Pet Journalism

The thing with journalists is they tend to get friendly with regular sources of information. The “go-to” folks for soundbites and information, no matter how bizarre that information is. The flip side of that, is when they are ‘confronted’ by opposing views the immediately adopt the “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” stance by retreating past la-la land up to cloud cuckoo.

This whole thing really started to gather momentum when Public Health England released the recent evidence update on electronic cigarettes. We knew that there would be some responses from the opponents to vaping, the trouble is the evidence update was in fact a response to the multitude of rubbish science and poor media.

We know that science, in general doesn’t move particularly quickly so the amount of headlines that exaggerate study press releases needed a big response, which is exactly what the evidence update has done.

Therefore, it all started with this:

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Of course, once vapers found the article (which wasn’t particularly difficult, a simple Google news search on “e-cigarettes” found it in pride of place), it didn’t take long at all for the authors twitter account to be found.

Various vapers on twitter, be they advocates or just an interested party weighed in with comments highlighting the flaws in both the article and the editorial in The Lancet.

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Faced with this, our budding pet journalist responds with some, shall we see “interesting” tidbits?

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PicardWTFIn response to the statement that The Lancet couldn’t actually find any fault with the review, our journo cites the unelected World Health Organisation as an “expert group”, she also later cites the BMA and the European Commission. All experts natch.

I’m guessing that Ms Knapton missed out on the shenanigans that was COP6 then? Held behind closed doors, no public or press allowed, delegates restrained for disagreeing? The fact that Chan stated that tobacco was the most important, whilst Ebola raged on completely passed her by?

The fact that her original piece when the report came out completely bypassed the usual mouthpieces of McPhee and Creepwell, in light of further articles, speaks volumes. I would hazard a guess that some ‘information’ was passed on to not get quotes from them until the op-ed in The Lancet got published.

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Of course, when a journalist writes about vaping it comes under a lot of scrutiny by both sides. After all, it is the single most contentious subject in the realms of ‘public health’ right now. The trouble is, journalists such as Ms Knapton don’t realise that the “pro-vaping lobby” is made up of everyday people who in most cases, know a heck of a lot more on the subject than she does. Hell, we know more about them then her idols Creepwell and McPhee. If actual scientific evidence existed that there might be something wrong with vaping, we would know about it. Not only that, the advocates and the community would take steps to put it right.

We’ve done it before, and we’ll keep doing it. It is this, among other facts that completely escape folks like Creepwell, McPhee, Chumpan, Blands and their pet journalistic hacks. We are real people, and we’ve done something you’ve been trying to get us to do for fifty bloody years, but that wasn’t enough for them. We didn’t do it the “right way”.

The original article on the anonymous opinion editorial in The Lancet, originally cited Simon Capewell as one of the authors but was subsequently removed from the text, and now we know why as a second article in the British Medical Journal written by the same authors appeared and once again had their pet journalist slathering over the details.

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I don’t know about you, but I find the headline a little odd. Health officials have to rely on science to form their policies and guidelines. True, the officials have their own opinions which often get in the way of good policy making, but the “war” isn’t strictly between scientists and health officials. It’s between scientists, with some random outliers who should know better weighing in and acting like experts.

In this particular piece, Ms Knapton cites both McPhee and Creepwell by name and once again completely misses the point. Both of these ludicrous nut jobs co-authored the piece in The Lancet, which was subsequently re-published in the BMJ a few days later. For some bizarre reason, they decided to repeat the attempt with more insanity earlier this week with a whole “new” article in the BMJ.

But health experts from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University of Liverpool claim evidence used in the report was flawed, based on inconclusive evidence which was tainted by vested interests.

A recent editorial in the respected medical journal The Lancet, also warned that PHE had based a ‘major conclusion’ on an ‘extraordinarily flimsy foundation’. It accused the agency of falling short of its mission to protect public health.

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A trick which most of the general public wouldn’t be aware of, but didn’t pass by the authors of the PHE Report:

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Did our illustrious journo hack bother to amend her article to reflect the rapid responses at all? No, of course not. But it gets worse.

Although the PHE report was welcomed by bodies like Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and the Royal College of Physicians of London, other leading health bodies – including the British Medical Association, the UK Faculty of Public Health, the European Commission and the World Health Organization, have expressed caution.

Since when has the BMA been a “leading health body”? Last I checked, it was a bloody trade union with far too much power and not enough sense. But, and here’s a kicker, the UK Faculty of Public Health are one of the signatory bodies supporting the PHE report:

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Well isn’t that awkward? Simon Capewell is the VP of Health Policy at FPH, yet he’s co-authored a piece in the BMJ against the PHE report whilst the rest of the organisation supports PHE. Couldn’t make it up. Of course, this small insignificant detail couldn’t possibly go unnoticed could it?

Professor McKee is from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Prof Capewell is from the University of Liverpool.

Apparently it can. Awkward.

“Meanwhile, directors of public health and the wider community desperately need advice on e-cigarettes that is evidence based and free from any suspicion of influence by vested interests.”

Vested interests? What interests? The one-time advisement of a scientist with an e-cig company? The multi-time relationship between a scientist and cessation product producers? Makes me wonder why McPhee and Creepwell have such a vested interest themselves…

Oops. Never mind eh? Both McPhee and Creepwell are looking forward to the implementation of the “lipstick on a pig” EU TPD:

In 2017, the European Union Tobacco Products Directive will come into force, with substantial restrictions on e-cigarettes.

“These restrictions will hopefully limit the negative effect of this flawed PHE report,” professors McKee and Capewell conclude.

But unless I’m living in a completely different realm to the esteemed profs dynamic duo terrible twins, the TPD is implemented May 2016 with a six month grace period for notifications putting the “into force” aspect at November 2016. Not 2017.

But the really striking, and overwhelmingly arrogant stance of McPhee and Creepwell are laid bare here; “limit the negative effect of this flawed PHE report”, as if everything they’ve ever linked to (yes Simon I’m looking at you and your incessant haiku tweets linking to the Daily Fail). Except with Ms Knapton there isn’t any real effort in providing balance to the comments from “health officials”, after all she completely missed the comments from Linda Bauld, Robert West and Paul Aveyard.

But the fun doesn’t stop there.

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RJWDoes that mean comments like this from Prof West are militant and aggressive? Be careful with what you say on twitter Ms Knapton, you’ll end up pissing off some very prominent people who know a great deal more about the subject than your pet idols do. “Careful, reflective analysis and research, not propaganda”. Words to remember there I think, and yes McPhee and Creepwell I’m looking at you two. Why don’t you scurry off to perform some actual research instead of merely voicing opinions anonymously in The Lancet or acknowledging you’ve written pretty much the same thing in The BMJ?

Yet we’re weird for pointing out the blatantly obvious flaws and bias that litters her articles?

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So we’re weird and receiving money? Oh how funny. Perhaps Ms Knapton has yet to read Clive’s memo to PH Grandees, after all he did tweet it to her.

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Yet we’re still “utterly bizarre” and “on something”. Yes Sarah, we’re on to you being a compulsive pet for jizzweasels like McPhee and Creepwell. But then, when she tweets ridiculous stuff like this:

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Makes her sound even more ludicrous and unhinged. So much so, that she has to go hunting around for anything that might tenuously support her argument. Apparently, inhaling formaldehyde “enhances aggressive behavior”; trouble is, that was in rats.

Sigh.

SK Guess what? Ms Knapton has “Science Editor” in her profile, guess that makes her and all other science editors ludicrous, arrogant, lily-livered, pants-on-fire liars.

Sweeping generalisations don’t work, I don’t have “vaper” in my profile, yet the statement that because I am a vaper immediately makes me “aggressive and militant” simply because that’s how you view them by not opening your mind to all aspects of the debate. Even when confronted with an opposing view, your head disappears into the sand faster than I can say:

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  • Sho2daPan

    Just a fantastic piece…well laid out and thoughtful, with enough snark to put a good smile on your face…thanks for you effort!