Excellent piece by Dick Puddlecote on junk science:
Does anyone remember secondhand smoke, aka passive smoking?.
For those with short memories, this was a ruse imagined in 1975 by Sir George Godber to promote a policy of “fostering the perception that secondhand smoke is unhealthy for nonsmokers”, after which the tobacco control industry set about creating the junk science to go with it. The first studies – by rabid professional anti-smoking cranks, natch – started to filter through at the start of the 1980s and eventually in 1993 and 2004 respectively, two politically-driven meta-analyses tortured cherry-picked tobacco control ‘science’ in the US and the UK in order to convince us all that secondhand smoke was dangerous. It mattered little that their conclusions amounted to a tiny and inconsequential relative risk (1.19 & 1.24) which would be dismissed as irrelevant in any other field of research, it was only required to manipulate politicians into passing illiberal and unnecessary bans.
Of course, the charlatans were just chasing headlines so by the time legislation was proposed – the only goal of the whole crusade – many people believed a wisp of smoke was as deadly as napalm…
And a great explanation of how to do junk science from Chris Snowdon:
This has been doing the rounds on Twitter and deservedly so. It’s an excellent demonstration of how quack science is conducted, published and reported.
John Bohannon got sixteen volunteers, a statistician and some chocolate with the hope of finding an association with something – anything – for an epidemiological study.
One group followed a low-carbohydrate diet. Another followed the same low-carb diet plus a daily 1.5 oz. bar of dark chocolate. And the rest, a control group, were instructed to make no changes to their current diet. They weighed themselves each morning for 21 days, and the study finished with a final round of questionnaires and blood tests.
It turned out that the chocolate-eating group lost ten per cent more weight than the other two groups….
I’m not going to re-blog them both. Go read them there.