At bottom of hole, IBD keeps digging

You almost have to admire the tenacity of the Investors' Business Daily editorial board. Even when one of their claims is proven false beyond a shadow of a doubt, they just can't stop pushing it.

Last week, IBD claimed that a dubious poll they commissioned and published last summer which showed that a sizeable percentage of doctors would retire if health care reform was passed was confirmed by a “new” poll which they claimed “was published” in “one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world.” IBD went on to baselessly speculate that the poll had been reviewed by the publication's editors before its publication, giving it credibility.

None of that was true. Media Matters, engaging in the sort of journalistic activity that IBD's editors are apparently unaware, actually contacted NEJM to ask about IBD's speculation. They told us that the survey was not reviewed by NEJM's editors, and never appeared in the publication. The survey, conducted by The Medicus Firm, a medical recruitment firm, actually appeared in an employment newsletter produced by Massachusetts Medical Society, “the publishers of the New England Journal of Medicine,” and on the NEJM “CareerCenter” website.

The idea that the survey “confirm[ed]” IBD's polling is similarly dubious. The Medicus survey was not a scientific poll; its methodology consisted of emailing a sample of the firm's physician database. The IBD poll was termed “not credible” by statistician Nate Silver, who noted that the survey was conducted by mail, included “blatantly biased questions,” and comes from a pollster with an extremely poor record for accuracy.

None of this, however, has kept IBD from still running with this claim. Yesterday, they wrote of health care reform:

This legislation will cause doctors to flee in droves. The New England Journal of Medicine just released a survey, confirming our own polling, finding that 46% of primary care physicians would consider quitting medicine under this bill.

This is starting to get sad. Perhaps IBD should spent a little less time pushing abject falsehoods and a little more time “checking on” that Hawaiian earthquake.