Posted by: Matthew | November 14, 2012

The Fireplace Delusion

Sam Harris has written a great piece called “The Fireplace Delusion“.

From it:

“The unhappy truth about burning wood has been scientifically established to a moral certainty: That nice, cozy fire in your fireplace is bad for you. It is bad for your children. It is bad for your neighbors and their children. Burning wood is also completely unnecessary, because in the developed world we invariably have better and cleaner alternatives for heating our homes. If you are burning wood in the United States, Europe, Australia, or any other developed nation, you are most likely doing so recreationally—and the persistence of this habit is a major source of air pollution in cities throughout the world. In fact, wood smoke often contributes more harmful particulates to urban air than any other source.”

So are you deluded, or are you educated?

Ignorance is no excuse. Don’t burn.



  1. “scientifically established to a moral certainty”. No it hasn’t. It hasn’t come close. It’s been exaggerated again and again but has not produced enough ‘scientific’ evidence.This philosophical neuroscientist self-absorbed writer wins favour at denouncing religious mass persuasion then uses it as a device for building a belief structure for science. He’s a typical propagandist. Science only asks for a belief when there are predetermined theories struggling to score desired conclusions. Like marketing ‘yet to exist’ profits, maybe selling shares in energy futures markets, You hope for the educated but due to the product you’re selling, you sadly might have to rely on the deluded and indoctrinated.

    • Smokeghost – you are deluded. Mr Harris is right, and you are wrong.

      What he says is that if you deny the certain, established and proven science of the lethality of woodsmoke then you are deluding yourself. He also says people hold their erroneous beliefs in denying that certainty precious like the religious do.

      I think your post is QED for the affirmative.

      Policy shouldn’t be based on delusions. Hence wood burning should be banned in all urban, suburban and closely settled rural districts.

      I win. You lose. It’s science. You can only beat science with more refined science, not with gobbledegook.

  2. It is difficult to understand the reluctance of normally decent politicians to act to protect the public from wood smoke. or even allow the topic to be included in the school curriculum here in Alberta Canada.

    • Hi Alan,

      This blog is now unmaintained. Check out my new one at

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