Thursday, December 28, 2006

What better confirmation that I am correct? Henci Goer cannot respond.

Over on her Lamaze blog, Henci Goer has recently published a post that I find to be quite remarkable. I have posted several detailed critiques of various papers within the homebirth literature, including the Johnson and Daviss paper and the MacDorman paper on cesarean section. After I took apart her responses, point by point, with scientific citations, she has refused to respond.

As I wrote in previous posts, I take this as a sign that she has no effective response, and that my criticisms of the homebirth literature are correct. Now, she has publicly announced that she will not participate in any real debate with me. I simply cannot imagine a more powerful confirmation that she cannot refute the serious criticisms of her positions.

It is easy, oh so easy, to write for the lay public because they don't have the familiarity with the scientific literature, nor the understanding of statistics, to disagree or point out deficiencies in her argument. However, as I have maintained all along, it is much harder to debate with people who do know the scientific literature. In fact, it is so hard, that it must be avoided. A true debate with professionals would reveal that there is no scientific evidence that shows homebirth to be as safe as hospital birth.

Here is what Henci Goer wrote on her own blog in a post entitled An open letter to Amy Tuteur:
So, Amy, after thinking things over, I've come up with a new set of rules of the game: In future, if you disagree with something on this Forum, you are welcome to take your best shot, but you only get one bite at the apple. I'll respond, but any further posts you make on the same topic will be deleted.
Is there a more powerful confirmation (short of an outright admission) than a public declaration that any debate will be rigged? I would be allowed one attempt to present my position and no follow up; indeed any follow up I posted will be deleted! Of course it would; the assumption is that I will be correct, that my criticisms would not be easily dismissed. Therefore, it is imperative that they be deleted before anyone who understands them could read them.

The true spirit of science is the willingness to present, and the ability to defend, your positions publicly. A public announcement, in advance, that you will deliberately delete public criticism, rather than respond to it, is the ultimate confirmation that homebirth advocacy is not science; it is opinion and nothing more.

Update: Evidently, I'm not allowed even "one bite at the apple". I submitted the last two paragraphs of this post as a response to Henci Goer's An open letter to Amy Tuteur. It was promptly deleted.

What is especially compelling about these events is that Henci Goer is familiar with the principles of statistical analysis and is knowledgeable about the homebirth literature. Therefore, she is capable of understanding my analysis of the homebirth literature and my criticisms of various papers. That's why it is so very important to rig the debate. She understands what I have written; she cannot refute my analysis; she must do whatever is necessary to hide that fact from other proponents of homebirth and natural childbirth. The Johnson and Daviss paper used the wrong comparison (cohort) group. There is no refutation for my analysis; therefore, it must be hidden, and if presented, it must be expunged. The MacDorman paper relied on data that is known to be highly unreliable. There is no refutation for my analysis; therefore it must be hidden, and if presented, it must be expunged.

Is there any homebirth advocate who is knowledgeable about statistics and scientific literature who is willing to present their claims and defend their claims to their medical and scientific peers? Evidently not. Women who are thinking about homebirth or natural childbirth should consider this when evaluating the claims of homebirth and natural childbirth advocates. They run away and hide when challenged by scientific or medical professionals. They know that their claims will not withstand scientific scrutiny. That's why they can only be presented to lay people who cannot offer any substantive challenges.


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