Thursday, June 30, 2005

Skeptico finds more RFK Jr. quote-mining

I've been slamming RFK Jr. over the last few weeks for shoddy, one-sided research and quote-mining in his infamous article from a couple of weeks ago, Deadly Immunity, in which he swallowed whole all the mercury-autism hysteria and postulated dire conspiracies on the part of the CDC and IOM to "cover up" the supposed link. I started the ball rolling by pointing out an example of RFK Jr.'s brand of highly selective quoting, and Skeptico took it further by reading the entire Simpsonwood transcript (warning: link to large PDF file) and showing how selectively it was quoted out of context in order to give an impression of a whitewash.

Well, now, challenged by a commenter on the Institute of Medicine report (warning: link to a large PDF file) to "explain to me how these quotes are taken out of context as the IOM president would like us to believe," Skeptico has waded through the report and done just that. He's shown that RFK Jr. didn't confine his deceptively selective quoting to just the Simpsonwood transcript. He applied the same technique to the IOM report, taking quotes out of context to make them sound conspiratorial, as if scientists were trying to hide something. Naturally, it's enraged and frustrated Skeptico, and I can entirely sympathize with his rant at the end:
OK, that’s it. Enough! The conspiracy believers have taken their best shot – and that was your best shot – and neither document quoted by Kennedy shows any conspiracy or cover-up. And frankly, taking a few out-of-context quotes from a 199 page transcript as proof of a conspiracy is pretty stupid anyway, but when the transcript reveals a group of honest scientists trying, with integrity, to grapple a difficult problem, it gets beyond stupid and is just thoroughly dishonest. It’s pathetic, frankly. If there really was a cover up, wouldn’t they have something better than this?

No more. Don’t bother throwing down a url linking to a huge .pdf with a couple of dodgy quotes in it and expecting me to read it. That’s over now.

Wow. First he wades through the entire Simpsonwood transcript in record time, and now he wades through the entire IOM report in similarly record time. I'm impressed, but somehow have to wonder if he needs to get a bit more of a life.

Just kidding--although the three-day Fourth of July weekend is coming up soon.

I also wonder if that means I'm now going to have to try to wade through more of these transcripts; I've just barely finished the Simpsonwood transcript--and that was two weeks in coming....

3 example(s) of insolence returned:

At 6/30/2005 8:43 PM, Blogger Don Sheffler said...

Hey, illuminating quote-mined quotes and the quote-mining quote-miners who quote-mine them, can only be a labor of love.


At 7/01/2005 9:33 AM, Anonymous DaveL said...

You might be interested to know that the Boston Globe, either lacking someone who knows how to use the internet, or still dazzled by the Kennedy name, reprinted his piece as an op-ed today under the title "Autism, Mercury, and Politics."


At 7/03/2005 10:17 PM, Blogger coturnix said...

Have you seen this:


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