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Re: Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

My silly two cents. The RR of 22 associating Smoking with Lung Cancer results in a alarming percentage of smokers NOT getting lung cancer.

Of course if they don't get Lung Cancer they might get Emphysema (that I apparently spelled that correctly on the first go is remarkable). If they don't get emphysema they will likely have rather obnoxious coughs. Smoking is just a bad idea, but ignoring how many people survive cigarettes is appalling.

Trying to regulate anything where most people survive gets a little silly. SHS smoke in this case.

Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

Gary, sorry, but I'm not going to get into a debate about the relative concentrations of various toxins in tobacco smoke. I'm sure you could find a long list of toxins that are present at lower concentrations in tobacco than in, say, eggs, but the details of what poisonous things are there in higher or lower concentrations, and exactly how poisonous they are at what dose level is about as relevant to a discussion about the risks of voluntary or involuntary exposure to tobacco or eggs as the fact that there are diseases that are less common in tobacco consumers (or egg consumers) than non consumers. You have to accept the whole package when you buy 20 B&H or six free-range rather than pick on one thing that you think proves your point. Smoking is a bad idea overall (and I have a pipe in my mouth as I type this).

Brad, I'm happy with a 22-fold increase in risk of death from X caused by exposure to Y if risk of death from Y without exposure to X is 1 in a million and I get lots of kicks from Y. It is, however, a relative risk which is unacceptable to impose on someone without their consent. However, even the most conservative estimates of risk from passive smoking stretch the limits of scientific acceptability to breaking point, and possibly beyond, and thus not something which can justify restricting the free choices of adults of sound mind. I do not want to see a society in which trivial or possibly non-existent risks posed to me by others result in restrictions being placed on the freedoms of others. Our society has far bigger frogs to boil but the politicians find it easier to boil a small and unpopular frog bit by bit than take a vote-losing but necessary measure.

Re: Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

"Gary, sorry, but I'm not going to get into a debate about the relative concentrations of various toxins in tobacco smoke."
...............................
Sir,
If you do not know,just say so.
.......................................
"You have to accept the whole package when you buy 20 B&H or six free-range rather than pick on one thing that you think proves your point. Smoking is a bad idea overall (and I have a pipe in my mouth as I type this)."
"I do not want to see a society in which trivial or possibly non-existent risks posed to me by others result in restrictions being placed on the freedoms of others."
..........................................
Sir,
The topic is "Quackery" and if the science used for SHS is "Quackery"; then, that very same science when used for mainstream smoking is still "Quackery"!!

As far as 'buying the whole package' in spite of portions of the package having been proven rotten;that is not very scientific.

A Mr.Einstein once said "A thousand experiments can not prove me right and it only takes one experiment to prove me wrong."

Re: Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

Which is exactly what I was getting at. People continue to survive the 22 RR without problem.

A friend is writing a paper in support of calling smoking "Child Abuse". I didn't rip into her too hard, but I did tell her I thought it was a bad idea. Not only doesn't the data support it, but it leads to idiotic draconian measures that do nothing.

Re: Re: Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

They **** you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were ****ed up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

Philip Larkin.

So there are thousands of things we could describe as child abuse. For example, I'm with Dawkins in contending that passing on religious beliefs is a form of child abuse, but unless we are to put all parents in prison for doing something that ****ed up their kids, we have to tolerate a certain level of ******* up.

Unless the underlying risk of death from X is >1/44 then at least half of people with treatment Y will die of something else even if treatment Y confers an RR of 22 for death from X.

I truly believe it's the individual's choice to make, whether they take treatment Y and accept the combination of risks and benefits conferred by treatment Y. It's quite true, if you smoke, you will probably die of something other than something caused by exposure to smoke, but if you don't smoke you will definitely die of something other than something cauesd by exposure to smoke. Pick your poison, but don't kid yourself it isn't poison.

Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

The topic is "Quackery" and if the science used for SHS is "Quackery"; then, that very same science when used for mainstream smoking is still "Quackery"!!
----------

I disagree. All methods have their strengths and weaknesses. Epidemiology is the only tool available because it is unethical and, in most places illegal, to perform randomised, controlled, and blinded experiments on humans with substances which have been established beyond reasonable doubt to confer more risk than benefit. Epidemiology's weaknesses are well known to most of the contributors to this board. Those weaknesses are a good reason to remain skeptical about claims made on the basis of low relative risks but are not in and of themselves a reason to reject claims based on relative risks in double digits. It is not the science of epidemiology, practised correctly (in demonstrating the harmful effects of cigarette smoking), that is at fault. What is at fault is the incorrect practise of epidemiology (in claiming to demonstrate that being in a room with dilute cigarette smoke conveys a measurable risk) by people who believe the only caveat worth attaching to a retrospective as opposed to prospective approach to science translates into "moreresearchneededsogivvusmoregrants".

Re: Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

"It is not the science of epidemiology, practised correctly (in demonstrating the harmful effects of cigarette smoking), that is at fault."
--------------------------------------------
......QUACKERY......

The science of epidemiology, practised correctly, does not match the real world!!!

You say that smoking is the leading cause of preventable cancer deaths.

Of the 50 states plus Washington,D.C., D.C. and Minnesota have the same smoking rate.

The 'Cancer Death Rate' ranking for Washington, D.C. is 1st, the highest.

The 'Cancer Death Rate' ranking for Minnesota is 39th or among the lowest.

Now; if smoking is the leading cause of preventable cancer deaths,how can there be such a completely different 'Cancer Death Rate' ranking for two areas with the same percentage of smokers and SHS exposure??

Another question:
You say that smoking is the leading cause of preventable Heart Disease deaths.

Of the 50 states plus Washington, D.C., D.C. and Minnesota have the same smoking rate.

The 'Heart Disease Death Rate' ranking for Wash DC is 3rd,about the highest.

The 'Heart Disease Death Rate' ranking for Minnesota is 51st,the lowest.

Now; if smoking is the leading cause of preventable Heart Disease deaths,how can there be such a completely different 'Heart Disaease Death Rate' ranking for two areas with the same percentage of smokers and SHS exposure??
.................................................
"Epidemiology is the only tool available because it is unethical and, in most places illegal, to perform randomised, controlled, and blinded experiments on humans with substances which have been established beyond reasonable doubt to confer more risk than benefit."
---------------------------

With all these studies being done, couldn't someone do an 'intervention trial', comparing two groups of smoking and non-smoking people. The answer is that this has indeed been done. There have been a number of studies that have done something like that. But you've never heard of them? When you hear about the results obtained you will see why.

There has been only one that has solely dealt with smoking. This was the first 'Whitehall' study, starting in 1968, which recruited 1,445 British civil servants.

Half were encouraged to give up smoking, the others were left alone. After a year smoking in the intervention group (the nagged) was down by 75%.

After ten years, 17.2% of this group was dead, as against 17.5% of the control group. This difference of percentage is not statistically significant.

There was no difference in deaths from lung cancer or heart disease, and the only other unexpected result was that the intervention group had 28 deaths from cancer other than lung cancer, compared with the control in which the number of deaths from such cancers was 12. This is statistically significant.

After 20 years the results were the same.

Another study, with a wider range, was the 'Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial' (MRFIT) in the US.

In this there were 12,866 subjects. They were all shown to be at risk of heart disease because of their lifestyle and general health. (With 300 risk factors that's not surprising.) One group was given drugs for high blood pressure, encouraged to eat more healthily, and to stop smoking. The other was left alone, as in the Whitehall study.

These were not self-selected studies, and seem to have been conducted competently. At the end of the MRFIT study, 41.2 per thousand of the 'healthy' group were dead, as against the 40.4 per thousand of the other.

Scientists investigating the study didn't like the results, and went over them again. They found that the drugs to reduce high blood pressure had in fact increased the death rate among the men given them, and were forced to conclude that the risk factors had nothing to do with the actual risks.

Professor Burch, in a letter to the British Medical Journal (March 1985) pointed out that in these two studies:

In the low smoking intervention groups 56 cases of lung cancer were recorded in a total starting population of 7,142 men (0.78%); the corresponding number for the more heavily smoking normal care groups being 53 in 7,169 (0.74%).

Findings for cancer other than those of the lung were even more surprising.


Some 88 cases (1.23%) were recorded in the low smoking intervention groups, but only 60 cases (0.84%) in the normal care groups. Thus in the category 'all cancers' there were 144 cases (2.02%) in the intervention groups but 113 cases (1.58%) in the more heavily smoking normal care groups. Reduced levels of smoking were associated with increases in cancer incidence.

It is fair to ask experts to explain why these remarkable findings from methodologically reputable trials conflict so drastically with their Epidemiological claims.

Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

If you desperately want a few examples of carcinogens present in toxicologically relevant quantities in cigarette smoke (other than the two I already gave you), I'm sure I could dig out a good few literature references from my PhD. However, I'm sure that as a gentleman you will accept my good-faith assertion, backed by unanimous expert opinion in the field (cave consensus and all that) that there are such carcinogens. We are, after all, talking about chemicals that can be measured and experimented upon, not humans or climates which cannot (ethically) be experimented upon. I'm as certain that cigarette smoke contains carcinogens as I am that all life existing today has a common ancestor.

Re: Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

"However, I'm sure that as a gentleman you will accept my good-faith assertion, backed by unanimous expert opinion in the field (cave consensus and all that) that there are such carcinogens."
------------------
Dear Sir,

Never said there were no carcinogens;the question was 'How much?'

You know; that old nonsense about 'the dose makes the poison'!!
.....................

"If you desperately want a few examples of carcinogens present in toxicologically relevant quantities in cigarette smoke (other than the two I already gave you), I'm sure I could dig out a good few literature references from my PhD."

----------------------------

You never did mention dose or toxicological levels!!!

Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

You say that smoking is the leading cause of preventable cancer deaths.
----

Where did I say that???

---

You say that smoking is the leading cause of preventable Heart Disease deaths.

---

Where did I say that??? Stop putting words in my mouth, it's most rude!


---

Washington DC ... Minnesota ...

---

Right. No confounders there. I mean, it's not as if you're comparing a poor, black, catholic, urban area with a wealthy, white, protestant, semi-rural area or anything.

---

Half were encouraged to give up smoking, the others were left alone. After a year smoking in the intervention group (the nagged) was down by 75%.

---

Yeah, again, no confounders at all. Intervention (not entirely successful) versus none. Where's your placebo? Why wasn't the second group nagged to give up sex? That would have been a better control. And 10-year all-causes mortality simply doesn't cut it - it would be more impressive to wait until they were all dead and compare cause of death for all subjects. This is not a controlled experiment.


---
MRFIT

---

Nothing here surprises me. We know one thing - trying to persuade people to change their lifestyles doesn't work at the population level. Not enough individuals sit up, take notice, and do something, to make many public health "information" campaigns worth the effort. And you can't reliably measure 300 lifestyle choices let alone determine reliably the extent to which anyone has consciously changed them. Ever tried asking someone to be honest about how much they drink?

Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

You never did mention dose or toxicological levels!!!

---

Orders of magnitude more than in eggs.

There's clearly no point continuing this conversation - you've decided that smoking cigarettes doesn't increase your lung cancer risk and that's the end of it. Delving into the evidence for a claim involves more than latching on to a few snippets of information that support one's preconceived notions. I somehow doubt it's sheer coincidence that the proportion of smokers among subjects in lung cancer trials I've worked on is more than double the proportion of smokers in the general population, but you do.

Feel free to get the last word in and think you've prevailed as a result. I'll see you in another thread sometime.

Re: Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

Dear Sir,
You never did mention dose or toxicological levels!

Since you disregard "the dose makes the poison" and all people that ingest too much salt die, I presume that you have totally given up on using salt in your diet?

Am so sorry about your leaving!

Re: Re: Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

I must be a little dense.

Aren't both JamesV and GaryK basically arguing the same side of the story?

Good flame fest without a lot of flames though. A prime example of why discussing such topics in a Bar with a beer in your hand is infinitely better than doing it in a web forum.

Of course we need to find a bar where smoking is allowed so James can puff on his pipe with adequate enough ventilation that I don't get all the carcinogens in the smoke while I eat my egg sandwich with bacon on white bread with mayonnaise.

Somehow both of us will manage to leave the bar without dying.

Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

Gary seems to be arguing that smoking your own cigarettes doesn't cause lung cancer, which I am not arguing. The Washington/Minnesota thing has to be a prize entry for the "how many logical fallacies can I fit into one statement" contest. I forgot to mention that comparing any 2 of 51 states gives you 1275 potential comparisons. Some of those comparisons will fit any preconceived notion you care to choose. That's why it's important to specify in advance what you are comparing, and between which areas/states/people etc. There will be at least one state with both a higher smoking rate and longer life expectancy than another, for example, and I am surprised we weren't treated to it. Finding that out post-hoc doesn't tell us anything at all.

Re: Naked Scientist Quackery

Hmmm. Interesting.
More interesting would be that people today probably believe that our environment is far far worse than it used to be.
Hence all the concern about particulates etc.
Interestingly, ARIC tells us that back in the 60s winter particulates in urban areas were around 250micrograms/m3,
Today they say the levels are around 40microgams/m3. More generally the particulate levels elsewhere range to about 10micrograms/m3.
To me that is a significant reduction (I must say I miss the semll of coal smoke on a winters morning walking in the hills past the various cottages with their chimneys smoking away. Fortunately there are still a few enthusiasts running steam trains where the authentic steam and coal experience can be revisited.
Don't get me wrong, we do need sensible measures to control our pollution and yes smog was bad for you. But it wasn't exactly decimating the population.
There is much excitement about shipping pollution but according to one source shipping particulates in the highest intensity amount to 1-2micrograms/m3.
Now I can't vouch for any of these figures, but I think the overall message is clear; we are being made icnreasingly paranoid about less and less.