I'm honoured that Dr Michael Fitzpatrick has given Velvet Glove, Iron Fist a warm review for Spiked today. I've been telling anyone who'll listen to read Dr Fitzpatrick's The Tyranny of Health for several years now so it means a lot to me that he likes my book.
Fitzpatrick also reviews Geoffrey Kabat's Hyping Health Risks. Many readers will know Kabat as one half of the Enstrom/Kabat team who were subject to the most virulent abuse when the BMJ published their study showing that passive smoking "may not" increase lung cancer or heart disease risk. The personal attacks were so vicious (and unfounded) that they were more in keeping with a religious cult than a serious scientific debate. Kabat gives further examples of debased epidemiology and policy-based-evidence in his book and concludes that...
The result of what Kabat dubs ‘the new McCarthyism in science’ is that epidemiology is reduced to propaganda.
Dr Fitzpatrick begins his review of my own book thus:
In his fascinating history of anti-smoking, Velvet Glove, Iron Fist, Christopher Snowdon (who was previously interviewed for the spiked review of books here) provides the wider context for the witch-hunt against Kabat and Enstrom. He shows how the campaign against passive smoking took off in the 1970s, long before the first studies that claimed to show its ill-effects.
An early campaigner’s statement that ‘we were just waiting for science to tell us what we already knew’ accurately reveals the subordinate role of science in the anti-tobacco cause. Snowdon also shows that the campaign against passive smoking has grown more strident and more influential in inverse proportion to the scientific evidence. Though large studies in the 1990s had shown all ‘those who had eyes to see that the passive smoking theory had unravelled’, the anti-smoking bandwagon rolled on regardless.
Please do read the rest...