Science Lies?

Madeline

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Anyone read "Hyping Health Risks" by Geoffrey Kabar?

Hyping Health Risks provides a valuable counterpoint to the confusion and paranoia that seems to grow proportionate to the constant barrage of health risk studies. Examining four of the most persistent and controversial issues in public health, Kabat's lucid and well-written book gives the lay reader all the basic concepts and epidemiological tools she needs to understand the available evidence. His presentation allows us to better discriminate between what matters to our health and what matters to the 'hypers'-a wide array of stakeholders, some well-intentioned, some much less so. -- Ernest Drucker, Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Geoffrey C. Kabat, a respected epidemiologist, provides an insider's account of how a number of ostensible health hazards have been blown out of proportion. While we face a daily barrage of health scares, Kabat cuts through the confusion and provides a lucid and rigorous rationale for rejecting much of the fear culture that permeates our society. -- Shelly Ungar, University of Toronto

With clarity and dispassion, Geoffrey C. Kabat challenges widespread beliefs that secondhand smoke, low levels of radon, and other ostensible environmental nemeses are certain killers. In making his case, Kabat draws extensively on scientific evidence while shunning rhetoric and political posturing. The result is an admirable search for scientific truth amid a sea of conflicting and often uninformed opinions. -- Leonard Cole, Rutgers University
[ame=http://www.amazon.com/Hyping-Health-Risks-Environmental-Epidemiology/dp/0231141483/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1275208074&sr=1-1]Amazon.com: Hyping Health Risks: Environmental Hazards in Daily Life and the Science of…[/ame]


What caught my eye when I read the book review in "Skeptical Inquirer" magazine was that the "proof" that second hand smoke kills does not exist, according to the author. Not only do I smoke, but I have watched several businesses in my neighborhood go under as a result of the recent smoking ban here. All this nagging and misery for naught?

Makes me mad enough to hit someone.
 

RetiredGySgt

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Anyone read "Hyping Health Risks" by Geoffrey Kabar?

Hyping Health Risks provides a valuable counterpoint to the confusion and paranoia that seems to grow proportionate to the constant barrage of health risk studies. Examining four of the most persistent and controversial issues in public health, Kabat's lucid and well-written book gives the lay reader all the basic concepts and epidemiological tools she needs to understand the available evidence. His presentation allows us to better discriminate between what matters to our health and what matters to the 'hypers'-a wide array of stakeholders, some well-intentioned, some much less so. -- Ernest Drucker, Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Geoffrey C. Kabat, a respected epidemiologist, provides an insider's account of how a number of ostensible health hazards have been blown out of proportion. While we face a daily barrage of health scares, Kabat cuts through the confusion and provides a lucid and rigorous rationale for rejecting much of the fear culture that permeates our society. -- Shelly Ungar, University of Toronto

With clarity and dispassion, Geoffrey C. Kabat challenges widespread beliefs that secondhand smoke, low levels of radon, and other ostensible environmental nemeses are certain killers. In making his case, Kabat draws extensively on scientific evidence while shunning rhetoric and political posturing. The result is an admirable search for scientific truth amid a sea of conflicting and often uninformed opinions. -- Leonard Cole, Rutgers University
[ame=http://www.amazon.com/Hyping-Health-Risks-Environmental-Epidemiology/dp/0231141483/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1275208074&sr=1-1]Amazon.com: Hyping Health Risks: Environmental Hazards in Daily Life and the Science of…[/ame]


What caught my eye when I read the book review in "Skeptical Inquirer" magazine was that the "proof" that second hand smoke kills does not exist, according to the author. Not only do I smoke, but I have watched several businesses in my neighborhood go under as a result of the recent smoking ban here. All this nagging and misery for naught?

Makes me mad enough to hit someone.
Born in 1957 and having lived through the 60's and 70's I have NO sympathy for smokers being banned. You see in the 60's and 70's there were no NONE smoking areas. Smokers would light up anywhere they pleased.

I happen to dislike cigarette smoke, having had to live through it as a child both parents smoked.

The pendulum as swung live with it till it swings back again.
 
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Madeline

Madeline

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RetiredGySgt, believe it or not I am a VERY polite smoker. I did not smoke if it bothered people and if I was near someone I did not know, I asked. I think 95% of people who smoke are like that, but yes, I do recall when there just were no bars or restaurants that accommodated people who dislike smoking.

The book deals with other science lies, such as the allegation that power lines cause cancer. Millions and millions of dollars have been spent researching this claim and despite all failure of proof, many still believe this -- to such a degree, some unfortunate property owners have seen their land lose value.

I just wondered if any science geeks here have read the book and what they thought of it. I did not mean to spank nonsmokers.

 
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Madeline

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There is a difference between a scientific breakthrough that shows an error in thinking in the past and an outright LIE.

What science lies do you know of, standunited?
 

SmarterThanHick

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Anyone read "Hyping Health Risks" by Geoffrey Kabar?
Amazon.com: Hyping Health Risks: Environmental Hazards in Daily Life and the Science of…


What caught my eye when I read the book review in "Skeptical Inquirer" magazine was that the "proof" that second hand smoke kills does not exist, according to the author. Not only do I smoke, but I have watched several businesses in my neighborhood go under as a result of the recent smoking ban here. All this nagging and misery for naught?

Makes me mad enough to hit someone.
Let me make sure I just understand this correctly. You are trusting the word of a single epidemiologist who doesn't have the source or subject of his doctorate disclosed anywhere online and who is trying to make money selling his book over the mountain of unbiased peer-reviewed scientific literature that directly proves him wrong? This is exactly why the average layperson should not have voting privileges for health issues. There is so much research on this topic, we can examine the effects of second hand smoke through meta analysis:

Environmental tobacco smoke exposure and perinatal outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analyses.
"CONCLUSIONS: [Environmental tobacco smoke]-exposed women have increased risks of infants with lower birthweight, congenital anomalies"

Cardiovascular effect of bans on smoking in public places: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
"CONCLUSIONS: Smoking bans in public places and workplaces are significantly associated with a reduction in [heart attack] incidence, particularly if enforced over several years."

Meta-analysis of studies of passive smoking and lung cancer: effects of study type and continent.
"CONCLUSIONS: The abundance of evidence, consistency of finding across continent and study type, dose-response relationship and biological plausibility, overwhelmingly support the existence of a causal relationship between passive smoking and lung cancer."

Passive environmental smoking has been definitively linked to increased heart and lung disease in adults, as well as increased risk of asthma and ear infections in children. The topic made you buy his book though, didn't it? $$$
 

eagleseven

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You are trusting the word of a single epidemiologist who doesn't have the source or subject of his doctorate disclosed anywhere online
One does not become a Senior Epidemiologist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine through fraud. If you took the time to do your homework, you would learn that he has personally researched this topic for decades, with multiple peer-reviewed journal publications:

Environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality in a prospective study of Californians, 1960-98

The Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project: Description of a Multi-Institutional Collaboration to Identify Environmental Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

Tobacco, alcohol intake, and diet in relation to adenocarcinoma of the esophagus and gastric cardia

Lung cancer in nonsmokers

Environmental Toxins and Breast Cancer on Long Island. II. Organochlorine Compound Levels in Blood

The Role of Tobacco, Alcohol Use, and Body Mass Index in Oral and Pharyngeal Cancer

Relation between Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke and Lung Cancer in Lifetime Nonsmokers

Body Mass Index and Lung Cancer Risk

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

Regarding your meta-analyses, these are precisely what Kabat's published articles dispute:

Environmental tobacco smoke and coronary heart disease mortality in the United States - A meta-analysis and critique (2006)

Abstract

Several major meta-analyses have concluded that exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) increases the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) by about 25% among never smokers. However, these reviews have excluded a large portion of the epidemiologic evidence on questionable grounds and have been inconsistent in the selection of the results that are included. We conducted an updated meta-analysis and critique of the evidence on ETS exposure and its relationship to death from CHD among never smokers. Our focus is on the U. S. cohort studies, which provide the vast majority of the available evidence. ETS exposure is assessed in terms of spousal smoking, self-reported estimates, and personal monitoring. The epidemiologic results are summarized by means of overall relative risks and dose-response relationships. The methodological issues of publication bias, exposure misclassification, and confounding are discussed. Several large studies indicate that spousal smoking history is a valid measure of relative exposure to ETS, particularly for females. Personal monitoring of nonsmokers indicates that their average ETS exposure from a smoking spouse is equivalent in terms of nicotine exposure to smoking less than 0.1 cigarettes per day. When all relevant studies are included in the meta-analysis and results are appropriately combined, current or ever exposure to ETS, as approximated by spousal smoking, is associated with roughly a 5% increased risk of death from CHD in never smokers. Furthermore, there is no dose-response relationship and no elevated risk associated with the highest level of ETS exposure in males or females. An objective assessment of the available epidemiologic evidence indicates that the association of ETS with CHD death in U. S. never smokers is very weak. Previous assessments appear to have overestimated the strength of the association.
 
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eagleseven

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My opinion on smoking? Don't do it, it's bad for you and damned expensive.

But banning it from bars is simply stupid. People go to bars to ingest poison as it is!
 

ScottBernard

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I think the OP was trying to discern between scientific fact versus hype and hysteria.
High fructose corn syrup for example. You would think it's arsenic the way people have been talking about it lately. Hey, a soft drink is basically liquid candy. Once in a while is a treat. If you drink a six-pack a day you may have some problems.
Other than that, I don't give a shit.
 

westwall

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There is a difference between a scientific breakthrough that shows an error in thinking in the past and an outright LIE.

What science lies do you know of, standunited?


Anthropogenic(man caused) global warming for one. Eugenics, the Tuskeegee syphilis experiments, a whole host of ethically challenged psychology experiments, etc. etc. etc.
 

SmarterThanHick

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You are trusting the word of a single epidemiologist who doesn't have the source or subject of his doctorate disclosed anywhere online
One does not become a Senior Epidemiologist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine through fraud. If you took the time to do your homework, you would learn that he has personally researched this topic for decades, with multiple peer-reviewed journal publications:

Regarding your meta-analyses, these are precisely what Kabat's published articles dispute:

Environmental tobacco smoke and coronary heart disease mortality in the United States - A meta-analysis and critique (2006)
Excellent points, except I have done my homework. The studies I cited were published after his findings and as far as I can tell took into account his claims of "but you didn't look at everything right". Notice how no further publications have been released since that point that refute any of the studies I cited.

I agree with you that one does not become a senior epidemiologist through fraud. You get there by being employed for a while. That's all that "senior" means. It's not a leadership role. As for the topic, I believe it was a legitimate issue, and he had a gripe with the way people were doing their meta-analyses, and published accordingly. But the evidence continues to show that second hand smoke is harmful. So again I ask: do you believe the hoards of independent unbiased researchers and epidemiologists who say there's something there, or the one guy who stands apart and who appears to have a bigger issue with the way things are being analyzed, and who is trying to sell a book?
 

G.T.

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I don't need a Study of what second-hand smoke does to someone to know what it does to someone. The conclusive studies of the harmful effects of first-hand smoke, and the fact that we breath in the air around us, tells me enough to not want to be anywhere near it.
 

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By stirct definition science done propely can not lie. Science as most people think of it is a set of outcomes in a given circumstance, if you do X while Y and Z are going on XX will occur. So no it can't lie, it can and often is misinterpreted or misreppresentd in order to further personal or politcal goals/desires. That is the downfalll of science, it requires people to interpret it.
 
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Madeline

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Anyone read "Hyping Health Risks" by Geoffrey Kabar?
Amazon.com: Hyping Health Risks: Environmental Hazards in Daily Life and the Science of…


What caught my eye when I read the book review in "Skeptical Inquirer" magazine was that the "proof" that second hand smoke kills does not exist, according to the author. Not only do I smoke, but I have watched several businesses in my neighborhood go under as a result of the recent smoking ban here. All this nagging and misery for naught?

Makes me mad enough to hit someone.
Let me make sure I just understand this correctly. You are trusting the word of a single epidemiologist who doesn't have the source or subject of his doctorate disclosed anywhere online and who is trying to make money selling his book over the mountain of unbiased peer-reviewed scientific literature that directly proves him wrong? This is exactly why the average layperson should not have voting privileges for health issues. There is so much research on this topic, we can examine the effects of second hand smoke through meta analysis:

Environmental tobacco smoke exposure and perinatal outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analyses.
"CONCLUSIONS: [Environmental tobacco smoke]-exposed women have increased risks of infants with lower birthweight, congenital anomalies"

Cardiovascular effect of bans on smoking in public places: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
"CONCLUSIONS: Smoking bans in public places and workplaces are significantly associated with a reduction in [heart attack] incidence, particularly if enforced over several years."

Meta-analysis of studies of passive smoking and lung cancer: effects of study type and continent.
"CONCLUSIONS: The abundance of evidence, consistency of finding across continent and study type, dose-response relationship and biological plausibility, overwhelmingly support the existence of a causal relationship between passive smoking and lung cancer."

Passive environmental smoking has been definitively linked to increased heart and lung disease in adults, as well as increased risk of asthma and ear infections in children. The topic made you buy his book though, didn't it? $$$
SmarterThanHick, common sense has led me to question the validity of second-hand-smoke-kills claims. Do you recollect the asbestos cases? They still go on...Johns Manville was the chief defendant, but there were others. They are still paying claims filed by workers exposed to asbestos who were not told that eventually, they might die of mesothelioma.

What's curious about the disease is that only smokers get it, because the use of tobacco cigarettes paralyzes the cilia inside the lining of the nose and respiratory system and thus, allows asbestos particles to be introduced. If the cilia of nonsmokers were not paralyzed by exposure to second-hand smoke, it makes me wonder how it could be that all the other claimed bad effects of second hand smoke are true?

But leave aside smoking for the moment. I am curious about the Land Of Science -- it is not a place I know well. The Land Of Statistics is full of lies, of polls designed from the get-go to arrive at a desired result. I wonder if this can also be done in science? And if it can, do such scientific tales get told in the major peer-review journals? Do the editorial boards of such journals ever reject an article that is scientifically sound because the results are not palatable to them?

BTW, there are many such books around. "Voodoo Science" by Robert L. Park is one of the most famous. I was just curious as to what the science geeks thought of this genre of literature. After the debacle of "massaged data" on global warming, it seems pretty clear science ain't quite as scientific as we might like.

[ame=http://www.amazon.com/Voodoo-Science-Road-Foolishness-Fraud/dp/0195147103/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1275410422&sr=8-1]Amazon.com: Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud (9780195147100): Robert L. Park: Books[/ame]
 

G.T.

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Mad, I'm not sure how common-sense doesn't follow general theory for you here. First-hand smoke is carcinogen ingested through inhalation. Second hand smoke is carcinogen ingested through inhalation. I'm not sure how common sense would tell you it DOESN'T have harmful effects. I don't see the logic there.
 
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Madeline

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There is a difference between a scientific breakthrough that shows an error in thinking in the past and an outright LIE.

What science lies do you know of, standunited?
Anthropogenic(man caused) global warming for one. Eugenics, the Tuskeegee syphilis experiments, a whole host of ethically challenged psychology experiments, etc. etc. etc.
westwall, I am aware of at least some of the psychology experiements you refer to. Their results are what they are. The fact that whetever knowledge they may have to contribute was gained by ethically-replusive means is terrible, but that's not quite the same as saying the results are lies.

I recall an English experiment in which newborns were separated into two groups. One group was cuddled and cooed at, the other received ZERO emotional or physical comfort and merely had clean diapers, formula, etc. Many neglected babies died and more failed to thrive. Why we needed dead babies to tell us humans need love to survive is beyond me, but that does not invalidate the result.
 
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Madeline

Madeline

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You are trusting the word of a single epidemiologist who doesn't have the source or subject of his doctorate disclosed anywhere online
One does not become a Senior Epidemiologist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine through fraud. If you took the time to do your homework, you would learn that he has personally researched this topic for decades, with multiple peer-reviewed journal publications:

Regarding your meta-analyses, these are precisely what Kabat's published articles dispute:

Environmental tobacco smoke and coronary heart disease mortality in the United States - A meta-analysis and critique (2006)
Excellent points, except I have done my homework. The studies I cited were published after his findings and as far as I can tell took into account his claims of "but you didn't look at everything right". Notice how no further publications have been released since that point that refute any of the studies I cited.

I agree with you that one does not become a senior epidemiologist through fraud. You get there by being employed for a while. That's all that "senior" means. It's not a leadership role. As for the topic, I believe it was a legitimate issue, and he had a gripe with the way people were doing their meta-analyses, and published accordingly. But the evidence continues to show that second hand smoke is harmful. So again I ask: do you believe the hoards of independent unbiased researchers and epidemiologists who say there's something there, or the one guy who stands apart and who appears to have a bigger issue with the way things are being analyzed, and who is trying to sell a book?
SmarterThanHick, is the only proof available for the second-hand-smoke-kills claims these "meta-analyses"? It sounds as if the scientists have observed large groups of people and drawn conclusions about the operation of a single substance in their environments from their health status over time.

Does science claim to know HOW second-hand-smoke-kills? What is the disease-making effect? How is it possible so many non-smokers have no ill effects? What is different about those non-smokers who do have them? Are those differences also casual agents?

There's no doubt there have been cancer clusters on Long Island. But decades later, all the research available seems to support the conclusion that these clusters are a statistical anomaly. There is NOTHING causal in the environment of Long Island that causes cancer in some people in a way that is different from the rest of New York, or the country.

I wonder if we will eventually have to admit this is also true for second hand smoke? It cannot be denied that a vast majority of Humans in the US would LIKE that to never happen -- can such a forceful desire become a scientific bias?
 

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