Saturday 30 November 2013

The BMJ Is "Anti-Science"

In October I reported on how the BMJ had discarded its integrity by refusing studies funded by the tobacco industry. I made a couple of observations.
[...] we've always been told how brilliant this peer review thing is, haven't we? Now, though, it is apparently shite - glad you cleared that up for us, BMJ. 
But their assertion that "the source of funding can influence the outcomes of studies in invisible ways" is funnier than any comic could ever be seeing as they thought it perfectly acceptable to publish, in July, a study celebrating the astounding success of pharmaceutical products ... written by a panel with pharmaceutical funding interests as long as Peter Crouch's arms.
Interesting, then. that BAT's Chief Scientific Officer has seen fit to comment.
The BMJ’s new policy of banning consideration of scientific studies based on their source of funding is particularly disappointing in the light of the BMJ’s historical policy of encouraging robust scientific discourse independent of ideology. Ten years ago the BMJ was “passionately anti-tobacco” but also “passionately pro-debate and pro-science” and further commented that the type of ban recently instituted “would be anti-science”. Allegations of misconduct by the tobacco industry were cited at that time in support of a proposed ban that the BMJ rightly rejected. 
It is ironic that the BMJ has now revised its prior view.
Isn't it just?
It has been argued that tobacco harm reduction is potentially the world’s greatest public health opportunity today. To have this kind of impact, those with an interest must find pragmatic ways to work together to find solutions based on sound science. For this research to be disseminated widely, it will be important for the science publishing industry to retain an independent, critical, yet open approach.
Harm reduction, of course, includes e-cigs. One of the chief detractors of e-cigs is Mad Stanton Glantz, who was referenced in the BMJ's original statement of their intention to ignore everyone who offers an opinion differing with that of the public health Mafia.

How convenient, then, that this ban should take effect at a time when a global debate is raging about - you guessed it - harm reduction and, in particular, e-cigs. There has never been a time when it is more important to listen to all sides ... unless you're a publication wholly owned by the e-cig hating BMA, of course.
We have also noted statements you have made in relation to the peer-review process currently followed at the BMJ. It appears that the BMJ Editors are concerned with the effectiveness of their peer-review system. This is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. Studies approved through peer review have long been the currency of scientific credibility. The reputation of the BMJ is clearly dependent on this capability functioning properly. Applying selective censorship does not aid in addressing fundamental problem, and separates the BMJ from journals of unassailable scientific integrity and relegates it to the class of journals that politicise science. 
We respectfully invite you to revisit your decision not to consider for publication any scientific studies funded by the tobacco industry on the basis that such a policy is, in the BMJ’s own words, “anti-science”. 
In other words, as I suggested, the BMJ has discarded its integrity and is nothing more now than a partial, rickety rag hopelessly compromised by its acceptance of pharma funded studies without question - while blackballing those funded by others - yet attempting to pretend it still possesses some semblance of calm, unbiased authority.

Such a shame.

You can read the response in full here.


Steve Brown said...

I completely disregard anything at all coming from the BMJ, ASH or any three-letter agency.
I smoke. I enjoy smoking. I now grow and cure my own tobacco. A tobacco shredding machine, a tobacco tubing machine and a couple of hundred tubes means that I can save lots of money. I pay NOTHING to the government and I am casting the seeds anywhere in the wild that I think they may grow (I anticipate the banning of growing tobacco). To amortise my outlay on equipment my present crop has to provide me with 120 cigarettes. After that every fag I make is FREE!!!!

Junican said...

Here, here Steve B. Remove ASH ET AL from your life and the Health Zealots in the Government with them.
But keep up the struggle against totalitarians and fascists! For that is what ASH ET AL represent. We must all obey the 'one size fits all' doctrine (the totalitarian bit), and we must all OBEY (the fascist bit).

Ivan D said...

The BMJ editorial team is of course quite entitled to base its editorial policy on ideological conformity rather than on scientific credibility. However, as you correctly point out, in doing so it forgoes the right to pretend that it is a scientific journal and be treated as such by the media and the general public. I do hope that the BBC will take note and preface any links to the BMJ with a warning that the content of its articles are based on the ideological preferences of its editors rather than their value to science.

Anja M said...

The e-cig users, those who are using a 99% safer alternative to tobacco, are asking for help - as the EU is attempting to ban e-cigs again - with the trilogue trying their best to override the vote by the European Parliament.
Please help us and sign this petition -

I am from Germany. Please let us work together to show Big Government and Big Industry that We Are The People!


A simple reply to E-Cig users
You crept into the Anti tobacco camp,you slithered into the smug
safety of apathetic non chalance. You did not care about your smoking friends, relatves, fellow workers when they were treated like
rats and vermin.
Now comes the day of reckoning when YOU TO will be classifed as LEPERS,UNDESIRABLES,UNTERMENSCH,UNERWUNSCHT and
Ausgestoßene.When you are prepared to FIGHT with the smokers for choice ,freedom and liberty,then and only then will your cries be heard

Free Corps.

Junican said...

I can understand your feelings, FC, but I think we have to rise above the 'divide et impera' plans of the Zealots. Almost all vapers are ex-smokers. Many will have taken up ecigs because they can be used in enclosed places; many for cost reasons; some because they have been conned by tobacco control. I don't count the 'commercial imperative' of ecig companies as typical of individual vapers.
I personally see the matter as one of using every means possible to get the healthist gorilla off our backs. The more people who are angry at the healthist, the better. "My enemy's enemy is my friend".
I've signed .....