Kifle wrote:In epidemiology, it is not a mistake -- there needs to be a 1.0-2.0 increase or it is found as non-causal. Look it up.
In the first link I posted, they cite an epidemiologist objecting to exactly what you are saying. He objected that someone had said:
D. Trichopoulos wrote:that I have expressed the view that only a fourfold risk should be taken seriously. That is correct, but only when the finding stands in a biological vacuum or has little or no biological credibility. We all take seriously small relative risks when there is a credible hypothesis in the background. Nobody disputes that the prevalence of boys at birth is higher than that of girls (an excess of 3%), that men have a 30% higher death rate compared with women of the same age...
This fellow is correct, of course. Because twofold or fourfold or whatever, that's an arbitrary number. It's a rule of thumb. Any such number must be an arbitrary number, because epidemiology alone isn't sufficient to establish causality in the scientific sense that you are presenting.
What the epidemiologists are saying with this rule of thumb is that if you don't know much about what you're looking for, you need to get that large of an effect to be pretty sure you've got something interesting. Doesn't mean it really is a causal relationship, just that it is probably going to be worth following up.
But if the mechanisms by which there is an effect are known, then it is certainly possible to accurately conclude that factors with small effects are causal. You can't draw that conclusion from epidemiology alone, but you should never draw a causal conclusion from a correlational result, no matter what the effect size is. (Note: If an epidemiologist discovered something with both a high absolute risk and a high relative risk, I'd recommend quick action, even if the mechanisms aren't understood, but that's just common sense, it's not establishing causality.)
For ETS, it's not just epidemiology that points to the dangers. One paper summarized it like this:
http://www.nature.com/onc/journal/v21/n ... 5809a.html wrote:
The conclusion that ETS is a human lung carcinogen is based on the total weight of evidence...including (1) ...dozens of epidemiologic studies conducted in many different countries; (2) the well-established link between active smoking and lung cancer, and the absence of a threshold level of exposure below which the risk is not elevated; (3) biological measurements of ETS uptake and metabolism by nonsmokers; and (4) supporting evidence of ETS carcinogenicity from animal bioassays and genotoxicity.
The pieces are there, so the conclusion is clear: Being in a home, bar, restaurant, or other enclosed area of the sort, for any normal length of time, where folks are smoking, causes an increase in one's risk of disease and death.
Kifle wrote:The rights of private property
The right of private property is limited, just like all rights are limited. We don't have absolute freedom of speech, and we don't have the right to do whatever we want with our property. Even following Locke strictly (which the founders didn't) doesn't preclude zoning regulations.
And in this situation, a bar is private property, but is a public facility. There are all sorts of laws governing such, like health codes for food preparation and fire codes for safety equipment and capacity. The founders didn't guarantee the right to smoke in a bar, just like they didn't guarantee the right of public facility property owners to have emergency exits that open inward.
When I turn to Locke, I am not attempting to paraphrase him as the absolute political authority; however, because of his direct and enormous influence of our founders, I think his philosophy carries with it a certain amount of credibility. That being said, I think we can agree that both Locke and the founders (especially Jefferson) saw private property as, not just a right, but the backbone and foundation of society. Since it has such weight in the ideologies of these men, I believe that regulations and restrictions of the right of private property should be treated in a delicate manner. The complete ban of an action, which is still in debate, is not what I would consider delicate. I don't think it is responsible to take such actions that limit our use of our private property without more dialogue which isn't already biased towards one viewpoint; and, unfortunately, that is hard to do -- regardless of how hard it is, though, I think such decisions deserve as much. I think it was a hasty decision (relatively) based on biased opinion, misintrepreted facts, and fear.
As for the scientific discussion, I believe we are just reading different things into what is being presented. Case in point, I believe that the man above strengthens my agrument while you feel he vindicates yours. What I see is him saying, 'in perfect conditions, I would require a fourfold increase.' To me, scientifically, if you require such stict standards in a field, you do not decrease the standards by over three hundred percent because we are not in a vacuum. No other scientific body is going to do that. In physics, they test their hypothesis' within vacuums when they can; however, we all know this does not mirror reality. I would expect the same in any other field, especially epidemiology. This does not mean we should make inferences where we deem necessary. This paves the way for personal bias to be more of a factor that which should be allowed in science. This is why psychology and sociology, among other soft sciences, are still not given the credibility they may or may not deserve. Basically he's saying, to me, is that since we can't truely know because of the external conditions and variables, we're allowed to guess...
In the same quotation he's comparing something easily gained through empirical data (birth rates and death rates) to something that has myriad variables the researchers aren't even aware of (second hand smoke, heart disease, cancer). This is not a fair comparison and is a excellent example of how arguments that are supposed to be scientific can be muddied by statistical stacking and misquoting. In this case, the statistics he uses are out of context. This shows to me that this argument is so weak that he has to use logical fallicies to prove it.
As to what you said afterwards, I do agree, and that is my point. They can't, and haven't shown causality in this case; therefore, it is irresponsible to make a regulation based on an immature set of studies. There is no
difinitive link, as of yet, that either disproves or proves the claims about ETS; therefore, how is it 1) fair and 2) intelligent to alter the lives of citizens in regards to one of the most important values and rights of this country? The simple answer is that it isn't.
Lastly, I'm not seeing where you're getting this conclusion from your numbered evidence -- I'll reply directly...
1) Dozens of studies from different countries: You're right, there have been dozens of studies -- a large number of which claim the opposite of the other. This to me would indicate that either there is no causal relationship, the causal relationship is a non-factor, or each side is stacking data in their favor. Either way, this point proves nothing except that their is no way to make an educated conclusion based on the evidence and studies at present.
2) In relation to direct smoking and an absence of a threashold: Again, how could you definitively conclude something when the threashold is not found? And, knowing that there is a threashold, whether absolute, relative, or fuzzy, should be found before taking such drastic steps. Lastly, as it is with countless other phenomena in this world, direct exposure, continuosly for decades, may be a serious risk, but that does not mean that the risk is a factor when moderate or light exposer is in question. Because this has not been answered only reinforces the hastiness and irresponsibility of the decision on the smoking bans.
3) Metabolism in non-smokers: Metabolism =/= cancer. Sitting next to a fire is enough to get me warm (an effect of fire), but it will not burn me (another effect of fire). Nicotine raises the metabolism. So your evidence that ETS causes cancer is the apparent effects of a non-carcinogenic
property of the smoke? Does it show they are inhaling smoke and garnering some effect from it? Sure does, but, again, like the analogy of the fire, it is a far cry from causal proof of ETS induced cancer. Also, nicotine is highly addictive. It is known as one of the most addictive drugs next to heroin. Are the non-smokers who are exposed to ETS craving a cigarette while they eat their food like a smoker is? Do they crave nicotine when they leave the bar/restaurant? No. What does this indicate? That the leves of nicotine absorbed are, for the most part, a non-factor...
4) As for this, I'm pleading ignorance on the subject. I have not once looked at, or heard about, the toxicity reports or studies of ETS in relation to animals. Again, there are reasons I would not commit to a causal relationship shown in the studies because of the obvious biological differences; however, if those difference between spiecies was shown as a non-factor, and, if the studies were repeatable and credible, I would definately include them in my overall opinion on the subject; however, it does not change my stance now on the behavior of our government in relation to research that has yet to reach adulthood.
Gurns, good stuff. We just have two different views, and I don't think either of us are going to be swayed on the subject. We've both seen the evidence and clearly take different things from it. So, I hate to do this, but I think we're going to have to agree to disagree.