Open letter to Deirdre Imus

Dear Deirdre,

Hi! How are you? I am sooo proud of you. I mean, when I have a serious personality flaw, I usually try to hide it, but you! You are willing to show the WHOLE WORLD how intellectually challenged you are (that means “stupid” LOL).

Your recent article in the Huffington Post was so brave. Seriously, it’s pretty clear to insiders that there are problems at the CDC. But to get it so wrong took real guts.

For example:

These criticisms have been voiced for several decades. An example of how the agency can design a study so that it fails to link disease and pollution can be found in the way the CDC investigated the cancer clusters in Fallon, Nevada and Sierra Vista, Arizona…

The CDC itself admits the agency repeatedly fails to identify, or connect, environmental chemicals to these clusters. Quoting from the CDC website, “From 1961 to 1982, CDC investigated 108 reported cancer clusters in 29 states and 5 foreign countries…The studies were begun in hopes of identifying a viral cause of cancer clusters. During these investigations, however no clear cause was determined for any of the reported clusters.”

I love it! A failure to find the result Deirdre wants equals failure! The grandiosity—it’s so…Paris Hilton!

But you saved your real courage for influenza. You showed the whole world that it doesn’t take brains or research to have an opinion. I mean, a conspiracy to inflate flu death statistics to raise money! Brilliant! OK, maybe it’s not original, but at least it’s, um…well, let’s see.

I’ll quote you so I get it right:

We know every year the CDC and health officials claim 36,000 people die from influenza. This little piece of propaganda is spread annually by medical reporters on all the morning and nightly news programs. But does anyone ever ask these so-called “experts” to prove this statistic? No…talk show hosts and medical reporters just regurgitate the “talking points” with no interest in accuracy.

I admire how easily you slip the delicious deceptions in—like assuming that because the flu statistics require mathematics, they must be less real than other numbers.

You did a good job of ignoring the actual methodology involved. It would have been disastrous were you to give any references that explain how yearly flu mortality is calculated. (Definitely do not suggest that people research either of these citations…it will just confuse them (BMJ 2006;332: 177-178 (21 January), and American Journal of Epidemiology 2006; 12:344-52).

And then quoting sources that sound so legitimate, but actually lead to cranks like Mark Geier—a lesser woman would have interviewed actual experts. You’re parsimony is admirable.

I won’t go into your analysis of the Hannah Poling case. I’m already kvelling. Or vomiting. Whatever.