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Why did Ayn Rand quit smoking?

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There's a psychological subset to the nicotine addiction. Smokers feel that they are just not themselves, their full personalities without their cigarettes...

Carol,

I dealt with this in my 2005 article, Understanding Addiction -- An Objectivist View.

I riffed off of Ayn Rand's idea of "sense of life." I called it "sense of identity." To quote myself, in addiction, the sense of identity gets altered so much that "an addict cannot conceive of a future without that addictive substance being a part of his life."

You describe exactly what I experienced with the various addictions I beat over the years. I could have easily used your words as an example if time travel were possible. :)

btw - I know I beat my addictions because my addicted "sense of identity" feeling gradually abated over time, then finally disappeared, and was replaced by the universal one reality provides.

For example at the deepest level of my being, I am no longer a drinking man. I am just a man. Ditto for cigarettes and crack cocaine.

Michael

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^nice way of looking at it. also, if you've 'beaten' things i presume you've been at points where you know what i mean when i say that, despite not being able to see oneself w/o <chemical here>, one knows their 'sense of life' is off and cannot be optimized while physically and/or psychologically dependent.

/objectivists usually do a decent job of understanding the biochemical and behavioral aspects of addiction from what i've seen.

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On 11/28/2012 at 4:10 PM, Reidy said:

According to BB's biography, the Blumenthals tried to make this very point to her and to get her to recommend that people quit smoking; she wouldn't even have to mention her own medical circumstances. She refused. She believed (not alone) that cancer is a product of emotional repression and could not make sense of the fact that it had happened to her.

Was Rand really that ignorant of of biology and physiology? 

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From: BBfromM To: atlantis Subject: ATL: Was Ayn Rand ever wrong? To Ellen Moore

Date: Tue, 5 Jun 2001 11:05:03 EDT

To Ellen Moore:

To date, you never have said -- and have denied it when an instance was raised -- that Ayn Rand made a mistake. I want to ask you about the following:

Ayn Rand smoked a great deal, and for many years. And she announced often, publicly as well as privately, that there was insufficient evidence to prove that smoking caused cancer or any other disease. Many Objectivist students across the country felt safe in continuing to smoke because of her convincing arguments against statistical "proof." Then, when she was diagnosed with lung cancer, she stopped smoking at once, finally convinced that the evidence was sufficient. Her doctor did not have to tell her to stop; she did it before he could raise the subject.

When she was well, and back at work, friends said to her that she really should tell people that she had changed her mind, that now she was convinced that smoking was indeed dangerous to life. She flatly refused to do so. The reasons is not relevant; I can think of no reason good enough to warrant her silence when the results could be the death of some of the people who had accepted her original arguments and therefore had continued smoking.

For those of you who wish to know her so-called reason, it was her horror of announcing that she had cancer, because she believed that any serious illness resulted at least in part from "wrong premises." She could not bring herself to inform her students that she had any wrong premises, since she had so often told them and countless others that she had none, and had believed it herself. No matter how long and how hard her friends tried to persuade her, she refused. And she spent months, probably years, trying to discover the wrong premises that had resulted in her cancer.

Ellen, my question is: Do you think Ayn Rand was wrong not to tell her students her new conclusion about smoking?

Barbara

 

From: BBfromM To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Was Ayn Rand ever wrong? To Ellen Moore

Date: Tue, 5 Jun 2001 14:41:02 EDT

Tim Hopkins wrote: <<  So I do think that the reason for not telling her [Ayn Rand's] students and admirers that she had changed her mind on the smoking issue is important, since it is possible (again, correct me if I am wrong, since I did not know her) she was *not* convinced of a causal relation between smoking and cancer, and stopped smoking on the basis that such a relationship was probable, not proven. >>

Even if it is the case that she considered that the relationship between smoking and cancer was probable, not proven -- I believe that she had the moral obligation to tell her students and admirers that much. It would have stopped many of them from continuing to smoke.

Barbara

 

From: BBfromM To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Re: Was Ayn Rand ever wrong? To Ellen Moore

Date: Tue, 5 Jun 2001 18:16:56 EDT

You are quite right, Jeff, but this was not Ayn Rand's position. She did think that her smoking had been at least a partial cause of her lung cancer. And she should have told this to NBI's students.

Barbara

 

From: Nathaniel Branden Reply To: atlantis Subject: ATL: Rand and smoking Date: Tue, 05 Jun 2001 16:05:42 -0700

When Devers Branden visited Ayn Rand, as reported in the revised edition of my memoir, Devers still smoked (1980-81).

When Devers pulled out a cigarette AR said to her, "Oh, you really should not smoke.  It's very bad for your health."

Devers promised to quit and she did.

Nathaniel Branden

 

From: BBfromM To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Re: Was Ayn Rand ever wrong? Date: Wed, 6 Jun 2001 00:29:13 EDT

Steve Reed wrote:

<< Was it that she [Ayn Rand] had, in fact, decided (or not) that smoking was genuinely dangerous to -human life,- in more general terms? Or that it clearly had been a cause of harm to -her own life,- in specific terms? I never quite understood which alternative was involved here. (Perhaps something else.)>>

 

I think that both sides of the alternative were involved. That is, that she began to think it likely that smoking potentially was dangerous to life and that it had been at least a partial cause of her own cancer.

Steve further wrote: <<It would only tend toward being a causal "result" for those who -substituted- Rand's judgments about this evidence for their own appraisals. We do that all the time when relying on expert testimony. Many strong admirers of Rand (such as I) have had moments of doing so. . . . Yet whether Rand had enough of a scientific basis at hand to be properly relied upon as an expert on this issue is another matter. She had one genuine broader philosophic truth at hand, that "correlation is not causation" -- yet she ended up using this, it seems, as a mere rationalization.>>

 

If you had heard Ayn Rand's arguments about why there was no proof that smoking had a causative role in cancer, you would not speak of her listeners substituting her judgment for their own appraisals. As usual, her arguments were powerful, even overwhelming. I believe that most of our students were convinced by her reasons, whether or not they also saw her as an authority figure. Unless one went home, thought about what she said and how convincing it was -- and then thought: But is just isn't so! Although there are many exceptions, the correlation between smoking and cancer is simply too strong to be explained away.

 

It is very difficult to make real to people who didn't see her in action, the extraordinary intellectual power of Ayn Rand. We are very lucky that she wasn't a communist, because if she had been, we probably would now be living under a communist dictatorship. (I know, I know, I'm uttering a near-contradiction – Ayn Rand as a communist would not be Ayn Rand -- but it approximately makes my point.)

 

Steve also wrote: < . . . Mind-over-disease cults have had a long history of popular appeal in Russia, over two centuries -- and have had a newly fueled appeal with Russia's equivalent of tabloid TV, in the past decade. Especially in light of Chris Sciabarra's recent research, I wonder if some of -that- perspective sneaked into her outlook at a tender age.. . . . It's no calumny on Rand to note this possibility, as some of the Orthodox have implied in bashing Barbara's bio. Irrationalism has deep roots, and the human mind deals with too many matters at once to make it easy to exclude others' bad judgments.

 

I quite agree with you that it's no calumny on Ayn Rand to suggest that the mind-over-disease idea might have begun with her early years in Russia. I have said before that the astonishing thing about her was how many of the ideas that constituted her world as a child, she was able, then and later, to question and, if they didn't make sense to her, to reject. Most people never question the ideas they are exposed to in childhood, the ideas that seem to the child to be so universally accepted that there must be nothing to question or doubt, and that there cannot be a justification, since "everybody knows they are true," even to expose them to the light of reason. Her extraordinary ability and determination to do this to the extent that she did do it, is one more expression of her genius. That she missed a few of the ideas that everyone knows are true but are not true, is not surprising; it probably is inevitable for any mind. Even a great mind cannot know to question *everything.*

 

This is an aside, but reading her Journal, I was struck once again, as I have been so many times in the past, with the incredible scope and range of her intelligence. In her early teens and twenties, she was thinking about the major concepts of philosophy, and struggling her way to her own philosophy. Hers was as firsthand a mind as I can conceive of.

 

However, though her view might have begun in Russia, it was later buttressed and expanded upon by Nathaniel, in long conversations they had over many years. He was convinced in those years that the mind and the emotions played a crucial role in disease -- which may very well be so, but that is another issue. Barbara

 

From: "Peter Taylor" To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: ARI on Smoking Date: Sat, 15 Jul 2000 17:52:33 GMT

 

To briefly recap the smoking thread:

Jason R. Walker wrote:

"The compromise is this: in the state of Florida, "Big Tobacco", as it's referred to, will no longer sell cigarettes in exchange for amnesty from the suit."

 

Steve Reed wrote:

"The tobacco companies were craven enough to dig their own grave of precedent. Let them lie, and die, in it. I'll save my moral support for Gates."

 

Thomas Gramstad wrote about the auxiliary costs of smoking: "1. Material and medical expenses because of fires caused by smoking. 2. Material and medical expenses because of traffic accidents caused by smoking . . .

3. Medical expenses related to diseases where smoking is a contributing, but not the single or major cause of the disease. 4. Smokers are usually allowed many short smoking breaks on the job."

 

Dennis May wrote in support of the benefits of tobacco:

"The findings:

Cigarette smoking improves hand eye coordination. Increases the speed of reflexes. Correlates with higher intellectual capabilities. Increases alertness. And increases blood pressure, reducing high-G induced blackouts."

 

Peter Reidy wrote about being objective during this argument and mentioning all the facts:

"I haven't been following this discussion, but have people mentioned that smokers never get Alzheimer's, or that they save the rest of us money by dying sooner? They are much less likely to spend the last decade or two of  their lives collecting pensions, in and out of the hospital."

 

Brant Gaede wrote about ARI's support of smoking:

"Sure one's total context determines whether it is rational to smoke or not, but maybe the context itself is not rational. I think the ARI is just trying to justify Ayn Rand's smoking. I think Ayn Rand was irrational about her smoking and rationalized it."

 

And now I write:

$140 Billion may seem an excessive judgment, but then again, considering the worth of even one life, perhaps it is the correct, "jury-nullification" type of verdict, i.e., allowing a jury to express outrage at a terrible injustice, even if the dollar amount is later lessened.

 

Perhaps it is the correct "jury-nullification" type of verdict - because "they," (the management of the tobacco companies, or Big Tobacco) have a product, if used correctly, will addict you. And if you are addicted, your life will be "greatly" shortened. And the evidence is definitely pointing towards the fact that second-hand smoke also significantly shortens the life of the breathers of second-hand smoke.

 

And "they" know it. "They" have known it, about addiction and health risks associated with smoking, since the fifties and they have known it *for sure* since the sixties. "They" are liars. They have allowed and encouraged people to use their product and then die agonizing, early deaths. And they did not give a fig. Perhaps fraud was involved, and criminal as well as civil laws were broken.

 

Just imagine this same scenario with any other product, say automobiles. Let us imagine, The Twentieth Century Motor Company made a car that vented a portion of the exhaust, as well as an addictive gas, into the cab of all its vehicles. The exhaust is a carcinogenic (just as diesel gas exhaust is.)

 

The owner of The Twentieth Century Motor Company, Ma Chalmers and Elsworth Tooey, tinkered with the design, until it took, say, one-hundred rides, in one of their cars, before the passengers were physically addicted. They decided to keep the facts a secret.

 

People had tremendous loyalty to this brand of vehicle. The cars were heavily advertised and became "stylish." People also had tremendous loyalty to this brand of vehicle because they became physically addicted to driving the vehicle. When they drove one of these vehicles a certain anxiety left them. They felt calm and fulfilled. They were getting a "fix" of the addictive, exhaust mixture. Vroom! Vroom!

 

And "they" did not care that their defective product would kill. In fact, Ma and Elsworth's only concern about the death of their car-buyers, was that they would constantly need to replenish the ranks of Twentieth Century Motor car drivers. So, they put their ads on bill-boards, in magazines, on the side of buses in the city, and they especially put their ads everywhere that kids and teenagers could be influenced to drive their vehicles, so that "they" could maximize the length of time that addicts could buy new cars.

 

Likewise, the tobacco company's universe was not "benevolent." I say this verdict is not an argument about freedom or Capitalism. It is about a murderous intent to hurt, maim, and kill, where the concealment of the true nature of their product, involved fraud and coercion. Sure, we should have the right to buy any product we wish, however, we should also have the right to sue the maker's of defective products or products that were intentionally-made-lethal and that cause the owner's death.

 

The fact is that the majority of non-smokers will say, "Of course. Sue the Bastards . .."

 

And smokers will disagree and begin stock-piling cigarettes if there is ever evidence that cigarettes will become illegal. This helps to prove my point. Addiction is an insidious process. An addict will do terrible things (and the least terrible thing they do, may be to evade, and then like ARI, defend their position to their death) just to be able to continue "to feed their habit" or to "get a fix."

 

In the name of my father, who died of smoking-related disease, I hope the tobacco companies are sued into oblivion. "They" do not deserve the good feelings or support of any Objectivist. "They" killed Ayn. "They" have killed too many of us. Peter Taylor

 

From: "Peter Taylor" To: atlantis Subject: ATL: ARI and Smoking Date: Sat, 15 Jul 2000 18:14:08 GMT

 

This is a slightly revised reprint of a letter I wrote to "family" and "agora" when I first entered the World Wide Web, around nine months ago.

 

On page 22 of the paperback version of Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand writes about her character Dagny Taggert, ". . . When she extinguished her cigarette, she knew that she needed another one, but thought that she would give herself a minute, just a few minutes, before she would light it . . ."

 

Rather than being evasive or defensive about Dagny's and perhaps her own nicotine addiction, Rand openly states this fact for a discerning reader to discover. Many fans of Ayn Rand may know that she died from smoking related disease. Why didn't she ever write anything derogatory about smoking, after discovering her illness?

 

I am certainly not going to "Psychologize" her, but when Rand wrote her masterpiece she was aware of several things - the unhealthy effects of smoking on herself -  the effects of addiction on herself -  the possibility that her glamorization of smoking would cause others to feel permissive about smoking. To paraphrase something that I once heard on the radio, ". . . as early as 1901, the writer O'Henry wrote that a cigarette was a nail in a smoker's coffin . . ."

She knew.

She knew . . . though she certainly could not have envisioned people wanting ARI's writing contest (and her book) CLOSED to High-School students because of what we now know about the long-term effects of smoking.

 

When she ends Atlas Shrugged on page 1074, Ayn writes,

 

"The road is cleared," said Galt. "We are going back to the world. He raised his hand and over the desolate earth he traced in space the sign of the dollar."

 

Does any reader doubt that his hand held a cigarette?

 

My father died from smoking related disease and I have two non-smoking daughters, a college aged daughter Sarah, who has read Atlas Shrugged and a fifteen year old named Laura, who seems to be stuck at page 40 but says she is going to read it. I cautioned my daughters about being influenced about smoking by the world's greatest writer, persuader, and pro-smoking advocate.

 

I would like to benevolently extend this caution to everyone, and especially to some of the most valuable people in the world, Objectivists, Students of Objectivism, Libertarians and all people who have enjoyed her books and consider themselves pro-reason.

 

Inhaling burning vegetation, to be more adult, to be better able to concentrate and "think" more clearly,   to be "Cool,"   or to be like Ayn Rand's characters  -  could be traveling a road that leads to addiction, illness, and an early, agonizing death. That is not Objective. This is not what Ayn Rand would have wanted.

Live long and prosper, Peter Taylor

 

It's not particularly relevant to this discussion, but although Rand had lung cancer in the 70s, it did not recur after her surgery. She died of congestive heart failure. However, as someone who was foolish enough to smoke for many years, I know, as every smoker knows, that we all twisted our brains into pretzels in order to avoid facing the fact that cigarettes might very well kill us. Yes, in the early 60s, when Rand said there was no poof that smoking caused cancer, it was true that there was no final, definitive, absolute, syllogistic, incontrovertible, undeniable, non-statistical, overwhelming proof. But we knew. We all knew, including Ayn Rand. With regard to any other issue, had we had the amount of evidence we had about the danger of smoking, we would have considered it more than enough evidence for us to act upon. Barbara

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Sorry for the repeat. I thought this was a new topic.

Just don't smoke. I am glad to see less and less smoking in public even here in a rural area. I like to walk on a country road and as cars drive by I can smell exhaust fumes but also cigarette smoke coming from cars. I would estimate one in ten or less smell cancerous.

Peter   

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19 minutes ago, Peter said:

Just imagine this same scenario with any other product, say automobiles. Let us imagine, The Twentieth Century Motor Company made a car that vented a portion of the exhaust, as well as an addictive gas, into the cab of all its vehicles. The exhaust is a carcinogenic (just as diesel gas exhaust is.)

 

The owner of The Twentieth Century Motor Company, Ma Chalmers and Elsworth Tooey, tinkered with the design, until it took, say, one-hundred rides, in one of their cars, before the passengers were physically addicted. They decided to keep the facts a secret.

 

People had tremendous loyalty to this brand of vehicle. The cars were heavily advertised and became "stylish." People also had tremendous loyalty to this brand of vehicle because they became physically addicted to driving the vehicle. When they drove one of these vehicles a certain anxiety left them. They felt calm and fulfilled. They were getting a "fix" of the addictive, exhaust mixture. Vroom! Vroom!

 

And "they" did not care that their defective product would kill. In fact, Ma and Elsworth's only concern about the death of their car-buyers, was that they would constantly need to replenish the ranks of Twentieth Century Motor car drivers. So, they put their ads on bill-boards, in magazines, on the side of buses in the city, and they especially put their ads everywhere that kids and teenagers could be influenced to drive their vehicles, so that "they" could maximize the length of time that addicts could buy new cars.

 

Likewise, the tobacco company's universe was not "benevolent."

Peter,

I can't tell from the way you posted this if it is recent or from before (or even if it's you :) ), but after studying a bit of neuroscience and related fields, I can't help but think about video gaming when I read this creative projection of Ma Chalmers and Ellsworth Toohey. Or, hell, high fructose corn syrup.

You might be interested to learn that social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc., hire addiction specialists from Las Vegas to keep user addiction levels high on their platforms. These addiction specialists are well studied in neuroscience (especially actions that trigger brain chemicals), modern psychology, gamification, etc. They learned a long time ago in Vegas that one armed bandit zombies do not exist in nature. They are engineered scientifically using regular human beings as raw material.

:)

Michael

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27 minutes ago, Peter said:

 

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In the old days they used to call cigarettes  cancer sticks and coffin nails.  One did not need a degree in medicine to know smoking was bad for the health. There was the bronchitis,  catahhr,   technicolor phlegm, shortness of breath and that lovely deep  rumbling juicy cough.  

If one wanted to celebrate  fire at Man's fingertips one could hold a lighted candle and not suffer all those ill effects. 

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36 minutes ago, Peter said:

From: BBfromM To: atlantis Subject: ATL: Was Ayn Rand ever wrong? To Ellen Moore

Date: Tue, 5 Jun 2001 11:05:03 EDT

To Ellen Moore:

To date, you never have said -- and have denied it when an instance was raised -- that Ayn Rand made a mistake. I want to ask you about the following:

Ayn Rand smoked a great deal, and for many years. And she announced often, publicly as well as privately, that there was insufficient evidence to prove that smoking caused cancer or any other disease. Many Objectivist students across the country felt safe in continuing to smoke because of her convincing arguments against statistical "proof." Then, when she was diagnosed with lung cancer, she stopped smoking at once, finally convinced that the evidence was sufficient. Her doctor did not have to tell her to stop; she did it before he could raise the subject.

When she was well, and back at work, friends said to her that she really should tell people that she had changed her mind, that now she was convinced that smoking was indeed dangerous to life. She flatly refused to do so. The reasons is not relevant; I can think of no reason good enough to warrant her silence when the results could be the death of some of the people who had accepted her original arguments and therefore had continued smoking.

For those of you who wish to know her so-called reason, it was her horror of announcing that she had cancer, because she believed that any serious illness resulted at least in part from "wrong premises." She could not bring herself to inform her students that she had any wrong premises, since she had so often told them and countless others that she had none, and had believed it herself. No matter how long and how hard her friends tried to persuade her, she refused. And she spent months, probably years, trying to discover the wrong premises that had resulted in her cancer.

Ellen, my question is: Do you think Ayn Rand was wrong not to tell her students her new conclusion about smoking?

Barbara

 

From: BBfromM To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Was Ayn Rand ever wrong? To Ellen Moore

Date: Tue, 5 Jun 2001 14:41:02 EDT

Tim Hopkins wrote: <<  So I do think that the reason for not telling her [Ayn Rand's] students and admirers that she had changed her mind on the smoking issue is important, since it is possible (again, correct me if I am wrong, since I did not know her) she was *not* convinced of a causal relation between smoking and cancer, and stopped smoking on the basis that such a relationship was probable, not proven. >>

Even if it is the case that she considered that the relationship between smoking and cancer was probable, not proven -- I believe that she had the moral obligation to tell her students and admirers that much. It would have stopped many of them from continuing to smoke.

Barbara

 

From: BBfromM To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Re: Was Ayn Rand ever wrong? To Ellen Moore

Date: Tue, 5 Jun 2001 18:16:56 EDT

You are quite right, Jeff, but this was not Ayn Rand's position. She did think that her smoking had been at least a partial cause of her lung cancer. And she should have told this to NBI's students.

Barbara

 

From: Nathaniel Branden Reply To: atlantis Subject: ATL: Rand and smoking Date: Tue, 05 Jun 2001 16:05:42 -0700

When Devers Branden visited Ayn Rand, as reported in the revised edition of my memoir, Devers still smoked (1980-81).

When Devers pulled out a cigarette AR said to her, "Oh, you really should not smoke.  It's very bad for your health."

Devers promised to quit and she did.

Nathaniel Branden

 

From: BBfromM To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Re: Was Ayn Rand ever wrong? Date: Wed, 6 Jun 2001 00:29:13 EDT

Steve Reed wrote:

<< Was it that she [Ayn Rand] had, in fact, decided (or not) that smoking was genuinely dangerous to -human life,- in more general terms? Or that it clearly had been a cause of harm to -her own life,- in specific terms? I never quite understood which alternative was involved here. (Perhaps something else.)>>

 

I think that both sides of the alternative were involved. That is, that she began to think it likely that smoking potentially was dangerous to life and that it had been at least a partial cause of her own cancer.

Steve further wrote: <<It would only tend toward being a causal "result" for those who -substituted- Rand's judgments about this evidence for their own appraisals. We do that all the time when relying on expert testimony. Many strong admirers of Rand (such as I) have had moments of doing so. . . . Yet whether Rand had enough of a scientific basis at hand to be properly relied upon as an expert on this issue is another matter. She had one genuine broader philosophic truth at hand, that "correlation is not causation" -- yet she ended up using this, it seems, as a mere rationalization.>>

 

If you had heard Ayn Rand's arguments about why there was no proof that smoking had a causative role in cancer, you would not speak of her listeners substituting her judgment for their own appraisals. As usual, her arguments were powerful, even overwhelming. I believe that most of our students were convinced by her reasons, whether or not they also saw her as an authority figure. Unless one went home, thought about what she said and how convincing it was -- and then thought: But is just isn't so! Although there are many exceptions, the correlation between smoking and cancer is simply too strong to be explained away.

 

It is very difficult to make real to people who didn't see her in action, the extraordinary intellectual power of Ayn Rand. We are very lucky that she wasn't a communist, because if she had been, we probably would now be living under a communist dictatorship. (I know, I know, I'm uttering a near-contradiction – Ayn Rand as a communist would not be Ayn Rand -- but it approximately makes my point.)

 

Steve also wrote: < . . . Mind-over-disease cults have had a long history of popular appeal in Russia, over two centuries -- and have had a newly fueled appeal with Russia's equivalent of tabloid TV, in the past decade. Especially in light of Chris Sciabarra's recent research, I wonder if some of -that- perspective sneaked into her outlook at a tender age.. . . . It's no calumny on Rand to note this possibility, as some of the Orthodox have implied in bashing Barbara's bio. Irrationalism has deep roots, and the human mind deals with too many matters at once to make it easy to exclude others' bad judgments.

 

I quite agree with you that it's no calumny on Ayn Rand to suggest that the mind-over-disease idea might have begun with her early years in Russia. I have said before that the astonishing thing about her was how many of the ideas that constituted her world as a child, she was able, then and later, to question and, if they didn't make sense to her, to reject. Most people never question the ideas they are exposed to in childhood, the ideas that seem to the child to be so universally accepted that there must be nothing to question or doubt, and that there cannot be a justification, since "everybody knows they are true," even to expose them to the light of reason. Her extraordinary ability and determination to do this to the extent that she did do it, is one more expression of her genius. That she missed a few of the ideas that everyone knows are true but are not true, is not surprising; it probably is inevitable for any mind. Even a great mind cannot know to question *everything.*

 

This is an aside, but reading her Journal, I was struck once again, as I have been so many times in the past, with the incredible scope and range of her intelligence. In her early teens and twenties, she was thinking about the major concepts of philosophy, and struggling her way to her own philosophy. Hers was as firsthand a mind as I can conceive of.

 

However, though her view might have begun in Russia, it was later buttressed and expanded upon by Nathaniel, in long conversations they had over many years. He was convinced in those years that the mind and the emotions played a crucial role in disease -- which may very well be so, but that is another issue. Barbara

 

From: "Peter Taylor" To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: ARI on Smoking Date: Sat, 15 Jul 2000 17:52:33 GMT

 

To briefly recap the smoking thread:

Jason R. Walker wrote:

"The compromise is this: in the state of Florida, "Big Tobacco", as it's referred to, will no longer sell cigarettes in exchange for amnesty from the suit."

 

Steve Reed wrote:

"The tobacco companies were craven enough to dig their own grave of precedent. Let them lie, and die, in it. I'll save my moral support for Gates."

 

Thomas Gramstad wrote about the auxiliary costs of smoking: "1. Material and medical expenses because of fires caused by smoking. 2. Material and medical expenses because of traffic accidents caused by smoking . . .

3. Medical expenses related to diseases where smoking is a contributing, but not the single or major cause of the disease. 4. Smokers are usually allowed many short smoking breaks on the job."

 

Dennis May wrote in support of the benefits of tobacco:

"The findings:

Cigarette smoking improves hand eye coordination. Increases the speed of reflexes. Correlates with higher intellectual capabilities. Increases alertness. And increases blood pressure, reducing high-G induced blackouts."

 

Peter Reidy wrote about being objective during this argument and mentioning all the facts:

"I haven't been following this discussion, but have people mentioned that smokers never get Alzheimer's, or that they save the rest of us money by dying sooner? They are much less likely to spend the last decade or two of  their lives collecting pensions, in and out of the hospital."

 

Brant Gaede wrote about ARI's support of smoking:

"Sure one's total context determines whether it is rational to smoke or not, but maybe the context itself is not rational. I think the ARI is just trying to justify Ayn Rand's smoking. I think Ayn Rand was irrational about her smoking and rationalized it."

 

And now I write:

$140 Billion may seem an excessive judgment, but then again, considering the worth of even one life, perhaps it is the correct, "jury-nullification" type of verdict, i.e., allowing a jury to express outrage at a terrible injustice, even if the dollar amount is later lessened.

 

Perhaps it is the correct "jury-nullification" type of verdict - because "they," (the management of the tobacco companies, or Big Tobacco) have a product, if used correctly, will addict you. And if you are addicted, your life will be "greatly" shortened. And the evidence is definitely pointing towards the fact that second-hand smoke also significantly shortens the life of the breathers of second-hand smoke.

 

And "they" know it. "They" have known it, about addiction and health risks associated with smoking, since the fifties and they have known it *for sure* since the sixties. "They" are liars. They have allowed and encouraged people to use their product and then die agonizing, early deaths. And they did not give a fig. Perhaps fraud was involved, and criminal as well as civil laws were broken.

 

Just imagine this same scenario with any other product, say automobiles. Let us imagine, The Twentieth Century Motor Company made a car that vented a portion of the exhaust, as well as an addictive gas, into the cab of all its vehicles. The exhaust is a carcinogenic (just as diesel gas exhaust is.)

 

The owner of The Twentieth Century Motor Company, Ma Chalmers and Elsworth Tooey, tinkered with the design, until it took, say, one-hundred rides, in one of their cars, before the passengers were physically addicted. They decided to keep the facts a secret.

 

People had tremendous loyalty to this brand of vehicle. The cars were heavily advertised and became "stylish." People also had tremendous loyalty to this brand of vehicle because they became physically addicted to driving the vehicle. When they drove one of these vehicles a certain anxiety left them. They felt calm and fulfilled. They were getting a "fix" of the addictive, exhaust mixture. Vroom! Vroom!

 

And "they" did not care that their defective product would kill. In fact, Ma and Elsworth's only concern about the death of their car-buyers, was that they would constantly need to replenish the ranks of Twentieth Century Motor car drivers. So, they put their ads on bill-boards, in magazines, on the side of buses in the city, and they especially put their ads everywhere that kids and teenagers could be influenced to drive their vehicles, so that "they" could maximize the length of time that addicts could buy new cars.

 

Likewise, the tobacco company's universe was not "benevolent." I say this verdict is not an argument about freedom or Capitalism. It is about a murderous intent to hurt, maim, and kill, where the concealment of the true nature of their product, involved fraud and coercion. Sure, we should have the right to buy any product we wish, however, we should also have the right to sue the maker's of defective products or products that were intentionally-made-lethal and that cause the owner's death.

 

The fact is that the majority of non-smokers will say, "Of course. Sue the Bastards . .."

 

And smokers will disagree and begin stock-piling cigarettes if there is ever evidence that cigarettes will become illegal. This helps to prove my point. Addiction is an insidious process. An addict will do terrible things (and the least terrible thing they do, may be to evade, and then like ARI, defend their position to their death) just to be able to continue "to feed their habit" or to "get a fix."

 

In the name of my father, who died of smoking-related disease, I hope the tobacco companies are sued into oblivion. "They" do not deserve the good feelings or support of any Objectivist. "They" killed Ayn. "They" have killed too many of us. Peter Taylor

 

From: "Peter Taylor" To: atlantis Subject: ATL: ARI and Smoking Date: Sat, 15 Jul 2000 18:14:08 GMT

 

This is a slightly revised reprint of a letter I wrote to "family" and "agora" when I first entered the World Wide Web, around nine months ago.

 

On page 22 of the paperback version of Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand writes about her character Dagny Taggert, ". . . When she extinguished her cigarette, she knew that she needed another one, but thought that she would give herself a minute, just a few minutes, before she would light it . . ."

 

Rather than being evasive or defensive about Dagny's and perhaps her own nicotine addiction, Rand openly states this fact for a discerning reader to discover. Many fans of Ayn Rand may know that she died from smoking related disease. Why didn't she ever write anything derogatory about smoking, after discovering her illness?

 

I am certainly not going to "Psychologize" her, but when Rand wrote her masterpiece she was aware of several things - the unhealthy effects of smoking on herself -  the effects of addiction on herself -  the possibility that her glamorization of smoking would cause others to feel permissive about smoking. To paraphrase something that I once heard on the radio, ". . . as early as 1901, the writer O'Henry wrote that a cigarette was a nail in a smoker's coffin . . ."

She knew.

She knew . . . though she certainly could not have envisioned people wanting ARI's writing contest (and her book) CLOSED to High-School students because of what we now know about the long-term effects of smoking.

 

When she ends Atlas Shrugged on page 1074, Ayn writes,

 

"The road is cleared," said Galt. "We are going back to the world. He raised his hand and over the desolate earth he traced in space the sign of the dollar."

 

Does any reader doubt that his hand held a cigarette?

 

My father died from smoking related disease and I have two non-smoking daughters, a college aged daughter Sarah, who has read Atlas Shrugged and a fifteen year old named Laura, who seems to be stuck at page 40 but says she is going to read it. I cautioned my daughters about being influenced about smoking by the world's greatest writer, persuader, and pro-smoking advocate.

 

I would like to benevolently extend this caution to everyone, and especially to some of the most valuable people in the world, Objectivists, Students of Objectivism, Libertarians and all people who have enjoyed her books and consider themselves pro-reason.

 

Inhaling burning vegetation, to be more adult, to be better able to concentrate and "think" more clearly,   to be "Cool,"   or to be like Ayn Rand's characters  -  could be traveling a road that leads to addiction, illness, and an early, agonizing death. That is not Objective. This is not what Ayn Rand would have wanted.

Live long and prosper, Peter Taylor

 

 

They did not call them coffin nails for nothing.  One of the more intelligent things I have done was to quit smoking. That was back in 1962.  I had been smoking  for twelve years and developed a two pack a day habit.   But  I had enough of the bronchitis,  coughing,  short-windedness and technicolor phlegm.  I went cold turkey and have not had a cigarette since.   But for seven years after I quit I had these vivid dreams that I had smoked a cigarette.  I could taste it in my dreams and when I woke up I would look for cigarette butts I was so convinced I smoked.  Eventually the dreams stopped.  But I do know that if I lit up again I would be hooked.  My name is Bob, and I am a smoker.  But I have not lit up for 55 years.

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I wrote that Michael, a few years ago. Thanks to Ba'al for the reminiscence. Brrrr. Once again, people around here are talking about going to the emergency room for something on a weekend and they see maybe three heroine addicts being treated. I remember visiting a hospital and a lady and her mom were both patients for smoking related diseases and both of them were sneaking smokes. The Mom died before my relative was discharged. They gave no thought to the people that were also breathing the same air. Good Riddance ~ to bad rubbish, as Charley Brown says.

Peter  

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John Galt probably blew  dollar sign shaped smoke rings. 

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I doubt we will ever know just why Rand quit smoking, but I am an old guy who teaches statistics, and I want to add a bit of context.

Statistics as we know it today was developed in the 1920s by R. A. Fisher in England.  I am guessing this was about the time Rand began smoking.  I suspect the warnings against smoking at that time were more or less as she claimed -- Puritanical denials of pleasure.  Medical reasons only developed slowly and were controversial for a long time.  In particular, Fisher was an avid smoker and his position was exactly the same as Rand's stated position.  I think that became a minority position in the 1950s.  The first Surgeon General's report on smoking came out in 1964. 

Shifting to more shaky ground, I think that in the early days many people thought that lung cancer only struck those who had bad lungs to begin with.  I expect having lung cancer might qualify as "bad lungs".  I am not sure we can interpret Rand's quitting as indicating she decided smoking caused lung cancer.  It may have only indicated that she thought people with lung disease should not smoke.  (Yes, I read the post saying she eventually did come to the former conclusion, but years later.)

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5 hours ago, bob_hayden said:

I am not sure we can interpret Rand's quitting as indicating she decided smoking caused lung cancer.  It may have only indicated that she thought people with lung disease should not smoke.  (Yes, I read the post saying she eventually did come to the former conclusion, but years later.)

Bob,

I was with you up to here.

I don't think it was either. I think her diagnosis scared the crap out of her and she just reacted by putting out the cigarette in the doctor's office and never picking up another one. The issue of statistical proof suddenly didn't matter any more. From that context, since cigarettes as a source lung cancer was controversial, it might be true and that was good enough. In other words, she did all she could, which was precious little, but she could quit smoking. So she did.

Barbara Branden wrote of a good method to quit, but she smoked off and on all the way up to the end--at least up to the point of the last time I saw her. After I caught her sneaking a smoke the first time, she was open with me about it later when I would mock chide her. (As a former crack cocaine addict, I could say things to her and get a smile where others could not. :) )

In Barbara's case, I believe she used smoking to control her weight, at least that was one of the big reasons. I suspect Rand did, too, until she got sick.

Michael

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Thanks for your response. I won't argue what the real reason was.  I made that comment because the tenor of the thread seemed to be that her quitting meant she had changed her mind about the causal connection.  I just wanted to make the logical point that that does not follow.  I gave an example to show other explanations were possible.  I am agnostic on what was the actual explanation. 

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On 7/13/2018 at 8:57 PM, bob_hayden said:

 The first Surgeon General's report on smoking came out in 1964. 

Correct. I have heard (not here) people dismiss that report simply because it was made by the government. However, it wasn't merely a government report, to wit: 

"On the basis of more than 7,000 articles relating to smoking and disease already available at that time in the biomedical literature, the Advisory Committee concluded that cigarette smoking is—
* A cause of lung cancer and laryngeal cancer in men
* A probable cause of lung cancer in women
*The most important cause of chronic bronchitis" (link, my bold).

Also, sometime around 1970 life insurance companies began having different rates for smokers and non-smokers. Moreover, they likely had to justify such rate discrimination to state insurance regulators before doing so.

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The Use and Abuse of Tobacco 
by John Lizars, M.D. (Edinburgh: 1856, 1857, 1859, reprinted, 
Philadelphia: P. Blakiston, Son & Co, 1883)

Read the whole book.

http://medicolegal.tripod.com/lizars1859.htm

TOBACCO.

Snuffing, smoking, and chewing are bad habits, and we
advise any gentleman who is not hopelessly abandoned
to either, to give it up.—Medical Circular.

-viii-


NOTICE TO THE EIGHTH EDITION

IN this Eighth Edition I have made some alterations, chiefly as regards arrangement; but I find, that less or more of a desultory character must necessarily attach itself to a brochure, intended merely as a vehicle of Practical Observations. The reader will see that I have found myself called upon to make some allusion to the recent attempts [1831-1833] at that fatal operation—excision of the tongue.

The object of the Author will be attained, if his Observations have any appreciable tendency in arresting the progress of excessive Smoking, by drawing the attention of the Public to so important a subject. It is difficult to estimate, either the pernicious consequences produced by habitual Smoking, or the number of its victims among all classes, old and young. The enormous consumption of Tobacco can be ascertained from

 

-ix-

yearly returns made by the Government Custom-House; but its physical, moral, and mental deteriorations, admit of no such tangible analysis. These, although certain, are slow and imperceptible in their development, and it is therefore impossible to ascertain the extent of the injury which the poisonous weed inflicts upon the public health, or the alteration it must necessarily effect upon the character of its inhabitants.

The consumption of Tobacco is stated to be, in 1853, 29,737,561 pounds, thus showing an allowance of considerably more than a pound, on an average, to every man, woman, and child, in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The prevalence of Smoking has been of late greatly on the increase, and the use of the narcotic commences with the young from mere childhood. Such a habit cannot be more lamented than reprobated. The injury done to the constitution of the young may not immediately appear, but cannot fail ultimately to become a great national calamity.

 

                • JOHN LIZARS. 
                  Edinburgh, 
                  South Charlotte Street, 1859.

 

-x-

Table of Contents

Advisory viii
Preface: Notice to the Eighth Edition ix
Chapter I. General Characteristics of Tobacco 13
The Introduction of Tobacco into Europe
13
The question of its intention 
for the Use of Man discussed
15
The Botany and Chemistry 
of Tobacco considered
15
Physiological Effect
20
M. Fiévé [1857]
21
Chapter II. Practical Observations on
the Use and Abuse of Tobacco
23
Contagion from Cigar-smoking
23
Syphilis propagated by smoking tobacco
23
Condition of Paris
24
Effect on a Fever Patient
25
Local Effects on the Mouth
26
Ulceration of the Lips, Tongue, 
Gums, Mucous membrane of the Mouth, 
Tonsils, Velum Palati, Pharynx
26
Constitutional Effects enumerated [1854]
27
Dyspepsia from use of Tobacco
30
Diarrhoea
31
Effects in Cholera
32
Disease of Liver
32
Congestion of Brain
32
Apoplexy [1830]
33
Palsy
33
Mania [1854]
34
Loss of Memory
34
Amaurosis
34
Deafness
35
Nervousness
35
Emasculation
35
Cowardice
36
General Effects
36
Quotations from various Authors, 
and narrations of peculiar cases 
of poisoning by tobacco
38
Chapter III. Communications and Extracts 53
Opinions of Dr. Prout [1840]
53
Boussiron [1844]
54
Dr. Pereira
54
Orfila [1817]
55
Sir Benjamin Brodie
55
Dr. Cleland [1840]
56
Dr. Johnston [1855]
56
King James I [1604]
59
Rev. Dr. Adam Clarke [1797]
63
Mr. Solly [1856]
65
Dr. Wm. Henderson
66
Mr. Fenn [1857]
66
Dr. Tod [1856]
71
Mr. Anton
81
Mr. O'Flaherty
81
Dr. M'Cosh
81
Camden
83
Mr. Erichsen [1857]
105
Account of Hospitals for the Insane 
in the United States [1843]
107
Report of the Penna. Hospital 
for the Insane [1849]
108
Communications from numerous 
Scientific men in illustration 
of the evil effects of Tobacco
109
the Half-Yearly Abstract 
of Medical Sciences
111
Dr. Laycock [1846]
112
British Anti-Tobacco Society
118
Cases reported in the Lancet [1857]
124
Dictionnaire des Sciences Médicales [1821]
132
Darwin, &c. [1794]
136
 
 

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This controversy stimulated discussion among statisticians on just how one can infer causality from observational studies.  Rand and Fisher seemed to think you could not, but I think were they to apply that position consistently we would have to toss out a large fraction of what we think we know, especially about human beings, on whom we cannot usually experiment (e.g., can't randomly assign people to smoke or not).  Had she pursued that line of thought I think Rand would have been quite dismayed at how much of reality would have to have been written off as "unknowable".

A milestone in thought in these matters are the criteria put forth in 1965 by Bradford Hill.  Here is the summary I share with my own students (of statistics):

http://www.drabruzzi.com/hills_criteria_of_causation.htm

Another landmark from the same year is

Cochran, W. G. (1965) The planning of observational studies of human populations (with discussion) . Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series A, 128, 134–155.

These make for interesting reading on the underlying issues but the main reason I post them is to indicate that conclusions we take for granted today were news at the time Rand was diagnosed with cancer. 

 

 

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I remember seeing for the first time, a sign on a semi truck next to a large supermarket in California about the dangers of smoking but I could not remember the date of 1964, so thanks. I was thinking 1962 or 63. Then the makers of Menthol cigarettes claimed theirs were less harmful but they were not. There were so many ads from people like Reagan and John Wayne promoting smoking. What a shame.  

Now baby powder applied to the female genitals has been proven to cause cancer, with a huge lawsuit and payout.

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The Surgeon General's report was a milestone, but there was anti-smoking publicity before it, and pro-smoking publicity after, so your recollection of 1962 or 1963 may well be correct.  I graduated from high school in 1962 and remember being warned there about the hazards of smoking. 

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I know I saw smokers when I was a kid, carrying what I called Cigarette Bags under their eyes. I still think of smokers as stupid and Public Smokers as rotten, uncaring people. I have become a summer fan of the nostalgia channels and smoking is in a lot of episodes of different shows. My Mom and Dad smoked and I have wondered if that affected my health now, especially running abilities. I was never "track team good" in any distance over 400 yards.

It is comical when you see a vapor smoker outside a business or in a car, releasing a tremendous amount of smoke. It must be like trading taste for "a safer drug hit" but you are still an addict.  Just wait until medical studies show the ill effects of vapor smoking. I wonder if someone vaping, starting in high school, will get those smoker bags under their eyes?

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20 hours ago, Peter said:

I know I saw smokers when I was a kid, carrying what I called Cigarette Bags under their eyes. I still think of smokers as stupid and Public Smokers as rotten, uncaring people. I have become a summer fan of the nostalgia channels and smoking is in a lot of episodes of different shows. My Mom and Dad smoked and I have wondered if that affected my health now, especially running abilities. I was never "track team good" in any distance over 400 yards.

It is comical when you see a vapor smoker outside a business or in a car, releasing a tremendous amount of smoke. It must be like trading taste for "a safer drug hit" but you are still an addict.  Just wait until medical studies show the ill effects of vapor smoking. I wonder if someone vaping, starting in high school, will get those smoker bags under their eyes?

Had to google as I wasn't sure whether you were truly just making-up this term "Cigarette Bags" as I'd never heard it before nor do I think of "under-eye aesthetics" as  a chief visual indication of a smoker (and this concept that Public Smokers - unsure why you capitalized those words there...-are "rotten, uncaring people" is just silly, smoking "in public" can be a rotten, uncaring act - it could also be a no-harm action, depending on the context.....not as black&white as you're trying to make it)

Anyways, is that post some rhetorical style that's flying over my head or are you serious?  The vaporizing-nicotine devices are incredibly likely to have a non-zero impact on health and frankly I don't think I've ever met someone who argued against that, but for you to talk about how "comical" it is that people are addicted is just cold, am trying to re-read it in a way that doesn't make you seem like you're mocking people for self-harming, addictive tendencies that they're trying to work against (if they're using a vaporizer instead of smoking cigarettes) 

And just FYI there's no 'smoke' when someone's vaporizing, they're...ahem...vaporizing, not combusting('smoking'), their drug- saying you "see a vapor smoker" is, to use Rand's words, "is a contradiction-in-terms" 😉

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Sorry, not much time left on the web. Non zero impact? We will need to see proof over years to scientifically prove the obvious. Asbestos. Baby powder near a woman's privates. Smoking. Vaping. Clouds in the sky that everyone must breath. Bonfires. Trash burning, that everyone must breath. Popping pills. Injecting drugs just under the skin. Injecting drugs in a vein was considered a mere personal choice back in the fictional days of Sherlock Holmes. Persons of no use in an emergency. Social drinking. Drinking and driving. Drinking while supervising a minor. Can it be morally and not just personally bad to do bad things in and around yourself? Should it be a crime?  

Has anyone else in the world noticed that long time smokers have "smoker's bags" under their eyes? 

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