Passion Vs Intellect


–By Mark Egidi, Contributing Author


Let me give you a little bit of background about myself. I have spent the last five years of my life learning serious science. Learning science isn’t just learning facts; a trained monkey can execute tasks involving simple memorization. Science is the process of evaluating the validity of data or evidence in the pursuit of truth or greater understanding. A massive part of this undertaking is the intersection between science and social issues.


My grade school education was abysmal when it came to the sciences. When I transitioned from a private school to a public school I was totally unprepared. Likewise high school ill prepared me for college. In a large part I owe my drive and desire to overcome my attention deficit and hyperactive habits to children’s educational programming such as Bill Nye The Science Guy. To this day Bill Nye remains one of my biggest hero’s. What drew me towards the sciences was the fact that data leads to facts. An experiment repeated over and over again showing the same results is the most conclusive evidence one could possess, and this evidence could be used to make people’s lives better.


When I became active in the vaping advocacy scene I relied on this scientific background as my primary tool. Study after study has shown that vaping is a safer alternative to tobacco smoke. The studies that counter this position may seem convincing at first glance, but when dissected show deep flaws which invalidates their conclusions. But what was I missing? The anti-vaping crowd still persists and their argument is as convincing as ever, despite their lack of empirical evidence. How can a movement that is so fundamentally wrong retain so much power? When the facts are laid out there, why do these people continue to argue? Don’t they realize that the data is on my side?


I was listening to a speech given by Penn Jillette, the Las Vegas magician the other day and all of a sudden I found my answer. At the intersection of every social issue that has to deal with the acceptance of evidence or data, there are two types of people. The first are the people who argue for a position that is supported by the evidence, they argue with their intellect. The people on the losing side argue with their passion. The unfortunate fact of this dynamic is that people are more likely to listen to a passionate appeal since it grabs us at our core and forces us to judge using our emotions and empathy. They can’t be wrong since they offered no supporting evidence, only their passion. Passionate people will seek out an audience and share their views. Those arguing with their intellect and facts will share, but only when they are asked to – or they are trying to counter the opposition – whose passion for the issue has already seized the attention of the audience. In short, we believe the facts are on our side, and those facts will do the work for us. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.


We need to fight fire with fire. It is not enough to simply present the evidence. While the data is important, it will not win on its own. The only way to counter the strong emotional appeal of the “it’s for the children” anti-vaping movement is to counter it with our own passions. The years of life we got back, or the improved quality of life. Our family members who are healthier now than they were a year ago when they smoked, and the additional time they now have with their families. These are the things we need to put out into the world to support our cause.


The anti-smoking movement has done a good job of convincing the public that smokers are a lost cause and aren’t worth saving. The picture has been painted already, smokers are too stupid to quit despite the information showing smoking is harmful. There is no point in improving their quality of life, since they will die of lung cancer anyway. We must take that notion and reveal just how truly arrogant and hateful it is. Instead of working to improve society by preventing new smokers we should raise the issue of preventing the early death and disability of current smokers. If the goal of improving the lives of current smokers is ignored, then the vaping argument is already lost. You are the reformed smoker, be that passionate voice.


4 comments to Passion Vs Intellect

  • castello2  says:


  • Bruce Nye (@ThaumaturgeRN)  says:


    This illuminates clearly that the problem is NOT solved by science. For most people who are familiar with reason and science it seems inevitable that facts would win. But this is not the way Politics works. Anyone, on any side of the political spectrum, can easily see that it is the emotional connection to the candidates and the issues is what is being manipulated. How else can profligate liars get into positions of power?

    A year and a half ago I wrote that this battle will not be won until we make a connection, an emotional connection, with the 80% of the population in the U.S. that neither smokes nor vapes. They are mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters who will all know someone who smokes and wishes that there was a way that this person they care about would be able to quit. Vaping, of course, is an answer; A very good answer. Until we adjust our tactics to reach these people, who all lead busy lives and who don’t care one wit about long scientific explainations, we will not make headway.

    *NOTBlowingSmoke began to work against the problem that “advocacy” was a dirty, unglamorous, task. We made it simple, fun, and easy to do something meaningful in the midst of a busy life to send a message that we are a valuable part of society. However, we must go farther. We, as vapers, have to begin to craft our message to be not about us, but about the 480,000 mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters that will die from smoking related illness. We must craft our message in a way that matters to that 80% of the population that neither vapes or votes. We have to reach out and tell them that this disruptive technology invented by smokers desparate to find a way out is working for millions of people who are, today, now ex-smokers. We must stand firmly on the science and emotion that this is about lives, not revenues, people, not numbers. This is a battle to save grandma. That battle will be won when we generate passion in those who do not share our intimate association with vaping.

  • Jack  says:

    These are the most amazing comments and replies about vaping that I have read to date. Thank you and continue to fight for life. And that’s how we win, one life at a time.

  • Angel Tibbs  says:

    I have been passionate in my dialogues with nonsmokers – many of whom I love, and are in my family – and it does get them to pay attention. Even nonsmokers don’t see a need to have so-called experts raise their children for them, hate cigarette smoke more than vapor, don’t exactly trust Big Government or Big Tobacco, and – in the vast majority of cases – are not stupid.
    Many have friends and family members who have switched to vaping. One concerned uncle learned from me his niece and nephews, experimenting, were doubtless vaping zero nicotine, as anybody not previously addicted finds nicotine to be “Mr. Yucky”. Like Sen Leno of California, he had no idea there were zero nicotine products. Unlike Senator Leno, he thanked me for relieving his concerns, and told me my explanation made sense.
    I am very plainly spoken, write far better than I speak, and respond to media slams against vaping, but also the non smokers commenting on these same slam pieces. Most non smokers really want to understand where we are coming from, unlike certain health departments.
    I always say – and I will put my money where my mouth is – that if my vaping makes a non smoker uncomfortable, they can politely ask me to abstain in their presence; they just can’t behave like I’m smoking, ’cause I know I’m not. I apologize for smelling terrible and not realizing it, because I am sincerely glad my never-smoking adult daughter does not flinch away when I sit down beside her anymore. I try to calm their fears, and stress most vapers are polite. That there are jerks in any category of adults, but that jerks are in the minority, and all of us must set a good example for them. Remember that these nonsmokers have been brainwashed for decades, and honestly I would not want anyone I didn’t know blowing smoke, vapor or plain air in my face, although I think this blowing smoke in peoples’ faces is largely an urban legend….I’ve sure never seen it happen, and I’ve smoked for 36 years, vaped for 18 months. Switched accidentally. 🙂
    I learned many non smokers have forgotten how to ask politely, since the smokefree laws took over for them needing to learn etiquette on this issue. I agree with them when they do not trust Big Tobacco – I don’t, either – but remind them most of us are not anything but small businesses and individual people, like themselves. Find the common ground. We all want a future without cigarette butts in it.

Leave a reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>