Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights Refuses to Accede to Author's Demand to Remove Article from Website

In a letter to Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights (ANR), I demanded to have an article which I authored removed from their website. My article remains on their site, and it appears clear that ANR is not going to honor my authorship of this article by complying with my demand to remove my article from the site.

As I explained earlier, this is an article for which I never granted ANR permission to post on its website and which I demanded be removed from the website in the past. ANR has now repeatedly rejected my requests to take the article off its site and it appears that it has no respect for my authorship of this article. It has apparently subsumed authorship of the article from me.

Why? Quite simple. Because, in the words of ANR:

"There is a strong consensus that we do not want to post ANYTHING on our web page that can be construed as an apology or as backtracking from the position taken in the paper you wrote. More specifically, XXXXXX has convinced me that, given Levy's long history of attacking ETS science, it would be a mistake to state anything that would give him credence. ... I realize that your views on the matter are heart-felt and sincere, and that mere removal of your name from the paper, without more, will not be entirely satisfactory to you. But at this point ANR must put its political credibility ahead of what you consider to be your scientific credibility."

The Rest of the Story

In other words, ANR has no interest in accurately portraying the facts, communicating messages to the public in the clearest possible way, or suggesting, in any possible way, that someone affiliated with the tobacco industry in any way has any merit whatsoever.

And by suggesting otherwise, I apparently lost my authorship of the article.

Even if one could justify ANR's action in refusing to comply with my earlier request to remove the article, it is beyond me why they would not agree to honor my authorship of the article at this time. What purpose could it possibly serve to steal an article from a tobacco control researcher and refuse to allow him to dictate the terms of its publication on a public site?

I think the answer is clear. The purpose is apparently to take advantage of an opportunity to slam and slur someone with any tobacco-related affiliation. The fact that ANR used me as the hatchet man to deliver this attack is bad enough, but when I came to my senses and realized the error of my ways, their refusal to allow me to remove the attack was inexcusable.

Looking back at the article, I realize how hoodwinked I was by the dogma of the tobacco control movement. Here I was arguing that we don't really need to look at the science behind an article, we need only see that it is authored by someone with some tobacco affiliation and we can discredit it. I'm ashamed of having written that, but it goes a long way to show the kind of brainwashing that takes place in the tobacco control movement.

Anyone familiar with my writing in the past months knows that I feel it is critical to examine the science behind any article, no matter who authored it. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't be on the lookout for potential bias caused by an article being written by someone with a tobacco affiliation or funding, but it also doesn't mean that such an article needs to be discredited outright by virtue of that affiliation.

It's clear to me that scientific integrity takes second place to politics in the tobacco control movement. And here is ANR spelling that out directly for everyone to see: ANR must put its political credibility ahead of what you consider to be your scientific credibility.

Unfortunately, ANR's approach is doomed to fail. While in the short run, it might have helped maintain its political credibility, in the long run, it's only a matter of time before the public comes to understand what ANR is all about and what their tactics really amount to. And that is, I believe, going to hurt their long-term political credibility far more than it would have to change a couple of words in an article, or better yet, to accede to an author's request to discontinue publication of his article.

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