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Defending legitimate epidemiologic research: combating Lysenko pseudoscience

James E Enstrom

Author Affiliations

University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Scientific Integrity Institute, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Epidemiologic Perspectives & Innovations 2007, 4:11  doi:10.1186/1742-5573-4-11

Published: 10 October 2007

Abstract

This analysis presents a detailed defense of my epidemiologic research in the May 17, 2003 British Medical Journal that found no significant relationship between environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and tobacco-related mortality. In order to defend the honesty and scientific integrity of my research, I have identified and addressed in a detailed manner several unethical and erroneous attacks on this research. Specifically, I have demonstrated that this research is not "fatally flawed," that I have not made "inappropriate use" of the underlying database, and that my findings agree with other United States results on this relationship. My research suggests, contrary to popular claims, that there is not a causal relationship between ETS and mortality in the U.S. responsible for 50,000 excess annual deaths, but rather there is a weak and inconsistent relationship. The popular claims tend to damage the credibility of epidemiology.

In addition, I address the omission of my research from the 2006 Surgeon General's Report on Involuntary Smoking and the inclusion of it in a massive U.S. Department of Justice racketeering lawsuit. I refute erroneous statements made by powerful U.S. epidemiologists and activists about me and my research and I defend the funding used to conduct this research. Finally, I compare many aspect of ETS epidemiology in the U.S. with pseudoscience in the Soviet Union during the period of Trofim Denisovich Lysenko. Overall, this paper is intended to defend legitimate research against illegitimate criticism by those who have attempted to suppress and discredit it because it does not support their ideological and political agendas. Hopefully, this defense will help other scientists defend their legitimate research and combat "Lysenko pseudoscience."