Ten perverse intellectual contortions: a guide to the sophistry of anti-vaping activists

This puts it nicely:

Life is short and shorter for smokers. Just legalise vaping.

That statement is a plain-speaking and hyper-concise dissenting report from Andrew Laming MP, one of two dissenting reports from Australia’s recently-completed parliamentary inquiry into vaping  (The other dissenting report provides a model of clear, concise reasoning too, and, unusually, the dissent came from the committee chairman, signalling a welcome fracture in Australia’s political support for prohibition)

Though short, it is basically right and sufficient: no-one is trying to live forever; everyone is trying to enjoy the life they have; some people like the drug nicotine or don’t want to quit enough to stop using it; smokers die earlier because of smoke; vaping avoids the smoke problem and does not appear to create new material problems; so it follows that vaping should not be illegal. In fact, it should be encouraged.  It really is that simple.

The dissenting reports prompt me to raise the issue of simplicity versus sophistry in the debate over tobacco harm reduction. This has bugged me for years. Vaping and tobacco harm reduction is basically simple. The arguments raised against it by anti-vaping opponents are laden with sophistry.

This blog looks at ten forms of sophistry used by anti-vaping activists to fabricate and fuel faux controversy. It is longer than I would like,  but the subject is far from exhausted. Please dip in.

Continue reading “Ten perverse intellectual contortions: a guide to the sophistry of anti-vaping activists”

Bad science, accountability and courage – speech by AG Tom Miller

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller
Tom Miller: “public policy through facts and science rather than ideology”

On 17 November 2016, the Iowa Attorney General, Tom Miller, gave a speech at the E-cigarette Summit 2016 (with biography) on e-cigarettes examining the claims of anti-vaping activists, and their scientific, ethical and legal basis. The full text of the speech is here: America Needs England (PDF). I reported an earlier speech here.

The speech should be widely read, especially in the United States. To facilitate an informed reading, I have reproduced the speech here, with some thematic subheadings, source links and illustrations [these are my additions].

Continue reading “Bad science, accountability and courage – speech by AG Tom Miller”

Fearless or clueless? Portland researchers defence of their flawed e-cigarette formaldehyde study

Any idea what this is or what you do with it?

Readers will recall the letter in the New England Journal of Medicine (22 January 2015)  on Hidden Formaldehyde in E-cigarette Aerosol – and its flawed highly misleading calculations of cancer risk that gained worldwide attention. See my various blogs on this scientific shambles).

It now seems that Portland Univeristy is describing the team that brought us this fiasco as ‘fearless researchers‘, presumably because they have had the bull-neck to ignore the tsunami of informed criticism that has swept over them from scientists and knowledgeable users about the elementary errors in their methodology – to the point of mockery by analogy with burning toast.

So let’s take a look at how they have defended themselves. On 16 April 2015, the NEJM published a critical letter and a reply by the authors. Usefully, the letter reveals the authors’ defence of their work and demonstrates that it is wholly inadequate.  The case for retraction remains undiminished. Continue reading “Fearless or clueless? Portland researchers defence of their flawed e-cigarette formaldehyde study”

More on New England Journal of Medicine fake formaldehyde scandal

Curious

On 20 October, I received an enigmatic reply (above) from the Editor-in-Chief of the New England Journal of Medicine. This was to my letter from April complaining about the publication of a flawed study on e-cigarettes and formaldehyde in the NEJM. His note didn’t say much, but it was copied to around 40 others, so I thought I ought to reply. It is an opportunity to write explaining some of the fallout.

You can refresh your memory of this sorry episode here and here.

Here is my response…  Continue reading “More on New England Journal of Medicine fake formaldehyde scandal”

Flawed e-cigarette formaldehyde paper should be retracted – formal complaint and supporting letter published

Remember this? Our complaint to NEJM and case for retraction is published.

Continue reading “Flawed e-cigarette formaldehyde paper should be retracted – formal complaint and supporting letter published”

Spreading fear and confusion with misleading formaldehyde studies

formaldehyde

See updates:

Another alarmist and deeply misleading story about formaldehyde and e-cigarettes has now emerged in the New England Journal of Medicine: Jensen et al Hidden Formaldehyde in E-cigarette Aerosols.

Short summary. This experiment, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, operated the vaping device at a such a high temperature that it produced thermal breakdown products (so-called dry puff conditions), but no user would ever be able to use it this way – the vapour would be too acrid.  They went on to calculate human cancer risk from these unrealistic machine measurements and presented the data in way that was bound to mislead, which it duly did and created a world-wide media storm. This was irresponsible science, careless publishing, and credulous journalism adversely changing the perceptions of the relative risks of smoking and vaping in a way that will cause harm. The paper should be retracted in its entirety.

Just before it was published,  I wrote to the corresponding authors and the editor of the journal, and I would like to share my open letters.  Continue reading “Spreading fear and confusion with misleading formaldehyde studies”