Penn & Teller Bullshit! - 2nd-hand smoke (spoilers)

Was anyone else really disappointed in this installment? Maybe it’s because the issue of second-hand smoke has more relevance to me than some of the other topics they’ve covered so far (alien abduction, end-of-the-world heysteria, etc.) but this is the first time they really struck me as being underhanded in their treatment. Their big gun was attempting to discredit the EPA and WHO studies or say the studies don’t say what smoking-restriction proponents say they do. Fine, I’m all about debunking the claims if the science is bad or being misused. But don’t then try to say the data is no good by (repeatedly) saying that a “federal judge threw it out of court.” Blatant appeal to authority, and it doesn’t help matters when the judge in question is sitting in a courtroom in Raleigh-Durham North Carolina, the heart of tobacco country. Did anyone happen to catch the caption on the case being cited? I couldn’t make it out.

Also disappinted in the repeated slippery slope arguments included, mostly in the taped comments from interviewees but some from Penn as well. One guy in particular said something about “will they tell me I can’t smoke a cigar in my own house?” Classic slippery slope.

Gotta say I was bothered as well by dismissing the increase in risk to non-smokers from second-hand smoke as “statistically insignificant.” That may well be true, but the two extra people who won’t die because they weren’t exposed to the smoke probably won’t find anything insignificant about it.

Plus, hey, even if there’s no health risk at all from second-hand smoke, it still reeks to high heaven and to be fair I have to disclose that I’m all in favor of restricting smoking in all public places. Smoke in your house if you must but nowhere else.

Make the points against second-hand smoke on the merits but I expect better than this bullshit from people out to expose bullshit.

The fact is the “second hand smoke” theory has no factual basis. Get a little touchy when your “ox gets gored” do ya?

Ditto, Otto. I watched part of that episode while sobering up after the Tyson-Etienne fight last weekend. I was disappointed in P&T.

In one of their highlights of a report, they focused on a line that said that the rise in cancer rates was statistically insignificant. However, the very next line in the report, which they did not highlight, contradicted the point they were trying to make.

I expected a lot better as well.

I noticed that I felt sorry for the secondhand smoke guy because he didn’t seem like an absolute loon, just misinformed. But he got the same treatment as the alien abduction people, including the evil editing and snappy comebacks. There’s something oddly fair about that.

This show will be much more interesting if it focuses on things like this instead of getting cheap thrills from the patently delusional. I wonder if there’s a place you can go to suggest topics? I’d love to see the Scientology episode.

Does Teller speak on this show?

I would just like to point out the P & T both claimed they didn’t smoke, and were (I think), annoyed with it.

I don’t rely on P & T’s opinion to make my final decision on the matter.

I am a non-smoker, and I am 100% for there no smoking in restaurants, (MAYBE unless there’s a closed off room for smokers, MAYBE! Not decided), Restaurants are often family oriented, small children can’t object to being around smokers.

Bars, however… well it sort of pisses me off a little bit that people want to ban smoking in all of the bars. It’s a bar! You’re prepared to pollute your body with one type of toxin, but not willing to breath in second-hand smoke that hasn’t even generated enough proof for scientists to agree that it’s definitely a risk of any sort!? If there’s an independent bar owner that wants to make his/her place smoke free for all of the non-smokers, more power too him/her. I don’t know if it would be good for business, perhaps it would be. It’s just that you can’t drive all smokers, (who plan to smoke), out of every conceivable place where they might run into another human being. Or at least that’s MHO. I think some people enjoy going out and having a smoke in a social atmosphere, just as one would go out for a drink.

Is that so bad? No one is forcing anyone to go into a smoke-filled bar to hang around these people. You may say; “but then I don’t get to go out with my friends and relax with a drink because I don’t choose to be around smoking”. A smoker could say the same thing about not being able to have a smoke at the bar because they don’t allow it. So, if you’re inconvenienced, the obvious answer is to incontinence the many smokers who want relatively the same thing as you do, and that’s to relax? I know people that ONLY smoke when they are at a bar. It’s a “reward” of sorts to go out and have a cigarette with friends.

BTW, I’m never 100% sure on anything, ever… I seriously think you opinion is just as valid as mine. I just sound harsh because, as of now, I feel strongly about it!!

I agree that P & T weren’t even handed. It’s not as if you can treat these people like they’re UFO quacks, and not have them able to respond after their speeches have been edited, and are made to look like morons.

I wonder how much “influence” big tobacco had behind that episode?

Actually, not really. But hey, thanks for confirming my suspicion that the very first response to this thread would use the phrase “ox gets gored.”

I’m curious.
Why would anyone look to two comedian/magicians for explainations of alien abductions, end of the world hysteria or the scientific soundness of second hand smoke?

The tradition of magicians debunking things goes back at least to Houdini, who would debunk mediums armed with his knowledge of trickery. This idea works well with debunking guys like John Edwards, perhaps less so with other things.

Is cancer the only measure of possible damage to passive smokers? What about other respiratory problems? I understand that 2nd-hand smoke isn’t a major killer, but I thought the show made it seem completely harmless.

The massive headache I get whenever exposed to smoke makes me believe otherwise. Count me disappointed.

I think one of the concerns with second hand smoke in bars is not the effect on the customers but on the employees, and it is an employee safety law or something like that.

Probably as much “influence” as Big Insurance has had on the “second hand smoke kills” ads.



from here

so I don’t think your point holds.

and hapaXL

has more to do with with a physical aversion or allergy than it has to do with any cancer-causing properties in SHS.

And for those of you wondering about the influence of the tobacco industry, So What? Facts are facts
From the same site:

Okay, I’ll admit that was an unthinking and off-the-cuff remark on my part but that’s only because I–for personal reasons-- hold the tobacco industry with nothing but total contempt.

Anyway, I looked over that web site NutMagnet cited and the author (an admitted occasional smoker) is pretty upfront about the fact that he has an axe to grind. Witness this whine about the despicable anti-smoking deviants who get their kicks persecuting poor innocent smokers:

Moreover, in the “Agenda” section, I came across this interesting quote:

I’d go on but we’re getting way off-topic and only one small step from being thrown in the Pit.

I watched this show with my wife, who is an epidemiologist. She had an interesting point of view.

Please take note that the only claim about second-hand smoke that Penn & Teller chose to address is that it kills people by giving them cancer. Look at the show again if you don’t believe me. They didn’t discuss emphysema, or heart disease, or anything else.

It is true that the scientific evidence conclusively demonstrating a link between death-by-cancer and second-hand smoke is presently lacking.

It is not true that there isn’t other evidence to suggest a link between general ill health — asthma, for example, or “failure to thrive” in children — and second-hand smoke.

Naturally, of course, IT KILLS YOU! gets all the press, and that’s where Penn & Teller chose to focus their efforts. And they are correct in their assertion that it’s impossible to say with any authority that second-hand smoke kills X number of people per year by giving them cancer.

However, in my wife’s very-informed opinion, Penn & Teller treated the subject with remarkable irresponsibility, using tone and style to suggest — without ever explicitly saying so — that there’s no reason to think that second-hand smoke is bad for anybody for any reason. That isn’t true, and it’s interesting to note that Penn & Teller were careful not to actually say that. But given their hyperactive presentation, they certainly implied it.

In epidemiology, the difference in category between something that kills you and something that just reduces your health is classified as “mortality” vs. “morbidity.”

Penn & Teller, in my wife’s opinion, very carefully restricted their actual content to the subject of “mortality” but were not at all careful about making sure the casual viewer wouldn’t draw additional conclusions about “morbidity.”

Not their finest hour, I think.

Cecil Adams’s two Straight Dope articles on second-hand smoke:

Again: Does Teller speak on this show?

I’ve watched all the episodes so far, and Teller has yet to speak on the show.