Wednesday 9 June 2010

ASH Junk Science And Shoddy BBC Reporting

One has to wonder sometimes if ASH tell lies in their sleep.

There were 1,200 fewer hospital admissions for heart attacks in England in the year after July 2007 - when the smoking ban came in, a study suggests.

The 2.4% drop was much more modest than that reported in some areas where similar bans have been introduced, but may still have saved the NHS over £8m.
Well, I suppose it's what one would expect a board member of ASH to conclude, isn't it? Yet such a possibility didn't occur to Comrade Beeb, who just cut and pasted it anyway. I mean, seriously, BBC 'journalists' have reduced the art of reporting to an unskilled profession which could just as easily be performed by trained chimps - but Beeb journos aren't paid peanuts, more's the pity.

However, while richly rewarded professionals with huge resources at their disposal are parroting this arrant nonsense, an unpaid blogger, with just a copy of the report and a keyboard, is able to effortlessly expose the claims as farcical.

As you can see, the decline in admissions in the year after the smoking ban was larger than the year before but smaller than the year before that. In fact, the average in the previous two years was 4.2%—almost exactly what it was in the year after the ban (4.26%).
I urge you to read the whole article as it reveals the corrupt methods used to twist and distort data into fitting a pre-determined outcome.

The Beeb's hacks may be blissfully ignorant, but for others, who actually possess an enquiring mind, it is no surprise. You see, the report's author, Dr Anna Gilmore, has been mentioned on these pages before. You may remember that she has been a beneficiary of grants totalling over £10m solely for producing shonky reports, such as the one published today, to 'prove' that failed anti-smoking policies work.

Or, to put it another way, she is paid to lie.

If Anna Gilmore told you it was lunchtime, your best course of action would probably be to ring the speaking clock before ordering your sandwich. Yet none of this has registered with the 'world-renowned news source' BBC.

It's worth pointing out that 'world-renowned' bit, as there is one other inaccuracy in the BBC article.

Focusing on a population of 49m, the Bath study, commissioned by the Department of Health, was the largest, most comprehensive study to date on the effects of smoke-free legislation anywhere in the world.
Except that it wasn't. Not even close.

I'd say that one which studied 217,023 heart attack admissions and 2 million heart attack deaths in 468 counties in all 50 states of the USA over an eight-year period would cover a tad larger population than 49m people. Wouldn't you?

That study, which was produced by a truly independent source rather than a paid anti-tobacco stooge working for a fake charity dedicated to advancing smoking bans, concluded thus.

we find that workplace bans are not associated with statistically significant short-term declines in mortality or hospital admissions for myocardial infarction or other diseases. An analysis simulating smaller studies using subsamples reveals that large short-term increases in myocardial infarction incidence following a workplace ban are as common as the large decreases reported in the published literature.
Or, to put it another way, smoking bans have no impact whatsoever on hospital admissions for heart attacks. Very odd that the BBC failed to report that one, isn't it?

What is truly worrying about this astounding mendacity and lackadaisical reporting, is that this is in just one small sector of public policy.

The state, and their quangoes, fake charities and paid lackeys, are lying to us. Every day. And in every area of our lives.


Captain Haddock said...

AljaBeeba & ZaNuLiebore both attended the same school of Lies, distortion & "convenient" facts ..

What else can one expect ?

g1lgam3sh said...

I really am starting to get ever so slightly irritated now...

Anonymous said...

What irritates me are the charletons and quacks who are getting away with this rubbish.
It's not just medicine, is it ? Every branch of science is being abused in this way by unscrupulous people for financial gain.
Aided and abetted by a crooked media ,well either crooked or gullible.
How many real journalists now operate within the MSM now.
You could count them on both hands believe me.
The rest are just dross.

Unknown said...

This is the bit that got my goat DP, from the BBC:

They said heart attack admissions had been falling in England in the run-up to the ban, making any subsequent decline far less dramatic.

They argued that one of the reasons for this fall prior to the 2007 legislation was the fact that many establishments had become smoke-free in anticipation of the ban.less likely to inflate the impact.

Are they trying to pre-empt Snowdon? Maybe they are monitoring his blog.

But what's this shite about "Many establishments" being smoke free before the ban?

Bunch of lying banstards the lot of them!

BrianB said...

"Are they trying to pre-empt Snowdon?"

Well John, they should know that Chris has already warned of what was afoot, that's true, but I strongly suspect that they are more concerned about the more influential reaction of Michael Siegel.

I can sense quite a lot within the report where they have tried really hard to be seen to have addressed the statistical issues that Siegel usually attacks in other such studies.

It really is an awful report though! Full of self-contratulatory verbiage and quasi-statistical jargon masquerading as evidence that they have a bloody clue what they are doing. Yet it is clearly demonstrated, from beginning to end, that the authors had to jump through methodological hoops just to be able to provide a result that (sort of) meets their predetermined outcome!

But at no point in the study - at no point - do they demonstrate that there is any link whatsoever between smoking (passive or otherwise) and short-term changes in heart attack numbers.

This really is garbage of the highest order.

But then, what should we expect from a study that contains no less than six references to papers that were co-authored by that well known paragon of statistical virtue and scientific integrity - Stanton Glantz?

Just about says it all, really!

Anonymous said...

These Anti Smokers really are creeps aren't they ?

Anonymous said...

What about other purported "causes" of the "sudden drop" that was actually a slow-down of a continous drop that had already been in progress for close to a decade? That is like saying "A" happened (which isn't the fact, "A" didn't "just" happen, but had been part of an ongoing trend) and because political event "B" can be shown to have happened, the smoking ban, then "B" "caused" "A".

But what about factors "C", "D", "E", "F", etc.

What else occurred that had nothing to do with smoking bans, smoking or anything related to tobacco - and it's plenty.

Statins started becoming widely available, changes in statistical collection methods may have occurred, were there increases/decreases in other events that may have registered over this same time period - all that is not taken into consideration.

It would be similar in the future to one saying Gordon Brown and Labour lost the elections in 2010 and in 2011, should the economy and the EU collapse, then one "caused" the other, in order to scare everyone back into the Labour camp way of thinking.

It's just political manipulation and on the same scale, only now it gets labelled "science" and the drones in the "news" business, who grew up with the Copy and Paste button on computers are unable to recognize valid journalistic integrity and investigation, simply use the Copy and Paste buttons to their fullest capacity, and call it what they've been taught/indoctrinated to believe is "the truth" and "honesty".

And it happens in broad daylight and at this point will have encompassed the entire globe - damage done and nobody the wiser.


BrianB said...

I wouldn't bring Gordon Brown into it Anonymous (above).

You do recall that Gordo became PM on 27 June 2007, don't you (3 days before the smoking ban)?

Given what we know about Gordo's effect on most people's stress levels, we would then be forced to conclude that heart attacks should have risen considerably after 1 July 2007 - hence that the smoking ban would have resulted in much bigger reductions than first thought!

Let's not go down that road - too many painful memories!

Anonymous said...

You forgot to include the link to the full BBC article:

Just for convenience ;)

J Bonington Jagworth said...

I notice they don't plot anything else alongside - like the drop in revenue from tobacco sales.

Come to think of, the figures could just as easily be interpreted as the result of the reduction in pub trade, as a result of the same ban...

Mr A said...

Yes, I was throwing fag packets at the Radio this morning, too. How is this even news? We knew these figures a year ago! Just as we know that in the year after this, hospital admissions went up. Are they going to report that? And why no context? This report, bullshit that it is, thoroughly tromps all over Pell's study of 42% (then erm, 17%). Why no mention that these REAL figures show a 4% drop as opposed to the 41% drop "predicted" by computer models (but reported as fact and quoted by Government) neverthless?

In fact this reporting is so abominable it's surely worth a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission. Not mentioning how it repudiates Pell is one thing. Not mentioning that it is part of a 30 year year-on-year drop is another. But saying it is the largest study ever is clearly wrong - an error in reporting. These fuckers need to apologise, on air, then maybe they'll actually do, you know, journalism.

Mr A said...

Oh and don't even get me started on causal relationships...

Did you know that Jordan's tis got even bigger once the economy faltered? Look! I have a graph that proves that as Jordan's tits grow the economy gets weaker!

These stupid, stupid bastards. ASH I can accept - lying is what they do. But do they actually have ANYONE with ANY scientific training at the BBC? Given their stance on Climate Change, I think not...

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

I've "been there" with the BBC, 7 years ago I came across several episodes of mendacious misrepresentation that really got me worked up. BBC TV and Radio current affairs / news were the perpetrators.

This was because I had direct experience of what they were talking about and professional expertise in the subject.

They didn't give a fig about whether the stories were accurate or the proffered analysis was anything more than a complete and baseless contrivance spun to play out their transparent agitprop agenda.

They would not even deign to respond to polite requests for clarification from an involved party.

Bunch of slimy conceited propagandists that would have Goebbels hooting and clapping.

Yeah - safe to say I don't like 'em I suppose.

Pat Nurse MA said...

They are just getting the lie ingrained in the public consciousness. After all tell a lie often enough ... Another five years of this ban will bring us the "truth" that not one non-smoker is dying of a heart attack and the only ones causing a strain on the NHS are smokers who will no doubt cost the service £20 billion... Tsk - these people! Shame the gullible are only to eager to believe them. How do we fight this crap?

The Travelling Toper said...

It's all very well for libertarians to fulminate vigourously about these despicable fraudsters but, as history tells us, zealots will carry on unperturbed until they attain their objectives. Unperturbed that is until we find a collective way of making the media publish our views equally with those of the zealots. Any amongst us with the necessary status to make the media listen need to step forward and use their influence to make our views public.

Unknown said...

Your right Topper, and they never stop looking for a new angle to peddle their filth.

Second hand smoke can make you crazy?