If you’re Mr. Average Joe… sitting at your kitchen table for breakfast or (more realistically) rushing out the door ten minutes after you wake up to jump into your car, speed to work, and clock in with only seconds to spare… and you either read, watch or hear a news story that claims “44% of adults worry E-cigarettes will encourage kids to start smoking tobacco,” would you be concerned? I certainly would, if I didn’t know any better… If I didn’t have a penchant for picking apart news stories to find the lies, fallacies, and manipulative tactics hidden therein. It’s true that many of us haven’t actually been in a mathematics or statistics class in a long time, but I’m pretty sure the majority of folks out there translate “44%” as meaning “nearly half of all…” So, basically, if one were to blindly accept the claims of this article, there is sheer, unadulterated panic going on in the streets regarding the looming threat of the child-eating, demonic E-cigarette. I jest a little, but this claim is meant to cause panic. In fact, that is and has been it’s one and only goal right from it’s initial inception.
Now, if you’re the kind of person who wants a little more information… you might click on the link to the original study, where they talk about the technical specifications of the study and survey itself. They use a lot of official sounding terminology, like “randomly selected, stratified group of adults” and “KnowledgePanel® [which] closely resembles the U.S. Population” and “The sample was subsequently weighted to reflect population figures from the Census Bureau.” Most people… even those who really are trying to check the sources of their chosen news/media outlets… will be satisfied by this information. And why wouldn’t they be? The information presented here is accurate and stands to any scientific objections regarding proper procedure and method. Nothing amiss stands out until you read the actual survey itself. Here is where you’ll find carefully crafted questions, covertly weighted to the heavy support of the ANTZ (Anti-Nicotine and Tobacco Zealots) and worded in such a way that both “yes” and “no” answers can be reported as evidence against their opponents. Once again, as is common among supporters of the wrong side (of any issue), the Fallacy of a false dichotomy is utilized liberally.
Let’s analyse the first segment of the second question in the survey: “It’s easy for people younger than 18 to buy e-cigarettes… Rate this statement: very concerned, somewhat concerned, not at all concerned.” OK, who says it’s easy for minors to buy E-cigs? Everywhere I’ve been cards everyone who is young in appearance before they sell them anything E-cigarette-related. Petitio Principii at it’s finest, ladies and gentlemen (known in the vernacular as ‘begging the question’)! The intended result of the question is the question itself. If I answer “Very concerned, or somewhat concerned,” I’m acknowledging that it is easy for minors to buy E-cigs, which is obviously a problem. If I answer “Not at all concerned,” I’m discrediting myself and labelling myself as an a** hole! No matter how you answer, you’re supporting their (the ANTZ) cause. Like Wargames, the only way for us (and Matthew Broderick) to win is not to play!
There are a few questions with deliberately chosen words of concern to the PRO-vaping population, but the result that is being reported all over the place is based on that first question… which I believe was the only question the surveyors actually cared about. The rest was unnecessary fluff. The rest of the questions are standard questions that would be on any honest E-cigarette survey, but like I said, the answers to all of these other questions didn’t matter at all to those who wrote the survey as a way to boost their cause in a dishonest and manipulative manner. It’s truly a shame that we live in a world where political decisions that affect people’s very lives are left up to semantic trickery like this. Truth is left by the wayside, and the only thing left that moves the events of our day is the loudness of one’s lies.