Policy Documents

Public Health Quackery

Heather Mac Donald –
September 12, 1998

In this article in City Journal, Heather MacDonald writes about the unlimited freedom of the public health profession.  They care not for behavior as much as forwarding a personal philosophy of uninhibited freedom.  Macdonald writes:

What really excites public health professionals today is not reducing teen pregnancy, and certainly not reducing teen sex, but "empowering" girls. I asked Andrea Solarz, a community psychologist at the Institute of Medicine, a division of the National Academy of Sciences, about the institute's teen pregnancy prevention approach. "It's not 'Just say no,' " she replied. "We're more likely to do an intervention that empowers teens to negotiate the process of decision, that empowers girls to make the choices they want to make." If that means intercourse, fine.

The fatuousness of the miasmatics should not obscure the continued importance of public health, from the unsung labors of municipal health departments in testing water supplies and monitoring infectious diseases to the fight against terrifying new antibiotic-resistant bacteria in hospitals. Even in such politically conquered institutions as the CDC and NIH, serious, vital science is still being done. But the field increasingly identifies itself by the most radical elements within it. The keynote speaker at the American Public Health Association's annual meeting this November will be Jesse Jackson; the association's miasmatic caucuses—from socialist to lesbian, gay, and bisexual—already plan a show of force. This self-indulgent pursuit of a gender and race revolution squanders the great legacy of public health, whose most enlightened practitioners sought to balance public and private responsibility for health.