Meet Rebecca Williams, the FDA’s favorite pay-for-play junk scientist
What happens if you are a federal government agency with unlimited financial resources trying to convince the American people that vaping is bad for public health? You might consider hiring pay-for-pay “scientists” like the notorious Rebecca Williams of the University of North Carolina. Williams is the reigning queen of e-cig junk science whose articles appear all over the Internet spreading outrageous claims and falsified statistics that demonize the vaping entire industry.
Williams loves to post her articles on medical journal websites like The JAMA Pediatrics Network, The National Center for Biotechnology Information, and the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. While these sites might sound reputable and trustworthy at first glance, anyone with a keyboard can essentially publish an article on them without anyone even fact checking the information. This is an area of junk science in which Rebecca Williams is the undisputed champion.
Rebecca Williams: It’s all about the headline.
Williams is notorious for publishing bogus “scientific research” that somehow links vaping to teen smoking. This is an old marketing trick that has worked for decades. If you can scare the average person into thinking that their children are at risk, then it’s almost impossible to convince them otherwise no matter how much evidence to the contrary comes to light in the future. How do you attract these average Americans to read your sham articles? It’s all about the headline.
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One such example is Rebecca William’s “Electronic Cigarette Sales to Minors via the Internet” in which the pay-for-play junk scientist attempts to prove that minors are stealing their parents’ credit cards, running to the computer, and buying massive amounts of e-cigs and vaping products. Of course, this is complete rubbish, but most people don’t bother to read the entire article. All that most people remember is the carefully chosen headline.
A second example is the William’s classic, “Revisiting the Rise of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems Using Search Query Surveillance.” This headline sounds so technical and scholarly that it must be true, right? Not so fast. For those who happen to read the article, Williams attempts to debunk the piles of more reputable scientific research claiming that vaping and e-cigs are the most effective way to quit smoking.
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How does she do it? By posting silly statistics claiming that more people search for online vaping products using keywords like “sale” and “shopping” as opposed to “smoking cessation” or “health concerns.” Of course they do! You don’t need a PhD to understand that the typical consumer has no idea what “smoking cessation” means, let alone why they need to type that stupid keyword into their web browser to buy an e-cig.
Junk science at its best (or worst)
While a great many of Rebecca Williams’ articles focus on e-cigs, vaping, and teen smoking, she doesn’t stop there. In one particularly deceitful rant entitled, “VapeCons: E-cigarette user conventions,” Williams attempts to slander the entire vaping community by painting a very devious picture of people who typically attend vaping conventions and expos.
“Vaping conventions promote e-cigarette use and social norms without public health having a voice to educate attendees about negative consequences of use. Future research should focus on the effects of attending these conventions on attendees and on indoor air quality in vapor-filled convention rooms.”
“For these ritual gatherings, they adorn their bodies with ink and metallic object and don the ceremonial black garb. Those vying for alpha male status can be identified by their lack of sleeves. Custom garments commemorating the particular gathering or displaying various tribal affiliations are available for barter among the participants.”
This article was met with such controversy that Williams was soon discovered to have not attended a single vaping convention in the recent past prior to writing the article. She had simply Googled much of the information and rewritten it. Carl Phillips from the website Anti-THR Lies published an incredibly harsh review of Rebecca Williams just days after the article was first published. And still, the FDA keeps hiring its favorite pay-for-play junk scientist over and over to intentionally misinform the American public on the non-existent dangers of vaping. This begs the question: Who is worse - Rebecca Williams or the FDA?
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