Why did Ayn Rand quit smoking?


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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.

Speculation yes, but well put, in any event.

But let's also give the author of Atlas Shrugged the benefit of the doubt on #5: Perhaps Ayn Rand was also acting according to her values and the Objectivist ethics she discovered when she decided, on balance, that quitting smoking put her life as the standard of value first and foremost, notwithstanding doubts about causation and statistics and her personal history. In other words, she voluntarily chose to err on the side of life (i.e., by quitting smoking) because of the scientific possibility that smoking had caused her health problems.

This is the same reason that many Objectivists give up mountain climbing. :laugh:

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that benefit of hte doubt doesn't really absolve her from trying to 'fake reality' by hoping knowledge of her cessation not be disseminated.

I wasn't aware that had happened.

I suppose one could also argue that, with her knowledge of her influence on others, she owed it to those others to explain any new insights in this area to keep them from further self-poisoning.

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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.

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well, surely stress can exacerbate cancer, and repression can lead to stress (i know i know, am kinda kiddin ;p )

what is this "BB" autobio you refer to? Am reading "goddess of the market" right now but don't think it's that. Lol, the irony of having half of my rand collection obtained via torrents :PP

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Barbara Branden wrote the (to date) definitive biography of Ayn Rand, The Passion of Ayn Rand. It is excellent by every standard, journalistic, scholarly, literary. It is one of the best biographies I have ever read, and without vanity, I have probably read more of them than most members here except the Corners, but then I have had more time to do it as I am very old.

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I tried to answer you, but my brain's circuit breaker kept tripping.

--Brant

I thought it was just me. Reading a previous post of Jerry's on alcohol, sent me straight to the pub in a suicidal depression.(The self-medication alleviated my condition).

Maybe he is trying to kill us.

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Why did Ayn Rand quit smoking?

Such a tough, tough question. First, she got lung cancer (no one knows how). There were a few symptoms. Then she went to her doctor. He said, you have lung cancer.

She said, oh?

He said, Yup.

She said, what can you (we) do? He said, it's non-squamous cells with a delimited tumour body. I believe we can get a surgeon to cut out the tumour, though this will leave you only a part of that lung.

She thought about that. "What else?"

He said, let's get you on the table and then talk. Are you still smoking? Help yourself to my Chesterfields while I write the referral to the surgeon.

She said, well, smoking, hmm. It is painful to draw breath at times, but yeah. I don't smoke Chesterfields. I smoke Black Cat.

He said, well, we can't give you your breath back. You show signs of pulmonary disease. Your heart is labouring to get oxygen to your cells. We'll cut that pain out, though.

She thought about that, longing for a Chesterfield from the box on the doctor's desk. She asked, does smoking have anything to do with pulmonary disease? Is it progressive? Will it kill me?

He thought about that, exhaling slowly. She heard in her mind the satisfying click of the lighter on her writing desk. She breathed in slowly.

He said, smoking does not help pulmonary disease. Smoke in the lungs (not just cigarette smoke) is smoke in the lungs. People with shitty chimneys get pulmonary disease. It's why you generally get out of a room when it fills with smoke.

Why don't I show you a few X-rays and a couple of post-mortem photographs -- a smoker's lung and a non-smoker's lung.

She said, Okay. Hmmmm. Is this dark splot the tumour?

He said, yes.

"And what's this here and here? Is that normal?

"Those are the signs of pulmonary disease"

The both exhaled at the same time.

She asked, how much of the lung will come out? He indicated a region of the lung. She looked to the photos. He said, can you guess which is the picture of the smoker's lung?

She looked at him with those big black eyes. She looked at the pictures again. She sighed, wincing a little bit.

********************

It is not known at what point she quit, or why.

The picture of a smoker's lung may or may not have played a part in her decision. Who knows? Who cares?

smokers-lung-799707.jpg

[EDIT -- I might make a few more edits as I discover my errors in cancer diagnosis and symptomatology and look up the details of early diagnosis.

Though Diana Hsieh might scorn me (being an acknowleged expert), I think Ayn Rand was lucky -- my hunch is that she listened to her "stomach feelings" and otherwise paid attention to her body. If hers was a non-squamous cancer, she may have caught the cancer at an early stage, thus making its surgical re-section likely to completely remove the tumour.

I will have to look at the Barbara Branden biography for the story to remember what symptoms were reported there.

My mother died of lung cancer, but was diagnosed late in the disease progression. It was a painless (though not unsymptomatic) cancer.

One last thing to consdier are answers to a few questions. After lung surgery (cracking the chest open and getting in there), how long is the recovery?

In the year (I forget) she was hospitalized in New York, how long before she went home?

Finally, what was the practice in that hospital, what was the protocol for recovery from lung surgery (meaning, did the staff stick one in your mouth in the recovery room (a la Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous), or did the staff subtly discourage the practice and wait until she got back to her room?

I am sure there are more questions to be answered, but we are not detectives, are we? I mean, we can just sit in a chair and figure it out, no?

So the question, that dratted question remains. Why did she quit?

One more -- when did she quit? Maybe her symptoms were such that she quit before the diagnosis. Maybe the symptoms were like a cold, and she was one of those people who when cold symptoms hit, stop smoking because of the discomfort.

I have such sympathy for her, whatever her symptoms. She had her chest opened and a part of lung removed. She beat cancer and gave herself life.

I am glad we take the time to puzzle over these things. It takes my mind off America's slide to destruction.]

Edited by william.scherk
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what do you mean it's not known when she quit, didn't someone just say she quit right after her diagnosis?

(and did you write that or just post w/o sourcing? good read regardless)

/puts cigarette out, eyes the nico patches on the table :/ goddamnit..

//need this bb bio

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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.

The fallacy in your above argumentation is the wrong analogy. Since there exists (as opposed to smoking), no correlation between chocoate-eating and getting lung cancer, one could not "just as easily say that Ayn Rand ate chocolate, then got lung cancer".

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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.

The fallacy in in your above argumentation is the wrong analogy. Since there exists (as opposed to smoking), no correlation between chocoate-eating and getting lung cancer, one could not "just as easily say that Ayn Rand ate chocolate, then got lung cancer".

A statistical correlation in a large enough population PLUS chemical and physiological mechanisms makes a strong case for causality. In addition animal studies were made of the effects of cigarette smoke on the longs (dogs and monkeys were used). I would say there is pretty much a solid case that excessive smoking (and inhalation) can increase one's risk of lung cancer. And in addition smoking has cardio-pulminary consequences as well.

I gave up a two pack a day habit a little over 50 years ago. In the first two years I experienced a substantial decrease in asthma attacks and bouts with bronchitis. Giving up the coffin nails was one of my more intelligent decisions. I am in my mid 70's and my cardiologist thinks my heart and lungs are doing just dandy. I have a resting pulse rate of 50 b.p.m. and my blood pressure is text book 116/65. Getting tobacco out of my life was a good decision.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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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.

The fallacy in in your above argumentation is the wrong analogy. Since there exists (as opposed to smoking), no correlation between chocoate-eating and getting lung cancer, one could not "just as easily say that Ayn Rand ate chocolate, then got lung cancer".

I was speaking of anecdotal evidence, not statistical evidence. Ayn Rand rejected statistical evidence and then maybe seemed to accept anecdotal evidence in her own case.

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Why did Ayn Rand quit smoking?

Such a tough, tough question. First, she got lung cancer (no one knows how). There were a few symptoms. Then she went to her doctor. He said, you have lung cancer.

She said, oh?

He said, Yup.

She said, what can you (we) do? He said, it's non-squamous cells with a delimited tumour body. I believe we can get a surgeon to cut out the tumour, though this will leave you only a part of that lung.

She thought about that. "What else?"

He said, let's get you on the table and then talk. Are you still smoking? Help yourself to my Chesterfields while I write the referral to the surgeon.

She said, well, smoking, hmm. It is painful to draw breath at times, but yeah. I don't smoke Chesterfields. I smoke Black Cat.

He said, well, we can't give you your breath back. You show signs of pulmonary disease. Your heart is labouring to get oxygen to your cells. We'll cut that pain out, though.

She thought about that, longing for a Chesterfield from the box on the doctor's desk. She asked, does smoking have anything to do with pulmonary disease? Is it progressive? Will it kill me?

He thought about that, exhaling slowly. She heard in her mind the satisfying click of the lighter on her writing desk. She breathed in slowly.

He said, smoking does not help pulmonary disease. Smoke in the lungs (not just cigarette smoke) is smoke in the lungs. People with shitty chimneys get pulmonary disease. It's why you generally get out of a room when it fills with smoke.

Why don't I show you a few X-rays and a couple of post-mortem photographs -- a smoker's lung and a non-smoker's lung.

She said, Okay. Hmmmm. Is this dark splot the tumour?

He said, yes.

"And what's this here and here? Is that normal?

"Those are the signs of pulmonary disease"

The both exhaled at the same time.

She asked, how much of the lung will come out? He indicated a region of the lung. She looked to the photos. He said, can you guess which is the picture of the smoker's lung?

She looked at him with those big black eyes. She looked at the pictures again. She sighed, wincing a little bit.

********************

It is not known at what point she quit, or why.

The picture of a smoker's lung may or may not have played a part in her decision. Who knows? Who cares?

smokers-lung-799707.jpg

[EDIT -- I might make a few more edits as I discover my errors in cancer diagnosis and symptomatology and look up the details of early diagnosis.

Though Diana Hsieh might scorn me (being an acknowleged expert), I think Ayn Rand was lucky -- my hunch is that she listened to her "stomach feelings" and otherwise paid attention to her body. If hers was a non-squamous cancer, she may have caught the cancer at an early stage, thus making its surgical re-section likely to completely remove the tumour.

I will have to look at the Barbara Branden biography for the story to remember what symptoms were reported there.

My mother died of lung cancer, but was diagnosed late in the disease progression. It was a painless (though not unsymptomatic) cancer.

One last thing to consdier are answers to a few questions. After lung surgery (cracking the chest open and getting in there), how long is the recovery?

In the year (I forget) she was hospitalized in New York, how long before she went home?

Finally, what was the practice in that hospital, what was the protocol for recovery from lung surgery (meaning, did the staff stick one in your mouth in the recovery room (a la Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous), or did the staff subtly discourage the practice and wait until she got back to her room?

I am sure there are more questions to be answered, but we are not detectives, are we? I mean, we can just sit in a chair and figure it out, no?

So the question, that dratted question remains. Why did she quit?

One more -- when did she quit? Maybe her symptoms were such that she quit before the diagnosis. Maybe the symptoms were like a cold, and she was one of those people who when cold symptoms hit, stop smoking because of the discomfort.

I have such sympathy for her, whatever her symptoms. She had her chest opened and a part of lung removed. She beat cancer and gave herself life.

I am glad we take the time to puzzle over these things. It takes my mind off America's slide to destruction.]

It is no puzzle to me, at all. I smoked from age 16 to 33, I quit but took it up again 20 years later and I am inhaling as I speak. Before you ask, the reason I did that is, I am a damn fool, and the occasion of my re-addiction is a good story. And not that you asked, my father and my husband, both of them, the men I loved the most in my life,were smokers who died of lung cancer at the ages of 60 and 58 respectively, and I watched them die. And i am not ready to quit though I know how to do it, even on my borrowed time.

And right now I want to go back to America's slide to destruction along with my own, and fantasizing that Ayn Rand is still alive and smoking.

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So, while I'm at it:

You can't terrify people into acting rationally , you can't bully them with a thinktanks' worth of information into acting in their own interest. They will insist, because they must, because they are themselves, in acting as their gut tells them. And you can't program their gut, you can't educate it, you can only give it reasons to do what it must do.

Of course, if you want to get an individual gut owner to be rational and act in their own interest, you will often succeed, if you love them.

This is untenable as a mass strategy however, due to the variables and political basics. It is too cost-intensive in the short term. Bullying works better.

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The faculty of reason can be used properly as a means of knowledge, as Ayn Rand says.

The faculty of reason can be used improperly as a means of self-deception. This mis-use of reason is called rationalization.

Rationalization is common among people who have bad habits or addictions that they know they should overcome but don't want to. The smarter the person, the more clever will be the rationalizations.

No matter how tempting rationalization may be, self-deception is not in your rational self-interest.

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[baal- congratulations :) i noticed something kind of similar: about 3mo ago I had a resting rate of mid90's, almost scary-territory. I began a heavy reduction(haven't conquered it fully yet) and started training for triathlons, and now have a resting rate of low/mid70's and feel better than i have since college]

JT- is that verbatim from rand? I dislike saying that rationalization is inherently an irrational application of reason, it isn't cut/dry like that. Can one not rationalize something properly?

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I have shared these smoking topic samples before but some of you may not have read it.

Peter Taylor

From: BBfromM To: atlantis@wetheliving.com 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@wetheliving.com 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.

Ba

From: BBfromM To: atlantis@wetheliving.com 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 brandenn@pacbell.net Reply-To: brandenn@pacbell.net

To: atlantis@wetheliving.com 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@wetheliving.com 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

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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I can give a non-philosophic argument against smoking: Technicolor phlegm, frequent bouts with bronchitis, shortness of breath,

wheezing, coughing and a general less than optimal run down feeling.

That is what got me to quit about 50 years ago. I quit lighting up. I am still a smoker, but I have not lit up for a long time.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Baal dear friend, I have been fortunate to escape the other symptoms so far, but I do get the general less than optimal rundown feeling after heavily imbibing some of your posts.

Carol

Smoker

I have never been optimal however so I cannot claim full accuracy here.

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Re Post # 45: Thanks Peter Taylor for bringing Barbara Branden comments on the issue over here.

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

If Rand perfectly well knew about the dangers of smoking (and I think this was indeed the case), the real issue was not about her being unaware of the dangers of smoking; it was about her not wanting to admit what she knew about those dangers.

The logical cosequence was that, whenever she was confronted with evidence that indicated dangerous effects, she had to play it down, or even deny that it qualified as evidence.

What fascinates me is that Rand, who was such a heavy (and also very passionate!) smoker, managed to quit cold turkey from one day to the other.

For by no means everyone who gets the diagonisis of smoke-related cancer manages to quit smoking, let alone doing it cold turkey. Patrick Swayze comes to mind as a counter-example to Rand here.

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Re Post # 45: Thanks Peter Taylor for bringing Barbara Branden comments on the issue over here.

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

What fascinates me is that Rand, who was such a heavy (and also very passionate!) smoker, managed to quit cold turkey from one day to the other.

Obviously you have never smoked, X, and good for you! It is not fascinating to me at all. My father quit that way and so did I, not because you get information that shows you are killing yourself. It is because you are disgusted at yourself for being addicted, to anything, that the thing you are addicted to is stronger than you, so that although quitting will take away your entire pleasure in life you will give that up and just suffer forever, rather than let your enemy win. I never could stand to be bossed.

That is only how it was for me, of course. And after 20 years I have submitted to the yoke again, so who the hell am I to comment.

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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 and that they would not be able to enjoy their morning coffee without that first cigarette. Seriously, that was my biggest fear, although after I quit, I found I still enjoyed the coffee. But I did not enjoy it more. It tasted good while I smoked, it tasted good when I didn't. It is coffee.

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