by Carl V Phillips
As a follow-up on my Truth and Reconciliation post, I wanted to add an observation that has struck me about potential common ground, and that after many observations feel an irresistible urge to write about. (Why is such an urge at all unusual? Read on.)
I have spent a lot of time at gatherings of public health people, as well as “public health” people and ANTZ. I worked all day in their company for many years. I have also spent a lot of time at gatherings of tobacco industry people, in their workplace, at conferences, etc. I have obviously also been around many gatherings of other people, particularly Americans but also those from many other countries. Thus, I am able to make the following observation and, in the spirit of Sunday’s post, declare it with as much confidence as would be possible from some fancy statistical analysis:
Men who work in public health and “public health” have in common with men who are in and around the tobacco industry the fact that they have approximately 100% incidence of hand-washing after going to the bathroom. This contrasts with a baseline of less than 50% for Americans; the baseline is noticeably better in most other modern countries (love that American exceptionalism) but still far from 100%. This contrast holds even if we narrow the comparison group by omitting bars, ballparks, and such, and restrict the comparison to other people of similar social class, other places of business, other professional conferences, etc. The baseline for those populations is better than the 50%, but still far short of 100%. Professional “businessmen” types may actually have a worse average than bar patrons.
Naturally my data is censored — I have little data on women. Also, I am pretty sure I have observed a similar pattern (far above average compared to the population) at vaper gatherings, but I do not recall for sure. Perhaps someone could help me fill in the knowledge gaps.
This may not seem all that important, and of course this is somewhat a joke (the discussion, not the research results, which are definitely true), but it is not nothing. Hand washing is an indication of basic intelligence/awareness (to know the value of it) and concern about health. But even more, it is a concern about doing right for others, since it generally protects others’ health more than one’s own (washing your hands periodically is good for your health as well as others’, but doing it specifically after going to the bathroom is targeted at others). Presumably this explains why people in more sociopathic professions do not do it. There are clearly a few flamboyant sociopaths in tobacco control, and there are undoubtedly some high-functioning ones in the tobacco business, but these are a tiny minority, as proven by these hand-washing observations. (Kidding about that “proven” thing — all this positive talk about ANTZ had me channeling their scientific methods.)
So what can we do with this observation? The greatest impact should be among ANTZ, realizing this point of commonality when they think that people in the industry are evil. (Note: it is quite clear to me that they are, on average, far nicer and more honest than people in “public health” — and I do mean far, it is not even close — but this is harder to code into concrete data than the hand washing thing.) This won’t get to the core ANTZ, of course, who do not read and otherwise try hard to avoid learning anything about tobacco use, probably realizing that it would interfere with their religion. But the fellow travelers who have been tricked into supporting the ANTZ agenda might find the commonality interesting.
So what can those of us on the honest and truth-seeking side of this divide do with this observation? Maybe not much. We already would have predicted that “public health” people would wash their hands — even those who care not at all about real public health would want to put on a show of caring about it. But perhaps this is a hook that could lead to further recognition of commonalities that could lead to accepting that truth & reconciliation concept.
Or perhaps it is useless, and I merely wasted three minutes of your day. But it might be worst than that: Now that I planted this observation in your head, you may not be able to resist pursuing the comparative research in populations you observe. Sorry about that.