Arrogance of Public Health Advocacy


How a lack of humility and scientific rigor have led public health activists into dubious pronouncements on an ever-expanding array of controversial issues, from gun control to gender equality to foreign policy.

Early in my anesthesiology career, I took care of an elderly man who needed knee surgery but who smoked like a chimney.

The surgical team feared he would suffer the usual smoker’s complications, so we told him to stop smoking a week before his operation. He refused. In the end we reached a compromise: On the day before surgery he would get by with nicotine patches.

After surgery we noticed him moving all around in bed, craving nicotine, as he had yet to receive his patch that morning. This was actually a good thing, as he risked forming blood clots if he remained immobile.

We decided to deny him his patches for a few days to keep him jumpy until he could start physical therapy. Unfortunately, he tricked us: He found a way to sneak cigarettes into his room. His renewed smoking probably caused his incision to heal poorly, since the carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke interferes with oxygen unloading in the tissues. Nevertheless, when I took away his cigarettes he told me to go to hell.

Read full article here.

Ronald W. Dworkin – The American Interest – 2019-02-01.

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