Monthly Archives: April 2016

“I vape and I am eligible to vote, but seldom do it” is probably a better slogan

by Carl V Phillips

There has a lot of discussion about tactics in the comments of my recent posts, including the common error that there is a tension between tactical thinking and scientific analysis (see the my last paragraph from the previous post). So this post is entirely about tactics — from a scientific perspective.

In the USA, presidential elections get people briefly interested in the politics that shapes their lives. In the UK, the Brexit vote has momentous implications. In both of these, there are memes floating around about how voters who are motivated to protect their right to vape could sway elections. But could they really? Continue reading

Six bad arguments against criticism of misleading pro-THR claims

by Carl V Phillips

The title is a reference to this post by Lee Johnson, in which he did something that I often do (though seldom in list form): He pointed out a handful of arguments that are often made in vaping advocacy but that should be avoided because they are misleading or out-and-out factual errors. He dared suggest that even if you believe in a particular conclusion, not every claim that ostensibly supports your position is right. For his trouble, Johnson received (a little) well-deserved praise and (a lot of) very predictable attacks. What struck me — and strikes me every time I am the target of those attacks, but it was more clear from the outside — is that the criticism of him was just as patently invalid as the fallacious claims that he was debunking.

That particular kerfuffle has already faded away, thanks to the news-cycle proclivities common in this space (another problem in itself, though largely unrelated), but this is a recurring theme, so is worth some reflection. Following Johnson, I present the common arguments in six points. Continue reading

Economic innumeracy in public health, with an emphasis on tobacco harm reduction

by Carl V Phillips

I recently had the opportunity to give a talk at what was basically the wake for the end of the quarter-century run of the wonderful Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholars in Health Policy Research program at the University of Michigan. I chose to put together some themes from my work as a tribute to one of the goals of that program, bringing the thinking of serious social scientists into health policy arenas where it is desperately lacking. Alas, most of my fellow alumni focus on engineering a better medical system or medical financing, with few choosing to try to deal with public health (let alone “public health”). Medical practice is obviously extremely important, but not so desperately in need of imported thinkers. Well, at least you have me.

I got some great feedback on this talk making that alone well worth my effort. (Thanks to all my colleagues. And it was great seeing you. We’ll be in touch.) But I wanted to also share what I created more broadly here. The following are my slides from the talk, with some text to explain what is not fully contained in the slides, along with a bit of extra material that was not in the talk. Continue reading