mIn response to my suggestion that heart disease cannot develop in just 30 minutes and that therefore, anti-smoking groups are being inaccurate in claiming that 30 minutes of exposure can cause hardening of the arteries in nonsmokers, I was yesterday publicly accused of taking tobacco money on a prominent tobacco control list-serve read by 110 of my colleagues.
I was also accused of going on national television, in front of millions of people, and spouting off without having even looked at the science on the acute cardiovascular effects of secondhand smoke.
In other words, I was publicly accused of not only being a tobacco industry-paid scientist, but also of being a complete fraud.
Here's what my colleague had to say about me:
"I have reason to believe Siegel is getting paid by the cartel. I also have no reason to believe he's looked at the science."
Incidentally, the list-serve upon which this defamatory accusation was made is the same one which expelled me several months ago for expressing opinions that the readers didn't like; thus, the accusation is made without any opportunity for me to "defend" myself and my professional reputation.
The Rest of the Story
I'm very curious to see what this evidence is that I am getting paid by the tobacco industry.
Does this advocate have copies of cancelled checks that were issued to me by tobacco companies? Does he have copies of tax returns that I have filed which indicate that I received money from tobacco sources? Does he have copies of tobacco industry documents which reveal payments made to me in return for my services?
Or is he just recklessly disregarding the truth and attacking me with malicious intent, in a way that is likely to harm my reputation and my career?
I'm also curious to see the evidence that I haven't even looked at the science of the acute effects of secondhand smoke.
That's a curious accusation, since I have authored a large number of peer-reviewed, scientific papers that have helped form the basis for much of what we now know about the health effects of secondhand smoke. In fact, I was actually one of the first (perhaps the first) to review the scientific evidence of the effects of secondhand smoke on cardiovascular disease; I did that all the way back in 1985, before the Surgeon General had even issued the first report on involuntary smoking. I've been producing and reviewing the evidence for the past 21 years and I am constantly reviewing papers for scientific journals on this topic, so it's hard for me to imagine how I might somehow have failed to even have looked at the science.
Hey - I won't even go in front of a classroom of 15 students without being thoroughly prepared before making any scientific statements. Why would I go in front of millions of people and make statements without having examined the scientific evidence?
I may be wrong in my opinions and I might be terrible in what I do, but there's one thing I'm certainly not: a tobacco industry-paid, dishonest, conniving fraud.
Unfortunately, when you challenge the prevailing dogma of the anti-smoking movement, those are the kinds of reckless, defamatory attacks that you have to sustain. It only makes sense, because we wouldn't want anyone who challenges our agenda to be able to sustain their reputation and their career in the field, would we? How else could we eradicate dissent?
CORRECTION (May 18, 2006; 12:10 p.m.): Apparently, the accusation that I am being funded by the tobacco industry was a mistake - the anti-smoking advocate who made the accusation indicated that he simply left a word out and that he immediately corrected the statement to indicate that he has no reason to believe that I am taking tobacco industry money. However, the accusation that I am a complete scientific fraud was correct and the advocate stands by that claim.