More on Tobacco Control’s “stop talking about us!” editorial

This post directly expands on the previous one, and will not make much sense if you have not read that first.

So after musing about this more — there is so much to say — I realized that if someone had just emailed me the text of the editorial, I might have thought it was a parody. I mean, even in the unlikely event that someone thought the various substantive claims and normative assertions were reasonable, would they actually think that they could harangue their critics into ceasing to criticize (except via their heavily-censored officially approved channel)? It is difficult to imagine that the authors would be quite so insulated from normal human behavior that they would not know that they were basically just begging for more ridicule and criticism on forums they cannot censor.

Indeed, the Altmetric report of Twitter mentions of the editorial, at the time of this writing, cites 63. That does not include what must be a couple of hundred that link to my first post about it, but that do not link to the editorial directly. By my quick count, one of those said something positive, four were neutral announcements of the editorial’s existence, and the rest were criticizing or ridiculing it in one form or another. Perhaps the authors were going with “any publicity is good publicity” when they asked for this inevitable reaction. It is, after all, just a boring technical-note type article, and yet is already in the top 5% of Altmetric scores.

But probably that was not the goal. The more I think about it, the more it seems that the real purposes of this were (a) to force Ruth Malone to stop tweeting, as I discussed in the previous post, and (b) to deceive ignorant readers into thinking the journal’s editors actually pay attention to substantive criticism.

After I wrote the previous paragraph, Junican commented on my post that we should consider the possibility of: (c) They were trying to signal to their friends that they also should adhere to what is already the practice of this cabal, to not engage in debate or discussion in any forum tobacco controllers cannot censor. A possible weakness of that theory is that most to all of their friends also already avoid engaging in scientific debate. But perhaps it can be seen as an attempt to declare that criticism outside their own forums is “officially” nonexistent. Something like that. It is worth considering. In some sense this is a specific angle on purpose (b), in which they attempt to mislead readers into thinking this is anything new.

The next comment, from Dr. Sussman, suggested: (d) This is part of a grand scheme to trick outsiders into believing that journals like this are legitimate scientific journals, rather than activist house organs. And, more important, they are trying to trick them into believing that bloggers who do not participate in the journal process are similar to those that question, say, research in physics, microbiology, or cultural anthropology. In many fields, any legitimate criticism is welcome within the big tent of the “official” channels for the science, and so anything that is forced to the outside is crankdom. But approximately the opposite is true in the case of tobacco control and other “public health” activism. Of course, in some fields, like economics, most of best scientific debate takes place in the blogosphere. But the average non-scientist (the target audience for this trick: physicians, politicians, etc.) is not aware of that, and just remembers learning as a freshman that journals are legitimate and other forums are not. Anyway, that deserves a post of its own.

Circling back to my point (b), consider this bit from the editorial again:

As a result of discussion about these issues, the Tobacco Control editorial team has now established a policy that editors will not respond to external blog posts or social media messages about specific studies.

My readers know that they already do not respond to blog posts and social media. With the exception of the hapless Malone tweets, I am not sure they have ever done it at all. As I noted, I suspect they realize that any response from them to their expert critics would merely emphasize just how correct the criticisms are. But readers of Tobacco Control are going to interpret this as saying “we are so weary of all the effort we put into deftly deflating all the criticisms of the papers we publish that we have, alas, decided we cannot keep up the pace.” Using literally true statements to imply something that is false is their thing — they are tobacco controllers after all.

In addition there is:

Occasionally, an individual who has written a postpublication critique has declined invitations to review similar papers prepublication.

I noted that they have never once asked me to review a paper, and assured them that I would do it if they asked. I suspect both of those are true of Brad Rodu also. I seriously doubt that they would ask Chris Snowdon or Clive Bates; even though both are excellent scientific thinkers, they lack the credentials (doctorates, professorships, a curriculum vitae full of research publications) that ivory tower journals usually demand. That is even more true for most other bloggers. So who are they talking about? I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume there is some antecedent for this claim, that they did not just concoct it from whole cloth. That seems to leave only Michael Siegel (after all, in his post about the editorial, he seemed to think it was all about him — *smirk* [update: to explain that, note that MS’s theory is that they were responding to a particular one of his posts; the timing was such that seven authors would have had to formulate their position, draft the text, edit and agree to the text, and then get through the journal’s copyediting and tech process, all in less than two weeks — um, yeah.]. He is their kind of people, even though he criticizes a few of their proclivities. His criticisms almost always fiddle around the political edges of a paper, failing to identify core problems with the methodology (or claiming problems that are not really problems), so he would probably be fairly safe to get comments from. As far as I know, he might turn down such invitations, thereby completing their claim.

But even with that benefit of the doubt, the statement still appears intended to mislead the reader. The truth is probably “once [maybe a few times] a single one of these blogosphere critics was invited to review a paper for us [perhaps one he later criticized, but maybe a different one — even that is ambiguous given the word “similar”], but declined.” But the statement implies that they actually invite the serious critics to review for the journal, often, and that those critics refuse.

On a different point, I still cannot get over this:

Ultimately, the author is the guarantor of his or her work and is entitled to be aware of and respond to critiques of that work, particularly when those critiques question accuracy or scientific integrity.

I find it amazing that not one of the editorial authors had a decent liberal education, or is merely well read, and thus never came across the lesson that an author does not get to decide what people later think and say about her work. The work — whether a novel, blog post, or journal paper — acquires its own identity upon publication, and commentators are then interacting with it, not the authors. An author has the option of joining the conversations about her work, of course, and could provide unique insight. But she does not get to control the conversation. It baffles me that someone would not realize this.

In addition this seems rather snowflakey. If someone cannot stand the thought that a paper they published (as author or as publisher) is being criticized out there somewhere without their knowledge, maybe they are in the wrong line of work.

Of course, we are talking about a field where authors of research reports routinely tell readers what they are allowed to think about a study result. This takes the form of bald assertions about causation, statements of what particular changes in the world would change the results, and assertions of what should be changed in the world. This is a perennial serious problem with Tobacco Control and its ilk. It is a problem that, despite the protests in the editorial of “oh, we just depend on the individual reviewers”, lies with the journal itself. The editors could stop authors from doing that, including when the inevitably superficial reviews fail to point out it has occurred. But they do not, and that makes it their fault.

This goes deeper than mere fact that political conclusions in Tobacco Control papers almost never follow from the research (recall my observation from the previous post on their use of the word “thus”). That is also a problem that the journal editors are responsible for. But the deeper problem goes to the heart of why anyone would actually exhibit the parody-level hubris in this editorial (whatever the tactical motives were). The editors of Tobacco Control are not part of a scientific enterprise. They are cogs in a political activist movement that dabbles in science-ish writing when it is convenient. The purpose of that writing is to advance the activism, and thus it does not even cross their minds that they should stop authors from asserting unsupported political conclusions or from telling readers what they should do with the research results. Similarly, they see no problem with declaring that they will ignore scientific criticism of the papers they publish, and that others should also. Scientific debate is not part of their actual mission.

Anyway, they asked for rapid response submissions and I said I would give them a go moving forward (and, recall, I suggested that you, dear readers, mine the archives to do it retrospectively). So I will submit the following to them and let you know what happens:

The authors of this editorial assert that a journal article’s authors are “entitled to be aware of and respond to critiques”, and imply that this is only possible if critiques appear in a forum attached to the journal. Setting aside the fact that authors can easily become aware of and respond to critiques on other forums, I am curious if the authors could offer some basis for claiming such an entitlement? It seems quite contrary to all existing laws, principles of ethics, cultural norms, and standard practices that relate to commentary about published work. Moreover the behavior of many of these very authors suggests they are willing to go to great lengths to avoid being made aware of critiques.

It seems safe to interpret the statement as saying that at least these particular authors would like responses to their work to appear on this page. And so, I am fulfilling their request. (Assuming this is allowed to appear, that is. I say that not because I believe there is anything in this comment that would warrant censorship, but to emphasize the blindness of this process. That is, the commentator really has no idea what will be allowed to appear.) I call the authors’ attention to two blog posts I have written critiquing this editorial to ensure they have the requested opportunity to be aware: LINKS. In those posts I expand a bit on what appears in this submission. I welcome responses to anything in them, either here, in the blog’s comments sections (I promise their comments will not be censored), or wherever else. However, no familiarity with those posts is necessary to respond to the following questions.

The authors declare “a policy that editors will not respond to external blog posts or social media messages about specific studies.” This statement implies that in the past they have provided such responses. However, I am quite familiar with the scholarly blogs (my own and others’) that often criticize papers that appear in Tobacco Control, and cannot recall a single occasion in which an editor of this journal responded. With the exception of the editorial’s last author occasionally engaging in Twitter conversations about articles — a format which precludes serious debate — I am not aware of any social media engagement. Thus I would like to ask the authors to support their implication by characterizing how often actions that are precluded by this policy actually occurred in the past, and to provide a few examples.

The authors state, “Occasionally, an individual who has written a postpublication critique has declined invitations to review similar papers prepublication.” I am one author of such critiques, and highly qualified to review research papers, but have never once been invited to review for Tobacco Control. I am in close communication with other such individuals, and would be surprised to learn that they have received any such invitation. So I would like to ask for clarification: Is the claim here that on a single occasion, Tobacco Control asked someone to review a paper, but s/he declined, and then wrote a critique after it was published? Or did that happen twice, three times, or more? Or does this merely mean that someone who was once invited to review *some* paper at the journal, and declined, later write a critique of another paper the journal published (thus the use of the word “similar”)?

The authors state: “As noted above, the Rapid Response process provides a forum for exploring such issues. In contrast, placing personal blog posts or social media messages complaining about a study, alleging flaws in the review process, or making ad hominem attacks on authors or editors do not advance the field or allow an appropriate scientific dialogue and debate.” I have several questions about this:

Should we interpret this to mean that the Rapid Response process will censor any attempt to post something that “complains” about a paper or identifies flaws in the review process? Taken on its face, this seems to preclude literally any important criticism. If a commenter observed, say, that a causal inference suffers from enormous residual confounding, which was not acknowledged by the authors, and which renders the conclusions in the paper unsupported, how is that not a “complaint” about the paper? If the identified flaw is apparent to the reader, how is that not also an allegation of a flaw in the review process that allowed the paper to be published with that flaw? Some clarification is needed.

Are the authors of the editorial simply saying they object to *explicit* statements about the failures of the review process, and are saying that these are forbidden from this page? And thus the implicit indictment of the review process from noting there is a major flaw in a paper is acceptable? But would noting a major flaw still constitute a “complaint”? If not, what does?

I am also curious about what ad hominem attacks the authors are referring to. Those of us who criticize tobacco control are quite familiar with the experience ad hominem attacks on our analyses (or, more often, as rationalizations for simply ignoring our analyses). Indeed, such attacks are far more common than substantive criticisms of our work. By contrast, I cannot recall any cases of scholarly blogging critics of a paper in Tobacco Control or other tobacco control papers have descended to ad hominem attacks. I would like to ask the authors to provide examples to support this allegation. (I will offer the reminder that drawing conclusions about an author or journal based on a paper is, roughly speaking, the opposite of an ad hominem attack. An ad hominem attack would consist of criticizing or dismissing a paper based on the identity or characteristics of the authors or journal.)

Finally, the authors state: “Our role is to facilitate the processes of peer review, transparency and accountability which underpin the legitimacy and independence of academic research.” I am curious about what transparency they are claiming. It appears to me that the journal (in keeping with common practice in this field) sends out papers to reviewers who are chosen based on a non-transparent basis, keeps those reviewers anonymous and the reviews secret, and then makes a decision to publish based on non-transparent criteria. Yes, there are some published statements about what is considered in this process, but they are sufficiently vague that they seem to preclude or guarantee nothing. Am I wrong about this? If not, what transparency is the editorial referring to?

More immediately relevant, there is no apparent transparency in the decision about whether to publish a particular Rapid Response submission. Again, the stated guidelines seem sufficiently vague that they would allow an ad hoc decision in either direction about most any submission. It seems rather unreasonable to ask commentators to take the time and effort to submit to a system with vague requirements, particularly given the suggestion that merely “complaining” about a paper is grounds for censorship. Again, clarification is needed if, as the editorial claims, this page is a legitimate forum for serious debate.

I will suggest that a genuinely transparent rule would take a form like the following: Should a reader wish to post a comment on my blog, it will appear, unedited, so long as it is on topic. I suppose I would refuse to post a comment that was utterly outlandish — that, say, ranted about the sexuality of a paper’s author, or alleged criminal behavior — but I have never been forced to make such a decision. I will further note (as I have stated previously) that if authors or editors of a paper that I am criticizing wish to comment, I will allow them to say literally anything they want. I suspect the same transparent rules apply to my fellow scholarly bloggers.

[Update: The submission appeared, with the links (though, mysteriously, without my name) on the Rapid Response page. This is not too surprising, given that it would be the height of honesty on their part to refuse to publish it, if you see what I mean. Less surprising is the fact that these editors, despite all their talk about this being about engagement, did not respond to it at all.]

17 responses to “More on Tobacco Control’s “stop talking about us!” editorial

  1. Be interesting to see if that appears; although given that Clive Bates notes that put in a RR (seemingly several days ago) and TC claiming it’s never appeared:

    Although Clives opaqueness about when it was submitted (I’ve not seen him confirm when it was posted) doesn’t help matters, although it appears to have been prior to the 21st Feb (earliest mention I can see if him saying it hasn’t appeared), nor whether it relates to the editorial policy post or a piece of research (although perhaps I’ve missed that between posting dank memes and whining about computer servers).

    I’ve not had time to pull an RR together as yet, but hoping to get something to put to them over the weekend, particularly on that bloody ‘direct gateway’ paper, which has more holes in it than my bloody sieve.

    Steven R

    • Carl V Phillips

      I look forward to seeing yours. I have no idea about Clive’s — I agree he is being opaque. Obviously I like the idea of pre-announcing my own.

      One thing to keep in mind is that this system is not actually rapid, despite the name. So no conclusions can be drawn until a week or two passes, or someone reports they received notification of their refusal to post.

      • Well, “rapid” does sound a lot sexier than “glacial”.

      • Carl V Phillips

        I have to say, I kinda hope they do not post mine, yours, Clive’s. If they actually open a legitimate and open forum for debate, it will just increase our workload to deal with it.

      • Yes, I always understood that the Rapid is compared to submitting a counter-piece, getting it peer reviewed, etc etc which would be a weeks long process at best; I always took it that rapid response is meant to be more like a few days assuming all goes well, intended for more what could be described as more casual critique and discussion – although that may not prevent the critique from being extremely robust, of course.

        What will be interesting will be if ‘normies’ (ie non academics/scholars/the public) who make sensible, clear points get as much coverage you’d reasonably expect the likes of yourself and Clive et al get.

        If not, then the offer of using RR in lieu of open debate is at best, somewhat hollow.

        • Carl V Phillips

          Oh, also (re “rapid”) I just had an email exchange with a BMJ editorial production assistant who explained to me that their system (the tech) is not working quite right at the moment, and they are trying to fix it. That convo was a result of me responding to the “thank you for your submission” email in which my content came out as one long string without breaks.

          As for your substantive point, yeah, I am going to have to write a third post about this. Because you are absolutely right. I am actually not sure you meant all these nuances, but I am going to give you credit because what you wrote made me think this: One thing that I have left out of my critiques of their demand is that relegating discussion to their page is almost certain to leave normies out of it. I am not assuming full on ad hom dismissal of comments — that is, whatever you wrote it would not be posted due to lack of credentials. I would like to think that would not happen. There is no evidence it does. After all, you note Clive does these, and he does not have scholarly credentials. Frankly, workload alone would probably solve that problem: They are not actually going to check to see if you have credentials. They ask for title and affiliation, but my current ones do not exactly say “highly respected epidemiology methodologist, even though he has not done so much for a few years”, and I doubt they would want to try to track that down.

          However the “normies” problem still has several serious implications.

          First, there will be many who have useful stuff to say who will not even try. This is a step beyond the “why would I make extra effort to publish on a page that might censor me?” point I made. Some people who have a useful comment to make might not feel like they are allowed through the door. This is the classic form of “soft” -ism discrimination. I would bet the authors of the editorial despise the notion that a brown kid from a poor uneducated family might feel unwelcome at their fancy universities — thinking “that is not for people like me” — even though she has the ability. But it happens. They are engineering the same thing in this case, whether they intended to or not.

          Second, there are types of comments or questions that are welcome on blogs that would genuinely not be welcome on their page. There are appropriate levels. I usually think of myself writing for the other opinion leaders in the field. I welcome all readers, obviously, but I don’t feel like I should be getting comments like you might see on a Facebook discussion from people whose knowledge is limited to what they read on social media bumper stickers. I usually write for the people who want to work on educating them, and so do not try to make it easy for every reader. But another way, I pitch this at about the first-semester graduate student level, and would prefer the substantive comments be at that level too. (Aside: I do believe that any interested numerate reader who read all the archives or just followed the blog for 50 posts would learn enough to have a first-year graduate student level understanding of the science. That would put him ahead of 90% of the people who write epidemiology papers.)

          I am quite happy to answer a question about what I meant by “residual confounding” or “selection bias due to immortal person time”, or to explain a misunderstanding I created at that level. By contrast, I am fairly certain someone would not be allowed to ask such questions on their page, about the original paper or the comments on it from the page. Similarly, “oh, and another point along those lines” type comments. Even if those would be allowed, most people who have any “right time and place for things” instinct would not try to submit it. So that entire line of education would be precluded. Yours is the third comment on these two posts that has caused me to add something to my main posts. That would be lost in their forum.

          (yes, I know this is long — I am basically writing myself some draft material for my next post on this)

          Third, extending that, when someone like me writes for a page like that, we naturally tend to code switch (or, if you prefer, self censor) into a mode where we leave out explanations, clarifications, and informative tangents, which make the content less useful for the readers I wish to reach. Put another way, it would not serve the role of a graduate seminar. Now the TC editors might consider this a feature of their demand and not a bug — their position would be that they do not want to wade through a lesson in the nature of counterfactual reasoning and hypothetico-deductive thinking to respond to a point about confounding in their study. But their claim is that this serves a greater purpose than an email to the author asking a question, that it provides a record of the discussion and all that. But what good is a discussion that most interested readers cannot understand because it is distilled down to a shorthand only accessible to experts. That would be fine for a theoretical physics discussion (no one who does not understand really wants to read it anyway), but not this. Moreover, that is wishful thinking. The fact is that most of these authors and editors do not understand the science at the level I am inclined to explain in my blog, but might code-switch out of my writing for their page. They also need a quick lesson in counterfactual reasoning, but would not get it. (Notice that I included the lesson in what “ad hominem” means in my submission to their page. It is necessary. But I felt “wrong” as I wrote it because it violated the implicit rule that everyone writing on that page is supposed to trust that everyone reading it has certain basic literacy.)

          Fourth, some of the analysis that I expect they would explicitly forbid is extremely useful. For example, PubMed Commons bright-line forbids any assessment of what the authors were apparently thinking or intending. I suspect they would too. So you cannot say “these authors have actively supported FDA’s near-ban of e-cigarettes, and this particular point seems specifically intended to give FDA a talking point in support of that policy.” But that is a critically useful observation for those who are really interested in what is going on in this world, and are not pretending there is some disinterested science going on. You also cannot say “of all the possible time periods that could be analyzed, the authors selected the one that best supports their conclusion” or “the authors either did not run a sensitivity analysis of their model, as they should have, or they did and they suppressed the results because they show that it is unstable.” But that is an critical point that is actually about the science itself, but would still be censored.

          Similarly, pointing out that authors who word for CDC are employed by an advocacy organization, not a dispassionate wonk shop, when it comes to this topic. I would never go argumentum ad hominem with that, of course, and say that this means their actual research is wrong. But it is critically useful context about the motives behind their choice of what to research, methods details, and conclusions. Also, noting that a particular flaw in a paper is so clear that there is no excuse for reviewers and editors to have not noticed it. This useful for the big picture, but they are pretty clearly saying that is not allowed on their page. For fairly obvious reasons.

          Oh, and that last observation would not be allowed either.

          Ok, done with this for now. I will try to work it into something more complete in a few days.

    • FFS – opaque? I was on an overnight long haul flight and, in any case, don’t have a 24/7 service level agreement with twitter, vapers or Tobacco Control editors. I posted the original confirmation email and reposted an updated RR during as soon as I saw it, during a break in the trip.

      • Carl V Phillips

        I really don’t think SR meant that as a negative judgment. I certainly didn’t when I agreed with the assessment. Even if it was meant as a statement of frustration on the observer’s end, that does not mean that the observer thought you were doing anything wrong, nor even frustrating reasonable expectations. I chose the extreme approach of publishing my submission for my readers before even submitting it, but that does not mean there is anything wrong with a more opaque approach.

        I was actually not aware that you had posted the confirmation (which if it is like mine would have included a misformatted version of the content). I don’t see it on your blog, at least not recently (I don’t actually know whether you were talking about a response to the editorial or some previous paper). That uncertainty in that last parenthetical captures what I was thinking of with “opaque”.

  2. “The editors of Tobacco Control are not part of a scientific enterprise. They are cogs in a political activist movement that dabbles in science-ish writing when it is convenient.”

    I just gave you the world’s biggest imaginary high five.

  3. Their own Terms say that they will publish responses in “7 to 14 days”. Not very rapid in this world of internet communication. I think their process is so transparent, that they can’t even see what has been posted. Please let us know if your reply shows up.

  4. I don’t seem to be able to reply in-line with your four points of Rapid Response, but while I won’t take credit for the nuance (I’m not that clever), the points you bring up do cover a lot of the concerns that a regular stiff like me has when wishing to contribute to publications such as these; there are so many (to us) unknown unknowns in terms of the rules that are borne from what is expected in academia that for the majority of us who are affected by their output.

    Those of us who just want to point out that (for example) the flow rate used to test an e-cig is completely out of line with how the devices are used in the real world, and questioning why they just assumed it’d all work on a standard cigarette testing machine (with a much lower flow rate), when in fact it runs a greater chance of creating dry hits due to lack of flow/static pressure/etc. Again, just as an example.

    This is a very simple, and quite self-evident point, but if you have to jump through a dozen hoops just to get this published (and if there is, officially, no response outside of rapid reponses, as is now TCs’ policy it seems) and spotted by the sort of people who read TC (which it’s safe to assume include people who’d rather not have poor methodology cause their work to be ripped apart on social media by the proles ;-) ) then it begs the question, what’s the fucking point of bothering?

    Anyway, I look forward to seeing what you come up with; TCs action does feel really quite exclusive in this respect, and rather counter to the claimed message they present about feedback and responsibility, etc.

    Perhaps what TC needs is a Shitposters Corner….I’ll get my GIFs.

    Steven R

    • You’ve raised a series of great points here, specifically on the extent to which technical knowledge of the devices does not inform the manner in which they’re tested.

      With cigarettes, you didn’t really have to engage with product users in order to replicate product use in clinical environs. You light one end on fire, puff on it every now and then, and Bob’s your uncle. Building a machine to give a rough approximation of how people smoke cigarettes is not a particularly daunting engineering challenge.

      When e-cigs first came out and tried their best to emulate regular cigarettes in every way possible, it was natural to assume the same testing regime, and equipment, would work just as well. This thinking quickly and predictably went off the rails, and resulted in the smoking machine telling the researchers about what happens when you melt the solder on a first-generation cigalike cartridge and inhale the resulting emissions. These data, of course, were swiftly “peer-reviewed” and published and are still cited to this day as sacred gospel by certain of the more militant anti-vaping activists.

      And since the desired political result was achieved (vaping is bad and horrible and maims little children), why start engaging with product users now? Nobody called us on it the first time, so let’s abuse various kinds of vaping gear in totally unrealistic ways, create emissions that no one in their right mind would ever inhale, and announce that this is what vapers vape all day.

  5. I haven’t played in the RR arena for quite a while, but ten to fifteen years ago, back around the time of the Helena study in particular, I submitted perhaps 20 or 30 Rapid Responses to several medical journals (the BMJ in particular) and I believe they were all published without a problem. One of my more radical ones got held up for a few days while an editor asked me to verify some claim/citation, but once I did so my piece went right up.

    This atmosphere of science ruling over politics may have changed over the years though.

    – MJM

    • Carl V Phillips

      Interesting about your successful history with the BMJ RR system. It may be more an historical reference than predictive about the current response but: Did any of yours try to go beyond “innocent” dry challenges to technical points? Did you ever suggest the authors did something intentionally? Did you generalize about similar problems in the literature? Did you suggest that a problem was glaringly obvious? You probably see what I am getting at: Did you ever openly suggest there was something other than completely honest attempts at real science going on that — oops! — just made a mistake? I am not asking you to go search or anything — just based on what you recall.

  6. Personally, I wonder if this is a very naive attempt to distract bloggers and commentators to use their RR instead of uncensored and potentially damaging commentaries across a variety of widespread blogs and media with much larger followings?

    IMO, they’re desperate to keep a lid on the truth regarding the safety of vaping because 1) our science is becoming more and more pro vaping 2) they’re running out of lies to pretend otherwise and their behaviour will come to light and 3) the media are becoming more astute and starting to lead with more pro vaping editorials, which unaware public health, politicians and regulators will see. By, allegedly, promising responses, if you happen to succeed in getting published, they may be hoping to contain and censor at least some of the truth and allegations to their rag and similar, rather than more prolifically read media.

    The media is vitally important to a cause and whilst it can be very good and helpful, it can also be very, very bad, especially when highly influential and important organisations are involved. Just a thought.

  7. Pingback: Editors of Tobacco Control attack blogs: protecting science from cranks, or activism from science? | Anti-THR Lies and related topics

  8. Pingback: What is peer review really? (part 9 — it is really a crapshoot) | Anti-THR Lies and related topics

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