Tuesday, February 04, 2014

California State-Funded Grant on Thirdhand Smoke Shows that Researchers Know their Conclusions Before Even Conducting the Research

For those upset because they lost money on Super Bowl bets Sunday, I have good news for you. Next year, you can call a team of UC Riverside researchers for their premonitions about the Super Bowl outcomes before placing your bets. This research team has demonstrated themselves to be able to forecast the future, as they apparently are able to determine the conclusions of their research before even conducting the experiments.

In a grant proposal that was subsequently funded by the state of California's Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP), Dr. Manuela Martin-Greens and colleagues from the University of California, Riverside exhibited their fortune-telling skills, claiming to know the results of their proposed lab experiments on mice before actually performing the studies.

According to the abstract of the grant proposal, the research question that the lab team is proposing to investigate is as follows: "The goal of this application is to determine the effects of Third Hand Smoke on wound healing. ... It is known that first-hand smoke and secondhand smoke (SHS) inhibit wound healing but nothing is known about the effects of third-hand smoke (THS) on wound healing. ... To address this problem, we will use mice, expose them for 6 months to THS present in their cages and, at the end of the exposure period, we will perform wounds on their backs and study the time course of healing by examining not only the wound areas but also the properties of the tissues."

Since nothing is known about the effects of third-hand smoke on wound healing, it seems very appropriate that this research team is going to investigate this research question using a mouse model to find out whether there are adverse effects of thirdhand smoke.

Surprisingly, however, the next paragraph of the grant application abstract informs grant reviewers that the researchers actually know the results of this experiment before conducting it. The researchers tell the reviewers that:

"these studies will also help adult smokers understand that their family members are severely affected if they undergo surgery and return to a THS-polluted environment because their healing process will be not only be altered but will also be significantly delayed. ... the proposed work will benefit the public by providing a better understanding of the cause of impaired healing among individuals who are constantly exposed to Third Hand Smoke, i.e. smokers themselves, children and elderly parents in households of smokers, waiters and waitresses in bars and housekeepers in hotels or houses of smokers."

Thus, before even conducting the study, these researchers have concluded that adult smokers and their family members are severely affected if they undergo surgery and return to a THS-polluted environment, because their healing process will be significantly delayed. Also, the researchers have concluded that individuals who are repeatedly exposed to thirdhand smoke have impaired healing. This includes elderly parents in households with smokers as well as housekeepers in hotels.

The Rest of the Story

This story demonstrates how low the integrity of research in the tobacco control movement has sunk. In today's tobacco control movement, we can draw conclusions before even conducting research because we are apparently capable of predicting the results of our experiments before they are carried out.

The unfortunate part of the story is that California taxpayers funded this proposal to the tune of a quarter of a million dollars. What a waste of money. They could have saved the money because the researchers had already drawn their conclusions. Why waste the money on actually conducting research when the conclusions of that research have already been drawn, and disseminated!

With this kind of foresight, these researchers could have easily won $250,000 to fund their research without having to bother the taxpayers. They could have simply put a $2,500 bet on the first score in the Super Bowl being a safety and they would have saved the state of California a quarter of a million bucks.

Were I a reviewer of this grant, I certainly would not have funded it. Instead, I would have saved the money and encouraged the researchers to publish their pre-determined conclusions without wasting taxpayer dollars to pretend to be searching for an answer to a question that they have already answered.

(Thanks to Shadow Guest for the tip.)

1 comment:

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