Tag Archives: UCSF

Glantz complains about research ethics LOLOLOL

by Carl V Phillips

Yes, the man whose superpower is an inhuman ability to willfully misinterpret study results and lie to the public based on that (and who is completely immune to the effects of evidence, logical argument, authors telling him he is interpreting their studies wrong, etc.) is complaining about research ethics. In particular, he is complaining about the recent Shiffman et al. paper which demonstrated that the prospect of interesting flavors did basically nothing to entice teenage non-users toward wanting to use e-cigarettes.

Glantz wrote an extremely weak letter to the journal that published the paper which, to its credit, rejected it. The study had some definite limitations and I would say that the authors did over-conclude from their results, which Glantz tried to say (a stopped clock is right twice a day, though is seldom so deliciously ironic when it is). But the basic conclusion of the study — that interesting e-cigarette flavors provoke a collective yawn among teenagers who do not use tobacco — is solid. It is this result that flatly contradicts a favorite claim of Glantz and his cabal and that Glantz, completely unsuccessfully, tried to challenge. Continue reading

Glantz attempt at dialogue makes clear the vacuousness of his arguments

by Carl V Phillips

The leading ANTZ strategy for creating the illusion that they have valid arguments, hiding the fact that they are a combination of liars and clueless, is to avoid dialogue. It is relatively easy to create the illusion of valid arguments that will trick the ignorant masses (and especially one’s own useful idiots) if you simply keep repeating your talking points and pretend that the rebuttals to them do not exist. The ANTZ make a practice of not showing up at any public discussion (except the fake public discussions where they control the entire agenda and prevent the airing of rebuttals) and pretending that the evidence that shows they are lying does not exist. The reasons for this are clear: If they try to engage in dialogue, it immediately becomes apparent that they do not have a leg to stand on. Continue reading

What is peer review really? (part 4a – case study followup)

by Carl V Phillips

I thought it would be worth taking this series non-linear to follow up on Part 4, which used the recent Popova-Ling “peer-reviewed journal article” as a case-study to illustrate much of what is wrong with journal peer review and the fetishizing thereof in “public health”. Popova and Glantz relied on that paper in the comment to the FDA that I discussed in yesterday’s post about Swedish Match’s MRTP application, which asks permission to remove the false and misleading “warning” labels from their products. This is a great illustration of why the fetishization, “it is in a peer-reviewed journal, so it must be right”, is such a dangerous travesty. (H/t to Brian Carter inspiring some of the observations that appear here.) Continue reading

More on the FDA and MRTP

by Carl V Phillips

In the previous post, I linked to CASAA’s comment to the FDA re Swedish Match’s MRTP application, wherein they ask to be able to change the “warning” labels on their smokeless tobacco products to not “warn” about risks that do not exist and to move a bit(!) closer to communicating the low risk of these products as compared to smoking. Clive Bates also weighed in on this, via this post and his own comment to FDA on the application. It is worth following up on some of his points and some others. Continue reading

What is peer review really? (part 4 — a case study)

by Carl V. Phillips

[Update: I have submitted a comment to BMC Public Health that is based on this post. My copy of it can be viewed here.]

[Update: The comment has now been accepted by the journal and appears, attached to the original article, here.]

I interrupt the flow of this series, in which I am currently laying out some common myths about journal peer-review, to provide a motivational case study that makes many points better than any abstract principles can. As I discussed in the previous post, which built on what Clive Bates had already written, a newly published article by Popova and Ling was unethical and misleading, fraught with anti-THR lies. But here is the good news: It was published in a Biomed Central (BMC)  journal. While BMC still basically practices the 20th-century version of peer-review that I have pointed out to be a failure, they do not keep it an anonymous black-box like most journals do. (This is a huge improvement over the standard health science practice — enough so that when I started a journal, I chose to do it at BMC — though still far short of other fields’ real peer review, as I have discussed previously in this series.) Thus, we can review not only the paper, but the “peer-reviews” that caused it to be published. Continue reading

New public health research: lying to people can affect them (as if they didn’t already know)

by Carl V Phillips

A new paper in the normally more-respectable BMC Public Health, by never-respectable ANTZ at the University of California (San Francisco) reports research that mostly showed that, if people were given disinformation claiming (nonexistent) health effects from smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes, accompanied by gory pictures, then they will be tricked into to thinking the risk was higher. Surprise!

Well, of course, it is no surprise that people can be tricked and no surprise that UCSF “researchers” would conduct such unethical research. It is rather more of a surprise that the non-ANTZ BMC Public Health would publish it and that an ethics committee would allow it to be done. Ok, maybe not the latter — the ethics committees are pretty much in the pocket of public health. That committee at UCSF probably would never allow, say, Farsalinos’s survey of e-cigarette users, and would trump up some claim that it was a threat to the study subjects, whereas they allowed serial liars Lucy Popova and Pamela M Ling a free hand to tell people they might as well smoke.

Anyway, Clive Bates was first off the block in responding to this travesty, and he covered the breadth of it well, so I am not going to reinvent the wheel here.  Go read what he wrote first. Then come back to this, wherein I go deeper into a few specific points. Continue reading

More anti-THR junk science from UCSF, the new Karolinska

by Carl V Phillips

As I alluded to yesterday, there is another bit of anti-ecig junk science out today.  Once again, it is from the Glantz shop at UCSF.  Glantz did not put his name on this paper (presumably to create the illusion among the naive that this is not all part of a single organized disinformation campaign), but that hardly matters.

The little study (published as a “research letter”) followed a small group of smokers for one year, and compared quit rates for those who had recently tried an e-cigarette at the baseline survey and those who had not.  They found that those in the former group had a slightly lower abstinence from smoking at followup.  Clive Bates does a good job of pointing out how this thin result led to overblown conclusions, and then UCSF created a misleading press release, and this tricked the press into reporting out-and-out falsehoods.  Do read Clive’s post for more — there is no reason for me to repeat it here.  (If the NYT picks up the story, I might respond to that, but I am not inclined to spend any effort responding to random stories from unsophisticated news sources.) Continue reading

Anti-THR liars of the year (and #8: Stanton Glantz and UCSF)

2014 might be the year that determines whether tobacco harm reduction (THR) will sweep the world (at least the wealthy parts of it) by 2025, or whether its delay, and the resulting suffering and death, will drag out for another decade after that.  That made 2013 an interesting year for those of us who monitor the extremists who are actively working in support of the suffering.

After we decided we should do a year-end countdown for 2013, it quickly became apparent that this does not lend itself to just listing particular individuals.  The lying is really not about particular personalities, though we do mention a few who stand out (not in a good way).  Thus, the list is a hybrid of people, types of liars, and types of lies, with the named entities mostly serving as symbolic representations.  It also became apparent that it was not all that useful to just base this on some rough counting of the lies, how blatant they were, and how loud they were shouted.  Rather, this is a gut-level hybrid that considers that, but also how much the lies and the liar matter and other considerations.  So you will see that the entity whose actions matter the most on this list is at #3, while the most blatant and aggressive liar is #8.  Also, rather than forcing the count to match the number of fingers humans happened to evolve, we identified those worth mentioning and went with that count.  Thus, we start with #8: Stanton Glantz (from the archives) and the University of California, San Francisco, whose once good reputation among real scientists has been heavily damaged by Glantz and his anti-tobacco extremist colleagues.

Now some might be surprised to see Glantz so low on the list because, as noted, he does earn the special award for Most Aggressive Liar.  For the course of a decade of all the anti-smokeless-tobacco lies, he was relatively silent about THR, despite being one of the most toxic anti-smoker activists, in terms of both his lies and general innumeracy and cluelessness about science.  But this year he turned his superpowers — an apparent inability to distinguish lies from truth (or the sociopathology to not care about the distinction) and ability to trick people into thinking he understands science at better than a middle-school level — to anti-e-cigarette activism.  He ranks low, however, because he is just an accident of history, the person who happened to stumble into the crazy jester niche that someone always fills.

For any contentious and important topic, there is room for someone to gain fame and fortune by being the extremist liar, and so someone always fills that niche.  For most lie-based activist positions, the Loudest Liar niche tends to be filled by some entertainer or gadfly of letters, or an organization that can attract a few wealthy backers.  But when there is government grant money backing the lies, it is often an unscrupulous mediocre professor who fills the niche.

Still, Glantz is worth mentioning as more than a generic type because of a few particular propensities.  Most notably he excels at relentlessly repeating lies about what research shows, even after being explicitly publicly corrected by the researchers (and anyone else with basic literacy skills who weighs in), who point out that he is completely misrepresenting their results.  Those are some serious crazy-liar chops.  Few people, even among the other major anti-THR liars, will so baldly misrepresent what the science shows (except when it is the junk science from their tobacco control industry fellows, and thus the authors misrepresent it in the first place).  Fewer still are so unconcerned with their reputation that they will keep repeating the lies after being pointedly reprimanded for them (or perhaps they actually have a sense of decency).  For that, Glantz rises above (which is to say, sinks below) just being a font of generic lies.

He further secures a position on the list, in spite of having descended to jester status — even within the tobacco control community — because he and UCSF won one of FDA’s huge Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science (TCORS) grants.  Frankly, this award says more about the process used to decide these awards.  (Aside:  it is not just those of us who prefer real science over tobacco control who feel that process was an embarrassing failure.  In addition to turning down some excellent applications from politically neutral centers and industry-academic cooperations, they turned down quality applications from established tobacco controllers who are good scientists — and were also livid about this — in favor of the UCSF hacks who apparently do not even know 101-level concepts like the difference between correlation and causation.)  Unfortunately, that center grant is going to lend some credibility to the hacks among the ignorant masses even though, among the knowledgeable, it instead serves to damage the credibility of the granting process.

The one bright spot about funding in this story is that UCSF sought grassroots crowdsourced donations to support one of their anti-e-cigarette “research” efforts but were offered only a pittance from a few donors in spite of offering incentives.   (If you click that link, notice that they already declared what conclusion they would reach in the request for funding, much as they did with the TCORS application — they do not do research, they write political propaganda and do not even try to hide that plan.)  Contrast this with CASAA’s research fundraising, in which we secured that sum for the Igor Burstyn research in four days.  There simply is no grassroots support for the likes of Glantz and UCSF, and tobacco control in general.  There might be millions of people who will express pro-TC and anti-THR opinions in opinion surveys, but their feelings are only a millimeter deep — they would not spend a dollar or a minute of their time supporting that cause.  As some of the rest of this countdown will further illustrate, anti-THR exists only because extremists have seized control of some government and other institutions, but that control is eroding as their lies become more widely understood.