Throwback Thursday: Brussels Declaration
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 Measures that are founded on unqualified studies should be withdrawn.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.
Thanks for the Throwback moment. It would be nice to send a copy of the members of the European Parliament!
I’d forgotten all about this Declaration until you mentioned it, Dmitry. And it’s set me thinking that maybe this is one way to put the brakes on the onward march of Tobacco Control. Rather than trying to take them head-on, as it were, by arguing about their fake statistics on tobacco harm and the unfairness of smoking bans etc etc, perhaps it’s better to slip in via their unguarded back door by taking the fight to a wider arena. Tobacco Control has infiltrated and used to its own advantage all sorts of areas of life which are, in themselves, actually concerned with much more than just the issue of smoking – taxation, employment, the law, the courts system, education, the family, the media and, of course, science. So perhaps an attack on the integrity of some or all of these areas in general terms rather than specifically in relation to smoking, is the way forward.
This Declaration on the integrity of science, for example, could be resurrected and revamped with less of a focus on smoking, and more of a focus on the general misuse of science as a tool for formulating and pushing through policies which the powers-that-be and a few single-issue pressure groups may want, but which the public generally don’t. This would actually be easier now than it was when the report was first issued just shy of 10 years ago, when the smoking ban (here in the UK) was still quite new and when smokers were the only group being singled out for State-approved persecution and prejudice. Today, of course, it’s different and the same misuse of science is now being applied to a wider range of activities and thus to a wider range of people, who, having previously been exempt (and thus disinterested) are now very much in the crosshairs and much more likely to take an interest in its aims.
The beauty of this approach is that it wouldn’t lay itself open to the usual claims of its being just a group of disgruntled smokers complaining because they didn’t like smoking bans or because they were in the pay of the tobacco companies, because it wouldn’t just be about smoking this time – it would be about the corruption of science as a whole. But, because anti-smoking scientific corruption is the oldest and best established, that manipulated science would necessarily be the go-to examples used to highlight that corruption – other scientific corruption is only in its infancy and hasn’t yet achieved the change that anti-smoking “science” has. So our message would be got across, and the drip-feed into public consciousness would start to occur … but it would be subtle enough for all those previously-unbothered non-smokers to start to question it (and, perhaps most importantly, to make the connection between the corrupted science currently being aimed at them and that already used to target us).
Is TICAP still active? I get the impression that since Gian Turci’s death in 2009 it’s largely just been a vehicle for publishing articles written by regular bloggers to give them rather wider audiences than their blogs alone would otherwise reach, which is great, but it does make it something of an echo-chamber which simply “preaches to the converted.” I certainly haven’t heard much about them in the media for several years, and none of their news pages seem to have any articles which are more recent than 2010. Perhaps I just have an old link ……
Sorry for the late reply, Jax, it’s about your last paragraph. While TICAP was very active in the year following Gian’s death (promoting the Brussels Declaration, organizing a conference in The Hague in early 2010), it has lost relevance since then. The lack of interational cooperation caused by this was one the reasons why we started this blog.
Thanks for your reply Dmitry, and no problem about the delay. I know how life whizzes past at breakneck speed these days!
Okaaaaay – so, given what you say about Forces going into a decline, perhaps one thing that we could do is throw out the question as to whether there might just be – somewhere – some organisation of scientists who might be interested in the Brussels Declaration (or something based fairly loosely upon it) and who might be concerned enough about the state of their own profession to use it as a starting point for some kind of lobbying action. Surely there must be someone – some scientist who was genuinely attracted to the field of science for its purity and its honesty – who is metaphorically tearing his hair out at the lack of integrity he now sees in his/her field of industry? I suggest a scientific organisation because, again, this would detract from the initial focus of the Declaration as one initiated in response to anti-smoking science, which, as I said in my last comment, lays the Declaration open to accusations of just being a bunch of smokers complaining because they were the only ones being targeted.
If there were any decent investigative journalists left in the media, I’d suggest that engaging the attention of one of them might be a way forward, but I don’t think there’s many of those left these days. Certainly none in the mainstream media. Freelancers, maybe? It’s far too late to look now, but I’ll have a scout around t’Internet and see if there are any “bodies” or individuals who sound like they might be sympathetic to a report of this kind and let you know if I find any possible avenues for resurrection of this as a “route” in somewhere. I certainly think that the “subversive” method might prove more fruitful for us, being as straightforward, direct protest and/or debate is an avenue which has been pretty much closed to us for many years now.
More practically, is the Brussels Declaration copyrighted to Forces? Would we have to get their permission to use it, or bits of it, or to distribute it, or quote it in a separate report? And if so, who on earth would we contact there? Who, now, is officially “in charge” there?
Just to clarify, I’m not Dmitry (who didn’t write this article anyway) but I’m from Netzwerk Rauchen.
The Brussels Declaration is from TICAP, not from FORCES. Promoting the declaration or quoting from it should be possible without any permission. For anything else, I’d suggest to get in touch with TICAP officials via the “Contacts” e-mail adresses on their website.
Pingback:Throwback Thursday: Forbidden Conference – smokingbandits