A short while ago our Wankers of the Week were certain Scottish public health experts who made ill-judged claims on very shaky "evidence" that there was already an improvement in the nation's health because of the smoking ban. Children in particular were showing signs of the benefit they have gained from not hanging round in pubs full of other people's smoke.
Now English so-called experts are getting in on the act despite our own ban having only been in force for five minutes.
Bar staff have seen "huge health benefits" from the ban on smoking in public places, a study by the Tobacco Control Collaborating Centre in Warwick - funded by Cancer Research UK - has found. Researchers tested the air quality in 40 pubs, bars and restaurants across the country and measured the level of cotinine - the metabolic byproduct of nicotine - in the blood of those who worked there.
Today they will tell the National Cancer Research Institute Conference in Birmingham that staff have four times less cotinine in their blood than they did in June and that air quality, measured by the number of particles in the air from cigarette smoke, dropped from near hazardous levels in June to levels that are similar to the outside air in August.
Hilary Wareing, co-director of the Tobacco Control Collaborating Centre, said: "This study proves beyond doubt that smokefree workplaces are helping to improve the health of the nation's hospitality workers."
Well no, Hilary, it proves nothing of the sort. If you'd been paying attention in your science lessons at school, you'd know about "cause and effect". If you'd only do some proper research, like looking into the incidence of smoking related diseases or symptoms among bar staff, we might take you more seriously.
As it is, all you've done is show that people who are less exposed to smoking show signs of being less exposed to smoking.
The GOS says: Had a conversation with our Science Correspondent the other day, and he was telling me about scientific research funding in British universities. Time was, scientists could get research grants for anything that looked as though it might be interesting. For instance, a couple of boffins wanted to examine the effects of passing electricity through liquid crystals. They didn't know what application it might have, they just fancied it might be worth doing.
As we all know, they got their grant and promptly discovered the liquid crystal display, the patents of which have earned their university many hundreds of thousands of pounds in royalties ever since.
Things are different these days, though. These days, if a scientist asks for a research grant he is expected to tell them what outcome he anticipates from his research. If he can't either think of something useful to tell them, or relate the research to Global Warming, he doesn't get the grant. So dozens of serendipitous inventions are remaining undiscovered or are being found in other countries.
So I suppose we shouldn't be too harsh on Hilary and the Tobacco Control Collaborating Centre. They're only doing what scientists are supposed to do these days - ask what our political masters would like the outcome of our research to be, and make damn sure that's what we find.
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