In a recent CounterPunch article Dr Curran Warf attempted to defend the Lancet study that (over)estimated the number of Iraqi fatalities since the start of the war on Iraq.
President Bush said tersely and unequivocally that he doesn’t believe the study.
Dr. Warf seems impressed by the fact that the authors are epidemiologists who used methods he trusts.
And that’s his argument?
From my perspective when President Bush talks epidemiology he is our Epidemiologist-in-Chief. For all we know he may well have a degree in epidemiology and training in statistical analysis. Nobody said outright that he doesn’t. And, as we should have understood by now, “absence of proof is not proof of absence.”
Those of us who know a bit of world history also know that there have been other forceful and visionary world leaders who did not hesitate to give their nation’s scientists much-needed firm guidance in scientific matters even if they had no scientific training per se. Whatever one thinks of his questionable politics, Stalin made strong interventions in the direction taken by genetic studies and agricultural sciences in the Soviet Union, helping (now sadly forgotten and even maligned) scientists like Lysenko to rise to a prominence his jealous colleagues would have denied him using the subterfuge of peer review.
I could cite other examples of scientific contributions to genetics and racial studies by other forceful world leaders, but for the self-imposed constraints of space.
I accept President Bush as our Epidemiologist-in-Chief as I have accepted his expertise in cell biology, stem cell research, forestry, the so-called global warming and other subjects of scientific inquiry.
With all due respect, Dr Warf is probably one of those scientists specialized in one narrow area who invidiously rejects what he senses as a towering Renaissance intellect.
One can only be filled with admiration for the enormous leaps made by our President in only a few years: he admitted that the religious tract given to him by Karl Rove was the first book he had ever read “cover to cover,” and now he appears to read voraciously on all topics, in all domains.
An apology is in order, Dr Warf.
ARIADNA THEOKOPOULOS lives in Phoenix, Arizona. She can be reached at: email@example.com