You Can't Handle the Truth

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At least that's the position of the American Lung Association, as Guy Bentley describes: American Lung Association Demands the FDA Mislead the Public About Vaping

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should abandon any efforts to inform the public that vaping is safer than smoking, says the American Lung Association (ALA).

Numerous public surveys show a consistent, widespread misperception that vaping nicotine is just as or more dangerous than smoking cigarettes. The problem is so extensive that correcting these false beliefs forms part of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) 5-year strategic plan.

Writing in the journal Addiction, Brian King, the head of CTP, stated: "Opportunities exist to educate adults who smoke cigarettes about the relative risks of tobacco products." To that end, among the five goals listed as part of CTP's plan is a commitment to inform the public that not all tobacco products are created equally, with cigarettes being the most dangerous and others, such as e-cigarettes, being far less harmful.

A tobacco policy wonk, Dave Dobbins, is quoted: "I think that if you're a public health authority and you're caught not telling the truth, it will have long-term consequences that are with the next time people need information from you that's true and really important, they may not listen to you."

A fine sentiment, but the FDA has a long history of paternalism and political correctness trumping innovation and science. (All links to 2023 Pun Salad posts.)

Also of note:

  • You can't handle the truth, and neither can Nature. Patrick T Brown takes to the pages of the Free Press to get it out there, though: I Left Out the Full Truth to Get My Climate Change Paper Published. After noting the drumbeat of press coverage linking the Maui wildfire to "climate change", full stop:

    I am a climate scientist. And while climate change is an important factor affecting wildfires over many parts of the world, it isn’t close to the only factor that deserves our sole focus.

    So why does the press focus so intently on climate change as the root cause? Perhaps for the same reasons I just did in an academic paper about wildfires in Nature, one of the world’s most prestigious journals: it fits a simple storyline that rewards the person telling it.

    The paper I just published—“Climate warming increases extreme daily wildfire growth risk in California”—focuses exclusively on how climate change has affected extreme wildfire behavior. I knew not to try to quantify key aspects other than climate change in my research because it would dilute the story that prestigious journals like Nature and its rival, Science, want to tell.

    This matters because it is critically important for scientists to be published in high-profile journals; in many ways, they are the gatekeepers for career success in academia. And the editors of these journals have made it abundantly clear, both by what they publish and what they reject, that they want climate papers that support certain preapproved narratives—even when those narratives come at the expense of broader knowledge for society.

    And to repeat the completely obvious point Dave Dobbins made above: every time you're caught fudging the truth, it makes it less likely people will believe you in the future.

    You'd think that might bother the folks running the show at Nature. And Science. And Scientific American.

  • A myth as good as a mile. Continuing with our theme John Tierney writes provocatively on The Misogyny Myth.

    Misogyny is supposedly rampant in modern society, but where, exactly, does it lurk? For decades, researchers have hunted for evidence of overt discrimination against women as well as subtler varieties, like “systemic sexism” or “implicit bias.” But instead of detecting misogyny, they keep spotting something else.

    Consider a new study that is one of the most sophisticated efforts to analyze implicit bias. Previous researchers typically looked for it by measuring split-second reactions to photos of faces: how long it takes to associate each face with a positive or negative attribute. Some studies reported that whites are quicker to associate black faces with negative attributes, but those experiments often involved small samples of college students. For this study, a team of psychologists led by Paul Connor of Columbia University recruited a nationally representative sample of adults and showed them more than just faces. The participants saw full-body photos of men and women of different races and ages, dressed in outfits ranging from well-tailored suits and blazers to scruffy hoodies, T-shirts, and tank tops.

    Who was biased against whom? The researchers found no consistent patterns by race or by age. The participants were quicker to associate negative attributes with people in scruffier clothes, but that bias was fairly small. Only one strong and consistent bias emerged. Participants in every category—men and women of all races, ages, and social classes—were quicker to associate positive attributes with women and negative attributes with men.

    The participants were guilty not of misogyny but of its opposite: misandry, a bias against men. This study merely measured unconscious reactions, so it doesn’t prove that they’d discriminate against men. The many critics of implicit-bias research maintain that measures of people’s “unconscious racism” bear scant relation to their conscious behavior. But when it comes to detecting misandry, we don’t need to probe the unconscious to find it. There is overwhelming evidence of conscious, blatant, and widespread discrimination against boys and men in modern societies.

    If you haven’t heard of this evidence, it’s because of the well-documented misandrist bias in the public discussion of gender issues. Scholars, journalists, politicians, and activists will lavish attention on a small, badly flawed study if it purports to find bias against women, but they’ll ignore—or work to suppress—the wealth of solid research showing the opposite. Three decades ago, psychologists identified the “women-are-wonderful effect,” based on research showing that both sexes tended to rate women more positively than men. This effect has been confirmed repeatedly—women get higher ratings than men for intelligence as well as competence—and it’s obvious in popular culture.

    Well, at least the research got published before it was ignored.

    And now for something completely different… well, slightly different.

  • Betteridge's Law of Headlines definitely applies. David Strom asks (I'm pretty sure rhetorically): Should libraries be "a site for socialist organizing?" Noting this tweet:

    Strom's bottom line:

    Frustrating as it is, the majority of people have yet to grasp how radically different today’s public institutions are from what they were a decade or three ago. Most people think of the FBI as a straight-laced fairly conservative organization, public schools as run by overworked middle-class moms and dads who love kids, and newspapers as being basically fair if tilting leftward.

    That’s why conservatives look like crazed conspiracy theorists to them; it sounds insane when you say “The American Library Association is run by a lesbian Marxist who is using libraries as a place to organize socialists.” It would have sounded insane to me a decade ago.

    But sadly (and scarily) it is true. You don’t have to trust me. Trust the president of the ALA. In the future, she will likely be a bit more circumspect, but no less committed to recruiting the next generation of Marxists.

    And why not? The plan is working.

    I'll admit that since publishing the execrable Anti-Racism Zine a couple years ago, the Portsmouth (NH) Public Library has steered clear (as near as I can tell) from pushing leftist propaganda.

  • An upappetizing recipe. Katherine Mangu-Ward's lead editorial from the current issue of Reason is out from behind the paywall, and it is (as usual) very good: The Sticky Spaghetti School of Constitutional Law.

    "The bulk of the constitutional scholarship says that it's not likely to pass constitutional muster" is not a sentence you want to hear from a president launching an economywide initiative that will directly impact millions of Americans. Yet President Joe Biden said exactly that in 2021 when he announced plans to continue a Trump-era Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) initiative giving public health bureaucrats control over evictions nationwide.

    The Court was not amused by Biden's brazenness, and—just as it had clearly signaled it would do when it had earlier considered the expiring eviction moratorium—it ruled that it was not, in fact, within the power of the executive to give the CDC control of the contractual arrangements between every American renter and landlord.

    Biden is simply the latest to experiment with an increasingly popular governing philosophy that involves throwing laws and edicts at the wall like so much spaghetti. (As is his wont, Biden diverged from his predecessors primarily by saying the quiet part slightly louder.) This sticky spaghetti system involves knowingly attempting unconstitutional action and then waiting to see just how mad the Supreme Court gets.

    Grounds for impeachment, sez I.

Last Modified 2024-01-11 4:42 AM EDT