Tuesday, 11 October 2011

That didn't take long

On Thursday, I mentioned Stanton Glantz's latest contribution to the SmokeFree Movies campaign when he published a study which found that films that showed smoking make 13% less at the box office than 'smokefree movies'.

To give Glantz his due, he did not fall into the trap of mistaking correlation with causation in the study itself.

Fear not, dear reader. Even Stan is not prepared to mistake correlation and causation so grievously (although it surely won't be long before advocates use this study to tell Hollywood: "Get rid of smoking in your films and you'll boost sales by 13%"). He does not claim that smoking in films is the cause of lower revenues. He does not explore what the actual reasons may be, but it seems likely that smoking is more common in indie films, gritty dramas, European releases and other movies which tend to make less money than big budget cartoons and family blockbusters.

I did, however, ask how long it would be before some dumb-bell took the study as 'proof' that putting smoking in a film directly leads to fewer people going to see it and, therefore, making less money.

It didn't take long, and Scientific American is skating on thin ice with this headline:

Smoking Is a Drag at the Box Office

And they plunge straight through the ice with statements like this:

Movie-makers are burning potential earnings when they have onscreen characters light up, new research suggests.

Oh dear, oh dear. All we need now is some dumb-bell to step forward and spell out this fallacious thinking explicitly. Step forward, Stanton Glantz...

"Putting smoking in the film isn't leading to more popular films that make more money," Glantz says. "It's leading to less popular films that make less money."



dunhillbabe said...

I do wonder Chris, how you manage to keep going with such cheeriness in the face of such relentless and unmitigated shite ....

Anonymous said...

Classic, isn't it? Take the original stats and say that they are correct and that they show no correlation. Then distort them and claim a different conclusion. Then issue the propaganda. By the time anyone has actually gone back and figured the reality, nobody wants to know. The 'new' reality is true. That is how it works, isn't it?
Serious questions have been, and must continue to be, asked about the original studies - Doll etc. The smog situation at the time has never been properly investigated epidemiologically, as far as I know. What was the subsequent (perhaps many years later) incidence of lung cancers in those parts of London most seriously affected by smog? How did that compare with other areas of London and out in the countryside? I think that there are figures, but they always seem to be glossed over.

It seems to me that this 'trick' is continuing.

nisakiman said...

All these "studies" and "research" into smoking and drinking completely ignore the elephant in the room, said elephant being that people actually really rather enjoy both smoking and drinking, and thus enhance their appreciation of the time they have here on earth. All that the naysayers seem to think about is quantity of life, rather than quality of life.

Call me wierd, but I think they are comprehensively missing the point.

nisakiman said...

Oops! The comment above was meant to be under the post above this one. The perils of reading two posts concurrently and then commenting without paying attention. CS, if you can be bothered, please move it. If you can't be bothered, that's ok, it's only the ramblings of an oldie anyway...