Carl V Phillips Countering Critics

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A Former-Professor with Tobacco Industry Affiliations

It is no secret that at least some of Phillips’ research is funded by the tobacco industry; since 2005 he has disclosed funding and his related work for tobacco companies in academic papers. His 23-pages long CV, however, does not include the grants he received.[1]

In 2004, still at the University of Texas, Phillips founded an on-line, pay-to-publish research journal Epidemiologic Perspectives & Innovations, he was its editor-in-chief. The journal is no longer accepting manuscripts and it published its last paper in April 2012. In the almost eight years of its existence, the journal published 84 papers, now archived at the Biomedcentral website The journal was not being indexed by either the science or social science edition of Journal Citation Reports, the leading scientific scholarly indexing service. Philips is also on the editorial board of the Harm Reduction Journal, [2] which has published five of his nine academic papers on tobacco.[3]

At the same time, Phillips is “a harsh critic of that joke/horror of an institution called the academic publishing industry” and says he “tried to have as little to do with it as I could manage.”[4]

  • The Carl V Phillips page examines his career and his affiliations with the tobacco industry.

Publications and citations

The table below shows Phillips’ total career publications and citations, as indexed by the Web of Science and Google Scholar (up until February 2013). The table also shows his tobacco-related publications and their degree of self-citation since his first publication in 1989.[5].

A: Total publications (cites) Self citations Original Articles Conference Abstracts Editorials, Comments Other
Web of Science 52 (187) 8 42 1 1
Google Scholar 61 (821) 31 17 3 8
B: Tobacco publications
Web of Science 5 (27) 13 (48%) 1 5 0 1
Google Scholar 19 (136) 50 (36.8%) 9 5 1 4

Search conducted 1 February 2013


Web of Science is more selective than Google Scholar in those journals it indexes. Google Scholar indexes many lower ranking journals which typically are poorly cited, or are assessed by the Web of Science as having lower scholarly standards. Web of Science shows that Phillips has 52 career publications (an average of 2.2 per year). However, 42 of these are just published conference abstracts, not full peer reviewed papers. This leaves just 10 peer reviewed papers indexed on Web of Science of which five are about tobacco. Google Scholar shows 31 original articles, nine of which are about tobacco. Both Phillips’ research output and the scholarly interest in his work measured by citations are therefore low.

H-index The H-index is a widely used measure of career-wide citation (an H index of 20 means that a researcher has 20 publications which have been cited 20 times or more; h=30, 30 publications cited 30 times or more etc.). Its developer, Hirsch, says “an h index of 20 after 20 years of scientific activity characterizes a successful scientist”.[6]

Phillips’ first academic role was as a teaching assistant at Harvard in 1988 according to his CV, and he published his first paper in 1989. He has therefore been active for 24 years. By that time, according to Hirsch, one would be a successful scientist with an h index of around 24. Phillips’ H-index, as measured by Web of Science is 8, and by Google Scholar it is 16.

Countering Critics: Blog and Twitter

Blog

Since June 2010 Phillips has written a blog, EP-ology, which frequently focuses on tobacco related issues. In 281 blog posts from its commencement until 7 November 2012, Phillips focused on tobacco issues in 93 (33%) of these. Phillips’ language in his writings can be florid and abusive. He denigrates public health researchers and government health bodies and has called them "anti-tobacco extremists",[7] "clueless sheep",[8] and has referred to their academic research as "junk science" and "anti-THR (tobacco harm reduction) propaganda".[9]

In August 2012, he commenced a new blog Anti Harm Reduction Lies.

Two academics active in tobacco control have attracted repeated attacks from Phillips.

  • Professor Simon Chapman has been involved in Australian and international tobacco control since the late 1970s. He has won many Australian and international awards for his work, including the American Cancer Society’s global Luther Terry medal for outstanding leadership in 2003. He was foundation deputy editor then editor of Tobacco Control (and is now editor emeritus). [10]
Between 2011-12, Phillips wrote no less than 10,600 words over six different blogs attacking Chapman. [11][12][13][14]
To give an example, in March 2012 he called Chapman “the Worst "Public Health" Person In The World” and also “the person responsible for the most pointless deaths of his countrymen since the guy who ordered the army to Gallipoli” [15]. A month later he went on about “pseudo-public-health anti-tobacco people like Chapman,” “he is clearly a buffoon who spouts one false, hateful, or silly thing after another” [16]
  • Professor Stanton Glantz from the University of California is one of the world’s leading tobacco control academics. He has published over 300 articles in peer reviewed journals, and Web of Science shows he has been cited over 9400 times, with an h index of 53, a level that Hirsh says “characterizes outstanding scientists likely to be found only at the top universities or major research laboratories.” </ref name=’hirsch’> Glantz founded the American Legacy Tobacco Documents Library and in 2009 was voted by his international peers to receive the Career Award for tobacco control.
Phillips suggested that Stanton Glantz spouts “junk science” either because "he has not acquired a modicum of understanding about the science in the field where he has worked for decades, or because he is a sociopath-level liar."[17]

Twitter

As with his blog, Phillips has used Twitter as a platform to discredit public health scientists and their research (see pictures 1, 2,and 3).

Picture 1: Carl V Phillips tweets on 13 November 2011 a link to his blog which challenges public health benefits of smoke-free legislation
Picture 2: Carl V Phillips tweets on 26 January 2012 a link to his blog where he discredits Professor Anna Gilmore and ridicules EU ban on snus sales
Picture 3: Carl V Phillips tweets on 7 March 2012, discrediting the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)


While Phillips presents himself as a tobacco harm reduction advocate, he uses his blog to criticise tobacco control measures and question the health impacts of policies including smoke-free public spaces,[18] graphic health warning labels on cigarette packs, [19] and more recently, plain packaging.[20]

Phillips has no publications, grants or research track record on any of these issues.


Tobacco Tactics Resources

Notes

  1. C.V. Phillips, CV CARL V. PHILLIPS, MPP, PhD epiphi Consulting Group, TobaccoHarmReduction.org, June 2010, accessed March 2013
  2. Harm Reduction Journal Editorial Board, accessed Feb 2013
  3. Harm Reduction Journal search for Carl Phillips, accessed Feb 2013
  4. C.V. Phillips, My "health effects of wind turbines" paper, unpaywalled #pdftribute, ep-ology blogspot, 14 Jan 2013, accessed Feb 2013
  5. Phillips, C.V., Zeckhauser R.J., Contingent valuation of damage to natural resources: How accurate? How appropriate? Toxics Law Reporter, October 1989
  6. Hirsch, JE, An index to quantify an individual's scientific research output, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 102 no. 46 pp. 16569–16572, accessed Feb 2013
  7. EP-ology by Carl V. Phillips, Krugman and economic policy analogies revisited, 25 July 2010, accessed 21 February 2012
  8. Carl V Phillips, Tobacco Harm Reduction News & Opinions: Is tobacco control playing Br’er Rabbit in the Aussie briar patch?, blog comment made on 8 June 2011 11:20am, accessed 9 March 2012
  9. EP-ology by Carl V. Phillips, Smokeless Tobacco Junk Science, the Original Sin-Part 1, background, 22 June 2010, accessed 21 February 2012
  10. His Google Scholar h-index and thousands of citations can be seen here http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=PDE8U4UAAAAJ&hl=en
  11. C.V.Phillips, Unhealthful News 138 - Another side of Simon Chapman? Nope, he's clueless about wind turbines., ep-ology.blogspot, 18 May 2011, Accessed March 2013
  12. C.V.Phillips, Unhealthful News 184 - The right answer about prostate screening, but as for the reasons..., ep-ology.blogspot, 03 November 2011, Accessed March 2013
  13. C.V.Phillips, A bit more on the economics of cigarette (dis)branding, ep-ology.blogspot, 19 August 2012, Accessed March 2013
  14. C.V.Phillips, Unhealthful News 141 - Follow-up: Addiction & the more you read, the funnier Simon Chapman gets, ep-ology.blogspot, 21 May 2011, Accessed March 2013
  15. C.V.Phillips, How can you tell Simon Chapman is mucking about over his head? ep-ology.blogspot, 28 March 2012, Accessed March 2013
  16. C.V.Phillips, A primer on the buffoonery of Simon Chapman for Australian IWT opponents (part 1), ep-ology.blogspot, 19 April 2012, Accessed March 2013
  17. EP-ology by Carl V. Phillips, Unhealthful news 190- Absurd claims about the effects of smoking place restrictions, North Carolina edition (Part2), 14 November 2011, accessed 21 February 2012
  18. Carl V. Phillips, Unhealthful news 189- Absurd claims about the effects of smoking place restrictions, North Carolina edition Part 1, EP-ology, 11 November 2011, accessed 28 March 2012
  19. Carl V. Phillips, Unhealthful news 188- Follow Up on cigarette graphic warnings injunction: NYT chooses to burn its credibility, EP-ology, 11 November 2011, accessed 21 February 2012
  20. Carl V Phillips, Tobacco Harm Reduction News & Opinions: Is tobacco control playing Br’er Rabbit in the Aussie briar patch?, Smokles, 7 June 2011, accessed 9 March 2012