Tag Archives: Ellen Hahn

ANTZ try to redefine “astroturf” to mean “anything they don’t like”

by Carl V Phillips

CASAA is amused, proud, and annoyed (but mostly amused) to be the topic of a new research paper. Of course, we have been mentioned in papers a dozen times before, not including in our own work, and are most proud of being mentioned as the sponsor of Igor Burstyn’s seminal paper. But never before were we the main subject of the study. Of course, the paper was written by ANTZ and so it should come as no surprise that its main claim is a serious lie.

The paper, by Jenine K Harris (Washington University in St. Louis), Sarah Moreland-Russell, PhD (WU), Bechara Choucair (Chicago Department of Public Health[*]), Raed Mansour (CDPH), Mackenzie Staub (WU), and Kendall Simmons (WU), published at Journal of Medical Internet Research, is actually a little bit interesting. They conducted a study of particular Twitter responses to Chicago’s plan to ban e-cigarette use in most private and public places. I should give them credit, before getting around to the fundamental lie, that unlike what normally appears in anti-tobacco and “public health” journals, this is a well written paper that actually reports their methodology.

[*Note that they apparently do not put Public Health in scare quotes, as is increasingly the modern style.]

I believe I have mentioned that you should never read paper introductions. I always regret it when I do, unless I am doing it for amusement or to look for lies. This one definitely fulfills those goals. The amusing part is that the start reads like a freshman term paper, in which someone ran a search for journal articles about “e-cigarettes” and then just strung together the authors’ main conclusions from those. This is done without any apparent awareness that much of what the original authors asserted was wrong, nor with any apparent coherence by the present authors. As I said, freshman term paper. But unlike most ANTZ papers, after 2.5 paragraphs of that it actually gets around to providing background on what is actually being studied.

Specifically, Chicago voted to include e-cigarettes in laws about combustible cigarettes in January (which basically meant banning vaping in the many private and public places where smoking is banned). The Department of “Public Health” recognized an obligation to actually communicate with the public (it is truly sad that they felt like they needed to devote a paragraph to explaining why this is, rather than it just being a given!). As part of that, “One week prior to the e-cigarette policy vote, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) used Twitter to disseminate a series of tweets about e-cigarettes.” The authors did not mention that they sent out lies about e-cigarettes (you can see what they sent out in Appendix 1 of the paper), but well, we wouldn’t expect such honesty by “public health” people. The lies of commission began immediately after that. But before getting to those, a bit of background:

Last December, Chicago introduced the proposed ban. Opposing such anti-THR regulations is, of course, central to CASAA’s mission. They gave basically no notice to the public (you might say “what do you expect from Chicago?”, but this is an increasingly common ANTZ tactic everywhere, since they know that they do not really have public support for these draconian policies, so they try to prevent the public from getting involved). We had intel that this was coming in November, but could not get anything concrete until they moved to implement it with three day’s notice. We issued an Urgent Call to Action about this and managed to get it derailed briefly. But, of course, they reintroduced it in January. We issued another Call To Action because Chicago is a big place and we needed to at least get on record. But it is Chicago, after all, so we did not bother to send anyone to the hearing for basically the same reason that we would not waste a lot of our limited resources to stop Putin from imposing anti-THR regulations. (Also we were focused on New York City at the time — another rather quixotic effort, but not nearly as much as Chicago would have been.)

(For those who are interested in the Chicago regulation per se, this Facebook page, started by local activists, could serve as a gathering point for trying to undo the public health damage done by the Department of “Public Health”. It is obviously pretty quixotic right now, but maybe someday. For those interested in the details of the lies that were presented by the Chicago DPH to their city, a repurposed version of their sLIEDshow appears here (skip to p.44 or search “Kendall Stagg”).)

Meanwhile, Alex Clark was busy on Twitter. I am going to take the liberty of including him in “we” for present purposes, though this actually took place a few months before he merged his one-man THR activist shop into CASAA and joined our Board of Directors. Alex, with the help of other CASAA members who scrambled to deal with the grossly anti-democratic short notice, compiled a list of Twitter addresses for the Chicago Alderman (city council) and shared it with CASAA members and other THR advocates via Facebook. He also issued calls to grassroots e-cigarette advocates via social media (Twitter and Facebook) as part of his Fight For Your Right To Vape Daily Action Plan (now: CASAA’s Daily Action Plan; note that it is not produced daily — the name refers to the fact that the actions are quick tasks that we are asking people to do immediately). Part of that included responding to the lies being promulgated by the DPH, as well as trying to contact other government officials.

Back to the article: The next thing the authors claim in their introduction is that these communications directed at the DPH represented a “twitter bomb”. This is the lesser of their two self-serving mischaracterizations (i.e., lies). That term refers to using Twitter to send a message to the point that it constitutes full-on spam and that it has elements of a DDOS attack, and generally includes one entity using multiple accounts to send the same message repeatedly. The reality here is that there were about 600 Twitter messages directed at the DPH, and while the same person often sent a few tweets, they came from over 300 individual grassroots advocates according to the paper. Obviously not a twitter bomb.

The major lie comes later in that paragraph, where they refer to our efforts as “astroturfing”, and throw in the mandatory innuendo about tobacco industry involvement. For those who may not know, “astroturf” (the brand name of the first successful fake grass used in sports arenas) is a play on “grassroots”, referring to something that pretends to be grassroots activism, but is actually secretly orchestrated by industry or a similar non-grassroots operation. Thus, when “public health” organizations (governmental or otherwise) use their corporate and tax funding to create the illusion of popular support for anti-THR measures, that is astroturfing. By contrast, what CASAA does is not astroturfing by definition. We are grassroots organizers and the word specifically means “fake grassroots”. The word was created to describe people who are pretending to be what we really are.

Of course the ANTZ show no hesitation about lying, including trying to misconstrue words, to stop THR efforts. In the 2000s they made a play to try to misconstrue THR to basically mean abstinence from all tobacco products. This is standard playbook for them. They are making a concerted effort to misconstrue “astroturf” to mean “any activism by the public that they do not like”.

The paper authors apparently emphasized this “astroturf” lie in their communications with the press, since the only story I have seen about this paper was all about that claim, and characterized all the political activism as astroturfing. In fairness to the authors, in one sentence late in the paper they actually draw a distinction between CASAA and the tweets that they consider to be astroturfing. Still, this is too little too late (and also their measures of which tweets did constitute astroturf are just silly, such as anyone on Twitter who follows a lot more people than they are followed by). Careless readers — i.e., pretty much any reporter or ANTZ — will read this paper as claiming that all consumer opposition to Chicago’s terrible policy, and the lies on which it was based, were astroturf. The usual ANTZ are already making that claim about it, either because they did not understand what it actually said or they just ran with the convenient lie (either is plausible).

It is not surprising that the coverage of the paper is entirely about the astroturfing accusation. The actual content is pretty boring, though the presentation and methods are unquestionably cute. You can check it out, particularly the timeline graph that shows the effectiveness of CASAA’s actions in promoting tweets. But I can sum it up for you with what the abstract should have read: “We saw this cool network mapping software and were looking for an excuse to use it. Oooh! pretty graphs and charts.”

One thing that struck me about this article — in common with most ANTZ articles despite somewhat greater sophistication in the present case — is the incredibly naive characterization of the consumer community (i.e., the public). It reminds me of reading anthropology from c.1900, where the arrogant white men thought they had nothing to learn from the wogs. The “researchers” considered that they were so much more expert than the subjects of their study — including about the subjects’ own cultures and experiences — that the “researchers” just imposed their characterizations on them without trying to learn anything from them. Anyone doing this today would be drummed out of the profession. Ironically, a lot of “public health” people got their training in sociology, which includes a branch that does what is basically serious good anthropology. Unfortunately, the “public health” people do not come from that branch, but rather the branch of sociology that is best described as, “I want to pontificate about politics and stuff, but reading all those books they assign in political science is sooo hard, and they require, like, systematic analyses and numbers and stuff, but I just want to tell people how things are without doing any of  that.”

The result is that whenever “public health” people actually try to talk about the public it is, at best, pathetic, and often constitutes a gross violation of scholarly ethics. For example, in this case, if these authors were not so far up their own…er, ivory towers, they would have at least sent an email to CASAA to get a better understanding what they were talking about. We could have explained to them how their measure of what constitutes astroturfing was badly naive. We would have also pointed out to them that CASAA is actively anti-astroturf. On a few occasions, e-cigarette companies have tried to start astroturf campaigns in our space, and we made it clear to them that we would not put up with that and forced them to shut it down. There definitely are some minor bits of astroturfing in our space (including industry organizations that cultivate the illusion that they represent consumers and not industry) but we push back against them when they get too bad.

Finally, no exploration of this topic would be complete without a bit of additional context from similar accusations. CASAA and the American THR activist community have largely avoided accusations of astroturfing from all but the most rabid anti-THR liars. Americans generally respect and understand grassroots activism, and CASAA is so clearly true grassroots that someone has to be willing to aggressively and blatantly lie to suggest otherwise. In the UK and Europe, however, true grassroots activism does not get such respect, and the accusations there have been over-the-top. While “public health” has built-in biases against respecting the public, on both sides of the Atlantic, as I discussed at length here, the grandees of public health over there are worse because of their aristocratic mindset.

For example, there is this rant by the UK’s Martin McKee (professor of European public health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine — i.e., School of Public Health), which was graciously liberated from behind its British Medical Journal paywall by Jo Lincoln. Lincoln wrote a post about it here in which she brilliantly likens McKee and his “public health” colleagues to an army of occupation who complain that the population they are oppressing is not playing by the rules because they do not have the proper uniforms to wear when they fight back. Taking this metaphor a step further, because Her Majesty’s Imperial Army cannot allow themselves to admit that the people they oppress hate them and want them to go away, they pretend to believe that the resistance must be secretly doing the work of the French King or the Russian Tsar or someone. After all, the nobility are the only ones capable of having goals and volition — the people cannot possibly be standing up for themselves.

McKee subtitled his rant, “How big corporations are helping to fund the internet trolls”. Right there, in one phrase, we have the characterization of anyone who objects to the “public health” grandees as a mere “troll”, not a member of the public who has a genuine objection, and that they must be paid off by the Tsar or someone. He starts out with an extended whine about poor-little-him and his lavishly-paid and powerful colleagues, and how they risk seeing pushback if they dare step out of the ivory tower and engage with the public they pretend to care about. He whines that sometimes people on social media are anonymous (though mostly this is because “public health” people lack the research skills to link someone’s handle back to their real name, which is usually public somewhere). He then goes on to claim that this is an orchestrated corporate campaign. What is his evidence for this claim? He reports that he read one book, about some political battles in New Zealand, which tells the story of one public relations professional who was paid by corporate clients to push back against “public health” zealotry (not anonymously, it should be noted).

That is the entire analysis that got his rant published in BMJ. Even by the pathetic standards of public health this is bad. He read one book about one series of events that does not remotely resemble the grassroots pushback he finds oh-so-inconvenient, and makes wild accusations based on it. Seriously? Creationists base all their claims on one book also, but it is a rather more momentous book and the quality of their scientific analysis dwarfs that of McKee and friends.

Now I am not saying that the British have a monopoly on such whining. Predating them was this 2011 whine about grassroots activism, published in Tobacco Control, by Ellen Hahn and company (probably not worth clicking on — the article is paywalled and not at all interesting). It also included groundless accusations about CASAA. But there is a sharp contrast, with only the most blatant and aggressive anti-THR liars in the USA, along with some of their random useful idiots, making claims of astroturfing. You seldom see any such claims from the other corners of the tobacco control industry, even those who aggressively traffic in other lies. Meanwhile, it seems to dominate discourse in the UK.

I think the contrast is genuinely scientifically informative. “Public health” people generally see themselves as better than the public. In the USA, however, this is tempered by our cultural tendency to believe in populism and object to aristocracy (of course, in reality there is still a ruling class that ignores the public and an aristocracy created by grossly unequal wealth, but the point is that there is a strong cultural bias to deny that this is the case). But in most of Old Europe, populism is far less respected and there is an accepted established aristocracy. This dovetails with the inherent attitudes of “public health” to make their anti-public sentiment much more vicious over there.

So I guess we should count our blessings here. Only the most clownish of our ANTZ even make the astroturf claim, and sometimes when they spread the innuendo they even bury a sentence that makes clear that they were not actually talking about us. And no US “public health” grandee, to my knowledge, has ever called someone a c–t on twitter.

 

The ANTZ are scared of us!

Outsourcing today to Abby Olmstead writing about Ellen Hahn and company, lying and hiring security because they are so scared of the people they are supposedly trying to help.  As I have said before, if the people who you are supposedly trying to help despise you (and, in this case, frighten you), then you are probably doing it wrong.

Go read it.

Notice especially the part where the ANTZ are trying to take the sting out of “nanny” by trying to coopt it.  It won’t work.  Coopting a negative epithet works when you are a large cultural group and have inspirational leadership with the discipline to pull it off.  They fail on both counts.

Anti-Hahn poster

Today’s content is thanks to Kristin Noll-Marsh, who has created CASAA’s direct response to the Ellen Hahn poster that was the topic here for most of last week.  Taking a different tack from our letter to the University, Kristin created a consumer-friendly poster to directly compete with Hahn’s.  So anyone at or near the University of Kentucky, please print out some copies and post them next to Hahn’s!  Kristin’s document covers a lot of the same points that appeared here already, but it makes some additional points.  Moreover, even though it is a catchy poster, it also stands as more of a research paper (with specific sources cited for specific claims, in particular) than the blog — and probably more than anything Hahn has ever written.

Since it is all there at the link, I will not repeat it here.  (Aside:  Remember, the more links we have to the letter, poster, and blog posts, the higher those will be in searches compared to her lies.  Just sayin’.)

I know that a lot of readers are waiting for our response to the anti-THR press release about lung effects that was touted this week.  Since we have higher scientific standards than the author of that press release, it is taking a bit longer to finish.  It should appear in two or three parts starting later this week.

Striking back at anti-THR lies and liars

posted by Carl V Phillips

We conclude Ellen Hahn Week with a mass debunking of her lies.  Today, CASAA released to the public a letter that we sent to the president of the University of Kentucky and the attorney general of Kentucky, calling for an investigation of Hahn’s actions.  Here is our press release announcing this, which also announces the creation of this blog (but you know about that already).  The focus of the letter was a particular action by Hahn, in which she used anti-THR lies, coupled with intimidation tactics, to try to trick a local hotel into canceling a scheduled vape meet.

If you like this blog and can spare a few minutes more than it takes to read it, you will want to check out both of those links.  Ok, it is a lot of minutes, but should be worth it.  This is really not just about one liar; it is an announcement that THR advocates — all of us, I hope! — are going to stop trying to politely correct the lies, but are going to start fighting back.

The letter speaks for itself, and it is 26 dense pages about Hahn’s lies and trickery, so rather than try to excerpt or summarize, I will just incorporate it here by reference.  The part that is most important for the big picture is her scientific disinformation, similar to her lies that we have already documented here.  Most of that is concentrated in Appendix B of the letter, which reads like entries in the blog (and will probably all end up here eventually).

A few others have already posted about this.

Happy reading.

Scary scary formaldehyde

posted by Carl V Phillips with analysis from Elaine Keller and input from CASAA board

We finish up our debunking of Ellen Hahn’s project “Lie to College Students” with her claim,

In the cartridge:  Formaldehyde.  Highly toxic to all animals, including you.  Good for embalming dead bodies.  Causes cancer.

This is obviously another example of the same word games that were analyzed in previous posts, so we will not repeat those points.

The interesting thing about this point is that the chemistry studies of e-cigarettes do find that of all the contaminants, formaldehyde might be the one that is most worth trying to reduce.  Unlike the other chemicals that Hahn mentions, which are at tiny fractions of 1% of what is considered the hazardous level, formaldehyde might be in the neighborhood of 1% of what is considered hazardous level.  Of course, this “merely” 100-fold margin is hardly a cause for worry, and the quantity is similar to the exposure we get from other sources.  (There is also speculation that some of the formaldehyde measured in lab studies is from the vaper, not the vapor — the human body emits a measurable amount of this horrible scary toxic chemical.)  It is certainly a lie to say that this contamination causes cancer, as Hahn claims.

But among all of the trivial contaminants, this trivial contaminant might be worth a bit of engineering effort.  I do not know enough about the chemical engineering to know how practical or easy reducing it would be.  An honest scientist or public health advocate might say “this is unlikely to cause health problems, but it theoretically could be causing a tiny bit of needless risk, so maybe something can be done here to make these low-risk products even lower risk.”

But this is like saying, “seat belts seem to produce a bit more bruising near the clavicle compared to elsewhere when they prevent someone from getting killed in a major crash, so we might want to focus some effort to improve that part of the seat belt.”   You would have to very stupid and/or very dishonest to reason, “A bit of bruising near the clavicle?!!! OMG! Bruises can be fatal! Don’t use seat belts!”

 

A short post today, but we will make up for it tomorrow, when we publish 26 pages about Hahn’s lies.  Stay tuned.

Beware: e-cigarette vapor contains (gasp!) air.

posted by Carl V. Phillips

We continue Ellen Hahn week here at Anti-THR Lies (not to be confused with Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, since only one of them is about a single-minded evolutionary throwback whose actions are likely to kill hundreds of people every year if left unchecked).  We already addressed the rhetoric from her anti-e-cigarette poster, which is designed to trick people into being irrationally fearful about common chemicals.  This includes, specifically, the common (as in: found in pretty much everything in the biosphere) organic chemicals, acetone and xylene.  But how much of those chemicals is actually found in e-cigarette liquid or vapor?

The particular source that Hahn cites in her recent advocacy paper (which is the only reference in the poster and is consistent with other study results) found a concentration of less than 1/1000th of NIH’s recommended exposure limit for acetone in the air, close to 1/10,000th of the OSHA limit.  There are arguments that these limits are a bit too high, especially for some sensitive people, but not 1000 times too high.  Moreover, those US government specified limits are for someone’s average exposure throughout the day, so the exposure from vaping needs to be averaged across the entire day for comparison, making it far less than a one millionth of the exposure that is considered worrisome.   The ratios for xylene are a bit lower still.

In case Hahn simply does not understand what these numbers mean, the author of the study she cited (and thus what she implicitly claims is a sufficient source of information about this topic unambiguously concluded that these his results show there is no unexpected risk from this exposure.   So Hahn has no room to plead ignorance.

Perhaps the best way to illustrate that Hahn’s claim — that people should worry about e-cigarettes because of these two chemicals — is a blatant lie, however, is not a comparison to recommended maximum limits, but a comparison to air.  The concentrations of these chemicals in e-cigarette vapor — again, using those 2008 numbers — was only a few times higher than what is found in the outdoor air that most of us breathe.  A lot of what was measured was from the air, in other words, especially because the indoor air in a research facility might have concentrations many times as high as outdoor air.

Since these chemicals are at only slightly higher concentrations than the air, and since someone’s total volume of vapor intake is so small, when someone takes a pull on an e-cigarette and then tops it off with a full breath, most of the acetone and xylene in their airways is from the air, not the e-cigarette.  Someone who doubles their breathing rate for a minute or two, say by walking briskly or speaking, takes in more extra acetone and xylene than they would from a vaping session.

What is more, a more recent study found that the concentration of xylene the vapor was indistinguishable from that of the air.  That is, basically all of the measured xylene was contributed by the primary ingredient of vapor (air) rather than the additional contributions from the e-cigarette itself.

If Hahn was really worried about acetone exposure, she would be trying to shut down nail salons (where it often exceeds OSHA standards for the workers, and customers and innocent passers-by are exposed) not vaping.  But, of course, she does not really care.  She is just hunting for sciency-sounding anti-THR lies.

Those evil nitrosamines

posted by Carl V Phillips (with input from CASAA board)

Continuing the analysis of the lie-filled poster about e-cigarettes that Ellen Hahn and her people have been posting around the University of Kentucky campus:

In the cartridge: Nitrosamines. Known carcinogens.

Nitrosamines, or more particularly, two chemicals in the class known as “tobacco specific nitrosamines” (TSNAs) are a favorite target of anti-THR liars.  Mostly this is focused on anti-smokeless-tobacco efforts (as in the quote from the first entry in the series), which this series will get to later.  Those claims are bad enough, but the nitrosamine claims about e-cigarettes are even more absurd.

The basis for these claims is that when the FDA was seeking to completely ban e-cigarettes in the US (which a federal judge did not let them do), the agency produced a piece of rhetoric, disguised as science, in which they analyzed e-cigarette liquid down to the technological limits of detection, and found a few molecules of TSNAs.  The presence of this trace contamination was inevitable because the medical-grade nicotine used in e-cigarettes is derived from tobacco, and the process of extracting it will pick up a tiny little bit of contamination from other molecules that are also present in the plant.

The contamination is in the parts-per-billion (ppb) range, and it has never been detected in the vapor (though inevitably there are a few molecules there, as there are most everywhere).  To put that in perspective, Western smokeless tobacco, which does not cause cancer to a measurable degree, contains TSNAs in the parts-per-million (ppm) range — that is, about a thousand times as much.

This is another version of the chemophobia ploy, with the added rhetoric of the word “carcinogen”.  The honest statement is, “in very high concentrations these chemicals have been shown to cause cancer in animals, and it is hypothesized (though far from proven) that when they are in smokeless tobacco in the 100 ppm range, they cause a small but detectable risk for cancer; modern Western smokeless tobacco is in the 10 or 1 ppm range, and any cancer risk from it is too small to be measured; the concentration in e-cigarette liquid is in the .01 ppm range.”  But, of course, most people who read this simple statement “contains carcinogens” will think that there is evidence that using this product causes a substantial risk of cancer.  That is what the liars are counting on, whether they are trying to scare people about from tobacco, foods, pesticides, or whatever.

Well, that is what the liars who want to be able to claim “I did not actually say it causes cancer” count on.  Hahn — to her credit, I have to say — was willing to lie overtly rather than playing that weasel game.  The full quote:

In the cartridge: Nitrosamines. Known carcinogens. That means it causes cancer.

There is something a bit refreshing about such an out-and-out lie.

Not so refreshing is the hypocrisy:  Recall that the TSNAs are a trace contaminant of medical-grade nicotine.  What else uses medical grade nicotine?  The pharmaceutical nicotine products — gums, patches, lozenges — that Hahn aggressively pushes smokers to use.  In fact, the level of contamination found in e-cigarettes is about the same as is found in those products, and has never been found to exceed the allowable tolerances for them.

Now that is some seriously bold lying!

Chemophobia

posted by Carl V Phillips (with input from CASAA board)

Another classic anti-THR lie that dates back to the early days of anti-THR is the “list the chemicals” ploy.  When I first started documenting the lies, one favorite was an oft-copied list of chemicals that could be found in smokeless tobacco, along with a scary example of where else each could be found.  For example, “acetone, found in nail polish remover” or “water, found in the smallpox virus and used as a torture tool by the US government”.  The most memorable was “cadmium, found in car batteries”, which was funny because this appeared consistently in the lists, even though car batteries (unlike many rechargeable small batteries) do not use cadmium, and so any cadmium in them is — as with smokeless tobacco — a trace contaminant.

Of course, I was joking about them mentioning the water and the various nasty things it is a part of.  It illustrates the dishonest of their rhetoric:  Every relatively common chemical is a key ingredient in something nasty, and every relatively common chemical can be found in almost everything.  By “relatively common”, I mean basically any of the thousands of chemicals whose name a well-read non-chemist has ever heard.

Imagine my lack of shock when I discovered that the University of Kentucky’s Ellen J. Hahn was using this paleolithic tactic.  In the poster that we started discussing yesterday, she claims that e-cigarettes contain several specific chemicals and then tries to make that sound like it matters.  Putting off the issues of quantity and other more specific points, consider just the rhetoric:  “In the vapor: Acetone and Xylene. Nail polish remover and paint thinner?  You’re going to breathe that?”

Cute game there, never actually making a statement:  Not “you should not breathe that”, but “you are going to?”  Similarly, that first question mark might be a way of pretending to not be lying by pretending it is merely a question (sometimes known as the Fox News tactic):  “Is something that contains a tiny bit of these chemicals similar to nail polish remover and paint thinner?  No, of course not.”;  compare: “Ellen Hahn, a cannibal?  No of course not.  Or at least I confidently conclude even though I do not have definitive proof, since I am capable of sensible scientific reasoning.”

So, even though it does not actually make any health claims or recommendations, does this series of vague and weirdly punctuated words constitute a lie (or two or three)?  Absolutely.  The message is clearly intended to be, “breathing e-cigarette vapor is similar to breathing fumes from nasty solvents” or even “you would be as stupid to vape an e-cigarette as you would to huff paint thinner like a kid in a third-world slum.”  There is no honest content whatsoever in the invocation of what these chemicals are sometimes used for; this information is irrelevant, but the reader is led to assume it is meaningful and to draw the obvious conclusion about what it means.  The only reason for including those words is to mislead the reader.

Oh, and incidentally, xylene is an uncommon choice as a paint thinner.  The most commonly used paint thinner is water.  And every year, almost 400,000 people die from inhaling water.