Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Should We Lie Like Tobacco Controllers?

Regular readers will remember that the campaign in favour of plain packaging by tax spongers in the highly state-funded tobacco control industry Goliath was a truly astounding display of mendacity and corruption.

The level of cheating, chicanery, political manipulation and blatant, unapologetic, provable lies was quite simply off the scale, as I described in 2014.
The often fraudulent abuses of process, democracy and common decency are too numerous to list in full, but just to remind you of a few highlights: 
Attempting to rig the consultation; producing literature containing bald-faced lies to MPs; enthusiastically encouraging corrupt multiple signatures; and attempting to influence government to exclude any consultation responses they disagreed with and then trying to hide the evidence. Along with inviting two zealous supporters of plain packaging to review the evidence, including a far-left lunatic who simply despises marketing of any product, before producing an impact assessment document which the Regulatory Policy Committee rightly considered shoddy. This without mentioning shovelling taxpayer cash to vested interests to lobby government with, making demonstrably false claims, and blatantly misrepresenting the results of their own research.
In fact, the lies are still continuing on the subject to this day. It's just what tobacco controllers do. They lie. In the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening. Heck, I reckon they even dream about lying.

I didn't think anything could top the outrageous deceit of that campaign, but the remarkable lies which we have seen in the past couple of months surrounding vaping have, if anything, been even worse! By that I mean that the plain packs campaigners at least tried to hide their lies, whereas those trying to undermine e-cigs don't even seem to care. The misdirection, untruths and junk science are so transparent it's like they are almost proud of them; blasé and safe in the knowledge that no-one - including journalists - is going to look deep enough into their source material to call them out on it.

We've seen them lying to pretend vaping is no safer that smoking and then refusing to alter the basis of the claim when the lie was globally ridiculed; lying to say e-cigs stop smokers from quitting, a study described as "misleading", "not scientific" and "a failure of peer review" by their own side thereby making the author, Mad Stan, guilty of the same doubt creation tactics tobacco controllers routinely accuse long-dead tobacco company execs of dealing in; lying to claim e-cigs cause drunk driving and car crashes even though their study clearly stated blood alcohol levels are not affected by vaping; and lying to claim teens who vape are more likely to take up smoking, contrary to all evidence on the subject and so poor a study that only oleaginous tobacco control extremist groupies bothered to publish on it.

This, of course, on top of anti-vaping crusaders quietly attempting to silence any positive commentary about e-cigs; inventing laughable conspiracy theories in order to try to weaponise the Chief Medical Officer against their use; and deliberately lying in their own professional journals, aided and abetted by the journal editors themselves.

If the plain packs campaign was a slurry pit of corruption, lies and deceit - which it most certainly was - then what is happening with e-cigs can be described as an entire fucking sewage works of dishonesty, fraud and vile, self-enriching, anti-scientific thuggery from people who claim to care about 'public health'.

The process the tobacco control industry lives by seems to consist of these purposely-designed steps:
1) Commit to a policy
2) Create junk science to fit that policy, by any means possible
3) If the junk science doesn't throw up believable results, lie in the press release
4) Sit back and ignore the inevitable debunking, the headlines are out and everyone will believe them
This is what tobacco control calls 'science', and the people who promote lies - because that's what they are - in this manner are described by the press as 'experts'. Yes, I know, bonkers isn't it?

Now, the reason I mention this is because I was out with a business consultant friend last night in London and this very subject came up. After my explaining how these false headlines are created, my analyst friend asked why our side doesn't do the same. Not verbatim but it went something like this.
"Perhaps you need to do your own studies, pick out a positive part - even if the whole study doesn't support it - and press release that. Get your own positive headlines to counteract their corrupt negative ones."
He summed up the situation very well (that's what he gets paid for after all) and, all things being equal, I suppose that would be the way to play it. What's good for the goose, as they say, is good for the gander. If they are lying, then it's obviously perfectly fair that the same approach can be employed to counter it. As Sun Tzu once said, "the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself", so if anti-vaping fraudsters are being successful by being economical with the truth for ideological ends then perhaps we should be doing so too.

However, can you see that ever working? For a start, if anyone on the pro-vaping side were to cherry-pick something and press release it to gain a headline - despite it misrepresenting that study - the first critics of the release would almost certainly be pro-vaping scientists. Carl Phillips especially would rip it to pieces!

Additionally, tobacco controllers being the debate-avoiding, objective science-phobic, play-the-man-not-the-ball types that they are, the instant reaction would be to accuse our side of being like the tobacco industry of five decades ago. Actually, scratch that, they're already doing it. They'd accuse us of being addicts, shills and astroturfers (oh yeah, they're doing that already too) and try to smear anyone who has a contrary opinion ... ah, yes they already do that as well.

After mulling this today, I really don't know what to think of it all. A detached opinion on the situation by my analyst friend, condensing all the facts and assessing how an equal and opposite reaction could be delivered, says that our side should be mirroring what extremist tobacco controllers are doing. At least then it would be  fair fight. But at the same time, we are not a bunch of blatant liars like they are and value things like principles, standards, scruples, ethics and - yes - the truth! We also don't get paid for what we do, of course.

So I suppose what it comes down to is that, once again, we are disadvantaged by being on the side of the angels, unlike the liars and generously-remunerated, consciously-fraudulent professional shysters who are ranged against us.

You might have a different view of course. Is it worth us sinking to the cesspit level of tobacco control and lying to get the true message out, or just hope that one day the public will work out how debased and corrupt the so-called 'experts' of 'public health' are?


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