Imminence of Risk

Hearing or reading much of the ‘expert’ stuff on the dangers of smoking, you would think that the dangers were always present and immediate. In fact, if my memory serves me right, the US Surgeon General is on record in saying that one puff on a cig in the street might cause you to keel over and drop dead from a heart attack. But let is think.

Every time that you walk along the pavement of a road, there is an imminent, present and immediate risk that a motor vehicle might mount the pavement and kill you. Perhaps the driver of the vehicle took a puff on a cig and died and careered all over the place, eventually hitting you and killing you. So, whenever we walk along a pavement, we know that there is an imminent risk of being mowed down. Why do we disregard that risk?

There isn’t just one factor:

  1. We need to get from A to B. If the distance is short, the best way is to walk.
  2. We know that the incidence of such a happening is extremely rare.
  3. We accept that there is an imminent risk, but we are prepared to take that risk because the benefit of doing so is greater than the the danger.
  4. I am immune.

Do not take the last item lightly. ‘It will never happen to me’ is a common sentiment. It is the argument that Tobacco Control targets when it says ‘it will happen to you, probably’.

But what is the real imminence of risk as regards the enjoyment of tobacco? Studies such as Doll’s Doctors Study show no imminent risk. You can smoke for 30 years without risk. Even after 30 years of smoking, the risk is patchy. There is nothing imminent about it. That is one of the good things about such studies – they ‘prove’ a lack of imminence. If you succumb, it is just bad luck.

I have sometimes wondered what is wrong with Doll’s Doctors Study. Certainly, ‘the father of statistics’, Sir Ronald Fisher, was not impressed. The study employed some 30,000 doctors. It must have been a Herculean task to account for every variation in smoking habits, death certificates, etc. But what struck me is that, although 30,000 is a big number, and accounted for about three quarters of all doctors in the UK, when you break that number into different age groups, different locations, different life experiences, you end up with just small groups. For example, for a start, if you divide the 30,000 into 10 year age groups, from 20 to 70 years of age, you have 5 groups. Each group has 6,000 members. But you then have to divide each group by smoking habits – cigar, cigarette, pipe? Say, 2,000 each (the detail does not matter for our purposes). You need also to track their ‘vulnerability’, ‘location’, ‘exposure to other risks’, and so on. The more factors that are brought into play, the smaller each group becomes. So you finish up with lots of anomalies. You disguise those anomalies by ‘averaging’. It is perfectly possible that, in any given one year age group, eg, at the age of 65, more non-smokers got LC than smokers. ‘Smoothing’ eradicates the anomalies.

And yet, in ‘Global Warming’, it is the anomalies which are promoted as ‘proof’.

But can we say that smoking does not cause LC? Of course not! It is not just about the difficulty of proving a negative. It is because, for some people, smoking might indeed be one of several ‘triggers’ which, combined, have an effect on lung cells.

What is the proof of the pudding? Has there been a decline of LC deaths as smoking prevalence has declined over the past 50 years or so? Have heart attacks declined?

But what about ‘Imminence’?

If you are extremely fat, the you can do something about it. You can diet and exercise more, and thus reduce your weight. You can do that quite quickly, if you wish. But has the ‘damage’ from being fat been reduced?

My thinking is not about living longer. It is about being more active and alert. It is simple. A fat person eats too much and is not sufficiently active. Sugar is irrelevant, in itself. In any case, being insufficiently active, is dangerous, although not imminently.

I think that Emperor Marcus Aurelius had the right idea. We exist in the present. At any moment, there is no future. There is no difference between being alive or dead as far as the future is concerned. If you are dead, you do not know what your future might have been, and that is the same as not knowing your future when you are alive.

That does not mean that you cannot plan for the future. I means only that you might be dead before the future arrives.

It is not an easy concept. It means that you might be mowed down by a car which leaves the road any time that you are walking along the pavement, along with any number of similar ‘imminent’ risks.

I have been reading a tome about the Grenfell Tower fire.

https://www.lrb.co.uk/v40/n11/andrew-ohagan/the-tower

It is not ‘fun’ reading’. Almost all the inhabitant were foreigners, but, according to the text, they were all saintly, lovely people who somehow could afford to pay the cost of making their way from some shithole in Africa or Syria, or wherever, to London, which was a perfectly wonderful place to live. And they all had jobs, no matter how old they were.

I am not excusing the failures of Climate Control with their rush to insulate buildings against Global Warming consequences. I am blasting at the politicians who approved the dangerous cladding, or any cladding.

I have said it before. We need a Trump who will blast his/her way through the blather, not least of which is Tobacco Control in all its forms. It is a monstrosity, and clearly so. At least Trump is dealing with Climate Control to some extent. But he must go further – he must defund the UN. The UN relies entirely upon US contributions.The UN has become a monstrosity.

Finally, The UN, WHO, IPCC, EU, TobCON, etc, are parasites. They suck the lifeblood of Nations and render us all poorer.

Why do our politicians put up with it? It can only be that THEY ARE TOLD SO, by Civil Servants, who aspire to be ‘big’ in those organisations.

Our politics stinks because our politicians have no idea what to do.

 

 

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