As Slate's Emily Yoffe notes, the dramatic recent finding on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for women -- it was thought to decrease heart disease and increase breast cancer, but it turns out to increase both -- was a victory for the New Agey celebrity Dr. Susan Love, who's been questioning HRT for years. It was also a victory for the pandering pols who placated the feminist lobby by funding the massive Women's Health Initiative, which included one of the seemingly decisive HRT studies -- and for the politicized Food and Drug Administration, which overruled its own advisory panel and ordered more studies before HRT could be sold as a way to prevent heart trouble. ... But there were losers too, and not just Wyeth, the maker of Prempro, a hormone replacement. It also looks as if the estimable Malcolm Gladwell was wrong when he attacked Dr. Love in what seemed at the time a devastating 1997 New Yorker article (available on Gladwell's Web site) with the subtitle "How Wrong is Dr. Susan Love?". Here are some Gladwell passages that appear somewhat embarrassing today (emphasis added):
There is another possible complication: estrogen does such a good job of fighting heart disease that most women who are on H.R.T. live substantially longer than women who aren't. ....
Most experts agree that, in the end, H.R.T. is probably linked to some increased breast-cancer risk. What all the questions suggest, though, is that the effect is probably not huge and is certainly nowhere close to cancelling out the benefits of estrogen in fighting heart disease. ...It is, unfortunately, very hard to convince most women of this fact.
Love may still have overestimated the importance of breast cancer relative to heart disease, as Gladwell contends. That turned out not to matter, since the HRT drugs were bad on both counts (avoiding the need to balance the risk of one disease against the other). Gladwell pretty clearly erred in denouncing Love's belief that the studies suggesting HRT decreased heart disease were vitiated by "selection bias" -- that is, they showed that people who took HRT were healthier, but it turned out that this was only because healthier people were the ones who chose to take HRT. ... Maybe Gladwell has an answer to all this, or maybe he frankly admits error. I've emailed him and will print any response I get. ... P.S.: The new profession Gladwell popularized in 1997, coolhunting, didn't work out so well either. A year ago, Ruth Shalit.busted coolhunting as a flop in Salonand Details. The New York Times, characteristically, discovered the same thing last week. Though, come to think of it, if the NYT is saying coolhunting isn't cool maybe it's cool again. ... 2:30 A.M.
Harmonic convergence of scandal: Arthur Andersen plus the Catholic Church! All that's missing is Dr. Waksal. ... 1:00 A.M.
Thursday, July 11, 2002
Annoyed kf reader and Media Whores Online defender Z.S. emails with this challenge:
Give one example of MWO's a determinedly dumb style. And as for ad hominem rhetorical style, what do you call trashing MWO without providing any back-up of its iniquities? ... Is it possible that you have no response because you are the one making nonsensical ad hominem accusations? And I don't know about determinedly dumb but your posts are typically clueless and moronic. ... You really are a c--t of the first order. [Ugly word masked--ed.]
Media Whores Online stoutly denies that its determinedly dumb and ad hominem rhetorical style might encourage violence. Fair enough. ... On the other hand, kausfiles can't help but notice that the standing illustration for Joe Conason's new blog on Salon -- which is heavily promoted today on Media Whores -- depicts Conason coming up behind President Bush and stabbing him in the ribs with a pen. ... Is it too much to say that if anti-Bush editors let this sort of latent fantasy get published -- it's really creepy, makes Conason look like Jack Ruby -- they might be inspiring less temperate thoughts on the fringes of their readership? ...[Maybe the transgressive drawing is an intentional, desperate play for publicity by David "The Boat Is Leaking" Talbot?-ed. Even so.] Correction: Conason e-mails to point out that, contrary to my previous report, and to the implication of this subscription-grubbing Salon editor's note, his blog is not subscription-only, at least most of the time.Except for one day each week, it's free.. (Which day do you have to pay? They don't say!) 12:15. P.M..
Aha! Here's the point of the H______d Security department: Deep in the bill to establish the new agency is a provision that would allow a "flexible," and "contemporary" personnel managment system, "grounded in the principles of merit and fitness." Translation: They want to be able to fire people. WaPo, which gives the issue extended coverage (this is what's really important in D.C.!.) reprints the slippery explanations of Tom Ridge, and other Bush officials, who go on about how they want to keep the "best of the civil service" rules, which pointedly don't seem to include the rules that preclude firings. Nice try! The government employee unions will not be fooled. ...