Defending science, NOT industries: denouncing an article in the Sunday Herald Scotland



By Dr Farsalinos

My job is to defend science and evidence, not any industries. In that respect, and after waiting for 24h for the journalist to revise, I am obliged to denounce an article published in the Sunday Herald Scotland in which I am MISINTERPRETED as defending links between the tobacco and vaping industries and characterizing attacks on research into vaping funded by Big Tobacco were a form of “academic McCarthyism”.

In fact, all my quotes mentioned in the article are accurate, and it is more than obvious that I did NOT defend any links, any industry and any vaping research funded by anyone. I simply repeated quotes from a previous blog comment, in which I mentioned that “The situation today can be characterized as academic obscurantism and McCarthyism”. I was referring to the ad hominem attacks and insults against scientists just because they attended the 2016 Global Tobacco & Nicotine Forum conference, and to the blind rejection of research, not because of the content but simply and only because of the funding source. In my previous comment I mentioned: “Yes, the tobacco industry has repeatedly lied in the past. Yes, they sell a deadly product. Of course we need to be very cautious with their data, motivation and strategies, and I have repeatedly mentioned that their research should be verified by independent studies. The cautious and critical approach is needed because of the past history and tactics of the tobacco industry. But this is different from hiding and censoring research, or pretending it does not exist”.

I made the same statements in the journalist, which are presented in quotes in the article. My statement: “Of course studies which are funded by the tobacco industry, you need to approach with caution, but you cannot dismiss some high quality research which is being done just because it is being funded by someone you don’t like” is accurate and identical to my blog comment, and I fully support it. However, the journalist completely misinterpreted my statements as defending industries, links and tobacco funding. I did not.

At the moment I was informed about this article (yesterday), I sent an email to the journalist asking to retract the first two sentences of the article because I did not say that (these statements are not mentioned in quotes, but represent a total misinterpretation of my views). Since I have still not received any response from the journalist, I am obliged to denounce the article and its content, particularly the journalist’s conclusions about my opinion which are totally wrong.



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