Agent-based model of THR adoption (and basic case for THR from City Health 2012)

I recently presented a talk on tobacco harm reduction at the City Health 2012 conference in London.  I believe that a video of the actual presentation and ensuing discussion will appear on their website eventually (and I will update this post to link to it).  In the meantime I recorded a voiceover version of the slideshow:

[I will suggest/request that anyone who wants to link to the video please link to this post instead.  I would like to encourage comments and discussion here, and will probably not monitor the comments on the youtube page itself.  Also, there is more background that might be useful.]

The heart of the presentation is a social dynamics model of how THR (e.g., switching from smoking to e-cigarettes) occurs in a community thanks to the education and communication of social norms that come from social interaction.  It starts out with a general overview of THR since many in the audience were not familiar with that.  If you are not interested in the overview, you might want to skip to about 9:30 and just see the presentation of the new model.  (On the other hand, I have been told that it is one of the better existing presentations about the core concepts and justifications for THR.  Not as good as what I presented at the Beirut IHRA conference, unfortunately, but I do not have a recording of that.  So you might want to view that part even if you already are familiar.)

The presentation speaks for itself so I will not try to summarize it here.  But to provide a bit more background on the modeling (and if this is confusing, just watch the video -- it is less technical than what follows, but still explains what you need to know):  There is an interest in predicting THR behavior, in part for obvious reasons, and in part because of a make-work exercise that the US FDA is imposing on anyone trying to promote THR.  As with any modeling of population dynamics, there are various methods available.

The simplest is to just project a trend by extending past numbers.  This is largely useless for anything that involves conscious choices by people, and utterly useless when there are emerging technologies involved.  Despite this, these are the models that are used when people make simplistic predictions about how many smokers there will be 20 years in the future, which others then report as fact.  Such projections about tobacco/nicotine use are perhaps slightly better than trying to project a trend about how many people will be using 11-inch tablet computers 20 years from now, but not much better.

Next simplest is Markov modeling, which basically divides people into different bins (smoker, e-cigarette user, non-user, etc.) and assumes that knowing how many people are in each bin is all you need to know to know about them to determine what happens in the next period (i.e., the next day or year).  This allows for much more robust modeling of some interacting influences, but under the hood, it is still based on projections of population level trends (e.g., what portion of current smokers will adopt THR as a function of how many have already done so).  Allowing for subpopulation-based trends is an improvement over just projecting graphs into the future, as it were, but at its core it is still just a version of that, with all its limitations.

Agent-based models are based on the recognition that the behavior of a population, when considering a decision-based process like THR, is really the aggregation of a lot of individual decisions.  Thus, such models are based on individual actors rather than just population percentages, and the population statistics are emergent properties of the actions of individuals.  The individual decisions are based on economic motives (i.e., considerations of costs and benefits) which are affected by various global factors as well as social interactions.  Individuals can be realistically modeled as having different preferences and other characteristics rather than being all the same.  The agent-based models also allows for social interactions at an individual level -- i.e., people can affect their neighbors and those they encounter, and the results of this may not be the same as treating everyone as if they just have the "average" experience ever period.

The model that we have created is about the simplest model possible that still captures the social dynamics, individual variability, and economic decision making that affects a population's adoption of THR.  It allows for THR adoption to be a social contagion, with someone's chance of adopting it being a function of how much of it they encounter, as well as global forces.  People learn (and their level of learning persists through time) and decide (based on individual motives).  This contrasts with a simple projection or subpopulation-based model, where the future is basically determined by the choice of a single function -- e.g., "P% of the population smokes and that is trending down at a rate of R, so next year the number of smokers will be...." or "if X people have adopted THR in period t, then D% of the rest will adopt it in period t+1, for a total of X+D".  As shown in the video, this produces population outcomes that are not just the obvious immediate result of the choice of those functions.

Update: I discuss some of the implications of this model in the context of anti-THR claims at the antiTHRlies blog.

Update (13 Nov 12): The "live" version of this (the presentation I actually gave in London) has been posted by the conference.  As is usually the case, it is a bit rougher than the studio version, but for those who are are completists (are there any Phillips completists? I doubt it -- I am not even one :-), there it is.  I think there are also some bootlegs, but I don't have them. Unlike most live versions, this one is a bit shorter (the studio version includes a bit more information).

Arizona's Banned Books List

Here's an alphabetical listing of the Arizona banned books list.  It is provided by J. Quinonez-Skinner of the Oviatt Library at CSU Northridge to indicate those books on the list that are proudly possessed by her institution.  It's not difficult to assess the political motivation behind the banning; note how many authors on the list are Latino/Latina and African-American.  Shakespeare, Thoreau, James Baldwin, Isabel Allende, and Sandra Cisneros are included.  Thanks to Gerardo Pacheco for informing me of this list.

Address to the Commonwealth Club of California (1985) by C. E. Chávez (Not sure if this is the book with the text from the address)
The Anaya Reader (1995) by R. Anaya (CSUN)
The American Vision (2008) by J. Appleby et el. (Ordered)
Black Mesa Poems (1989) by J. S. Baca (CSUN)
Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya (CSUN)
Borderlands La Frontera: The New Mestiza (1999) by G. Anzaldua (CSUN)
By the Lake of Sleeping Children (1996) by L. A. Urrea (CSUN)
Cantos Al Sexto Sol: An Anthology of Aztlanahuac Writing (2003) by C. García-Camarilo et al. (CSUN)
Civil Disobedience (1993) by H. D. Thoreau (CSUN)
Codex Tamuanchan: On Becoming Human (1998) by R. Rodríguez (CSUN)
Cool Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Growing up Latino in the United States (1995) by L. Carlson & amp;O. Hijuelos (CSUN)
Crisis in American Institutions (2006) by S. H. Skolnick & E. Currie (CSUN)
Critical Race Theory: An Introduction (2001) by R. Delgado and J. Stefancic (CSUN)
C-Train and Thirteen Mexicans (2002), by J. S. Baca (CSUN)
Curandera (1993) by Carmen Tafolla (CSUN)
Declarations of Independence: Cross-Examining American Ideology (1990) by H. ZinnTable 21: American History/Mexican American Perspectives, 1, 2 (CSUN)
The Devil's Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea (CSUN)
Dictionary of Latino Civil Rights History (2006) by F. A. Rosales (CSUN)
"Does Anti-War Have to Be Anti-Racist Too?" (2003) by E. Martínez Article (Online Article via Color Lines)
Drink Cultura: Chicanismo (1992) by J. A. Burciaga (CSUN)
Drown (1997) by J. Díaz (CSUN)
Feminism is for Everybody (2000) by bell hooks (CSUN)
The Fire Next Time (1990) by J. Baldwin (CSUN)
Healing Earthquakes: Poems (2001) by J. S. Baca (CSUN)
House on Mango Street (1991), by S. Cisneros (CSUN)
Infinite Divisions: An Anthology of Chicana Literature (1993) by T. D. Rebolledo & E. S. Rivero (CSUN)
Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea (Ordered)
Justice: A Question of Race (1997) by R. Rodríguez (CSUN)
The Latino Condition: A Critical Reader (1998) by R. Delgado and J. Stefancic (CSUN)
Let Their Spirits Dance (2003) by S. Pope Duarte (Ordered)
Like Water for Chocolate (1995) by L. Esquievel (CSUN)
Live from Death Row (1996) by J. Abu-Jamal (CSUN)
La Llorona: Our Lady of Deformities (2000), by R. Garcia (Ordered)
Loverboys (2008) by A. Castillo (CSUN)
The Magic of Blood (1994) by D. Gilb (CSUN)
Martin & Meditations on the South Valley (1987) by J. S. Baca (CSUN)
Message to Aztlan: Selected Writings (2001) by Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales (CSUN)
Mexican American Literature (1990) by C. M. Tatum (CSUN)
Mexican White Boy (2008) by M. de la Pena (CSUN)
New Chicana/Chicano Writing (1993) by C. M. Tatum (Ordered)
Nobody's Son: Notes from an American Life (2002) by L. A. Urrea (CSUN)
Ocean Power: Poems from the Desert (1995) by O. Zepeda (Ordered)
Pedagogy of the Oppressed (2000) by P. Freire (CSUN)
A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present (2003) by H. ZinnCourse: English/Latino Literature 7, 8 (CSUN)
A Place to Stand (2002), by J. S. Baca (CSUN)
Puro Teatro: A Latino Anthology (1999) by A. Sandoval-Sanchez & N. Saporta Sternbach (CSUN)
Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years (1998) by B. Bigelow and B. Peterson (Ordered)
So Far From God (1993) by A. Castillo (CSUN)
Suffer Smoke (2001) by E. Diaz Bjorkquist (CSUN)
The Tempest (1994) by W. Shakespeare (CSUN)
Ten Little Indians (2004) by S. Alexie (CSUN)
Two Badges: The Lives of Mona Ruiz (1997) by M. Ruiz (CSUN)
Voices of a People's History of the United States (2004) by H. ZinnCourse: English/Latino Literature
5, 6 (CSUN)
When Living was a Labor Camp (2000) by D. García (CSUN)
Women Hollering Creek (1992) by S. Cisneros (CSUN)
Woodcuts of Women (2000) by D. Gilb (CSUN)
The X in La Raza II (1996) by R. Rodríguez (Ordered)
Yo Soy Joaquin/I Am Joaquin by Rodolfo Gonzales (CSUN)
Zapata's Discipline: Essays (1998) by M. Espada (CSUN)
Zigzagger (2003) by M. Muñoz (CSUN)
Zoot Suit and Other Plays (1992) by L. Valdez (CSUN)
Zorro (2005) by I. Allende (CSUN)

Nobel Peace Prize curse?

A random thought while waiting for a program to run.  I know I am late to this topic, but this only just occurred to me:

Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize.

He responded to this honor by continuing to fight multiple wars, jumping into another one without congressional approval (whatever you think of its value, that is the truth of it), keeping the illegal Guantanamo prison running without major changes, and initiating the worst campaign of assassinations / "extra-judicial executions" (via drone strikes) ever perpetrated by the United States.

The EU won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Perhaps it is time to re-fortify the Maginot Line.

The Windows (Activate Me)


activate me
actuate me
abbreviate me
accumulate me 

abdicate me
abrogate me  

accelerate me
adjudicate me 

aspirate me
assassinate me 

berate me
backdate me 

bedmate me
bifurcate me 

boilerplate me
bloviate me 

bombinate me
breastplate me 

binucleate me
birthdate me 


calibrate me
create me 

capitulate me
concentrate me 

carbondate me
celebrate me  

cheapskate me
castigate me  

cogitate me
checkmate me 

desecrate me
devastate me 

decorate me
defoliate me 

dedicate me
digitate me 

delegate me
defibrillate me 

domesticate me
defenestrate me 

educate me
elongate me 

emanate me
emancipate me 

escalate me
enumerate me 

exaggerate me
explicate me 

excoriate me
elevate me 

fabricate me
fascinate me 

flagellate me
fecundate me 

frustrate me
fragmentate me 

fixate me
formulate me 

fornicate me
floodgate me 

germinate me
generate me 

gesticulate me
glaciate me 

gyrate me
gravitate me 

graduate me
granulate me 

gestate me
guesstimate me 


hallucinate me
hibernate me 

hydrate me
housemate me 

hyphenate me
humiliate me 

habituate me
habilitate me  

herniate me
homophonate me 

                       imitate me
                       illuminate me 

immigrate me
indoctrinate me 

implicate me
impregnate me
                        incinerate me
incorporate me 

inoculate me
inebriate me 


lactate me
lacerate me 

laminate me
legislate me 

liberate me
levitate me 

locate me
lineate me 

luxuriate me
lubricate me 


mate me
medicate me 

mutate me
menstruate me 

moderate me
mistranslate me 

motivate me
miscreate me 

militate me
ministrate me 


narrate me
necessitate me 

nominate me
notate me 

nucleate me
negotiate me 

navigate me
nauseate me 

nameplate me
numerate me 


orate me
orchestrate me 

officiate me
operate me 

ordinate me
outskate me 

ovulate me
overrate me  

oblate me
obfuscate me 


palpitate me
palliate me
penetrate me
permeate me 

perpetuate me
playdate me 

populate me
postulate me 

predicate me
proliferate me 

radiate me
recreate me 

regulate me
replicate me 

resonate me
reticulate me 

rotate me
ruminate me 

reiterate me
reinstate me 


sedate me
saturate me 

separate me
syncopate me 

speculate me
sophisticate me 

simulate me
subjugate me 

sublimate me
syndicate me 


translate me
truncate me 

terminate me
template me 

tessellate me
tablemate me 

triplicate me
triangulate me 

tolerate me
tailgate me 

uncrate me
understate me 

ululate me
update me
undulate me
ulcerate me
umbellate me
umbilicate me 

underrate me
urinate me
vibrate me
violate me 

vacate me
validate me
ventilate me
variegate me
vociferate me
vitiate me
vindicate me
venerate me