Monday, 20 April 2009

Stupid Scotsman And The Bastardisation Of Science And Journalism

It wasn't so long ago that I mentioned the Scotsman newspaper as being, well, rather crap. Unfortunately for their dwindling Jockland readers, it doesn't appear as if they will be improving anytime soon.

Ban helps heavy smokers to cut their drinking levels

IT HAS tackled two vices for the price of one. The ban on lighting up north of the border has resulted in heavy-drinking smokers cutting back on alcohol.

Well, bugger me sideways, what a result for the righteous. Mung bean fritatas and treble pomegranate juices all round.

A survey of 1,000 adults after the smoking ban was introduced found that Scots smokers who also enjoyed at least two drinks a day cut back by an average of six drinks a week. The research, carried out in America and Scotland, appears to dispel fears that Scots discouraged from pubs because of the smoking ban would consume more alcohol at home.

Really, Tom Peterkin of The Scotsman? Are you sure about that? Or are you just being a lazy hack who can't be arsed to do your research before writing indolent pish?

Sherry McKee, of Yale University, said: "Smokers who were moderate or heavy drinkers drank less in pubs following the ban."

Err ... of course they drank less in pubs after the ban. If they bothered going at all, they spent more of their drinking time outside the pub. But just hold on a second, where is the part which proves potty Peterkin's analysis that pub consumption wasn't topped up by drinking elsewhere?

"That is a benefit for public health in that it reduces the alcohol consumption of a category of people who are at most risk from disease. This is the first time it has been demonstrated that smoking bans have an affect on alcohol consumption."

Quite a leap from the unfortunately named Sherry (geddit?). Less drinking in pubs must be proof that the alcohol intake isn't bolstered by other supplies at home?

Methinks Sherry must have an agenda, and it didn't take more than 3 Google seconds to find it (Peterkin obviously hasn't heard of Google).

Our research group is focused on improving treatment for those with nicotine and alcohol use disorders. Much of our work is aimed at developing and validating laboratory paradigms designed to evaluate medication effects on self-administration behavior.

"Use disorders"? "self-administration behavior"? So by self-administering (ie drinking or smoking), one must obviously be suffering from a 'disorder' now? Good fucking grief.

I don't suppose she has a pre-determined outcome for her studies by any chance? Well, actually, she may well have. She is a proponent of a drug called Varenicline, otherwise known as Champix over here. She's quite keen on it.

A popular smoking cessation drug dramatically reduced the amount a heavy drinker will consume, a new Yale School of Medicine study has found.

"We anticipate that the results of this preliminary study will trigger clinical trials of varenicline as a primary treatment for alcohol use disorders, and as a potential dual treatment for alcohol and tobacco use disorders," said Sherry McKee.

You may have heard of Champix (Chantix in the US) before. It has been linked to so many suicides in the US that the makers, Pfizer, have been forced to warn users that, although they may well give up smoking, the urge to jump off of the nearest skyscraper may become overwhelming.

Pfizer, who make the smoking cessation drug Chantix (varenicline), have updated the drug's labelling in the United States to reflect the fact patients may experience "serious neuropsychiatric symptoms", including suicidal behaviour.

The BBC reported on the same phenomenon in the UK. Far from being worried about the side effects of Champix on those who wish to quit smoking (or are forced to) though, Sherry is pushing for it to be extended as a treatment for those who 'self-administer' alcohol. Her sponsors are quoted as Yale University alone, but guess who has been interwoven with Yale for quite a few years.

Pfizer may partner with Yale

Drug company to announce plans with Yale, New Haven for new clinical trial center

And ...

Yale and Pfizer launch visiting professorship pilot program

Yale School of Medicine and Pfizer Global Research have launched a pilot program to enhance scientific interactions between Pfizer and Yale.

The program also provides Yale faculty with an improved understanding of the drug discovery process in order to counsel its students more effectively on career opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry.

No conflict of interests there then.

It's not difficult to find this stuff, so what is Tom Peterkin's problem? Why is he regurgitating faux science as fact without even a pretence of investigation? Dizzy explained it well on Friday.

... reporters are failing us because they don't really report anymore, they just repeat. Whether its a smear here or there, or just a press release that has been taken at face value without a critical eye added. Deadlines, copy, and filling column inches take precedent over seeking out the truth. It's truly a shite state of affairs to be in.

With appalling journalistic standards such as that displayed by Peterkin, is it any wonder that the Scotsman is suffering a dramatic decline in readership? Not just in dead tree sales but also in their internet stats. As former Scotsman editor Stewart Kirkpatrick opined in February.

The Scotsman is dying.

And who cares? It's not like their writers are adding value.

Stupid Scotsman.


Anonymous said...

I've never read a more biased and PC correct newspaper in my life.

The Scotsman went downhill ages ago. Propaganda, spin and lies is all that it reports.

BTW - everyone I know consumes so much more alchohol since the smoking ban. Personally I've gone from drinking once a week to every night and I've piled on over a stone.
Do I care about the health brigade - no I don't. I needed the extra stone as I was a stick insect.
I also like saying 'up yours' to the PC health brigade.
If they back-off, I may get 'back to normal'.

Unknown said...

There's a drug that gets you to give up drinking and smoking and makes you feel suicidal?

We don't need it here - we have the government.

Rich White said...

Although, giving up smoking and drinking would make you suicidal anyway.

Anonymous said...

It's such a shame. When I used to live in Edinburgh, I always read the Scotsman an it's so sad to see it's decline. I could always rely on them for well structured and unbiased articles that I could understand and take on board with ease.
Sadly, when I was 7, my parents moved to the south of england and the cartoons were nowhere near as good.

banned said...

Tom Peterkin clearly has hand-on-cock use disorder.

vincent1 said...

Superbly written Dick.
I agree with all the comments, same her annon, with the extra weight, extra fags, extra drink, since the ban.
I bet we could get more than a 1000 like us, due to the ban.
mandyv fighting for choice and TRUTH
smokers and non-smokers alike welcome

Anonymous said...

The Media in Scotland will not publish anything that might put them at odds with Holyrood.
Public Petition PE1246 is a prime example, it even gets a mention in
ASH Scotland's Daily Bulletin.
Just scroll down to the bottom and you will see the link to the petition.

Well done Freedom To Choose(Scotland)