Quick outsources to Rodu and Grant

by Carl V Phillips

I will resume several more posts about my take on the FDA CTP shortly.  In the meantime…

Read this post by Brad Rodu.  It offers some great additional insight about the failings of the Dutra-Glantz paper that claimed to find a gateway effect from e-cigarettes to smoking. I debunked D-G’s core claim about gateway here (and I will forgive Brad for citing another incorrect attempted debunking of it — which I explain the error of in my post — because he linked to me too ;-).  He noticed that D-G use a very odd definition of current smoking (I used that observation in the paper I submitted that expands on my post, and this is probably my best chance to give him credit for it being his insight).  He does not overtly say that this was done intentionally by the authors because it produced results they liked better than what they got by using the standard definitions, but that seems likely to me.

Also, read this Guardian commentary by scientist blogger Richard P Grant.  It is a great summary of why the “biased by funding” rhetoric is so absurd, particularly the extreme version of it directed at the tobacco products industry. He points out that the grant-chasing and rat-race aspects of academic publishing are every bit as much conflicts of interest, as influential any funding from a financially-interested party could be.  Also,

The solution to conflicts of interest and outright lies is not to pretend the problem doesn’t exist, but to bring it out into the open where everybody can have a look and a poke and, where appropriate, a damned good heckle. Publishing a piece of research is always only the beginning of the conversation: it means nothing until it gets to be torn apart by your peers – and in the fullness of time, replicated by independent parties.

Alas, there is almost no real peer review — either before or after something is published — in the world of public health (to say nothing of “public health”). Almost no journals will publish articles, or even letters, whose focus is pointing out flaws in previous analysis.  But at least there are blogs, like those linked above.

It is nice to see someone else using “lies” rather than dancing around that like so many commentators do.

What Grant just published is nothing that I have not already written about at greater length (and presumably he has also).  But it is the best one-minute summary of the topic I have ever read.

2 responses to “Quick outsources to Rodu and Grant

  1. Carl, back around 20 years ago I danced around the word “lies.” No more.

    In terms of biased by funding, the Antis have anything pro-tobacco beat by a mile nowadays. If you look at my comments following Jacob Grier’s “Exemptions and Employment Revisited” you’ll see the sort of language used to promise the “right” sort of results before the research is done by Antismokers, and that example is far from standing alone. Basically the researchers do the dance routines with statements like “We expect our research will support the fundamental goals of ensuring implementation of smoke-free laws and preventing their repeal.” And, of course, no matter WHAT results are found that can’t be covered up, the “massaging” of the data and interpretations of it will ensure that the study will indeed “support” what was promised.

    One of my favorite “quick” examples of that came with the UN’s WHO study by Bofetta back in 1998. Much to the chagrin of the researchers and the WHO, the huge international case-control study came up with nothing significant tying an increased of lung cancer to secondhand smoke. The *only* significant finding of any note was a 22% *DECREASE* in lung cancer among matched children exposed to family smoking.

    That finding was brushed off in the abstract as showing “no association” between the two, while the study overall was presented with the blaring headline: “Don’t let them fool you! Secondhand smoke DOES cause lung cancer!”

    Now THAT is a lesson in how to assure yourself of getting future antismoking grants no matter WHAT the data might show!

    – MJM

  2. Pingback: The Boldness of the Tobacco Control Industry Scoundrels | Bolton Smokers Club

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