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Your administration at work, altering science for politics.(5 posts)

Your administration at work, altering science for politics.dr hoo
Jan 14, 2004 5:36 AM
Congressional law mandates an HHS examination of inequality in health based on race and income levels. In March of 2002 the Institute of Medicine released a draft report. Doctors and other health scientists doing their things.

In December of 2003, the HHS released THEIR version. The changes are interesting to say the least.

Below is a link to a report comparing the two versions, the IM and HHS. Keep in mind as you read it (if you actually bother to read these things) that the report is prepared by the minority. It is short, with an executive summary and a total length of a bit over nine pages.

I especially like page 8, where it shows how discussions of social costs of the inequalities are replaced with "successes in priority populations". Like American Indians have lower death rates from cancer. Well, maybe because they DIE EARLIER FROM OTHER DISEASES!

As I read elsewhere, that is like studying racial income inequality in the nation, and saying that for the priority population of NBA players, African Americans do very well form themselves. Technically true, but missing the point completely.

This is a interesting case study of how fact (assuming we can trust doctors to do a good job of telling us about health) is spun by politicos in the *current* administration.
Spin is spin, all are guiltyTJeanloz
Jan 14, 2004 6:41 AM
It's great to throw an example of "spin" out there. Where I think you're a little off base is in implying that spin is unique to the *current* administration. Spin has no political affiliation, and is used with equal aptitude on both sides of the aisle.

If you want to complain about spin in politics, I'm 100% with you. I hate seeing data tortured as much as anybody. If you want to complain about the current administration, there are more solid things to complain about than their ability to spin.
Did I say no other administration did the same?dr hoo
Jan 14, 2004 8:12 AM
No, I did not. In fact, I was trying to put the focus on this document to keep things from going in the direction of "every politician does it". Perhaps I was not clear enough on that.

The fact that all do it does not alter the details of THIS example. Spinning facts is normal, but in this case facts are being ignored and twisted in a way that will lead to public policy decisions that will create a LESS HEALTHY POPULATION. Certainly it will not help address the health problems the original study focused on. Isn't that an important issue?

In fact, it is not so much "spinning" a finding as REWRITING IT.

There are plenty of similar examples. Another example was removing information about there being NO link between abortion and cancer from government web sites. Don't you want a government that puts the best current research on health (and other things) online, so that all have access to it? After all, to use moneyman's favorite line, it's OUR money so it is OUR information.

If you hate seeing data being tortured, feel free to expand. Or feel free to give examples of Clinton's folks torturing data if you want to go that route. From what I know, the previous administration spun things, but they seemed to have at least a degree of respect for scientific findings. This administration has not show any respect for the integrity of the scientific process.
could be worse...DougSloan
Jan 14, 2004 8:27 AM
What would be one with the data?Spoiler
Jan 14, 2004 10:24 AM
Would social engineers call for various reforms to be taken to ensure the we have zero lifespan differential between whites and all other ethnic groups? We could call it the Silver Fox Diversity Act.