The Lancet, like the British Medical Journal, has been publishing fake news for years about climate change. [They also published a fake article about deaths caused in the second Iraq war. That one interested me because my political opinions would have naturally led me to lend credence to their absurdly exaggerated figures, yet somehow I managed heroically to overcome my cognitive biasses and see that their study was crap, thus disproving decades of research by supposedly unbiassed academics (who hold the same – correct – lefty opinions as myself) to the effect that we are at the mercy of our world views, or cognitive biasses. You may be, Professor Lewandowsky, but that’s because you’re a fraud. I’m not.]
But with this study they’ve jumped the pangolin.
The word “Lancetgate” doesn’t seem to have got into the English language press yet. Get used to it. The popular French newspaper France Soir seems to have invented it to describe the scandal surrounding the article published in the Lancet 22nd May describing a metastudy on the use of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) in the treatment of Covid 19.
The first I heard of this study was an excellent article in the Guardian (yes, you read that right) by their medical correspondent and Melbourne bureau chief Melissa Davey in which she linked to this article at Columbia University’s Statistical modelling blog which reproduced a table from the Lancet study which demonstrated definitively (to me) that the study was fraudulent. (Briefly, the table breaks down the sample by continent (and not by country, which is odd) and by type of patient. Same proportion of females, same proportion of smokers, on every continent, to within 1%. Without recharging my 1970s Texas Instruments BS detector which I last used in my days as a market researcher 40 years ago, I’m prepared to wager that that’s bollocks. Real world statistics don’t work that way.)
The NYT has just got hold of it, 4 hours ago as I write this, but the credit goes to the French Media, and particularly France Soir, for having revealed that:
The Lancet article claimed, in a study of about 15,000 patients, that hydroxychloroqine (HCQ) was at best useless, and at worst dangerous. The WHO, followed by the French government, promptly warned against the use of HCQ and ceased clinical trials.
In the days that followed, very surprising and even staggering results, as well as glaring inconsistencies in the study published on May 22 by the 4 authors aroused strong reactions. 180 doctors / scientists signed a letter requesting a number of explanations, additional information as well as the raw data which led to these results. The authors of this study failed to answer the legitimate questions posed by these scientists. The Surgisphere company that collected the data is also quite dubious.
However, without even waiting for possible responses from these 4 authors, we can be certain that the results of this study, conducted between December 2019 and April 2020, are at best erroneous and at worst fraudulent concerning the ineffectiveness and dangerosity of HCQ…
[Google translation. I just read the stuff. If it’s good enough for Google..]
France Soir had previously revealed much interesting information about Surgisphere, the company which gathered the data (which cannot be revealed, because of “confidentiality agreements” – sounds familiar?) in this article.
Surgisphere has been formed and dissolved (for failure to provide annual accounts) in several countries over a number of years. None of its five known employees has any expertise in data processing. One of them was a quite well known porn star. (OK, you won’t have heard of her. Take my word for it…)
There is more to this story. The fact that the NYT has taken it up means that it will be licked into shape over the coming days.
The fact that it was a French popular newspaper which broke the story that the Lancet is a fake news source is a story in itself. In the Anglo-Saxon media, hydroxychlorocquine is the Trump/Bolsinaro fake cure. In France it’s the Professor Raoult prescription. Professor Raoult’s latest Tuesday interview can be found here.
I may translate a bit if I find the energy. He speaks fast and loose. The high point is when the interviewer suggests that he has been attacked by “the élite.” “No,” replies Raoul, “I’m the élite” (and he rattles off all his academic successes) “Those who attack me are the failures, the second rate.” (He also has it in for the British Medical Journal, if I heard aright. That’s two of the most serious world medical authorities treated as fake news sources.)
If climate science had just one sceptic with the insolent authority of Professor Raoult we wouldn’t be where we are. But “we” are Anglo Saxon, watching from afar the official story being demolished by a bunch of ignorant frogs, much as we watched the Bastille being toppled all those years ago. French libel laws are less – inquisitional – than British ones. If the Lancet publishes shit you’re allowed in France to say: “The Lancet is publishing shit.”
It’s British shit, which is no doubt why it’s French journalists who are revealing it. But it’s shit all the same.