Thursday, July 23, 2015

#1420: Joel Brind

Joel Brind is a professor of human biology and endocrinology at Baruch College, CUNY, a pro-lifer and a by now famous pseudoscientist. He is best known for his association with the discredited link between abortion and breast cancer; it was Brind’s 1996 meta-analysis that popularized the idea (and got him famous). That study, which despite Brind’s strongly worded conclusions showed a barely statistically significant increase, was not particularly professionally done, and the results were quickly discredited (summaries here, here and here). What makes Brind a pseudoscientist is not the initial claim – the hypothesis really wasn’t that far-fetched given the available information – but that he has continued to push the link after it has been thoroughly refuted (yet another study discussed here). At present he is primarily pushing it through his organization “The Breast Cancer Prevention Institute”. He has been active in the anti-abortion movement (e.g. through Christ’s Bride Ministries) for several decades.

Though his original analysis appeared in a respectable journal, his later papers on the same theme (presumably because they didn’t manage to overcome the refutations using proper methodology) was published in places like the pseudojournal JPANDS, the house journal of the crank organization Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. Brind, on his side, remains contemptuous of mainstream medical professional organizations and journals, accusing them of conducting a deliberate cover-up with the goal of “protecting the abortion industry”, asserting in print that the National Cancer Institute “… is just another corrupt federal agency like the IRS and the NSA.” Ah, yes, but of course; that’s the proper reaction when everyone else refutes your claims. Conspriacy mongering is, of course, as much a staple fare among this particular group of science denialists as it is among other groups promoting similarly refuted ideas.

To further cement his reputation as a pseudoscientist, Brind is also a signatory to the Discovery Institute’s anti-evolution petition A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism.

Diagnosis: Though he has credentials, Brind is not reluctant to let any commitment to truth, evidence or sound methodology fly when truth, evidence or sound methodology doesn’t serve his ideologically driven purposes.

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