“Mogasp, it’s sad to say, but I think that actually today you may find MORE corruption of various kinds in research funded by Tobacco Control than that funded by Big Tobacco.”
The above is an excerpt from a pro-smoking advocate’s comment submitted in response to the mogasp blog 2011/01/30: “Marshall Keith’s argument that ADA doesn’t apply to private businesses and rebuttal from Billy Williams, GASP of TX“
How many of you read it and dismissed it as having no merit?
I felt it worth pursuing and you may too when you read what follows, which is the comment in full and then an observation on it by Dr. Michael Siegel, Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health. Dr. Siegel writes the insightful and popular blog The Rest of the Story: Tobacco News Analysis and Commentary. Michael J. McFadden
Submitted on 2011/02/07 at 2:19 pm
Mogasp, it’s sad to say, but I think that actually today you may find MORE corruption of various kinds in research funded by Tobacco Control than that funded by Big Tobacco.
Why do I say that? Two reasons:
1) Big Tobacco researchers know that their work is going to held under a microscope and sliced to ribbons for the slightest defect or hint of bias. Tobacco Control researchers are largely immune to that sort of scrutiny except by folks like me (and, lately, people like Siegel, Whelan, Sullum, Snowdon, FORCES, F2C et al)
2) Big Tobacco researchers have one main motivation: Money. They research for a living, they enjoy it, and PM/RJR pays them well for it. Tobacco Control researchers do it for both money AND for idealism. That idealism both blinds them to inadvertant bias AND pushes them toward actual fraud “for the greater good.” It also insulates their work from substantial criticism by the mainstream medical research community. I believe the combo of those two motivations produces more bad work from Tobacco Control than from Big Tobacco today.
Although Michael McFadden is a strong and unwavering pro-smoking advocate, he raises an interesting and troubling question: Is the Tobacco Control movement MORE corrupt than Big Tobacco because they are now more apt to distort findings of fact in studies and reports than the latter, on the grounds that the ends justify the means?
I found that hard to believe but at the same time I’ve noted that Dr. Siegel has been critical of the Tobacco Control community for just this reason, frequently holding their feet to the fire on his influential blog. Consequently, I asked him for a response to McFadden’s allegation and have pasted it below:From: Michael Siegel
Subject: RE: Tobacco control research now more biased/less reliable than Big Tobacco’s?
Date: February 7, 2011 4:27:25 PM CST
I wouldn’t say that there is MORE bias in tobacco-funded research than tobacco control research; however, I believe that in recent times, we are seeing what could be said to be an equal amount of bias in tobacco control research.
The smoking ban – heart attack studies are perhaps the best example of this. I have documented many examples of this bias on my blog.
I also would hesitate to use the word “corruption” for what tobacco control scientists are doing. It is bias, for sure – shoddy science, for sure. But I wouldn’t use the word corruption.
In contrast, I would use the word corruption to describe much of what Big Tobacco has done with respect to bogus research.
Nevertheless, Michael’s point is an important one and deserves attention from tobacco control researchers and groups. We need to become more rigorous in our science and avoid any possible comparisons with Big Tobacco research.