The most random observation from my recent meetings

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.

10 responses to “The most random observation from my recent meetings

  1. Concerned Citizen

    After talking with several different people (at least two), I understand that there is concern that Stanton Glantz doesn’t wash his hands after urinating. Following the method that the CDC recently used to conclude that e-cigarettes are causing kids to start smoking, this obviously raises the very real likelihood that Stanton Glantz has sociopathic tendencies.

    Is there anything we can do–perhaps specific legislation–that can combat this public health menace?

    • Carl V Phillips

      Hmm. Good point. We cannot allow this threat to pass without maximum consternation. As a scientist, I would normally propose gathering data, getting someone to follow him around to determine whether this is really true. But since you invoke CDC anti-tobacco methods, this would be contraindicated — designing research that runs the risk of discovering the truth does not conform to a politically convenient innuendo is contrary to their methods. Rather it is best to start with your vague claim that sounds like it is an observation and then have people repeat it numerous times until there is a web of “reference” that prove the point. That way, should Glantz actually offer evidence that the claim is wrong (think: Google glasses… then think: eeewwwwww!), it will not matter because the truth will have been established using his own “research” methods.

      As for legislation, I think we should immediately ban any public Glantz, restricting him to detached private housing that contains no children, is at least 100 m from any other buildings, is not within 1000 m of a school or playground, and is posted with warning signs. It is not just his now-proven tendency to not wash his hands post-toilet that is a dire threat to public health, but the fact — previously noted in this blog — that he emits more formaldehyde than e-cigarettes do, and we know (from him) that the level emitted from e-cigarettes is worrisome (the fact that Burstyn showed otherwise is not relevant to this discussion). I realize there is a serious risk that there will be a black market given that people who are the victims of “public health” regulations (or in this case, the single person) are, for some baffling reason, often unwilling to comply with dictates that make their lives worse. While it might be argued that such a ban is a threat to freedom, we must remember that he has now been proven to be a sociopath, and thus there is no reason to believe there will be a slippery slope from this to banning other people.

      • Carl V Phillips

        Of course, once the reconciliation process in is in place, Glantz will be given the chance to confess and be allowed to freely reenter society without restriction. By that time, his anti-THR lies should fall on deaf ears, fortunately, so no harm there. As for his now-proven tendency to spread coliform bacteria and formaldehyde, though, we will just have to live with that as part of the cost of reconciliation.

  2. Kriging seems to be stat technique flavour of the month, so perhaps you can use it for the lack of data on Women? :)

  3. Apology accepted :)

  4. 1. Vapers at a meet do not need to wash their hands, or anything, after visits to the facilities. The intense propylene glycol takes care of any pathogens.

    2. Only American men visit a bathroom during a day out & about.

    • Carl V Phillips

      1. If you start spreading that rumor and it takes, I cannot begin to imagine the ways in which it hurts the cause.

      2. And the rest of you just wet yourselves after a few pints? It would be a less harmful rumor to spread than the other one, but it does not take much effort to prove it wrong.

      • Heh. If you go in for humour then you must expect some – and humour isn’t a logical/factual process :)

        Only Americans call it a bathroom.

        • Carl V Phillips

          What can I say? Perhaps the clearest defining characteristic of a true science geek is just not being able to resist analyzing jokes or other fiction for holes in the underlying science.

          Is it *only* Americans? (there I go again being a geek) I realize, of course, that it is not the universal or even most common name (though it is not clear to me what is most common — it seems to vary everywhere, much like all words that describe functions or hardware from that area of the body), but does no one else follow the American standard? Just curious. After all, with most of the world falling into line, learning to speak American and follow American culture, you would think that it would get some international traction :-)

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