Dr. Sherri Tenpenny is reportedly a doctor, although according to her website, she no longer practices medicine in any recognizable way. Perhaps that’s why she utters completely idiotic statements such as this one pointed out to me by Brother Orac:
Study these numbers. We’ve had SARS, Bird flu and Swine flu. On average, approx. 190 children/year die from the flu. Considering there are about 62M kids under the 14 years of age in the US, this is NOT “statistically signficant” and should not even make the radar screen. See how they manipulate parents into vaccinations?
Next year, PLEASE do not be afraid of the flu. Ever person here should pass this on to at least 25 people! Please pass this to at least 25 friends.
Before we get to the above inane statement, let’s see what Dr. Tenpenny claims about her own expertise:
Dr. Sherri Tenpenny is respected as one of the country’s most knowledgeable and outspoken physicians regarding the impact of vaccines on health.
As a member of the prestigious National Speaker’s Association, Dr. Tenpenny is an outspoken advocate for free choice in healthcare, including the right to refuse vaccination.
No. No, she’s not. Paul Offit is a nationally known vaccine expert. Dr. Tenpenny is not. If you’re going to call yourself an expert on vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases, you should probably have training in infectious disease or immunology and you should probably have published significant research. Tenpenny is a washed-up osteopath who has given up real practice to pursue the one vestige of quackery left in osteopathic education—manipulation. And being “a member of the prestigious National Speakers Association” only means that you are a member of an association of public speakers; it says nothing about your qualifications to speak on any particular topic. No physician with real medical expertise would list something like that rather than, say, their medically-related qualifications.
Anyway, the statement quoted above posted by Tenpenny on her facebook page. The remarkable thing about it is that it’s not even wrong. Well, sure, the facts are wrong, but the conclusions don’t even make sense. First of all, far more than 190 kids have died this year as a result of the H1N1 pandemic. The CDC does not have complete numbers yet as local agencies have not finished reporting their data, but data to date have been disturbing. Normally, seasonal flu kills the old and infirm. The current H1N1 pandemic has already killed 221 children in the US, and that’s just the laboratory-confirmed cases that have been reported to the CDC. That’s a lot of preventable pediatric deaths, but only a fraction of actual pediatric deaths for this season. And the pediatric death rate for pandemic influenza is much higher than during normal influenza seasons.
But Tenpenny claims that this number is not “statistically significant”. What does that mean? Does she even know? Statistical significance is a tool used when analyzing data, not when interpreting its moral significance. If, for example, you did a study in which you arbitrarily determined that a p value of < 0.05 would be significant, and the data failed to reach this, then your results would not be statistically significant. They may or may not be clinically significant. In looking at raw data, such as the number of confirmed pediatric flu deaths, statistical significance is meaningless.
What isn’t meaningless is that there are hundreds of dead kids that wouldn’t have been dead if this pandemic hadn’t happened, and whose deaths might have been prevented by aggressive vaccination programs. Anti-vaccination lunatics are so deeply inculcated in their cult beliefs that dead children mean nothing to them. As a parent and a human being, I find this abominable.