Thursday 3 September 2015

Anatomy Of A Charlatan

As a perfect example of how 'public health' can be run on ideological lines with no care about health or misleading the public, here is an interesting recent timeline involving the Faculty of Public Health's screaming lefty Director of Public Policy Simon Capewell.

Last week, the Lancet published an editorial designed to sling mud at Public Health England's positive report on e-cigs, I wrote about it here. Now, there would be no problem with a health publication debating some of the conclusions but The Lancet didn't do that, instead it merely hurled innuendo and ad hominems around which didn't really amount to a hill of beans, as described in the Speccie.
With wearying predictability, The Lancet launches into an ad hominem attack on two of the 11 authors of Nutt’s study. The editorial notes that one of the authors has consulted for a distributor of e-cigarettes and another has been a consultant to the pharmaceutical industry. Since Big Pharma does not make e-cigarettes and sees them as a rival to their own nicotine products it is debatable whether the second of these is a competing interest at all, but it is nevertheless there in black and white in the original study, as competing interests always are. 
According to The Lancet, the declared interests of two out of 11 authors of one study cited by Public Health England ‘raises serious questions not only about the conclusions of the PHE report, but also the quality of the agency’s peer review process’. This risible attempt to make a mountain out of a mole hill suggests that The Lancet is less interested in assessing the scientific evidence than in groping around for anything that might help blacken the PHE report’s name in the eyes of the public.
The Lancet editorial was published anonymously but it has been revealed since that Capewell was one of the authors. It created hostile attacks on e-cigs in the Daily Mail, Telegraph and Guardian and much foreign coverage complete with hyperbolic idiocy from activists, such as this from a blinkered nicotine-hater in the US.
“One of the studies used to make this conclusion was done by someone on the e-cigarette payroll,” [Erika Sward, the American Lung Association's assistant vice president of national advocacy] alleged. "What we’ve seen from the beginning since e-cigarettes have come out are unsubstantiated health claims by the industry and this is just one more.”
A quite ludicrous leap to get to that from a baseless slur but thank you for smoking America, do carry on.

Scroll on to Sunday and an obscure American online news source publishes an appalling click-bait article on e-cigs entitled  7 reasons e-cigarettes are bad. Considering it cherry-picked long-debunked junk science to make this misleading point, it was easily rubbished by Jacob Sullum of Reason in his response entitled 4 reasons this article about e-cigarettes is bad. It was also ripped to pieces by Mike Siegel.
The rest of the story is that most of these seven claims are false, all are misleading, all seven points actually demonstrate the public health value of e-cigarettes, and all seven arguments are taken almost verbatim from the propaganda being disseminated by colleagues of mine in the anti-smoking movement, demonstrating that their campaign of deception regarding e-cigarettes is working.
"Campaign of deception" is a very good description, because many in 'public health' are no longer working for the public good, they are just sitting on fat salaries and pumping out any old crap to enforce their absurd snobby prejudices on others, irrespective of health.

One of them is Capewell, who chose not to take into account a response to the Lancet by the authors of the Public Health England study, but instead to tweet to like-minded charalatans and fellow travellers the shite article mentioned above.

The Inquisitr article is utter junk - as Siegel's critique very ably shows - and can only mislead and spread baseless fear and confusion. Yet Professor Capewell decides it is more worthy than the considered views of public health colleagues!

Capewell enjoys a position of power in the UK public health network, yet appears completely uninterested in whether he is adversely influencing the public and seems to delight in spreading fear and confusion.  At the same time, he is aggressive and dismissive towards people who are actually listening to consumers and trying to eliminate the confusion, and doing so by smearing his own profession with ad hominems and deliberate abuse of declarations designed to show transparency. Capewell is not interested in whether or not e-cigs may be beneficial, he is just a policy advocate for the policies a guy called Simon Capewell would like to see.

And what's more, he is unelected, unaccountable and - as was shown in the case of fellow FPH nutter John Ashton - entirely immune to censure by his own organisation. He'll keep his job no matter how much nonsense he spouts and no matter how many people continue to smoke due to his bigotry, despite the Faculty of Public Health claiming to want smokers to quit. It's akin to someone working in KFC, openly spitting in customers' food and being given a pat on the back for it.

I only post this by way of explaining why I often say it's not about health, because a lot of the time it really isn't. It also explains why I sometimes use tags like 'shysters', 'health nazis', 'liar', 'troughers' and 'there's something very wrong with this country', because all of those apply to Capewell and many others who claim to be working for the public.

In reality, they couldn't give a shit.

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