74th Skeptics’ Circle – Med Journal Watch

Med Journal Watch has it up.

I must admit some sadness that yet again one of my skeptic colleagues has fallen for Sandy Szwarc’s nonsense though. People, figure this out, she’s not a real skeptic. They don’t make blanket statements like this:

Hearing that a study found some food, exposure or physical characteristic is associated with a 5% to 200% higher risk for some health problem seem like a frightening lot. It’s easy to scare people half to death by citing relative risks that sound big but aren’t actually viable. Such modest risks (RR=1.05 – 3.0) don’t go beyond a null finding by more than chance (the toss of a dice or random coincidence) or a mathematical or modeling error, even if they’re reported as “statistically significant” in an underpowered study. Larger increases in risk are less likely to have happened by chance. False positives are also often due to various biases and confounding factors. Regular JFS readers understand that relative risks below 3 aren’t considered tenable and this knowledge is one of our best defenses from letting the news of the day get our goat. But, even these may be conservative.

This is completely absurd, and it’s interesting how the cranks are raising the bar. They used to deny anything of a RR less than two so they could ignore risks of things like second hand smoke. Now scientists apparently have to show RR’s of 3 or more by Sandy’s fiat.

I mean, for the love of Jebus, she cites Steven Milloy and his anti-science site Junkscience in the article!

Note to future skeptic’s circle hosts – read the damn entries!