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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Evil Mr. Nicotine

From the "Andromeda Strain"
I find articles like this one at the WSJ about nicotine patches disingenuous.

Smokers who used a patch to quit relapse as well as those quitting cold turkey.

The supposition here is that nicotine is the only "additive" element in smoking - its not.

I wrote a series of articles here about, among other things, the "magical thinking" associated with cigarette addiction.  Cigarettes are designed to be addictive in many ways beside nicotine.

Mrs. Wolf learned a great deal about this in her extensive research last year.  Some 20% of all smokers she believes are addicted to the other elements put into tobacco.  So no patch is ever going to help them.

Yet somehow modern medical science ignores this aspect of cigarettes and focuses on nicotine.

I think the reason is that "nicotine" allows the "evil" of smoking to be ascribed to one word.

But, because this drum has been beaten so long and so relentlessly today's researchers have come to believe that nicotine is the "only" evil involved.  Hence other data related to addiction is simply ignored.

The more I think about it the more I am coming to believe that a great deal of science today, health care, physics, virtually anything related to "government funding" now involves "magical thinking" - the replacement of logic with "emotional thinking" in a scientific context (see my last post).

Worse I am not sure that people really even understand that they are doing it.

I have been looking at a lot of "science" back from the 1950's and 1960's.

In those days there were "great unknowns" - there was "outer space" - no one knew what would happen if a human went into outer space.  No one know if a human would survive weightlessness, dangerous alien life or radiation.  (Recall the movie "The Andromeda Strain" from 1971.  Human's trying to take control of alien life and the great unknown.  How do I contain something like an alien virus?)

There was no dogma about "space" this and space "that."

As a child I recall many 1960's National Geographic magazines in which Jacques Cousteau went to places at the bottom of the ocean where no one had ever gone before - breathing helium/oxygen mixes because of the high pressure - and talking in high-pitched voices because of it.

Again, no dogma - just people out there learning and exploring.

No preconceived results.

It was all about "what if" and "why?"  Science fiction of the day was about flying off into the great unknown (space, the ocean) to "learn something new."  Explorers were brave because they might die doing it.

Today everything is funded by grants - if those at the NSF or other "grant" agencies don't like your work you don't get funded.

And look at today's science fiction - like the Transformers - a child's cartoon program turned into a tome about giant robots coming to babysit helpless, stupid humanity.

When did we become helpless and need babysitters?  Why is a movie about babysitting good?

Sure the movie demonstrates the latest special effects - but the plot is all about how helpless we are.

None of today's work is pioneering in the same sense of fifty years ago.

(I was watching the Andromeda Strain (1971) last night.  The "scientists would all probably be arrested as federal criminals for a variety of reasons - starving a child, holding people against their will, threatening to sacrifice a human to save humanity, suggesting the nuking of the alien contagion.  Yet they solved the problem and life went on.  The "alien" - mindless and dangerous.)

Today's its all "more of the same" dogma.  Everything "evil" is corporate, e.g., the "Umbrella Corporation."  There is always a fantastic set of "unknown" things which always behave in anthropomorphized ways by the end of the story.

Vaping, for example, is a pioneering step - nicotine is not bad, it may even be helpful, lets build something new and interesting to replace something old.

Pioneers are using vaping to stop smoking.

Smoking is bad, not because of nicotine, but because you breathe smoke.  Could vaping be dangerous? 


But pioneers don't need nanny to help them out...

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