I find it notable that the authors found that the articles were generally of low quality regardless of the conclusion.
As an engineer, I associate low quality with unreliability. I draw the conclusion from this article that research on passive smoking is generally of low quality, is potentially riddled with bias on both sides and is therefore utterly unreliable regardless of its conclusion. I cannot see how low quality research can lead to accurate, reliable results.
I am astounded that the authors do not appear to
consider the quality issue significant.
I tried to find
some hard numbers quantifying lung cancer rates in non smokers.
Googling turned up a huge variation with lung cancer rates among
non-smoker anywhere between 4 and 27 times lower than smokers but I had no
way of evaluating either the reliability of the data or its
applicability to Ireland.
I did find the
National Cancer Registry Ireland report
(pdf, 165 kb) Cancer in Ireland 1994-2002
Incidence, Mortality, Treatment and Survival
Bottom line, the more
I read, the more skeptical I become regarding the alleged dangers of
passive smoking. Case not proven.
become a crusade.
Michael Mac Guinness
Below are links are to
the Office of Tobacco Control(OTC)/HSA report (pdf, 253 kb) on passive smoking dated December 2002 and
P J Carroll's submission (pdf, 206 kb) dated 21 May 2003 to the HSA.
The OTC/HSA report is basically a review and
summarisation of the results of studies on passive smoking/ETS. The
referenced studies appear to have been taken at face value, there does not
appear to have been any questioning of data quality or study methodologies
or procedures. And usually that's fair enough. Normally
there should be no reason to for this type of report. However,
although the report makes quite a few references to the EPA's 1992 report,
there is no reference to the 1996 ruling vacating the report, nor to the
scientific/technical criticisms of the report raised in the case and
summarised in the judgement. As a bare minimum, given that the
OTC/HSA report is being used as a basis for legislative action and the EPA
report's status as a keystone document, it would surely be a reasonable
expectation that the OTC/HSA report would address the ruling and
criticisms even if only in the form of acknowledgement and rebuttal.
It is a curious omission.
In terms of timing, the OTC/HSA report was prepared
prior to conclusion of the EPA's appeal against to 1996 ruling. Both
were issued in December 2002.
The PJ Carroll submission is strongly critical of the
OTC report. People should read both, but I expect many will simply
disregard a tobacco company's position as being irredeemably biased.
I've had some thoughts on the issue of bias in
Bias may be suspected, however, it can only be
demonstrated by a thorough analysis of the conduct of the study including
the data collection/selection process and the procedures and methodologies
used in it. Bias may exist, but the results may still stand up to
critical scrutiny, or they may not. Equally, there might not be
bias, but critical scrutiny could expose fundamental errors in the conduct
of the study not picked up during peer review. Suspicion of bias
alone is insufficient grounds to dismiss a study. Innocent till
The following comment is issue-independent and may
(or may not) be applicable to many issues where the conventional wisdom
may not be quite the
It occurred to me that:
Finally, one man's
vested interest is
concerned sponsor. It just depends which
side of the issue you're on.
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Now, for a little [Light Relief]
Good to report that as at
Atlantic Blog (defunct)
My Columns in the
What I've recently
See detailed review
BP's ambitious CEO John Browne expanded it through adventurous acquisitions, aggressive offshore exploration, and relentless cost-reduction that trumped everything else, even safety and long-term technical sustainability.
Thus mistakes accumulated, leading to terrifying and deadly accidents in refineries, pipelines and offshore operations, and business disaster in Russia.
The Macondo blowout was but an inevitable outcome of a BP culture that had become poisonous and incompetent.
However the book is gravely compromised by a litany of over 40 technical and stupid errors that display the author's ignorance and carelessness.
It would be better to wait for the second (properly edited) edition before buying.
As for BP, only a wholesale rebuilding of a new, professional, ethical culture will prevent further such tragedies and the eventual destruction of a once mighty corporation with a long and generally honourable history.
A horrific account of:
More details on my blog here.
After recounting a childhood of convention and simple pleasures in working-class Aberdeen, Mr Urquhart is conscripted within days of Chamberlain declaring war on Germany in 1939.
From then until the Japanese are deservedly nuked into surrendering six years later, Mr Urquhart’s tale is one of first discomfort but then following the fall of Singapore of ever-increasing, unmitigated horror.
After a wretched journey Eastward, he finds himself part of Singapore’s big but useless garrison.
Taken prisoner when Singapore falls in 1941, he is, successively,
Chronically ill, distraught and traumatised on return to Aberdeen yet disdained by the British Army, he slowly reconstructs a life. Only in his late 80s is he able finally to recount his dreadful experiences in this unputdownable book.
There are very few first-person eye-witness accounts of the the horrors of Japanese brutality during WW2. As such this book is an invaluable historical document.
This is a rattling good tale of the web of corruption within which the American president and his cronies operate. It's written by blogger Michele Malkin who, because she's both a woman and half-Asian, is curiously immune to the charges of racism and sexism this book would provoke if written by a typical Republican WASP.
With 75 page of notes to back up - in best blogger tradition - every shocking and in most cases money-grubbing allegation, she excoriates one Obama crony after another, starting with the incumbent himself and his equally tricky wife.
Joe Biden, Rahm Emmanuel, Valerie Jarett, Tim Geithner, Lawrence Summers, Steven Rattner, both Clintons, Chris Dodd: they all star as crooks in this venomous but credible book.
ACORN, Mr Obama's favourite community organising outfit, is also exposed for the crooked vote-rigging machine it is.
It is really just a collation of amusing little tales about surprising human (and occasionally animal) behaviour and situations. For example:
The book has no real message other than don't be surprised how humans sometimes behave and try to look for simple rather than complex solutions.
And with a final anecdote (monkeys, cash and sex), the book suddenly just stops dead in its tracks. Weird.
It's chapters are organised around provocative questions such as
It's central thesis is that economic development continues to be impeded in different countries for different historical reasons, even when the original rationale for those impediments no longer obtains. For instance:
The author writes in a very chatty, light-hearted matter which makes the book easy to digest.
However it would benefit from a few charts to illustrate some of the many quantitative points put forward, as well as sub-chaptering every few pages to provide natural break-points for the reader.
The author was a member of Britain's V Force, a forerunner of the SAS. Its remit was to harass Japanese lines of command, patrol their occupied territory, carryout sabotage and provide intelligence, with the overall objective of keeping the enemy out of India.
Irwin is admirably yet brutally frank, in his descriptions of deathly battles with the Japs, his execution of a prisoner, dodging falling bags of rice dropped by the RAF, or collapsing in floods of tears through accumulated stress, fear and loneliness.
He also provides some fascinating insights into the mentality of Japanese soldiery and why it failed against the flexibility and devolved authority of the British.
The book amounts to a very human and exhilarating tale.
Oh, and Irwin describes the death in 1943 of his colleague my uncle, Major PF Brennan.
Other books here
crackling, compelling, captivating games, the new World Champions are,
England get the Silver,
No-one can argue with
Over the competition,