. You’re both playing to emotions instead of reason.

    Here’s a good comparison for you this from the CDC and for unbiased numbers this from the Friends of Tobacco. If you compare the number of smoking attributed deaths in the US 438,000
    to the number of people employed in the US Tobacco Industry 42,900
    There I hope that has some meaning for you.

  13. #13 DuWayne
    August 7, 2007

    Coin -

    I’ll second that, but I would also expand it beyond science to anti-intellectualism in general. It is what really drives libertarian philosophy in public policy, in the face of libertarians being a distinct minority. People don’t like to pay taxes or spend lots of money. Thus, in spite of the fact that safety regulations have been shown time and time again, to save lives, people don’t want to pay for enforcement. Or in spite of the fact that China has atrocious health and safety conditions and a history of the vilest exploitation of workers, people gobble up the imports and support free trade agreements.

  14. #14 ebohlman
    August 7, 2007

    One of the most common traits of cranks, denialists and authoritarians is that they insist on evaluating the messenger rather than the message. The same idea will be considered invalid if expressed by one of Them but accepted as Revealed Truth if expressed by one of Us. Part of Sokal’s frustration that led him to write his famous parody was the realization that the postmodern Left was falling into the same trap with their assertions that it was impossible to consider an idea without also considering the source.

  15. #15 MarkH
    August 7, 2007

    For some reason I’m not surprised.

    A crank is a crank is a crank. You see the same 5 arguments over and over again.

  16. #16 Icepick
    August 7, 2007

    Great, Ryan, but the topic at hand has been about the dangers of SECOND hand smoke, not the dangers of puffing on cancer sticks directly. Or are you proposing that we institute a total smoking ban, and throw the offenders in jail? (That’s worked so well with marijuana legislation, for example.) Does actually discussing the topic at hand instead of changing the subject mean anything to you?

    And Orac, I’m not convinced by your argument. Jobs aren’t that scarce that someone can’t quite and move to a safer environment, especially if they’re working in a service industry job.

    Furthermore, by citing particularly extreme examples you’re doing the same thing that Slagle was doing by citing Hitler as an example. You sure as hell can argue the merits of the case at hand. Using absurd examples that play upon emotion rather than reason completely undermines the argument you’re trying to make.

  17. #17 Michael E
    August 7, 2007

    Sorry, Icepick, you’re fighting a losing battle on this blog.

    Orac has a blog attached to a “Major Publication.” You don’t get to play here if he doesn’t let you, and by dancing around your points, he’s showing what he thinks of -you- as a poster – not worth the time to answer directly.

    The rest of the replies are the in the usual “Gish Gallop” style one must expect from the liberals, the left, the progressives, or whatever they want to call themselves today. (To attempt to put off any pointless defenses – The right, the conservatives, and the fundies do it too.)

    But good on your for making the attempt. Personally, I’d find a blog where you actually have a chance of changing the people’s mind. This blogger and his devotees are pretty zealous in their opinions.

    Besides, he’s a DOCTOR – He’s got a white coat. That makes him AN AUTHORITY.

  18. #18 Orac
    August 7, 2007

    Orac has a blog attached to a “Major Publication.” You don’t get to play here if he doesn’t let you, and by dancing around your points, he’s showing what he thinks of -you- as a poster – not worth the time to answer directly.

    Oh, please, give me a break. I let “everybody play” here; it is very rare indeed for me to delete or censor posts. As for the comments, I usually don’t spend much time making comments; my job is to produce fresh material, and I only join in the comments when the mood strikes me. Regular readers know this.

    Besides, he’s a DOCTOR – He’s got a white coat. That makes him AN AUTHORITY.

    I fail to recall my ever invoking my status as a doctor to support anything other than my comments about medicine and surgery (where I actually am an AUTHORITY–yeah, that’s sarcasm). Even then I generally back up my assertions. In other words, I almost never ask anyone just to “take my word for it because I’m a doctor.”

  19. #19 Michael E
    August 7, 2007

    You are correct, I am not a regular reader, -minion, -anti-Orac. Mostly just a troll on this thread, I’ll admit. I only came here because the intro had the word “libertarian” in it, and since Ed Brayton is the only “non-liberal” (sorry, I’m just using “liberal” as shorthand) on Science Blogs, I figured you were using it as a pejorative. I was correct, but Icepick has done a pretty good job trying to get around the hand-waving and emoto-argumentation one learns to expect from “liberal” commentators.

    All your invocations of denialists, fundies and creationists against this chap Tim have only one purpose – ad hominem, aka, smear. And your “regular readers” are lapping it up and pretending it’s what they believed all along.

    Icepick is pretty good at trying to cut through it all and present logical arguments, but none will have it. So I suggest that he shakes the dust from his feet and move on. Then you and your groupies can post and counter-post about “how you showed them libertarians what for and they ran off with their tails between their legs!”

    “Oh, please, give me a break. I let ‘everybody play’ here; it is very rare indeed for me to delete or censor posts. As for the comments, I usually don’t spend much time making comments; my job is to produce fresh material, and I only join in the comments when the mood strikes me. Regular readers know this.”

    This is the shortcoming of this style of blogging. No room for actual dialog. It’s like you writing a column in a newspaper, and another person having to write a letter to the editor to comment on it.

    The physical arrangement of blogs’ comment sections just makes the whole thing a waste of time. For example, by this time next week, this blog and its comments will have moved off the front of your page and into the dustbin of interweb history.

    A final question: I’ve read the links to the other discussions with Tim and his posts. He’s like a lot of members of any political philosophical group – well intentioned, but not very good at formulating arguments. The problem is that you are acting as if Tim’s comments represent the whole of libertarian thought, which is certainly not a logical assumption – no more so than my comments about “liberals” above. Have you ever sought out libertarians who have done actual research in the topics you post about, to see what they have to say about them? Or do you not care? If the latter, at least have the intellectual integrity to not pretend Tim speaks for all libertarians, just like I don’t believe you or your sycophants speak for all “liberals.”

  20. #20 DuWayne
    August 8, 2007

    Michael E -

    First, I have to say that your characterization of Ed as a non-liberal is rather amusing. He is, in a great many ways, very liberal, he just also happens to be libertarian. The two are not mutually exclusive.

    As for the assertion that there is some mass assumption that Tim’s arguments represent the whole of libertarian though, you’re being absurd. My own assertions about libertarian philosophy, comes from reading quite a number of articles published through Cato and the Heritage Foundation, as well as a lot of discussions with a lot of libertarians, including many with Ed, who’s my brother.

    If it makes you feel better, I will happily disparage the socialist tendencies on the extreme left. Take libertarian philos to the extreme, you invariably end up with fascist totalitarianism. Take socialist philos to the extreme, you end up with communist totalitarianism. Really, the two philosophies have far more similarities than differences, including their fatal flaws. Strike the proper balance between the two, you could probably achieve a near perfect society.

    The problem with either ideology, is that their proponents (at least those at the extremes) utterly fail to take reality into account. The few that do, are simply willing to accept a far uglier reality than most of us are interested in living with. Unfortunately, the fringes, for the most part are the ones framing the discussion and pushing public policy. Damn the consequences.

    All in all, I haven’t seen a lot of blanket disparagement of libertarians here. Certainly, it was lacking in Orac’s post. But if you feel that there needs to be a better example of libertarian arguments provided, Orac is really great about allowing it here. Enlighten us.

  21. #21 LCR
    August 8, 2007

    Michael E said:

    “The problem is that you are acting as if Tim’s comments represent the whole of libertarian thought, which is certainly not a logical assumption – no more so than my comments about “liberals” above.”

    Aside from identifying Tim as a “Libertarian comic”, I don’t see any evidence that Orac, or anyone here, is assuming that Tim represents the overall Libertarian viewpoint. Orac is not attacking libertarians; he is drawing parallels between Tim’s anti-smoking ban arguments (libertarian or otherwise) and the arguments we often hear from HIV denialists, intelligent design supporters, and those against immunizations, the parallel being that all have anti-science roots.

    But if you don’t feel that Tim epitomizes the Libertarian point of view and you have studies completed by Libertarian researchers that you would like to cite and offer for us to review, please do. It is true that we are not likely getting the full story from Tim, and I, for one, will always welcome the opportunity to gain a fresh perspective.

    Michael E declares:

    “Icepick is pretty good at trying to cut through it all and present logical arguments”

    Really? Which arguments of Icepick’s in particular were logical and able to “cut through it all”? So far he has hit on a tangential issue (the “child labor” comment) and succeeded in missing Orac’s point entirely (he still doesn’t get it), or he keeps charging that non-smoking employees can always find employement elsewhere, but has yet to offer anything to support this. That’s been about it.

    Regarding blogging and comments being a waste of time… well, given the amount of time you are spending here, commenting, that is a rather silly thing to say.

  22. #22 Andrew Dodds
    August 8, 2007

    Icepick -

    You may do better suggesting that regulations including no-smoking zones within bars and improved air circulation/extraction would be as effective as a blanket smoking ban in bars.

    I do think there is an element of intolerance/power-tripping to the smoking bans, especially in the UK, where even private member’s clubs are banned from indoor smoking. It does seem to have been taken further than is reasonable.

    However, I suspect that Bruce is correct above – this is not ‘revenge of the nerds’. People who are ‘a bit different’ from an early age tend, in my experience, to be more accepting of other’s diferences, wheras those in the ‘in crowd’ are far less tolerant, and more likely to support oppression of outsiders.

  23. #23 Orac
    August 8, 2007

    “The problem is that you are acting as if Tim’s comments represent the whole of libertarian thought, which is certainly not a logical assumption – no more so than my comments about “liberals” above.”

    Massive straw man argument.

    I really don’t know where you got that from. I never claimed or implied that Tim’s comments “represent the whole of Libertarian thought.” To claim that is–well–a load of B.S.

    All your invocations of denialists, fundies and creationists against this chap Tim have only one purpose – ad hominem, aka, smear. And your “regular readers” are lapping it up and pretending it’s what they believed all along.

    Not at all.

    You apparently don’t know what an ad hominem is. Attacking arguments, bad logic, and pointing out that someone doesn’t know what they are talking about when it comes to certain aspects of science do not constitute an ad hominem attack. Nor did I attack Tim personally. I attacked his arguments, and the point in the comparison to creationists was, as the final paragraph shows, a friendly warning to Tim that he’s at serious risk of moving far into crank territory. In other words, I’m trying to pull him back from the brink.

    You’ll note that I took pains to say that Tim can make somewhat decent arguments when he manages to stay away from the “revenge of the nerds” gambit or the “it’s all about power” whine. As for the ad hominems, come on! Tim used the granddaddy of ad hominem smears against scientists and policy makers with whom he doesn’t agree: Argumentum ad Nazi-ium (a.k.a. the Hitler card).

  24. #24 Jim
    August 8, 2007

    You don’t post trackbacks? I am a libertarian, and believe topics like these do pose a challenge (if you click through the link in my name you’ll find an entry on this topic). Libertarians tend to flinch when government regulation or restriction is discussed, but when you have sound science involved you have to control that urge to flinch just for flinching’s sake. If libertarians are serious about a philosophy of being free unless and until your actions harm others then you better be ready to confront an issue where your actions are scientifically found to harm others. Now, I still flinch at banning smoking on private property–that should be the property owner’s call–but public property, government installations, schools and the like where the public has a right to be . . . yah, if secondhand smoke causes harm then a libertarian shouldn’t have a problem with restrictions. Restrictions should be tightly tailored–perhaps less restrictive outside, or locations with air filtration systems that meet certain criteria, but all too often I find libertarians being contrary in science because it does present areas where restrictions and legislation might be warranted and rather than admit that they deny the science. I think that’s sad because I think libertarians and science should be in intellectual brotherhood, not fighting each other.

  25. #25 Oldfart
    August 8, 2007

    Hmmmm…. There have been some studies mentioned recently that it is possible to detect the effects of a SINGLE exposure to second-hand smoke in children. It won’t be long before smoking is banned in homes with children and parents will be arrested for child endangerment.

    There is not just the left and right wing worlds, libertarian worlds vs. communist or facist worlds. There is the innate dictatorship of the bureaucracy. There is the bureaucratic personality that cuts across all political spheres. The bureaucratic personality will allow you to die if there are no rules that cover saving you. The bureaucratic person will arrest you on charges that are ridiculous in the “real” world if regulations permit. The bureaucratic person will literally ruin your life with regulations without a qualm and go home at night and sleep well. The bureaucratic person will give you a detention because you have had too many detentions and then kick you out of school because you’ve had one too many detentions. The bureaucratic person will talk about “throw away” people. The bureaucratic person owes no loyalty to culture, nation or society – only to regulations. These are the people who know only the “letter of the law” and are completely blind to the “spirit of the law”.

    These are also the people who take the results of science and turn them into regulations. Once they become regulations, there is no escape. If more results from scientists contradict the original source of current regulations, no problem. They have no difficulty following contradictory regulations, sometimes in the same incident.
    Both the right wing and the left wing have trouble changing their belief systems in the face of facts but these people have no belief systems at all. Just regulations. And they will regulate you to death.

  26. #26 Clique Master
    August 8, 2007

    From Michael: “Orac has a blog attached to a “Major Publication.” You don’t get to play here if he doesn’t let you…Personally, I’d find a blog where you actually have a chance of changing the people’s mind. This blogger and his devotees are pretty zealous in their opinions.”

    Could you suggest a blog where it’s standard practice for the operator to give over his space to opposing views? Based on my limited exposure to blogs, I think one is fortunate to be able to post negative comments on one without them being censored.

    Maybe there’s some nice Libertarian blog where everyone has equal freedom to post anywhere, anytime. Or should I be googling under “anarchist blog”? It’s so confusing. :(

  27. #27 DuWayne
    August 8, 2007

    Clique Master -

    Actually, I do just that at my blog, mostly about human rights issues. I will exercise editorial controls, but thus far I have posted every guest post that has been sent to me, including a anti-choice screed*. They are out there, just not very prevalent.

    And I am not a libertarian, except when it comes to personal liberties. I just like the idea of dissenting views. About the only thing that I would object to, are denialist posts, or posts that are too far removed from the topic of human rights. Of course, I break the topicality rule regularly, especially lately.

    *I was tempted not to post it, but it falls in well with a topic that I brought up.

  28. #28 Icepick
    August 9, 2007

    Sorry, haven’t been back since my last comments. But to respond to a few points –

    Michael E., I have been reading this blog fairly regularly since I discovered it a few months ago. While I no doubt would disagree with Orac on many policy issues (he actually doesn’t discuss that many, outside his areas of expertise), I like his writing- and argumentation-styles.

    My problem with him in this post is that he has committed a couple of fouls. He seems to think that child labor laws and smoking so been throwing around some emotionally charged wording when it’s been completely unnecessary.

    But even though he disagrees with me on these points, he’s hardly been unfair, nor do I feel “put upon” by the disagreement I’ve got with him and the other commenters. Honest disagreement is at the heart of debate, and I feel that receives encouragement here. But that honest psrt also means that if he kicks some ass on points of fact (e.g., presenting actual evidence of the dangers of second hand smoke), that needs to be acknowledged.

    To Andrew Dodds, who wrote: Icepick – You may do better suggesting that regulations including no-smoking zones within bars and improved air circulation/extraction would be as effective as a blanket smoking ban in bars.

    As a non-smoker who rarely goes to bars, I really don’t care about smoking bans in bars either way. I just don’t think it’s THAT big of a deal. There are more non-smokers than smokers now, and that’s a mighty market-force for there to be non-smoking bars.

    To LCR, who wrote: [Icepick] keeps charging that non-smoking employees can always find employement elsewhere, but has yet to offer anything to support this.

    Really, do I have to mention the size of the US labor market in relation to the size of US bar-workers, as well as recent unemployment trends? Just exactly how hard do you think it is to find a job in the US currently? For that matter, perhaps you should offer evidence that cocktail waitresses who work in smoking-allowed bars are incapable of finding work elsewhere. I doubt you will, however, because I doubt such evidence exists.

  29. #29 LCR
    August 9, 2007

    Icepick said:

    “Really, do I have to mention the size of the US labor market in relation to the size of US bar-workers, as well as recent unemployment trends?”

    I don’t see the connection between the size of the US labor market and the size of the US bar-workers. Enlighten me.

    As far as the unemployment trends: I assume you are talking about the apparently low unemployment numbers? We are discussing people who are already working in smoking bars and therefore employed. The problem for them is to find a new job in an non-smoking bar or restaurant, and unemployment numbers don’t speak to the ease of accomplishing that.

    “Just exactly how hard do you think it is to find a job in the US currently?”

    Depends upon your occupation, expected salary, education and experience, so its difficult to answer your question. You seem to think its rather simple, but I would suggest that your experience is limited if you think it is easy for most people to find a job in the current market. Its anecdotal, but I know some educated people with good employment backgrounds that have been looking for a good job for years with no luck. They need to resort to some type of lower wage job to get by until a better job comes through. I also know that it is harder to be picky about what job you get if your educational background is minimal, i.e., the less educated you are, the slimmer are the pickings. Opportunities may be further limited due to location of the job, transportation and scheduling limitations, availability and affordability of child care, etc. It would be a shame if the only job available to either of these types of people is a position as waitress or waiter in a bar or restaurant that allows smoking. The world is not a vast cornucopia of job opportunities for all, your assurances to the contrary aside.

    Here are a couple of questions for you:

    Will you acknowledge that there are some people in our country who face these limitations in employment, who manage to find themselves work in a bar that happens to allow smoking, and who may not have the easy option of turning down the job opportunity to search for another?

    Are you arguing that these people who are struggling with employment issues don’t deserve to be protected from SHS as do other more fortunate workers?

    “For that matter, perhaps you should offer evidence that cocktail waitresses who work in smoking-allowed bars are incapable of finding work elsewhere. I doubt you will, however, because I doubt such evidence exists.”

    That’s right, because you can’t prove a negative and therefore no such evidence exists. The burden of proof is upon you to demonstrate that the jobs ARE out there and that they are a VIABLE alternative to those working in smoking bars… which you haven’t done yet.

    Its callous of you to assume to understand everyone’s employment situation based upon a few statistics and personal experiences and it would certainly be unforgivable to form public policy that way. The numbers don’t tell the whole story.

  30. #30 Icepick
    August 9, 2007

    My “few experiences” include many years now working in HR or HR-related functions. I have seen, sorted, collated, checked, analysed and otherwise abused employment data on a few hundred THOUSAND employees at this point in my career. That’s data I’ve had direct access to in order to do my job, not something read off of a government chart. In a prior job, I worked in the actuarial field, which has given me other tools that can be used for judging this kind of data. I don’t have “a few statistics and personal experiences” upon which to draw, I have statistically valid sample spaces to draw upon.

    At the moment, I work for a very large employer in the Orlando service industry that covers just the kinds of jobs we’ve been discussing. There is extremely high turnover in these types of jobs for several reasons, but most notably: many people hold these kinds of jobs while completing their educations (once finished, they move on to other pastures); there are LOTS of these kinds of jobs available, so people don’t feel they need to stay wedded to one employer (if the boss is an asshole, get another boss); experienced wait-staff can often get better pay/benefits/perks by shifting to another employer (the resteraunt down the street is offering a $1/hr increase on my current wage/I’ll get better tips because the meals are more expensive/I’ll save money on the commute). The problem most employers have is in retaining good wait-staff.

    Frankly, I’ll trust my professional knowledge & experience over your snide commentary on this front. But let me address some of your particulars….

    Depends upon your occupation, expected salary, education and experience, so its difficult to answer your question. You seem to think its rather simple, but I would suggest that your experience is limited if you think it is easy for most people to find a job in the current market. Its anecdotal, but I know some educated people with good employment backgrounds that have been looking for a good job for years with no luck. They need to resort to some type of lower wage job to get by until a better job comes through.

    The key parts of your statement are “Its anecdotal, but I know some….” and “been looking for a good job for years with no luck.” You’re ripping me for my limited experiences of a few hundred thousand employee records over the last decade and all you can cite are a few friends of yours? Do I really need to explain to you why your example is statistically irrelevant? (Incidentally, the most recent unemployment figures state that the unemployment rate is 4.6% in the US, currently. I doubt that number includes all of the illegal alien employees in this nation, either.)

    Also, the second clause I quote above implies that your friends are looking for select jobs. I said nothing about getting a good job or a dream job. I said that employment is pretty easy to find in this country. I’ve had to do it many times myself through the years, and the only times I’ve had any difficulty in finding employment was when I intentionally put limits on what I was willing to accept. Those occasions were MY problems, not the employment market’s. And by your own admission these friends of yours have found jobs, just not the ones they are looking for.

    Further, we’re discussing service industry workers, for whom the market is very flexible. Really, I don’t know why you can’t grasp this concept.

    Will you acknowledge that there are some people in our country who face these limitations in employment, who manage to find themselves work in a bar that happens to allow smoking, and who may not have the easy option of turning down the job opportunity to search for another?

    I’m sure there are a few such people, that most likely live in someplace like Podunk, New Nowhere. But they’re not serfs bound to the land. Most of them can move elsewhere. And if they can’t, then they’ve probably got bigger problems than SHS in the local dive.

    More to the point, how many bars and restaurants are there in the US that allow smoking anymore? In restaurant & bar heavy central Florida I only know of one such establishment. Most places don’t allow smoking anymore, and wouldn’t even if it weren’t illegal – most of us just don’t want to smell someone else’s dirty habit.

    Are you arguing that these people who are struggling with employment issues don’t deserve to be protected from SHS as do other more fortunate workers?

    I’m saying that the people you’re concerned with are a negligibly small portion of a labor market that includes approximately 154 million (non-black market) jobs. Are you going to tailor the laws for each exceptional case? That’s a tall, and ultimately futile task.

    Now there is a substatial portion of the populace that can’t get away from the dangers of SHS – children of smokers. Do you propose any laws for that (much larger) problem? Do you propose removing children from their homes? Throwing the parents in jail? Fining families into the poor-house?

    Finally, if SHS is so dangerous, wouldn’t it be better for smokers to have places they can congregate and smoke indoors? Whenever I walk into or out of a public building anymore, I’m assaulted by the second hand smoke of smokers who are no longer permitted to smoke indoors, so they do the next best thing – step right out the nearest door and smoke. I sure as hell can’t avoid that smoke, much as I try.

    My point is that you are getting quite excercised about something of minor importance, while there are much bigger issues that should be addressed, even on the topic of tobacco smoking.

    The burden of proof is upon you to demonstrate that the jobs ARE out there and that they are a VIABLE alternative to those working in smoking bars… which you haven’t done yet.

    Have I done it now? Or do I need to quote extensively from the BLS website as well?

  31. #31 Icepick
    August 9, 2007

    Sorry, LCR. I WAY over-thought my response. Here’s a much shorter one.

    You wrote: Its callous of you to assume to understand everyone’s employment situation based upon a few statistics and personal experiences and it would certainly be unforgivable to form public policy that way.

    You also wrote that you only have anecdotal evidence that some people have problems finding the jobs they want (not that they have trouble finding jobs), and that you can’t prove that there is anyone in the US employment market that can’t find a job in a non-smoking workplace.

    So, you have non-relevant personal anecdotes, no valid statistical data to back up your claims, and you want to base public policy on your feelings that somewhere someone has been done wrong by the man. How is this arguement of yours any different from all of the woo-meisters that Orac regularly skewers?

  32. #32 LCR
    August 9, 2007

    So, because my experiences are anecdotal, these people don’t exist? These people are real and have real problems finding jobs.

    And I said that I don’t have statistical data because it is statistically impossible to prove a negative, which you were asking me to do. You have still not provided statistical support for your argument that these people in these smoking jobs not only can but DO find viable alternatives, however, which is possible.

    You said: “I said nothing about getting a good job or a dream job.”

    Neither did I… we are arguing about bar jobs, remember?

    In spite of all of your worldly experience, you are still speaking as one who has lead a reasonably privileged life. You still speak from the point of view of the numbers (“flexible market”, “unemployment numbers”) for the numbers sake, and not what the numbers mean and who they represent, and how many kids those numbers have and how far in debt those numbers are and whether those numbers can afford health insurance.

    In response to my first question, you replied:

    “I’m sure there are a few such people, that most likely live in someplace like Podunk, New Nowhere.”

    If you truly feel that your answer actually reflects reality, then you haven’t the vaguest clue what life is like for the lower socioeconomic classes.

    In response to my next question, you reply:

    “I’m saying that the people you’re concerned with are a negligibly small portion of a labor market that includes approximately 154 million (non-black market) jobs.”

    Define “negligible”. You just essentially said that a poor mother trying to support her family by taking bar job as a waitress is “negligible”. Again, these are real people and they deserve healthy working conditions. And we are not proposing to “tailor” the laws to them. They would be the same laws put into place for all of the restaurant and bars that fall under the laws. No special treatment here.

    In order to make your case regarding the issue of finding alternative employment, you needed to show that people in these SHS environment jobs have viable alternatives and therefore are not stuck. The extent of your argument has been to either (1) argue the the market is flexible and that the jobs are out there and lots of people are finding jobs that (2) even if these people do exist, they are in such inconsequential numbers that we shouldn’t bother ensuring that they have healthy working environments. The first argument is a pile of generalities which ignores the reality of life for many of our working poor. The second is an argument favoring the rights of some to smoke over the rights of others to not work in an unhealthful environment. That is indeed callous. Do you really think the right to smoke is more important than the right to not risk your health?

    No valid statistical data on our side? We have data which shows that SHS is harmful and we have data which supports the contention that not only do smoking bans not hinder businesses, they seem to help many by improving revenues. No woo anywhere to be seen. Conclusion: No one, no matter how “negligible”, should have to work in a job which has SHS because it is harmful to workers’ health and appears to be unnecessary for businesses to be successful.

  33. #33 Icepick
    August 10, 2007

    If you truly feel that your answer actually reflects reality, then you haven’t the vaguest clue what life is like for the lower socioeconomic classes.

    Nice try, asshole, but I grew up poor, went to shitty schools, and lived in a fairly bad neighborhood. I’ve worked my way up to middle class, in large part because I was willing to take on large amounts of debt to fund my education. My wife comes from similar circumstances, BTW. Don’t give me any of your goddamned bullshit about your superior sympathy for the poor.

    (Incidentally, someone who actually grew up in “the lower socioeconomic classes” wouldn’t use a phrase like “lower socioeconomic classes”. Nor would we refer to “our working poor” in such a condescending manner.)

    Furthermore, even if I HAD led a privileged life, would that make a difference to the argument at hand? No, it wouldn’t.

    Do you have anything OTHER than appeals to emotion, and claims that I don’t know what it’s like to be poor or uninsured? (At one point in time I wracked up ~$35K in medical expenses when I did NOT have medical insurance. That was back in the day when $35K was actually a lot of money, too.)

    YOU are the one who wants to pass laws and regulations to change the current work environment. Therefore, YOU are the one that needs to supply actual proof that such a problem exists.

    You just essentially said that a poor mother trying to support her family by taking bar job as a waitress is “negligible”.

    No, I said the number of employees in the US workforce who have no other option than to work in a smoke-filled bar is negligible. That’s a major difference in what I wrote and how you’ve represented it. At this point, you’ve passed beyond being obtuse, and now you’re being dishonest.

  34. #34 Orac
    August 10, 2007

    On an unrelated note, lest anyone, Tim included, wants to try to make hay about the recent report that a revision of temperature data makes 1934 “the warmest year on record,” I’m going to nip it in the bud right here with:

    Because, you know it’s coming…

  35. #35 LCR
    August 10, 2007

    Icepick,

    My, you are angry. We are having a discussion here, not a fistfight. Lighten up on the verbal attack and the name-calling. It does your side of this debate no good and it makes you come across as defensive, usually an indicator of a position of weakness.

    You may have grown up in a poorer neighborhood (and good for you for getting yourself out of that situation), but you do not argue as if you feel any empathy with the plight of the poor and those struggling with employment issues. You speak as someone who has worked hard to get where he is in life and is afraid of the government having too much control over how you choose to live. You act and argue in a way to protect your choices and the hell with everyone else. Your question of a couple of posts ago regarding “How far will we take it… arresting parents for smoking around their children?” is telling. The slippery slope argument is not one of logic but one of fear. It does not logically follow that we shouldn’t take action on the current issue of SHS in the workplace just because further regulations MIGHT follow in the unknown future.

    Regarding “negligible”: You again said in your last post…

    “No, I said the number of employees in the US workforce who have no other option than to work in a smoke-filled bar is negligible.”

    The word “number” doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Do you see the word “employees” after that? When you say that “number” is negligible, you are not referring to bicycles or puppies or jars of tomato sauce, you are referring to those employees. To suggest it means otherwise is to be disingenuous.

    I asked you once before to define “negligible”? Where is the line between “negligible” and “non-negligible”? What number of people must this affect before they become important enough to call for protections in the work place from SHS? And who precisely gets to decide this number? You? The government? The bars and restaurants? I certainly don’t want that decision with its tragic consequences on my head. Who gets to choose how many people are NOT important enough to protect from the health risks of SHS for the sole benefit of smokers having their cigarettes?

  36. #36 Icepick
    August 10, 2007

    My, you are angry.

    Damned right I’m angry. You are intentionally mis-represneting my positions, and attempting to paint me as some sort of uncaring lout while painting yourself as some sort of saint. What especially pisses me off about that is it wouldn’t matter if I were an uncaring lout.

    You may have grown up in a poorer neighborhood (and good for you for getting yourself out of that situation), but you do not argue as if you feel any empathy with the plight of the poor and those struggling with employment issues.

    Two points: first having empathy does no good by itself. Try using your goddamned brain instead of your heart. The worst problem the poor in this nation have is to dumb-assed do-gooders telling them that the government will take care of them. Teaching people to be responsible for their own actions would do a lot more good. But then people don’t get to feel all warm and fuzzy, and don’t get to congratualte themselves at cocktail parties about all they’ve done for their socioeconomic lessers.

    Second, take that condescension of congratulating me for getting out of a bad situation and shove it right up your ass. This is a typical attitude of someone who uses the phrase “lower socioeconomic class”. The sheer snotty arrogance of calling someone “lower class” says it all. (Dropping the word socioeconomic in the middle of it doesn’t fool anyone.) You don’t give a damn about those who are poor, you merely care about being able to present yourself as a “good [Shatner pause] caring person”. The poor are merely a prop for your ego. Fuck you and every one who “feels” that way. Your ilk have done more to perpetuate poverty in this country than all the unfeeling louts like me could ever hope to do.

    You speak as someone who has worked hard to get where he is in life….

    Only as hard as I needed to achieve what I wanted. The more I’ve made the easier the jobs have been.

    … and is afraid of the government having too much control over how you choose to live.

    Yeah, I’m really sweating the government taking away my right to smoke in a bar. Except that I don’t smoke, and I don’t go to bars.

    How about this – rather than just add one more useless government regulation to the books, why don’t we try to get the government to perform it’s current functions in something of a reasonable manner. Do you really think ending smoking in the few remaining public places where it’s allowed is the most important thing for the government to do? Personally I’d be happier if they were doing more to improve the schools and perhaps break up the drug gangs that have taken over the neighborhood I grew up in. (Maybe doing something to help fix the nations decrepit infrastructure would be nice too.) But instead, you want to hire another goddamned set of bureaucrats to make sure noone smokes in a pool hall. Good set of priorities you have there, although entirely expected.

    You act and argue in a way to protect your choices and the hell with everyone else.

    No, I’m arguing for focusing on things that matter. Or is prioritizing a new concept for you?

    Your question of a couple of posts ago regarding “How far will we take it… arresting parents for smoking around their children?” is telling. The slippery slope argument is not one of logic but one of fear.

    If SHS is such a greivous danger that we need to outlaw it in public places so that a few people won’t be subjected to it in bars, why AREN’T you arguing to save children from the dangers of SHS given that children of smokers will get a lot more of it, and can’t escape it? Isn’t it tantamount to child abuse by your criteria?

    And calling slippery slope arguments arguments of fear instead of logic is ridiculous. Some slopes are slippery. Don’t believe it? Then do some research on the history of income taxes in the US, especially on the provisions that were cut from the amendment that made it legal. (I wonder if you find them so illogical when they touch on one of your personal pet issues.)

    It does not logically follow that we shouldn’t take action on the current issue of SHS in the workplace just because further regulations MIGHT follow in the unknown future.

    But it does logically follow that perhaps we shouldn’t be giving the government one more thing to do when it can’t handle it’s current responsibilities. It’s about the priorities, dummy.

  37. #37 DuWayne
    August 10, 2007

    Icepick -

    Could you do me a favor and email me? My address is on the upper right corner of the page. Thanks. . .

  38. #38 LCR
    August 10, 2007

    I see. So you are indeed unable to continue this discussion without resorting to verbal abuse. You may attack my choice of vocabulary, but I have done my best to maintain civility.

    And all of your foul language and personal attacks do not hide the fact that, while you attempted to address all other points in my comment, you did not answer any of the questions in my final paragraph.

    How many people must this affect before they become important enough to call for protections in the work place from SHS, i.e., how many people are not “negligible”? Who gets to make this decision? And what criteria do they use to arrive at this number?

  39. #39 DuWayne
    August 10, 2007

    LCR -

    A very similar question could be asked of you. How many businesses have to close because of your absolute unwillingness to compromise, before it’s a legitimate problem? Going back to the notion of allowing a small percentage of liquor licenses to allow smoking, if they install adequate air purifiers and provide decent health insurance to their workers (i.e. air purification that would meet OSHA standards for workplaces that deal with gaseous byproducts). So how many bar owners have to lose their livelihood and lay off all of their employees, before this is a problem? How many people does this have to affect?

    See how easy it is to play this game.

    More and more there are more alternatives open to those who want to work in smoke free environments anyways. I know and understand that Portland is more extreme than most places, but there are few places that aren’t becoming increasingly smoke free, regardless of the law. At fear of being labeled a libertarian (we agree on a lot of things but I am way to much of a socialist on too many issues), the market is taking care of the problem. I have no real problem with laws helping it along here and there, but not without compromise. Increasingly, this conversation screams revenge against those nasty smokers, rather than lets take care of the workers.

    And being a current member of the “lower socioeconomic class,” I agree that you’re being a sanctimonious prig and really haven’t the slightest clue what you’re talking about. Quote stats, use big words, please, but shut the hell up about “protecting” the poor. I don’t entirely agree with icepick’s assessment, but you do sound a lot like a cocktail liberal who could actually give a damn about really doing something about poverty. But boy, you really sound like you care. Heres a tip, if you do care, do something. I don’t mean volunteer at the mission, give fifty dollars a month to charity – I mean do something to affect change.

    Learn about education and change it. Learn about the real problems that perpetuate poverty and be loud about it in your community – get involved with local politics. You want to affect positive change, fight splitting up urban school systems to keep the poverty ridden districts operating at 60%-70% of the budget of the “good” schools in the same municipality. Fight to keep the crappy, poverty ridden schools safe. Don’t talk about us in patronizing terms like, “lower socioeconomic class.” We are poor folks, living in poverty. It isn’t pretty and doesn’t warrant pretty, insulting terms. While I am blessed to be moving out of poverty, it’s slow going. I just this morning managed to get enough money together, to avoid having my family booted out on the street tomorrow. It is the ugliest feeling in the world, the feeling that you are failing to provide your child with the essentials. Patronizing statements like the ones you are making really stick in the craw, in the face of that.

  40. #40 Orac
    August 10, 2007

    Heres a tip, if you do care, do something. I don’t mean volunteer at the mission, give fifty dollars a month to charity – I mean do something to affect change.

    Careful. You’re drifting annoyingly close to concern troll territory here.

  41. #41 DuWayne
    August 10, 2007

    Orac -

    My apologies, that was not my intent to say the least. I firmly believe that it’s possible to actually defeat poverty. My unfortunate experience (especially since moving to Portland, which is chock full of them) with people who use language like this to discuss poverty, is that they haven’t the slightest clue what causes perpetual, generational poverty – or how to fight it. All it tends to be, is very patronizing. End Rant, sorry.

    Is it a good or bad thing that I had to google concern troll?

  42. #42 LCR
    August 10, 2007

    Funny, I actually agree (and have said so on other threads) that bars should be able to apply for a smoking license just as they apply for a liquor license. Bars could officially advertise as a smoking establishment, employees would know what they are getting into when they apply for a job, and the local government could establish regulations for air quality control and health insurance requirements for employees to help offset the cost of paying for smoking-related illnesses. This is not ideal, but it would be a reasonable compromise for now.

    However, no one has been able to demonstrate empirically that bar owners are actually closing as a direct result of the bans. Tim tried, but failed to do so.

    Here is where this argument originated. Prior threads have discussed the fact that SHS is a health hazard. Another discussed the affect of bans on smoking to restaurants and bars. The evidence from that strongly supports that bans not only do not hurt business, in general, but actually result in increases in revenue. But still people like Tim Slagle argued against the bans. From that came this thread on how arguments such as Tim’s seem to share the same anti-science bias found in such debates as in intelligent design, immunizations, and HIV. Then Icepick raised this point, one that has already been raised in prior discussions:

    “And Orac, I’m not convinced by your argument. Jobs aren’t that scarce that someone can’t quite and move to a safer environment, especially if they’re working in a service industry job.”

    Icepick made assumptions on the ability for some to find alternative jobs, and his supporting arguments have been limited to saying that unemployment numbers are good, its easy for people to find jobs, and even if they can’t find them, the number of these people are negligible.

    Aside from his arguments from numbers being unconvincing, I think it is a fair question to him to find out what he means by the word “negligible” and how that term would be used to decide social policy. He was the one to use that term and I am justified in asking him for clarification. I’m just trying to understand how, in his mind, the rights of a non-smoking employee stack up to the rights of a smoking customer or a bar owner.

    And I am amazed that I am getting chewed out for my vocabulary when Icepick has nearly broken the record for high-speed cussing.

    Finally… wow, you and Icepick are great at making assumptions. Your arguments are full of them and so are your attacks on me. You have no idea what my background is, how I started in life, the choices I have made, and what contributions I have made to my community. And lets forget the fact that attacking my character and my choice of language says absolutely nothing against the soundness of my argument, nor does it contribute anything at all in support of yours. No, it is much easier to assume I am a big-talking, do-nothing liberal “prig”, sipping my organically brewed beer, wearing my comfortable Birkinstocks, and looking down my nose at the rest of the world below me.

    In science, assumptions have to eventually be substantiated, or they will make a fool of you every time. That applies to life outside of science as well.

  43. #43 DuWayne
    August 11, 2007

    However, no one has been able to demonstrate empirically that bar owners are actually closing as a direct result of the bans.

    I am certainly not claiming that a large number of bars close, due to the bans. Just that some in fact do. I lived in Vancouver, WA, when WA adopted the state wide ban. Did a lot of bars close as a result? No, but some did. I am glad that you agree with the notion of some licenses for smoking bars, sorry, I was mixing you up with someone else.

    Finally… wow, you and Icepick are great at making assumptions. Your arguments are full of them and so are your attacks on me. You have no idea what my background is, how I started in life, the choices I have made, and what contributions I have made to my community. And lets forget the fact that attacking my character and my choice of language says absolutely nothing against the soundness of my argument, nor does it contribute anything at all in support of yours. No, it is much easier to assume I am a big-talking, do-nothing liberal “prig”, sipping my organically brewed beer, wearing my comfortable Birkinstocks, and looking down my nose at the rest of the world below me.

    You’re right, it doesn’t affect the soundness of your argument. But your choice of language does make you sound very much like a big-talking, do nothing liberal prig (I have nothing against sipping organically brewed beer – I have friends who brew and it’s pretty much the only beer I drink, on the very rare occasions I drink). Honestly, it makes little difference to me, what you do. The language itself is patronizing and insulting. While I wouldn’t begin to claim that everyone who uses that sort of language intends it to be or acts like the people I was describing, it comes out as insulting regardless of the intent.

    My apologies for assuming that’s the type of person you are, but you should be aware that your wording comes off as rather insulting. It also makes the person using it sound like someone who really hasn’t a clue.

  44. #44 LCR
    August 11, 2007

    DuWayne,

    I do appreciate the apology.

    I am perplexed about the issue of my language, however. My vocabulary is part of me. I came to it through my education, my experiences, through my discussions with friends and family, through the books I read, and through discussions on science threads like this… if I am ever derogatory, perhaps it comes from reading too many of these discussion threads? I make a concerted (though not always successful) effort in these online debates not to be speak down to anyone and not to attack people personally, but I can’t do anything about my vocabulary, and I’m not sure why I should, or why I should be attacked for it. It should certainly not count against any logical argument I attempt to make.

    In turn, I have learned that a person’s vocabulary can sometimes be misleading about his or her experiences and intelligence or wisdom, so I am careful not to judge a person based upon the words they choose to use to express themselves. I look to the meaning of the larger message behind their words, not the words themselves, and I try very hard not to react personally. These are supposed to be logical discussions, after all. That can be hard when someone is spewing vulgarities at you as was my experience with Icepick, but I find that its worth the effort in the long run.

  45. #45 LCR
    August 11, 2007

    You know what? I’m being WAY too nice about this.

    I made valid challenges to Icepick’s arguments. I never once attacked him personally, only his arguments. He in return chose to take the challenges personally and respond with uncalled-for personal attacks, not on the points in question, but on my character and my language… and the irony is that the language he chose to use was aggressive and hateful and vile.

    And, DuWayne, you are telling ME to watch my language? You are accusing ME of being rude and insulting? And you complete your critique, wrapping it up with a nice bow, by insulting me as well, based upon unwarrented assumptions you made about me because … I use big words?

    You’ve got to be kidding!

    If the best that you two can come up with to address the challenges I have made is an attack on my use of multi-syllabic words (ooo… another big word!), then lets call it a day and go home.

    But just to bring this thread full circle, does anyone else see a possible link between the anti-science trend and some posters’ dislike of big science-y words?

    End of rant.

  46. #46 Tim Slagle
    August 12, 2007

    LCR writes: “So, because my experiences are anecdotal, these people don’t exist? These people are real and have real problems finding jobs.”

    Hmmm. And my friends (who happen to be bar owners) who tell me that the smoking ban is killing them, are not credible for the same reason?

    You also maintain that numbers are irrelevant when you are talking about individuals and their children. However, you were pretty fond of the numbers and statistics when it was the livelihoods and children of bar owners at stake.

    Sounds like you have some real class issues.

    PS: the 0.08% limit on blood alcohol, passed the Minnesota Legislature in April of 2004. I suspect that was the reason for the 2004 Q3 drop in revenue of 2.7%.

  47. #47 DuWayne
    August 12, 2007

    LCR -

    And, DuWayne, you are telling ME to watch my language? You are accusing ME of being rude and insulting? And you complete your critique, wrapping it up with a nice bow, by insulting me as well, based upon unwarrented assumptions you made about me because … I use big words?

    No, I am telling you that the words you are using are condescending and insulting. It’s not because you use “big” words, I do that too. It’s because you use words that imply a serious disconnect between you and the people you claim to be protecting. It’s because the vast majority of people I know that use that kind of language to describe people who live in poverty, are perfectly comfortable with the status quo. At the same time, the same people are absolutely terrified when they come to visit me and see how people at the bottom actually live. Yes, I made assumptions based on your use of language – I apologized for it. But it while I shouldn’t have made the assumption out of hand, it is not entirely unwarranted, based on my experience with people who talk like that.

    If the best that you two can come up with to address the challenges I have made is an attack on my use of multi-syllabic words (ooo… another big word!), then lets call it a day and go home.

    Actually that’s not all I came up with, nor did it have anything to do with the conversation at hand. I am not trying to address any of the challenges you have made, I was expressing my dismay at your use of language and I stand by it. Intentional or not, you’re being patronizing. I probably wouldn’t have said anything about it, I usually ignore it, but I have had a very rough month and it really jumped out at me. Especially because I have had “friends” using the same condescending, patronizing language with me, the last few weeks. Jumping on you for it was uncalled for, what I have been dealing with has nothing to do with you and I’m sorry I jumped on you for it. But this;

    But just to bring this thread full circle, does anyone else see a possible link between the anti-science trend and some posters’ dislike of big science-y words?

    just really pissed me off. I am not, nor have I ever been, anti-science. I spend a fair amount of my time and energy fighting against the anti-science, anti-intellectual, trends. I spend a lot of time educating myself, so that I might better fight ignorance and bigotry. I spend a lot of my time with people of other faiths, atheists and agnostics, trying to develop strategies to fight dominionism and ignorance at their roots.

    I find it highly ironic that after I apologize for making unwarranted assumptions about you, that you do exactly the same thing to me. Especially about this issue, on which we apparently agree.

  48. #48 LCR
    August 12, 2007

    DuWayne,

    “I find it highly ironic that after I apologize for making unwarranted assumptions about you, that you do exactly the same thing to me.”

    Ah, yes, you are hurt and offended. Reread your “apology”. It was one of the more backhanded and insulting apologies that I have ever read. Icepick’s language could make a sailor blush and I am the one being critisized for perhaps allowing a little snark into my wording… Like we never see that from anyone on this blog.

    Meanwhile, no actual responses to my challenges to Icepick, from either of you.

    Tim,

    Nice to see that you are back.

    Are you prepared to argue that SHS is a necessary risk to bars and restaurants as coal dust exposure is to coal mining?

    And what caused that drop in revenue in neighborhood bars between the third quarters between 2003 and 2004?

  49. #49 tim Slagle
    August 12, 2007

    LCR,

    If you re-read my post, you’ll see I’ve answered your second question.

    And I believe that SHS is as necessary a risk for bars frequented by smokers, as black lung is to coal mining. Not of the same order of course since the rr for contracting black lung working in a deep shaft coal mine is around 6000. Risk could be cut in half, if we just banned all shaft mining, and forced every coal mine to practice strip mining (rr around 3000).

    Since the net benefit in risk would be on the order of 3000, vs. a net benefit in lung disease risk from banning all smoking in bars of only 0.2, the fight against Deep Shaft Mining is far nobler.

    Why do we still allow deep shaft mining? If it were banned tomorrow, there would still be coal mined. Deep Shaft Mining is a dangerous practice, perpetuated only by tradition.

    Or perhaps you believe that different coal mines should be allowed different extraction techniques, that are bound to produce different relative risks?

  50. #50 DuWayne
    August 12, 2007

    LCR -

    Ah, yes, you are hurt and offended. Reread your “apology”. It was one of the more backhanded and insulting apologies that I have ever read.

    Not hurt or offended, just annoyed. Rereading my apology, I really don’t see the insult. It was not my intention to apologize for criticizing your mode of expression, I stand by my assessment. I was apologizing for making assumptions based on your mode of expression. While it’s impossible to tell from words on a screen, my apology was sincere. Then you turn around and make the same sort of baseless assumptions about me, did you expect a different reaction than your own?

    Meanwhile, no actual responses to my challenges to Icepick, from either of you.

    I already made my response, which you agreed with. So if we agree on a decent compromise about SHS, what pray tell should I be responding to? This is what makes the anti-science snark, especially stick in the craw. Especially, since I haven’t made a single anti-science comment on any of the threads about SHS. I haven’t challenged the validity of any of the studies or any of the research. My only challenge to any of it has been it’s effect on public policy. Turns out we found a very reasonable compromise on that.

    As far as my attitude about your use of language, there are very few poor people who would appreciate being described in patronizing terms. Whether the intent is to be patronizing or not, that is how it sounds. I am happy to accept that you do not intend to be patronizing, I really prefer to think the best of people. But you should be aware that when you use terms like lower-socioeconomic-class, it’s going to piss off most of the people who fall into that category. I am absolutely and sincerely sorry that I made assumptions about you, based only on your use of that terminology. I generally don’t do that and regardless of why it came out here, I was dead wrong for doing it. The fact that I was wrong for making that assumption, does not change how it sounds when people use that kind of language.

    It is very much like calling a garbageman, a waste removal technician. Or calling the person who cleans up sewage backflows, a sanitation technician. It is nothing less than an attempt to couch very ugly, unpleasant realities, in pretty, palatable terms. While it makes the people outside those realities feel more comfortable, it marginalizes the reality that those who live it, are experiencing. It also makes it easier for those who don’t live it, to live with it. Poverty is not pretty, it’s not comfortable, it’s not palatable, it’s also not necessary, unlike our sewage cleanup crews and our garbagemen. It should not be described in terms that make it seem like it is, or that patronize those who live it.

  51. #51 LCR
    August 13, 2007

    Tim,

    Thanks for your response. I apologize for not seeing your address to my first question… I was a bit distracted by DuWayne.

    “And my friends (who happen to be bar owners) who tell me that the smoking ban is killing them, are not credible for the same reason?”

    We are comparing a health risk to employees in smoking bars compared to a financial risk to those bar owners, correct?

    When a threat is felt by all, then statitics are needed to demonstrate whether the threat is significant (using the scientific, p-value meaning), or whether those affected are due to chance occurances alone. Numbers are not irrelevant but less crucial when a threat is 100%.

    SHS is an equal opportunity threat. Everyone exposed to SHS can be affected negatively. Smoking bans do not affect all service establishments equally, in fact, most are not affected or show an increase in revenue. Additionally, you have not demonstrated that bars whose revenue declined during that crucial time period did so as a direct result of the bans, which means you have not justified the exposure of employees to SHS because you have not supported your contention that the bans hurt the neighborhood bars.

    “PS: the 0.08% limit on blood alcohol, passed the Minnesota Legislature in April of 2004. I suspect that was the reason for the 2004 Q3 drop in revenue of 2.7%.”

    Interesting. In an earlier post in a different thread, you said that this would not affect neighborhood bars since many walk instead of drive. But I am not asking for your suspicions. I am asking for an actual, empirically demonstrated cause of that drop.

    Regarding your answer to my question of necessary risk, I don’t think you understand what I mean by that term.

    As you say, lung disease is indeed a necessary risk of coal mining as the only way to eliminate that risk is to eliminate coal mining. Coal mining can not be profitable without that risk.

    Now apply that to SHS. Are you prepared to argue that bars and restaurants can not be profitable without SHS?

  52. #52 LCR
    August 13, 2007

    Tim,

    Thanks for your response. I apologize for not seeing your address to my first question… I was a bit distracted by DuWayne.

    “And my friends (who happen to be bar owners) who tell me that the smoking ban is killing them, are not credible for the same reason?”

    We are comparing a health risk to employees in smoking bars compared to a financial risk to those bar owners, correct?

    When a threat is not felt by all, then statitics are needed to demonstrate whether the threat is significant (using the scientific, p-value meaning), or whether those affects are due to chance occurances alone or to other unrelated factors. Numbers are not irrelevant but less crucial when a threat is 100%.

    SHS is an equal opportunity threat. Everyone exposed to SHS can potentially be affected negatively. The potential affect is 100% of exposed employees. Smoking bans, on the other hand, do not affect all service establishments equally, in fact, most are not affected or show an increase in revenue (as per the study we discussed earlier). Additionally, you have not demonstrated that bars whose revenue declined during that crucial time period did so as a direct result of the bans. This means you have not justified the exposure of employees to SHS, a threat to all exposed, because you have not supported your contention that the bans hurt the neighborhood bars.

    “PS: the 0.08% limit on blood alcohol, passed the Minnesota Legislature in April of 2004. I suspect that was the reason for the 2004 Q3 drop in revenue of 2.7%.”

    Interesting. In an earlier post in a different thread, you said that this would not affect neighborhood bars since many walk instead of drive. In fact, you strongly argued against this, using that logic, as being the cause of the drop between 3Q of 2004 and 2005. But I am not asking for your suspicions. I am asking for an actual, empirically demonstrated cause of that drop identified by that study.

    Regarding your answer to my question of necessary risk, I don’t think you understand what I mean by that term.

    As you say, lung disease is indeed a necessary, unavoidable risk of coal mining as the only way to eliminate that risk is to eliminate coal mining. Coal mining can not be profitable without that risk.

    Now apply that to SHS. Are you prepared to argue that bars and restaurants can not be profitable without SHS? Is there no way for a bar to make a profit and survive without exposing their employees to SHS?

  53. #53 LCR
    August 13, 2007

    Sorry about the double response. I was told my first didn’t go through.

  54. #54 Tim Slagle
    August 13, 2007

    LCR writes: “the only way to eliminate that risk is to eliminate coal mining”

    No. As I pointed out in an earlier post, the risk of lung disease could be cut in HALF, if we require that only strip mines would be allowed to operate (Not to mention the risk of cave ins).

    Do you even read my posts before you respond?

  55. #55 Tim Slagle
    August 13, 2007

    Orac writes: “lest anyone, Tim included, wants to try to make hay about the recent report that a revision of temperature data makes 1934 “the warmest year on record,” I’m going to nip it in the bud right here”

    Thank you for pointing this out to me. I was on vacation, and missed it entirely; very interesting. Score two for Steve McIntyre.

    But I’m curious why you only posted a couple of pro-AGW blog responses from some of your Science Blog cohorts. It seems to me, that in the spirit of real intellectual curiosity, an unbiased Scientist such as yourself, would want your readers to also see the opinion of the man who discovered the error. (None of you Blog Buddies seem very interested in it either.)

    I mean really. You’re putting the peer review in front of the article here. It’s almost if I had announced a finding of an ACS study, by linking to the tobacco industry’s opinion of it.

    For those who are interested, you can see Steve McIntyre’s take on the subject here:

    http://www.norcalblogs.com/watts/

  56. #56 Orac
    August 13, 2007

    But I’m curious why you only posted a couple of pro-AGW blog responses from some of your Science Blog cohorts.

    Easy. They know what they’re talking about and explain it well.

  57. #57 Tim Slagle
    August 13, 2007

    Orac writes: “Easy. They know what they’re talking about and explain it well.”

    I’m not so sure. Seems to me that one of them could have done the simple web work I did, and found McIntyre’s opinion. Maybe even read it, before they published their blogs. Since McIntyre was the one who discovered the error, it might be somewhat relevant to the discussion, don’t you think?

    They’re not doing a really good job of convincing me that they’ve entered the discussion without bias.

  58. #58 Tim Lambert
    August 13, 2007

    Tim Slagle, are familiar with the concept of dates? Orac’s comment with links to those posts was written on August 10. McIntyre’s post that you linked was written on August 11. You might think that they reference McIntyre’s post because of bias, but I think there is a slightly more likely explanation.

    And if you had done simple web work you might have noticed that I’ve since written another post that comments on McIntyre’s post.

  59. #59 tim Slagle
    August 13, 2007

    Tim Lambert writes: “Tim Slagle, are familiar with the concept of dates?”

    Sorry. I just got back online, so this debate is brand new to me. You’re right, I didn’t look at the post dates.

    Apologies

  60. #60 LCR
    August 14, 2007

    Tim,

    “Do you even read my posts before you respond?”

    Um, and do you even read mine? But be careful… if you get too mean and snarky, DuWayne will yell at you.

    Yes, we can reduce the risk in mining, but I am asking you if we could ELIMINATE the risk and still have coal mining. No, of course we can’t eliminate the risk without eliiminating coal mining itself. Therefore the risk associated with coal mining is a “necessary and unavoidable” risk.

    And I am asking you, not if SHS is a minimal risk, or a managable risk, or a reducible risk, but whether or not it is a necessary and unavoidable risk in bars and restaurants, as is the risk in coal mining? Is it or is it NOT possible for a bar or restaurant to function without cigarettes and the SHS it produces?

    Let’s think of it another way: If cigarettes and other smoking paraphenalia had never been invented, does that mean we couldn’t have bars and restaurants because cigarettes and SHS are such an integral part of those types of service establishments?

  61. #61 Tim Slagle
    August 14, 2007

    LCR,

    You’re asking me a “when did you stop beating your wife” question.

    Yes, it is possible that some bars and restaurants can operate without exposing employees to cigarette smoke.

    But it is fallacious to assume that because some bars can operate without smoking, that all bars are just as capable. You’re letting your ignorance of the industry weight your opinion here. As I’ve said more than once, not all bars provide a similar function. And in bars that cater to those who like to smoke while they drink, SHS is a necessary and unavoidable risk. I provided a list of over a hundred such bars in Minnesota that are no longer operating.

    That bars still exist are no comfort to those who lost their businesses. There was no contentment in the hearts of the Joad family to know that Oklahoma would still be farmed, after they left for California. And the existence of farms there now, does not prove that corporatization did not hurt the family farmer.

    You are also ridiculously ignoring the scale of the difference between relative risks in coal mines and bars. We can cut the risk of coal mines in half, or SHS entirely, in your opinion it is better to go after the SHS, because we can “ELIMINATE” it.

    It’s almost as if you are saying, if we can either get rid of this entire thimbleful of sewage, or half of this mountain of garbage, it is better to get rid of the sewage, because we can ELIMINATE it.

    And it is a straw man argument to speculate on what would have happened in a world without tobacco. Would restaurants still exist if wine were never invented? Of course. Does that prove that restaurants don’t need liquor licenses to stay open?

  62. #62 LCR
    August 14, 2007

    Tim says:

    “You’re asking me a “when did you stop beating your wife” question.”

    Yes, it is an absurd question, and yet, frankly, your answer was equally absurd.

    So, you ARE prepared to argue that SHS is necessary for some bars and restaurants? They can not function and profit without cigarettes? That’s fine, but now you need to back it up with something other than your wish that it be true. If it is true, then perhaps there is justification for some bars to subject their employees to SHS. If it is not true, then there is no reason why employees should be asked to endure such conditions.

    “But it is fallacious to assume that because some bars can operate without smoking, that all bars are just as capable.”

    I agree some MAY have feel more of an affect from the ban, but the only fallacious assumption here is yours, that some bars can indeed not function profitably without SHS, that a ban will be enough, in and of itself, to cause closures. There is no supporting evidence for this assumption. We see that many bars and restaurants do quite well after a smoking ban is put into place. Only a narrow few did not do well. The question is WHY they did not do well. I’m not arguing against the possibility that they were not affected by the smoking ban. I am arguing against you making the unsupported assumption that this was the case. Of the hundred such bar closures you included on the list, how many have been empirically demonstrated to have had a causative relationship between the bans and the closures? Or are they all of a correlative nature? (My former question regarding a known, empirically supported cause for the drop in revenue between the Q3 of 2003 and 2004 is pertinent here… Is there a known, and not just suspected, cause?)

    “We can cut the risk of coal mines in half, or SHS entirely, in your opinion it is better to go after the SHS, because we can “ELIMINATE” it.”

    Huh? No, by all means get rid of both. No where did I say do one or the other. The focus of the prior discussion was SHS. YOU are the one comparing the risk to employees of SHS to the risks of coal mining, saying it was an equivalent comparison. Its not, because we are indeed able to eliminate the risk of SHS without eliminating bars … we can’t eliminate all of the risk of coal mining without eliminating coal mining. That was the point of this whole extended discussion: to show you that the comparison was not valid.

    “And it is a straw man argument to speculate on what would have happened in a world without tobacco.”

    No, that wasn’t a straw man. It was a tool to help you understand my question regarding necessary risk. Not a very good tool because you still seem to miss the point.

    “Would restaurants still exist if wine were never invented? Of course. Does that prove that restaurants don’t need liquor licenses to stay open?”

    Wow, that argument just meandered all over the place. Lets see if I can make some sense of that:

    Yes, restaurants could exist without wine because the primary function of restaurants includes other things besides selling wine. The selling of cigarettes is not one of those functions.

    I doubt bars would exist if we did not have alcohol. We might, but the purpose of a bar is to sell alcoholic beverages and maybe food. The primary function of a bar is not to sell cigarettes. People happen to smoke them there, but that is not the profit base of the bar.

    And I’m sorry, but I have no clue what liquor licenses have to do with anything regarding the question of necessary risk.

  63. #63 Tim Slagle
    August 14, 2007

    LCR,

    “You still speak from the point of view of the numbers (“empirically demonstrated” “correlative nature”) for the numbers sake, and not what the numbers mean and who they represent, and how many kids those numbers have and how far in debt those numbers are and whether those numbers can afford health insurance.

  64. #64 LCR
    August 15, 2007

    I realize that it may appear that I am using two different standards in this discussion, but they are actually just two parts of the process of science, Tim, both the numbers and the meaning behind them… the problem is, you need to use them in the proper order. At the moment, you are trying to put the cart before the horse, so to speak.

    When you have the empirical evidence (the “numbers”) supporting your argument, you can afford the luxury of seeing what those numbers actually mean and what they represent. The “numbers” in this case tell us that SHS is hurting people and that bars and restaurants don’t appear to be negatively affected to a significant degree. And, yes, those numbers represent real people, but they also support my argument, not yours.

    Neighborhood bars, as a sub-group who didn’t follow the pattern in the rest of the study, may well be experiencing a revenue downturn due to the bans, but you don’t as yet have the empirical numbers to support that argument, so you have nothing to analyze and understand. You are limited to “suspicions”. When you do get the numbers, then you can explore what they mean and represent and how they could influence public policy.

    Numbers first, meaning second.

    So, I repeat: Do you have any empirical evidence which shows a causal relationship between the smoking bans and bar closings?

  65. #65 Peter Darley
    August 17, 2007

    LCR,

    Do you honestly maintain that the economic health of, say, a hookah bar, is in no way affected by the ability of the patrons to smoke in said bar?

    You’re not demanding numbers about the effect of the use of florescent lights versus incandescent lights in an office environment (where there is no obvous link), you’re talking about smoking at a bar! Do you really think that banning smoking at bars doesn’t have an impact on their ecconomic health?

    I suspect that you understand that telling patrons of a business that they can no longer do what they used to do there will have an obvous impact. I belive that you are engaed in a cretinous and dishonest argument that you don’t belive in because you feel that you know what is best for the world and it doesn’t matter if you engage in a bit of dishonesty if you can convince someone of your opinion.

    The weighing of the cost to public health of second hand smoking against a business’ ability to make money and the inherant right of a property owner to dictate what goes on on their property is totally legitimate. Don’t support your position with arguments you don’t belive in tho.

    Also, you have to admit, you’re a bit of a retard.

    Thanks,
    Peter