PhD in The Art of being Unclear?

A recent study, entitled, Effects of in-vivo and advert observation of e cigarette vaping and smoking desire and urge in young adult smokers. purports to support the view that watching someone smoking or vaping increases their desire to do the same, whereas, seeing someone drink a glass of water, does not have the same effect.  http://www.srnt.org/SRNT_2015_Abstracts_WEB.pdf

Well I never!

The researchers claim that they directly tested the impact of observing e-cigarette use by in-vivo and advert exposure in young adult smokers.

They did nothing of the kind!

They then build on the above mistake (fabrication) to reach the following conclusion… “Results from Study 1 showed that observing water drinking did not affect participants’ smoking desire or urge ratings. However, observing both e-cigarette vaping and regular cigarette smoking significantly increased combustible smoking desire and urge (ps<0.05) with observation of e-cigarette vaping also increasing e-cigarette desire (p<.01). In Study 2, viewing the e-cigarette advert increased ratings of desire and urge to use a combustible cigarette and an e-cigarette (ps<0.05) but this was not the case for the water advert. Further, these increases in smoking urge were significant for both positive and negative reinforcement effects. In sum, this research is the first to our knowledge to examine direct observer effects of e-cigarette use which may act as a cue to increase desire for both combustible and e-cigarettes. The results may have implications for product regulation and marketing. Results expand the debate about e-cigarettes to include effects on persons exposed either in person or by advertisement to product use.”

So did the researchers directly test the impact of observing e-cigarette use by in-vivo and advert exposure in young adult smokers? I am very much afraid that they did not. 

Let me digress slightly: I am not a scientist, doctor, advocate, or anything like it. Indeed I have only a modest education by comparison to the PhD’s who litter (pun intended) the document where I found the above.  So how is it that a few minutes thought reveals to me a glaring weakness in the study which has supposedly gone unnoticed by the ‘experts?’ It, I think, has not, and if it has not, the research here is a downright lie.

First of all the researchers were: Andrea King, Lia Smith, Daniel Fridberg, Dingcai Cao, Patrick McNamara, Hannah Resnick, Norvel Brown, belonging to one of the following: University of Chicago, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neuroscience; University of Chicago; Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neuroscience and / or University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Health Systems Science – Wow! Impressive!

The reason for my admission that I am not a scientist is so that I can get away with what follows, or, if you can cheat to get the results you want, so can I. Except for the fact that I admit to cheating and explain in detail what the cheat is.

The cheat is that I will base everything on an assumption, but that assumption gives the lie to the idea that this research directly tested the impact of observing e-cigarette use. As pointed out, all of the researchers belong under the same umbrella organisations, the Universities of Chicago & Illinois and my assumption is that the research took place within the premises of these esteemed seats of learning.  If I am correct, everything they claim goes absolutely pear-shaped as a result. How can that be?

It is very, very, very simple.

Take a look at this UIC page , http://www.uic.edu/uic/about/tobacco-free/index.shtml and this one https://humanresources.uchicago.edu/fpg/policies/600/p603.shtml  (Note the last paragraph about the hospitals’ policy.)  So the poor smokers participating in the research were not allowed to smoke or vape prior to the experiment – how long I wonder?  They finally are admitted to the building and are already thinking about their next smoke / vape. The big moment arrives and they are seated, and next to them are two glasses of water. The researcher drinks from his/her glass, ‘so what! The subject wants a vape / smoke not a drink of water. You see, the desire has already been created – even before setting foot in the room.  What happens with the cigarettes and the e cigarettes is a complete irrelevance. Given the opportunity to have a cigarette or vape will be pounced upon by the poor deprived subject whether he / she observe someone else doing it or not – the whole experiment is a complete and utter farce. Equally, when shown images of someone doing something which you already desperately want will obviously demonstrate some reaction,  and the same would happen with water if you were thirsty enough.

A smoker or vaper’s desires are not dictated by the actions of others or by what he / she sees going on around them. Being deprived of something though does increase desire, and being reminded of it simply brings to the surface feeling which have been repressed.

The one and only thing this research establishes is that smoking and vaping bans increase the desire to indulge in the activity which then shows in the subject’s response.

And psychologists, you know, the ones with the qualifications, failed to realise this?  No chance!