Monday, March 09, 2009

March 3 Media Critique: “BMJ's Bad Medicine”

HR does its own research following the BMJ's attack.

Doesn’t it just. You know what’s coming right?

HR employs a deeply impartial doctor of its own to whip up some figures and prove the bias at
BMJ. This would be better titled 'HR’s Bad Faith'.It’s a sad and desperate attempt at diverting attention from HR’s bullying tactics.

HR’s resident scientific genius “
Dr Simon Fishman” works his statistical magic to prove again that there are ‘lies, damn lies and statistics’. That a bit of crude manipulation was applied to get the desired ‘proof’ could hardly be more obvious. But as I said in the last post, it’s all about cultivating outrage.

Fishman, scientifically combs the literature for articles on a range of conflicts: Bosnia Sudan, Palestine, Rwanda and then comes up with a self-serving measure that will deliver the result HR wants – deaths per citations / year. The lower the score the more attention , citations per death wise, the conflict has garnered. Naturally the result is awful, simply awful.

The poor Rwandans score only 40,000, Bosnians 2000. And the all important number- Palestinians – 13. Yes, thirteen. My god, can’t you just smell the
BMJ bias!!

HR can,

The evidence clearly shows that the BMJ has a disproportionate interest in Palestinian deaths over those from other conflict areas where the impact on public health is certainly as great and potentially greater….. This bias is consistent with its attacks on the so-called "Israel lobby".

What’s wrong with this? Well for a start, when I
searched BMJ I came up with more cites than HRs resident expert did. I suggest next time he try alternative search terms like “Kosovars” and “Albanian” on the Bosnia search and you’ll get quite a few more results.

But that’s a quibble. The whole deaths / citations /yrs measure is nonsense. HR even say so themselves,
articles in medical journals examining a whole range of genuine healthcare issues such as the psychological effects of war on….., HIV testing……….and other studies that are not necessarily focused on death tolls from such conflicts

So, why chose deaths?. Simple - it gives a lower score for Palestinians. And restricting it to just a 4 year period decreases that number further.

A far more revealing measure of attention would be in citations per year. Now a higher number indicates more ‘interest’.

You’ll see why HR
doesn’t use this more accurate gauge of ‘interest’.

Citations/year - Rwandans 20, Bosnians 4, Palestinians 7.


But even that is a little unfair as I used date range of
HRs ‘expert’. If you bother to look, you’ll see some Palestinian articles predate 2000 as the conflict obviously does. To be fair, the years should go from the starting date up to the present, as journal articles continue to appear after the conflicts themselves have ended. I’ll use 1989 as the year for the start of the I-P conflict though it would be perfectly reasonable to use 1967.

Citations /year - Rwandans 1.3, Bosnians 1.1, Palestinians 1.45 (using1967 – 0.725)

Hey, anybody seen where my bias went? Amazing how a ‘bias’ factor of over 3000 can just melt away when a little scrutiny is shone on it.

But it gets better. In testimony to the mathematical genius of HR, their Sudan figure of 0
BMJ cites for 188,000 deaths is expressed as “negligible”. Someone ask their primary school child to do the maths on that one for them. Morons. See it for yourself and have a good laugh.

HR opened this one with one of their favourite techniques for cultivating outrage, the misleading selective quote,

From HR,
Indeed, the BMJ has gone way beyond its own mission statement:
'To lead the debate on health, and to engage, inform, and stimulate doctors, researchers and other health professionals in ways that will improve outcomes for patients.
To achieve these aims we publish original scientific studies, review and educational articles, and papers commenting on the clinical, scientific, social, political, and economic factors affecting health'.

Wonder what else the
BMA (who owns the BMJ) has to say about its' publication,
The BMA grants editorial freedom to the editor of the BMJ. The views expressed in the journal are those of the authors and may not necessarily comply with BMJ policy. The BMJ follows guidelines on editorial independence produced by the World Association of Medical Editors and the code on good publication practice produced by the Committee on Publication Ethics.


Feb 25 ‘Media Critique’: "British Medical Journal Attacks HonestReporting"

The BMJ falsely accuses HonestReporting of attempting to stifle debate and freedom of speech.”

Surely not!

HonestReporting, in denying the charge, neatly demonstrates its methods of doing precisely that.

First, it’s worth remembering that HRs primary weapon is to deluge the offending media outlet with angry emails and the tactic it employs to achieve this is - cultivating outrage.

It’s no mere carelessness, inattention to detail, or stupidity that leads HR to consistently fill it’s "
Media Critiques" with ‘errors’, which range from simple exaggeration to deliberate misrepresentation and outrageous falsehood. A calm considered and accurate assessment of any media fault is hardly going to motivate a large number of people to email a newspaper or media outlet. What fills the inboxes is anger, outrage. And, as has been repeatedly demonstrated here, when there is nothing to be particularly outraged about, HR are happy to facilitate the process by liberal application of dishonesty.

Take the BMJ articles.

HR says,

In its latest edition, the BMJ devotes some five articles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) reviewing the "perils of criticizing Israel"…..

Well, not 5 exactly. Jonathon Freedland take a broader approach and looks at a number of controversial issues and the extreme reactions they provoke from a noisy minority. One of the 5 has absolutely nothing to do with “
the perils of criticizing Israel”. Just the opposite. It’s an article from a doctor practicing in Israel about his BMJ blog on work in southern Israel.

But, hey, who cares about accuracy when you know that saying all 5 articles are on “
the perils of criticizing Israel” cultivates more outrage and will lead to more emails.

To top it off HR go for some inversion,
Those who accuse the organization of stifling debate are actually the ones seeking to suppress the voices of our readers – the people who express themselves through emails to editors.

Yes, the BMJ criticizing a group that orchestrates an email campaign that leads to people writing abusive and bigoted emails where they demonstrate that they haven’t even the read the BMJ articles they attack, is actually the BMJ suppressing the ‘readers’ of HR.


Yes, I've been having a break from the cess-pit that is HonestReporting.

Normal service is now resumed.