October 10, 2007
Defending Legitimate Epidemiologic Research: Combating Lysenko Pseudoscience
James E. Enstrom, Ph.D., M.P.H.
The Research Defense of the May 17, 2003 British Medical Journal paper by Dr. Geoffrey C. Kabat and me, "Environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality in a prospective study of Californians, 1960-98" (http://bmj.com/cgi/reprint/326/7398/1057.pdf) is now divided into two parts.
The first part of the Research Defense is my October 10, 2007 paper, "Defending legitimate epidemiologic research: combating Lysenko pseudoscience" in Epidemiologic Perspectives & Innovations 2007, 4:11 (http://www.epi-perspectives.com/content/4/1/11). This 14,000 word peer-reviewed paper can be viewed and/or downloaded as a PDF file. The Abstract of this paper states “This analysis presents a detailed defense of my epidemiologic research in the May 17, 2003 British Medical Journal that found no significant relationship between environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and tobacco-related mortality. In order to defend the honesty and scientific integrity of my research, I have identified and addressed in a detailed manner several unethical and erroneous attacks on this research. Specifically, I have demonstrated that this research is not "fatally flawed," that I have not made "inappropriate use" of the underlying database, and that my findings agree with other United States results on this relationship. My research suggests, contrary to popular claims, that there is not a causal relationship between ETS and mortality in the U.S. responsible for 50,000 excess annual deaths, but rather there is a weak and inconsistent relationship. The popular claims tend to damage the credibility of epidemiology. In addition, I address the omission of my research from the 2006 Surgeon General's Report on Involuntary Smoking and the inclusion of it in a massive U.S. Department of Justice racketeering lawsuit. I refute erroneous statements made by powerful U.S. epidemiologists and activists about me and my research and I defend the funding used to conduct this research. Finally, I compare many aspects of ETS epidemiology in the U.S. with pseudoscience in the Soviet Union during the period of Trofim Devisovich Lysenko. Overall, this paper is intended to defend legitimate research against illegitimate criticism by those who have attempted to suppress and discredit it because it does not support their ideological and political agendas. Hopefully, this defense will help other scientists defend their legitimate research and combat Lysenko pseudoscience.
The second part is the original September 20, 2006 Research Defense, which is now a separate PDF file on my Scientific Integrity Institute website (http://www.scientificintegrityinstitute.org/Defense092006.pdf). This easily downloadable document provides more details on the early issues related to the British Medical Journal paper than are contained in the new Epidemiologic Perspectives & Innovations paper.
In addition to these two parts, several other sections of Scientific Integrity Institute website contain valuable information supporting the Research Defense. The Documents section (http://www.scientificintegrityinstitute.org/documents.html) contains relevant material from the American Cancer Society, the University of California, magazines, and newspapers. The Publications section (http://www.scientificintegrityinstitute.org/publications.html) contains many relevant epidemiologic publications from me, the American Cancer Society, and others. The Symposium section (http://www.scientificintegrityinstitute.org/symposium.html) contains the Abstracts, PowerPoint slides, and audio lecture files for my June 24, 2006 North American Congress of Epidemiology Symposium “Reassessment of the Long-term Mortality Risks of Active and Passive Smoking.” The Audio/Visual section (http://www.scientificintegrityinstitute.org/audio.html) contains several audio files related to the UC Regents deliberations regarding tobacco industry funding at UC, as well as audio and video files on ETS. The Satire section (http://www.scientificintegrityinstitute.org/satire.html) provides an important satirical perspective on how certain individuals are abusing the scientific method and “Turning Epidemiology into Lysenko Pseudoscience.” All of these sections are important for anyone interested in fully understanding the validity and significance of the May 17, 2003 BMJ paper.