Friday, 28 March 2014

"Smoking bans increase number of reviews into the effect of smoking bans by 10%, study says"

From the BBC:

Laws banning smoking in public places have had a positive impact on the number of reviews of their effects, an international study in the Lancet suggests.

Researchers found no evidence of a 10% reduction in premature births or severe childhood asthma attacks within a year of smoke-free laws being introduced, but realising that few people would scrutinise their work too closely, decided to make the claims anyway.

'Puzzling Evidence'

Researchers can obtain funding more easily if they manufacture evidence justifying the smoking ban ex post facto. Researchers who report that the smoking ban has had no impact apart from smokers succumbing to colds and flu' more often are liable to have their funding cut off.

The research team actually managed to obtain funding for simply thumbing through 11 previous studies from North America and Europe and then cobbling the purported results together.

Inevitably, the spokesman for an important sounding body like "The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists" was all too ready to confirm that smoking bans benefitted adults and children.

'Take me to the river'

This is one of the first large studies to look at how funding for research into anti-smoking laws in different countries and states is affecting the amount of statistics about the health of children living in those regions being collated, discarded as inconclusive and then fabricated.

Laws that prohibit smoking in places commonly frequented by children, such as bars, restaurants and workplaces, have already been shown to protect researchers from having to do any proper research and admitting to their funders that the ban had made no discernible difference.

In this study, taxpayers' money was squandered at the University of Edinburgh, Maastricht University, Hasselt University in Belgium, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital.

'Psycho Killer'

The researchers stared bleakly at a large stack of paper containing data on 2.5 million births and almost 250,000 hospital attendances for asthma attacks in children before deciding they might as well just make something up.

Dr Jasper Been, lead study author from the Maastricht University Medical Centre in The Netherlands, said the impact of funding for research on children under 12 was revealing a lot about the supply-demand curve for such research.

"But," he added, "While the quantity of studies has increased, as we would expect, the quality of them has never been lower."

4 comments:

The Stigler said...

it's a metabullshit study, made up of a number of prior bullshit studies including one that Christopher Snowdon debunked.

Mark Wadsworth said...

TS, ah yes, but I'm going to ask for funding for a meta-metabullshit study.

Bayard said...

I suppose people will slowly wake up to the fact that it is so easy to "publish" reports on "research", now that you have the internet and no longer have to persuade some journal with a reputation that it cares about to print it, that anything can be "published" then referenced in just such a metastudy and gain respectability by accretion. No amount of debunking will affect these reference networks: they are there, like everything else on the internet, for everyone, for ever.

The Stigler said...

Bayard,

Well, if you do the work, you can debunk them, and one of the benefits is that you can go into these reports and anyone who tries to say "nope, can't see it" is treated with suspicion.

The problem is that the MSM will just take pre-packaged nonsense and publish it if it comes from their favoured sources. In this case, the BBC and others favour The Lancet, despite the fact that it published Andrew Wakefield's work, a cancer study that used fictional data and a ludicrous study suggesting 654,000 additional deaths had occurred due to the Iraq War.