We link to this epidemiologic study that analyzes the occurrence of lung cancer in non-smokers. The study itself is not much to write home about, but points suggested regarding "causation," merit attention.
The fact that lung cancer occurs in non-smokers is certainly nothing new and this study is part of the long-standard epidemiologic junk science that attributes without proving. The reason we report this particular study is because of the Editor’s Summary that follows the abstract. That deserves attention because it expresses well the logical trap used continuously to bamboozle the public with the smoking-causes-cancer ideology. We read (emphasis added for discussion):
“Like all cancers, lung cancer occurs when cells begin to divide uncontrollably because of changes in their genes. The main trigger for these changes in lung cancer is exposure to the chemicals in cigarette smoke — either directly through smoking cigarettes or indirectly through exposure to secondhand smoke. Eighty-five to 90% of lung cancer deaths are caused by exposure to cigarette smoke and, on average, current smokers are 15 times more likely to die from lung cancer than lifelong nonsmokers (never smokers).”
The part in bold black is not scientifically demonstrated at all. Specifically, it is not demonstrated that the quantities of chemicals in cigarette smoke – active or passive – are sufficient to cause any damage. That, let it be clear, does not mean that those chemicals cannot cause damage; it simply means that the chemicals, in the quantities inhaled by smokers, are insufficient to cause cancer. It means that smoking is neither necessary nor is it sufficient to cause cancer. In the case of passive smoking in particular, those qualities are so infinitesimal that only utter dishonesty can lead to statements of causality.
The part in bold blue contains the logical trap. As there is no direct scientific proof that smoking causes lung cancer, the fact that there is a prevalence of lung cancer amongst smokers (and self-declared passive smokers, in this case thrown in for ideological effect) becomes proof of causality in substitution of the scientific demonstration!
In other words, if we wanted to “demonstrate” that a minority ethnicity was genetically prone to crime, we might sift data from, for instance, a North American city where thefts are common and so is the minority group, and perhaps state (police records at hand) that: “Eighty-five to 90% of thefts are perpetrated by minority group members and, on average, minorities are 15 times more likely to steal and go to jail than are persons of Northern European descent," then conclude that minority heredity is the cause of crime.
Would that be laughable? Yes, of course – to any intelligent person. Would we have demonstrated scientifically that minorities are indeed genetically more prone to crime? Of course not. Would it make any difference if we had not one, but 10,000 well-conducted studies all stating the same thing, and would that constitute scientific proof? Of course not, and if the “scientists” who conducted the hypothetical 10,000 studies formed a “consensus” that minorities are genetically prone to crime, would that constitute scientific proof? Of course not, because science is not a democracy. The only proof emerging in that case would be that those scientists are a bunch of racists.
Sure, we would have observed an objective reality, but would it be genetics, or poverty, or unemployement, or something else, or the interaction of all to cause the phemonenon? We would not know. Science is not the consensus of opinions, and mere observation is never enough to establish a cause. In the case of smoking and lung cancer, the only thing proven is the existence of ideology, opportunism and professional and intellectual dishonesty.
What we have described above for you is epidemiology. It is not a science because it cannot prove causality – and when it is misrepresented as science it can only be junk science. When the tobacco industry tried to point that out, it was crucified. Actually, anybody who points that out gets crucified by public health dogma. Still the reality stands: there is no scientific proof that smoking causes cancer. There may be pointers. There may be reasonable speculations. There may even be truth in the fact that the natural death of a smoker, past the age of seventy or more (let’s not forget that lung cancer is a disease of old age, so the term "premature" may be very misleading), may occur because of lung cancer rather than another form of cancer, or some other disease; in that case, what is the big difference?… But, again, those are speculations, for it is not possible to "rewind and replay" the lives of one or a million in a smoking and non smoking format, everything else being the same.
The rest that we hear is only ideology. The ideology that smoking “causes” cancer ("unquestionably!") is, in fact, further hammered home in the next paragraph between the lines:
“A better understanding of the patterns of lung cancer incidence and death rates among never-smokers could provide useful information about the factors other than cigarette smoke that increase the likelihood of not only never-smokers, but also former smokers and current smokers developing lung cancer. In this study, therefore, the researchers pooled and analyzed a large amount of information about lung cancer incidence and death rates among never-smokers to examine what factors other than active smoking affect lung cancer risk.”
…Try old age and the natural end of life as a “cause!” The logical trap we have explained. The philosophical trap is the misrepresentation of death by natural causes as an epidemic.