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Saturday, May 2, 2009
WND's Mercer Touts Discredited Researcher
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Ilana Mercer's May 1 WorldNetDaily column rhapsodizes over the late Madeleine Pelner Cosman, the "dazzling Randian" and "quintessential 'Renaissance woman'"whose "study of 'the effects of illegal immigration on the United States health-care system' culminated in the article 'Illegal Aliens and American Medicine,' published, in 2005, by The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. It addressed the effects on the health system of the bleeding Southwestern border." Mercer adds: "That Mexico is Swine Flu Ground Zero has thrown Dr. Cosman's work into sharp relief."

In fact, we we've detailed Cosman's "study" is little more than an anti-immigrant screed in which she rants about "Illegal aliens' stealthy assaults on medicine" and demands that America's borders be sealed with "fences, high-tech security devices and troops."More importantly, Cosman got her facts wrong: As we've also noted, she wrote that "Suddenly, in the past three years America has more than 7,000 cases of leprosy"; in fact, that was the cumulative number of leprosy cases over the past 30 years.

Mercer surely knows Cosman got that figure wrong because she cites a New York Times article detailing just how wrong the figure is, then tries to write around Cosman's falsehood:

Seven thousand cases of leprosy over the last 30 years may seem negligible, but "leprosy, a scourge in biblical days and in medieval Europe," had been eradicated in the U.S. Now it's back. By the reluctant admission of the New York Times, it was brought over from Asia and Latin America.

But Mercer overplays it too: As the Times article details, the number of cases rose from 76 in 2000 to 137 in 2006. The article continues:

What about the increase over the last six years, to 137 cases from 76? Is that significant?

“No,” Mr. Krahenbuhl said. It could be a statistical fluctuation, or it could be a result of better data collection in recent years. In any event, the 137 reported cases last year were fewer than in any year from 1975 to 1996.

That's hardly solid evidence of leprosy being "back." But Mercer wants you to think it is, backed up by a discredited "Renaissance woman" and "dazzling Randian."

Posted by Terry K. at 12:03 AM EDT

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