BOGUS Bounce-back!

In hospitals, if you’ve gotten a patient all better and discharged them, only to find your patient back in the emergency room in less than 72 hours, that scenario is called a bounce-back. Bounce-back is a word that carries a lot of negative connotation–when you say it, you kind of sneer it at someone “hey, Dr. Snorkhard, heard you got a bounce-back last night, hyuck, hyuck.” The message is, if you’d done the job right, the poor patient wouldn’t have had to return, so you must be a slacker doc. We here at Doc Gurley must confess that our effectiveness in awarding BOGUS Awards has been called into question. Clearly Michael Hayden, Director of the CIA, was not shaken by our previous BOGUS Award. If you didn’t know better, you might even think he never heard of it! The bottom line is that the man did not take to heart the lesson he should have learned the first time around. He’s now an official BOGUS Bounce-back!

Michael Hayden’s first BOGUS Award was for his outrageous mis-use of numbers to justify “renditions” (called “government-sponsored kidnapping” by the vast majority of humanity who live outside his fantasy belief system). This time, our august Director is back, using the same flawed logic with waterboarding, only taking the whole bizarre perspective even a step further. Michael Hayden justified waterboarding three men, five years ago, and added “that fewertorture.jpg than 100 people had been held in the CIA’s terrorism detention and interrogation program, with less than one-third subjected to “coercive” techniques.” For this, he is awarded a Doc Gurley Broken, Obfuscating, and Grotesque Understanding of Statistics (BOGUS) Award. Michael Hayden’s blatant, intentional misconceptions turn up frequently in healthcare, usually among arrogant jerk doctors. See, the deal is, it’s no consolation to a patient that the horrible thing that kills them is relatively rare. It doesn’t actually even help to point out this fact as they’re suffering. Why is that? Because even if a disease or complication only happens one in a million times (or in 0.0001% of people) when it happens to you, it happens 100%. The same concept applies to public health. It’s no consolation that you only have 347 cases of polio left. Until it’s all gone, every single last case, the horror can come back and spread. Michael Hayden’s view is BOGUS indeed.

P.S. As a bonus waterboarding-topic tidbit, here’s a Doc Gurley handy tip for deciding if an act is torture: if you have to strap someone down to do it to them, that’s torture. Go ahead, Michael, feel free to use this rule whenever you get confused.

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