Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘causation

Anti-Cannabis Cult At Kings College Punts Another Scare Story.

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kc press release

It’s the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College London, yet again, with another terrifying story about cannabis that is immediately distorted, exaggerated and misrepresented by the scientifically illiterate hacks of Fleet Street.

The Daily Mail

The Daily Mail

This time though King’s College itself has reported the results of its own research inaccurately and published false and misleading claims.

Can King’s College explain why its press release is headlined “Study shows white matter damage caused by ‘skunk-like’ cannabis”, when the researcher Dr Dazzan says “It is possible that these people already have a different brain and they are more likely to use cannabis”? The truth is that the study does not show any causative effect. It is merely correlation yet here we have supposedly eminent scientists and scientific institutions reporting results falsely.

I have written to Professor Shitij Kapur, Executive Dean & Head of Faculty of the Institute asking for an explanation.

The Daily Telegraph

The Daily Telegraph

On a regular basis the team at King’s College publishes research about cannabis that suggests it is far more harmful than real world experience demonstrates. Always these studies contain the vital caveat that no causation can be shown for the various ‘differences’ or ‘changes’ that the researchers observe.  Always, without fail, the researchers overlook this fundamental weakness in their work when they talk direct to the press. As a result we get ludicrous, inaccurate and wildly irresponsible reporting, particularly in the extremist rags such as the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph but often extending, as today, even into The Times, supposedly a responsible and authoritative publication.

The Times

The Times

This latest study was led by Dr Silvia Rigucci of Sapienza University of Rome in conjunction with Dr Paola Dazzan and Dr Tiago Reis Marques from King’s College. Dr Razzan has fallen over herself in an undignified rush to gain media headlines.  She is reported as saying: “There is an urgent need to educate health professionals, the public and policy makers about the risks involved with cannabis use.”  Of course, in truth, all these people have been systematically misled about cannabis for many years. All that Dr Razaan is doing is contributing to the vast quantity of misinformation already out there by misrepresenting and overstating her own work.

This is a very small study with no proper controls that proves nothing either way about cannabis use.  It is exaggerated and misrepresented by both King’s College and the scientists concerned, presumably in an effort to boost funding.  This is the state of science on cannabis where vested interests promote misinformation which defies the real world experiences of hundreds of million of cannabis consumers worldwide.  The team at King’s College displays all the classic markers of a cult.  It pursues a belief in cannabis as the ‘devil’s lettuce’ as a quasi-religion.  It dresses up its meaningless observational studies as significant evidence.  It reinforces its belief by exaggerating and misrepresenting its work.  It considers no alternative explanations and it endlessly repeats itself, its ‘studies’ and its presentation of them as proof of its own conclusions.

No one in their right mind can claim that cannabis is harmless but neither is there any evidence to support claims that it is dangerous.  These untruths are promoted by vested interests such as researchers needing more funds, the alcohol industry guarding its monopoly of legal recreational drugs or newspapers seeking sensational stories.

It’s difficult to get hold of a copy of the actual study without paying for it. My advice is read the reports, understand the facts rather than the deliberate misinterpretations and expect more of the same.  Remember that unless such evidence is compared with evidence in respect of other substances it is meaningless.  All in all there is no evidence to suggest cannabis is any more harmful than coffee.

This Man Isn’t A Scientist. He’s A Prohibition Propagandist.

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Sitting alongside him at his press conference “Cannabis Can Hasten Psychosis”, who did Dr Large have to lend him support?

Cannabis Preventer

Jan Copeland, the director of the Australian National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre.

What does that tell you?

This isn’t anything to do with science.  It’s about advancing the prohibitionist agenda – and, of course, is closely connected to Dr Large’s future funding and career path.  See here for the unedited rushes from this little conspiracy.

His big pitch was “The results of this study confirm the need for a renewed public health warning about the potential for cannabis use to bring on psychotic illness.”

Absolute rot.  The study confirmed nothing of the sort.  All it consisted of was a recalculation of data from 83 previous studies.  It’s all correlation and association.  There’s no evidence of causation whatsoever. There was absolutely nothing new in it at all and to claim there is, is simply a lie.  Of course, the mindless, desperate and eager comics like the Daily Mail have almost wet themselves with excitement over it.

This is a very typical example of the misinformation, propaganda and distortion of science put out by the prohibitionists.  It is important to understand the way they work.  They have been doing this now for nearly 100 years, using the latest propaganda techniques every time.

In this “meta-analysis”, as Dr Large pretentiously calls it, what he doesn’t tell you is that all the subjects already had a predisposition towards psychosis (usually by genetics) and included tobacco and “other psychoactive substance users”.  That means any of the approximately 600 ingredients found in cigarettes such as ammonia, various ethyls, and any of dozens of acids and carcinogens could have distorted the findings.  Similarly, and not addressed by the study’s authors, is the fact that the cannabis users, in many cases, were also cocaine, heroine, amphetamine or other drug users.

The study claims that “…schizophrenia caused by cannabis starts earlier than schizophrenia with other causes.” but it fails to consider how many of the subjects were in fact, self-medicating.  The authors don’t even consider whether cannabis causes mental illness or if people with mental illness have a higher rate of using cannabis.  Other evidence shows that self-medicating with cannabis is widespread and that over 90% of diagnosed schizophrenics smoke cigarettes – but nobody is claiming tobacco causes schizophrenia.

It’s hogwash.