A Disaster for Science (2)

Little did I know, when I wrote last night’s post, that my ruminations would be immediately born out. Researchers at Cardiff University looked at studies and found that press releases based upon the studies frequently exaggerated the conclusions which could be drawn from those studies. In fact, the ‘abstracts’ (summaries) appended to the study results, themselves exaggerated the importance of the results. The researchers found that, generally speaking, journalists did not much exaggerate further, although some did. The main ‘perpetrators’ were those who wrote the press releases and those who wrote the abstracts.

I remember noticing this in a Study that I read some time ago (courtesy of MJM) about cell changes in the bodies of American ex-servicemen who were smokers as compared with non-smokers. I can’t remember the details, but what the study showed was that non-smoker cells were affected by the process to which they were subjected, but smoker cells were affected somewhat more greatly. But the press release did not say that, nor did the abstract. They stated that smoker cells were ‘drastically affected’ by the process (whatever it was). In reality, when you read the actual study, it turned out that smoker cells were affected only a little more than non-smoker cells.

The REPORTS of the science had been skewed to exaggerate the effects.

Yes, journalists are under substantial pressure to get their copy in, which is why they take the press releases on trust. Also, as we have come to expect, they themselves pick out of the press release a couple of phrases which sound like good headlines. So there is a double deception. Correlations in academic studies say that X may be the cause of Y. That conditional word (‘may’) is often overshadowed in the abstract and in press releases by words which imply that there is certainty. And then, of course, there always appears the phrase, “More research is required”.

What is important, however, in this piece of research about bias, is the implication of widespread scientific fraud. Fraud does not have to be blatant and massive. It can be subtle. If that subtlety leads to legislation, THEN it becomes, in retrospect, massively significant. I am sure that readers will connect SHS harm to the General Smoking Ban in this respect.

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Is there a solution to this widespread ‘publication bias’?

We must understand that the BMJ needs stuff to report. It needs studies to publish, otherwise, it would not have anything to write about. Thus, the BMJ itself also has a certain amount of publication bias. Thus, there are more complications than immediately meet the eye.

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The real horror of these revelations is how they contribute to bad Government, especially in view of the political necessity for Political Parties to gain power. The odd thing is that when they do gain power, they have no idea what to do with it. ‘Bonfire of the quangos’ anyone? The reality is that politicians, by their actions, cannot but increase quangos. Every time that Parliament passes a law, a new quango is required.

What is required? It is quite simple. What is required is the wholesale repeal of laws, including all the stuff which has come out of the EU. Repealing the laws, ipso facto, removes the need for the ‘regulatory bodies’. The EU is not real. It is a miasma. What is REAL is individual people, and what they want to do is real, as compared with the miasma of EU persecution. The ‘Tobacco Control Directive’ is a perfect example.

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There are mysterious things which most of us know nothing whatsoever about. For example, what is the purpose and role of the World Bank? Does anyone at all, including the Prime Minister, know anything about it? What is it? What is it for? Who owns it? How is it that it seems to be able to impose smoking bans? Why is there mystery?

I feel able to ask these questions because of the revelations (which we smokers have known about for ages, although without ‘academic’ support) that some 70% of health-related studies are fraudulently described.

FRAUD is the operative word.

 

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3 Responses to “A Disaster for Science (2)”

  1. Lysistrata Eleftheria Says:

    *waves hello*
    I don’t often comment, and indeed have nothing to say again today, but I am an avid reader of your blog and it always makes me think. Thank you: please continue!

  2. mummy Says:

    Ditto

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