Monday 10 October 2011

Somebody's lying

They say you're entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts.

Wise words, but that's not how it works in tobacco control. Spot the difference between these two BBC news stories taken three months apart.

25 March 2011

Scotland's smoking ban hailed as anniversary approaches

Sally Haw, senior scientific adviser for the Scottish Collaboration for Public Health and Policy, said: "The ban really has been one of Scotland's big public health success stories.

"This bold step has really paid off."

Ms Haw cited a study by Glasgow University which showed a 15% reduction in the number of children with asthma being admitted to hospital in the three years after the ban came into force.

27 June 2011

Scottish health boards 'complacent' over asthma care

Research into the care of young people with asthma has exposed "shocking" complacency by some Scottish health boards, according to charity Asthma UK.

Asthma UK said the number of emergency admissions had remained unchanged for a decade - suggesting the asthma of many young people was still being badly managed.

Asthma UK Scotland's national director Gordon Brown said: "This report makes shocking reading - especially when you consider Scotland has one of the highest rates of childhood asthma in the world.

"Some health boards are doing some things very well - and this is down to the excellent staff within managed clinical networks.

"However, it seems that at a strategic level some complacency has crept in - that asthma has somehow been 'fixed' and priorities have now changed.

"This is borne out by the fact there has been no noticeable change in the unacceptably high emergency hospital admissions for children and young people with asthma in the last decade."

It is impossible for both these statements to be true. Either emergency hospital admissions for children with asthma fell by 15% after the smoking ban or they have remained unchanged for a decade. Someone's not telling the truth. Is is the "study by Glasgow University" or Asthma UK?

You can probably guess the answer. If I told you that the Glasgow study was penned by the infamous Jill Pell, you would be in no doubt at all.

Readers with a long memory will recall that Pell's study was the sheerest junk science. There was no effect from the smoking ban on asthma admissions. In fact, the first year of the Scottish smoking ban saw the largest number of childhood asthma admissions of the decade. Asthma UK is correct. Pell is wrong. Again.

Here we have two 'facts' which are totally at odds with each other appearing on the same news website in the same year. One fact is the number of children who actually went to hospital with asthma. The other is a piece of statistical jiggery-pokery created for political ends. And yet only one of them is true. The other is a fraud which has taken the place of the truth thanks to repetition and the appeal to authority (it was published in the prestigious, peer-reviewed New England Journal of Medicine). The real truth, meanwhile, appears almost by accident in a different context and no one at the BBC makes the connection.

This is the parallel universe created by the charlatans of the anti-smoking industry. They are entitled to their own facts. Whether or not they are true is of no consequence. They want them to be true and that is all that matters.

It is ridiculously easy to see through this garbage. The real hospital admissions data for asthma are available online, just as the heart attack data are. It takes a matter of minutes to distinguish fact from fiction and yet there is only silence and tumbleweed. If the mainstream media do not feel inclined to expose blatant policy-based evidence when it is in its crudest form, what hope is there of more subtle scientific abuses coming to light?

[Thanks to Ivan for spotting the two stories above.]


Bill Gibson said...

Guess who is offering a keynote addresss at a forthcoming Smoking Cessation Conference on Tuesday 22nd November at 10.00am ... none other than Prof. Jill Pell closely followed at 10.30am by that other master of deception, Linda Bauld from Stirling University.

Both speakers follow the address by Michael Matheson MSP who must be very careful to check that the event is not sponsored in any way by the Pharma Industry as he is paranoid regarding "vested interests" of Big Tobacco.

Anonymous said...

God! It is all so depressing. Where will it end?

These people are so full of hubris (over confidence) that they do not give a damn about contradicting themselves or others. There is no one 'in authority' who gives a toss.

Where will it end?

Somehow, and I do not know how, someone who is a great authority has to start to FULMINATE. That is, start SHOUTING OUT LOUD. Who and when - God only knows.

Anon1 said...

Another excellent pick-up, Ivan and Chris.

It has to be pointed out that there is a difference between facts and Facts® although they are pronounced in exactly the same way (the “registered mark” is silent). The latter - Facts® - are issued by the Ministry of Trewf, i.e., as in Glanzian “Trewf”.

In the Airy-Fairy™ World of social engineering, Facts® [which are fiction] are facts, and [real] facts are an inconvenience/annoyance at the least and terrifying at worst. Occasionally the Airy-Fairy™ World brushes the actual world where for a moment facts and Facts® coincide which, understandably, throws another spanner in the works, leaving everyone temporarily stunned (i.e., as in “does not compute”).

Ah, if only Monty Python was still about (and I can see a parrot or two fitting somewhere in the sketch)

Desperately required at this time is what state of mind allows people to enter and operate in the Airy-Fairy™ World – a psychology of the propagandist or a psychology of fanaticism. Also to be determined is the state of academia that allows this State-sponsored Drivel™ to occur under the auspices of scholarship.

Anonymous said...

I believe Ms Pell implicitly.

Of course banning smoking in pubs is bound to have had an good effect on asthma in children.

All that lovely smoke that was going to waste in pubs is now being put to good use at home where it is obviously helping to clear the tubes of the poor children.

Anonymous said...

Call her a liar:

Anonymous said...

Street criminal tactics.

Distract you with bullcrap while they pick your pockets!!!

Magicians call this 'mis-direction'.

Gary K.

nisakiman said...

Maybe my memory is at fault here, but I'm sure when I was a kid (50s) the majority of households contained at least one parent who was a smoker (that was my experience, anyway), so virtually all my generation were brought up with a good deal of exposure to "second-hand smoke". As far as I'm aware, at that time asthma was a rare condition in kids, (I certainly never came across it, and as my mother was asthmatic, I was well aware of the condition) and there were even less issues with allergies. These are facts which seem to be totally overlooked by Pell, Bauld, Arnott et al when they bang on about the dangers of SHS to the cheeeldren. In fact, it seems to me that as smoking has declined, cases of asthma in kids has risen.

Anon1 said...

“These are facts which seem to be totally overlooked by Pell, Bauld, Arnott et al….”


westcoast2 said...

Not just on Asthma is seems. Recently you blogged about TB (5th Oct 2011 and some charity said
""It is nearly 20 years since the World Health Organization declared tuberculosis to be a 'global health emergency'.

"Since that time rates have risen rather than fallen, and smoking increases the risk of getting - and dying from - TB..."

The WHO say (11th Cct 2011)
"The number of people falling ill with tuberculosis declined last year for the first time while the death toll from the disease reached its lowest level in a decade, the World Health Organization said."

dunhillbabe said...

Matildas, the lot of 'em ... may they end up the same way . Soon .