Thursday, 22 September 2011

Is this really science?


It seems that smokers have impaired short term memory - or at least that's what Dr Tom Heffernan, who leads Northumbria University’s Collaboration for Drug and Alcohol Research Group, said! It is reported that a major piece of research has shown this to be so - research like this:

The study involved more than seventy 18 to 25-year-olds and included a tour of the university’s campus.

Now that's what I call science! But maybe the Daily Mail (for it is then reporting) are wrong - it is not unheard of.  But no the "scientists" did this:

Research conducted by scientists from the Collaboration for Drug and Alcohol Research group at Northumbria University in England tested 27 current smokers, 18 previous smokers and 24 who had never smoked on a real-world prospective memory task – which refers to one's capacity to store and retrieve intentions for future actions.

And claim to have found this:

After screening out heavy drinkers or those who had used alcohol recently and controlling for differences in other drug use, mood and IQ, smokers performed worse on the real-world prospective memory task than previous smokers and the never smoked group. The previous smokers performed at similar levels to the never-smoked group – suggesting some recovery in function associated with smoking cessation. 
 Apparently having applied lots of statistical tests to this tiny sample the authors conclude:

These revealed no significant between-group differences on self-reported PM; however smokers recalled significantly fewer action-location combinations than the never smoked and previous smoker groups on the objective RWPMT (Real World Prospective Memory Task)

I may not be a scientist but even I can see that this is nonsense. But then these are the guys who are planning more research:

The research will now investigate the effects of of passive smoking on memory, while Dr Heffernan and Dr Terence O’Neill will look into the effects of 'third-hand smoking' - toxins left on curtains and furniture.

 I rest my case.



Pat Nurse MA said...

As a lifelong smoker, with both short term and long memory without any problems, I am fed up to the back teeth of being slandered in this way by people out to make a profit from hate.

I'm also fed up at prejudicial newspapers with journalists who seem to be only able to write news from spoon fed press releases these days without even putting that bigoted crap to the test.

And stupid Govts, it has to be said, who refuse to to listen to both sides of this debate.

This issue will lose the Tories their majority in Govt. Do I care if Labour gets back in? Why should I? No difference.

Anonymous said...

Anti-tobacco science seems to work in reverse.

WADA considers suggestion to add nicotine to banned list

"GENEVA -- The World Anti-Doping Agency can take the first steps toward classifying nicotine as a performance-enhancing drug on Saturday, when it meets to update its list of substances prohibited in sport.

WADA has received a report from its accredited laboratory in Lausanne, Switzerland, that describes "alarming evidence" of nicotine use by athletes across 43 sports studied.

"WADA and sport federations should evaluate the inclusion of nicotine to the Prohibited List or/and Monitoring Program," the Lausanne lab reported after a year-long study published by the Forensic Science International journal.

The performance-enhancing effects of nicotine included increased "vigilance and cognitive function," and reduced stress and body weight."

You can find all sorts of interesting things you didn't know by simply reversing the latest nonsense and finding lots of very informative earlier studies that they are trying to erase.

For instance, did you know that tobacco has been used for centuries as a toothpaste?

Quit smoking to save your teeth

"Smokers who give up are much less likely to lose their teeth prematurely than those who do not kick the habit, research shows."

Medicinal uses of tobacco in history

"Tobacco, probably mixed with lime or chalk, appears to have been used in these Native American populations as a toothpaste to whiten the teeth, as observed by Nino and Guerra in 1500 and by Vespucci at about the same time in Venezuela.
This practice continues today in India, where powdered tobacco, or masheri, is rubbed on the teeth for this purpose and tobacco toothpaste is marketed commercially"

Use of tobacco products as dentifrice among adolescents in India: questionnaire study BMJ Volume 328, pp 323-4

"Up to 68% of adolescents in India use dental products containing tobacco, despite a law barring manufacturers from using tobacco as an ingredient in any toothpaste or toothpowder, reveals a study in this week's BMJ.

The authors believe that many companies are taking advantage of a widespread misconception in India that tobacco is good for the teeth by packaging and positioning their products as dental care products."

In the Southern States
"The purported health benefit of snuff had been as a dentifrice, imparting to the teeth “that peculiar brilliancy for which the ladies of Southern Europe are so justly celebrated.”

Amazing! I had simply no idea.