You’re not paranoid when they really are out to get you

According to some German scientists, smoking makes you anxious and paranoid. Here’s a quick summary of what they did to invent arrive at this conclusion.

They showed volunteers a series of images, just symbols, but some symbols gave them an electric shock when displayed. The volunteers soon learned to anticipate the shock when the symbol appeared. So far, so Pavlovian. Nothing contentious there.

So now they have a group with a ‘learned fear response’. This, they seem to believe, is a bad thing. It’s the response that stops you poking your finger into a flame a second time. The response that makes you steer well clear of tigers and other things that might eat you. Yet, to these scientists, being afraid of something that hurts is a bad thing.

They then showed the volunteers the same symbols but without the electric shocks and with reassurances that ‘all is well’, The smokers tended to flinch at the symbols anyway, despite the reassurances.

Now, from this they conclude that smoking is bad because smokers don’t just accept the reassurances. Smoking, they say, inhibits your ability to suppress a fear response.

Hypothetical stiuation – some bearded loony is running at you with a machete shouting ‘Allahu akbar but it’s okay, I’m from the religion of peace’. Is it better to suppress your fear response because of reassuring words, or is if better to run like buggery and let the idiot who believes the words get sliced into halal bacon?

I’m a smoker. I’ll hang on to my learned fear response, thank you very much.

The ‘fear response’ is not the same thing as PTSD. That’s where they are making their fundamental error. PTSD needs a cure. It’s debilitating. The fear response does not need a cure. It’s a normal and natural part of being a human. In fact, any animal. Suppressing the fear response means developing people who will stick their finger in the flame a second time and who will try to cuddle tigers.

I seem to recall reading about a condition – might be considered the opposite of PTSD – where people have no ability to feel fear and do not learn from being hurt. That’s a pretty dangerous condition to have. Should we all aspire to be so fearless that we will walk back into a burning house because we think we’ve left the gas on?

A big confounder in this whole experiment is that smokers have a ‘fear response’ to the entire medical profession that has been drummed into us over decades. We know they hate us – it’s not paranoia, they are in the news every day delighting in new ways to make our lives miserable. So when a doctor says ‘Now this time we won’t electrocute you’, the smoker is far less likely to believe it. Basically, medical profession, we don’t trust you, and you made that happen.

The nonsmoker has no such conditioned response. They don’t take their septic finger to the doctor knowing they will be nagged about how smoking causes septic fingers and be told a lot of lies about how they have to give up smoking or the antibiotics won’t work. The smoker forced to interact with the medical world now does so from an initial position of anxiety that is caused not by smoking, but by the incessant nagging.

The article goes on to bemoan how PTSD sufferers smoke much more than us laid back hippie layabout smokers, and calls for ‘interventions’ to stop them. Interventions to stop anyone in a job such as the military, fire service or police from smoking in case their smoking triggers PTSD.


They are claiming smoking causes PTSD. Not attending a crime scene where the walls are decorated with blood and three sets of intestines are tastefully arranged into a semblance of a Christmas tree. No, it’s smoking that gives you PTSD. Not combing through a burning building, knowing it might collapse at any moment just as you come face to face with a charred corpse. Not cowering under heavy shellfire and watching your best mate blown into a thousand pieces right in front of you. No, it’s the smoking we have to deal with.

Seriously. They want to stop soldiers smoking because that’s the biggest danger they face. They want to stop police officers smoking becasue being stabbed by a loony is not so bad, really. The best one is still the firemen. The ones who routinely venture into clouds of choking smoke and flame are not allowed to burn half a gram of leaves and inhale.

This piece of research clearly had the conclusion ‘smoking is bad’ prewritten. It does nothing to advance any kind of treatment for PTSD or anything else. The only thing it advances is the antismoking agenda. Soon you will not be allowed to join the police, military or fire brigade if you smoke.

As the experiment has shown, only those whose natural fear response can be easily overridden will be allowed into those professions. They are the ones who will take unnecessary risks that will put themselves and their colleagues in danger. The smoker who says ‘Whoa, hang on, if we do that we’ll probably die’ is to be banned from the professions altogether.

Military, fire service, police. Three professions where the alleged dangers of smoking are utterly trivial when set against the dangers they face every day. Yet here we have a piece of ‘research’ designed to eliminate smoking from those professions.


Puritanism. It’s the answer to everything now.


21 thoughts on “You’re not paranoid when they really are out to get you

  1. Reminiscent of all those pseudo-scientists ‘researching’ climate change by arranging/massaging their results to fit their pre-conceived outcome.

    The technical term is ‘Homogenising’, which most of us around before climate change was invented, associated only with milk.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The technical term is ‘Homogenising’, which most of us around before climate change was invented, associated only with milk.
      Fair enough. But in the halls of time for all time, I wonder how many people will be on the wall of fame for the discovery of things like “Cured Polio” or “Discovered Electricity” or “Invented Homogenization” and the like? I would imagine that there will be many discoverers, over many times over time, for the same thing and things. Lost, found. Lost, found. Ad-Infinitum.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I read an article the other day that said men’s fertility is at an all time low. Yup, those little sperm ain’t swimming the way they’re supposed to. An expert was asked why and he said one of the main reasons was smoking. Now i’m puzzled by this, because the numbers of smokers in the population has been going down for years. So how come infertility in men has been increasing? Hmm….?


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Before the boffins try to explain things neuroscientifically (is that a word?), it might help if we knew why some people smoke and others don’t. We could then maybe find a correlation with other mental phenomena. I was fascinated with smoking as a teenager, while other people were no doubt disgusted. Why is that? Maybe MJM can tell us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The fascination is simply because it’s something done by adults that is very distinctive and kind of mysterious. Drinking alcohol is done by adults as well, but it looks like drinking anything else and therefore not that interesting, plus it’s quite reasonable for a teenager to associate enjoyment with drinking something anyway — soda!

      Smoking is something totally different than other experiences, so obviously someone who hasn’t had the opportunity to try it will be fascinated by it. Even if they HAVE tried it once or twice in sneaking a puff while younger, it is STILL mysterious because so many people seem to be enjoying something that the “snuck puff” probably indicated to be pretty nasty.

      In terms of disgust, disgust is something we learn mainly as children. Kids who grew up in the 1950s through ’70s had never been brainwashed into seeing smoking as disgusting while a whole lot of kids growing up in the last 20 or 30 years have. Check out these readings:

      Soooo…. just remember…. when you have kids, hang up a poster of Stanton or Arnott on the wall, point to it, make icky faces and noises and say “Ewww! DisGUSTing! Icckypoodoodookaakaa!”


      Liked by 1 person

      • As far as smoking goes, I remember entering a period of disgust and fear, even scalding someone with tea which I spilled in my haste to escape the deadly secondhand smoke of my relatives. That was probably in the 70s, when the propaganda was increasing. The relative subtlety of the messages back then was perhaps more powerful than we thought – better propaganda than the pornographic packaging and bans of today?

        Your links all mention evolutionary aspects of disgust, but the third article states: “My argument is that the olfactory system is set up so that, through experience, meaning becomes attached to odor stimuli. This is in contrast to the proposition that we are hardwired to like or dislike various odor stimuli before ever smelling them.”

        Some divergence from the evolutionary tale there and probably nearer to the mark as a result.

        What evolutionary advantages could be gained from smoking, I wonder? If it allegedly reduces fertility and longevity, not a lot. More evidence that Darwin was deluded?

        People with mental illness, convicts, poor people and people in the military smoke more than average. Why? Boredom?

        As for smells, there was an advert on UK telly many, many years ago with the slogan, “Live in peace with your pipe” as the smell was so good that nobody could possibly object.

        It seems to have been expunged from the internet, so here is an alternative which ageing British people will remember and has an American flavour too (well, flavor). Smoking ads still allowed on YouTube. Tobacco Control have missed a trick there.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hi Stewart;- St Bruno jogs a memory;- I think that one might be possibly from another brand, there’s a modern Mac Baron for instance.

          But I was thinking of a tin I bought off a local auction site, still sealed.

          A few years ago now.
          The seller later remarked to me (this tin dating back to WW2) :-

          I don’t know if you intend to try to smoke the tobacco. I did smoke the pipe a lot. This tin for me is more a nostalgic memory. As a boy on the North Sea coast and Kattegat these tins became prized items for the black market, though most of them were Capstan or Player’s Navy Cut cigarettes; drifted in from ships torpedoed or having hit mines.
          Because of the vacuum seal they were in perfect condition, though the label had mostly washed off , but the content could be identified from the embossed lids. A tin of 50 cigarettes were worth 50 kroner, nearly a week’s wages.
          You can judge my age from above, but as Dan David often said in his ripe old age: I have a long life behind me, and a short one in front of me.
          I should have mentioned that these tins went through the black or “greyish” market, because anything drifting in on the Danish coast belonged, and still belongs, to the Crown through the local royal beach master, later to be disposed of by public auction.

          The vacuum wasn’t perfect, and there were a few spots of rust on the tin, but nevertheless on opening it (it had a detachable lid which contained a small snap-in blade which would when deployed slit the inner foil) there were good-looking slices of pipe tobacco.

          I’ll show those later, but for now here’s another one of the tin label


          Liked by 1 person

        • I remember reading an article somewhere about a genetic alteration that made homo sapiens more tolerant of smoke than some of our competitors and thus better adapted to surviving in colder climates. I don’t recall where it was or how solid the theory was however.

          I agree that the “learned” portion of dislike of smells is paramount with a very few exceptions (e.g. decomposing corpses)

          The harm that’s been done by a generation of parents teaching their children to choke and cough whenever they see a cigarette is incalculable.


          Liked by 1 person

  4. When I used to smoke tobacco, a pipe, Sobranie Black Russian or Turkish Passing Clouds fags, it made me feel mellow and at peace. I never felt anxious or succumbed to depression. Perhaps I should take it up again.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s another slice of the inserted thin edge of the wedge to bring down the West internally

    I don’t think you’ll see Chinese or Russian armed forces giving up tobacco any time soon.

    Yet soldiers go in to smoke of other sorts and far worse as we know, even playing…
    Blue smoke billows

    Liked by 1 person

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