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Friday, February 1, 2008

Mad Freelancer Vs. Scientist

posted by on February 1 at 12:37 PM

What does it take to be considered an expert? Well, that rant I posted yesterday about the half-assed, pot-causes-cancer report apparently qualified me as the world’s leading authority to refute it. Basically, I called bullshit on their claim that there’s an impending international “epidemic” of lung cancer, indicated by only 14 illin’ pot smokers in New Zealand. Sure, smoking pot is bad for the lungs, but the only complete previous study that used enormous sample sizes showed no link between pot smoking and cancer. People forwarded my post around the tubes and it worked its way Down Under. Last night a guy in Dunedin, NZ called me to say he heard about the post and ask me to speak about the study’s flaws on his radio program. The station is college radio for Otago University, one of the institutions that issued the report. And the other guest on the show – which started at midnight our time – was a cancer epidemiologist who conducted the study.

Headline for Charles.

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Posted by COMTE | February 1, 2008 12:40 PM

i mean come on. did you go on the show?

it seems like you forgot to finish your post.

Posted by cochise. | February 1, 2008 12:48 PM

Well, yeah, I went on. I made the points I made in the original post.

Posted by Dominic Holden | February 1, 2008 12:51 PM

Well done, Dom.

Posted by Jonathan Golob | February 1, 2008 12:51 PM

Well, fuck, I've been smoking both of 'em for 40 years now. Haven't killed me yet. Did you get some of the purple berries?

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | February 1, 2008 12:54 PM

Those underwater tubes are amazing.

Posted by Barak | February 1, 2008 1:08 PM

See? Pot brings us together.

Posted by Hernandez | February 1, 2008 1:11 PM

That's SO awesome, Dominic. The internet will save us from the idiocy that is MSM.

Posted by Amy Kate Horn | February 1, 2008 1:50 PM

Kind of creepy that your rant qualified you as an "expert" not to disagree with your claim ...

But what I don't get is that when they do a pot study, when they do a soy study, when they do a dairy study ... every god damn "study" the people in charge of it have to come to some conclussion that whatever it is has to be really really bad for you or really really good for you.

It makes you seriously questions the authors bias and afterwords you have to wonder. Is it really that necessary to make such outrageous cliams?

Posted by OR Matt | February 1, 2008 1:53 PM

@9: Making big claims gets publicity. It may also help draw funding.

Posted by Greg | February 1, 2008 2:13 PM

Maybe it's different with these public health types of studies, but I've been involved with grant committees that sunk proposals based upon the applicants' habit of exaggerating their results in the popular press.

I generally see it as the fault of the media more than the scientists, although there are exceptions. Sometimes there are media relations/PR departments within the researchers' universities that are the culprits. They take papers that are being published by their departments or schools, translate them into lay speak, and issue press releases. Sometimes their translations bear little relation to the actual paper and are so hyped as to downright embarrassing to the researchers.

Posted by Bison | February 1, 2008 3:34 PM

Holy shit - was the host's name Andy? I used to live in Dunedin, and know that guy.

Posted by boyd main | February 1, 2008 4:48 PM


Yeah, exactly. There were headlines a few years back about how diet soda causes people to overeat. I looked at the study it was based on — the experiment was done on rats who were given saccharin, not aspartame as is used in most diet drinks, and they ate the same amount of snacks but 33% more healthy food as the rats drinking sugar water. The study didn't say which group of rats' calorie totals came out to be higher.

Posted by Jocelyn | February 1, 2008 5:09 PM

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