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North Carolina Medical Society pushes bogus poll

The NCMS, in its most recent bulletin [1], leads with a poll by Investors Business Daily claiming that “65% of physicians surveyed oppose the proposed government health care system reform plan.”

Investors Business Daily, you may recall, is the same publication that ran a now-famous editorial [2] about England’s National Health Service claiming:

People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.

IBD corrected its claim when it was noted that Hawking was born in Oxford and teaches at the University of Cambridge. Hawking told the Guardian newspaper [3]that he wouldn’t be here today without the “large amount of high-quality treatment” he received from the National Health Service.

It seems the IBD poll has the same credibility as the publication’s editorial board.

Polling guru Nate Silver has a more detailed critique of IBD’s methodology [4] but he concludes:

My advice would be to completely ignore this poll. There are pollsters out there that have an agenda but are highly competent, and there are pollsters that are nonpartisan but not particularly skilled. Rarely, however, do you find the whole package: that special pollster which is both biased and inept. IBD/TIPP is one of the few exceptions.

The NCMS gives equal weight to a study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and published in the New England Journal of Medicine that found nearly 75 percent of physicians surveyed support a public option in health reform.

Unfortunately, the NCMS is not contributing to a constructive debate when it offers the junk polls alongside the reputable surveys without giving any context.