A Little Like a Dying Clown, With a Streak of Rin Tin Tin

The World Health Organization is one of the more overtly Nanny Statist, alarmist groups in the public health debate. Yet because the group is part of the UN, it carries a sort of ingrained integrity with journalists and regular readers.

I've debated several public health activists over the last few years who tried to shout me down with WHO declarations on alcohol abuse, drug use, secondhand smoke and—most laughably—obesity, which the WHO recently declared "an epidemic engulfing the entire world," and called for "preventative" calorie-cutting legislation despite the fact that about a fifth of humanity still risks death by starvation. There's really no level of individual risk the WHO doesn't find ripe for new legislation.

Now comes a blistering new study in the Lancet concluding that just about everything the WHO does is...crap. The hilarious lede from the Associated Press :

When developing "evidence-based" guidelines, the World Health Organization routinely forgets one key ingredient: evidence. That is the verdict from a study published in The Lancet online Tuesday.

The medical journal's criticism of WHO could shock many in the global health community, as one of WHO's main jobs is to produce guidelines on everything from fighting the spread of bird flu and malaria control to enacting anti-tobacco legislation.

"This is a pretty seismic event," Lancet editor Dr. Richard Horton, who was not involved in the research for the article. "It undermines the very purpose of WHO."

Even better: The article found that many WHO bureaucrats agree with the study's conclusions.

At risk of coming off the typical smug libertarian, here, I find this absolutely delightful. And that lede is going into my debate file.

Brian Doherty eviscerated the WHO back in January 2002. 

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  • ||

    Well, if the Associated Press says some journal I've never heard of says so, then it must be so.

  • ||

    Hrm, the Lancet is one of the oldest peer reviewed medical journals in the world, Dan. One can take issue with them (as many did, for instance with their methodology during the Iraq War civilizan death study) but trying to act like they some fringe tiny journal just makes you look foolish.

  • ||

    Speaking of dying clowns, it looks like Jerry Falwell might be getting his ticket to hell punched, finally.

  • ||

    Dan T.,

    Are you getting enough sleep lately? Any problems at home? Or are your efforts just becoming more and more lazy? Concerned H&R readers want to know.

  • Guy Montag||

    called for "preventative" calorie-cutting legislation despite the fact that about a fifth of humanity still risks death by starvation.

    You mean the cause is NOT that we are stealing then eating all of their food and getting fat?

    Alternate title: "Horton hears a WHO"

  • ||

    ...some journal I've never heard of...

    'Nuff said, Dan T.

  • ||

    'called for "preventative" calorie-cutting legislation despite the fact that about a fifth of humanity still risks death by starvation'

    That's really dumb argument. Did you know that the Army Corp of Engineers is calling for millions of dollars worth of flood control measures, despite the fact that large areas of the country suffer from regular droughts?

    This was a good find, Radley, but that point is beyond weak.

  • ||

    Hrm, the Lancet is one of the oldest peer reviewed medical journals in the world, Dan. One can take issue with them (as many did, for instance with their methodology during the Iraq War civilizan death study) but trying to act like they some fringe tiny journal just makes you look foolish.

    Just saying that there are always two sides to a story, and pardon me if I'm not swayed by the Lancet editor's claims of his own journal's importance nor do I find too impressive the AP's speculation that the study "could" shock people.

    I suppose it could. Then again, it could bore them.

  • ||

    That's really dumb argument. Did you know that the Army Corp of Engineers is calling for millions of dollars worth of flood control measures, despite the fact that large areas of the country suffer from regular droughts?

    This was a good find, Radley, but that point is beyond weak


    If the Army Corp of Engineers called for millions of dollars for flood control measures in the middle of the Nevada desert then maybe. The fact that WHO called obesity a worldwide epidemic makes it a valid point.

  • ||

    Dan,

    My note about the Lancet had nothing to do with the editor's statement (especially since he didn't even mention that), it just had to do with the reputation of that particular medical journal in the medical research community.

    I agree there are two sides to every story, but that isn't what you said. You made a flip comment about it being some 'journal you had never heard of' and I am pointing out that it isn't some obscure journal, it is a well respected medical journal.

    You are the one who made a point of implying it was some fringe journal that you had 'never heard of'. If you would have said, "Let's not rush to judgement here, let's carefully examine the study" rather than make that stupid comment, I wouldn't have said anything.

    Though I suspect that your objection has more to do with the targeting of the WHO than anything else (just like the National Review crowd being dismissive of the Lancet for publishing studies undermining the Iraq adventure).

  • Miggs||

    I wish the Reasonoids would actually take the WHO's guidelines on preventative calorie-cutting to heart with the overfeeding of trolls here.

  • ||

    I do rather think that WHO could let the wealthier countries with obesity problems worry about solving them. To the extent that obesity is a public problem in need of a solution. Starvation, on the other hand, seems a more immediate problem for poorer countries.

  • ||

    Aren't trolls (American at least) more under the purview of US Fish & Wildlife than WHO?

    And am I the only one who finds the splitting of that department into 'fish' and wildlife weird?

  • Chucklehead||

    This was a good find, Radley, but that point is beyond weak.

    I actually agree with joe. It's enough knowing the WHO is a UN organization to dismiss them as quacks.

  • ||

    called for "preventative" calorie-cutting legislation despite the fact that about a fifth of humanity still risks death by starvation.

    You mean the cause is NOT that we are stealing then eating all of their food and getting fat?


    Q: Why is the Ethiopean army the most stealthy in the world?

    A: 'cause they can all hide behind one tree.

  • BBC Voice Over||

    However, that might not necessarily give the advantages to Not Being Seen...

  • ||

    And here I thought WHO was concerned with ending world hunger.

  • ||

    Hopefully this kills the,

    "well the UN does some good things on the health care so we need to excuse their appointment of Zimbabwe, or Iran, or North Korea, or other human rights abusing, hell hole of a country to an important UN human rights group"

    Talking point so frequently used by clueless UN supporters.

  • Dave W.||

    You should see this other article they had in the Lancet a bit back. It would have really blown your mind, Mr. Balko.

  • ||

    "It undermines the very purpose of WHO."

    That pretty ironic since I thought the purpose of The Who was not to get fooled again...

    YEEAAAAaaaaaahhhhhhhhh

  • THUNDERCHICKEN||

    *pecks Warren on the taint.

  • ||

    Okay, you have to give some props to Warren there.

    Especially on a thread where Dan T. says, "Who are you? Who? Who? Who? Who?" to The Lancet.

  • thoreau||

    We should lure all the trolls into one thread and then crash the server.

    We already have a few of the key trolls in this thread.

    Warren is cool, however. At least in my opinion. I won't base my entire opinion of the guy on one rather unfortunate post. So we'll have to make sure he evacuates before we crash the server.

  • ||

    Awww gosh [blush]. You guys. I'm basking in the love here.

    Barkeep! Another round for me and my associates.

  • Urkobold®||

    Warren's TAINT IS MINE, THUNDERCHICKEN!

  • Urkobold®||

    Warren, COME TO Urkobold, FOR A MOMENT.

    COME CLOSER.

    CLOSER.

  • ||

    Aren't trolls (American at least) more under the purview of US Fish & Wildlife than WHO?

    I thought they would come under the aegis of the US Army corps of engineers, given their propensity to hide under bridges and such...

  • ||

    I'm not familiar with any federal, state, local, or international regulatory framework for trolls or trolling. It's the Wild West--woo-hoo!

  • ||

    Warren is cool, however. At least in my opinion. I won't base my entire opinion of the guy on one rather unfortunate post. So we'll have to make sure he evacuates before we crash the server.

    I got nothing against Warren, but I definitely don't want to watch him evacuate.

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