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Seeing Red PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

Today, the Archives of Internal Medicine reported that a new study confirmed previous studies that showed a correlation between consuming a large amount of red meat and a shorter life. I counted 332 news reports on this in Google, and they mostly said this, but one was a little different.

It was from The Center for Consumer Freedom, a “nonprofit coalition supported by restaurants, food companies, and consumers, working together to promote personal responsibility and protect consumer choices.”

And basically they said: eh, no big deal.

From their press release:

It’s ridiculous to try to separate our diets from our lifestyles," Martosko said. "Nobody eats in a vacuum, and countless variables go into figuring out when we die. This study’s data connect mortality with smoking, a lack of exercise, taking daily vitamins, and even marriage. It’s silly to suggest that any single factor is the biggest one.

Well, I think they’re smart enough to see when a particular variable makes a huge difference. But… Ok, maybe Martosko has a point. Let’s look at the actual study to see what it says.

Oh wait, we can’t. You see, you have to pay to see it. $140 for a year’s subscription. And that’s what this Swift is really about.

Science has a problem. It seems that many people in this country and elsewhere consider a scientific study to be just as valid as Oprah saying “It works!” The truth is, science offers something that Oprah doesn’t: data. And it’s not just any old data… it’s peer reviewed, tested and self-evident. It’s also damn hard for a layman to access.

How can we say “what does the evidence say” if we can’t see it ourselves?

There are some great and trustworthy websites out there that provide summaries of studies like this one. Science News is great, and New Scientist has this to say about the red meat study:

This is probably the biggest and most carefully done study on the relationship between diet and mortality that I've seen," says Barry Popkin, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, who was not involved in the study.

Still, I’d like to investigate the claims on consumerfreedom.com for myself, but unless I pay for the subscription, I have to go by second hand reports. And that’s nearly the same as listening to Oprah.

Now obviously, journals need to raise money to survive, and their model of professional subscriptions has worked for many years. But I’d like to see the science made more accessible to the public. We need an “open source” journal, or something similar that allows laypeople to breach the walls of the ivory tower and examine the evidence for ourselves.

And yes, I know this will create all sorts of problems. People will abuse the data, come to the wrong conclusions, etc. But really, won’t they do that anyway?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue. How can lay people gain access to studies without going broke, and what can science and scientists do to communicate better and more directly with the public? I know of some ways, but I'd like to see what you come up with. You can leave a comment at the end of this article.

 

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PLOS
written by bartvb, March 23, 2009
You are right, Jeff. Quality scientific journals are very hard to access. Even if one wants to access just the most important ones (whatever that means, in this field, they are just about all the most important one), it would require a budget the vast majority of us can never afford. Nature is fantastic, but it costs $200.00 a year, that's if you live in the States. The American Journal of Hypertension then? That's a limited subject. Should be cheaper, right? Wrong. It's $511.00 a year. I am sure that the Journal of Human Genetics is fascinating. Right. Another $346.00 a year. It's beyond ridiculous. Academics have no problem, they get access for free at their institutions.

There are efforts to make it more affordable. Scientific American used to be great. It was affordable, high quality, and accessible. But who takes it still seriously today? Granted, it is a bit better than Oprah and her friends, or should I say, less bad?

PLOS (http://plos.org) is trying to change that. They are not bad, and completely free, but they offer nothing but a tiny subset of what science has to offer. Maybe their system is not so bad. Maybe, others could follow.

The best thing I can think of so far, is that scientific journals should not be private enterprises. They should be autonomous government agencies. The peer-review process, whatever, should remain. No more publication on paper, that is useless now. Only publication online, and freely accessible to all.


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Great and wonderful government...
written by Human Person Jr, March 23, 2009
Our founding fathers feared government, yet recognized it as necessary for our common defense and other protections. Today's skeptics, with few exceptions, embrace it. For the most part, they're savvy regarding every form of bullshit except the political variety.

I prefer the more traditional options for those occasions when I want something I can't afford: A) Do without it; or, B) Do without something else so I can have the more desirable object. The third option, to have government steal it and give it to me, doesn't exactly thrill me.
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written by olethros, March 23, 2009
The open access model has been changing steadily since at least as early as 2000.
Most authors these days have a preprint of the 'official' paper on their website
or arXiv and publishers' terms are such that allow this, mainly due to demand by authors. See for example: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/fi.../preprints

A nice list of all the publisher policies is here: http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo.php?all=yes

I have noticed this being the case mostly for core sciences, such as mathematics and physics. Medical and social science studies are usually inaccessible in this way, with PLOS being the main exception. Note that at the same time, some US congresspeople are trying to introduce bills that will make the availability of pre-prints impossible, in order to 'protect' the publishing industry.

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written by MadScientist, March 23, 2009
But Jeff - it's been happening for years!

Go visit: http://www.doaj.org/

For example: http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net...ssues.html

I've been out of the publishing routine for too long though; I forgot the names of some of my favorite journals.
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written by Eater of Souls, March 23, 2009
I have access to many journals through University. But enrolling isn't really a cheap option just to get occasional access to scientific articles. However one could perhaps befriend a student (or university staff) and have him/her forward articles.
Also, I think you may have linked to the wrong article (one concerned with "global concerns"), which is to say the one you want is probably the "related article" at the bottom. And although it's not really the point of this discussion, that article does try to correct for the confounding factors which the Center for Consumer Freedom mentions.

@Human Person Jr
The third option, to have government steal it and give it to me, doesn't exactly thrill me.

Where's the fourth option? Where the government simply pays to make it accessible to the public.
(Not to mention academic publishing is a bit weird in term of intellectual ownership. You usually have to pay to get your article published, and then your article belongs to the journal you published in. Yes, really, you pay to lose your rights to it.)
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written by Marcus Hill, March 24, 2009
Although it can still work out fairly expensive, you can generally see the abstracts of most papers for free and then choose to pay for the whole paper, if you so desire. I think it's something of the order of $10-20, but I could be wrong - seeing the link is usually just a cue for me to sign in via the account of the University I work for. It's still fairly steep, but not prohibitive if you only have a fairly specific line of enquiry to follow.

On the other hand, I don't see why journals can't have a cheaper rate of subscription for individuals, especially if this grants only electronic access rather than copies of the printed journal. If these were 10%, or even 5%, of the full subscription paid by institutions this would still be economically viable for both the subscribers and the journals. Making access completely free would just mean that more specialised journals would lose institutional subscribers, as the institutions would simply get their academics to access the free versions.
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Cause and effect?
written by garyg, March 24, 2009
From the news story about this study I didn't see any evidence of cause and effect.
Might it not be that people who eat red meat daily also engage in other risky activities?
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written by janis1207, March 24, 2009
Actually, the problem is deeper than that.
These days when you get some _really_ valuable data with potential commercial value, you don't publish them at all. If you work for some company, you do all the patent preparation routine, and then patent the approach/compound/whatever. If you work for a university, you leave and establish a company yourself, and then go to patenting.
At least in pharmacy you mostly get in the open press just the dead ends and inconsequential data. This can have dire consequences for the field.
Where there's no immediate return in sight the situation is better, but - publishing is business, as well. So you have the subscription prices only research centers can afford.
Inviting there government agencies is going to be tricky as in this case who will decide which journals are to be supported? All woo-woos for sure will apply!
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Reply to Great and wonderful government...
written by Bart B. Van Bockstaele, March 24, 2009
Not really. The great and wonderful government has its own official gazette in which all legislation is published. It plays a vital role in any democracy. There is no reason to do it any differently for scientific research, except for the peer-reviewing process which is of vital importance, even if it is not perfect, but then, nothing is.
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written by LovleAnjel, March 24, 2009
Even enrolling in university doesn't get you access-- in my long career as a student/grad student/now prof I haven't been at one school that has all the journals I need access to (and I am not in an obscure field). Libraries just don't have the money to purchase all the subscriptions they'd like to have. You can usually buy a block of docs from most journals, and that can help over the short run, but again gets expensive if you need a lot of papers.

The dirty end of open-access, even online-only papers is that someone has to pay for it, and it usually ends up being the researcher. This limits publishing to people with the salaries/grants that can cover the $100 per page publishing costs.

Sorry, crabby this morning...
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written by bosshog, March 24, 2009
Human Person Jr:
I concur. The tendency to "let the government do it" is a very pernicious one. "The Government" is not some sterile, rationalistic automaton of objectivity but a group of pathologically ambitious human beings who are not only very subjective in their approach to issues but are also expert at spinning those issues to serve their own self interests. I don't want all my "facts" coming from the government.
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written by bosshog, March 24, 2009
"The best thing I can think of so far, is that scientific journals should not be private enterprises. They should be autonomous government agencies".
What, pray tell, is an "autonomous" government agency? If it is not under government control of some type then it is identical to a private sector enterprise.
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written by manny, March 24, 2009
As others have pointed out, it's ethically questionable to compel the release of data for which one has not paid. So the best way to gain public access to data is to pay for its generation.

The government pays for an enormous amount of scientific data generation, of course, and it has been required for years that as a condition of making a grant for such data generation the recipient must agree to make the data public (by law, most such data is available through FOIA; some agencies by policy require broader distribution). President Obama, to his credit, is continuing this policy. (There are exceptions, of course, for national security, patent, trade secret and other reasons.) There is generally a delay of up to 12 months for the release of that data. Here's an example policy from the NIH: http://publicaccess.nih.gov/

Unfortunately, the President's efforts to continue and expand this policy are being opposed. John Conyers has sponsored a bill, HR 801, which would prohibit the government from insisting on the public dissemination of data as a condition of accepting a government grant.

So I would suggest that for now, at least, rather than debate the ethics of appropriating property generated with private funds, people interested in increased access to scientific data focus on maintaining and expanding the access to that data which is generated with public funds.
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written by Careyp74, March 24, 2009
First, I want to say again how much I detest the amount of weight people put on these studies. Like Martosko suggested, there are too many variables that cannot be controlled in order to show true causation.

Second, I would like to suggest a page at JREF where people could donate to specific actions, for example, to purchase a copy of the aforementioned study. I would plop down $5 on this one if I got to read it myself.
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written by redwench, March 24, 2009
obviously, the causation is a conclusion based on significant correlation. And yes, they can and do control for many other variables on large, well done studies.

But for a suggestion to access such material: library. No, generally not the local public libary, but a university will have a number of science journals on their shelves, and a medical school library will certainly have all the medical ones. If it's a state institution, you are likely to be permitted access to read them, although obviously not remove them from the premises.
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written by manny, March 24, 2009
Well, heck. That'll learn me not to do some googling before commenting.

We did pay for this study. And it's right here: http://archinte.ama-assn.org/c.../169/6/562

If you need additional data, I'm confident that Dr. Sinha, et. al. would be happy to email it to you. You own it, after all.
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written by Alan3354, March 24, 2009
I saw this on CNN this morning. One statement stood out, "Consumption ... of red meat increases the chance of dying by apx 30%." (not an exact quote, but the gist of it)

Isn't our "chance" of dying 100% ?
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As an employee of a big nonprofit academic journal...
written by siddhigyrl, March 24, 2009
First-time poster.

I work for a well-known academic journal specializing in the treatment of cancer. What drives me nuts is how mainstream news outlets completely skew the results of a study/trial and make outrageous fear-mongering claims.

I'll be watching Good Morning America or CNN, and some broadcaster will be making all these crazy suppositions about cancer based upon a single trial (having missed the mark on what that data means in the first place), and I'm thinking, "Hey, I worked on that manuscript, THAT's not what the authors meant at all!"

So, if there are any cancer-related papers anyone needs, I offer my best efforts at snagging copies for you.
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Science Commons
written by Kyle VanderBeek, March 24, 2009
Definitely check out Science Commons http://sciencecommons.org/. They're working hard to create a culture of openness and permissive licenses for journals under a Creative Commons-style scheme. Several universities have started lining up. It's also worth noting their recent blog entry http://sciencecommons.org/webl...permanent/ that explains how recent open access law that formerly had an expiration date has been made permanent. Basically, if the NIH pays for it, it goes on PubMed.
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Journalists can't cope.....
written by RobbieD, March 24, 2009
There are a number of issues here:-

Journalists and the media in general are hopeless at getting anything right from a scientific paper. They have no training in statistics and faced with a standard deviation or a correlation coefficient they fall flat, ley alone a degree of significance. This is not helped by scientific papers being written in a manner that is usually only understandable to the author's peers (if you do finally get your hands on a paper the chances are that if you are not a a specialist in the field concerned you are going to have a struggle trying to understand it). This is something science needs to address - scientific papers are too difficult to understand and are often written without any interpretation or analysis understandable by the non-specialist. Frequently you find a mind numbing tranche of references to other papers, and without reading all these, or at least the key ones, you are stuffed. Finally - there is a difference between getting hold of a copy of a paper and getting the data. There is a chance that you can get a paper, but in all but the most minor of studies you are not going to get the dataset, if not least because they are often of prohibitive size. Therefore you remain stuck with the author's interpretation and analysis and cannot re-examine the data for yourself.
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Libraries and Interlibrary Loan
written by SatansParakeet, March 24, 2009
OK, as far as getting access to research like this let me just say LIBRARIES! LIBRARIES! LIBRARIES! Sorry, to yell, but as a librarian I find it discouraging that we have 18 responses saying that we can't possibly read this study when that is exactly the situation that public libraries are designed for. Yes, many libraries, particularly public ones will not have access to specialized academic journals like this one, but almost all of them have access to the interlibrary loan system where libraries can request books and articles on loan from other libraries for their patrons.

It's nice that in this particular case the article did turn out to be online, or at least a pre-print of it is, but don't forget that just because your library doesn't have something on its shelves that doesn't mean they can't get a copy for you from a library that does have it.
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I know its frustrating but
written by pailott, March 24, 2009
I know its frustrating and we in the tech fields have problems all the time since we usually don't have money to buy subs,
but that is what University and institutional libraries are for. (I work in a NASA lab with a nice library that can get inter-library loans and such). The real problem will be with the switch over to web based journal access. It all hasn't yet been sorted out. The people that need the money haven't figured out how to make it easy or practical for the people that need their information to get it.
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Distributing the translation effort
written by Kyle VanderBeek, March 24, 2009
@RobbieD , I don't want to call you out for being fatalistic but, well, you're being fatalistic! smilies/grin.gif While it is true that many of us won't be able to fully understand a paper as well as a PhD, there is a broad spectrum of useful expertise that is left untapped due to closed access. If more people have access, we get the possibility of massively distributed science reporting. Enthusiastic bloggers/writers with a little expertise who can understand these articles would be able to report on them and improve the public understanding of science! Without this, we're stuck with whatever ham-handed reporting CNN manages to do.
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written by BillyJoe, March 24, 2009
What, pray tell, is an "autonomous" government agency?

A Quango.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quango
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written by Willy K, March 24, 2009
I just made a brief attempt to see if the articles had much useful info and the most useful bit of information was "As the authors concluded, the highest intakes of red and processed meats were associated with "a modest increase in risk of total mortality, cancer, and CVD mortality in both men and women." From http://www.acsh.org/factsfears...detail.asp

The other five articles I read had little useful info, just some statistics that were presented without much of an overview. There is no difference between the major news sites, they presented the info in a similar fashion.

It doesn't really scare me when they say X% of meat eaters die of cancer or heart disease, like someone here said, everybody dies. I want to have enough info to figure out how it affects me personally, not statistically!
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written by Willy K, March 24, 2009
Making scientific data available to everyone.

I agree that complete data and analysis of scientific information should be easily and cheaply available to everyone. The problems of making information available and letting the information creators earn a living is a real tough problem these days. I think the solutions are in sight though, the difficulties today's newspaper publishers are having evolving into primarily web based news distribution will probably be the model that smaller publishers will use. I do believe that something as robust and convenient as newspapers, magazines and books will evolve as well. Amazon's Kindle and other electronic readers are like the stone tablets of Mesopotamia, they're a great idea but too cumbersome and fragile. smilies/cry.gif
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written by pxatkins, March 24, 2009
Autonomous government agencies are those entities which are legislated to perform their day to day operations without political interference. They report to a particular minister (in the Westminster model) but that minister has no influence over the manner in which the agency carries out its mandate. Operations are according to pre-set regulations which preclude political interference. They may be taxpayer-supported or self-supporting.
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written by MadScientist, March 24, 2009
@siddhigyrl:

I know what you mean. Just last evening the Polarstern (Polar Star) featured on the news. The evil scientists on board were throwing iron into the ocean to alter the climate. For some strange reason the ship was not named, so the only thing the news got right is that some iron was being put into the ocean (although what particular chemical form was not made clear). It was an extremely small experiment but naturally all these bozo self-proclaimed experts were on the news saying that the oceans are so unpredictable, these people might destroy the earth (or similar nonsense). All those bozos are anti-science, but the news touts them as 'scientists' and 'experts' - the idiots have this notion that nothing should ever be done about anything because the outcome is unknown. DUH! Science makes progress by probing the unknown. A vast amount of information is available about that particular experiment, so anyone interested can find it; what was on the news had absolutely nothing to do with the experiment.
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written by MadScientist, March 24, 2009
@Willy K:

Making data available is a huge challenge to the people creating the data as well. For the past few years I've been involved in a fairly complex project which is about 20% government funded and 80% privately funded. All the data generated in principle is freely available to the public and over the years a number of institutions have requested information. However, it is not all that easy to get the data that one may desire because there are numerous streams of data all in different formats, in different locations, etc. Within the group, I'm probably the one who has advanced the most in making data easy to retrieve. One colleague has the unenviable task of trying to create a central data repository and an interface to allow easy retrieval of data. Now even if you *could* retrieve data, you then have the challenge of reading it and interpreting it. My own instruments log data as text and the variables are familiar to most people (wind speed, direction, humidity, etc) so my data stream will be one of the easier ones to read - however, each instrument generates over 150KB of data per day. Another research group within the larger group would have 3D seismic data - enormous volumes of information to analyze and you need the right skills and the specialized tools for the job. Soon I will be working on another comparatively small project which will generate over 80GB of data per instrument per day. All earth observation data from US instruments in orbit are freely available to the public as well - that is an unbelievably huge amount of data and the people involved in that operation are really doing an incredible job.
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written by Willy K, March 24, 2009
written by MadScientist, March 24, 2009 ...it is not all that easy to get the data that one may desire because there are numerous streams of data all in different formats, in different locations, etc


Mad, may I call you mad? smilies/wink.gif

Oh yeah, I was ignoring that aspect, but you're right. I've been in the electronics business for 20+ years and the "standards" for converting from one CAD system to another are barely usable. There is very little or no motive for private industry to make their systems compatible but there are technical solutions that could be adopted. The same can be said, as you pointed out, for publicly available data. How about the NASA guy who voluntarily converted reams of data from the Mars Viking missions? I read that they were going to throw out all the tapes because the playback hardware was obsolete and he found one in a museum!

I believe the matter of how to pay for data for public consumption is much more politically charged issue. smilies/cry.gif
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written by jhuger, March 24, 2009
Human Person Jr and BossHog:

These journals rely on the government to enforcing copyright laws. If the there was no copyright, anyone could make copies of the journal and sell it for whatever they wanted, or just give it away. I'm not saying that would be a good thing, I'm just pointing out that the government is already involved, spending money and interfering with the free market.
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written by Mully410, March 24, 2009
For the time being, I think we need to rely on bloggers like Steven Novella to fill in the data gaps.
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written by macgyver, March 24, 2009
This reminds me of the book "SnakeOil Science" which I highly recommend everybody read. What I took away from this book is that there is more to understanding and recognizing what constitutes a "quality study". The layperson would have a very hard time navigating these waters, but the author makes a living of it. It's one thing to do the study but then it's another to evaluate the study itself to decide on whether or not it's findings will be worthwhile. Many studies can be tossed out based only on the conditions of the study and whether they meet a minimum quality standard -- before the results are even considered! So in short, unless you too are a "Research Methodologist" you might not know a "good" study from a "bad" one.
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Thanks parakeet
written by tctheunbeliever, March 24, 2009
I'm glad you mentioned libraries and the ILL system--when I worked at one of the public libraries here I remember we had Science back for a few years, as well as ILL. Old-fashioned, but it may be worth checking.
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written by Skemono, March 24, 2009
there are too many variables that cannot be controlled in order to show true causation.

Maybe so--the body is awfully complex, after all. But scientists already know that and take that into account. Here's what the researchers did try to control for, according to the link provided by manny:
The covariates included in the models were age, education, marital status, family history of cancer (yes/no) (cancer mortality only), race, body mass index, 31-level smoking history, physical activity, energy intake, alcohol intake, vitamin supplement use, fruit consumption, vegetable consumption, and menopausal hormone therapy among women.
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written by TDjazz, March 25, 2009
Adding a line to an old song:

Love makes the world go around
Science explains how it goes around
But money greases the wheel
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written by waywardsister, March 25, 2009
Someone sent me a link to an article about the study, and I was disappointed (but not surprised) when I tried to access the study itself and found I couldn't. Sigh. The article mentioned that researchers relied on food questionnaires for their data...not so reliable, esp if asking people to recall as opposed to having them keep a food log (even then, people tend to misreport or misjudge their intake)

Anyone here read Taubes?

BTW hi - I'm new here & really appreciate the work you do (and...I used to work as a phone psychic in my younger days. It was truly ridiculous on both sides of the earpiece.)
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A current Kerfuffle
written by Paul Murray, March 25, 2009
There is a fair amount of kerfuffle in scienceblogs on this very topic - academic publishing. Really, it's just another instance of the broader fact that publicshing is dead. Lest we forget: the basic business model of publishing has always been getting copyright to a work and then using dead trees or vinyl to make copies of it, which physical objects can be sold. Publishers were *never* in the business of ideas - they were in the business of selling physical copies.

The intertubes and 2GB/$5 thumb drives makes publishing companies irrelevant.

Academic publishers, of course, provide added value - copy editing and coordinating peer review. But - of course - the only people who can review are scientists themselves (that's what "peer" means), and those scientists are beginning to go "Wait a moment! This is a scam!"

I'll go further: copyright - the exclusive right to make copies of a work and sell those copies - is itself dead. It's a zombie legal idea, from the days when copies of a work were physical.
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Red Meat
written by DrMatt, March 25, 2009
So will those of us who don't eat red meat have to pay a licensing fee to CCF?
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written by iiwo, March 25, 2009
Everyone has a 100% chance of dying eventually. Eating excessive servings of red meat can increase the chance it will happen earlier than average, or in different ways (heart attack), or lower the quality of life with death occurring as 'normal'. Or the person may do just fine and live a normal life.

Nitpick aside: here are some ideas I had related to accessing scientific data. Some may be bad, some good, some already mentioned...and who knows what else:
--make articles available singly rather than as a journal
--offer high school teachers discounts to include in classes
--don't make publishing a gov. agency, but subsidize the publisher (rather than make the publishee and/or reader pay)
--published studies and data automatically become free (online) when older than "X" number of years or months (authors could choose)
--all data from any government study available free of charge after one year (or two, or whatever) regardless
--charge researchers for the study on a prorated basis based on how much they will be using the data in their own work: (passing reference=low price; heavy use/reference=higher price)
--make results and conclusion available along with abstract free of charge (or low cost), but seeing raw the data costs more...

So some ideas may work, some may not, or all may not. Just .02 cents. I suppose their are other possibilities too. Also realized some could already be in place, depending on the journal.
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written by bosshog, March 26, 2009
jhuger:
The enforcement of copyright laws is a far far cry from controlling the dissemination of information.
You might as well say that the enforcemment of child labor laws is the same as the government raising your children.
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Non sequitur
written by Paul Murray, March 26, 2009
@jhuger

So ... by "you might as well say", you mean that not wanting the government to stop you from publishing information that someone else holds copyright on is morally equivalent to not wanting the government to stop you sending the kids down 't mine at age 6 to earn their keep? Really? You see these as basically being next to each other on the big dial of goodness and badness?

If not, then what *did* you mean?
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written by Trish, March 26, 2009
I don't know how common this is in our country, but public library systems in my area subscribe to some online science & medical journals, which can be accessed by library card holders thru the library's web page.
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And if you can't find it at a public library
written by Skeptigirl, March 26, 2009
try a university library.

You're slipping, Jeff. We are all so spoiled having incredible access to information via the Net, it's easy to forget there are still other sources of information.

In addition, I have found sometimes university sponsored research, while not free on the usual journal web publishers' sites, will occasionally have free access via a professor or university web publishing link. And, sometimes one can find a friend who has a subscription who is willing to PM copies to other individuals.

But I am all for pushing for some public web access if it doesn't take away research dollars. But you need to consider fair compensation for the staff and resources needed to publish research. One reason for such high costs was because circulation was small. If it's big profits for publishers then perhaps they merely need some competition.

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The questionnaire
written by Skeptigirl, March 26, 2009
Here's the questionnaire (warning: kind of a big pdf):
http://riskfactor.cancer.gov/D...sample.pdf

It came from the following review of the study. This review was a bit more detailed than some of the rest.
http://www.helenjaques.co.uk/b...rly-death/
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A pdf copy of the article
written by Skeptigirl, March 26, 2009
Here's a better copy:

fficial&hs=pYi&num=30'>http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=zh-CN&u=http://59.108.97.166/pages/839/p_74839.htm&ei=f0rMSdLaEJK2sAPXrfCcCg&sa=X&oi=translate&resnum=10&ct=result&prev=/search?q=Rashmi+Sinha,+PhD;+Amanda+J.+Cross,+PhD;+Barry+I.+Graubard,+PhD;+Michael+F.+Leitzmann,+MD,+DrPH;+Arthur+Schatzkin,+MD,+DrPH&hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-USsmilies/shocked.giffficial&hs=pYi&num=30

This one is a pdf copy and has the graphs included rather than in a separate window. Both of these links to the full copies are via foreign web pages, one in Europe and one in China. It seems only the Americans have to pay. smilies/cry.gif
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My bad.
written by Skeptigirl, March 26, 2009
D'oh!

OK, I see the problem. Just link to the "pdf" at the bottom instead of the "full text" link. I need more sleep.
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The CCF's history
written by Skeptigirl, March 26, 2009
It ain't consumers these guys care about.

http://www.sourcewatch.org/ind...er_Freedom

The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) (formerly called the "Guest Choice Network") is a front group for the restaurant, alcohol and tobacco industries. It runs media campaigns which oppose the efforts of scientists, doctors, health advocates, environmentalists and groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, calling them "the Nanny Culture -- the growing fraternity of food cops, health care enforcers, anti-meat activists, and meddling bureaucrats who 'know what's best for you.' "

Over 40 percent of the group's 2005 expenditure was paid to Rick Berman's PR company, Berman & Co. for "management services. [1] As part of its operations CCF runs a series of attack websites, including "consumerfreedom.com, activistcash.com, cspiscam.com, animal-scam.com, fishscam.com, obesitymyths.com, physiciansscam.com [and] PetaKillsAnimals.com. [2]


SourceWatch has a large amount of information on this fake front group.
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Thanks, Skeptigirl, but I kinda already had it worked out.
written by Paul Murray, March 27, 2009
The fact that this was a front group for purveyors of fine red meats was pretty obvious from the article itself:
"nonprofit coalition supported by restaurants, food companies, and consumers, working together to promote personal responsibility and protect consumer choices"

So the headline is: "Food company funded nonprofit naysays read meat warning, states everyone should eat more cow".

Riiiight. You wonder how The Onion stays in business, when the real world provides such exquisite satire. "Promoting personal resonsibility", of course is code for "If the stuff we sell makes you sick, it's actually your fault for eating it, tubbo"; just as "protecting consumer choices" is code for "anyone should be allowed to sell whatever they damn well like to the suckers. Caveat Emptor.".

They are walking a fine line there, claiming to be a non-profit. If a company splits off the marketing department, sets it up as a "non-profit" and funds it with "donations" which it claims as a charitable contribution tax write-off ... is that legal?
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SciAm?
written by mglasco, March 27, 2009
Hey what's wrong with Scientific American?! I just discovered and like it? I guess I shouldn't like Seed Magazine either? Geez! Everyone has an opinion I guess.

Anyway. I don't think lay people would understand the studies and attempting to understand them would misinterpret them. I feel like am one of those people who seeks out an "explainer" but I still can exercise my critical thinking skills. For someone who isn't involved in the direct research, I enjoy overviews. At the same time, there are always the few studies I wish I could get my hands on. It would be nice to see one or two publications on different topics with greater public interest, put into the public realm.
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written by BillyJoe, March 27, 2009
Some people don't even understand things written in plain English though.
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RE 'nonprofit' advertising scam
written by Skeptigirl, March 29, 2009
They are walking a fine line there, claiming to be a non-profit. If a company splits off the marketing department, sets it up as a "non-profit" and funds it with "donations" which it claims as a charitable contribution tax write-off ... is that legal?
While you'd think they were walking a fine line there, the practice is clearly legal. It has been written into legitimacy by our corporate sponsored legislators. The practice is extremely common and involves millions and millions of dollars of 'PR' funds. The 'causes' run the continuum from legit to outright political and industry marketing fronts. The CATO Institute and the Heritage Foundation are examples of groups that overlap in ideology while including additional targeted corporate promotions. Other groups like the Center for Consumer Freedom are purely advertising front groups.

Corporations are not exempt from donating to such groups. For example:
During 2002, ExxonMobil donated $5.6 million to public policy organizations which share its agenda, either on climate change denial or general extreme free market advocacy. These included: [4]

* Acton Institute, ($30,000)
* American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research ($200,000)
* Atlas Economic Research Foundation ($50,000)
* Cato Institute ($30,000)
* Center for Strategic and International Studies ($145,000)
* Committee for Economic Development ($75,000)
* Competitive Enterprise Institute ($405,000)
* Foundation for American Communications ($175,000)
* Frontiers of Freedom ($233,000)
* George C. Marshall Foundation (90,000)
* Reason Foundation ($50,000)
Look up any of these organizations and you'll find a tangled web of funding from various "foundations" that are themselves funded by the same circle of friends. For example, the American Enterprise Institute, in addition to corporate sponsors, is funded by:
AEI received $44,636,101 (unadjusted for inflation) from the following funding sources[14]:

* Carthage Foundation
* Castle Rock Foundation
* Earhart Foundation
* John M. Olin Foundation, Inc.
* Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
* Philip M. McKenna Foundation, Inc.
* Scaife Foundations (Scaife Family, Sarah Mellon Scaife, Carthage)
* Smith Richardson Foundation
Track back from source to source to source on SourceWatch for these organizations and it will demonstrate how pervasive and intertwined these front groups are.

http://www.sourcewatch.org

Take the Scaife Foundation, for example.
The Scaife Foundations consist of the Sarah Mellon Scaife Foundation, the Carthage Foundation, the Allegheny Foundation and the Scaife Family Foundation. All four have been heavily involved in financing conservative causes under the direction of reclusive billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, whose wealth was inherited from the Mellon industrial, oil, uranium and banking fortune.

The Mellon fortune is built on at least 5 pillars; the family's ownership of Gulf Oil Corporation, the family's monopoly ownership of Alcoa and Alcan going back to 1891, ownership of Koppers and Carborundum corporations, and their participation in the uranium cartel.

The Foundation commenced funding conservative "causes" in 1973 when Richard Mellon Scaife became the foundation's chairman. ... Richard controls the Scaife, Carthage, and Alleghany foundations. In 1993 alone, the Scaife and Carthage foundations donated more than $17.6 million to conservative think tanks.

Some years ago, the Sarah Mellon Scaife Foundation was estimated to be worth $200 million. Since Richard took charge of the foundation in 1973, it began to finance "New Right" causes....


Continued....
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written by Skeptigirl, March 29, 2009
By 1999, the Washington Post reported that the Scaife's foundations had given $340 million to conservative causes and institutions.[2] By 2002, they held more than $320 million in assets, and in that year alone they gave away more than $22 million.[3][4][5] Grant recipients included:

* American Civil Rights Union
* American Enterprise Institute
* American Legislative Exchange Council
* Americans for Tax Reform
* Atlas Economic Research Foundation
* Capital Research Center
* Cato Institute
* Center for Media and Public Affairs
* Center for the Study of Popular Culture
* Citizens for a Sound Economy
* Collegiate Network
* Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow
* Competitive Enterprise Institute
* Evergreen Freedom Foundation
* Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies
* Free Congress Research and Education Foundation
* George C. Marshall Institute
* Heritage Foundation
* Hudson Institute
* Independent Women's Forum
* Intercollegiate Studies Institute
* Judicial Watch
* Landmark Legal Foundation
* Media Research Center
* National Legal and Policy Center
* Philanthropy Roundtable
* Reason Foundation
* University of Chicago
Notice the use of names intended to fool people like the "American Civil Rights Union". That's not the ACLU but you can bet they intended people to think it was the equivalent of it.
The American Civil Rights Union (ACRU) was founded by Robert B. Carleson, who served as Ronald Reagan's Chief Deputy Director of the California State Department of Public Works starting in in 1968. According to his biography[1], on the site, he founded the organization to serve as a "'constructive alternative' to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). His goal was to provide a vehicle to protect the civil rights of all Americans - rights that continue to be undermined by the left-wing and anti-family agenda of organizations like the ACLU." ...

...The ACRU states that its mission is to focus "on those areas of our civil rights which are ignored, or even actively undermined, by other supposed civil liberties groups." These include:

* Property Rights
* Freedom of Religion
* Equality Under the Law which has been "broadly undermined in American life today through racial quotas and preferences and other race conscious policies."
* Right to Keep and Bear Arms
* Individual Liberty and Federalism


The Center for the Study of Popular Culture is
The David Horowitz Freedom Center, formerly known as the Center for the Study of Popular Culture (CSPC), is a project of ex-Marxist turned right-wing activist David Horowitz and Peter Collier. (The name change took effect in early July 2006). [1]
Horowitz, for those of you who need reminding, is the guy who goes around attacking university professors, McCarthy style.


Sorry, I can see my annoyance at these creatures is taking this commentary off topic.
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I want to have enough info to figure out how it affects me personally, not statistically!
written by Bart B. Van Bockstaele, March 31, 2009
Willy K said:
It doesn't really scare me when they say X% of meat eaters die of cancer or heart disease, like someone here said, everybody dies. I want to have enough info to figure out how it affects me personally, not statistically!
That's just not possible. Medicine simply isn't advanced enough to do that. Maybe it will be able to do this a century from now, or a millennium from now. Good for those who live then. Unfortunately for us, we live now, not then.

On the other hand, we can be happy that we didn't live in Hahnemann's days (the guy who dreamed up homeopathy). We are a hell of a lot better off than they were.

Given the present state of our knowledge, medicine is by definition a statistical science. Does it keep you (as a person) alive? Who knows? It may even kill you. However, we do know that it keeps a certain number of people alive, and that this number is larger than it used to be and that it keeps growing. So, no matter how incomplete, and even how fallible current medicine is, it is doing something positive, and it keeps getting better.

When we compare that to "ancient wisdom", we're not doing so bad. Not that this is of any value for the unfortunate souls who are dying.


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