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Why did Ayn Rand quit smoking?

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The story is Ayn Rand's doctor told her she gotta quit smoking because it is terribly bad for her health and she refused. She said: Give me one good reason and don't talk about statistics. The doctor showed her a picture of her lungs: lung cancer. Ayn Rand immediately put out the cigarette and never smoked again. So goes the story.

My question is: Why was lung cancer a reason for Ayn Rand to quit smoking?

She smoked and then got lung cancer, so what? That is not evidence that her smoking caused her lung cancer. She was not impressed by statistics; why should she be impressed by one case of anecdotal evidence? Lots of people smoked and then got lung cancer; why did her one case make a difference?

As long as we are going by only one case and not statistics, what about the case of a guy who does not smoke and then gets lung cancer? Perhaps not smoking causes lung cancer.

Lots of people ate broccoli and then got lung cancer. You say there is no statistical evidence that broccoli increases the chance of cancer. But remember, we are not talking about statistics. We are talking about just one case. If she had been eating broccoli instead of smoking, maybe she would have quit broccoli. Quitting broccoli because of lung cancer would make just as much sense as quitting smoking because of lung cancer.

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The lining of the bronchi is specialized and called pseudo-stratified, ciliated, columnar epithelium which is designed by nature to keep the lungs clean by trapping and removing particulate matter inhaled such as ingredients of smoke. Smoking even one cigarette a day caused squamous metaplasia or the replacement of normal lining with skin-like layer which does not have the structures necessary to keep the lungs clean. It is an anaplastic condition which is pre-cancerous as well.

In addition smoking does absolutely cause breakdown of the walls of the microscopic alveoli of the lungs where the transport of oxygen into the blood stream takes place causing emphysema and reducing the capacity of the lungs to absorb oxygen over time to the point where those sufferers of emphysema gasp for air between each word they speak and have to rely on nasal oxygen until they succumb.

These things happen to 100 percent of smokers. No smoker escapes these conditions. Virtually no doctor smokes anymore because they know these hazards and consequences of smoking. Ayn Rand learned too late that smoking cigarettes was life threatening and it caused her years of her life.

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I smoked for 4-5 years. I quit in 1969. I suspected I'd get emphysema if I kept it up. I had a lot of medical training in the army which also informed my decision. Statistically, if you are a heavy smoker and stop, ten years later your increased chance of getting lung cancer is the same. One in seven. 20 year figures aren't yet available. I'm now 43 years out. I'd suggest to smokers and ex-smokers to drink a lot of green tea. It seems to help prevent lung cancer, if that's what does it for the Japanese. Smoking probably caused congestive heart failure in Ayn Rand, not just lung cancer.

--Brant

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Why did Rand quit smoking?

Maybe the cancer diagnosis scared the bejeezus out of her?

:smile:

Michael

Maybe she was scared but that was no more a reason to quit smoking than it was a reason to quit broccoli. She had no reason to think smoking had anything to do with her lung cancer.

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Fear has reasons of which the mind knows not.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Why did Rand quit smoking?

Maybe the cancer diagnosis scared the bejeezus out of her?

:smile:

Michael

Maybe she was scared but that was no more a reason to quit smoking than it was a reason to quit broccoli. She had no reason to think smoking had anything to do with her lung cancer.

You simply don't know what reason she might have had at that point in time. Or that she had "no reason."

--Brant

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When I was in High School they showed pictures of clean lungs versus a smoker’s lungs. It pretty much grossed the idea right out of me. Well, mostly, I’ve enjoyed a good cigar now and then with a proper cocktail but you get the point.

Rand always was about linking facts to the perceivable; I’d just file this under Exhibit A

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She smoked and then got lung cancer, so what? That is not evidence that her smoking caused her lung cancer. She was not impressed by statistics; why should she be impressed by one case of anecdotal evidence? Lots of people smoked and then got lung cancer; why did her one case make a difference?

What you call her 'one case' was one of countless similar cases. Heavy smokers statistically run a higher risk of getting lung cancer than non-smokers.

As long as we are going by only one case and not statistics, what about the case of a guy who does not smoke and then gets lung cancer? Perhaps not smoking causes lung cancer.

We don't go by only one case. See above.

Lots of people ate broccoli and then got lung cancer. You say there is no statistical evidence that broccoli increases the chance of cancer. But remember, we are not talking about statistics. We are talking about just one case. If she had been eating broccoli instead of smoking, maybe she would have quit broccoli. Quitting broccoli because of lung cancer would make just as much sense as quitting smoking because of lung cancer.

No. For as opposed to eating broccoli, cigarette smoking does increase the risk of getting lung cancer.

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She smoked and then got lung cancer, so what? That is not evidence that her smoking caused her lung cancer. She was not impressed by statistics; why should she be impressed by one case of anecdotal evidence? Lots of people smoked and then got lung cancer; why did her one case make a difference?

What you call her 'one case' was one of countless similar cases. Heavy smokers statistically run a higher risk of getting lung cancer than non-smokers.

As long as we are going by only one case and not statistics, what about the case of a guy who does not smoke and then gets lung cancer? Perhaps not smoking causes lung cancer.

We don't go by only one case. See above.

Lots of people ate broccoli and then got lung cancer. You say there is no statistical evidence that broccoli increases the chance of cancer. But remember, we are not talking about statistics. We are talking about just one case. If she had been eating broccoli instead of smoking, maybe she would have quit broccoli. Quitting broccoli because of lung cancer would make just as much sense as quitting smoking because of lung cancer.

No. For as opposed to eating broccoli, cigarette smoking does increase the risk of getting lung cancer.

Ayn Rand was not impressed by statistics about smoking and lung cancer. The question remains: why was getting lung cancer a reason for Ayn Rand to quit smoking? She was not impressed by statistics and a multitude of cases but she was impressed by her own one case. Why?

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Ayn Rand was not impressed by statistics about smoking and lung cancer. The question remains: why was getting lung cancer a reason for Ayn Rand to quit smoking? She was not impressed by statistics and a multitude of cases but she was impressed by her own one case. Why?

If the diagnosis is cancer, who would not be 'impressed by one's own case'?

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Ayn Rand was not impressed by statistics about smoking and lung cancer. The question remains: why was getting lung cancer a reason for Ayn Rand to quit smoking? She was not impressed by statistics and a multitude of cases but she was impressed by her own one case. Why?

If the diagnosis is cancer, who would not be 'impressed by one's own case'?

Someone else smoked and got lung cancer; that is not evidence that smoking caused lung cancer. Ayn Rand smoked and got lung cancer; that is evidence that smoking caused lung cancer. What made the difference?

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Ayn Rand was not impressed by statistics about smoking and lung cancer. The question remains: why was getting lung cancer a reason for Ayn Rand to quit smoking? She was not impressed by statistics and a multitude of cases but she was impressed by her own one case. Why?

If the diagnosis is cancer, who would not be 'impressed by one's own case'?

Someone else smoked and got lung cancer; that is not evidence that smoking caused lung cancer. Ayn Rand smoked and got lung cancer; that is evidence that smoking caused lung cancer. What made the difference?

Taken to the limit there is no proof that anything causes anything. Why. Because two event pairs cannot be reproduced exactly. There is always some little difference. Your approach is to disbelieve everything but the nonsense in which you do believe. I am not sure you are a crackpot but your sure resemble one.

Have you read any of David Hume's philosophy? I am sure you would enjoy it.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Jerry,

Rand the myth never existed. Rand the human being did.

You will never make some of her acts fit the myth. It just won't happen.

I understand your quest, seeing your interest in alternative medicine and nutrition. But Rand had no such quest.

Instead, she had an opinion that those--like adamant doctors--who wanted to keep others from smoking were suffering from a death premise and wanted to extinguish the joy of life from folks who wanted to live it. And she glorified smoking in AS by saying man tamed fire at his finger-tips for his own pleasure. Her brand of cigarettes in AS bore the dollar sign. She used a long cigarette holder as a flashy ornament and baton to punctuate her points when talking. And stuff like that.

She went deep.

But in the end, I think she realized that her criticism of statistics (that statistics were not proof) applied equally to the things she said and did to promote smoking. As she probably got bombarded with smoking causes cancer information over the years (this permeated the culture), when she finally got cancer, I believe that scared her and she caved.

That's the way I see it.

Saying in public she was wrong, though... Now, that's another issue. That was not in her DNA.

Michael

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Jerry,

Rand the myth never existed. Rand the human being did.

You will never make some of her acts fit the myth. It just won't happen.

I understand your quest, seeing your interest in alternative medicine and nutrition. But Rand had no such quest.

Instead, she had an opinion that those--like adamant doctors--who wanted to keep others from smoking were suffering from a death premise and wanted to extinguish the joy of life from folks who wanted to live it. And she glorified smoking in AS by saying man tamed fire at his finger-tips for his own pleasure. Her brand of cigarettes in AS bore the dollar sign. She used a long cigarette holder as a flashy ornament and baton to punctuate her points when talking. And stuff like that.

She went deep.

But in the end, I think she realized that her criticism of statistics (that statistics were not proof) applied equally to the things she said and did to promote smoking. As she probably got bombarded with smoking causes cancer information over the years (this permeated the culture), when she finally got cancer, I believe that scared her and she caved.

That's the way I see it.

Saying in public she was wrong, though... Now, that's another issue. That was not in her DNA.

Michael

Seeing a photograph of a heavy smoker's lungs (taken posthumously, of course) can scare the bejesus out of anyone. If the change to lungs where evenly matched to a change in one's face the oncoming ugliness would cure anyone of the smoking habit.

It is a disgusting habit. Sucking dirt into one's lungs. Ecccchhh!. I quit back in 1962 after 14 years and a two pack a day habit, and I never regretted it.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Ayn Rand was not impressed by statistics about smoking and lung cancer. The question remains: why was getting lung cancer a reason for Ayn Rand to quit smoking? She was not impressed by statistics and a multitude of cases but she was impressed by her own one case. Why?

What do you mean by "she was impressed by her own one case"? Do you mean that you have evidence that her own case of getting lung cancer had convinced her that smoking had caused it?

Someone else smoked and got lung cancer; that is not evidence that smoking caused lung cancer. Ayn Rand smoked and got lung cancer; that is evidence that smoking caused lung cancer. What made the difference?

Where did you get the idea that Rand accepted her own case of cancer as evidence that smoking caused lung cancer? It is not logical for you to conclude that her quitting indicates that she believed that smoking had caused her cancer. Perhaps her doctor had convinced her that continuing to smoke would not help her chance of recovery.

J

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I understand your quest, seeing your interest in alternative medicine and nutrition. But Rand had no such quest.

I have no interest in alternative medicine. I see alternative medicine as alternative quackery. Hygiene is not medicine, orthodox or alternative. Hygiene is an alternative to medicine, not to be confused with alternative medicine.

Read this chapter by Shelton to learn the difference between medicine and hygiene.

Medicine and Hygiene Contrasted

Saying hygiene (the science of health) is a form of alternative medicine is like saying Objectivism is a form of alternative religion or like saying capitalism is a form of alternative socialism. There is a saying: check your premises.

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Taken to the limit there is no proof that anything causes anything. Why. Because two event pairs cannot be reproduced exactly. There is always some little difference. Your approach is to disbelieve everything but the nonsense in which you do believe. I am not sure you are a crackpot but your sure resemble one.

Have you read any of David Hume's philosophy? I am sure you would enjoy it.

Ba'al Chatzaf

I am well aware that in health matters, causes are usually not as simple as when cause C is present then effect E is present. To say that one thing causes another thing as for example smoking causes lung cancer is an inexact but convenient way of speaking. Perhaps I should have said "contributes to causing". The things that contribute to causing cancer are legion. The cause of cancer is the total weight of all those things, but even that is an oversimplification because there is such a thing as synergy.

I read David Hume's philosophy many years ago. First John Locke made a distinction between primary characteristics (eg. shape) and secondary characteristics (eg. color). Then George Berkeley took that distinction and used it to prove that matter does not exist except in the mind of God. Then David Hume came along and took Berkeley's proof and proved that mind does not exist either and he was the ultimate skeptic. Then Immanuel Kant came along and wrote "Critique of Pure Reason" and, according to Gary Hull, that's when the trouble began and it led to the "Black Hole of Contemporary Philosophy". If John Locke hadn't made that phony distinction between primary and secondary characteristics or if someone had corrected him, maybe Kant would not have happened. But all that has little or nothing to do with the question why Ayn Rand quit smoking.

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Where did you get the idea that Rand accepted her own case of cancer as evidence that smoking caused lung cancer? It is not logical for you to conclude that her quitting indicates that she believed that smoking had caused her cancer. Perhaps her doctor had convinced her that continuing to smoke would not help her chance of recovery.

J

Small distinction. Causes cancer, tends to cause cancer, promotes cancer, interferes with recovery, all these things are on the pro-cancer side of the balance. There is probably nothing in terms of lifestyle that by itself absolutely guarantees cancer.

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I have no interest in alternative medicine. I see alternative medicine as alternative quackery. Hygiene is not medicine, orthodox or alternative. Hygiene is an alternative to medicine, not to be confused with alternative medicine.

Jerry,

This sounds to me like BS.

You know darn well what I meant. I refuse to use your jargon and enter into these semantic games. This is the same crap we get from religions who say they are not really religions.

And I don't need to go far. Here's the beginning of a Wikipedia entry on Herbert M. Shelton:

Herbert Macgolfin Shelton (6 October 1895–1 January 1985) was an American alternative medicine advocate, author, pacifist, vegetarian, unlicensed doctor, and supporter of raw foodism and fasting.

I'm a conceptual thinker, not a semantic nit-picky one who allows himself to get pushed into jargon games from belief system disciples. (Objectivism is bad enough in that department.)

If you're not interested in my comments, that's fine by me. But if you are, I discuss ideas, not preaching agendas.

Michael

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I have no interest in alternative medicine. I see alternative medicine as alternative quackery. Hygiene is not medicine, orthodox or alternative. Hygiene is an alternative to medicine, not to be confused with alternative medicine.

[...]

If you're not interested in my comments, that's fine by me. But if you are, I discuss ideas, not preaching agendas.

Michael

I understand the point of alternative medicine vs alternative to medicine is a side point, not the main part of the discussion. You don't believe in the distinction; I do. I don't believe in alternative medicine. If someone called Objectivism a form of alternative religion, you probably would respond. I get this "alternative medicine" thing all the time.

I am very familiar with Shelton. I go back to the 1970s with Shelton and others like him. Wiki is not a good source of info about Shelton. True, Shelton made some mistakes, but that is just a one sided view of him.

I agree that Ayn Rand the myth never existed. My guess is she was addicted to smoking but didn't want to admit to being addicted because that would be a denial of free will, so she denied evidence and glorified smoking as controlled fire. Then reality struck. Perhaps perfectly rational people don't exist outside of fiction.

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What are you looking to know here? Whether or not she thought smoking was the cause, or whether it would just hinder recovery (or exacerbate a cancer rooted in something else), it's pretty obvious that her lungs, and the effects of smoking upon them, were the catalyst for her cessation.

"There is probably nothing in terms of lifestyle that by itself absolutely guarantees cancer."

Maybe not 100.0% (though Marie Curie may disagree were she able to). If only 99.99999% can be acknowledged, does that make much difference in practice?

/addiction is not "a denial of free will"

//yes, it's unlikely that 100.0000% rational ppl do not, and cannot, exist. Well, "cannot" is too strong- despite it being possible in a strict sense, it's unlikeliness makes it appropriate to only consider how close someone can come to it.

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What are you looking to know here? Whether or not she thought smoking was the cause, or whether it would just hinder recovery (or exacerbate a cancer rooted in something else), it's pretty obvious that her lungs, and the effects of smoking upon them, were the catalyst for her cessation.

Ayn Rand smoked and then got lung cancer. That is not evidence that smoking caused or even contributed to causing lung cancer. Event A happened, then event B happened, therefore A caused B is a well known fallacy. You could just as easily say Ayn Rand ate chocolate, then got lung cancer, therefore chocolate caused lung cancer. She had no more reason to quit smoking than she had reason to quit eating chocolate.

Statistics you say. But Ayn Rand was not impressed by statistics. Doctor's advice you say. But she was not impressed by the doctor's advice to quit smoking.

I'm left with the question: why did Ayn Rand quit smoking? I mean from her point of view, not from my point of view.

I have a sneaking suspicion. I suspect that the sequence of events was something like this.

1. Ayn Rand started smoking. Why? No rational reason that I know. Perhaps because she saw others smoke. Monkey see, monkey do. It's not enough to have a brain; one must use it.

2. She got what is called "addicted". I don't know if this is the right word but it's the word commonly used.

3. In addition to whatever difficulty she may have had overcoming this addiction (or whatever the correct word is), quitting smoking would kind of suggest that she was wrong to start. But being the perfectly rational person (as she saw herself) she obviously was justified in starting smoking. A perfectly rational person would never do anything irrational. It must be that starting smoking was rational.

4. So smoking had to be rationalized. Smoking is a symbol of controlled fire that burns in the mind of every Atlas Shrugged type hero. Statistics are not valid evidence. Her health problems were not caused by smoking.

5. Then reality struck. Lung cancer. This was different. It was no longer a matter of public image. It was a matter of survival. Someone suggested to her that she should announce to the world that she quit smoking and why. She said it's nobody's business.

I repeat: the above sequence of events is just my speculation.

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Just because she "wasn't impressed" by statistics or doctors' advice doesn't mean they didn't factor into her decision to quit.

What I see here is that she smoked, saw the dr., then quit. This sequence of events shows her quitting as being catalyzed by this event, or being coincidental - i think we'd agree on the former, no?

Further, as was alluded to with "100.0% rationality", it's silly to presume that her decision to quit was rooted solely in a concise, explanable reason - some combination of rational faculty and survival instinct* caused her to quit, and to argue that the dr. visit wasn't the catalyst is foolish.

(*ya ya there's no "instincts"- she's wrong on that one)

and re her quitting and not wanting to trumpet her decision, that fits incredibly well with what others have suggested insofar as her almost inability to admit being wrong, or to ever allow any hints that she could be anything but 100.0% rational (not fully OT but i think that's the crux of why her final years in life sucked so badly)

Would've been nice if she were born into an age where smoking (and amphetamine over-usage) were understood a little better :\

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