Sunday 5 March 2017

The 'Rigour' Of Simple Simon

If you ask the public what they understand by the title of "academic", they might imagine an austere and profoundly thoughtful sciencey type who will dot every i and cross every t before issuing their opinion.

But tobacco control 'academics' are far from that stereotype. Take Simple Simon Chapman, for example.

Erm Simon, the vape industry doesn't assure us it is "safe", but they do tend to refer to current evidence which suggests e-cigs are safer than smoking, and there has been no credible evidence so far that vaping results in any harm.  "Looks dodgy" really doesn't cut it as rigorous academic opinion from the decrepit Aussie vandal-cum-pub singer, now does it? In fact, it looks more like behaviour people like Chappers used to condemn from the tobacco industry when accusing them of being "Merchants of Doubt". Tweeting that vaping "looks dodgy" and hinting that industry would say that, wouldn't they, is quite obviously designed to create doubt without any evidence to support it.

Hardly the rigorous academic, eh?

As mentioned the other day, he is also a bit woolly and confused when researching where quotes he remembers seeing have been published.

However, his lack of rigour is probably most acute when assessing conflicts of interest. You see, when struggling against the weight of evidence proving his daft assertions wrong he will routinely play the "you're paid" or "conflict of interest" ad hom card which, in my humble opinion, means he immediately loses said debate.

But he's not so concerned about his own conflicts when promoting self-congratulatory, narcissistic books about ... Simon Chapman. In an article in The Conversation last week, Simple Simon basically argued that science wasn't about rigorous objective analysis, oh no, it was about producing headlines.

Except that the piece was clearly promotion for his new book.

It is blatant commercialism, and with no declared conflicts of interest.  Both he and the University of Sydney stand to benefit from this promotion, but this isn't declared. The University of Sydney is both a partner/funder of The Conversation and also publisher of the book by ... Simon Chapman.

So many blurred lines and lack of transparency mean that Chappers, the University and The Conversation are conflicted. Worth remembering next time the crusty clown accuses others of that kind of thing - as he very often does - isn't it? 

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