Wherein we kill our idols.

Man, I really hate to keep shitting on Cracked, but, in case you’ve seen this video:

I probably need to explain to you why Adam Tod Brown is a comedian, and not a researcher.

I should note here that ATB is one of the few writers for Cracked I’m consistently a fan of; he’s a funny writer, generally intelligent enough to get a point across, and has a great deal of knowledge about most of the topics he discusses. He’s also very candid about his addiction issues, which is good, because it opens up discussion on addiction in general and kind of gives people the sort of “positive example” support someone like John Cheese provided before he disappeared from Cracked for… hopefully not a bad reason. Also he thinks John Lennon is overrated, and I can respect that. When he’s discussing his personal experiences with addiction, music, anything that’s generally easy to research, or even defending people who get way more hate than they probably deserve, he’s on his game, and he’s one of the few contributors who is consistently entertaining that isn’t named Daniel O’Brien.

That said, while I’m totally fine with people hating vaping*, I’m absolutely fucking not okay with people, and I’m going to be that dick because it’s true, lying to people about something they don’t really know about, especially people who, in effect, are basically being kind of hypocritical by saying, “Well, I’m still addicted to nicotine, but your way of doing it is wrong and bad.” So let’s be clear here: I’m perfectly fine if ATB wants to smoke cigarettes or chew a shitload of packs of nicotine gum every day to deal with the monkey on his back; it’s his right to do so, and that’s cool. That said, considering that vaping doesn’t give me a sinus infection**, yeah, I feel like it’s only fair to counter-point that, yeah, I’m fine with someone making fun of vaping, but not at all pleased with people getting their facts wrong, especially when it drives them back to sucking Marlboro’s dick.

So let’s begin.

– So it only takes thirty seconds to get to the laziest problem with this video, which is the often-touted “propylene glycol is in antifreeze” argument. So, yes, it is, but, if you’d taken thirty seconds to check Wikipedia, you’d know that the specific version of antifreeze it’s in is NON-TOXIC antifreeze, because it’s not toxic to humans in reasonable doses. Hell, in that VERY SAME LINK it’s noted that PG is non-toxic enough that it’s added to foods like ice cream and frozen custard. Oh, and it’s in asthma inhalers, which you also inhale. Into your lungs. Which you’re doing with vapor.

I found this in thirty seconds, and am not being paid to make this. Try harder.

– Oh hey look, it’s the formaldehyde thing again. I said everything about that I could ever say right here, and if you have to add a qualifier in your own video that starts with “at a high enough voltage,” without actually knowing what that voltage is, you’re being lazy. I mean, come on man, if I heat my clothes at a high enough temperature they’ll burst into flame and immolate me, but I don’t fucking do that because I don’t want to fucking die.

I wrote an article on it, which I also was not paid to write. Try harder.***

– Yes, let’s double down on the numbers for the formaldehyde thing, even though it’s a very specific study that probably doesn’t apply to half of people who vape, and do the “you’re getting five times the amount of formaldehyde” thing (see, I do math for you guys, I’m so nice), even when it’s under specific circumstances that probably don’t apply to you. Fuck man, even if you do sub-ohm vaping, you almost certainly aren’t getting to that level of voltage unless you’re a goddamn crazy person. Try harder.

– And then, 1:10 into the video, ATB decides to make the argument that vaping is bad because “better than smoking,” is like saying “better than Hitler,” which… I mean, it’s funny, but it’s… not supportive of his argument? I mean, yes, vaping isn’t a perfect solution, and if I wasn’t a nicotine addict I wouldn’t be doing it but… uh. If your argument is, “don’t vape if you’re not using it as a substitute for cigarettes,” then yes, okay, I agree, except that there are still valid reasons for doing so.**** If your argument is, “You might as well smoke because vaping is almost as bad,” uh… that’s like saying “You might as well get high on crack, because getting high on cough medicine is almost as bad as smoking crack.”*****

– I agree! Vaping hasn’t been around long enough for us to know the long term effects appropriately, and fuck, we just discovered this year that it has demonstrable effects on lung health, so yes, I agree, be aware of the negative effects of vaping and OH GOD DAMMIT~

– Okay, so let’s tackle the “RAWR BIG TOBACCO OWNS VAPING” argument, because this WHOLE SECTION is SUPER FUCKING WRONG. For one thing, Lorillard acquired Blu back in 2012, which was three years ago. That’s… not recent unless you’re Lazarus. Further, it’s also not even true anymore; as part of a merger between RJ Reynolds and Lorillard, Blu was sold to Imperial Tobacco in 2014, over a year before this video came out, so… unless Adam made this video in 2014, TRY FUCKING HARDER.

– Yes, very good, you’re right, Lorillard isn’t the only company getting in on vaping. RJ Reynolds did so as well when they launched Vuse in 2014, which is the reason that Blu was sold to Imperial. Wow, was this video made in 2014? Because that’s still not an excuse for not bothering to spend any time researching the video, but shit, either Adam’s been in a coma for a year, this video is old as shit, or Adam does less research to make a video he was paid to make than I do to write free articles.

– While I’m all for a joke at Jenny McCarthy’s expense, uh, two things. First, half of this video so far has been done with virtually no research behind it, so pot, kettle, teflon.****** Second, this ad campaign is from 2013 and HOLY SHIT did you write this a YEAR AGO? The newest piece of data in this thing is from fucking JANUARY, and almost ALL of it is from 2014. TRY FUCKING HARDER.

– To be fair, I used to vape using a thing that looked like a lightsaber and yes, people made fun of me for it, so believe me, I know I look like a tool. At least this part was funny.

– Well, almost; I should probably note that, as we’ve discussed in the past, Big Tobacco is lobbying to make certain types of vaporizer devices illegal, just not the ones they manufacture, and they would lobby against those if that wasn’t a losing battle to begin with.

– Okay, so the very idea of competitive vaping makes me violently ill, so yeah, I agree, but, uh, competitive smoking is also a thing, so I mean, people will forever find stupid things to do with the bad habits they have; that’s not exclusive to vaping, and while it is fucking insane, it’s not a problem with vaping so much as it’s a problem with humanity on the whole.

That said, the “Hello Men’s Rights Activists” joke was solid gold, and the video probably needed to exist just for that.

– Finally, at 3:10, we come to the crux of the argument, which relies on four key points:

1.) vaping will never replace cigarettes entirely,

2.) you’ll never be able to vape in public places,

3.) people treat vaping like cigarettes, and

4.) your ability to survive depends on Big Tobacco.

Which, respectively, can be answered with, “That isn’t the point,” “That’s not the point,” “That’s both inaccurate and not the point,” and “That’s not even close to correct.”

First, in the same way that no one really expects cigarettes to go away, most sensible people don’t expect that vaping will replace cigarettes; they do it because it replaces cigarettes for them, and they’re generally not concerned about the long-term business prospects.

Second, while it’s true that some people would like to be able to vape in public, from time spent using a sub-ohm device, I can tell you that’s probably an impractical want, because vaping is annoying and does leave particle residue, so it’s going to be annoying to others. However, and this is key, while I personally can’t vape in a bar or a restaurant, I can vape in my fucking house, and the only downside (so far) is my house now smells like spearmint, which is… hardly a bad thing.

Third, people partially treat vaping like cigarettes; most people, at this point, know that vaping is fundamentally different from smoking traditional cigarettes in various forms and fashions, and generally speaking, I don’t give a shit if the general public looks at me the same way, because I know that the people I actually associate with know it’s different, which is, I’m sure, the opinion many vapers have.

Finally, though, and this is important, Big Tobacco has such a tiny-ass fucking hold on vaping that the number, comparatively speaking, is statistically closer to zero than to the total amount of vapers in the US, because e-cigarettes are generally seeing the bottom fall out of their value, and PV’s (personal vaporizers) are the new hotness.******* Here’s the key distinguishing point to be aware of: most PV liquid is made in-house, in the US (unless you order from another country for some reason), by companies like Mount Baker, Halo, Vista Vapors and even local, non-online shops, and those companies are not “Big Tobacco,” they’re small operations. They take their work seriously, they put a hell of a lot of effort into informing people of what they do, and, most importantly, they’re not affiliated with Big Tobacco. As we’ve addressed in the past, Big Tobacco wants to put them out of business, so I mean, that’s a pretty far cry from being affiliated with a company, frankly. E-cigarette shops (which are most commonly vaporizer shops these days, but go with the name the public knows) almost never carry the disposables made by Big Tobacco; hell, they don’t even carry the PV devices NJOY sells in the marketplace now, because they cater to specialty clientele. They’re essentially the vaporizer equivalent of tobacconist shops, carrying specialty tobacco and pipes and eschewing the conventional brands in favor of specialty products their enthusiast customers would be more interested in.

Look, in the end, I still consider myself an ATB fan, and I’m really not mad that he hates vaping; it’s a really easy thing to hate, and considering he lives in California, I’m certain he’s met a bigger collection of douchebag vape hipsters than Ash Ketchum has met Pokemon. What I am mad about is that Cracked is allowing their own on-staff writers, who are being paid for this, mind you, to publish videos that are poorly sourced, factually inaccurate, and spent less time researching their material than *I* did. When I’m reading stories about how writers spent literal months researching their articles for Cracked,******** but someone can just make a video to keep their paycheck coming in without actually bothering to fact check the fucking thing, I don’t care if it’s a writer I do like or I don’t, that basically tells me “You can’t trust anything we say here.” Considering this is a site that wrote an entire book about “facts we didn’t know,” that’s fucking terrifying, because hey, surprise motherfucker, all that shit could be wrong too. How do I know it’s not when an article I sourced in ten minutes is more factual than a video you paid ATB to make?

Look guys. I’m really fucking tired of hating on Cracked, okay? I’m fine with you guys publishing articles about real life jobs, and I’m even cool with the social justice themed commentary (so long as it’s not every fucking day, I mean COME ON). You’re mostly doing good work over there, clearly, but between shitting on a guy who didn’t handle his pro-homosexual rap song the way you wanted him to and this, I don’t know man. I’m glad you’re making money and helping others to do the same, but this is getting old already.********* You can do better than this. A lot better.

Just a thought

* I mean, let’s be honest here, aside from making you look stupid as fuck, vaping was co-opted a long time ago by people who think fedoras and neckbeards are cool, and come up with terms like “vape bar” unironically. It’s a terrible thing to do as a fashion statement, and if I wasn’t addicted to nicotine, you can bet your ass I wouldn’t be doing it in public, because I look ridiculous enough as it is, thanks.

** To the point where having cigarettes in general at this point causes a sinus flareup and earaches, but, y’know, vaping is the bad guy here.

*** Besides, the big story now is that e-liquid still damages your lungs, just not as bad as cigarettes, which probably would have been a better argument to make, by the by, because there’s no qualifier there. If your point was, “better than smoking, but still bad,” use the most effective tools in your arsenal, not the ones that are easily deflected. Try harder.

**** For example, I know a few people who vape to reduce anxiety, because that actually does work, and they don’t need nicotine to do it.

***** For those who don’t read Cracked, this joke is funny because ATB did both of those things.

****** That’s a Spider-Man reference, and probably a fairly obscure one, but I like it better than the normal joke, so fuck you.

******* Yeah, I’m sorry for that term too.

******** Which is one reason I don’t ever try to submit to Cracked, for reference: I don’t want to spend six months editing an article to the standards of the site’s writers and editors, when said writers and editors can produce something like this and call it a day. Let’s be realistic here: two hundred and fifty dollars (their going rate for single posts) for even one month’s worth of writing isn’t worth it to most people; unless you’re a freelance writer like former DHGF contributor Nathan Birch, or you want to be, you’re better off just writing for yourself and going to college or into the Army or whatever to get yourself a career that puts food on the table that isn’t ramen and peanut butter. If nothing else, you get to say what you want for free instead of having to bust your ass finding sources that the full-timers above you aren’t forced to find.

To put it another way, if half the writers working for Cracked aren’t pissed as hell that it took them even one month to see an article published on the site for what would basically be a week’s worth of minimum wage pay, only to turn around and see a staffer create that poorly sourced, factually inaccurate piece of shit, I’d be fucking surprised.

********* Though if I’m being honest, this is probably worse in context, as stupid as that sounds, and might actually be the thing that makes me stop reading Cracked outright, because, instead of this being a difference of opinion, or a simple variance in values, this is a person working on a website that claims to be more factually sound than most, outright lying and misrepresenting events, and nothing will be done. I mean, real talk: I STILL am a fan of ATB, and one video isn’t going to change that, but nothing’s going to come of this. It’s going to generate a lot of commentary, I’m sure, but ATB, on his own, isn’t going to apologize for the video, nor is he going to be made to, because internet commenters are the death of everything good and kind, and no one cares what people in my position think. For me, when that’s something that can happen, I can’t really trust anything said on the site ever again, and I can’t come back there once that trust is gone.

So the moral of the story, I guess, is this: if you have something factual to say, make sure it’s sourced and researched, don’t lie to suit your own interests or at least admit your bias, and don’t assume you’re never wrong, because when you condition your audience to pay attention, they do that.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s