Dodgy Research

Three articles I found on Facebook today, all saying the same thing, presented without comment:


Shocking Report from Medical Insiders

 A shocking admission by the editor of the world’s most respected medical journal, The Lancet, has been virtually ignored by the mainstream media. Dr. Richard Horton, Editor-in-chief of the Lancet recently published a statement declaring that a shocking amount of published research is unreliable at best, if not completely false, as in, fraudulent.

Horton declared, “Much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.”


Why Most Published Research Findings Are False

John P. A. Ioannidis


There is increasing concern that most current published research findings are false. The probability that a research claim is true may depend on study power and bias, the number of other studies on the same question, and, importantly, the ratio of true to no relationships among the relationships probed in each scientific field. In this framework, a research finding is less likely to be true when the studies conducted in a field are smaller; when effect sizes are smaller; when there is a greater number and lesser preselection of tested relationships; where there is greater flexibility in designs, definitions, outcomes, and analytical modes; when there is greater financial and other interest and prejudice; and when more teams are involved in a scientific field in chase of statistical significance. Simulations show that for most study designs and settings, it is more likely for a research claim to be false than true. Moreover, for many current scientific fields, claimed research findings may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias.


…That question has been central to Ioannidis’s career. He’s what’s known as a meta-researcher, and he’s become one of the world’s foremost experts on the credibility of medical research. He and his team have shown, again and again, and in many different ways, that much of what biomedical researchers conclude in published studies—conclusions that doctors keep in mind when they prescribe antibiotics or blood-pressure medication, or when they advise us to consume more fiber or less meat, or when they recommend surgery for heart disease or back pain—is misleading, exaggerated, and often flat-out wrong. He charges that as much as 90 percent of the published medical information that doctors rely on is flawed. His work has been widely accepted by the medical community; it has been published in the field’s top journals, where it is heavily cited; and he is a big draw at conferences. Given this exposure, and the fact that his work broadly targets everyone else’s work in medicine, as well as everything that physicians do and all the health advice we get, Ioannidis may be one of the most influential scientists alive. Yet for all his influence, he worries that the field of medical research is so pervasively flawed, and so riddled with conflicts of interest, that it might be chronically resistant to change—or even to publicly admitting that there’s a problem.

About Frank Davis

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21 Responses to Dodgy Research

  1. jaxthefirst says:

    “ … when they prescribe antibiotics or blood-pressure medication, or when they advise us to consume more fiber or less meat, or when they recommend surgery for heart disease or back pain …”

    And yet, even in this bravely critical item about the “dodgy” nature of much medical or pseudo-medical “research” today, they still insist on ignoring the elephant in the room which, so far as I can tell, seems to have been the main catalyst for this trend for bandwagon-jumping style, biased and flimsy research – that related to smoking and second-hand smoke.

    It seems that they’ll go so far in (quite rightly) criticising the poor standards in research these days, but sadly not quite far enough to cast any doubt upon the “holy cow” which started the whole downward slide, and which continues even now to give it momentum. Which means, of course, that any attempts they make to turn things around or bring attention to the problem are doomed to failure. No wonder the media have ignored it – they know it’ll come to naught.

    Now, if they had pointed out the deeply flawed nature of the so-called “proof” of the health risks of smoking and ETS, the papers would have been all over it like a cheap suit and the whole issue of flawed “research” of all kinds would have been given the kind of serious attention that the researches’ critics feel – again quite rightly – that the problem actually merits. Silly them.

    • Smoking Lamp says:

      I agree, the flawed, biased, and manipulated “research” used to attack smoking and second hand smoke needs to be exposed.

  2. Rose says:

    There seems to be good money in raising old theories from the previous century and beyond, I particularly enjoyed the eventual debunking of Ancel Keys’ anti fat theory, even it was made public by the anti-sugar people.

    Here’s another good one.

    “Salt is one of the cornerstones on which the mammalian biochemical structure is built. Total exclusion of salt from the diet leads to disaster, namely death. Still, salt is considered by some authorities, to be toxic on a level comparable with alcohol and tobacco. Why is salt the only essential component of mammals to have obtained this unattractive status?”

    “The modern salt saga started in 1904 with a paper by Ambard and Brochard3 who showed an association between salt intake and blood pressure in six patients. On the basis of these observations they created a salt–blood pressure hypothesis.

    Subsequently in 1907 the results were opposed by Lôwenstein,4 and from then on the salt–blood pressure hypothesis has been the basis for a dispute between supporters of the hypothesis and sceptics.

    What we can learn from this is that the salt–blood pressure hypothesis and the controversy dates back to the first decade of the previous century, initially based on a few case histories”
    “In the following years Allan’s positive results were both confirmed and disproved by several authors, but during the late 1930s the use of salt restriction faded.”

    “In the introduction of his 1960 paper Dahl defines his position, namely that salt is deleterious. Salt is compared with fall-out, carcinogens and atherogenic factors, and later in the paper with tobacco, alcohol, and fat”


    “One segment of the public health community—funded by the the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and endorsed by many journals in the field has decided that salt is a public health menace.

    Therefore, salt consumption must be drastically curtailed. The force with which this conclusion is presented to the public is not in any reasonable balance with the strength of the evidence.
    Programs, once in place, develop a life of their own; the possibility of health benefits becomes probability, and probability becomes certainty. After all, the public is easily confused by complications, only professionals can weigh the evidence, and where is the harm in salt

    The harm is to public discourse. The appearance of scientific unanimity is a powerful political tool, especially when the evidence is weak.
    Dissent becomes a threat, which must be marginalized. If funding agencies and journals are unwilling to brook opposition, rational discussion is curtailed.

    There soon comes about the pretense of national policy based on scientific inquiry without the substance. In our view, salt is only one example of this phenomenon.”

    Click to access 573.pdf

    How true.

  3. Rose says:

    This could prove interesting

    Prison bosses braced for lawsuits from ex-lags after report warns of passive smoking dangers

    ” A new secret report into the dangers of passive smoking in prisons is set to spark compensation claims by LAGS – running into millions of pounds.
    Murders, rapists and paedophiles who were non-smokers in jail will be “lining up” for huge paydays – with costs met by taxpayers.

    Prison bosses have repeatedly stalled over publishing full details of the report by a top professor – and have even been threatened with High Court action if they fail to do so.
    It is estimated one in five prisoners are non-smokers – meaning 17,000 of the around 85,000 currently locked up.

    The report has come to “devastating” conclusions over health risks, sources say.
    It follows research carried out last year when air monitors were installed in four jails.
    A source said: “The full report deals solely with the medical side of second hand smoking.

    “It has never been published in full. It appears this is damning and devastating stuff. Once the report is published, former inmates will be lining up to lodge claims.”

    “A source added: “This report will be published in due course. We will continue to robustly defend claims made against the Prison Service, and have successfully defended two thirds of prisoner claims over the last three years.”

    Oh what a tangled we weave …

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Sounds like ASH and CRUK got into the prisons and did their junk air testing again.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      The big question what medical effects……..theres nothing.

      The full report deals solely with the medical side of second hand smoking.

      • Rose says:

        I wonder if this is the study in question

        Second-hand smoke in four English prisons: an air quality monitoring study
        4 February 2016

        Leah R. Jayes, Elena Ratschen, Rachael L. Murray, Suzy Dymond-White and John Britton


        “To measure levels of indoor pollution in relation to smoking in four English prisons.

        TSI SidePak AM510 Personal Aerosol Monitors were used to measure concentrations of particulate matter less than 2.5 μm in diameter (PM2.5) for periods of up to 9 h in selected smoking and non-smoking areas, and personal exposure monitoring of prison staff during a work shift, in four prisons.


        PM2.5 data were collected for average periods of 6.5 h from 48 locations on 25 wing landings where smoking was permitted in cells, on 5 non-smoking wings, 13 prisoner cells, and personal monitoring of 22 staff members. Arithmetic mean PM2.5 concentrations were significantly higher on smoking than non-smoking wing landings (43.9 μg/m3 and 5.9 μg/m3 respectively, p < 0.001) and in smoking than non-smoking cells (226.2 μg/m3 and 17.0 μg/m3 respectively, p < 0.001). Staff members wore monitors for an average of 4.18 h, during which they were exposed to arithmetic mean PM2.5 concentration of 23.5 μg/m3.


        The concentration of PM2.5 pollution in smoking areas of prisons are extremely high. Smoking in prisons therefore represents a significant health hazard to prisoners and staff members."

        20 September 2013
        Inmates fume at plans to ban smoking in prison

        "However, Professor John Britton, chair of the Royal College of Physicians tobacco advisory group, said that where smoking bans in prisons had been tried – such as in New Zealand, Guernsey and the Isle of Man – they had been successful.

        “This is a big opportunity to improve the health of a very vulnerable group with very high levels of nicotine addiction, to do something positive for them and to help alleviate the poverty that most people are in before they are sent to prison and often return to when they leave,” he said."

        Tony Blair's 10 years of tobacco control

        "A Comment published online Friday June 29 assesses the impact of 10 years of Tony Blair's Labour Government in the UK concerning public-health measures to reduce the harmful effects of tobacco, just two days before a ban on smoking in public places is introduced in England. This week's lead Editorial also discusses tobacco control, with reference to the 2005 WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

        John Britton, co-author of the Comment, states: 'Labour has achieved more in terms of tobacco control than any other UK government, establishing the UK as a world leader in this respect, and deserves credit for doing so. However, it has taken 10 years to deliver results that could have been achieved in 5 or even 3, indicating that Blair's government has lacked either the courage or the commitment to implement its policies."
        http: //

        Are there a lot of people called John Britton working for TC, or is it all the same man?

        • garyk30 says:

          “Staff members wore monitors for an average of 4.18 h, during which they were exposed to arithmetic mean PM2.5 concentration of 23.5 μg/m3.”

          Even in California, that is not a hazardous level.
          1 mg = 1,000 ug
          10 mg = 10,000 ug and that is 425 times higher than the 23.5 ug measured.

          Exposure Limits
          CAL/OSHA PELs(permissible exposure level average for 8 hours)
          10 mg/m3

          10mg = 10,000 ug

  4. harleyrider1978 says:

    NHS to harvest babies’ organs: ‘Ghoulish’ proposal gives mothers pregnant with a damaged foetus an agonising choice – abort the dying child or give birth so body parts can be used for transplants
    Mothers of children with fatal defects will have the option to give birth
    Once the infant has been declared stillborn, doctors will remove its organs
    They will then be used to save the lives of other children who are currently being placed on 7,000-strong waiting list
    The practice could raise ethical questions while alleviating organ shortage

    Read more:
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

  5. harleyrider1978 says:

    As the EU crumbles the ratz dig for anything.

    Russia ‘stoking refugee unrest in Germany to topple Angela Merkel’

    Analysts at Nato centre claim to have found evidence of ‘information war’ over migration crisis with links to Vladimir Putin

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Such a pity there has been little or nothing in our media about Turkey taking state control of the country’s largest opposition newspaper.

  6. harleyrider1978 says:

  7. prog says:

    Anecdotal, but no reason to disbelieve it and every reason to highlight it…

    My daughter was chatting to someone in a pub recently who told her that her mother (60+), a ‘heavy’ smoker had received a letter from her doctor advising her NOT to quit smoking (despite all the nagging) because he said there was sound evidence to clearly suggest that quitting at her age would increase her risk of so-called smoking related disease. I realise we’ve touched on this before, but this was in writing from a GP who was aware that older people are being misled by PH advice. If this deception is deliberate, the perpetrators should be rooted out and dismissed.

  8. Oren says:

    I like this. And this is not the first time I read about a pro scientist telling things like these.

    It seems to me that science today is not about seeking truth (to use in our favor), but about ‘proving’ what someone wants to be true (to use in his favor).

    For example, tobacco. I think the studies are far from being objective. And I think the tobacco scientists (researchers? statisticians? freshmen?) don’t give a damn about people’s lives.

    1. All studies are using commercial cigarettes of different brands, so how can you conclude about tobacco from this? It’s like concluding that water is unhealthy using cokes and vodkas and water! You want to conclude about tobacco? Study pure tobacco!

    2. Scientists don’t try to make tobacco healthy (or less harmful), but rather eliminate it totally. It doesn’t sound to me like they’re trying to find an upgrade to people’s lives, it sounds to me like they’re just wanna remove tobacco from existence because they were taught that tobacco is ‘filthy, filthy, filthy’ (Dr. W ;) )

  9. smokingscot says:

    It’s nice to see other “learned” people front up and say what we smokers have known for years. It’s 80% bull, invariably produced to support vested interests.

    Yet I feel it’s not restricted to ourselves. The sugar, salt, fats, CO2, EU, “World Bodies”, finances, zero interest rates have all lead to a certain cynicism amongst those most affected.

    I don’t do booze, so have no especial axe to grind. I suspect that’s the attitude taken by many with respect to smoking. It’s not my problem, so let those at the sharp end fight their own battles and may the best man win.

    What I do know is they’re lying – on everything, and they divert public money to non-productive causes. And that’s where the booze thing comes into play.

    Yesterday Frank speculated that Mr. Trump may have tapped into this – our frustration at so many diverse issues. And I believe he has a point.

    To my mind I feel we’re seeing a similar phenomenon playing out in Spain and Ireland where voters have chosen to get shot of those they’ve learned to despise. I believe they did so in Greece, but the party they got into power simply did not have the options needed (nor the political experience) to make a clean break. Spain can’t agree on anything because there are so many – highly principled newbie politicians, some of whom are all pouty at the prospect of Catalonia seceding from Spain (and now I see the Basques want to do so as well).

    The EU referendum is all the rage at the moment, however there are two itsy bitsy elections due on 6 May 2016. The Welsh and Scottish Assemblies.

    Naturally I was disappointed that UKIP got sweet naff all at the General Election, however in both these regions they do have some support and there’s even speculation that they may win several seats in the new Assembly in Wales. Better still, it’ll be at the expense of Labour!

    (Not unsurprisingly there’s no comparable article on what may transpire in Scotland (this is SNP territory – and no one in the media farts without permission), however a ballpark figure is two, possibly three MSP’s).

    What those “learned” people seem to have overlooked is the fact that most of these fake, or even non-existent “research” papers were compiled for the benefit of lawmakers.

    So change the lawmakers and even if it’s only one or two at a time, it’s way better than nowt. And actually more satisfying if you derive pleasure watching “the establishment” begin to face up to reality. Like the Republican Party is right now.

  10. harleyrider1978 says:

    We were going over bills for phones tv internet etc etc. We are spending 650 a month just for those crummy services so we are shutting everything down and going to pay track phones and antenna for tv. Finally I might have some paycheck in my pocket and no more internet. So I will be signing off before to long.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Then we saw how much taxes and overage we were getting hit with and then 6 minute long commercials on pay tv,screw that. Then the housing finance company hit us with 750 more a year in escrow account over insurance and tax increases. Add all of it up and its quite a sum plus this new car the wife had to have is busting another 400 a month plus now car insurance is running 190 bucks a month. Its no wonder I haven’t had hardly a dime to my name in a year. Anyway if they come up with some cheaper stuff I might be back other than that Im tired of being busted.

    • smokingscot says:

      You have got to be kidding Harley.

      Go get yourself a mobile internet dongle; we’re talking chickenshit money – $15 a month – and blazingly fast (by comparison to the glacial thing I use).

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