On Facebook a friend recently posted an article by Sam Harris that cited wood burning fireplaces as a major source of environmental toxins. Harris compared the blindness of people who don’t understand the facts of fireplace smoke hazard to people who believe in religion. Both, he claimed, ignore data and evidence.
Since I have long considered the ban on residential fireplaces to be pure Puritan nonsense I decided to enter the argument and look at the data. Puritanism is the belief that ‘if anyone else anywhere is having a good time, it is bad’.
So I challenged the Facebook experts who cited dozens of studies and meta-studies.
I looked at all of them and none of them were scientific. They consisted of a pile of studies showing that dozens of constituents of burning wood are toxic. That is not science. We would need a double blind controlled study. I suggested several. Such as a comparison of hospital visits for breathing problems in San Francisco and Oakland on a day when the wind blew all the smoke to Oakland. Or a study of Boise for breathing illness based on people who live on the leeward side of the city versus the windward.
Of course no such studies have been done. We just live in a world of Puritan envy and evil Lefties running the politics of our lives.
I pointed out a similar piece of scientific crap regarding tobacco. In a large Japanese study of married couples who lived together for a lifetime where one smoked and the other didn’t, the non-smokers had no higher incidence of lung cancer.
Science that produces data under reliable conditions is not the friend of the Left or the Puritan environmentalists.