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Stanford Historian Robert Proctor vs. R.J. Reynolds: A Lot on the Line

Submitted by Anne Landman on November 2, 2009 - 3:41pm.
[Image: proctor.jpg]
Dr. Robert Proctor, Stanford Professor of History of Science
History is unkind to tobacco companies, and never more so than since a federal court in 2006 found the industry guilty of perpetrating 50 years of fraud and deceit upon the American people. It's a sordid history to live down, and maybe that's why R.J. Reynolds is harassing one of the few historians who has been willing to step up and testify in court about the real history of the tobacco industry's behavior: Professor Robert N. Proctor of Stanford University.
Dr. Proctor specializes in the history of 20th- and 21st-century scientific controversies, including the history of tobacco and "agnotology,", the study of the cultural production of ignorance and doubt -- a field familiar to tobacco companies. After all, Brown & Williamson wrote in a 1969 proposal that
Doubt is our product, since it is the best means of competing with the 'body of fact' [linking smoking with disease] that exists in the mind of the general public ... If we are successful in establishing a controversy at the public level, then there is an opportunity to put across the real facts about smoking
and health.
Philip Morris (PM) also realized the importance of fostering doubt and ignorance about tobacco's health hazards. In a 1990 think-piece about why the industry was losing the public relations war over tobacco, PM mused that,
The way out of our increasingly bleak dilemma is clear and realizable ... [We must] squarely face up to the health issues and demonstrate the genuine doubts, conflicts, ambiguities and contradictions that characterize the evidence against smoking.
We now know in retrospect, thanks to industry documents, that the tobacco industry is really two separate industries: one that we see, that makes and sells cigarettes, and the other we don’t see, that has spent generations and an untold fortune trying to convince the world, against our collective better judgment, that smoking is a normal human behavior and should stay that way.
Tobacco companies hate Dr. Proctor because he helps draw a clear picture for juries about how the industry reacted when the hazards of smoking were revealed in the 1950s an onward. He has also evaluated how the history of smoking in the U.S. might have been different had the industry had responded honestly to evidence that its products cause disease. Dr. Proctor has even taken other medical historians to task for testifying in the industry's favor in lawsuits.
Big Tobacco has employed historians in the courtroom to help demonstrate how "everyone knew" about the dangers of smoking at any given point in time. More than 40 historians have testified for the industry, but only three have testified against. Dr. Proctor is one of those brave three. He has testified in 15 tobacco lawsuits since 1998, and now, in the latest suit, Koballa v. Philip Morris, et al, R.J. Reynolds is trying to stop him.
Stella Koballa is a rare lung cancer survivor who also suffers from emphysema. She and her family allege that tobacco companies concealed information about the hazards of smoking during the 1950s and 1960s, and purposely led people to disregard the health risks. A qualified historian like Dr. Proctor walks juries through the history of tobacco industry behavior, highlighting, for example, ad campaigns designed to reassure a frightened public that smoking was safe, like RJR's "More doctors smoke Camels" campaign, and showing them how cigarettes were marketed by claiming they had "health protection" qualities.
RJR has found a unique way to harass Dr. Proctor in this case: they are trying to force him to reveal the unedited manuscript of a book he is currently working on, tentatively titled "Golden Holocaust: A History of Global Tobacco." RJR is trying to subpoena the rough manuscript for the Koballa case. Proctor points out that RJR's attempt to grab the manuscript is an attack on his private work, an invasion of his privacy and infringes on his right to freely gather information. He points out that RJR's effort to get his notes and thoughts before they are compiled into a completed manuscript impairs his ability to conduct research, and -- most importantly for RJR and other tobacco companies-- will probably dissuade other historians from testifying against the industry.
The industry has a track record of intimidating researchers who work in tobacco policy-relevant areas, and has been known to use its legal and economic power to harass and frighten opponents. RJR in particular revealed its legal strategy of bleeding the other side's resources in the company's famous R.J. Reynolds Son-of-a-Bitch memo.
Doubtless RJR wants to scour Dr. Proctor's manuscript for any bit of information they can potentially use to embarrass him and ruin his credibility before juries. They could also use it to dig up information useful in embarrassing him in his cross-examination.
So far, Dr. Proctor has been forced to spend about $27,000 of his own money on legal fees to try and protect his work. The good news is that Stanford University filed an amicus brief supporting Dr. Proctor in resisting RJR's subpoena for his work, saying that forcing scholars to reveal unreviewed work can damage their reputations and deter others from serving as expert witnesses in legal cases.
How true.
Proctor's battle to protect his manuscript has broad implications for privacy, protection of academic work, and future court cases in which scholars, researchers and other experts are tapped to testify. As Dr. Proctor has pointed out, it is already difficult to find historians who are willing to testify against the industry. Now we can see why. It obviously takes courage to do so, and can lead to significant extra expense. That Dr. Proctor has had to spend so much of his own money to participate in this case is egregious.
This intimidation of Dr. Proctor, if the court allows it to continue, will only make the tobacco industry's path to win cases easier, and punish those who step up in court to tell the truth about this industry's past.
Quote:"Doubt is our product, since it is the best means of competing with the 'body of fact'"... "that exists in the mind of the general public ... If we are successful in establishing a controversy at the public level..."

The technique that, imo, was passed from father to son and has been employed ever since.
Confusedmokin: :bandit: Confusedmokin::bandit:Confusedmokin::bandit:Confusedmokin::bandit:Confusedmokin:
A lone nut from Brazil perhaps? One of the boys?
Robert N. Proctor claims that "The Nazi war on cancer has been ignored because we do not seem to be comfortable with the idea that people with rotten ethical ideas could have been 'ahead of their time' in spheres of medicine and public health." No, it's because the American Cancer Society et al. don't want to draw attention to the fact that they've been using the Nazis' corrupt pseudo-science to wage a war of cultural genocide against smokers, ever since World War II.

The lifestyle questionnaire study was devised under the Nazis: "The most original aspect of Schairer and Schöniger's study is their analysis of how lung cancer rates correlate with smoking behavior. Following closely the method pioneered by Muller, the authors sent questionnaires to the relatives of 195 lung cancer victims, inquiring into the smoking habits of the deceased. Going beyond Müller, however, they sent an additional 555 questionnaires to the families of patients who had died of other kinds of cancer -- 320 stomach, 108 colon, 60 prostate, 35 esophagus, and 32 tongue - the assumption being that smokers would be more likely to develop certain kinds of cancers than others. Questionnaires were also sent to 700 male residents of Jena aged 53-54, the average age at death of the lung cancer victims, to determine smoking habits among a population seemingly free of cancer." The paper was "Lungenkrebs und Tabakverbrauch," Zeitschrift für Krebsforschung 1943;54:261-269. (The Campaign Against Tobacco. In: The Nazi War on Cancer. By Robert N. Proctor, page 215.)

"The medical fraternity of the notorious Third Reich emerge here in unconventional guise, not only as the champions of wholegrain bread, soya beans (popularly denominated "Nazi beans"), and extensive medico-botanical gardens at Dachau and Auschwitz, but also as the guys who launched a powerful antismoking campaign, waged war on cancer (in pursuit of its "final solution"), identified many workplace causes of cancer, and imposed bans on asbestos and carcinogenic pesticides. Nazi researchers were the first to prove conclusively that smoking was the major cause of lung cancer. Indeed, as early as 1936 - the year that the young Richard Doll was attending the lectures in Frankfurt of the SS radiologist Professor Hans Holfelder - they had gathered sufficient statistical evidence to prove the cancerous hazards of what they labelled "passive smoking" (passivraucher). Furthermore, suggests Proctor, it is probably as a result of the preventive measures that the Nazi regime undertook with regard to smoking - health education and the banning of "lung masturbation" in trams, trains, and public buildings - that significantly lower rates of smoking related mortality from cancer occurred among German women after the war compared with US women." (Roger Cooter, Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, University of East Anglia, Norwich, reviewing The Nazi War on Cancer, by Robert N. Proctor. BMJ 2000 11 Mar;320:721.) Richard Doll is the patron saint of the anti-smoking movement, and health fascism in general.

And ever since then, the ACS and its puppets in the National Institutes of Health have been using studies based on lifestyle questionnaires - which ignore the role of infection - to falsely blame tobacco and lifestyle for diseases that are really caused by viruses and bacteria. For example, more than 50 studies show that human papillomaviruses cause at least a quarter of non-small cell lung cancers, and over ten times more than they pretend are caused by secondhand smoke. Poorer people are more likely to have be exposed to these pathogens, for socioeconomic reasons. So their charlatan studies provide the privileged with a pretext to oppress the people.