The Emotional appeal (Disguised manipulation designed to change social behaviour) What you win them with, is what you win them to.

I was watching TV  the other night when an anti smoking advertisement came on the screen. Normally these advertisements contain at least some facts  about the effects of smoking and how passive smoking is also dangerous  to your spouse and children or that it will  shorten  your life or cause other adverse health conditions. As much as these adds might make one  want to light up in defiance of the campaign against smoking even  the tobacco companies have a duty of care to inform its patrons so I have no problem with this. What is different with the this new add campaign is that the add clearly uses  the guilt angle; there are no facts or scientific information.

So put your self in my place I am sitting there in front of the TV when this add comes on and a stream of people begin stating the same sentence broken  down into sequential part that eventually say, If you’re a smoker and you care  about  me  don’t smoke around me I’m trying  to quite. Well sure I can  do that! What is annoying  about this add  though  is  that it only includes a chorus of people looking sad,  hurt,  somehow broken and victimised so  that if you as  a smoker aren’t interested in giving up at least have  some compassion  for those   that are trying… Once more fair  enough. One might even invoke the biblical argument of not causing  your brother to stumble or another biblical argument  that we are in fact our brothers keepers and  we  should  do for others  as  we would like  done  for ourselves.

What concerns me  with  this type of approach however is that it always takes  the responsibility away from those perceived as, or who have obtained victim status, placing the responsibility for change on those perceived as the perpetrators or in this case  the transgressors. This whole approach now dominates just about every medium you can  think of including education, politics, immigration,social change and even religion.

Lets stick  to smoking for a moment: Firstly no one is forced  to smoke tobacco, at least 90% of all smokers know the risk. 100% of smokers at some point realise  that nicotine is a highly addictive habit. There are no victims when it  comes  to smoking tobacco because if someone didn’t like it they wouldn’t smoke because smoking is a choice. Even  those who didn’t like smoking  to begin with but persisted in  doing  so made a choice to continue.

So back  to the add: I mentioned  that it contains  no scientific/medical  or statistical data. It is like the argument for marriage equality now raging in Australia as the world watches on. All the appeals for change lack any real data all  they  do contain is an emotional appeal for equal rights; anyone against change is either a hater,  homophobic or a bigot. There is no rational  to the argument there is no discussion or debate it simply is a circumstance that degenerates into  name calling and blaming  those against for  the depression and suicidal behaviour of the advocates  for change. There is no proof  that  rejection directly causes LBTQ people  to suicide it is a pseudo truth that is accepted  as true  because it is constantly repeated.

So as not to beat up on the LBTQ people I am only using this as an example of how now even smokers are put under the spot light and made  to feel  guilty by the anti smoking campaigners  who seem  to have  run out of other avenues to get their point across.  I am sure there is  some truth  to the argument that if  you are trying  to quite  and  you stay away  from other smokers  that it will increase  your chances of giving up. On the other hand simply having a bunch of paid actors or even reformed smokers say if  you love me  don’t smoke around me I’m trying  to quit, may only infuriate the smokers   who are already  treated like lepers to tell others  to  go screw themselves.

I have just done a survey of  articles from Cancer Research UK;

American Cancer Society;

And then there is a study by Forbes research that  shows that although people inhaling second hand smoke are ingesting the same chemicals as smokers in a contained area;  the risk is far less greater than it is  to those  who directly inhale tobacco and even less of a risk in open areas. Dr Jyoti Patel of Northwestern University School of Medicine even went  so far as  to admit  that, “The strongest reason to avoid passive cigarette smoke is to change societal behaviour: to not live in a society where smoking is a norm,”

Can  you see how  this works? Those holding the affirmative position claim they have  the evidence  but  when  you read through the actual jargon they are quoting, it is only generic information that  draws a casual relationship between the cause and effect… It’s not hard evidence! On the one  side those against smoking quote all  the hard  data  about smoking and its effects where it directly impacts on the user. They then very dishonestly make a casual (anecdotal)  link between  the direct impact on smokers and those  who may inhale  the smoke second hand…It’s not a proven fact!

The thing  that needs to be pointed  out here is  the quote by Dr Patel; the information is designed  to change  social behaviour not that it is true or accurate! I am not advocating the use of tobacco. What I am trying  to draw  you attention  to  is  the methodology employed  to achieve  the desired result. The information although related is incidental to the desired outcome. I could argue that swimming in cold water in winter may cause pneumonia or that the water may contain contaminates that could cause other health issues; but then my real purpose may be to keep  you away  from my fishing hole. In other words I may have raised a real health concern but that is not my primary reason  for warning people.

Relate this  to past myths (I am not implying that the risks of smoking are mere myths) my point is  to say that if  you’re  told something often enough you begin believing it even though it isn’t true. Very often  we are more likely  to accept something as true because  someone we trust says it, someone in authority says it is or when it is supposedly science. So next  time  you read a science journal or listen to your favourite politician or religious leader tell  you something is true watch out  for jargon words like most likely, probably, may have been, could be, experts agree, studies show that… I  think  you get the picture.

One of the biggest offenders is anecdotal evidence: Anecdotal evidence is saying I was bitten by a snake  while I was  chewing straw and I didn’t die  so chewing straw is a cure  for snakebites. Of we know this is false but  think back  to a time in history when we burned people as witches because someone died and the witnesses claimed  they saw them near old Mrs Brown’s house before they  got sick. Obviously Mrs Brown put a hex on the people  who died therefore  she is a witch. The use of coincidental relationships between an event and the circumstances surrounding it is not proof  there is any link whatsoever between  the  two or that  the assumptions are true. In my teens or early twenties there was a youth who committed  suicide while listening to Heavy Metal Music as it was found playing next  to his dead body. Then there was all the hoopla surrounding the role playing game Dungeons and Dragon’s with various claims  that  it was an apprenticeship into witchcraft or that teenagers  were committing suicide  because their characters died and they no longer had a reason  to live. Apart  from someone leaving a note saying why they ended it all I think only God knows  why anyone ends  their life. For the rest of us left behind it is purely guess work on our part as  to why someone take their own life. Usually but not always suicide is planned  and  contemplated for long periods of  time. The cause is not always known  to others while other  times if you or I are, or have been close  to that person  you may have some idea as  to why.  Sadly many  who take their own lives take their secret as  to  why   to their grave with them. More often than  not we are trying  to make sense  of what may appear  to be a senseless act. We do this for our own comfort and peace of mind

It is facts  that should effect how  we behave and live not feelings or whether or not  we like a thing or a person  or a group of people

I have placed a number of links  below  that explode some of  our commonly held shared beliefs. The point here is  that when  you  go looking  for the facts behind myths or even the words of so called experts and authority figures we can  find out that  there isn’t always truth behind their statements.



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