The long list of methodological errors in the junk science of passive smoke (ETS)
- The claims of exposure are not authentic. Exposure is often not even measured. Many studies actually measure nothing, but rely on the vague and grossly imprecise recall of queried subjects who attempt to evoke in a few minutes their individual lifetime memories of passive smoking exposure.
- Errors in individual exposure recollection, most likely large, are unknown, and are unknowable. Digitized numerical claims of exposure are, therefore, incongruous and impermissible. Their numerical representation gives an impression of reliability and precision that is demonstrably false and misleading.
- Recall bias has been demonstrated to be larger in sick subjects – they are more likely to amplify their recall of passive smoking exposure as a justification for their disease, whether it be lung cancer or cardiovascular disease.
- Misclassification bias has been demonstrated to be larger in subjects with lung cancer or cardiovascular disease because they are more likely than healthy subjects to classify themselves as nonsmokers in order to avoid being blamed for their condition.
- A mismatch error of cases and controls is inevitable because the groups compared are not homogeneous and differ in many characteristics other than recall of passive smoking exposure.
- Confounding errors by definition are likely to be more prevalent among lung cancer and cardiovascular disease cases. Confounders are all other known and unknown potential causes of lung cancer and cardiovascular disease that interfere with the specific attribution of risk to passive smoking.
- Probable errors of disease diagnosis are seldom addressed by passive smoking studies.
- Publication bias has been found to favor the publication of studies that claim associations of increased risk.
- Statistical errors of sampling and statistical significance are grossly inconsistent among passive smoking studies owing to the feeble differentials of exposure recall and the small number of subjects in each study. Most studies do not reach statistical significance. In any event, significant or not, the statistical indices of all passive smoking studies are illusory because they are derived from the grossly illusory and misleading numerical renderings of vague individual exposure recalls.
- Results from different studies have not been consistent and reproducible.
- Epidemiologic criteria of causal inference (the Hill criteria) are not met by passive smoking studies.
- Attempts to summarize the results of different studies by meta-analytical statistical techniques are illegitimate. Results are obtained by pooling heterogeneous and selected studies, and giving arbitrary preferential weights to certain studies which, in any case, are handicapped by the sources of error listed above.
What must an epidemiologic study warrant?
- A study must warrant that its numerical representations of individual lifetime ETS exposure recalls are true measures of actual exposures.
- A study must warrant that an exposure recall bias affects cases and control groups, and exposed and non-exposed groups at the same rate.
- A study must warrant that subject selection and misclassification biases affect both case and control groups, and exposed and non-exposed groups at the same rate.
- A study must warrant that known causal confounders affect both case and control groups, and exposed and non-exposed groups at the same rate.
- A study must warrant the accuracy of pathological and diagnostic records.
- The results from different studies addressing the same subject must be consistently reproducible. In any study, the statistical margin of error of reported risks should reach no less than the 95% level of significance.
- If the above criteria are met, the results of a study should also be consistent with Hill's criteria of causality. (See below.)
- Meta-analysis summations shall not be credible unless performed on the basis of all available studies of homogeneous design and conduct, and must have met the above criteria of validity.
More on Forces International.
Science by press release
A trick which the Tobacco Control Industry often uses is to spread a press release before a study has been peer-reviewed and published in their (often biased) medical journals. This has quite some advantages for a researcher: when the always uncritical journalists report on the study they only have the press release to report on, following the preconceived conclusions in the press release. Tobacco control scientists know that when the studies are finally published journalists never go back to read the real study and compare it to the claims made in the press release they'd written about months in the past. So if the design of the study or the conclusions in the real study are different from the press release, there will never be a rectification. A wonderful example of this can be seen in the study of post-ban heart attacks in Helena, Montana in 2003. The original press event headlined a 60% drop in heart attacks. In the published study a year later this was mysteriously reduced, with no explanation, to 40%. However the 60% figure is still all too often being repeated almost a decade later by such official bodies as Britain's National Health Service as a justification for further smoking bans.
Studies seldom declare the author's competing interest. That's why on this site we have published the long list of Tobacco Control advocates including scientists who have received sponsorship from Big Pharma.
Tobacco Control Industry scientists are not allowed to have dissenting views. When Dr. Michael Siegel of Boston University dared to argue with his mentors over a correction he felt was needed for scientific accuracy, he was told bluntly that the political credibility of the antismoking organization was more important.
Studies are increasingly funded only if they meet the specific needs of funders. This is widespread in the Tobacco Control Industry. Bodies that fund tobacco-related research state openly that their priorities support further restrictions on smoking and tobacco companies. Examples include:
- the page describing conditions for research grants from Cancer Research UK;
- Research programs of the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program like this one.
See also the conclusion of this paper, which calls for more research "to provide further rationale for implementing these changes".
- An Overview
- Click here for an essay providing insight, particularly regarding lung cancer, on the plain evidence, and the fatally false perspective of Tobacco Control, on the issue of tobacco and health.
- James Repace, Junk Scientist Extraordinaire
- James Repace, an anti-smoker who calls himself a "health physicist" (he has an MS in physics) and also a "secondhand smoke consultant", is a great darling of the Tobacco Control Industry and has performed some of its most comical anti-scientific pratfalls. He is well known for his vituperative reactions to the ridicule he engenders (from the public generally but which he likes to blame on evilly inspired "industry moles"). Some examples of his scientific slapstick at these links: Bouncing Body Counts – Courtroom Cut-up – Off with Their Tongues.
- Smoking Ban "Miracles"
- In the US and elsewhere, anti-smoker agencies have adopted the trick of releasing "studies" (propaganda based on small samples) purporting that smoking bans reduce hospitalizations for heart attacks or other conditions. The grandfather study of this type was "The Great Helena Heart Miracle" study referred to above, but it's been followed by "The Bowling Green Miracle," "The Scottish Miracle," and well over a dozen others, etc., etc., ad nauseum. In 2010 researchers for the Rand Corporation performed a comprehensive study of the question, reporting that "smoking bans are not associated with statistically significant short-term declines in mortality or hospital admissions for myocardial infarction or other diseases. ...large short-term increases in myocardial infarction incidence following a smoking ban are as common as the large decreases reported in the published literature." Click here for study abstract.
- The Rand study was actually presaged in 2005 by a study done by Missouri researcher David W. Kuneman, and Dissecting Antismokers' Brains author, Michael J. McFadden. Covering a similar population sample of subjects and heart attacks the Kuneman/McFadden study was offered as a corrective to the British Medical Journal – where, after some unusual handling and delay, it was rejected because the editors "did not think it added enough, for general readers, to what is already known about smoking and health." Click here for the full story in the "Facts and Fears" feature of the American Council on Science and Health.