There are times when I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
I came across an article a while ago, and after I read it I laughed. Then I cried. Then I laughed again. Then I just gave up and went to the pub.
The article is a report on a bit of ‘research’ done in Canada.
There are a couple of things to note about the article. Firstly it was done under the auspices of the University of Rochester Medical Centre. It’s a university, so they really know what they are talking about. Right? Next, the research was carried out by an Assistant Professor of Paediatrics, who is a qualified doctor. By Christ but she knows what she is talking about. Right? So we have research, carried out in a university by a highly qualified and experienced person. This is something that we have to take seriously, and believe without question. Right?
Let’s see what this highly qualified person at the university discovered.
She discovered that cigarette smoke can travel through brick walls. WOW!!!
Even more astounding, she discovered that cigarette smoke can travel through the wall of a house, make its way through the open air and then travel through a brick wall into the detached house next door.
OK. I’m going to pause here, and add my own little bit of ignorance.
No, I’m not a qualified doctor, and no, I don’t work for a university. I have no qualifications apart from the usual degrees and diplomas that everyone seems to have these days, so I have no right whatsoever to question the work of such an eminent person. Right?
I did study science at third level however, and there are one or two things I remember from those lectures that I did bother to attend.
The fist thing is that when you come up with some fact, such as the finding of a chemical [cotinine] in the bloodstream, the first thing you do is work out a hypothesis. Now, a hypothesis is just that – a proposed explanation. The next thing you do is test that hypothesis through experimentation. If the experiments fail, you modify or abandon your hypothesis. You keep experimenting, and you look at all possible solutions, until you find the one that not only fits, but can be proved.
Now ‘Doctor’ Wilson discovered cotinine in the bloodstream of lots of children. Cotinine is used as a marker to test for nicotine levels. Her hypothesis was that these children must therefore have been exposed to tobacco smoke, despite the fact that no one in their home smoked. Therefore it must have come from next door. The fact that next door was separated from the children by a brick wall didn’t deter her. Conclusion? That smoke travels through walls. QED. The fact that some of these children lived in detached houses didn’t deter her either. Smoke can now travel through two walls and the intervening space. QED. Somehow she seems to have jumped straight from the hypothesis stage to the conclusion without any proof or experimentation? Very strange?
As I said, I am not qualified in these matters, but I can say with absolute certainty that this is the greatest load of bollox I have heard in a long time. If air can travel through the walls of Canadian houses, then they need to seriously amend their building regulations. The concept of smoke jumping from one detached house to another is so derisive that it could only be taken as a joke. Yet this ‘doctor’ seriously presented this crap to the Paediatric Academic Society. What is even more worrying is that this paper was accepted without question.
Did it never occur to ‘Doctor’ Wilson that Cotinine is found in other substances? In fact, nicotine [which produces Cotinine] can be found in a lot of plants, including potatoes, eggplants, aubergines and tomatoes. It’s funny that she never thought of these?
I wonder if she thought of asking the children how many surreptitious fags those children enjoyed behind the bicycle shed?