At the heart of the murderous events in Paris lies the concept of ‘ridicule’. Thus, for example, a cartoon of Mohammed with a cigar in one hand and a glass of plonk in the other and a maiden on his lap, declaring a fatwah against such pleasures would be amusing from out point of view, but would be a terrible, unforgivable insult from an Imam’s point of view.

But let us think about such a cartoon which depicted Jesus Christ at the last supper in much the same way with, say, Mary Magdalene on his lap, a glass of wine in his hand, and a quip saying, “This might be my last chance to get laid, guys”. Would not Christians be (rightly) offended by such a sketch? But, you might say, why were Christians not seriously offended by “The Life of Brian”? Personally, I found it jolly amusing. It was a comical sketch which purported to be something like the life of Jesus Christ, but was clearly nothing more than ‘a bit of fun’. Not for a minute did I think that it was ‘sacrilegious’.

What I am talking about is the lack of ’empathy’ from Muslims. Such an attitude is not to be ridiculed.


But that does not mean that Islam cannot be ridiculed. Ridicule the Pope, but do not ridicule Jesus Christ. Ridicule Imams, but not Mohammed.

Having said that, there is no excuse for the violence and murder. None whatsoever. And it is not unlikely that this attack had nothing much to do with religion, and everything to do with ISIS. That is, it was not religious but political and an extension of a war.


The events in Paris are a very extreme example of the effectiveness of ‘Ridicule’, although in a negative sense. Ridicule of Mohammed produced violence and complicity from the Muslim community, even if that complicity was merely not condemning the violence (other than, perhaps, sympathetic noises). Real condemnation would require Muslim cooperation with the police to uncover the renegades.

The positive effects of ‘ridicule’ can best be gained closer to home. The Tobacco Control Industry cannot stand ‘ridicule’. It does everything that it can do to eliminate ridicule, being mostly the deletion of posts on some newspaper sites and such which ridicule the Tobacco Control Industry.


I was reading ‘the opinion’ of a well-known economist about ‘rogue’ economical projections. He said that the correct weapon was ‘ridicule’.

Can we see that?

It is not the academic-style mathematical, scientific repudiation which is important, but it is the ridicule. Thus, for example, it would be better if Forest ridiculed the purveyors of doom. That is, ridicule the PURVEYORS. Don’t argue about the THING – argue about the PEOPLE. It is similar to the response of Mandy Rice Davis, when asked about the denials of Porfumo about sex (can’t remember how to spell his name), when she said, “Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?”

But the ‘ridicule’ has to take the form of ‘this person said this stupid thing, and is thus shown to be stupid’. Or, it could be, ‘this person has shown his stupidity by showing his ignorance of the ‘science’.


It is taking us a long time and is contrary to our normal tendency to be courteous. We have come to a point where courteousness is similar to appeasement.

Perhaps it is too late now, but the correct response to the idea of banning smoking in cars with babies present ought always to have been ridicule of the ‘professors’ who  demanded to car smoking ban. How has Nathanson got away with her ridiculous claim that SHS is 23 times worse that ‘a smoky bar’? How smoky is a smoky bar?

We all know about the tricks. But is clear that only a massive change in our political system can correct the stupidity. The UK can DEMAND. It can DEMAND a massive diminution of EU powers and costs. It is very, very easy. Stop paying. If you were paying a golf club membership fee, and the club determined that you could not play on the course at certain times because of competitions or ladies day, you would simply stop paying the fee.


I want the EU to be corrected. I do not understand how it became fascist and totalitarian. Most of all, I do not understand how our elected representatives became zombies.



6 Responses to “Ridicule”

  1. The Blocked Dwarf Says:

    “Jesus Christ at the last supper in much the same way with, say, Mary Magdalene on his lap, a glass of wine in his hand, and a quip saying, “This might be my last chance to get laid, guys”. Would not Christians be (rightly) offended by such a sketch?”

    The same Jesus who a few minutes later commanded his disciples to ‘tool up’ (ie carry swords) and declared that being armed was more important than their daily bread?

    My point is that Xians who have actually studied the bible would freely admit that the scenario you describe was a distinct possibility.
    Maybe not likely but possible.

    • junican Says:

      BD, my point is this:
      If atheists were to ridicule God, you can hardly expect theists to come to the rescue of atheists when they get in trouble. If my enemy is drowning, why should I rescue him? Thus, it is hard to expect Muslims to ‘rescue’ people who ridicule their prophet.

  2. michaeljmcfadden Says:

    They’re not still trotting out the 23x claim are they? There’s well-documented debunking of that around for years. If I’m remembering rightly it came from some radio commentator who pulled it out of his arse when they tracked it back.

    I don’t want to overwhelm your blog here Junican, but I devoted a dozen pages to “Karz With Kidz” in my TobakkoNacht, so let me see if I can paste some selections from it here. Hmm… for some reason the endnote citations aren’t copying. Maybe I can paste ’em at the end. There’ll also be some extra hypens carried over from line-breaks in the book. Let’s see what I can fit:


    A possible explanation for the low ranking of smoking is simply smokers’ awareness of the potential for accidents while fiddling with their smokes, thus encouraging extra caution during such times.
    It looked like this was one holy sanctum where smokers were safe. But no, “Never Say Die!” shouted those seeking to extinguish the burning butts. “What about the CHILLLLDRENNNN?” Sound bites and heart-wrenching Photo-Shopped pictures were created around the concept of helpless, gasping, choking tykes trapped in rolling gas chambers. Babies were presented as being smothered in clouds of smoke not just twice as dense as at home, but in clouds that were 10, 23, or even 72 times as dense and deadly! Studies competed with each other in producing ever more sensationalist statements about little Morky or Mindy being forced to breathe in atmospheres deadlier than the EPA’s “Dangerous Level,” as murderous parents toked on their death sticks.

    Just as with all the other studies we’ve dissected so far, these claims weren’t worth the paper they were printed on. To see why, let’s look at a few general statements first and then return to examine two of the major and most often-referenced efforts in this area: Offermann 2002 and Klepeis 2008.

    Most reasonable people hearing the phrase “a parent smoking in a car with a child” would picture someone driving along a street or highway with the windows at least moderately opened to allow the smoke to blow out of the car. Smokers tend to open their windows while smoking, even when driving alone. The number of parents who would sit in a parked car with the windows rolled up tight and the air vents sealed while continuously smoking up a fog next to their baby blue eyes is probably smaller than the number of card-carrying Ku Klux Klan members who voted for President Obama.

    And yet, imaginary parents puffing away in such sealed-up gas chambers provide precisely the kind of scenarios for some of the scary figures quoted in news stories about smoking in cars. Figures such as the 23x one noted a few paragraphs ago have been presented by government bodies and used in official testimonies, only to later be tracked down and found to be simply misapplied numbers plucked out of the air by advocacy groups.

    Another trick favored and featured by antismoking researchers in this area is similar to the one used in the outdoor smoke studies: focusing on the momentary conditions of what they call “peak concentrations” (i.e., the “microplumes” mentioned a little earlier), while deliberately confusing those exposures with ones that last continuously over 24-hour or 365-day EPA guideline periods.

    Think back to the last time you were in a car or a social situation with a smoker sitting right next to you. Occasionally, the air will waft the wrong way and, for a moment, a concentrated plume of smoke will blow right into your face (or into a researcher’s “sniffer monitor”) from the burning tip of the cigarette. It doesn’t happen often in a moving car with the windows cracked even moderately open, but even then, such moments occasionally exist.

    That is what is meant when researchers cite figures for peak concentrations. Such figures are completely meaningless when com-pared with the EPA outdoor air standards for contaminants inhaled and exhaled with every breath, for 24 hours a day / 365 days a year, but that is exactly the comparison Antismokers make when presenting these “smoking in cars pollution studies” to the public. For individual tiny discrete moments, the air quality in a particular few cubic centimeters of space in these cars could indeed be far worse than the EPA’s level for 24-hour constant and inescapable exposure. Actually, if that were all the air one had to breathe, it’s unlikely even the hardiest adult would survive for a single hour. But in terms of a moment of exposure, it’s kind of like having a cup of coffee at 160 degrees and taking a tiny little sip from it – you’ll enjoy it and your health won’t be damaged at all. But if I immersed you in a cannibal’s kettle at 160 degrees for 24 hours, you’d be soup. Heck, you’d be deader than a hard-boiled egg in 24 minutes!! That’s why you should ignore the “peak readings” in stories about studies like these: they’re nothing but a propaganda tool used to frighten innocent people.

    The EPA itself – even though it doesn’t issue press releases warning about it – is actually quite aware of the danger of this sort of misuse of their data and cautions against it in their official documents. In their guidelines for the proper scientific interpretation and public use of their data, they explicitly warn against taking data for any period of less than 24 hours and applying the 24-hour standards to such findings. While Antismokers will speak of those guidelines when referring to findings covering periods of a few hours, minutes, or even seconds, the EPA’s strict rule of application calls for observations shorter than 24 hours to be averaged out over full 24-hour periods with unmeasured periods set to a pollution level of zero for meaningful comparisons to their health standards.

    Such a strict application is clearly not reasonable in extreme situations – e.g., with our cannibal kettle or cup of java, or in a garage with a very high carbon monoxide reading for twenty minutes – but the EPA’s warning is clearly meant to prevent precisely the kind of wanton abuse that is so often employed in antismoking arguments regarding briefer exposures outdoors, in cars, or even during an eight-hour workday. That warning has been consistently, blatantly, and deliberately ignored by antismoking advocates in their quest to terrify the nonsmoking public and increase support for smoking bans.
    Another gambit used to gull the gullible is to compare situations that are so dissimilar that the comparisons are totally pointless, a subset of our Commander Almost Zero Fallacy. On August 25, 2009, a new study was featured in Tobacco Control titled “Secondhand tobacco smoke concentrations in motor vehicles.” The news release about it warned that “After 1 to 3 cigarettes, airborne concentrations of nicotine were 72 times higher in cars with smoking compared to smoke-free cars.” That sounds pretty impressive, even downright scary, until one stops to remember what’s being compared here: cars with no one smoking in them – and therefore with no inherent source of nicotine at all – versus cars where people were actively smoking. It’s similar to the previously analyzed OTS study where students in the middle of smoke pits were found to have 162% more exposure to nicotine than students who weren’t around smokers at all.

    It’s sort of like saying tomatoes have 162,000% more nicotine in them than apples. That could be quite true, since apples have pretty much no inherent nicotine in them at all, but it says nothing at all about the danger or safety of tomatoes – which are quite safe to eat despite having quite measurable quantities of that highly addictive and deadly neurotoxic poison in every luscious bite. And, as we’ll see in more detail later on, some popular brands of baby shampoo have 87,000 times the concentration of formaldehyde as the smoke-filled air of your corner pub – but that doesn’t mean that the mum shampooing little Edgar’s auburn curls should be locked up for child abuse.

    Such figures and comparisons are absolutely meaningless in terms of any real measure of concentration and beyond absolutely meaningless in terms of any effect on someone’s health and well-being. It’s like claiming that suburbs with swimming pools are more dangerous to live in than suburbs without swimming pools because, on average, there would be more deadly chlorine gas in the air of the pool-loving ’burbs.

    One of the researchers in the Tobacco Control study above, Miranda Jones, gave a bit of insight into the motives for presenting smoking-in-cars study findings in this way when she observed in the media release that “Fifty-three percent of the smokers surveyed said that being unable to smoke in the car would help them to quit smoking altogether.” With that statement, Ms. Jones nicely demonstrated the true motivation for these studies: the promotion of the social engineering goal of a reduction in smoking. The health threat to children is just a boogeyman created to support the larger behavior modification program.

    For the glory of pushing a smoking ban in cars, even the specter of thirdhand smoke was brought back into play as the colorful concept was invoked by one of Jones’s co-authors, Patrick Breysse. Repeating the sacred mantra of the Surgeon General, he wisely intoned, “There is no known safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. … exposure to hazardous components of secondhand smoke can occur long after smoking has stopped.” Breysse then went on to note that “air nicotine concentrations in motor vehicles were … even higher than concentrations measured in restaurants and bars that allow smoking.”

    That last observation might seem meaningful until one checks the reference that was used. A little investigation into that reference – a study of smoke in venues in European cities – uncovers the fact that a median level of about 70 micrograms per cubic meter was actually listed. Since the Jones/Breysse Study states “Median (IQR) air nicotine concentrations in smokers’ vehicles were 9.6 micrograms per cubic meter,” the authors seem to be declaring that the observed 9.6 in vehicles is a larger number than the observed 70 in European cafes. Math like that might not be too out of tune for antismoking research nowadays, but it’s nonetheless annoying for any reader who managed to pass third grade arithmetic and who happens to be sharp enough to check the references.

    The fact that the Jones research was funded by the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute (FAMRI) may have had some¬thing to do with the presentation of its findings. FAMRI’s funding comes from a lawsuit against the tobacco industry and its mission statement specifically declares that they are dedicated to sponsoring “research to combat the diseases caused by exposure to tobacco smoke….” Clearly, producing studies that will cause smokers to stop smoking in their cars and thereby encourage them to quit altogether is in tune with “combat(ing) the diseases caused by exposure to tobacco smoke” – even though the diseases in question are those affecting the smokers themselves.

    Given the FAMRI funding source, it would have been far more surprising if their research had concluded, “Oh, it’s fine to smoke in a car with your kids. The smoke all gets blown away out the windows!” than if they simply concluded – as they did – that 9 is a larger number than 70. After all, the first conclusion would cost them their careers while the second would never even be noticed unless some curmudgeonly obsessive Free Choice advocate actually tracked down and read the silly little references in their research.

    (citations in following post if I can grab ’em from the file…)

    – MJM

  3. michaeljmcfadden Says:

    Footnotes to various points:

    >>>It should be noted, however, that cell phones simply weren’t all that common in 2001. The study’s 1.5% figure might well be over 10% in 2013. Meanwhile, the smoking/accident figure would likely have decreased due to passenger sensitivity about smoke and generally lower population smoking rates.

    >>>Yes, as we’ll see in a few pages, one study actually claimed that smokers’ car nicotine levels are literally 72 times as high as in “smoke-free” cars, a classic Commander Almost Zero Fallacy.

    >>> Yes, Klepeis of the elaborate outdoor smoking experiments again; but this time moving his magic into our cars.

    >>> Actually somewhat cooler than the service industry standard of about 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

    >>> Sloppy referencing is all too common in antismoking-oriented studies. At one point when I pointed out such a problem, I received, instead of an honest admission and an apology, simply an excuse that it was probably the fault of a lazy grad student.

    And the endnote citations for various points/articles/studies etc referenced in the excerpt, endnotes 274 to 284:

    Stutts J, Reinfurt D, et al. “The Role Of Driver Distraction In Traffic Crashes,” AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, May 2001, p. 4. http://safedriver.gr/data/84/distraction_aaa.pdf.
    http://www.nsc.org/news_resources/Resources/Documents/The role of driver distraction in traffic crashes.pdf.
    Offermann FJ, Colfer R, et al. “Exposure To Environmental Tobacco Smoke In An Automobile,” Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Indoor Air Quality and Climate, Monterey, CA, June 30 – July 5, 2002, Paper Number 2C3p1, p. 2002, 506. http://tobacco.cleartheair.org.hk/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/ets-exposure-automobile.pdf.
    Ott W, Klepeis NE, Switzer P. “Air change rates of motor vehicles and in-vehicle pollutant concentrations from secondhand smoke,” Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, May 2008, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp. 312-325. dx.doi.org/10.1038/sj.jes.7500601.
    MacKensie R, Freeman B. “Second-hand smoke in cars: How did the ‘23 times more toxic’ myth turn into fact?” Canadian Medical Association Journal, May 18, 2010, Volume 182, Number 8, pp. 796-799. dx.doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.090993.
    http://www.epa.gov/ttn/caaa/t1/memoranda/pmfinal.pdf, p. 42/47.
    Jones MR, Navas-Acien A, et al. “Secondhand tobacco smoke concentrations in motor vehicles: a pilot study,” Tobacco Control, October 2009, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp. 399-404. dx.doi.org/10.1136/tc.2009.029942.
    Johns Hopkins. “Secondhand Smoke Levels Higher in Cars than in Bars or Restaurants,” Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, August 25, 2009. http://www.jhsph.edu/news/
    Jones MR, Navas-Acien A, et al. “Secondhand tobacco smoke concentrations in motor vehicles: a pilot study,” Tobacco Control, October 2009, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp. 399-404. dx.doi.org/10.1136/tc.2009.029942.
    Nebot M, Lopez MJ, Gorini G, et al. “Environmental tobacco smoke exposure in public places of European cities,” Tobacco Control, February 2005, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp. 60-63. dx.doi.org/10.1136/tc.2004.008581.

  4. michaeljmcfadden Says:

    Hmmm… ok… since I’m here and it might help over there, here are the analyses of Offerman and Klepeis:


    You may remember that at the start of this section I promised to look at two major studies, one by Offermann in 2002, and one by Klepeis in 2007. Many of the general limitations in these two studies have already been dealt with here, but there are still a few points to add. Offermann measured particulates in cars under several conditions, but gave, at least in my opinion, enormously undue emphasis to the unlikely “I’m gonna smoke up a storm with all the windows sealed up tight so I can suffocate Little Boozums In Da Bassinet!” scenario. Indeed, with the windows rolled up tight and the ventilation carefully shut off for maximum suffocation jollies, the PM 2.5 level headed up into the 2,000 ppm range for about three minutes.

    Of course Offermann couldn’t totally ignore the fact that some parents might occasionally crack open a window while smoking so he also ran one version with the driver’s window opened three inches. In that scenario the air in the car headed up toward the 100 ppm range for five minutes. If that were done twice a day, every day with your little one by your side, they’d be getting, on average, an extra 1 ppm of particulate matter added on to the 50 ppm or so they’d be likely to be getting if they drove around a city with you all day anyway!

    Offermann’s conclusion however, ends up being: “Indoor concentrations of ETS can be especially significant in automobiles due to the small indoor air volume,” while referring specifically to the windows rolled up scenario and confusing the minutes of exposure to 24 hours a day of exposure. Why would he do that? Impossible to say, although applying the same sort of lens we applied to Jones/Breysse might offer some insight: Offermann’s study was funded by the “Tobacco Free Project, San Francisco Department of Public Health, paid for by Proposition 99, the 1988 Tobacco Tax Initiative.”

    Do you think the funding just might have played a role in how the study was structured and presented?

    As for Klepeis 2008, this time the lead authorship position was traded among the three researchers over to Ott. The measurements were a bit more detailed than Offermann’s research several years previously, but the conclusions weren’t that much different. As in the case of Offermann, this study emphasized the “smoke ‘em up wid all da winders closed” scenario and pointed out that if you took your little one out every day and smoked a couple of cigarettes like that during your drives and made sure that you continued to keep those windows sealed up tight and the fans/ac off for at least an hour or two while doing so, then you might move the general air pollution average up by as much as 42 ppm for the day, actually up into the “moderate” EPA readings!

    Having already been familiar with Klepeis, Ott, and Switzer’s work from the previous year in their outdoor study, I wasn’t surprised at the results. Nor was I too surprised when I saw who paid them for it: FAMRI. Yep, the same folks who paid for the Jones/Breysse study. All three of these “car air pollution” studies were paid for by smokers with money either extorted through the MSA and laundered by the federal and state governments or pulled from Big Tobacco in the settlement with the flight attendants. All three were dependent upon funding sources clearly and openly dedicated to doing anything and everything possible to reduce, and, if possible, eliminate tobacco from the face of the earth.

    With that knowledge as background, perhaps it becomes a little clearer why every news story you see about this topic seems to start from the same conclusion… i.e., that something must be done!

    • junican Says:

      Thanks for the info, MJM.
      I’ve noticed that the MSM is slightly beginning to start to take the piss out to Tobacco Control. It is only a little at the moment, but it is definitely there. I would have thought that they would have been a bit miffed at being excluded from the jamboree in Moscow.

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