Lying by numbers

I tweeted a Tweet yesterday.

There has been a meme around for the last while where vapers are tweeting the number of cigarettes they haven't smoked since they took up vaping.  It has the "hastag" #HowManyForYou.  People are tweeting such little gems as "Haven't smoked 1000 cigarettes since I started vaping 6 months ago".  

Now being a pipe smoker I thought this was a little unfair on the pipe, so I tweeted "493,087 cigs not smoked since I took up the pipe in '71".  Now my little figure of nearly half a million beat all the other claims into the realms of the pathetic, so I considered it a victory for the pipe.

But do you notice how accurate my figure of 493,087 is?  Not 493,086 or even 493,088?  It's as precise as the number of "lives saved since the Irish smoking ban came in" [3,726] which just indicates one thing – I used a formula and the result is so wildly inaccurate to the point of stupidity, though impressive looking. 

The formula I used was the number of days in 41 years multiplied by 30, but there is one single massive flaw in there – it assumes I would have smoked exactly 30 fags a day every single day in 41 years which is a load of crap.  There were times I was ill, and would have smoked less or times spent in places where I couldn't smoke.  There were times when I didn't feel like smoking or times when I was broke.  It also ignores the fact that I may have actually quit, or increased my consumption over four decades.  In other words, it is impossible to calculate something that hasn't happened without using some kind of formula, combined with a lot of guesswork and estimates.

The Tobacco Control Industry is a master at this game.  Its minions go out with questionnaires for example, asking how many cigarettes people smoke.  Laying aside that due to Tobacco Control's own policy of shaming smoking they will invariably give an answer that is a fraction of the truth.  Then there is the question of how much of a single cigarette they smoke.  This question is never asked, but some people light up, have a couple of puffs and then chuck the cigarette away, whereas others would smoke the filter if they could.  The former might claim say 20 a day, but in actual fact will only burn about five.

And what about myself?  Do I smoke?  Yes.  How many cigarettes a day do I smoke?  None.  I don't fit into the formula and therefore, by definition, the formula is wrong.

As far as I am aware, the "official" definition of a smoker is someone who has smoked one cigarette or more in the past month.  Seeing as I haven't had any, does that class me as a non-smoker?  Or do I have to count the occasional time where I light one for Herself, take one puff and hand it over before going off to wash my mouth out with sulphuric acid and carbolic soap to get rid of the foul taste?

The fact is that no one ever officially died from smoking, because every smoker who ever died from a "smoking related" disease could have died of those diseases anyway.  There is no disease that is cased uniquely by smoking, so the best they can go on is through statistical analysis, which can only give possibilities or maybe probabilities, but no proof. 

Occasionally they do get something right through their statistics.  Their claim that "half of all smokers die young" has a very high probability of being right.  The reason is that half of all people die before the average age, just as the other half live longer.  It is when all is said and done, the way they calculate average age?  I would also like to point out the obvious conclusion that half of all smokers live longer than average?

The claim that "a billion lives" will be lost this century is a typical mountain of steaming manure.  How the fuck do they know?  It is a catchy, easily quoted little soundbite that has absolutely no basis in fact whatsoever.  It has less substance than the Tooth Fairy, and anyone who quotes it obviously has no sense of logic whatsoever.

So beware all these figures that are bandied about.  They are guesses, wet dreams, wishful thinking and the result of very dodgy calculations.

You know what they say about lies, damned lies and statistics?

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Comments

Lying by numbers — 6 Comments

      • Hah!  That was the punchline to a joke when I was a kid.  Maybe it was that joke that got me started into the tobacco?

        • It's the tobacco that counts.  It meant that if you weren't good at arithmetic and didn't have a slide rule (pocket calculators hadn't been invented then) you lit up a Players cigarette and let the tobacco do the counting. Bean counters used that method sometimes.

          Got any jokes about Menthol fresh?

  1. Yes, the 'half of all smokers will die prematurely' is one of their cleverer soundbites, in that it sounds, like, really, really serious shit, man….

    I quite often point out the obvious flaw in this 'dangerous' statistic in comments where it's brought up by one of the useful idiots as a killer fact. Oddly, I never get a reply, not even from the antis who think they really know their stuff.

    As for the 'billion lives' thing, I've grown tired of pointing out to vapers on Twitter that it's a figure based on the lies and deceit of Tobacco Control, and is thus meaningless. The silly thing is that they invariably agree with me and 'like' my tweet, but then carry on using 'a billion lives' as if nothing has happened. I've given up bothering now.

    • I always have a chuckle when I hear it, it's just such an inane comment.  A perfect example was when my great friend was interviewed recently and spewed out virtually the entire litany in a breathless voice probably expecting us to all gasp in terror.

      It would all be really funny if it weren't for the damage it's doing.

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