Our new column „Throwback Thursday“ (at irregular intervals) is intended to highlight events that have been of importance for our movement. We start the column with the „Brussels Declaration on Scientific Integrity“, that was published in December 2009. It was initiated by the International Coalition Against Prohibition (TICAP), a federation of various organizations (including Netzwerk Rauchen among its German participants), which was very active at that time. The declaration is the result of the TICAP Conference held in Brussels in 2009.
“In the global crusade against alcohol, tobacco, and “unhealthy“ foods, health politicians have drawn on alleged scientific evidence that does not adequately meet minimal scientific standards. The following Declaration reminds us of these standards. The Declaration also calls upon politicians to avoid abusing questionable statements by selected and sometimes quite biased “experts“ in order to deprive people of their free lifestyle choices. A prohibitionist society cannot be a free society!“
The Declaration criticizes further:
“Whereas conjectural statements wrongly claimed to be based on objective and validated scientific evidence are increasingly made to encroach on public opinion, government policies and regulations, legal proceedings, educational curricula, and individual choices and behaviors. Whereas this trend gravely compromises the integrity of science, and is the harbinger of dire consequences for the intellectual progress, the material welfare, and ultimately for the individual freedom and the physical and mental health of people on this planet.”
The comprehensive document calls for exact standards for data collection in epidemiological studies, a compulsory declaration of error margins, and the maintaining of risk thresholds. Studies that do not meet these criteria, must not provide the basis for expert opinions and government policies. Measures that are founded on unqualified studies should be withdrawn. Additionally, the Brussels Declaration urges official bodies and media to report the results of scientific studies in a serious and exhaustive way, instead of instilling fear with imcomplete information.
Five short annexes deal with the following problems (to which the website of the Declaration contains additional information):
- “The Fallibility of Multi-factorial Epidemiology
- Toxicology and the Costly Illusion of Regulating Unknowable Risks
- The Imaginary Risks of Environmental Tobacco Smoke
- The False Premises of the Obesity Crusade
- Corrupted Alcohol Science”
The twelve initial signers, almost all of them scientists, comprise toxicologist Dr. Gio Gori, French medical anthropologist Dr. Kamal Chaouachi, American economist Prof. Michael Marlowe, from the German speaking regions technology philosopher Prof. Günter Ropohl and Swiss immunologist Prof. Beda Stadler. Later on, more than 500 additional people have signed the declaration, among them world-renowned musician Joe Jackson.
The declaration is still very much worth a read. Unfortunately, we have to deplore the fact, that no breakthrough was achieved on the field of scientific integrity. To this very day, lifestyle prohibitionists lie in order to create a world according to their ideas, and manipulate public opinion with pseudo-scientific „findings“, which are not critically questioned by the mainstream media. Scientists who make good money with such practices, are not held accountable. There is still a lot to be done.