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Young Men Who Smoke Have Lower IQs

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the correlation-is-not-causation dept.

Medicine 561

Hugh Pickens writes "Science Daily reports on a study that has determined that young men who smoke are likely to have lower IQs than their non-smoking peers. In the study, conducted with 20,000 Israeli Army recruits and veterans, the average IQ for a non-smoker was about 101, while the smokers' average was more than seven IQ points lower at about 94, and the IQs of young men who smoked more than a pack a day were lower still, at about 90. (These IQs all fall within the normal range.) 'In the health profession, we've generally thought that smokers are most likely the kind of people to have grown up in difficult neighborhoods, or who've been given less education at good schools,' says Prof. Mark Weiser of Tel Aviv University's Department of Psychiatry, whose study was reported in a recent version of the journal Addiction. 'Because our study included subjects with diverse socio-economic backgrounds, we've been able to rule out socio-economics as a major factor. The government might want to rethink how it allocates its educational resources on smoking.' Prof. Weiser says that the study illuminates a general trend in epidemiological studies. 'People on the lower end of the average IQ tend to display poorer overall decision-making skills when it comes to their health,' says Weiser. 'Schoolchildren who have been found to have a lower IQ can be considered at risk to begin the habit, and can be targeted with special education and therapy to prevent them from starting or to break the habit after it sets in.'"

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Duh (5, Insightful)

rossdee (243626) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732250)

Smarter people know its not a good idea to start smoking.

Re:Duh (0)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732296)

Ah, but you're ignoring the big reason why people continue to smoke, once they start - it's addicting. All things being equal, a dumb person and a smart person should have similar addiction risks. Perhaps here we're seeing that smarter people are less likely to become addicts, or maybe their intelligence is able to override the addictive drive.

Re:Duh (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31732478)

mmm.... some people smoke out of a desire for socially-acceptable self-destruction.

Re:Duh (5, Interesting)

gid (5195) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732522)

In college I used to smoke at bars and parties to meet girls, but I never got addicted curiously enough. Eventually I found out that the only girls I met were other smokers, whom I usually deemed less than desirable so basically I stopped smoking.

It was a good ice breaker tho.

Re:Duh (5, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732504)

You misread the parent post tho, which states that smarter people are less likely to start smoking... It's not addictive if you've never done it.

Re:Duh (0)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732538)

You are forgetting that some of us smoke because ::gasp:: we enjoy it.

Yes, I'm aware that it stinks. Yes, I'm aware that it is extremely horrible for my health. ::shrug:: What can I say, I still enjoy it.

Doing something you know is bad for you != low intelligence...it's possible that some people (like me) just enjoy it.

Re:Duh (5, Funny)

Bloopie (991306) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732602)

You are forgetting that some of us smoke because ::gasp:: we enjoy it.

Yeah, but you can't even get to the end of a sentence without gasping. I think I'll stay away from smoking, thank you.

Re:Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31732630)

I don't see how GP is forgetting that smokers enjoy smoking. Obviously, if you didn't enjoy smoking, then you wouldn't be addicted to it.

Re:Duh (1)

iotaborg (167569) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732662)

Of course you enjoy it, that's why it's so damn addictive. You have to enjoy it, otherwise how is the Tobacco company going to make money off of you?

Re:Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31732560)

addictive

Re:Duh (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732570)

I would not expect intelligence to have any useful correlation, positive or negative, with the physiological aspects of addiction(cravings, feeling like shit when you haven't had any, improvement on next dose, etc, etc.)

However, one of the abilities that generally falls into the basket of "intelligence" is the ability to do pattern recognition, recognize correlations, and use them to your advantage. There has been some research suggesting that one of the difficulties that people have in quitting any addictive substance is that, when not subject to craving at that particular moment, they consistently underestimate how tempted they will be in the future. It wouldn't totally shock me if smarter people are better at allowing their rational evaluation("No, whenever I 'have just one at the pub', I end up not stopping") to override the consistent emotional underestimate than less smart people are.

There are, I suppose, a variety of other potential confounding variables. For instance, you'd expect that brighter people, in general, should have a modestly better effort/reward ratio than less smart ones. This could easily result in an upbringing that encourages greater obedience to rules and instructions from others that seem to have a realistic basis.(If your parents tell you that you should be sure to work hard in school, and you do, and get good results, this is encouraging. You obey the instructions, and receive praise and recognition. If you obey the instructions; but aren't sharp enough to garner the richest rewards, you are likely to be less encouraged to do so in the future.) In most contemporary societies, there are a variety of risk/reward tradeoffs available. If you are smart enough(and aren't a member of some particularly despised underclass/race/whatever), you have likely had greatest access to the high end of the "low risk/low reward" strategy pool(and the high end of which is basically the "low risk/medium to good reward" pool, pretty attractive). If you are less smart, you are more likely to be stuck with the "low reward" side of the pool if you choose the "low risk" strategy pool. You might, therefore, be induced to (rationally) choose the "high risk" strategy pool.

More generally, the specific cigarettes case aside, I'd be interested to see some mixture of economic and sociological analysis looking at that question. Are people, in fact, substantially irrational, choosing(if one can be so optimistic as to assume that they do in fact choose), courses of action that are just plain stupid as the emtional and instinctive heuristics of a hunter-gatherer collide with modernity? Or are they actually acting rationally(if not always how we'd like them to), if you look at the rewards on average of various strategies, as compared to their other options?

Re:Duh (2, Interesting)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732578)

All things being equal, a dumb person and a smart person should have similar addiction risks. Perhaps here we're seeing that smarter people are less likely to become addicts, or maybe their intelligence is able to override the addictive drive.

My brother, with a degree in Physics and Telecommunications engineering, smokes like a chimney, about a pack a day. Plus he wears patches and chew the nicotine gum. He is well aware of the damage that he is doing to himself. The problem is (I can't remember the slashdot story I reference here) is that it seems to alleviate the symptoms of schizophrenia he suffers. Unfortunately for him smoking seems to be getting more and more of an anti-social practice and I doubt that help that condition.

I personally can't stand the habit, but I realise that marginalising smokers doesn't help them. Despite the fact that this appears to be based in good science I think that most smokers reaction to this news would be to light up so they can cope with the stress of the news. I would like to see smoking handled as a health issue, with incremental taxes on the products driving the prices higher and directly funding health budgets. Those who can afford it could treat the purchase of cigarettes like a good bottle of scotch and those who cannot can have them prescribed by a doctor.

The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.

Re:Duh (4, Insightful)

Zumbs (1241138) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732354)

I know a lot of very smart people that smoke. Yes, it is anecdotal evidence, but it illustrates one of the points of the article: It isn't just a matter of intelligence whether or not you start to smoke. Social factors such as wealth, educational background and "what my friends do" play a significant role. However, on average, it seems that smokers have a lower IQ than non-smokers. One question that the article does not pose (and can't answer due to its nature) is which is cause and which is effect. Is the reason that smokers have a lower IQ that the people that start smoking have a lower IQ, or does smoking damage your ability to reason logically?

Re:Duh (2, Interesting)

nebulus4 (799015) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732460)

Or a combination of both?!

Re:Duh (2, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732608)

I'd almost be willing to bet that the smart people you know who smoke aren't young. Back in the day, 3/4 of adults smoked, as opposed to today, and the health risks weren't as clear to most back then. Hell, when I went to college you could smoke in class; most of my professors smoked, as well as most of the students. nowdays you can't even smoke in a bar.

Re:Duh (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732664)

And, is it a direct correlation, or is it because people get divided into different schools and hence social circles partly based on intelligence?

Re:Duh (2, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732528)

Smarter people also tend not to enlist in the military to begin with. I had a naval recruiter after me for the longest time. It was pretty clear that he was angling for people that weren't particularly bright or of much value outside the military where they could be pressed into a job without much required aptitude.

How it is that people fall for the sorts of lies he was telling me is beyond me, but you do have to account for the biased sampling selection otherwise you get skewed results. Also people who tend to be more intelligent tend to have better opportunities than the military can provide anyways.

Re:Duh (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732632)

In a country with essentially universal(except for a particular sect of religious nutjobs, who sponge off the government, breed, and study Torah, while the rest of the citizenry serves in the army, pays taxes, and generally isn't too happy about them) compulsory military service, I don't expect that that is a confounding variable of much concern....

In countries without such, that'd be a major confound(or, perhaps more likely, give you a fairly strongly bimodal distribution. A subset of the military is extremely bright, kid with the highest SAT scores in my class went to West Point, patriotism or family history of military activity can have a strong influence as well. On the other hand, it isn't exactly news that "volunteer" recruitment tends to be easier in poor economic times, and in small, somewhat depressed, towns where there is fuck-all in the way of alternatives.)

Re:Duh (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31732652)

In Israel the army enlists you

Re:Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31732620)

They should print on cigarette packs things like.

Smoking makes you stink
Smoking makes you ugly
Smoking is for ass-holes

Would people buy cigarettes then?

-- a non-smoking-coward

But... (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732252)

... is the same true for women?

Re:But... (5, Funny)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732288)

what are these 'women' you are talking about?

Re:But... (5, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732646)

I think he means the people whose name end in ".jpg".

She always told me (1)

Zeros (1016135) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732256)

My mother always told me kids that smoke are not too smart...

I smoke... (3, Interesting)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732260)

And I find it easier to think abstractly when I do (I did quit for over a year). Smoking forces me to take a break from what I'm doing every once in a while, so I get to separate myself from it. Then I get 5 minutes or so of time to contemplate or for abstract thought. I do honestly find myself more productive when I do smoke. Now, I'm not trying to rationalize it (I hate the fact that I got started again)... Just an observation...

Thanks For The Input From A Dumb Guy (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31732298)

Let's leave the thinking to the non-smokers, k?

Re:I smoke... (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732314)

There are exceptions to every rule. I'm sure some people who smoke are very smart. After all, smart people often do stupid things.

Re:I smoke... (1)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732326)

I consume nicotine and high amounts of caffeine on a regular basis. I'm told that it's partially a self-medicating technique observed in people with ADHD.

Ironically, the medication for said condition makes me want to smoke more frequently...

Also... (1)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732362)

My IQ, on the other hand, is in the 120's or 130's. It's been a long time since I've had a WAIS test though. Always sorta wanted to get another one now that I'm out of school.

You Fucked Up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31732476)

Since you've been smoking for so long, you IQ is now 95. Way to go, dumbass!

Re:You Fucked Up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31732516)

be more respectful of your betters.

Re:I smoke... (1)

catxk (1086945) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732348)

And I find it easier to think abstractly when I do (I did quit for over a year). Smoking forces me to take a break from what I'm doing every once in a while, so I get to separate myself from it. Then I get 5 minutes or so of time to contemplate or for abstract thought. I do honestly find myself more productive when I do smoke. Now, I'm not trying to rationalize it (I hate the fact that I got started again)... Just an observation...

Yes, and in the morning, I don't wake up until I have had my cup of coffee. Funny how it wasn't so back when I didn't drink coffee...

Point: your smoking addiction lets you function normally when you smoke, but when you do not smoke, you will function worse. A non-smoker functions normally all the time.

Re:I smoke... (4, Insightful)

LtGordon (1421725) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732388)

Cigarettes have provided you with an excuse to get away from everything and focus your mind. No offense, but I'm sure you could achieve the same mental experience without a cigarette. Grab a cup of tea instead.

Re:I smoke... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31732414)

But grabbing a cup of tea involves going to the break room which is always filled with cow-orkers who want to chat about their kids, favorite sports team or how they're having trouble getting the moss out of their lawn, hardly a good way to avoid distractions.

Re:I smoke... (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732556)

Put a water boiler on your desk, problem solved. Seriously, a cup of quality tea can be a significant relaxant, effective within just a few minutes. I've started using white tea myself.

Re:I smoke... (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732558)

The smoking areas is likely to be filled with co-workers too, who will similarly want to chat about inane things as they smoke...

Re:I smoke... (1)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732468)

I don't take offense. I hate the habit, so why would I be offended by someone pointing out that it's bad (rhetorical question)?

but I'm sure you could achieve the same mental experience without a cigarette.

When I quit for a little over a year (last year), I did find it easier to think in general (as you imply), but I did find it harder to concentrate on abstract ideas. I've always been one to think about and formulate my own theories on everything (from philosophy to physics to math, etc). Most of them are complete and utter BS, but some of them I think have merit. In the year that I quit, I pretty much stopped thinking/working on these ideas (The exact reason, I don't know, but I suspect it has to do with the 5 minute regular breaks). Once I started smoking again, I started working on them again. Now I've got one of the theories to a stage where I'm starting to write a book/paper on it, and another where I'm going to friend who's a PHD in Math to help me with certain parts (I'm good at math, but not at the complex geometries that I need)... I could replace the nicotine with caffeine (tea/coffee/etc), but that wouldn't be a good idea. I have a veryaddictive personality. When I worked nights for an Ambulance company during college, I got hooked on coffee. I would go through 2 pots or so per night. So I don't want to replace one bad habit with another...

Re:I smoke... (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732574)

So take regular 5 minute breaks to do non addictive things... Drink fruit juice, or just go outside and stare into space. Emptying your mind completely and staring at the sky will probably do you good.

Re:I smoke... (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732418)

Smoking forces me to take a break from what I'm doing every once in a while, so I get to separate myself from it. Then I get 5 minutes or so of time to contemplate or for abstract thought.

Why do you need to smoke when you take your 5 minutes of contemplation time? Why not just grab some fresh air, or at least wander away from your desk for a bit?

Re:I smoke... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31732644)

Well, where I work it's considered ok to go out for five minutes to have a smoke, but if you just went out for five minutes it's highly likely some PHB would consider that "goofing off" since you're just going outside without doing anything (this is similar to why it's easier to gain favor with management by doing something, anything even if it's a bad thing to do instead of taking some extra time to figure out the cause of a problem).

Smoking break (1)

matria (157464) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732428)

When I worked where there were a number of smokers who took their regular smoking breaks, I took a break with them; except that I took a brisk 5-minute walk around a nearby park while they were busy poisoning themselves (and yes, nicotine is a very potent poison, makes a fine anti-tick dip for sheep). Did a great job of clearing my head and letting me get back into the groove for another couple of hours.

Re:I smoke... (4, Interesting)

Zumbs (1241138) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732450)

From what I hear, it is generally accepted that a 5-15 min break every workhour is healthy for you, as well as for your ability to stay focused. I find that if I'm working on a difficult problem, taking a walk while thinking on it is a good way to get ideas for breaking it. Most people just don't take those breaks for a number of reasons, such as forgetting to do it or fear that a boss may think that they are lazy. Smokers, however, have a regular craving, that reminds them to take a smoking break. And it is (still) more acceptable for a smoker to take a smoking break than it is for a non-smoker to take a similar break.

Re:I smoke... (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732548)

So it's not the smoking itself, rather the fact you take regular breaks... What's to stop you taking regular breaks for other reasons? I find that taking 5 minutes to stand outside in the sun helps me greatly.

Ironically, i used to work for a company where smokers were allowed regular breaks to go outside and smoke, but non smokers weren't allowed to take equivalent breaks...

I have a cunning plan.. (3, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732262)

Make cigarettes more damaging to health, and let Darwin sort em out!

Re:I have a cunning plan.. (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732360)

What about second hand smoke?

Re:I have a cunning plan.. (1)

catxk (1086945) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732404)

What about second hand smoke?

"Who's the more foolish: The fool, or the fool who follows him?"

Re:I have a cunning plan.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31732568)

What about second hand smoke?

"Who's the more foolish: The fool, or the fool who follows him?"

The fool who quotes a fscking science fiction film in the wrong context and thinks it wisdom.

Re:I have a cunning plan.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31732412)

With small explosive charges, they wouldn't be dangerous to anyone but the smoker.

Re:I have a cunning plan.. (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732606)

At least that way they also take out any possible offspring that manage to pop out before the cigarettes can kill them. (No, I'm not a Nazi, I'm mooostly joking)

Re:I have a cunning plan.. (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732474)

Make 1 in 250 cigarettes have some explosives inside instead of what's normally in there. Now THAT would make smoking fun.

Re:I have a cunning plan.. (5, Funny)

bmo (77928) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732492)

>Make cigarettes more damaging to health, and let Darwin sort em out!

My parents used to smoke Kent cigarettes a long time ago in a galaxy far far away. I remembered as a kid that it advertised the cigs had the "Micronite Filter" on each pack.

Years later, I found out that the "Micronite" was blue asbestos.

Yep.

--
BMO

Here they come! (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732264)

Here come the slashdorks showing us how smart and skeptical they are! i you know that correlition is not causatrion IAMSOSMART!!!!!

No surprise here (4, Funny)

calibre-not-output (1736770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732268)

"Hmm, I think I'll set fire to this paper tube full of tar and inhale the smoke, even though countless studies have shown it will give me bad breath, impotence and cancer!" Sounds like a real genius, doesn't it?

Re:No surprise here (2, Funny)

Zapotek (1032314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732566)

That's why I tell people to stop smoking cigarettes..smoke mini-cigars instead...
Hell, if you're gonna do something wrong at least do it right...

Re:No surprise here (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732594)

I'll set fire to this paper tube full of tar

Have you ever tried a tube of bzip?

inhaling dangerous chemicals lowers IQ? (1)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732276)

i'm shocked. cigarretes are known to constrict blood and oxygen flow. i bet people who smoke are limiting the blood and oxygen flow to their brain and this results in lower IQ results.

  it's not the tobacco since a lot of smart people smoke cigars. it's the extras like uranium, polonium and hundreds of other chemicals that the tobacco companies spray on cigarretes that are really bad for you

Re:inhaling dangerous chemicals lowers IQ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31732328)

So your're saying that if I quit smoking I'd be likely to go from my current IQ of ~135 to to ~142, sweet. Time to quit smoking.

Re:inhaling dangerous chemicals lowers IQ? (2, Funny)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732336)

it's not the tobacco since a lot of smart people smoke cigars. it's the extras like uranium, polonium and hundreds of other chemicals that the tobacco companies spray on cigarretes that are really bad for you

I used to joke that cigarettes had vitamin C in them...until I found out they did.

Re:inhaling dangerous chemicals lowers IQ? (1)

catxk (1086945) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732366)

i'm shocked. cigarretes are known to constrict blood and oxygen flow. i bet people who smoke are limiting the blood and oxygen flow to their brain and this results in lower IQ results.

it's not the tobacco since a lot of smart people smoke cigars. it's the extras like uranium, polonium and hundreds of other chemicals that the tobacco companies spray on cigarretes that are really bad for you

No, you got it wrong. Smoking does not make you dumb, but dumb people start smoking. It's right there in the summary: stupid people make poor choices regarding their own health.

Re:inhaling dangerous chemicals lowers IQ? (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732380)

it's not the tobacco since a lot of smart people smoke cigars. it's the extras like uranium, polonium and hundreds of other chemicals that the tobacco companies spray on cigarretes that are really bad for you

And it's not just a health problem. Enemy countries are actively buying American tobacco to extract the uranium to make explosive devices with it.

And, even knowing that, tobacco companies continue to use the uranium aditives because they don't want to lose the massive sells to those enemy countries.

Re:inhaling dangerous chemicals lowers IQ? (1)

Paxtez (948813) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732520)

[citation needed]

I don't buy it, if only for the logic behind it:

Uranium is easy enough to purchase that the tobacco company can purchase large amounts of it to add it to cigarettes. But the countries are unable to purchase the uranium directly so they are forced to purchase billions of dollars worth of cigarettes in order to be able to produce weapons.

Really? That sounds like the plot to the worst Bond movie ever.

Hmm... (1, Redundant)

ScottySniper (1699386) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732278)

Is the lower IQ a result of smoking, or is smoking a result of a lower IQ, I wonder?

Re:Hmm... (1)

Bozzio (183974) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732316)

Does it really matter? They conducted the survey with army recruits and veterans.
The army life is known to attract people in the lower IQ ranges. It is also known to promote smoking. Good luck finding what caused what.

Re:Hmm... (1)

gotpaint32 (728082) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732378)

I hope you realize that Israel (where they did this study) has mandatory conscription for both men and women of age. There is not much self selection when everyone is forced to participate. Have you had your cigarettes today?

Oh snap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31732286)

But my IQ is 120 and I smoke.

Damn statistical fluke of my being.

I can haz IQ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31732346)

LOLTARD.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732292)

A bit offtopic but I enjoyed the overtly blue-collar ill lit picture [sciencedaily.com] that a site called Science Daily employed.

An unshaven sun-reddened face focuses all its concentration on a cigarette protruding directly in front of his nose. His lips are pursed as if to indicate that connecting the tip of that cigarette with that flame requires all of his concentration. If his eyes weren't hidden to prevent us from identifying him (or to keep us from identifying with the subject) we might see them as cross-eyed staring down his nose intent to satiate his addiction. His shirt (which is plain white) and knuckles are smeared haphazardly with grease and his skin glistens with a workingman's sweat. Whatever iconography that hangs from his neck (Isreali dog tags? a Star of David?) can only afford a cheap black cord. The subject is off center to the right with the background as a pitch black. Nothing but a single source of light coming from the left.

It amuses me that the site employs such a suggestive picture of smoking so that it almost screams to be a blue collar, unintelligent, near evil addiction. I understand this image adds to the effect of the article but if ever there was anti-marketing for smoking here it is at a site that claims to be objective in its name. Movies of yore portrayed the beautiful, the rich and the strong smoking. I can walk outside my office building and see well paid people smoking. It's disingenuous to portray it as only a blue collar problem no matter what statistics about IQ say. This only tells me that, on average, low IQs are more likely to succumb to well funded advertising or lack information about smoking. Not that they are any less powerful at breaking an addiction.

I find smoking abhorrent and disgusting but I also think that it detracts from your goals to say that smoking destroys your beauty when young people can see beautiful celebrities smoking. And I also think that a "Science" site shouldn't have such goals or propaganda baked into its articles (one way or the other).

Re:A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words (1)

swb (14022) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732408)

Smoking in the movies of the 40s and 50s is pretty appealing, I'll have to admit. There's two kinds of smoking, though.

The first kind is the continuous, repetitive chain smoking where everybody seems to have a cigarette going.

Then there's the kind of social smoking where you wonder what smoking was really like. I can remember a movie where neither character seemed to chain smoke, but instead after a meal the characters retired to the living room for drinks and they each enjoyed a (singular) cigarette taken from a wooden box on the coffee table.

I'm kind of wondering how common this kind of smoking was and whether it was actual addictiveness or marketing that turned it from an occasional pleasure to a full-time habit.

I'm guessing that a half-dozen cigarettes a week probably isn't near the health risk that a pack and a half a day is.

Re:A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words (1)

lxs (131946) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732424)

What's "Ill lit" about that picture? It is nicely lit from both sides, leaving a dramatic dark space so the flame of the lighter will show up nicely even against the white of the shirt. The stylist has done an excellent job of making the model who has only ever broken a sweat in the gym look grimy without sacrificing glamour.

It is a beautiful stock photo, and a well-crafted piece of commercial art.

Re:A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words (1)

matria (157464) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732490)

That is not grime, nor is that a dirty T-shirt. It's s very common type of dyed t-shirt, they come with that streaky look in any color, and the guy happens to have dark skin. I learned at a very young age that black and brown people weren't dirty; the color really doesn't rub or wash off. I have an Indian (as in Calcutta Indian) friend whose skin color and sheen is very much like that.

Re:A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words (1)

vrmlguy (120854) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732550)

Hey, I've got a beard almost exactly like that, you insensitive clod!. I'm a Unix admin [sourceforge.net] , the black cord holds my SecureID key, and my tee-shirt looks like that after pulling cables beneath the raised floor.

As for the subject being off-center, haven't you ever heard of the rule of thirds [wikipedia.org] ?

correlationisnotcausation tag (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31732300)

Nobody in the article was even IMPLYING one caused the other, so the tag is pretty pointless. Every time a controversial study result is posted here, people have this Pavlovian rush to post "correlation!=causation".

Re:correlationisnotcausation tag (1)

Xemu (50595) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732352)

Every time a controversial study result is posted here, people have this Pavlovian rush to post "correlation!=causation".

I feel a a sudden urge to say "correlation != causation" in response to this statement.

Re:correlationisnotcausation tag (1)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732392)

Normally I am one to raise that flag. But I agree here that it doesn't really apply. The article didn't make mention of any causation. All it said was in this study, men who smoked also had lower IQ's. There's 2 ways that could happen. Smoking lowers your IQ, or the more likely (on the average) lower IQ people smoke. It's interesting to say the least, but they never drew conclusions from the data, so it is a bit of a leap to jump down the correlation != causation bandwagon...

Re:correlationisnotcausation tag (1)

vrmlguy (120854) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732420)

RTFA. 'Schoolchildren who have been found to have a lower IQ can be considered at risk to begin the habit, and can be targeted with special education and therapy to prevent them from starting or to break the habit after it sets in.' Sounds to me like the researchers believe that low IQ leads to smoking, not the reverse. They need to redo their study starting with school kids and checking to see which ones take up smoking.

Re:correlationisnotcausation tag (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732464)

The article does include this sentence:

"'People on the lower end of the average IQ tend to display poorer overall decision-making skills when it comes to their health,' says Weiser."

That seems to pretty strongly imply that the researchers believe there's an IQ -> smoking causation.

Let me see if I understand you correctly... (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732308)

"People on the lower end of the average IQ tend to display poorer overall decision-making skills when it comes to their health..."

I can't even come up with a good joke for this, they've basically just put all that time and money into finding out that stupid people are more likely to make stupid choices.

I realise that the plural of Anecdote is not Data but I would think that at some point this connection would be obvious enough in day to day life that a study would be unnecessary.

Obligatory Philip J. Fry: (1)

0vi_king (514106) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732330)

No I'm ..doesn't

Professor Of The Bleeding Obvious (1)

Bazman (4849) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732338)

"People on the lower end of the average IQ tend to display poorer overall decision-making skills when it comes to their health,' says Weiser."

Is this followed by a reference: "Stupid is as stupid does" (Gump F., 1994) ?

Israeli Army recruits and veterans (1)

DevConcepts (1194347) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732356)

"Israeli Army recruits and veterans" What is the average IQ of those not in the army??

Re:Israeli Army recruits and veterans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31732426)

Its Isreal, pretty much everybody was in the army.

Re:Israeli Army recruits and veterans (1)

catxk (1086945) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732438)

"Israeli Army recruits and veterans" What is the average IQ of those not in the army??

Following the logic in the summary, it should be higher. From the summary:

'People on the lower end of the average IQ tend to display poorer overall decision-making skills when it comes to their health,' says Weiser.

Re:Israeli Army recruits and veterans (1)

stewbee (1019450) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732470)

If memory serves me right, military service is mandatory for Israelis. You could probably then assume that they had a good representative sample of the population.

Re:Israeli Army recruits and veterans (1)

DevConcepts (1194347) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732650)

Maybe compare to Swiss (Same mandatory service I believe) but I think much less stress than Israel.

Is It Not the Other Way On? (0, Redundant)

segedunum (883035) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732358)

People with low IQ's are more likely to smoke? That's my experience. That's what I hate about these statistical analyses. Just because there is an apparent correlation people then assume that causation naturally follows.

Re:Is It Not the Other Way On? (2, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732546)

Hate all you want, but neither the summary nor the article implied in any way that smoking caused a lowering of IQ. In fact, the article went on to say that this correlation indicates that gov't should use this information to adjust the way anto-smoking education should be directed. This indicates that they agree with you -- low IQ's tend to smoke, not the other way around.

So, what you are hating is your predisposition to make assumptions.

IQ correlates to income though (1, Insightful)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732364)

At least on the low side. Those with low IQ tend to have low incomes, though high income does not correlate very well with IQ at all, meaning smart people may or may not do well in life. So since smoking correlates to low IQ and low IQ correlates to low income, it may be true that smoking correlates to low income as the author states in TFS.

It's fun to stay at the R-T-F-A. (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732496)

"In the health profession, we've generally thought that smokers are most likely the kind of people to have grown up in difficult neighborhoods, or who've been given less education at good schools," says Prof. Weiser, whose study was reported in a recent version of the journal Addiction. "But because our study included subjects with diverse socio-economic backgrounds, we've been able to rule out socio-economics as a major factor. The government might want to rethink how it allocates its educational resources on smoking."

Re:It's fun to stay at the R-T-F-A. (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732596)

Yeah, thanks jackass. What I said doesn't contradict anything in TFS, so maybe you could try reading it again.

Statistics can be hazardous to your health (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31732600)

Just because they say they tried to control for something, doesn't mean they succeeded.

I'm guessing that the number of low-IQ male smokers from upper-middle class families produces quite a small sample size. (Remember that IQ is as much determined by socio-economic conditions as it is by basic wiring.) If the sample size of that population was insufficient then the analysis can't be trusted. Given the number of statistical blunders we see in routine science, my WAG is that the statistics here might be a bit suspect.

Re:IQ correlates to income though (1)

sco08y (615665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732618)

RTFS: they ruled out socioeconomic factors.

Re:IQ correlates to income though (2, Interesting)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732642)

Smoking does seem to correlate with low income, which is all the more amusing considering how expensive smoking is in some places...
People with very little money, wasting it all on smoking, and then having insufficient money for food and other basic necessities...

Cause or consequence? (1)

Lorens (597774) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732370)

Article implies that people with lower IQ are more likely to start smoking. Sounds likely (smoking is not an intelligent decision). Several comments imply that smoking can lower your IQ. Sounds likely too (low-dose daily protracted poisoning by hundreds of different toxins can't do much good). Prevention should take both possibilities into account. If "Smoking will kill you" isn't enough, might "Smoking will fry your brain" be better? Probably not, but worth a try to counter "Smoking keeps you alert".

Re:Cause or consequence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31732442)

History has had quite a few intelligent smokers, like Isaac Newton. And on the other hand is only a 10% difference, it's not *that* big of deal.

And in other news... (1, Flamebait)

Asterra (1087671) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732398)

People Who Require Scientific Studies To Prove Something Easily Intuitable Have Lower IQs.

government to rethink education on smoking (4, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732448)

SMOKING BAD!
BAD SMOKING!

This message has been brought to you by the Surgeon General's campaign against heart and lung disease, and is intended for viewers with lower IQs. If your IQ is above 95, this was not intended to be condescending in any way.

Decisions, Decisons... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31732466)

That would explain the old adage, "if she smokes, she pokes"...

Correlation and Causation mayhem (1)

mrstrano (1381875) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732510)

I read this news a couple of days back and I wanted to find more about the paper, so I typed 'smokers are dumber' on Google.
The headlines of the articles appeared in the results given by Google. However, while the first three or four results correctly cited the paper
with titles like 'Smokers dumber than non smokers' around the 6 or 7 result articles like 'Smoking makes you dumber' started to appear.

"correlationisnotcausation" (1, Funny)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31732586)

says all the smokers in the audience.

tee hee. :)

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