S?ren H?jbjerg
Scottish Spin


 

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Under greatanti-smoker bravado and orchestrated cheers, a band of anti-tobacco'researchers', at the University of Dundee, Scotland, have published a piece ofagitational science. This time the claim is that pub workers' lives have beensaved due to the smoking ban recently foisted upon the hapless Scots.

 Their 'study' has been published in the Journal of the American MedicalAssociation (JAMA), on october 11 2006. The abstract of thestudy is here.  

I do not have the entire 'study'. Never mind, I can still comment on thisanti-tobacco bigotry based on the abstract. Let me iterate:

  • There is no control group in the study. We donot know if the effects would have occured in the absence of a smoking ban.

  • In the accompanyingpress releasethe university reveals that 'astmathics were specifically targeted'. Thus,whatever 'findings' the quack researchers came up with, they are notrepresentative of pub workers nor the population in general.

  • The researchers have bragged far and widethat their 'study' is the largest of its kind. And just how large do youimagine their study is" 77 subjects! What a blockbuster that must have been.

  • The 'study' is full of change rates andconfidence intervals. These types of data are typical for epidemiologicalstudies, but the 'study' is not epidemiology. Relative risks and confidenceintervals are not for breathalizer tests. This detail reveals whatpseudoscience the 'study' is.

  • The 'study' took place from February to June2006. The 'amazing' results in breathing ability improvement are most probablydue to the change in weather. Certainly the weather factor cannot be ruled outas the only factor being measured in the 'study'.

  • Junk science questionnaires attribute'improvement' of 'health' from 80 % to 87 %. With the amount of propagandathrown at bewildered non-smoking pub workers, it would be no surprise thatremoving the alleged 'deadly' smoke could produce a psycologically inducedimprovement, measured in the 'questionnaires'.

  • The only credible measurement is a decreasein the amount of cotinine found in the pub workers' blood. Surprisinglyenough, there is not much of a drop in cotinine. Not even half the cotinine isremoved due to the 'protective' ban.

  • The study started with 105 subjects and inthe space of a few months was reduced to only 77. What happened to the 28missing" Did they die prematurely of exposure to tobacco smoke before theanti-tobacco crusader's smoking ban could have saved them" Did the 10 involvedresearchers lose track of 28 of their subjects" Or were the 28 missingsubjects simply ousted from the study, because their inclusion would have madethe study's results less 'dramatic'"

From anarticleon the 'study' we see that it is being used to 'urge' a faster ban in England.The 'study' is a thinly disguised piece of agitational propaganda.

The people-banning instigators who have backed and are promoting this piece oftrash should be ashamed. They have manufactured a subtle piece of hatemongering, aimed at whipping up the pogrom against smokers. Shame be onto them.

Perhaps the antismoking bigots should spend more time reading verdicts fromScottish courts. Might I reccomend reading Lord Nimmo Smithsscathing verdict,cast on may 31, 2005, in the case of Mrs. McTear vs Imperial Tobacco Limited.Richard Doll presented the court with 'evidence' that smoking tobacco can causelung cancer. Lord Nimmo Smith declared that he had seen no such evidence! Fromsection 6.166 of the proceedings, I quote:

[6.166] MrMcEachran's main argument, as I understood it, was that the conclusionthat cigarette smoking could cause lung cancer had met with generalacceptance in the scientific community by the late 1950s, was accepted bythe media in the 1970s, was taught at medical schools and reflected intextbooks, and could be seen stated in a series of substantialmulti-disciplinary reports, which he called the "multi-doctor studies",listed at para.[6.30], to the extent that the conclusions of IARC 1986 hadnever been challenged. This is all very well, but I have to say that I amreminded of the Bellman in Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark,who said: "What I tell you three times is true". But however oftena conclusion may be repeated, it is only as sound as the research on whichit is based, and of this I have seen none. However eminent and numerousthe authors of a report may be, however many articles they may have readbefore preparing their texts, however many pages their reports may run to,are to no avail if I am then shown no more than the conclusions reachedafter all this effort. It is no good to tell me that a report is 400 or600 pages long, and indeed to ask me to weigh the report in my hand, as MrMcEachran at one time asked me to do with UKHC 2000 Vol.II, and its listof references extends to several hundred items, without letting me see anyof the text on which the conclusions are based. Indeed, as Mr Jonespointed out, the very length of a report may emphasise theinappropriateness of going simply to its conclusions: the length shows howmuch ground there was to cover before the conclusions could be stated. Theconclusions, taken on their own, are no more than oracular pronouncements.

 Enough about these Dundee Dunces.

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