How Much Does Cecil REALLY Know?

Cecil knows everything. In fact, he is the world’s smartest human. My question is, how much does he REALLY know?

Cecil’s columns are definitely funny and informative. That’s how most or all of us ended up here. But there are alot of intelligent people out there. In fact, there are alot in here too. So my question is how superior is Cecil’s knowledge to that of a reasonably intelligent, educated/well read person?

This assumes that said person has the time and resources (and access) in order to research the type of questions that Cecil answers. Could someone else stack up?

Knowledge cannot be measured. If you didn’t notice, Cecil has a large staff that gathers info for him…

I included that in resources. My point is, does Cecil have some tremendous advantage do to his pre-exisiting knowledge base, or could many others perform the same function?

Only if they were willing to undergo a coaxial cable transplant directly into the back of their necks, like Cecil did. (Did you ever see Saturn III where Harvey Keitel plugs himself into the computer? Great stuff. Farrah Fawcett was in it, too.)

Cecil’s got several things working for him specifically. Of course, he’s got a good staff, a lot of reference books, friends in high places, etc. Anyone could have those. Cecil, however, knows how to use them: Who to call, or what book to check. A good example of this is the question a while back on penis sizes-- He called up the Kinsey Foundation and the condom companies.
His second advantage is a very open mind-- This shows most clearly, I think, in his column on spontaneous human combustion. A certain other columnist (I won’t mention any names, espescially not the name Marilyn vos Savant) got the same question, and instantly wrote it all off as a hoax, whereas Cecil actually looked at the available evidence and came up with a rational solution.
Thirdly, he’s very insightful/wise. He knows which questions to answer, and which answers are relevant. Wisdom’ll get you a lot of places that intelligence or knowledge won’t.
Fourth, he’s humble. On the rare occasions when he’s wrong, or his answer was incomplete, he admits it, and corrects/updates the original column. Of course, anybody can do that, but few have the guts to actually do it.

Plus he’s a marvelous cook, a crackerjack cribage partner, and I’m told he dances like a dream walking.

Cecil is a great writer with a sense of humor (I’d gush but it’s bad form). Marilyn What’s-her-name is a dumbshit with a high IQ.

I am an opinionated asshole, and what’s it to ya?

He knows enough to open threads in the proper forum. This thread is off to Comments on Cecil’s Columns.

Quoth manhattan:

Are you sure about that, manhattan? From the thread, Greetings to Jezebel, on her birthday, we have the following post:
Quoth Cecil Adams:

I rest my case.

Yes, but he didn’t open that thread, now did he, Chronos?

Check again, andros, he did, in fact, open that thread. Admittedly, the post quoted wasn’t the OP.

I was slow to reply to Cecil’s erroneous musings on second hand smoke, but it fits in nicely here.

For a great example of how the usually-reliable Cecil is capable of the occasional collosal blunder - note that he woefully misled readers by swallowing whole and regurgitating the tobacco industry’s propoganda that second hand smoke’s risk is “controversial.” The health risks of second hand smoke have been firmly documented years before the 1992 EPA report.

Cecil received a lot of corrections, but none of them were posted here - until now:

“There is no longer any doubt that exposure to environmental tobacco smoke is a cause of disease among nonsmokers. Indeed, any genuine controversy on the issue ended in 1986, with the publication of the Surgeon General’s report on the health consequences of involuntary smoking.” (According to a National Cancer Institute monograph, 1993).

Then the Environmental Protection Agency found second hand smoke to be a “known human carcinogen,” with “no safe level of exposure.” Scientific bodies have been unanimous in finding SHS to be a significant cause of mortality among non-smokers, including the World Health Organization, the U.S. Surgeon General, the National Cancer Institute, the National Research Council (of the National Academy of Sciences), and many others.

Over 50,000 deaths among non-smoking Americans each year are believed attributable to second hand smoke exposure making this a major cause of preventable death in the U.S. About 70% of these deaths are due to coronary artery disease. Cancer mortality from SHS alone exceeds the combined mortality from all regulated environmental carcinogens making it the number one cause of environmental cancer. It is also a significant cause of asthma, asthma exacerbations and pulmonary infections, especially in children.

The tobacco industry and its front groups try to spin this as a “controversy” through a massive public relations effort. This ongoing effort has involved parading findings from tobacco-funded scientists, planting stories into the news media, and even forming front groups masquerading as objective consultants (The story of “Healthy Buildings International” made the cover of the Washington Post magazine). This mis-information campaign bears an eerie resemblance to their earlier successful campaign about the “controversy” over whether smoking cigarettes causes disease. It appears that Cecil Adams has become a victim of this propoganda, proving once again that P.R. budgets - work.


Joseph Adams, MD, FACP
6565 N. Charles St. Suite 605
Towson, MD 21204
phone: 410-339-7108
fax: 410-339-7118

Welcome to the SDMB, and thank you for posting your comment.
Please include a link to Cecil’s column if it’s on the straight dope web site.
To include a link, it can be as simple as including the web page location in your post (make sure there is a space before and after the text of the URL).

Cecil’s column can be found on-line at this link:
Does second-hand smoke really cause cancer? (02-Jun-2000)

For future reference, Joseph Adams, allow me to point out that this subject strays enough from the intent of this thread (in my opinion) that it would have been worthy of a topic all of its own.

[Edited by Arnold Winkelried on 07-03-2000 at 02:43 PM]

Second hand smoke as a cause of coronary heart disease is the subject of a forthcoming followup column. As for cancer mortality, you are simply reiterating the claim Cecil was disputing. Cecil conceded at the outset that passive smoke was unhealthful, particularly with respect to vulnerable groups such as children. The point at issue is whether it causes serious (let’s specify: potentially fatal) illness in the general population.

Oopsie. That came out wrong.
I was going to say:

Cecil has two things no one else does-
A sense of who he is.
A sense of who no one else is.

Since he can see no one else is the smartest person,
that leaves him to claim the title.

I bet there are entire fields Cecil doesn’t know anything about.
For example, he never seems to discourse on…
(I’m checking…still checking…)

You know, he does seem pretty well rounded after all.
I guess the impression we have that he obsesses on the grosser aspects of bodily fluids is just because those illustrations are easier to remember.

You Ur-goobers clearly have too much time on your hands. I suggest that rather than ruminate about a question which is quite easy to answer, and which several of you did, you utilize your considerable intellect on the question I posed on world population in the genral category. Thank you.