Michael Shellenberger & Jacob Siegel

Understanding the censorship complex

May 9, 2024
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What’s next for the censorship industrial complex? UnHerd’s Freddie Sayers, Tablet’s Jacob Siegel and Public’s Michael Shellenberger sat down at Dissident Dialogues festival in New York City to discuss the growing disinformation industry and how to combat it. You can watch the full interview above.


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Roberto Sussman
Roberto Sussman
4 days ago

Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) is based on the fact that smokers die from inhalation of smoke, not from nicotine consumption. Yet, there is a persistent global opposition to THR by mainstream Tobacco Control, aided by massive funds from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

This is a prime example of a powerful technocracy and a special interest group (sponsored by a billionaire funding a network of non-profits) capturing government and regulators on all aspects of recreational nicotine usage, including through e-cigarettes which do not contain tobacco and do not operate by combustion. The result has been the imposition of regulatory bans and harsh policies with global reach through the WHO that harm millions of smokers (40 in the US) by placing obstacles (or denying) their access to much safer forms of nicotine consumption. Two major exceptions to this capture are the United Kingdom and New Zealand, whose health authorities encourage smokers unable (or unwilling) to quit to switch to non-combustible vaping. The results have been a drastic reduction of smoking prevalence in both countries, with NZ close to becoming a smoke-free country. Another example of the benefits of THR are Sweden and Norway, where cigarette smoking has been practically cannibalized by oral nicotine consumption (snus). Swedish males get their nicotine through snus and show the lowest incident of tobacco-related disease in the EU (probably in the whole world).

Mainstream Tobacco Control and Bloomberg Philanthropy justify their opposition to THR by arguing that it is merely a marketing strategy by the hated Tobacco Industry to generate more addicts, specially among youth. This is a false narrative (can we assume that the UK and NZ governments are in the pocket of Big Tobacco?). Youth usage is a legitimate concern, but it involves less than one tenth of usage by adult smokers in their effort to quit. Unfortunately the CDC, FDA and mainstream health authorities (and the WHO globally) wage an anti-vaping campaign that harms these adults alluding to a “youth vaping epidemic” based on a gross misrepresentation of the data that shows that non-smoking youth are not becoming nicotine users: the vast majority of frequent vaping youth are those who smoke or have smoked.

The opposition to THR by mainstream Tobacco Control is mostly the reaction by a conservative technocracy against a disruptive technology that can do its task (eliminate cigarette smoking) much more efficiently, without coercion and state intervention, but through substitution with vastly safer recreational products. Energizing this reaction against innovation stands Michael Bloomberg, an authoritarian billionaire not subjected to any accountability, bent on using his financial and political power to impose his lifestyle preferences, even if this imposition has nefarious undesired consequences.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
5 days ago

…the information [s]mothering class, which this discussion identifies seems to have a distinctly female vanguard. That’s a dimension I would like to see further explored by the fearless female praetorian platoon at Unherd.

Tessa B
Tessa B
4 days ago

I have left a few thoughts for consideration on yesterday’s UnHerd opinion piece.