Monday, 14 March 2011

The Confident Mindless.

The Snowolf has a summary of stupidity perpetrated by those who should know better. There are those who don't know enough even to realise they are stupid. Here are some more for the collection.

Recently, on a smoking article in the Mail, some idiot declared that nicotine and nicotinic acid (niacin) were totally unrelated substances. That the commenter who related them had confused an evil addictive substance with a beneficial vitamin. I left a note to the effect that maybe he'd like to look up some organic chemistry before declaring his version of reality. I don't know if he ever responded because I didn't care enough to bother checking back. Maybe he came out with the usual Righteous 'do some research (it's what I do for a living, in fact it's all I do) or maybe he pretended to be an organic chemist (if he is, I wouldn't employ him) or maybe he didn't come back either. Doesn't matter, he's an idiot.

Then there's the oft-quoted veggie/vegan argument that 'chimps are our closest relatives and they're vegan'. Utter bollocks.

Chimps are between 90-98% genetically the same as us depending on whose numbers you look at. But look at what genes do. They define limbs, four, with shoulder/hip. elbow/knee, five digits on the end of each. One head with eyes, ears, nose and mouth and a brain in the middle. Sinuses, internal ear and eye structure. Internal organs - liver, kidney, gut, pancreas, spleen, bladder etc. All the skeleton and musculature. All largely the same in a human, a chimp, a rhino and a mouse.

The real killer is metabolism. Most genes are taken up with that, which means that if you want to relate yourself to other species on the basis of Krebs' cycle and cellular genetics, you will find that your genes are 70% the same as a banana. So even 98% similarity isn't relevant. It takes less than 2% to turn a banana into a Kiwi fruit.

As for this 'chimps are vegan', well chimps eat insects, frogs and even small monkeys. They eat them raw and they eat them alive. When a veggie declares he eats like a chimp, offer him mealworms, tadpoles and lemurs, all very much alive, and see if he really eats like a chimp. Oh, and a banana. Remind him that it's 70% the same as his own flesh, but only do that when he's halfway through it.

Today, Peter Hitchens repeats the ridiculous notion that -

And I have no doubt at all that the bans on smoking, in trains, cinemas, buses, pubs, restaurants and hotels are helping many people give up a habit that is actually much harder to quit than heroin.

Every smoker I know who gave up and stayed off the tobacco, gave up just like that. They just stopped. They stopped because they didn't want to do it any more. Every single smoker I know who tried patches and gum is still smoking now. They failed because they didn't really want to stop.

I'd like to see any heroin addict 'just stop'. A smoker might shout at you if you take his tobacco and hold it behind your back. Do that with heroin and the addict will claw his way through your midriff to get it.

Smoking 'addiction' is entirely in the mind. All the symptoms are psychosomatic and those who stop because they don't want to smoke any more don't experience any of them. Smokers who believe themselves addicted only believe that because they have had it drummed into them by people who don't want them to stop, but who want them to buy stick-on nicotine instead of smoking nicotine. If it was a nicotine addiction, the patches would work. You are not allowed to question why they don't.

Heroin addiction is very different. There are real and horrible physical effects of withdrawal.

Comparing stopping smoking to coming off heroin is like comparing the giving up of one sherry a month with stopping a three-bottle-a-day whisky habit. You can just stop the one sherry a month with no effect. Coming off the heavy drinking is not nearly so easy. A sudden stop can physically shock your system to death.

Banning smoking in some places helps people stop doing something that's even more addictive than something else that's been totally illegal for years? Dammit, Hitch, take that brain out and rinse it under the tap. It's so full of shit your thoughts can barely move.

When you tell smokers the lie that tobacco is harder to quit than heroin, you are not making smokers stop smoking. You are making it more difficult for smokers to stop smoking. You are telling them that it's even harder for them to stop than for a heroin junkie to stop. You are telling them it's almost impossible to stop. Even those who want to stop will be afraid to because of the imagined heroin-withdrawal symptoms you have convinced them they will experience. How does that help?

Well, Hitch, take a look at those Pharmer profit lines, and ASH's income.

Guess who you are really helping now?

Idiot.

There is more, much more, but it's late and I worry that covering too much stupid at once could make it infectious.

17 comments:

Bill Sticker said...

I declare an interest here; I smoked up until March 1987. One morning I ran low on smokes, took one look at the packet; thought, "I don't enjoy this any more." and quit. No nicotine patches, no E-Cigs, nothing but willpower. It wasn't that hard once I'd decided.

No-one told me to. I gave up in the complete absence of pressure to do so. Now I couldn't light up if my life depended upon it. Don't much care for cigarette smoke, although the smell of a good cigar or pipe tobacco makes me sometimes wish I could enjoy smoking again.

Richard Allan said...

Leg-Iron I have to say I think you're making some big pharmacological errors in this piece. If you look at the peer-reviewed literature you'll see heroin is probably just as easy to kick as smoking. To take one example, "There are real and horrible physical effects of [heroin] withdrawal". No there aren't; the most common symptom of heroin withdrawal is 2-3 days of "flu-like symptoms", which can easily be eliminated entirely by placing the addict in an environment which is not associated with heroin and where none is forthcoming. No-one dies from heroin withdrawal either.

kitler said...

This is the same Hitchens who thinks any kind of pleasure beyond classical music is evil and wants Christianity taught as undisputed fact in schools.

I don't trust him and think he knows what he types is misinformation, becaue I have read his book The Abolition of Britain and nobody who could write such an incredibly well researched book such as that could be stupid enough to believe the crap he writes in the MOS.

Anonymous said...

Dear Real Leg-iron

Not only do those 'vegan' chimps hunt monkeys - primarily red colobus, not lemurs, which live on Madagascar - but also practice infanticide and cannibalism.

http://www-bcf.usc.edu/~stanford/chimphunt.html

http://news.softpedia.com/news/Female-Chimps-Practice-Heavily-Infanticide-and-Cannibalism-54687.shtml

So you can offer any nice veggie who thinks we should follow a chimp diet a bite from a passing tourist's arm or a really objectionable neighbour's new born.

DP

Anonymous said...

To add to what Richard Allan wrote, Theodore Dalrymple has always said quitting heroin isn't as serious as it's usually thought to be. As a prison doctor, he must have had plenty of experience.

Frank Davis said...

But look at what genes do. They define limbs, four, with shoulder/hip. elbow/knee, five digits on the end of each. One head with eyes, ears, nose and mouth and a brain in the middle. Sinuses, internal ear and eye structure. Internal organs - liver, kidney, gut, pancreas, spleen, bladder etc. All the skeleton and musculature.

I'm sure you're right. But my understanding is that genes code for proteins, the building blocks out of which cells are made. I've never heard of a 'leg gene', for example.

Anonymous said...

"To add to what Richard Allan wrote, Theodore Dalrymple has always said quitting heroin isn't as serious as it's usually thought to be. As a prison doctor, he must have had plenty of experience"

As someone who's wife spent 9 months in primary and secondry rehab all I can say to the above is bullshit!
Try It and then get back to me, if you still can.

BHJ

Oh and when it comes to addiction, Doctors know fuck all and have to defer to addiction specialists, like my wife.

nisakiman said...

"To add to what Richard Allan wrote, Theodore Dalrymple has always said quitting heroin isn't as serious as it's usually thought to be. As a prison doctor, he must have had plenty of experience."

It very much depends on the degree of heroin addiction. If one has a light habit, then physically the withdrawal symptoms are not terribly severe, although nevertheless thoroughly unpleasant. With a heavy habit, cold turkey is excruciating. High fever combined with feeling alternately unbearably hot and freezing cold; uncontrollable shaking; total loss of energy; insomnia; an inability to find comfort in any position; severe cramps; itching that cannot be quelled. For days on end. It feels like an eternity.

And that's just the physical symptoms.

No, it's not just like a dose of flu for a few days.

However, with determination and a little chemical assistance, it can be overcome. But only if the desire , and I mean real desire to quit is there.

I can speak with a degree of authority here, having been down that road some 35 odd years ago. Naturally, different people will deal with it in different ways, but essentially it's the same shit.

Anonymous said...

I no longer have the internet link, but a few years ago was a study done in Japan that discovered a link between certain gene codes and a requirement for smoking. Yes, not an addiction, a requirement. Certain particular genetic code sequences, when present, required that individual to smoke in order to satisfy what those genes demanded. If that was a valid study, which it was reported online and I believe in a peer reviewed journal of some sort back then, then it is quite possible some people are born to smoke, as a necessity, while others simply are not. The implication, if that is fact, would be that smoking bans and the war on smokers is against the genetic makeup of some individuals and thus, immmoral.

nisakiman said...

Anonymous Richard Allan said...

Leg-Iron I have to say I think you're making some big pharmacological errors in this piece. If you look at the peer-reviewed literature you'll see heroin is probably just as easy to kick as smoking. To take one example, "There are real and horrible physical effects of [heroin] withdrawal". No there aren't; the most common symptom of heroin withdrawal is 2-3 days of "flu-like symptoms", which can easily be eliminated entirely by placing the addict in an environment which is not associated with heroin and where none is forthcoming. No-one dies from heroin withdrawal either.
-----------------------------

Richard Allan, I'm afraid you're talking out of your arse.

Smoking is not an addiction, it's a habit. If it were an actual addiction, a twenty a day smoker would wake several times during the night for a "top-up" and smokers would not be able to fly long-haul. Obviously, this is not the case.

Heroin addiction is an actual, physical addiction. After a period of time when the heroin "runs out" in the addict's system, he is compelled to seek a recharge. Day or night. Wherever he is.

It's a different animal altogether, and cannot be compared. Chalk and cheese.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Peter Hitchens: "So I changed my opinion."

He changed it the wrong way.

sixtypoundsaweekcleaner said...

Well, I wish I could get by on a bunch of bananas, I'd be a lot thinner than I am now.

Leg-iron said...

I have no personal experience of heroin. Never tried it. I've known a few who did and those who tried to come off it suffered badly. none succeeded while I knew them, Perhaps they have since.

Among smokers, those I know who stopped and stayed stopped... just stopped. Just like that. The only reason that ever works is 'Nah, it's not enjoyable any more'. Money, health, all those other reasons don't work.

Those who just stopped had no withdrawal symptoms at all. Those who tried because they were nagged into it suffered exactly the symptoms descrived by the medics. To the letter. No variation.

I have never known a heroin user who just stopped, just like that. Maybe they exist but from personal experience, I've never seen it.

Anonymous said...

Don’t have too much heroin experience, but after a day and a half without a smoke, I would probably have a go at your mid-section in order to get one. Neal Asher turned me onto your blog. Very interesting and you turn a phrase quite nicely as well….I shocked a few health nuts with your bit about Niacin here in California, (Smoker’s Hell), and when I read about your National No Smoking Day, I suggested a National No Breathing Day for the unctuous sods who came up with it…Greetings-Bill Brunton

Anonymous said...

...As someone who's wife spent 9 months in primary and secondry rehab all I can say to the above is bullshit!...

Dalrymple's position is, IIRC, that the big problems are psychological not physiological, and that most of the current strategies are wrongly focused on the physiological issues. It's cetainly a lot more dangerous withdrawing from heavy alcohol use.

Pat Nurse MA said...

I've known lots of heroin users. The addiction is physical, the withdrawal painful. people who fell into it tell me they started thinking they could control it, but found it controlled them. They sometimes did terrible immoral things to fund it that they would never have done otherwise and if they could have quit they would. Heroin to those people was hell. It took their lives and screwed them and some of them it killed.
The father whose son hanged himself in prison because of what heroin had done to him finally found peace and got his son back in death. The grandmother looking after her dead overdosed daughter's little girl wonders who the fuck stole her daughter's trainers as she lay dying with a needle sticking out of her arm.
My problem with comparing a smoking habit with a heroin addiction is that it minimises the very real problem of heroin. It will make people think heroin is Ok because it's easy to quit. That is the truth about smoking but it is not the truth about heroin.

Anonymous said...

You're not addicted to something until you've sucked cock for it.

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