Is the Surgeon General a Liar or an Idiot?

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Under the headline "Killing by the million–and that's just the health campaigners," British anti-smoking activist Clive Bates slams "the well paid and comfortably smug public health community" for refusing to accept the idea of smokeless tobacco as a harm-reducing alternative to cigarettes:

Instead of telling the truth about low risk options, there is a conspiracy to lie and mislead (for example, the US Surgeon General told a barefaced lie about it to Congress). In Europe, we even have a directive (2001/37/EC see article 8 and 2.4) that bans the much lower risk products than cigarettes. If there is a reason to be a Euro-sceptic, then this is one of the strongest–deliberate denial of access to products that are much lower risk to people that are addicted to nicotine.

Having heard Richard Carmona speak, I'm inclined to be a little more charitable than Bates. I think it's plausible that he simply doesn't know what he's talking about when he says things like, "I cannot conclude that the use of any tobacco product is a safer alternative to smoking." His staff, however, is another matter.

[Thanks to Brad Rodu for the link.]

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  1. I think it’s plausible that he simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about

    So he’s an idiot, rather than a liar.

    That’s all right, then.

  2. But ignorance on such a scale requires some level of willful malice on Carmona’s part.

  3. What?
    Is Richard Carmona Ken Lay or something?

  4. I just watched this week’s Penn & Teller: Bullshit! which had a few segments with Joycelyn Elders. This nation could use a straight-talking SG like her, and it’s too bad that spineless pussy Clinton threw her under the tracks.

  5. “I think it’s plausible that he simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about”

    Maybe, but making statements like that without qualifying it by adding a caveat like “. . .but then again, I am completely ignorant of the relevant science, and am really just making an assumption”, is almost as bad as straight up lying.

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