Thursday, May 18, 2006

Attacks on Tobacco Control Researcher: PART III - Accused of Being a Scientific Fraud and of Lying

Apparently, the anti-smoking advocate who I reported yesterday publicly accused me of being funded by the tobacco industry retracted his claim and had simply made a mistake in leaving out a word. So he does not accuse me of being on the tobacco industry dole. Instead, what he is accusing me of is being a complete scientific fraud: of going on national television in front of millions of people and making scientific claims without having reviewed any of the scientific evidence. He is also accusing me of lying, since he is aware that I have stated that I have indeed reviewed the scientific data.

What the advocate told a list-serve of more than 100 of my colleagues in tobacco control is that he has no reason to believe that I have looked at the science regarding the statements I am making:

"I have no reason to believe Siegel is getting paid by the cartel. I also have no reason to believe he's looked at the science."

Interestingly, a similar accusation was made on national television last Friday when Dr. Glantz seemed to suggest to millions of people that I hadn't reviewed the scientific evidence regarding the acute cardiovascular effects of secondhand smoke.

The Rest of the Story

While I am truly gratified that my colleagues do not think that I am taking tobacco industry money, I am just slightly miffed at the accusation, on the part of these colleagues, that I am a complete scientific fraud.

Do you mean to tell me that I am going to go in front of a national television audience of millions of people and deceive them into thinking that I am an expert on this issue and have reviewed the scientific evidence when the truth is that I haven't even looked at the studies?

This is a far more damning accusation than anything we have ever levied at the tobacco companies themselves. We've accused the tobacco companies of distorting the science or misleading the public about the science, but we've never suggested that they have made claims without having any knowledge of what they are talking about. In fact, we've made it clear that they have known exactly what they are talking about.

Here, I am actually being accused by my colleagues of being a complete fraud. How special is that?

To add insult to injury, I am also being accused of lying about being a complete fraud. Since I have indicated that I have indeed reviewed the scientific evidence and my colleague continues to stand by his accusation, he is not only accusing me of being a scientific fraud but of lying publicly.

So now, not only am I accused of being a fraud, but I'm also a conniving liar. That's even more special!

It is becoming clear to me that there is a very good reason why these colleagues are resorting to blatantly untruthful, insulting personal attacks. It is because they don't have a leg to stand on with regards to the science and so they refuse to enter into a discussion of the scientific evidence. Instead, they have to distract attention from the issue at hand by turning the discussion into a vicious personal attack in an effort to destroy my reputation and defame my character.

Hey - I'm open for a good debate any time. If you want to take me on regarding the issue of whether coronary artery stenosis can occur in 30 minutes, I'll gladly debate you any time, any place.

I don't even have a problem with a colleague arguing that I'm wrong and that atherosclerosis can occur in 30 minutes and that people can "come down with" heart disease from sitting in a smoky room for a half hour. If anyone wants to make that argument, that's fine. I won't accuse them of being a fraud, of not examining the evidence, of taking money from one group or the other, of lying, or of being a traitor to a particular cause. Instead, I'll just stick to the facts and try to present the evidence of why I believe they are wrong.

The rest of the story is that for holding our movement accountable to basic standards of scientific integrity and accuracy, some of my colleagues are attacking me, accusing me of lying and of being a liar and a complete scientific fraud.

I have a lot of flaws, but being a liar and a complete scientific fraud is not one of them.

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