Another news round-up with yet another epidemiological reader challenge.
We present another collection of news articles with a “lifestyle epidemiology” multiple choice quiz on the final story. Nobody reports guessing the correct answer to the first such quiz we presented. One reader says she guessed the answer to the second but that she guessed it as a joke. This reflects that “lifestyle epidemiology” is itself an erroneous joke, so good luck with this one (accompanying the final of six stories here), but remember, wrong answers are just as good as right answers when it comes to trash science, and the only truly correct response is incredulity.
Story One: The Swissotel in Chicago equates the smoking of a single cigarette in one of its rooms to a long-term residence by decomposing lepers. The hotel manager gasps: “One person having one cigarette is really a big deal … It costs about $500.” That is, of course, only slightly higher than the actual cost of a single cigarette including tax, but what the apoplectic manager is referring to, the article explains, is the expense of washing walls, sending drapes, sheers, blankets, dust ruffles, pillow shams, duvets and covers out for dry cleaning, and scouring the carpet. The room is quarantined to guests until every trace and memory of a smoker’s presence is thus eradicated. Although the article does not mention this, one of our staff suggests that chants and dances performed by a local shaman are also required, at considerable expense. This is likely true as well. We intended to write the manager to insist that these sound practices of hygiene and spirit-warding be expanded to include cases where a guest is suspected of using the room’s toilet facilities for the purpose of defecation, but then we remembered our first news quiz, which revealed that proximity to poop and its odors cures cancer, so we shall suggest instead a “Please Do Not Flush” sign prominently posted next to the no-smoking signs in the bathroom. Now, although the Swissotel manager says, “I don’t want this to sound like a police state,” (oh gosh no!) he is offering a bounty to employees who rat on smoking guests, so that the goddamned lepers can be fined. For saving the firm hundreds in leprosy cleansing the bellboys and chambermaids win ten bucks. That’s probably a suitably pathetic figure for rat wages. Can you buy a leprous duvet for ten bucks today? If we knew what a duvet was we would wonder. The smoking lepers, once fingered, get charged $250 for their crime. The manager says these sub-humans always pay up with no complaint. If they were idiotic enough to sign into a Swissotel in the first place that may be true. These are the kind of masochistic folks that look forward to travelling by cattle-car. Leper skin is not so tainted that it cannot be used for making lampshades. Article link: (original) (stored)
Story Two: Virginian Ron Letzelter used to smoke, but quit twenty-four years ago, upon his doctor’s suggestion that he had “early emphysema and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, caused by smoking”. Now he writes his local paper to inform that smokers “don’t deserve rights.” You see, Ron went on the tobacco wagon, but found he still “longed to have a beer or two” in barrooms. He blames a legislator named Tom Gear for standing in the way of eradicating smokers from drinking parlors. He fears Gear may be listening to “tobacco or restaurant lobbies” instead of boozy smoke-free Ron Letzelter. Ron has noticed that no bars (who shouldn’t be listened to!) have chosen to ban smoking, since they have free choice. If legislators only listened to tobacco prohibitionists, nobody but tobacco prohibitionists would ever have any say in anything anywhere, which is, of course, the only fair way of things. We could point out that no bars have chosen to ban alcoholic beverages, despite all the havoc booze causes, and even despite ever-shrinking limits on DUI blood levels, in conformance with the “no safe level” philosophy Ron selectively endorses, while opining that, “The statement that smokers have rights is like saying that drunken drivers have rights.” If Ron believes that the early signs of breathing problems that haven’t kept him from otherwise indulging himself for a quarter century were caused by his choice to smoke decades ago, and that his beliefs rule out all choice for all others, then he should call on Tom Gear to stop listening to anybody but alcohol prohibitionists, and food prohibitionists, and all other prohibitionists. We call on Ron Zetwelter to go straight to Hell where he belongs, blissfully free of all fear of personal choice, or misguided self-indulgence. Article link: (original) (stored)
Story Three: Without violent organized opposition in Virginia we will suggest that son of a bitch Ron Zetwelter will get his way within a couple of years. We hope the smokers he hates so much defy blatantly and take to blowing clouds straight into his face. This reflects the attitude amongst Turks to the ban being implemented in their nation, by steps, over the next year or so. Smoking amongst Turkish women is low by international standards but most men in Turkey smoke. Their government nevertheless plans to implement World Health Organization diktats utterly eradicating social life for smokers. As we have reported before, massive defiance is expected, and Turks are not in the least shy of expressing their absolute contempt for the bans and for the health fascists. While smoking rates continue to increase, smokers continue to declare their love of tobacco, as does a construction worker quoted in the linked article: “If the government wants to implement this ban, it has to close the cigarette factories. Even then I will make my own cigarettes and continue smoking. … This is the only joy I am left with.” Article link: (original) (stored)
Story Four: Denmark takes another step in the footprints of Big Brother in establishing a National Obesity Register of schoolchildren. As the years go by, and health fascism mounts, this register will be helpful in eliminating "bad seeds" that might try to conform through self-starvation. Do you doubt that? If so you don’t know eugenic history and have not been watching the escalation of contemporary Healthist fanaticism closely enough. We can hope Danish youth, and kids worldwide, may learn what a decent society is (some of us remember) if such can be reëstablished. If that is to happen we had all better get very active right now. Article link: (original) (stored)
Story Five: Contemporary anti-smoking and its treasured “lifestyle epidemiology” derive directly from the “progressive” movements of a century ago, which encompassed the prohibitions of that era as well as fascism, based substantially on the same forms of pseudo-science we see today, then called “eugenics.” Following the “logic” of such insane ideologies inevitably leads to social division and attempts at eradication of the inferior or unhygienic. Today’s health movement would eradicate humanity figuratively while its twin environmentalist movement would ultimately eradicate humanity absolutely. This is where the “logic” leads, and if you think ideologic fanatics ever stop, look to, for instance, American prohibitions and eugenic enormities of the early twentieth century, or to the “progressive” German policies such as the Holocaust. In terms of today, if you doubt where this leads, well, in company with ever-burgeoning pleasure bans, the Final Solution regarding the entire human race is already in the works. No kidding. Article link: (original) (stored)
Story Six: Anti-smoking has for decades suggested that smoking, particularly of cigarettes, both impairs sexual functioning and complicates pregnancy. This of course ignores that the most fecund and vital generations in all of human history (recall the “baby boom”) have been born to the heaviest smokers of cigarettes, of both sexes, in all human history. Well, it is the business of “lifestyle epidemiology” to sidestep truth, to highlight deceit. Here we have an amusing study which tries to separate a host of factors which may have statistical association with pregnancy in contrast to maternal smoking. Of course these factors might fairly be numbered in quintillions, but unlike most pregnancy and smoking studies, the authors of this one try to quantify numerous unquantifiables. In assessing just these relative few they arrive at a conclusion that the effect of smoking amounts to nothing. If you note “standard deviation” (e.g. as in Table One of the original study) you see that all results relative to smoking really do sum up to flat out nothing. Along the way (printed page one; PDF "page 3 of 35") it’s noted that hectoring of pregnant women to quit smoking “does not seem to be having strong impact.” That would be because normal people do not believe Healthists. Of course the Healthists never quit proselytizing. No matter the practical import of this study, that smoking is essentially irrelevant, the authors still parrot in their Abstract that “quitting smoking is only half of the battle” for successful pregnancy. Read the report throughout. It utterly negates such a statement.
Now to the quiz. We have said that the pregnancy researchers, through various typically presumptuous means, quantify and adjust for a bizarre selection of potential statistical confounders, such as, for example, grandfather’s social status at birth. However, they refer to outside data (from Norway) to explain away that, for their main study group (from Great Britain), while factoring for mother’s birth weight, they could not factor for the father’s birth weight, as this was not available. Now, they gloss over this paucity in their British data, by quantifying and then dismissing birth weight and other aspects of Body Mass Index as according to a statistical model. What have the eugenicists quantified here? You will find the answer on printed page 18 (PDF "page 20 of 35") of the full study. There, in the second paragraph, we are told that, “It may be that BMI is _____ .” Today’s multiple choice is to fill in the blank.
A.) too much trouble to find out.
B.) highly relevant.
D.) indexable proportionately to paternal grandmother’s social standing.
E.) calculable as the square root of maternal grandfather’s hat size.
F.) an element of statistical variation.
G.) an element of charm.
H.) pure luck.
I.) determined by diet.
J.) determined by genes.
K.) determined by God.
L.) unimportant except at a level of obesity.
M.) a significant indicator in cases of undernutrition.
N.) correlatable at various age brackets.
O.) subject to estimation.
P.) subjectively interpretable.
Q.) a factor in most cases.
R.) a factor in few cases.
S.) a factor in O’Reilly’s case.
T.) a factor in the third race at Aqueduct.
U.) less important than specifics of diet.
V.) more important than paternal economic status.
W.) equally important as are paternal education levels.
X.) a quandary.
Y.) a railroad.
Z.) as dangerous as vitamin supplements.
So what is it that epidemiologists have now decided they can quantify relative to paternal birth weight or BMI generally according to statistical models? Yes, once again, we really do promise that the real answer really is amongst those on the alphabetical list. You’ll find a Healthist news report on this study, which tries to salvage a smoking scare, at this link: (original) (stored). For the full study — including the quiz answer, within Section 5.2 “Exclusion of Paternal birth weight,” printed page 18 (PDF "page 20 of 35"), second paragraph — click this link: (original) (stored). We thank various readers for stories included here. If you have stories or a suggestion for our next quiz please let us know.