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The science of smoking





nickfyoung
The science is in on climate change. Any scientist worth his salt is happy to accept the findings and agree that the climate is changing. Likewise with evolution, age of the earth etc. Scientists agree that the evidence is overwhelming. Medical science has it's own findings on the effects of smoking on the human body. Science agrees now that smoking is a major cause of all sorts of horrible diseases and even death.

So when you come across a mature aged scientist still smoking what are you to conclude. Is he s skeptic of the medical evidence or does he just think it wont happen to him. Does he enjoy smoking so much that he is willing to accept the consequences. There is nothing more enjoyable than to sit back after a meal with a port and a smoke, be it cigarette, cigar or even pipe. More likely the smoking scientist wishes to be a non smoker but finds the addiction to hard to break.

There are all sorts of therapies for all sorts of addictions so why is it so hard for some to give up smoking. We have to assume that the scientist doesn't want to be smoking but isn't there something in his science to enable him to give up.

It just seems a bit of a paradox to find a mature aged scientist still smoking.
Bikerman
Good question - and I speak as someone pretty much in that category until recently (not a doc but probably as aware as most doctors of the risks and likely illnesses). I gave up just about a year ago after smoking for 30 years.
Why didn't I stop sooner? In my 20's I figured I'd live to about 30. Then I hit 30 and thought I might make 35. I hit 35 and thought 40 might be possible - I'm now 53 and still grinning.

It isn't that I have some congenital disease or other thing that would kill me early. It is more to do with lifestyle. I was a pretty wild twenty and thirty something - plenty of drugs, booze etc. I also ride a fast super-bike, (which I ride properly fast when the mood takes me and have done for nearly 30 years). Finally, I have bi-polar illness (thanks Dad), and since I developed the full monty (back in my 30s) I have been clear that the lows are not something I would want to prolong too much, without sufficient balance in terms of being able to do what I like - such as having a burn on the bike, or just generally being mobile and active (that is now less of an issue because of better meds, but it still features in the sums).

I always figured it was about 50% probable the bike would do me, 25% cancer or heart-attack related to over indulgence, 10% suicide, 10% freak/accidental OD or similar, and 5% lucky dip. I thought about it quite seriously and deeply for a considerable time (when you are coming up from a deep low then you have plenty of time for such things), and I was quite content with the deal. I was still content at 35, then 40, and I am more than sanguine about the matter now. I'm not saying I want to die, or even that I am indifferent to the prospect.Death can take as long over the middle-game as it likes, with no rush to endgame from me. I am fairly sure, however, that when the time comes - be it next week or in 30 yrs - I will not be a whining self-pitying regret-monster. I figure I've lived largely as I wanted to, free from crippling pain and material desperation for most of the time, incredibly rich by any sensible measure. I have done many, if not all, of the things I wanted to, and have tasted enough of life to have no nagging regrets over some experience missed, or some state unattained.
It's been a hell of a game, free-flowing, with exciting play and counter play, conducted for the most part in a spirit of excellent sportsmanship. To switch metaphor - it's been a hell of a ride. So cursing the opponent for forcing an endgame and pushing me into inevitable mate - well that would seem to me to be an unforgivably ungrateful and damn rude way to carry on. I think the only English thing to do would be say a proper Thanks to my fellow travelers, thank my luck for providing me with the chance of consciousness, and the resources/time to be able to enjoy it, if not fully then at least in large measure.
What is not to like?

As for smoking - the reason I gave up in the end was multiple:
a) I had started to develop an annoying cough.
b) I was beginning to resent the cost
c) It seemed a shame to survive this long and be taken down by a mundane self-inflicted illness like cancer or heart-disease.

I also regard lung cancer as a definite low score on the possible end-games. When I get checkmated I don't wish it to be gasping and choking for a prolonged period - I have seen that death and it is not a good one.
A flamboyant end-game - throwing the pieces forward in a last doomed attack on my opponent - a mad sacrificial blaze of action before my King falls...now that appeals. Maybe a huge fireball as the irresistible force of bike and rider doing a ton and a half hits some immovable object - that has some attractions (Jethro Tull playing Too Old to Rock and Roll in the background for preference),
Or a quickish surprise checkmate, as the unforeseen queen-move by my opponent slides through my defense, leading to an inevitably mate in 4 - maybe a big coronary or other short but terminal rebellion by serious bits of biology.... that it not to shabby an endgame either
nickfyoung
Bikerman
Quote:
I gave up just about a year ago after smoking for 30 years.


Actually it was your recent post that prompted this post.

Quote:
Sorry, wandered off into a full stream of consciousness there for ages.....I only intended to write a couple of lines Smile Must be that damn Turkish cigarette I had...bad tobacco I bet..


Posted: Sun Aug 24, 2014 1:44 pm

You said you had just had a cigarette but you didn't say what else you were on.
Bikerman
It was meant as a joke - hinting that I had just smoked a Joint.
I hadn't, because puffing a joint would give me a nicotine hit again, and, having gone through withdrawal and moving past it, I would be foolish to toke a joint and go back to square one.

Did I used to smoke joints? Yes, I did and I enjoyed the occasional spliff - but it was once in a while and it isn't really an issue.

As I said - I have done most things over my lifetime that I thought might be interesting - and that includes substances as well as experiences. Nicotine was the only serious addiction though....
Afaceinthematrix
I don't think that the majority of scientists share their views on evolution, climate change, and other related "controversial" (mostly in America) views because, quite frankly, most scientists' views wouldn't be very interesting. For instance, I don't really care what the climatologist says about evolution and I don't really care what the evolutionary biologist says about climate change. I care about what the climatologist (or related field such as chemist) says about climate change and I care about what the biologist says about biology.

About smoking: information is just one part of behavior change. Everyone in the West knows that smoking is unhealthy yet they do it for various reasons (such as an addiction). Everyone knows about the dangers of obesity yet half of America is overweight. I know that the nice buzz that I have right now from drinking isn't healthy yet I'm about to pour another Ranger IPA and I know that the motorcycle that I just started riding isn't safe yet I'm enjoying it (along with rock climbing, loud concerts, mountain biking, promiscuous sex, recreational drugs (such as pot and salvia) and just about anything else that I find to be fun).

I doubt that there is a single scientist who challenges the dangers of smoking; the research has been pretty clear since the 40s. Why they smoke, I do not know. I cannot be too critical of them; I have never experienced nicotine and so I do not have first hand knowledge of nicotine addiction. Just remember that information is only the first part of behavior change. People have to be willing to accept and embrace a new behavior and even then, information is only the first part of behavior change. You have to enable behavior change (you cannot reduce obesity if healthy food is unavailable) and constantly reinforce the new behavior until it is habit.
amagard
What science tells us is not that you are guaranteed to die because of smoking. It tells us about an increased risk to get a disease or die because of smoking.
When you deal with risk you also deal with hope. What is true for the average person hasn't have to be true for a single individual like you. Especially scientists are probably good in dealing with risks and probabilities. If you are an optimistic person anyway you always would say: yes, I see the risk, but I will be on the lucky side.

It's kind of gambling with your life.
I personally wouldn't do this. I always try to minimize risks. Well, not always. Otherwise I wouldn't have done some glacier crossing and climbing on rocky mountains during my last vacation. Well, at least we hired a mountain guide to do so, so we took some risk, but then worked on minimizing it.



That picture doesn't show me, but our mountain guide. Anyway, I had to go the same way.

You actually always take risks. Your entire life is risky, more or less. Even if you stay at home. Most people die there.

But it is easy for me when it comes to smoking: I never figured out what people like about this and never had any interest in smoking. Except may be a water pipe once or twice a year after a diner in my garden.
Ankhanu
Thing we have to remember is that people are not one-dimensional entities, we're complex with many competing/complementing layers and behaviours. We also have to remember that people are not static, we change over time. Add in the complication of addiction and the picture becomes even greyer.

Most smokers start in their youth, and become addicted in that time frame. The health risks associated with smoking are many, but they are (basically) all probabilistic, not forgone conclusions. Even the best of us have skewed perceptions of risk, in many cases the percieved risk of acute dangers (e.g. car crash, bear attack, etc) versus those that may actually present greater risk, but in a less obvious manner to be somewhat more risky, and to be avoided. Smoking risks fall into the latter category, so smokers will generally feel that the risk presented by smoking to be somewhat low... it's easy to fall into the "it won't happen to me" complacency with smoking.

I highly doubt any scientist is skeptical of the medical consensus on smoking... and yeah, I'd say they either enjoy smoking enough, or are so addicted, that they are willing to take the perceptually diminished risks of smoking. Never underestimate the propensity for cognitive dissonance and biased risk analysis in the human animal, even within the scientific community.


Afaceinthematrix wrote:
I don't think that the majority of scientists share their views on evolution, climate change, and other related "controversial" (mostly in America) views because, quite frankly, most scientists' views wouldn't be very interesting. For instance, I don't really care what the climatologist says about evolution and I don't really care what the evolutionary biologist says about climate change. I care about what the climatologist (or related field such as chemist) says about climate change and I care about what the biologist says about biology.

Food for thought, and not to derail the convo, as a biologist, climate change is an incredibly important topic. While, no, I cannot comment on the actual mechanisms of climate, or the raw data itself, it is important that I understand the trends and impacts within the scope of climate change. Biology is highly dependent upon the abiotic, and must be factored when discussing or analyzing topics such as evolution and the broader topic of ecology. Biology is a rather synthetic discipline, crossing between multiple other scientific disciplines, from physics, to chemistry, to climatology, and more.
Wink
Afaceinthematrix
Ankhanu wrote:
Food for thought, and not to derail the convo, as a biologist, climate change is an incredibly important topic. While, no, I cannot comment on the actual mechanisms of climate, or the raw data itself, it is important that I understand the trends and impacts within the scope of climate change. Biology is highly dependent upon the abiotic, and must be factored when discussing or analyzing topics such as evolution and the broader topic of ecology. Biology is a rather synthetic discipline, crossing between multiple other scientific disciplines, from physics, to chemistry, to climatology, and more.
;)


That's the whole point there. In a debate about climate change, I will always value the climatologists' opinion above the opinion of any other academic. However, you can comment on the effects relevant to your field because those effects may be independent of the current global warming issue. For instance, you can tell me what will happen to coral reefs if ocean temperatures raise by two degrees Celsius. However, that's really independent to our current trend because if some other mechanism besides AGW were to cause an ocean temperature rise, those corral reef issues would still exist. You're commenting on ocean temperature vs. coral reef and not really on AGW.
Bikerman
In a world where no single individual can hope to be expert in everything (and it seems incredible, but is true, that this applies only for the last few centuries) then it follows that the non-expert must defer to the expert. This is not, as some maintain, an example of the fallacy of appealing to authority. There is no such fallacy - the fallacy is appealing to FALSE authority.
Afaceinthematrix
That was exactly my point (I don't know if you were agreeing with me or if you misunderstood me and was clarifying).

What is a fallacy, though, is appealing to authority when it is completely irrelevant. How many times have you heard "Albert Einstein believed in God" as an argument for why you should believe in a god? I actually want to come up with a list of all of those fallacies that I've heard. Do you have any to add?
Bikerman
I was agreeing and (hopefully) clarifying.
tonberry
For sure most doctors don't quit because they can't find the spirits (and I don't mean alcohol) to. In our times, probably only the most disillusioned people can convince themselves that smoking is not unhealthy. And it's even harder to fool yourself about scientific data when your work is in that same particular field of science to begin with.

As for why he can't quit, it's because we are wired for basic responses more than we are for more advanced ones, and that is because basic ones were more "in demand" through natural selection, as they are more important. It is hard to think about some abstract ideas when you're hungry - hunger takes precedence and needs to be dealt with immediately. In a comfortable state of being fed, the journeys of the mind can begin, but usually not before. Unless you're a yogi schooled in practicing yoga while experiencing extreme physical tortures or something).

Addiction is among those primal needs. It's artificially induced, but when it's on, goodbye hunger, there's now much more important stuff to deal with!

Defying addiction with logic is like trying to spit on the sun and everyone who has been deeply addicted to something will attest to that. The only way to deal with by going even deeper than addiction, and that, I believe, is to give birth to the need to do the right thing, to make the right decision instead of the easy one. Logic is the enemy, because thinking about anything related to addiction usually only sharpens the appetite, even if thoughts are going in exactly the opposite direction. The body only hears the talking when the name of the substance is mentioned and in response asks "when is my next dose, darling?".

To develop that need strong enough to deny addiction is a basic human possibility and doctor can do that as much as anyone else. In two departments doctors have slight advantage though:

- seeing fatal causes, deaths, operations caused by smoking helps (fear is a good motivator)
- smoking makes doctors look real bad, as they need to be considered ambasadors of health in order to be counted as authority for their patients, so smoking is a big no-no for doctors, even prohibited for many.
LxGoodies
tonberry wrote:
(..) to make the right decision instead of the easy one. Logic is the enemy, because thinking about anything related to addiction usually only sharpens the appetite

+1 how accurate

(sais a victim of various addictions Razz )
Euterpe
My only thing i would like to comment on this topic is that smoking is a habit which anyone who has it should be trying to quit and anyone without should be trying to convince people with it to stop because it does nothing but kill us even though is a a free right. Now saying that i am a avid smoker and have a hard time controlling it sometimes and find the best influence is close friends.
spinout
Friday smile - My dead buddy used to laugh about the fact that an old mapping of the cause of death for health care doctors in the USA was mostly poor nutrition, they died of bad food. My buddy died at the age of 48 of high blood pressure, he was a workoholic... Habits do kill , aware or not...
loveandormoney
nickfyoung wrote:
The science is in on climate change. Any scientist worth his salt is happy to accept the findings and agree that the climate is changing. Likewise with evolution, age of the earth etc. Scientists agree that the evidence is overwhelming. Medical science has it's own findings on the effects of smoking on the human body. Science agrees now that smoking is a major cause of all sorts of horrible diseases and even death.

So when you come across a mature aged scientist still smoking what are you to conclude. Is he s skeptic of the medical evidence or does he just think it wont happen to him. Does he enjoy smoking so much that he is willing to accept the consequences. There is nothing more enjoyable than to sit back after a meal with a port and a smoke, be it cigarette, cigar or even pipe. More likely the smoking scientist wishes to be a non smoker but finds the addiction to hard to break.

There are all sorts of therapies for all sorts of addictions so why is it so hard for some to give up smoking. We have to assume that the scientist doesn't want to be smoking but isn't there something in his science to enable him to give up.

It just seems a bit of a paradox to find a mature aged scientist still smoking.


Hw do You like when Your parents smoke? Has smoking to do something with social behaviour?
IndieCthulhu
loveandormoney wrote:

Hw do You like when Your parents smoke? Has smoking to do something with social behaviour?


Just a side note here before I get into it. Parents smoking indoors with children or in a car with children. Those children get the addiction to nicotine before they even smoke. I'm speaking for experience, I went years of my life with a craving, that could never be sated no matter what I did. Then one day I smoked, and the craving was gone. I then realized what I was craving. My parent smoked inside and in the car.


On another note, what's to say the risk isn't the reason some people smoke? The state of the planet and/or their life? Lazy Suicide some call it. The hope of something taking you away so you don't have to do the dirty work. Cognitive Dissidence? Many other factors. I mean I see some people smoking in their early twenties because why not? Well in the next 50 years we will run out of room to grow food unless we change our lifestyle. (I can't find my original source but it was along the lines of this http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/dec/02/arable-land-soil-food-security-shortage - would like a scientific journal to this if anyone has one). Couple this with global warming, rising see levels it isn't going to be a good life for people in there twenties (or younger!) whenthey are in their 40's, 50's, 60's. A lot is going to happen and change. Now add in that Generation-Y and Milleniums are expected to have a retirement age of 75 (changed country to country so check your own sources) there isn't going to be enough space or food.

If you're a government (hopefully global by this time) and you have a few hundred million possibly billion people who are no longer able to work, eating food that could be there for the younger generations. Would you euthanize the retired? Someone out there would say yes. So why not live a life smoking and have the risk take you out rather than live wondering if you'll be on the ration list?

I know this post was originally aimed for scientists that are older than in the twenties. Let's not discriminate the age. Also [b]IF[/] I remember correctly there was a study done that if you've been a smoker for a long time there is a point where even if you quit there is no point because the damage is already done and the body can no longer repair it. If that's the case why not keep smoking?
deanhills
[quote="IndieCthulhu"]
loveandormoney wrote:

Just a side note here before I get into it. Parents smoking indoors with children or in a car with children. Those children get the addiction to nicotine before they even smoke. I'm speaking for experience, I went years of my life with a craving, that could never be sated no matter what I did. Then one day I smoked, and the craving was gone. I then realized what I was craving. My parent smoked inside and in the car.
Interesting theory. Both my parents smoked their 60 cigarettes a day in their hey day of smoking. I'd love for this theory to be tested scientifically. May produce some interesting results.
loveandormoney
IndieCthulhu wrote:
loveandormoney wrote:

Hw do You like when Your parents smoke? Has smoking to do something with social behaviour?


Just a side note here before I get into it. Parents smoking indoors with children or in a car with children. Those children get the addiction to nicotine before they even smoke. I'm speaking for experience, I went years of my life with a craving, that could never be sated no matter what I did. Then one day I smoked, and the craving was gone. I then realized what I was craving. My parent smoked inside and in the car.


On another note, what's to say the risk isn't the reason some people smoke? The state of the planet and/or their life? Lazy Suicide some call it. The hope of something taking you away so you don't have to do the dirty work. Cognitive Dissidence? Many other factors. I mean I see some people smoking in their early twenties because why not? Well in the next 50 years we will run out of room to grow food unless we change our lifestyle. (I can't find my original source but it was along the lines of this http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/dec/02/arable-land-soil-food-security-shortage - would like a scientific journal to this if anyone has one). Couple this with global warming, rising see levels it isn't going to be a good life for people in there twenties (or younger!) whenthey are in their 40's, 50's, 60's. A lot is going to happen and change. Now add in that Generation-Y and Milleniums are expected to have a retirement age of 75 (changed country to country so check your own sources) there isn't going to be enough space or food.

If you're a government (hopefully global by this time) and you have a few hundred million possibly billion people who are no longer able to work, eating food that could be there for the younger generations. Would you euthanize the retired? Someone out there would say yes. So why not live a life smoking and have the risk take you out rather than live wondering if you'll be on the ration list?

I know this post was originally aimed for scientists that are older than in the twenties. Let's not discriminate the age. Also [b]IF[/] I remember correctly there was a study done that if you've been a smoker for a long time there is a point where even if you quit there is no point because the damage is already done and the body can no longer repair it. If that's the case why not keep smoking?




I m sorry.

I did do ask the right question.

What is the aim?

What is the aim of smoking adults in a car with babies?
Teach the children?
Ankhanu
loveandormoney wrote:
What is the aim?

What is the aim of smoking adults in a car with babies?
Teach the children?


The aim would be to partake in an addiction and/or habit without regard to the health of the child. Selfish motivation and likely negligence. I can't imagine malignant intent is often a factor.
BigGeek
It is true that all the logic in the world does not apply to an addiction! This is why Doctors and Scientists that logically know that smoking is bad for them continue to do so. Also fear is not a good motivator people think it is, but I have watched people that smoke, and come down with a disease from it, continue to smoke even though they are terrified of dying, and know that it is coming due to their addiction.

Best way to quit - I have found - is to replace the unhealthy habit with a positive one, and to just out right resist the cravings.

One of the other things that hasn't been mentioned here is that all the logic in the world does not overcome the addition because the cigarettes themselves have been changed so that once a person starts smoking the substances in the cigarettes make it almost impossible to quit, it is not just nicotine that people become addicted to.

It has been shown and proven that the Tobacco companies paid huge sums of money to research what additives would make the product the most highly addictive product sold. The reason for this was income. Once someone was addicted the addiction would be so strong that it would be nearly impossible to quit, thus they would have a customer for life. This would ensure that people would not quit even if they wanted to!

The possible answer here is that Doctors and Scientists knowing the dangers of smoking and fearful of the end result to their health cannot quit or do not quit simply because they cannot - once started the substance is so highly addictive that it is next to impossible to put them down. The addiction has been engineered into the product to keep the revenue flowing into the the company that produces the product.

Simply put - a person can't quit because the people that make the product don't want them to!

I've read before that addiction counselors have better success getting people off of heroin than cigarettes! Twisted Evil
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