The Parrot and the Igloo Notes

A Scientific Gymnastic Feat

209   “A Scientific Perspective”: Donald Cooley, “Smoke Without Fear,” True Magazine, July 1954; Bates No. 11310873-11310908.

This was directed and distributed by Hill and Knowlton. Per Allan Brandt’s The Cigarette Century. (Chapter Six, “Constructing Controversary,” 190.) “Hill & Knowlton staff, for instance, assisted Donald Cooley in preparing an article entitled ‘Smoke Without Fear’ for the July 1954 issue of True Magazine and then distributed more than 350,000 reprints to journalists throughout the country.” We’ll see an enhanced climate version of this approach in the later chapter “ASS & Chair.”

And the science-oriented pamphlets? From Naomi Oreskes’ and Erik Conway’s Merchants of Doubt (Bloomsbury 2010, Chapter One, “Doubt Is Their Product,” 18), “Little’s committee prepared a booklet, A Scientific Perspective on the Cigarette Controversy, which was sent to 176,800 American doctors. Fifteen thousand additional copies were sent to editors, reporters, columnists, and members of Congress. A poll conducted two years later showed that ‘neither the press nor the public seems to be reacting with any noticeable fear or alarm to the recent attacks.’”

Same goes for “Go Ahead and Smoke,” per Alix M. Freedman, Laurie P. Cohen, The Wall Street Journal, “Smoke and Mirrors: How Cigarette Makers Keep Health Question ‘Open’ Year After Year,” February 11, 1993. Little’s group “was largely a creature of Hill & Knowlton, the public relations firm, which cigarette merchants retained when the mouse research came out. Hill & Knowlton installed the Council in the Empire State Building in New York, one floor beneath its own offices, with one of the PR firm’s staffers as the supposedly independent research council’s executive director.” Freedman and Cohen continue, “Hill & Knowlton also began publishing a newsletter that reported such news items as ‘Lung Cancer Found in Non-Smoking Nuns,’ [and] helped authors generate books with titles like ‘Smoke Without Fear’ and ‘Go Ahead and Smoke.’”

Per Karen S. Miller’s The Voice of Business: Hill & Knowlton and Postwar Public Relations, University of North Carolina, 1999, Chapter Six, “Smoke and Mirrors: Public Relations and the News Media,” 131, the two organizations—Tobacco Research Institute and Hill & Knowlton—were effectively one. “The early history of the Tobacco Industry Research Committee and the Tobacco Institute is indivisible from the history of Hill and Knowlton. A 1960s Brown and Williamson information sheet on the agency said that the public relations counsel ‘is so intimately involved in the affairs’ [of] the TIRC . . . ‘that a proper separation of functions, as well as a strict definition of operations is virtually impossible.’” Miller concludes, “In essence, the Tobacco Industry Research Committee was Hill and Knowlton.”

A sample from “Smoke Without Fear,” page one:


My doctor is a thoughtful man, and after a little deliberation he said: “I think smoking does you more good than harm, and I wouldn’t suggest you quit.”


Seven decades later, and it still takes the breath away.


209   “tried to give up smoking”: Cooley, Smoke Without Fear, 1954.

The full Dr. Little quote: “Clarence C. Little, director of the laboratory, is a world leader in the study of hereditary susceptibility or resistance to a host of diseases. ‘If smoke in the lungs were a sure-fire cause of cancer, we’d all have had it long ago,’ he states.”

Same document: “So, if you are a confirmed smoker, smoke without fear. Smoke like Sir James Barrie, who saw Peter Pan in a maze of smoke rings and captured that elfin spirit, to the eternal delight of English-speaking peoples.” Unforeseen industry promise: Viceroy becomes Tinkerbell.


209   a “health scare”: “Publicity-seeker” was a favorite charge. From Karen Miller’s The Voice of Business, 133: “The industry also asserted that the charges against cigarettes came from a handful of doctors who were either puritanical zealots or publicity hounds.” The doctors, those diplomats of science, those caring professionals, now weren’t even after a buck; they wanted a spotlight.

“E. A. Darr, head of R. J. Reynolds, exemplified this tactic when he said in 1953, ‘One of the best ways of getting publicity is for a doctor to make some startling claim relative to people’s health regardless of whether such statement is based on fact or theory.’” The famous Camel “More Doctors” campaign had come from R. J. Reynolds.


A decade later, interviewed by The New Yorker’s Thomas Whiteside, tobacco executives still put great faith in the term.

Whiteside is interviewing Philip Morris’s James Bowling. “In a phrase that was to become familiar to me,” The New Yorker’s Whiteside writes, “he went on to characterize the issue as ‘the health scare.’”

“When the health scare hit in ‘53 we were all staggered,” Bowling continues. “The matter was put forward not as a thesis but as an absolute fact. Yet it was clear to us that the case was far from proved, and the industry did the correct thing by taking the attitude that nothing could or should be done until the facts were in. The work of the Tobacco Industry Research Committee has been under way for ten years, and it has required a great deal of patience for the industry not to answer the attacks on tobacco during that time, while the research has been going on. It has required a great deal of restraint not to lash back at the anti-cigarette forces.”

The clincher. “The people on the T.I.R.C. are eminent people.”

Thomas Whiteside, “A Reporter At Large: A Cloud of Smoke,” The New Yorker, November 30, 1963.

In Ashes to Ashes, Richard Kluger reports a variant. The historian quotes “an advisory memo written in July 1959 by the TIRC’s publicity consultants, Hill & Knowlton[.] The H&K memorandum underscored the industry’s need for intensified measures ‘to cope with attacks based on “scare” charges’ and to reaffirm ‘through all means possible the position that the role of tobacco in health and particularly lung cancer is not proved and that evidence mounts to dispute the broad charges made against tobacco . . . The health of the nation is constantly improving, along with increased use of tobacco.’” Richard Kluger, Ashes to Ashes: America’s Hundred-Year Cigarette War, the Public Health, and the Unabashed Triumph of Philip Morris, Knopf, 1996. Chapter Seven, “The Anguish of the Russian Count,” 210.


209   or the influence of cosmic rays: William Reinhoff, identified as a “famous lung cancer specialist” in the newspapers, and a member of Clarence Little’s Scientific Advisory Board.

He told the Washington Post in late 1954 that he personally did “not believe that cigarette smoking has anything whatever to do with lung cancer.” Longer lifespans, more able diagnosticians, bus exhaust, and chimneys all found the Reinhoff finger pointed in their direction.

Washington Post, “Doctor Denies Smoking Is Cancer Cause,” December 1, 1954; New York Journal American, “Experts Advise—Smoke All You Want: Doubt Cigarettes Are Cancer Factor,” December 4, 1954; Newsweek, “Smoke,” December 13, 1954.

It would become TIRC and H&K boilerplate. Within seven years, formalized as a set of talking points. “Smoking, Health and Statistics: The Story of the Tobacco Accounts: Script of Presentation of T.I.R.C. and T.I. for ‘Inside Hill & Knowlton’ February 26, 1962.” Bates Number 98721519.

Greatest hits. Potential cancer causes: “Viruses apparently are involved in lung cancer,” aging population, previous respiratory trouble, better diagnostics, the long fadeouts of pneumonia and TB, “the suspected role of atmospheric pollutions.” Hill & Knowlton cautions, “Mind you, that doesn’t mean any one of these suspects holds the final answer. So many things have been linked to lung cancer and cancer.”

Think of Ross Gelbspan (quoted in Mark Hertsgaard, “While Washington Slept,” Vanity Fair, January 2010) on climate denial’s objective. “The goal of the disinformation campaign wasn’t to win the debate. The goal was simply to keep the debate going.”

The points were in perpetual full-court use. Here’s Peter Pringle, Cornered: Big Tobacco at the Bar of Justice, Henry Holt, 1998. Chapter Six, “The Sweet Smell of Gain,” 131: “Echoing his old refrain, Little responded that the evidence was not yet sufficient, more research was needed. And he suggested that the alarming increase in lung cancer mortality rates might be the result of improved diagnostic techniques, greater attention being paid to the disease, the aging of the population to a point where cancers were likely to occur, and better methods of reporting and classifying causes of death.” Pringle can’t resist a debunk. “While techniques for detecting lung cancer had improved, Little ignored factors that indicated the increase was real: it had been adjusted for aging, and it was faster in men than in women, and men smoked more than women.”

And to extend Pringle’s debunk, re: pollution, from Karen Miller, The Voice of Business: “The manufacturers often blamed industrial pollution, car exhaust, and other factors. But Wynder and Cornfield had demonstrated in 1953 that rural versus city living did not affect the cancer rate of physicians, indicating that air pollution was not as great a cause as the industry insisted. Ochsner added that air pollution could not explain the different rates of cancer between men and women . . . Yet people unfamiliar with the complete body of medical evidence might have found the manufacturers’ claim easy to believe.”

Devra Davis’ The Secret History of the War on Cancer, Basic Books, 2007, 151: “The tobacco industry circled its wagons brilliantly. Realizing that the best defense is a good offense, the TIRC eagerly pointed to other culprits for lung cancer, like air pollution and workplace dust and fumes.”


209   Doctors Disagree: The News (Saginaw, Michigan), “Doctors Disagree,” April 18, 1955.


209      Is it Smog?: Chicago Daily News, “Is It Smog?”, April 22, 1955.


209      “A Scare Fades”: The Louisville Times, “A Scare Fades With A Puff of Smoke,” May 13, 1955.


209      “1954 emergency”: John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton, Toxic Sludge is Good For You: Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry, Common Courage Press, 1995. Chapter Three, “Smokers’ Hacks,” 27. “The tobacco czars were in a panic. Internal memos from the industry-funded Tobacco Institute refer to the PR fallout from this scientific discovery as the ‘1954 emergency.’ Fighting desperately for its economic life, the tobacco industry launched what must be considered the costliest, longest-running and most successful PR crisis management campaign in history.”


209      Credit went, the firm wrote: Hill & Knowlton, “Public Relations Report,” April 28, 1955.


210      “Thanks to his renown”: Freedman, Cohen, “Smoke and Mirrors,” Wall Street Journal, February 11, 1993.


210      rediscovered the public limelight: Allan Brandt, The Cigarette Century, Chapter Six, “Constructing Controversy,” 180.

Brandt puts it with a touch more sharpness in “Inventing Conflicts of Interest: A History of Tobacco Industry Tactics,” American Journal of Public Health, Jan 2012, Vol. 102, No. 1. Given Little’s “propensity for public conflict, he was extremely well chosen from a public relations perspective.”


210      “Is it a different nervous type”: CBS-TV, “Cigarettes and Lung Cancer,” Edward R. Murrow, June 7, 1955.


210      The necessary fuel was “more research”: For example: New York Times, “Differ on Effects of Heavy Smoking: Cancer Report and Reply Statement; Statement by Dr. Little,” Jul 13, 1957.

The Surgeon General released a statement; the Times sought response from Dr. Little. A sentence which expresses a lot; in the world of journalism, Dr. Little’s was now on an equal footing with the national physician.

Dr. Leroy Burney, U.S. Surgeon General: “The study group, appraising eighteen independent studies, reported that lung cancer occurs much more frequently among cigarette smokers.”

Dr. Clarence Cook Little, Scientific Director, Tobacco Industry Research Committee: “More research is needed into the role of air pollution and other factors.” What would become the standby: “the need for continued unbiased research.”


210      “To hormones, to diet”: Robert Proctor, Origins of the Cigarette Catastrophe and the Case for Abolition, University of California Press 2012, 261.


210      “A person who is unhappy”: Norman Vincent Peale, “Confident Living: Inner Harmony Brings Power,” Washington Post, April 14, 1956.

Norman Vincent Peale was a sort of fifties Tony Robbins, mashed up with Sean Hannity. (He’s responsible for the deathless bestseller The Power of Positive Thinking.) This column was reprinted nationwide. Imagine encountering the full Clarence Little quote as a hospital patient. “A person who is unhappy is more likely to develop cancer than one who is leading a happy satisfactory life. Internal balance is health and internal unbalance is sickness. These bodily functions are controlled by glands.” Peale identified Little as “one of the great scientists in this field.”


210      These lives”: Davis, The Secret War on Cancer, Chapter 6, “Making Goods Out of Bads,” 153.

The Cancer Society released results many months ahead of schedule, in June 1954. Per the Times, “Death By Smoking,” June 27, 1954. (Cigarette production, the paper notes, had jumped “during the last tense decade from 217.9 billion in 1941 to 434.5 billion in 1952.”)

Dr. Cuyler Hammond told the paper, “We found that cigarette smokers had so much higher death rates that we didn’t think we could withhold the information another year.” Among the findings: For heavy smokers, a 75 percent higher death rate from all diseases. And, of course, potentially sixteen times as high for lung cancer.

Dr. Clarence Little, reached for comment, replied that results were “preliminary.”


210      esophagus, larynx, bladder: The New York Times, “Text of the American Cancer Society’s Report on the Effects of Tobacco Smoking,” Jun 5, 1957.


211      a shot-putter at Harvard: Waldo Abbot, “Michigan’s ‘Tyrant Genius’: Dr. Clarence C. Little Has Resigned,” New York Herald Tribune, March 24, 1929.


211      “a scientific gymnastic feat”: Kluger, Ashes to Ashes, Chapter Seven: “The Anguish of the Russian Count,” 209.


211      “showed a tendency to gain weight”: The New York Times, “Excess Smoking Called Symptom: Tobacco Committee Asserts Overuse Is Not Primarily the Cause of Disease,” December 16, 1957.


211      “Proof! If only I had proof!”: Ochsner’s Russian Count story appears in Kluger’s Ashes to Ashes, chapter understandably titled “The Anguish of the Russian Count,” 204. The short-story writer George Saunders has a wonderful definition of humor: “Humor is what happens when we’re told the truth quicker and more directly than we’re used to.” From his The Braindead Megaphone, Riverhead 2007. Ochsner’s story seems proof of concept.


211      “And we will continue to smoke”: Sylvia Porter, “Cigarette Scare Over,” New York Post, May 12, 1955.

Porter was an influential glass-breaking figure: perhaps the first mainstream female business guru. (Porter made the November 28, 1960 cover of Time: “Business Columnist Sylvia Porter.”) At the height of her success, Porter’s readership numbered about 40,000,000. Like Oprah, she even had—Sylvia Porter’s Personal Finance—her own personal magazine.


211      what expertise can do: Business Week, July 2, 1960. That week’s cover, “Public Relations Today”: “Probably one of PR’s best finger-in-the-dike jobs was during the tobacco-lung cancer scare when the tobacco industry brought in Hill and Knowlton. Hill and Knowlton helped set up the Tobacco Industry Research Committee, run by prominent scientists and based on the premise that ‘there is no conclusive proof that cigarettes cause cancer.’” See the beautiful smoothness? Repeat a phrase enough, the idea becomes general. The lung cancer scare. Quoted in Cutlip, The Unseen Power, 487.

Scott Cutlip—one of the signal PR historians—is clearly an admirer of John Hill; he is just as clearly disturbed by the publicist’s association with tobacco and denial.

This is from Cutlip’s Effective Public Relations (Ninth Edition, Pearson Education International, 2006.) 104-5. “Long viewed as an ethical and respected leader of public relations counseling, Hill’s role in helping the major tobacco companies form the Tobacco Industry Research Committee threatens his legacy.” Note also, that Business Week cover story cheerfully repeats the delay formula—the one Spencer Weart would many decades later identify in climate: “Whenever a report comes out tying lung cancer or heart disease to smoking, [the tobacco research committee] is quick to issue a statement reminding everyone that all the scientific facts aren’t known and more research is needed.”

This part of the story is about John Hill and Clarence Little. For a sense of Dr. Little’s impact, his cultural reach: Waldemar Kaempffert was science writer for the Times—among the first Times writers to address carbon-driven climate change.

Kaempffert was gimlet-eyed. (Kaempffert is the journalist who accurately predicted in 1956, about warming, “The introduction of nuclear energy will not make much difference. Coal and oil are still plentiful and cheap in many parts of the world, and there is every reason to believe that both will be consumed by industry so long as it pays to do so.”)

That same Waldemar Kaempffert was impressed and reassured by Dr. Clarence Little. This affected his ideas about tobacco and lung cancer, and thus the ideas of Times readers. Another mark of the industry canniness, in making the Clarence Little pick.

“The case for and against tobacco as a cause of cancer may be settled by the Tobacco Industry’s Research Council,” Kaempffert reported. “Of which Dr. C. C. Little, former director of the American Cancer Society, is head. Many will argue that an impartial investigation can hardly be expected from a body of experts paid by the tobacco industry.” The journalist counselled faith. “Dr. Little is an eminent geneticist, a type of scientist who has the courage to face facts and to state them.”

Waldemar Kaempffert, “Science in Review: Smoking and Cancer: Experts Restate Arguments as Research Gets Underway,” The New York Times, August 1, 1954. Quoted in Karen Miller’s The Voice of Business. As Miller notes (135), the council presence spoke its own volumes. “The TIRC’s mere existence helped to promote the idea that the medical evidence was not yet convincing.”


211      369 billion cigarettes in 1954: John W. Hill, “Smoking, Health and Statistics: The Story of the Tobacco Accounts: Script of Presentation of T.I.R.C. and T.I. for ‘Inside Hill & Knowlton’ February 26, 1962.” Hill & Knowlton, 1962. Bates 98721549.

“This shows the trend of use of cigarettes in this country—total numbers up to 488 billion cigarettes from a recent low of 369 billion in 1954. The per capita use of cigarettes has similarly risen to a new peak, from the recent low of 3,344 cigarettes per capita in 1954 to the fourth consecutive record year in 1961 of 4,025 cigarettes per capita. (That per capita figure is based on an adult population of about 125 million, not total population.)”

In corner-store terms: Even after Reader’s Digest’s “Alert the smoking public,” Clarence Little, Hill & Knowlton, and the Council helped see to it that the average adult American still inhaled 201 packs of cigarettes every year.

The presentation is quoted throughout Brandt, The Cigarette Century, Chapter 6, “Constructing Controversy.” Annual inhalation figures on 203. Brandt notes that Hill & Knowlton was crowing.


“From a business standpoint,” Hill & Knowlton crowed, “the tobacco industry has weathered this latest spate of health attacks on its products.” In less than a decade, the industry had been stabilized and was thriving. [The New York Times quotes] an unnamed American Cancer Society official who claimed, “When the tobacco companies say they’re eager to find out the truth, they want you to think the truth isn’t known. . . . They want to be able to call it a controversy.” TIRC, under Hill & Knowlton’s guidance, had turned tobacco science into yet one more political controversy on which people of good will could differ. So long as it could maintain this “liberal” notion of scientific knowledge, the industry remained free to aggressively promote tobacco without regulation or liability. This explains, in part, why the industry would tenaciously cling to the notion of controversy.


You hear—smell—fossil fuel. And this is what Professor Brandt is getting at. When he explains (167), “This strategy”—controversy—“would ultimately become the cornerstone of a long range of efforts to distort the scientific process in the second half of the twentieth century.”


211      an internal celebration: As Thomas Whiteside points out in “A Reporter At Large: A Cloud of Smoke” (The New Yorker, November 30, 1963), the industry’s prosperity was “greater than at any other period in its history.”


211      “cannot be overemphasized”: John Hill et al, “Smoking, Health and Statistics: The Story of the Tobacco Accounts,” 1962. Bates HKC000001-HKC000038. “The formation of the Scientific Advisory Board in 1954 laid a firm and solid foundation for the industry position,” the publicists explain. “A foundation that has withstood many violent attacks and still holds firm today.”


211      “share of the public relations load”: Hill & Knowlton Memorandum. “To: C.C. Little. From: J.M. Brady. Subject: Tobacco Industry Research Committee Program,” April 9, 1962. U.S. Exhibit 21,784. Bates HK0039151-HK0039152.


211      Seventeen years: Stanton Glantz, John Slade, Lisa A. Bero, Peter Hanuer, and Deborah E. Barnes; Foreword by C. Everett Koop, The Cigarette Papers, University of California Press, 1996. 38.


212      “and most accepted the fact”: K. Michael Cummings, Anthony Brown, Richard O’Connor, “The Cigarette Controversy: Smoking Causes Cancer: When Did They Know?”, Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, June 2007.

See also Stanford’s Robert Proctor, “The History of the Discovery of the Cigarette-Lung Cancer Link: Evidentiary Traditions, Corporate Denial, Global Toll,” Tobacco Control February 2012, Vol. 21:87-91. “Tobacco industry insiders by the mid 1950s clearly knew their product was dangerous,” Proctor writes. In December 1953, the emergency, “when Hill and Knowlton was exploring how to respond to the uproar surrounding the publication of carcinogens in cigarette smoke, one tobacco company research director commented in a confidential interview: ‘Boy! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our company was first to produce a cancer-free cigarette. What we could do to competition!’”

Proctor goes on, “The mid-1950s cancer consensus was clearly (albeit privately) shared by the companies; and the reality of addiction was also starting to be conceded—at least in internal industry documents.”

See also chapters eleven through fifteen of Proctor’s Golden Holocaust. “By 1953 the industry was already conducting other kinds of experiments—in secret—to explore not just whether but what part of cigarettes was causing cancer.” (209) The cancer itself was a given. Researching it put manufacturers in what they considered a bind. “There was hope that the cancer problem could be solved by filters or additives or some other manipulation, but there was also fear that research might simply exacerbate the problem,” Proctor points out, “by making the dangers more widely known or well established.” (205)

In his Tobacco Control piece (and also Chapter 14 of Golden Holocaust) Proctor discusses private industry research. “The American Tobacco Company in the summer of 1953 took the extraordinary step of sponsoring a series of secret animal tests in the laboratories of the Ecusta Paper Corporation, makers of much of the world’s cigarette paper, with the goal of finding out whether it was the tobacco leaf or the cigarette paper that was causing all this cancer. Their conclusion, distributed only privately, was that tobacco—and not the paper—was the culprit.”


212      “My mind is open”: Trial testimony of Clarence Little in Lartingue v R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., October 6, 1960, Bates No 515382801-515382968, 8-9. The attorney asks, “All of the research is in unanimity there is no causation?” Little continues, “Yes. I would say that all of the committee has an open mind on this subject . . . we are all in agreement.”


212      The individuals whom we met”: H.R. Bentley, D.G.I. Felton, W.W. Reid, “Report on Visit to U.S.A. and Canada, 17 April – 12 May 1958,” British-American Tobacco, June 11, 1958, Bates No 105408490-8499.

In 1997 testimony before the U.S. Senate, Minnesota AG Hubert H. Humphrey III classes this document among the heaviest lie-busting artillery: a smoking gun of exceptionally high caliber.

“As our counsel likes to say, many of the things we have found aren’t just smoking guns — they’re smoking howitzers,” Humphrey observed on June 26. “I cannot discuss the sealed documents, but I can give you an inkling by citing one document which was recently unsealed in connection with our ongoing motion practice. This is a document from 1958. It’s a secret report by scientists who were sent to America by the British American Tobacco Company to study the scientific evidence about smoking and lung cancer. Here’s what they knew six years before the first Surgeon General’s Report: ‘Although their remains some doubt as to the proportion of the total lung cancer mortality which can fairly be attributed to smoking, scientific opinion in the U.S.A. does not now seriously doubt that the statistical correlation is real and reflects a cause and effect relationship.’

“That’s why they knew in 1958. Six years later, when the Surgeon General first alleged a link between smoking and cancer, the industry publicly claimed to be outraged—outraged!—at the very idea.”

A Review of the Global Tobacco Settlement, Hearing Before the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, One Hundred Fifth Congress, First Session, June 26, 1997, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1997. 90.


212      And still he said “not proven”: Whose effectiveness did wear. PBS Frontline, “Inside the Tobacco Deal: The Addison Yeaman Memo,” May 12, 1998.

Addison Yeaman—another name seeming to arrive from the nineteen-fifties and All About Eve—was general counsel for Brown and Williamson Tobacco; he is addressing the diminished appeal of Clarence Little’s catchphrase as of July 1963. And a near-decade is a long time for a short thing. “One would suppose,” the attorney writes, “we would not repeat Dr. Little’s oft-repeated ‘not proven.’”

PBS duplicates Attorney General Humphrey’s language; not just a smoking gun but a howitzer.

Addison Yeaman, “Strictly Private and Confidential: Implications of Hippo I and II,” Brown & Williamson, July 17, 1963.
Accessed 8-25-22.


Allan Brandt, The Cigarette Century, 190: “By the 1960s even Little’s allies in the industry complained that his constant refrain of ‘no proof’ increasingly lacked credibility.” Chapter Six, “Constructing Controversy.”

Non-allies he had lost some time earlier. This is from Brandt, American Journal of Public Health, January 2012, “Inventing Conflicts of Interest: a History of Tobacco Industry Tactics.” Evarts writing the epidemiologist A. Bradford Hill about his “frustration with Little’s persistent skepticism in the face of mounting scientific evidence. ‘Isn’t the evidence at hand sufficient to convince anybody with an open mind?’ asked Graham.”


212      “for all the rest of our lives”: Trial testimony of Clarence Little in Lartingue v R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., October 6, 1960, 41-2.


212      a little extra money: Little’s stating salary was $20,000 per annum. As of 1960, the geneticist had received a 25% bump, to $25,000. In 2023 dollars, that’s about $252,380 from tobacco, for misleadingly testifying about the innocence of tobacco’s product.

That’s all it took, for a denial enterprise to secure the services and credibility of a National Academy of Sciences member. As Hemingway puts it, value for the money.


212      “and face my kids”: Jonathan Kwitny, “Defending the Weed: How Embattled Tobacco Institute Manages Cigarette Firms’ Strategy; They Win While ‘Losing,’” The Wall Street Journal, January 24, 1972.

Robert Wald, the attorney, also told the Journal’s Kwitny, “I haven’t the slightest doubt that cigarettes cause cancer.”


212      “suffering intense pressure”: Edward A. Parson, Protecting the Ozone Layer: Science and Strategy, Oxford University Press, 2003. 127.


213      “got to be careful”: NBC Nightly News, “Philip Morris CEO Continues Testimony in Minnesota Trial,” March 4, 1998. Tobacco’s Gary Huber to NBC’s Bob Kur: “My daughter came to me and said, ‘Dad, you’ve got to be careful. These guys are pimping you.’”


213      to tidy up the memory: Devra Davis, The Secret War on Cancer, Chapter Six, “Making Goods out of Bads,” 167. “His [New York Times] obituary made no mention of his life as a flack for the Tobacco Industry Research Committee,” Davis writes. “The family members who provided the summary of this remarkable man’s life let his last twenty-five years, the time he spent masterminding ways to magnify uncertainties about tobacco products, go unreported.”


213      His wife and children outlined: Newsday, “Dr. Clarence Little, Cancer Researcher,” December 24, 1971. The New York Times, “Dr. Clarence Little, Cancer Researcher, Dies at 83,” December 23, 1971.

It’s even omitted by the Ann Arbor News (U. Michigan’s hometown paper); a news blackout travels fast. Roy Reynolds, “Former U-M President Little Dies,” Ann Arbor News, December 23, 1971.

With a man of probity photo: 
Accessed 6-14-22.


213      the work could be denied: Amusingly and semi-hauntingly, the man who hired Clarence Cook Little opted for the same strategy. Do the deed, outrun the memory. John Hill, writes Scott Cutlip, “did not cover Hill and Knowlton’s tobacco account in his 1963 memoir, The Making of a Public Relations Man.” Cutlip, Effective Public Relations, 104-5.

Cutlip himself simply notes, for clarity, “The fact remains that for the last decade of his active career he fought the tobacco wars on behalf of the cigarette industry.” Cutlip, The Unseen Power, 497.

The Parrot and the Igloo by David Lipsky