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Statement Made at the Launch of the who Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2008

By Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization

February 7, 2008

Mayor Bloomberg, ladies and gentlemen,

I am speaking to you as the head of an agency described by the tobacco industry as its biggest enemy. Today, we intend to enhance that reputation.

The “WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic” is the most comprehensive collection of data on tobacco use and control measures ever assembled at the global level. It provides a benchmark for now and a roadmap for the future.

The standardized country-by-country statistics tell us where we stand. The tobacco epidemic is growing. It is shifting towards developing countries, with tobacco use growing fastest in low-income countries.

The rise of tobacco use in girls and young women is among the most ominous of recent trends.

The report pinpoints the factors behind these trends: the low price of tobacco products, aggressive marketing, lack of awareness about the dangers, and inconsistent public policies to protect citizens.

The report also provides a roadmap, which we call mPOWER. It sets out a package of five cost-effective policy measures selected because of their proven power to reduce tobacco use. These are straightforward common-sense measures within the reach of every country, regardless of income level.

Among them, increasing the price of tobacco through higher taxes is the single most effective way to decrease consumption and encourage tobacco users to quit. This measure can also operate as a sustainable funding mechanism for governments to continue their efforts in tobacco control.

I would argue that these measures are the silver bullets of preventive medicine. Their power to prevent disease and death matches that of breakthrough drugs.

These measures work. The importance of their impact reflects the magnitude of harm caused by tobacco. I am referring to more than five million annual deaths globally, a figure that is expected to surpass 8 million by 2030.

By that year, 80% of these deaths will be occurring in the developing world. As a global community, we cannot allow this to happen.

The tobacco epidemic is entirely man-made, and it can be turned around through the concerted efforts of governments and civil society.

Having said that, I want to remind governments in every country of the range and force of counter-tactics used by the tobacco industry – an industry that has much money and no qualms about using it in the most devious ways imaginable.

We have another powerful signal that the measures set out in the report are effective. The tobacco industry has fought tooth and nail to prevent or delay the introduction of each one.

Industry does not want higher taxes. Industry does not want graphic images on packs. Industry does not want bans on smoking in public places, bans on advertising, promotion, and sponsorship, or help for the majority of smokers who want to quit.

Industry knows very well that these measures cut tobacco consumption and shrink markets. That is exactly why we are recommending them.

We are at the starting point with this roadmap. As the report reveals, only 5% of the world population lives in countries that have fully implemented any one of the key measures for reducing demand.

This gives you an idea of the potential we have to shrink tobacco markets, prevent disease, and save several million lives.

This is the kind of change WHO and its partners aim to fuel by issuing this report.

Thank you.


1. Analyse the figurative language, abstractions and immediate language in the given speech.

2. How would you identify the speaker’s aim?

3. What is the role of figures and statistics in the given speech?

Ex. 2. Discussion. Express your opinion about the following. The actual aim of this speech is veiled, isn’t it?

Ex. 3. Follow-up. Analyse the text from the point of view of the process of encoding. Speak about the communicative context. Think which type of discourse this text represents. Identify the main means leading to the pragmatic effect.

Task 10. Twisted Logic

Ex. 1. Identifying aspects of communication. Read the following text and get ready to dwell on the main characteristics of the communicative phenomenon under consideration.

How to Convince Others by Skillfully Using Twisted Logic

By K. Nunley

Here comes one of the most important skills a marketer can have. If you understand a few things about twisted logic, and how it’s used in marketing, advertising, persuasion, and sales – you’ll be way ahead of the pack.

You can take university courses on twisted logic, but they will only teach you how to identify it and how to protect yourself from it. That’s all well and good, but we want to go a step further. We want to USE twisted logic to help you obtain your goals.

Is this dishonest? Perhaps in a very strict sense. But you won’t find many people in ANY walk of life that don’t use twisted logic. IT IS EVERYWHERE… from the Supreme Court, to the President of the United States, to your neighborhood produce man, to your favorite clergy person.

Believe it or not, twisted logic is an important part of being human. That’s the way it’s been for THOUSANDS of years in EVERY country of the world.

Now. Let’s get started.

Why would you want to use twisted logic?

Won’t people say, “that makes no sense?”

Not at all. When people hear an issue discussed, they expect twisted logic. It’s part of our culture. It has been an important part of the way we talk for thousands of years. It’s how we persuade people. You are already very good at it. You win arguments every day with twisted logic. We are so used to it that we’ve probably never stopped to think about it. It’s like the guy who said, “I don’t know who discovered water, but I’ll bet it wasn’t a fish”. Experts have been talking about this ever since Aristotle penned The Art of Rhetoric several hundred years before the birth of Jesus. There is a big list of devices for fallacial reasoning, but we will only cover the ones most often used in media arguments.

Some Commonly Used Types of Twisted Logic

The biggest one is suppressed evidence. Even little kids use it. You tell the story, but not the WHOLE story. You leave out the part that would make you look bad, or in our case, make our message look less potent.

Politicians use evidence suppression constantly. They call it “looking at things positively”. The real story is that they only tell you the parts they want you to hear. They leave out the aspects that contradict their message.

When your audience is not aware of the deleted details, this technique can be very effective. It can often be effective when the audience does know the whole story. People are so used to hearing the one-sided story that they often won’t notice, they may even expect it.

The greatest persuaders of all time are a mixed bag. They range from Thomas Jefferson and George Washington to Julius Caesar and the United States Government (at certain times in history). We try to learn from the good as well as the bad, keeping in mind that we should never step over the line to use persuasion to hurt others.

Nazi propaganda advisors (for better or worse regarded as some of the best in history) said that the one-sided story worked best. Giving a fair, balanced version to gain the audience’s respect was regarded as ineffective.

Media persuaders often use the slippery slope. This is the old domino theory. Once one bad thing happens, then all sorts of other bad things will happen as a consequence. You see this one used a lot in advertising. If you don’t buy the product or service today, you’ll develop a problem which will eventually destroy your life.

Is it really all that bad? Probably not. But the slipper slope is pretty good at convincing you otherwise.

The teenager takes a sip of beer, then goes on to pot. Before you know it, he’s a full-blown heroin addict. Only a small percentage of cases turn out this way, but that is part of what the slippery slope is trying to conceal.

The city won’t fix a traffic light. An accident results. The city is sued by the injured, costing thousands of dollars, forcing cancellation of politically important budget items, and derailing a politician’s career. The lawsuit is quite probable, but the destruction of the politician as a result is stretching it a bit. As long as it’s still in the realm of possibility, the slippery slope will slip past just fine.

The slippery slope is a fun one to use, especially when you can make it sound fairly logical. Aim it so that it starts with your problem and slippery slopes right toward a horrible disaster for the person you’re trying to persuade. It’s a way of relating your problem to their problems.

I hear the hasty conclusion used quite a lot these days. I get nuts over how many people buy it. It’s simple and, oddly, very effective.

You present a piece of evidence to support your conclusion and hastily conclude that your point is right. The problem is, while the single piece of evidence does support the conclusion, it isn’t enough by itself.

One unfairly and unfortunately used in many viewers minds: “I saw a black man steal a car on TV. Therefore, you have to be careful in the black neighborhood. They steal cars”. Is that a fair blame to place on all African-American neighborhoods? Certainly not. But that is exactly what the hasty conclusion is trying to conceal. You’ve heard the hasty conclusion many times, and perhaps you’ve said, “Now don’t start jumping to conclusions”. You have noticed that other people listening were not bothered by this, they jumped right to the hasty conclusion with the person offering it.

This device is especially useful when you’re trying to stir up people who already agree with your basic message. In this case, the audience wants to believe the message and merely needs the lightest of evidence to join in.

The hasty conclusion is also effective when the audience doesn’t understand the intricacies of the story. Technical issues are almost always decided too hastily. The audience simply doesn’t have the specialized education or patience to sit through the whole story. They want an answer quickly, and they don’t mind if you skip a little too rapidly to a solution.

We are accustomed to the scientific method providing us with truth. The idea that a researcher could interview a carefully selected 220 people, and tell from that what all people think, is as common as the morning paper. But what if the people that are asked are not representative of the general population?

Then we have a small or unrepresentative sample.

This one gets used when somebody says, “But everybody I know says...”. When you think about it, they are probably only talking about two or three people, who may be very rich, or very conservative, or very religious, or unusual in some other way. “Everybody I know” is not a representative sample of everybody in town. In other words, your friends don’t necessarily represent me and my friends, much less the woman on the other side of the river.

This is why there is so much fine print with responsible polling. Experts want to know just exactly how the statistics were arrived at. Even the little graph on the front of US Today can be slanted a bit so that instead of revealing information about everybody, it only tells us about a certain group.

It’s not unusual to see a few wealthy home owners appear on TV to say everybody in the area is opposed to the building of a new health facility. They claim it will attract the wrong element and lower property values. Invariably, wait a couple of days, and you will see a newspaper story interviewing some people in the same area who would be delighted to see a new health facility built.

While the first home owners on TV convinced us that all were in opposition, they obviously did not represent the whole group. An activist pushing for the new facility would find a few who support it and represent them as the majority. Who has done the research to prove that they are wrong?

This brings to mind another tactic of twisted logic: unknowable statistics. I once worked for a prominent radio program director who would astound us in meetings with his voluminous knowledge of audience statistics.

He backed up his beliefs with “23% of women aged 20 to 44 prefer that only 5% of the newscast covers city hall”. Everyone in the room, all experienced broadcasters, accepted his statistics without question. Then it occurred to me, how could he know all this stuff?

The fact was, he didn’t. He made it up. Since we didn’t have any way to prove whether his numbers were wrong or right, we just accepted them as sounding pretty darned official.

Listen to the media. When you hear a persuader saying “two-thirds do this” and “60% do that”, ask yourself, how does she know these things? You may have uncovered an unknowable statistic (at least unknowable without a load of expensive research that you know they probably haven’t done). It may be a statistic that the persuader is basing loosely on something he does know, or it may be an outright lie. The opponent won’t or can’t do the research either, so he can’t really disagree with much authority.

Thus goes the old saying: there are lies, damn lies, and statistics.

When politicians try to get folksy, they often use the faulty comparison. This is when the President said, “I can’t understand why the NRA won’t support my bill to ban bullets that penetrate police jackets. I’m almost fifty years old and I have yet to see a deer, or a duck, or a goose wearing a mylar vest”.

I laughed. He made his point very simply and I might be inclined to share the story with someone else. But a comical view of a duck wearing a flack jacket is nothing compared to the complicated and technical discussion of materials in bullets that had gone on prior to the President’s comment.

If I say, “taking ducks out of the park pond is like banning footballs from the university stadium”, it’s true that both items are familiar parts of their separate situations. But taking footballs out of the stadium would imply the end to college football games that thousands live for. My faulty comparison makes the removal of the ducks sound much more evil than it probably deserves to be.

That is OK if I want the ducks to stay, and people are jolted by the comparison.

The straw man is like suppressed evidence turned around backwards. You build a straw man when you represent your opponent's position, but while doing so, add some critical flaws to make his position easier to attack.

An historical building, which is rather dilapidated, is being torn down without the opportunity for renovation. There are all kinds of structural problems with the building. It would be expensive to repair and the city doesn’t want to divert the money to pay for it.

Driving by, the only damage you see from the street, is a number of broken windows. Your straw man message will be: “The old fortress is being torn down by the city, even though all anybody can see wrong with it are a few broken windows. The proposal to renovate and preserve this valuable historic structure was quickly glossed over by the City Council. Why don’t they just fix the windows? There may be some evidence that one member wants the building removed so that a crony’s development company can build a strip mall”.

Was the City Council’s position misrepresented for easy attack? You bet it was. It could be possible, though, that the straw man version given may be close to the real truth, or it may reveal the underlying attitude of the Council on other issues.

Applying All This To Making More Money

I’ll admit it. Many of the examples that I have used here have had to do with the news and politics. That’s where we tend to notice twisted logic the most. Advertising is also full of it, but we tend to expect that from advertising. No one expects a TV commercial to make a completely fair comparison between the advertised product and the competition.

Most of us tend to write our ads according to the way we’ve seen ads written before, without really understanding some of the persuasive techniques we’re using. By consciously understanding some of the basics of persuasion, you will be a much more mighty marketer.

Your ads will sell, your commercials zing, and your sales pitches will boil with persuasive power. Am I exaggerating? Remember that the greatest persuaders in history were all masters of twisted logic. The next time you see your favorite business mogul on TV or interviewed in a magazine, watch for him or her to use twisted logic. Chances are, they will use it and use it well.

Some final thoughts on twisted thinking.

It is generally not a good idea to attack a person as a bad individual. It leaves you open to lawsuits and the perception that you’re just a little bit nasty. A better solution is to insinuate the bad person’s guilt by associating them with someone or something that you know the audience doesn’t care for.

Guilt by association is something our legal system avoids, but the average person has no problem with it. People may say they object to guilt by association during an ideological discussion, but in actual practice they may use the device all the time.

Also remember that experts in one field aren’t necessarily experts in another. Television is constantly using media stars to advertise everything from soft drinks to long distance telephone services. Because a skinny pop singer can hit high “c”, does that mean she knows all about research animals? No, but the people who would be against animal research are quite likely the same people who like the singer’s music. Since they like her, they will be inclined to believe what she says about just about almost anything (within reason).


1. Identify the twisted logic techniques, enumerate and describe them.

2. Think of your own examples to illustrate how twisted logic works.

3. Why does twisted logic have such a strong persuasive power?

Ex. 2. Discussion. Express your opinion about the following. Are twisted logic techniques easy to identify (think of different types of discourse)?

Ex. 3. Follow-up. Dwell on the role of twisted logic in achieving the pragmatic effect.

Ex 4. Problem-solving. What would you say in the following situations? Suggest three alternatives: a) a truthful answer; b) a polite lie; c) an equivocal response.

1. You interview someone for the job of receptionist in your office but the interviewee dresses in a scruffy way. For this reason you decide not to give him/her a job.

2. You are a doctor and have to tell a terminally ill patient they can’t be cured. The patient is already depressed about her illness.

3. Your mother has bought a new dress to wear at a very important party. You think it looks horrible.

4. You have cosmetic surgery to reduce your wrinkles. People ask you if you’ve been on holiday because you look so well.

5. Your child’s dog is very ill and you take it to the vet to be put down. Your child asks you where the dog has gone.

6. You are meeting your boy/girlfriend’s parents for the first time. They ask you when you’re going to have children. You hate children.

7. You’re at a friend’s dinner party. The food is horrible. The hostess asks you whether you liked it.

8. You hate the birthday present colleagues have given you at work.

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