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Seasoned vapers will have become accustomed to scientific journals publishing supposed studies that appear to offer little by way of sound scientific method. As is the way with peer-review, some of the more outlandish claims and conclusions eventually get retracted or downplayed – but these never seem to make it into the mainstream media.
This week, the American Council for Science and Health (ACSH) tell the tale of a microbead paper. The researchers claimed their investigation produced data proving that young fish prefer to eat plastic microbeads rather than the usual yummy items that fish would otherwise eat. It was published in the respected Science journal in June 2016.
Science is brilliant – except for when those working in it create works of fiction to suit private agendas or as acts of self-promotion. This microbead study was almost universally greeted with responses ranging from suspicion to accusations of fraud. Eventually Science issued an “expression of concern” about the work.
Even so, after ten months, the original paper still stood. It’s taken a full review by Sweden's Central Ethical Review Board to push matters forward. Fabricated data is now claimed by the researchers to have been stolen, methods were carried out that the lab didn’t have equipment for and timeframes are all awry.
The article has now been retracted from public viewing, ACSH has published a detailed account of the sorry tale – but is that enough? The memory of fish preferring tiny bits of plastic will persist and, in many ways, that sums up a lot of the corrupt science surrounding vaping.
It should be pointed out here that nobody is accusing the researchers from the University of Louisville's Tobacco Regulation and Addiction Centre of producing an intentionally dodgy piece of work ground in lies – that would be the very last thing on anybody’s mind. No, they probably tried their very hardest to ensure that their work on the presence of formaldehyde in vape was of the very highest standard.
Just to prove how serious they are about ensuring the highest standards in their research, the team looked at one other previous paper to see how vapers vape. Then they looked at an overview of published material on how vapers vape and ignored the bits they didn’t like or understand. Consequently, they worked out that vapers like cigalikes and 4yr-old variable voltage mods paired with Evods. Plus, the vapers using the Evods like to take four-second hits at 4.2, 4.7 and 5 volts.
Amazingly, and you’d better sit down for this bit as it’ll come as a big surprise, Team Louisville discovered that ecigs produce aldehydes of all different hues. If you hadn’t heard about this before then you will as soon as their press release hits the news-desks of Britain’s favourite tabloid fish and chip wrapping.
Any superficial examination of the subject would produce the clear information that aldehydes are only produced in atomisers experiencing slight to full-blown dry hits, and yet this seems to have eluded Louisville’s finest?
It may not be dishonest, but the work is certainly shameful. Here’s to a retraction in approximately ten months…