What you need to know about “stats junkie/guru” Jamie Bernstein

got integrity

I have many tools at my disposal in combating the mistruths, half truths and outright lies of homebirth advocacy. I have my years of medical education, my years of medical training, and my years of obstetric practice. I have the ability to read and understand the entire obstetric literature, and I have the ability to be forthright and forceful. But the most important tool in my armamentarium by far is my credibility.

Regardless of what homebirth advocates tell each other about me, their private behavior indicates that they feel they can trust what I write. You would be amazed with whom I correspond privately, and amused to learn that some of my most vehement public foes have, in times of medical need, contacted me to discuss their medical problems.

Of course, I make mistakes like everyone else. Sometimes I misunderstand what I have read; sometimes I make silly math errors; often I have typos strewn throughout a piece. But I am lucky to have what must be the best trained, best educated comment tribe of any blog on the Web and within moments I am publicly and privately informed of any mistakes and I hasten to correct them. My husband often laughs at me because he’ll find me awake at 2 AM scouring the literature or redoing my math for fear that I have misspoken, and he knows why I am stricken if I feel I have made a mistake: my credibility is the most important attribute I have.

Therefore, while I cheerfully ignore many internet conversations where people are taking my name in vain, I can’t ignore an attack on my credibility, and that’s just what I interpreted the hatchet job that Jamie Bernstein did on my analysis of the MANA stats to be. I went back and forth all day yesterday with Bernstein and with Elyse Anders, editor at Grounded Parents, demanding that they publicly correct their factual and math errors. Not only have they failed to do so, but their “rationale” is mind boggling.

Their response to the first factual mistake I noted perfectly illustrates their journalistic integrity or lack thereof.

Bernstein wrote in her piece:

I clicked the link Dr. Tuteur gave where she got the Citizens for Midwifery quote but didn’t see anything with that quote …

I don’t know about you, but to me that implies that I fabricated the quote, a damning implication.

I pointed out in the comments section:

How could you not find it? I gave an exact quote in my piece and linked to the place where the original can be downloaded? It is on page 3 of the 5 page CfM press release, the beginning of the second full paragraph. Please check to confirm.

I was gobsmacked by the Bernstein’s response:

Thanks for letting me know where that quote came from. I felt it was a waste of my time to click on every single link on the page you linked to …

As it happens, I linked to the page where the CfM press release could be downloaded. You can’t link directly to something that must be downloaded. But even if I could have linked directly to the exact page with the exact quote and didn’t do so, Bernstein was out of line implying that I had fabricated a quote that she never bothered to look for. At the very least, she could have noted that she couldn’t be bothered to look and people could check for themselves. But I guess when the piece is meant to be a hatchet job, little details like that are better left unmentioned.

Lest you think that Bernstein and Anders might be uncomfortable with their lack of journalistic integrity, this Twitter conversation indicates that it’s all hunky-dory with them.

Grounded Parents 2

So let’s see if I get this straight. As the editor of the piece Anders felt that Bernstein should have accused me of fabricating a quote that she never checked for, but Bernstein, righteous warrior for journalistic truth, knew that she hadn’t checked and therefore didn’t write it? And Bernstein thinks no fixes are needed? Really?

You can read my entire 8 point indictment of Bernstein’s piece and Bernstein’s astounding reply in the comments section of her post. Of course, if you are like Bernstein herself, you probably can’t be bothered to click on a link (So much time! So much effort!), so you can just take my word for it, just like she thinks you should take hers.

Not surprisingly, MANA is directing people to Bernstein’s piece:

MANA tweet

I don’t blame them. Beggars can’t be choosers and so far the only other independent person who has backed their creative “interpretation” of their own horrific death rates is a reporter from The Daily Beast.

But even though Bernstein refuses to correct her attack on my credibility, I’m not entirely defenseless. I have my blog, which has had nearly 60,000 visitors in the past week alone. So the next time someone Googles “stats junkie/guru” Jamie Bernstein, they can learn about her sloppy math, her sloppy journalism and her utter lack of journalistic interity. That’s what you need to know about “stats junkie/guru” Jaime Bernstein.