Spurious Correlations

Michael J McFadden sent me a link today about how the whiff of cooking bacon fills the air with carcinogens:


The link is to a short video which talks about ‘mutagens’ and ‘nitrosamines’ in the emissions into the atmosphere from bacon being fried. Apparently, these emissions are ten times worse indoors that they outdoors. Therefore, in order to protect the health of the public, it is clear that the cooking of bacon indoors should be banned, and permitted only outdoors – at least seven metres from any door or window. According to the article, it seems that cooks have a higher tendency to lung cancer than non-cooks, and also there is a lower tendency to lung cancer for vegetarians than meat-eaters. I wonder if smoking doctors in the Doctors Study had a greater tendency to cook and eat bacon than did non-smoking doctors? And couple that with rural doctors and urban doctors, and couple that with alcoholic doctors and teetotal doctors, and couple that with doctors who suffered the deprivations of war, and those who did not. The list of ‘confounders’ is huge.

And then there is “NewsNow” (H/T Rose, ages ago):


The financially beneficial, to ‘researchers’, search for correlations between smoking and any ailment at all goes on with no signs of reducing vigour. One such study says ‘Study links ADHD, conduct disorder with alcohol and tobacco use in young….’. Unfortunately, the link will not open, but that does not matter. The point is that the authors of any study which might show a negative correlation will suffer the fate of Enstrom, Kabat, Siegel, Philips, etc. They will be excommunicated, persecuted and, possibly, sacked.


There are some very weird things happening. These people who have been excommunicated, persecuted and, possibly, sacked STILL advocate very unlikely scenarios, such as the Surgeon General of the USA stating, without doubt, that ‘there is no safe level of SHS’. That is absolute nonsense since it is well known that there are very few toxins indeed which have any effect at a very low dose. Some toxins, such as arsenic, can be stored and can accumulate, and can kill over time. But, in that case, there are two things to consider:

1. What is the dose in terms of quantity and frequency?

2. How long will the repeated doses take to do the damage?

In the case of SHS, no document that I have seen states the period of time over which SHS health damage might occur. Thus, the Surgeon General’s assertion that ‘there is no safe level of SHS’ lacks the reasonable expectation of time-scales over which ‘no safe levels’ occur. Clearly, a person who experiences a whiff of tobacco smoke for the first time is likely to live the rest of his life, even if he lives for hundreds of years, without experiencing any ill-effects from that specific inhalation. But, according the the SG, that person will, after hundreds of years, or even thousands of years, or infinity, be ‘at risk’.

It may be that the statement ‘no safe level’ merely reflects a situation where it is not possible to determine an ‘unsafe’ level. That verbal trickery seems to have been what occurred.

But the really, really, really, important question is whether such trickery in matters of Health should be permitted by Government in any way or shape at all. The failure of Politicians at that time is incomprehensible.

And so, we can reasonably go back to the General Smoking Ban and demand to know what the REAL science was that persuaded the Government of the time to enact it. I do not really mean MPs – they just do as they are told to do in advance (whips and all that). What INDISPUTABLE evidence did the Cabinet have when it permitted the Health Bill of 2006 to include the massively divisive smoking ban?

Which brings us directly to ‘junk’ science. Persecution of smokers, in any form, is not actually science at all. The reason that it there are no certain facts. Without facts, there is no science. Counting incidences of events which sometimes occur and sometimes do not, and drawing substantive conclusions, is not science. In science, when an event produces a resulting consequence, it always produces that consequence.


I shall almost certainly vote UKIP at the next GE. Not because they are likely to be strong enough to gain a majority, which would be a silly expectation. My reason would be that UKIP, despite its faults, would demand ‘common sense’ thinking in Parliament, and not emotional outbreaks. God! How I hate the likes of Williams MP. How on earth did he get proposed as a candidate, never mind being elected. It can only be because of false representations. He claimed to be a Liberal, but was a Zealot in disguise.


I have said, again and again, that our political system stinks, but I have been unable to say why that is so. Perhaps, tentatively, I am beginning to see the reason. It is because we no longer know the ‘origin’ or ‘worthiness’ of whoever is standing for election in our constituencies.

That is very important. Far more important than it seems to be at first sight. The reason is that the people whom we vote to be our MPs must have some reasonable authority in our local affairs. They ought not to be ‘lobby fodder’. We do not elect them to coerce THE PEOPLE of their constituencies, or, by implication, THE PEOPLE of the Nation.

That is an important thought. When the General Smoking Ban coerced publicans to attack their best customers, it was because bad people were elected to Parliament. There is no doubt, It is just like the expenses scandal.

There is a need for local involvement in politics. But if America is anything to go by, the solution may be worse than the problem.

There’s the rub….






2 Responses to “Spurious Correlations”

  1. michaeljmcfadden Says:

    Glad you liked the story Junican! Clearly, parents who fry bacon in the same house where their children live are guilty of murderous child abuse. Not only should the children be removed and placed in the tender hands of The State “for their own good,” but the parents should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and likely given the death penalty.

    Also, I noted this wonderful observation you made: “The financially beneficial, to ‘researchers’, search for correlations between smoking and any ailment at all goes on with no signs of reducing vigour.”

    Quite true, but, as I noted in Brains, “Greed is a vice never satisfied. The more it is pandered to the greater it becomes. … greed is not only greed for money, but for recognition and influence.” And that leaning toward the latter type of greed is being duly passed on to our children as well. Every year there is a top Addiction Science Award given at the 2014 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF)—the world’s largest science competition for high school students. This Award is given to high school students who design the best and most important science project addressing the problem of Addiction. This year the award went to a group who examined “Third Hand Vapor” and showed the threat from being in a room where someone at some point in the past had indulged in the evil pastime of vaping. See:


    and Carl Phillips’ blog on it with assorted following comments at:


    I examined a copy of the study, and determined that the students had indeed used an absolutely absurd model in order to be able to measure results. I’ve lost the cocktail napkin where I scribbled my analysis, but it was roughly this: They assumed a Vaper with a plastic mouth (so no absorption) would sit in the equivalent of a small dormitory room (40 cubic meters) and take 1000 or so 20 ml puffs and instantly blow them out into the air and repeat this for 90 minutes. That’s about one puff every five seconds. Perfectly normal behavior, right?

    Oh, and of course they would do this with e-liquids averaging about 28 mg/ml just for good measure.

    Well at the end of this “typical” (my word) vaping experience, the typical surface in the room would be coated with 60 micrograms of nicotine per cubic meter. Of course if the Vaper in question had actually inhaled and exhaled the vapor like a normal human being, it’s likely their mucousal and lung tissues would have absorbed a good bit of that nicotine — shall we say two-thirds of it as a reasonable guess? In such a case the deposition would be 20 mcg/m^3.

    So we now have a dorm room covered in this deadly neurotoxin. The question arises, what if we had a mentally disturbed college student sneaking into the room every night while the Vaper was asleep so that he could lick all that juicy nicotine off the windows? And what if the room had a fairly generous two meter window for all that licking? How long would it take for our window-licking friend to die from his nasty habit?

    According to the unusually well-referenced Wikipedia article on nicotine poisoning, “The estimated lower limit of a lethal dose of nicotine has been reported as between 500 and 1000 mg,” so let’s take a rough mid-point, 800 mg, for ease of calculation for our student.

    At two square meters per day that’s 40 mcg/day, or 40 mg in a thousand days, or 800 in 20,000 days. So our nico-pervert would have to sneak in and lick those windows clean every night for about 55 years in order to successfully commit nicosuicide in this manner.

    Of course he or she would have to refrain from going to the bathroom for that period or they’d excrete it out and not be poisoned.

    The remaining corpse and its contents would best be left to a dedicated Antismoker to analyze.

    In any event, THIS study is what won the world’s highest international academic Addiction Research award this year by showing the deadly threat posed by “third hand vapor.”

    So yes, we’re teaching our students well: Greed is the coin of the day if you want to succeed, and the best way to satisfy that greed is to say “To hell with science: I’m aiming for the cash cow (or prestige-awarder) with the deepest pockets (or shiniest medals).

    Sad, eh?


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