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Science Looks at Smoking (1957)

by Eric Northrup

Science Looks at Smoking is such a cheery, breezy dismissal of the dangers of smoking that it could easily have been ghost-written by a tobacco baron.

Here's the final paragraph from the Forward, by Dr. Harry S. N. Greene, Chairman, Department of Pathology, Yale University:

  • The evidence from both approaches, statistical and experimental, does not appear sufficiently significant to me to warrent forsaking the pleasure of smoking. As a matter of fact, if the investigations had been pointed toward some material that I thoroughly dislike, such as parsnips, I still would not feel that evidence of the type presented constituted a reasonable excuse for eliminating the things from my diet. I will still continue to smoke, and if the tobacco companies cease manufacturing their product, I will revert to sweet fern and grape leaves.
Wonder whether he's still alive and, if not, what he died of...

Here's Northrup's own summation, the final sentences of the book:

  • Living, after all, is a series of calculated risks, not least of which is the risk of falling for medical statistics. To yield small pleasures without protest is a thoughtless waste. Life, at best, is a losing proposition. As Mark Twain put it, nobody ever came out of it alive.
Epicurus couldn't have said it better. But just the same, I'll bet he wouldn't have smoked.