Bad Week for Zombie Science

It’s been a bad week for zombie science.

Zombie science is defined as a science that is dead but will not lie down. Instead, it keeps twitching and lumbering around so that it somewhat resembles Real science. But on closer examination, the Zombie has no life of its own (i.e. Zombie science is not driven by the scientific search for truth [6]); it is animated and moved only by the incessant pumping of funds.

Firstly ASH’s Deborah Arnott admitted (and then denied admitting) she wanted to get rid of smoking. And then the BMA had to climb down on its claim that passive smoke in cars was 23 times more toxic than in bars.

DO YOU believe what your doctor tells you? When the doctors’ trade union, the British Medical Association, speaks out, do you think it must be a reasoned and rational opinion based upon hard evidence?

I would expect most people would give an unequivocal yes to the first question but be more hesitant about the second simply because, as Adam Smith identified, when groups of people from a profession or trade get together they tend to conspire against the public interest rather than put it first. Nonetheless I think people would give the BMA the benefit of the doubt because they are doctors, not butchers, brewers or bakers.

Last week we found out that doctors, as represented by the BMA, can no longer be trusted. The BMA is no more worthy of trust than any political leader, union boss or second hand car salesman.

The author of the above piece, Brian Monteith, goes on to say:

For the BMA to so blithely or cunningly mislead the public deserves the strongest condemnation and the perpetrators to be removed from office.

(I thought I was the only one calling for the medical establishment to be decapitated.)

And then the Duke of Edinburgh laid into windmills.

And now today another few thousand Climategate emails have appeared, rubbing salt into the wounds of the battered climate science fraternity. My current favourite quotes are:

“but for GODS SAKE please respect the sensitivity here and destroy the file immediately when finished and please do not tell ANYBODY I sent this. Cheers Keith” (3755.txt)

Wils: [2007] What if climate change appears to be just mainly a multidecadal natural fluctuation? They’ll kill us probably [...] (1682.txt)

Adams: Somehow we have to leave the[m] thinking OK, climate change is extremely complicated, BUT I accept the dominant view that people are affecting it, and that impacts produces risk that needs careful and urgent attention. (4716.txt)

Having established scale and urgency, the political challenge is then to turn this from an argument about the cost of cutting emissions – bad politics – to one about the value of a stable climate – much better politics. [...] the most valuable thing to do is to tell the story about abrupt change as vividly as possible (3332.txt)

And last week, the incoming new Spanish prime minister, Rajoy, hinted at a relaxation of Spain’s smoking ban. Which might help when Spain – which is now paying out more on its borrowings than Greece was – is forced to seek the same kind of bail-out from the EU as Greece.

The entire EU is tottering, and in the USA Tim Geithner is asking for US banks to be ‘stress-tested’ against what looks like an approaching tidal wave from Europe – but the EU has nevertheless managed to slip out a new ban – on claims that water rehydrates dehydrated people.

And at the end of the day, nothing has changed. The EU is still there. And so is the smoking ban. And no doubt the windmills will keep on going up, and continue to be justified by an appeal to climate change, even if nobody believes a word any climate scientist says.

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34 Responses to Bad Week for Zombie Science

  1. Tom says:

    Expect no de-escalation of the war on smoking and increased outdoor smoking bans in Northern California region. Although SF had been outdoor banned for quite some time, it seems a new set of anti-smoking advertisements began appearing on television recently, in addition to the state funded anti-smoking ads coming out of Sacramento.

    The new ads are pointed rigidly at second-hand-smoke (“More dangerous than you think” one of their bylines and they originate from Santa Clara County, Silicon Valley, corporate headquarters to everything internet and computer – from Google to Yahoo to eBay to Adobe to others.

    You can see the latest videos of zombie “science” hitting people over the heads at their website – which also has a poll to vote on whether more outdoor smoking bans are needed (entitled “Let us know what you think about smoking restrictions”), gearing up for more outdoor bans down in Silicon Valley next.

    Website for latest fake-charity devoted exclusively to the second hand smoke zombie “science” method of promoting bans is at:

    You Smoke – They Smoke – Organization (“Charity”)

    http://yousmoketheysmoke.org/

    Be sure to vote or give your opinion on “smoking restrictions” if you feel like giving them a piece of your mind. Letting them know if you are from out of country would be good too – as that way they’ll know that they’ve become infamous quickly, but not for the “goodness” they’d hoped they’d be known for.

  2. junican says:

    Much as we would like to help, I do not think that there is much point in us ‘Europeans’ bothering with the USA at all. Sorry. We Europeans have to overcome the zealots is Europe. If we can do so, as was the case with prohibition, the knock-on effects will move to the USA.

    Here is a point in case (I am somewhat off topic here, Frank). I have written to the Spanish Government as recommended (atencion2@pp.es). I hope that you do not mind if I show the email content:
    “”My wife and I have been visiting Majorca for many years, sometimes four times a year. Since the smoking ban, the hotel that we stay at has started to close from November to March. We used sometimes to go in February and March and again in October and November, but now it is difficult. My wife is disabled, and so it is difficult for us.
    We still enjoy going to Majorca, but not as much as we used to. Because she must use a wheelchair, if the weather is cool, it is not pleasant for her since, as people who enjoy tobacco, we have to sit outside. Our favourite hotel used to have a nice smoking room, but that is now closed. The airport at Palma used to have a nice smoking room but that is also closed.

    This year, in March, I went for a trip to Prague instead of Spain. I enjoyed it, but I would rather have gone to Spain. I have been to Malaga sometimes (staying in Cuidad Jardin) alone for a break. I enjoyed living for a few days in a place which was really Spanish and not ‘tourist’. I made several friends there. Last time I went, I took my grandson (nieto!). I wanted him to see a Spain which was how ordinary people in Spain live. Previously, I took his brother to the same place.

    The smoking ban has been a disaster in England. Many, many ‘pubs’ have closed and many now are uneconomical, even if they still survive. Year on year, attendences fall. Be aware that the effect of the smoking ban on your tourist industry will not abate. It will get worse, unless you change it soon. It is a falacy that ‘a level playing field’ (where all countries in Europe have the same smoking laws) will eventually mean that the tourist industry will recover. It is a falacy because millions of people who enjoy tobacco will change their habits. Also, the ‘level playing field’ idea distorts true competition. People will not stop smoking – they will reduce the time (and money) that they spend on holidays. What is the point of going to ‘sunny Spain’ if you are considered to be a child murderer and a drug addict?

    And yet the answer, if you ignore the anti-smoking fanatics, is simple. Amend the smoking ban and permit competition. Non-smoking bars and restaurants will survive if non-smokers wish to use them. But it is reasonable for the law to require that provision be made for non-smokers, but this need only be a requirement for adequate ventilation/air cleaning. Allow proprietors to decide whether to be ‘smoking’ or non-smoking’. Why persecute your people? The ‘science’ has been shown to be false. Second Hand Smoke does not cause illnesses on the scale suggested.

    Change the law. It is silly and harmful.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      If one falls they all fall!

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        1901: REGULATION: Strong anti-cigarette activity in 43 of the 45 states. “Only Wyoming and Louisiana had paid no attention to the cigarette controversy, while the other forty-three states either already had anti-cigarette laws on the books or were considering new or tougher anti-cigarette laws, or were the scenes of heavy anti- cigarette activity” (Dillow, 1981:10).

        17 years later:

        1917: SMOKEFREE: Tobacco control laws have fallen, including smoking bans in numerous cities, and the states of Arkansas, Iowa, Idaho and Tennessee.

    • Hal says:

      Wow. Absolutely perfect letter. Polite, informed, to the point.

    • Hal says:

      Would you allow a translation of part or all of your mail to be posted on facebook in Spanish groups that fight the current ban?

  3. junican says:

    I have in mind to email the other organisations that you mentioned tomorrow.

    Holland changed the law. It was very simple. If Spain does likewise, then it is only a matter of time before the UK and Ireland do likewise. The EU is a spent force.

    Oddly enough, I like the EU! What has gone horribly wrong is the wishthink of the common currency. But that is only because of the absolutely awful thinking of the ‘new aristocrats’. The Euro would have been fine, had it been a ‘trading currency’ for Europe. A currency common thoughout members of the EU and freely accepted. Thus, in the Chech Republic (Prague), the local currency is the Korona, but the Euro is accepted everywhere at a given rate of exchange. What is the problem? Why should not prices of goods in England not be quoted in Pounds with a Euro equivalent? Sure, people who want to pay in Euros might have to ask for the exchange rate at the till, but that is not a serious problem, is it? Aren’t computerised tills wonderful these days? “How much is that in Euros, please?” What is the problem?

    I’m off to bed……..

  4. Walt says:

    The “Salt Kills” myth dies too, but like carpenter ants, the Bloombergs of world will carry its corpse on their backs (and force it down our throats) for many years to come.

    http://junkscience.com/2011/11/22/food-nannies-killer-salt-recommendation/#more-6091

    • Mike F says:

      Like most screwballs, Bloomberg’s rules only apply to the little people. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/23/dining/23bloom.html?pagewanted=all

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      They got a story out on it now and Dr Whelan is interviewed and is likely reading the responces from others here:

      Sodium J-curve? High and low levels of sodium intake track with CV risk
      November 22, 2011 Shelley

      Chicago, IL – Adding another dash of controversy to the ongoing debate over the health benefits of restricting sodium intake, a new study has found that CV risk was increased at both low and high levels of sodium intake [1].

      The new analysis, examining the association between estimated sodium excretion and cardiovascular events among almost 29 000 adults, showed not only that CV risk was increased among those with the lowest levels of sodium excretion, but also that risk associated with high levels of intake appeared only at sodium intake levels much higher than the cutoffs currently recommended in nutritional guidelines.
      But far from muddying the waters, Dr Martin O’Donnell (McMaster University, Hamilton, ON) and colleagues—including a number of prominent hypertension researchers—say their findings should actually dispel some confusion.

      “On the face of it, it looks like studies are meeting different and convergent findings,” O’Donnell told heartwire. “We believe our study helps clarify the situation and provides the best description of the association between sodium intake and CVD. If you look back at previous epidemiological studies, some were positive, some found no association, and more recently some have found an inverse association between sodium intake and CVD risk. We feel that is largely explained by the J-curve we observed.”

      The study results are published in the November 23, 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association

      http://www.theheart.org/article/1316609.do?gaAction=conference-comment#comments

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        the heart.org is a big time backer of the second hand smoke diatribe,Ive been in it with one of their doctors from glasgow ky over shs/ets,she stuck out 300 empty paids of shoes to the dead kids from shs and actually got tv coverage on the news for it. I was up there and lit up on the courthouse steps while it was going down…….She wouldnt debate it one bit except junk sound bites of the nazis!

  5. George Speller says:

    “They’ll kill us”

    We’ll certainly consider it.

  6. westcoast2 says:

    “but the EU has nevertheless managed to slip out a new ban – on claims that water rehydrates dehydrated people.”

    My take fwiw is that the EU banned the claim that water prevents dehydration. Thinking about it, if a glass is full (completely hydrated) then adding more water will not prevent it emptying (dehydrating) as the exess water will just spill over. So, even if it did take 4 years and 21 professors to come to this conclusion, it may be they are correct.

    On the science front. It seems science, wrt tobacco and AGW, left the buliding with Elvis.

  7. harleyrider1978 says:

    Frank heres a complimentary piece on junk science:

    Slim truth in fat figures/smoking figures

    Garyk will have fun with this one too. I sent The author what I had on how the government changed all the levels for what constitutes a disease and how that created on paper the public health epidemics we are hearing about today, its all made up as we all now KNOW!

    Michael West
    November 23, 2011 – 11:39AM.

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/business/slim-truth-in-fat-figures-20111123-1ntr5.html#ixzz1eX4mtcES

  8. harleyrider1978 says:

    Imperial Tobacco has launched a campaign to support smokers – in the week the BMA called for a ban on smoking in cars.

    The tobacco giant’s Smoking Allowed campaign aims to support the 12 million adults who smoke by installing ‘high-quality’ smoking areas across the UK. The first area opened last week at Bristol airport, providing ventilation, heating, lighting, shelter and hand gel.

    Imperial Tobacco UK general manager Amal Pramanik said further sites were planned.

    “It is appropriate for us to initially work with our hometown airport as over one million passengers each year are adult smokers,” he said. “Imperial Tobacco is committed to working with many locations to provide high-quality facilities for smokers.”

    The campaign also includes a Smoking Allowed website, http://www.smokingallowed.co.uk

    http://www.thegrocer.co.uk//Articles.aspx?page=articles&ID=223635

  9. Tom says:

    Just letting you know, that’s all. The fake charity started up in Silicon Valley is US government funded and once they drive home the outdoor smoking ban with no exceptions anywhere ideology all across Silicon Valley – since that is headquarters to Google, Yahoo, eBay (who stopped allowing anything to do with ecigs even to be on their site), Adobe, others – then you can expect that ideology to be enhanced by persons working in those companies, whose job is setting up internet services and will subconsciously be doing so with respect to pushing anything anti-smoking-ban off the agenda, so that computers worldwide just won’t come across any anti-smoking-ban chatter by accident. That might be one incentive to care what happens in Silicon Valley in regards to anti-smoking efforts using the time-tested second-hand-smoke fraud as its basis.

    • smokervoter says:

      Tom is right on the money. Silicon Valley is the anti-smoker valley. I don’t use Google as a search engine, nor gmail nor anything to do with them. I found a HOSTS file trick that blocks them from my computer and I use it. I check my cookies and delete all the Google connected ones. I don’t upgrade my software or hardware like some trained seal so as to contribute as little as possible to Silicon Valley bottom lines. My older computers function just fine – same as it ever was – text, pictures, and sounds – they really haven’t reinvented the wheel. Starve them I say.

      Californians can buy 10 cartons of Mexican cigarettes every 90 days. That’s 8,000 cigs/year, enough for a pack a day. Anyone who lives 100 miles from the Mexican border should avail themselves of this option. US Customs doesn’t collect Caifornia taxes. It starves out all of these pyscho, leechlike organizations like tobaccofreeCA who live off of our blood (in the form of the 25 cents/per pack state tax).

      All Europeans should cancel travel plans to the Bay Area of California and visit Kentucky instead. We’ve all got a common enemy here, good folks. Starve em’ to death.

  10. Gary K. says:

    Distrust of doctors is why so many folks will get a second medical opinion on important matters.

    30% of the time they don’t get it right when they sign death certificates!!

    http://m.naplesnews.com/news/200…die-important-/

    “A Scripps Howard News Service study of 4.9 million cause-of-death records for the years 2005 and 2006 from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed a disturbing conclusion:

    medical experts think about 30 percent of the death diagnoses were either incorrect, fraudulent or just somebody’s wild guess.

  11. Gary K. says:

    Just a bit more.
    This is a somewhat dated study as I guess they do not do these things very often.

    A joint report by the Royal Colleges of Pathologists Surgeons and Physicians (“The Autopsy and Audit”, 1991), says: “In autopsies (post-mortems) performed on patients thought to have died of malignant disease (cancer) there was only 75% agreement that malignancy was the cause of the death and in only 56% was the primary site identified correctly.”

    (So if you are told you have cancer there is a one in four chance that you haven’t, and even if you have there is almost a fifty-fifty chance that you’re being treated for one in the wrong place).

  12. Carol says:

    If I remember correctly John Major suggested a common currency as mentioned above and It sounded like a perfectly good idea. Any sane person could see the Euro as constituted would not work in bad times with so many different economies allowed in. I lived in then West germany for some years and never thought they would give up their currency but then I never thought the total smoking ban would go through either so what do I know!

    • Reinhold says:

      never thought they would give up their currency

      They (i.e. we, the German people) indeed never would have given it up.
      But nobody asked them.

  13. BrianB says:

    I wonder what the BBC will make of the ClimateGate 2.0 emails.

    Especially with this liitle tell-tale snippet in email # 4894.txt:

    date: Wed Dec 8 08:25:30 2004
    from: Phil Jones
    subject: RE: something on new online.
    to: “Alex Kirby”

    At 17:27 07/12/2004, you wrote:

    Yes, glad you stopped this — I was sent it too, and decided to
    spike it without more ado as pure stream-of-consciousness rubbish. I can
    well understand your unhappiness at our running the other piece. But we
    are constantly being savaged by the loonies for not giving them any
    coverage at all, especially as you say with the COP in the offing, and
    being the objective impartial (ho ho) BBC that we are, there is an
    expectation in some quarters that we will every now and then let them
    say something. I hope though that the weight of our coverage makes it
    clear that we think they are talking through their hats.

    Always good to have a reality check on the beeb’s “impartiality” isn’t it?

    • BrianB says:

      Did someone edit this – to remove Jones and Kirby’s email addresses?

      I wouldn’t otherwise mind, but it kind of dilutes the impact as it is not obvious that “Alex Kirby” (who wrote the italicised part) has a ‘###@bbc.co.uk’ email address!

      Anyway, the emails all have totally unredacted addresses in them, so an unnecessary scissors job, really.

      I think I will go and post it on the beeb site, then.

  14. BrianB says:

    Oops! That should be “impartiality” of course.

    That could take someone’s ‘i’ out!

    :o)

  15. junican says:

    Hal asked above if he could use a translation of my letter (see3.09 am above) to the PP (Spanish ruling party) for use with Facebook Spanish anti-ban groups. I have told him to be my guest – and that goes for anyone else who wishes to use it.

  16. harleyrider1978 says:

    Wanna se the health taliban recruiting new members on thanksgiving

  17. Rose says:

    Talking of Zombies

    Brace yourself before you read this one.

    Tobacco Control, Stigma, and Public Health: Rethinking the Relations – 2005

    “Yet, strikingly, the antitobacco movement has fostered a social transformation that involves the stigmatization of smokers.”

    “But is it true that stigmatization always represents a threat to public health?

    Are there occasions when the mobilization of stigma may effectively reduce the prevalence of behaviors linked to disease and death?”

    http://ajph.aphapublications.org/cgi/content/full/96/1/47

    Not everyone agrees that ruining people’s lives is a brilliant idea from the health pont of view.

    Smoking, stigma and tobacco ‘denormalization': Further reflections on the use of stigma as a public health tool. A commentary on Social Science & Medicine’s Stigma, Prejudice, Discrimination and Health Special Issue (67: 3).

    Abstract

    “In recent years, addictions policy has stressed the need to counteract stigmatization in order to promote public health.

    However, as recent observers have noted, through the widespread implementation of tobacco ‘denormalization’ strategies, tobacco control advocates appear to have embraced the use of stigma as an explicit policy tool.

    In a recent article, Ronald Bayer (2008) argues that the mobilization of stigma may effectively reduce the prevalence of smoking behaviors linked to tobacco-related morbidity and mortality and is therefore not necessarily antithetical to public health goals.

    This commentary takes up this question of whether stigmatizing smoking may ultimately serve the interests of public health.

    Through an examination of the unique contours of tobacco control policy, we suggest that stigmatizing smoking will not ultimately help to reduce smoking prevalence amongst disadvantaged smokers – who now represent the majority of tobacco users.

    Rather, it is likely to exacerbate health-related inequalities by limiting smokers’ access to healthcare and inhibiting smoking cessation efforts in primary care settings.”

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20044187

    The view from the bottom of the pond.

    STIGMATIZATION AND PUBLIC HEALTH ETHICS – 2011

    “Encouraged by the success of smoking denormalization strategies as a tobacco-control measure, public health institutions are adopting a similar approach to other health behaviors.”

    ” Authors such as Scott Burris have argued that efforts like this are tantamount to stigmatization and that such stigmatization is unethical because it is dehumanizing.

    Others have offered a limited endorsement of denormalization/stigmatization campaigns as being justified on consequentialist grounds; namely, that the potential public health benefits outweigh any stigmatizing side effects.

    In this paper, I examine and reject the blanket condemnation of stigmatization efforts in public health. I argue that the moral status of such efforts are best evaluated within a contractualist, as opposed to a consequentialist, framework.

    Contractualism in public health ethics asks whether a particular stigmatizing policy could be justified to reasonable individuals who do not know whether they will be affected by that policy.

    Using this approach, I argue that it is sometimes permissible for public health institutions to engage in health-related stigmatization.”

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-8519.2011.01904.x/abstract

    “Several authors have suggested that Erving Goffman’s classic analysis of stigma and its resultant “spoiled identity” is consonant with how the meaning of smoking has changed in societies with widespread tobacco control.

    Goffman described stigmatisation as the transformation “from a whole and usual person to a tainted, discounted one”

    http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/17/1/25.full

  18. smokervoter says:

    Speaking of tobaccofreeCA, it would be hard to describe the depth of disdain non-sheeple California smokers hold for this organization. Their Google text ads pop up everywhere urging apartment dwellers to contact managers and have smokers booted out of their homes. They’re passively-aggressive hateful little creeps who stop at nothing in their KKK-like quest to spread hostility and discord towards smokers.

    They’re currently airing a PSA wherein a guy sitting on the couch with his wife wrestles with himself over a phantom cigarette on the floor to the tune of some incongruous banjo music. He emerges ‘victorious’ over the demon cigarette while his wife questions “What’s wrong honey?” He looks absolutely miserable, which is just grand to the twisted mindset of these psychos at tobaccofreeCA. The narrator in a Big Brother voice commands “You will quit smoking!” The whole thing is just sick.

    The incompetence of its clueless producers is staggering. Rather than considering quitting, most smokers want to draw and quarter the messengers.

    Were the target not smokers one could safely assume the piece was designed as an out-and-out Third Reich Juden Schwein message served up to incite violence. The attorney generals office would be investigating them for hate crimes.

    I would move heaven and earth to destroy these mangy curs.

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