Hate mail from an M.D. regarding my AOL News piece, “Did WHO Knowingly Hype Swine Flu?”

Dear Mr. Fumento:

Well, if you wish to destroy the credibility of the WHO, publishing a few more articles like the most recent one Did WHO Knowingly Hype Swine Flu?”] should be quite a help.

As an individual who happens to know quite a bit about medicine, influenza, public health and pandemic influenza planning and response, my opinion (which sadly won’t be published and broadcast to the world) is that you don’t know what you are talking about. Understandable since you have, apparently, absolutely no background in medicine or public health.

Quite clearly, if the WHO had underplayed the threat and lives had been lost that, in your opinion, could have been saved, you would now be savaging the WHO for underplaying the threat. Apparently, in the fantasy world you inhabit, complete accuracy in predicting the future is not only possible, but required. Next time, I will know better than to read an article with your byline.

David Buhner MD MS

Dear Dr. Buhner:

Let me try to understand this. The WHO changes the definition of “pandemic” so that it can label as such a strain that’s clearly vastly milder than seasonal flu. It then proceeds to lie repeatedly about having changed the definition, notwithstanding that both versions remain on its Web site. But in pointing this out, *I* am the bad guy; I’m the one destroying the WHO’s credibility. The WHO played no role in all this.
Ever hear the expression about shooting the messenger?

Actually, I’ve been publishing on medicine and public health for 23 years so the ad hominem doesn’t go too far. I also don’t accept another logical fallacy you’ve offered, that of “black and white.” It is not the case that the WHO must either grossly overstate the threat of a contagion in order to prevent understating it. A key paragraph in my article is this:

It’s not as if the WHO knew nothing about the mildness of H1N1 early on. I wrote about it on May 1, subsequently publishing 14 articles in major publications on what I immediately dubbed hysteria. If I knew better, there’s no reason the WHO shouldn’t have known better.

Why did a single journalist, albeit one with a very strong medicine and public health background, with no budget, know so much so early that the WHO apparently did not? You have the choice of ignorance or intent. Insofar as my piece also contained strong evidence of intent, that would be the logical choice.

Michael Fumento