posted by Carl V Phillips
This is not how I was planning to start this series, but in honor(?) of Lance Armstrong and his very bad week, I thought I would offer a bit of good news. It turns out that Armstrong’s LIVESTRONG charity, once thick with anti-THR lies, cleaned them up over the last few years. Today I noticed that this had apparently been reduced to only one paragraph in one document at their website:
Many people believe that the use of snuff and other forms of smokeless tobacco is safer than smoking. However, potent human carcinogens (N-nitrosamines) are also present in high concentrations in smokeless tobacco. These carcinogens have been clearly linked to cancers of the lung, esophagus, liver, pancreas, bladder, cervix, nasal and oral cavities. There simply is no safe way to use tobacco products.
Since the goal here is to address only one lie per day, consider just the first sentence, as juxtaposed against the rest (the whole paragraph is included because the sin here is of omission). This is one of the original classic anti-THR lies which I documented as being common a decade ago in my 2004 study, “You might as well smoke”.
Notice the game, a simple method of lying via the use of a non sequitur, without actually making the false statement that is being communicated. The message they are intentionally sending, and that most people will read, is “many people believe…, however that is not true”. But anyone with any knowledge at all knows that this statement about what people “believe” (which is used as a term of ridicule in this case) is true beyond any hint of doubt, so they avoid actually saying “but that is not true”.
Instead they make some claims about lack of perfect safety (which are themselves lies, but those are a topic for another day; they could have stuck to honest statements and still used this tactic, though, so that is not relevant today). Almost every reader will interpret these statements as meaning that the “belief” in the topic sentence is false, especially with the “however”.
If they had actually said “but this belief is false”, then we might conclude that they were clueless about the science. The fact that they avoided that false statement is what clearly shows that they were lying — intentionally communicating something they know to be false, even without making the literally false statement.
Ironically, that first claim, that most people believe, is a literally false statement for many populations, but that unimportant technical falsehood is not actually one of the several anti-THR lies in the paragraph.