Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Bull Disclosure

At National Review Online, Father Rob Johansen writes about the legal proceedings surrounding Terri Schiavo. The point I'm interested in is Johansen's contention that "[e]xpert witnesses in court are supposed to be unbiased: disinterested in the outcome of the case. Part of the procedure in qualifying expert witnesses is establishing that they are objective and unbiased." Johansen argues that an expert witness, Dr. Cranford, who testified Schiavo was in a persistent vegetative state was a biased witness because he is allegedly an advocate "in the 'right to die' and euthanasia movements." Says Johansen, "one needs to know a little about Cranford's background and perspective" in order to evaluate Cranford's opinions.

To support his argument, Johansen quotes some neurologists to whom he provided a selective account of the medical evidence and legal proceedings.

Among them, there's "Dr. William Bell, a professor of neurology at Wake Forest University Medical School." For some strange reason, Johansen doesn't think we need to know a little -- or anything -- about Bell's background or perspective. Among other things, Bell is a member of the Christian Medical and Dental Society. Although Johansen obviously thinks otherwise, you might be interested to know that the Christian Medical and Dental Society believes that "[t]he human body belongs to God," holds some bigoted psuedo-scientific views about homosexuality, and compares embryonic stem cell research to Nazi war crimes.

No bias or interest there. And I'm sure Johansen picked Bell entirely at random, as opposed to selecting him for the outcome he desires.

Then there's "Dr. Thomas Zabiega, who trained at the University of Chicago." I think we can presume that's Thomas Zabiega, M.D., Vice President for Legislative Affairs for the Catholic Physicians' Guild of Chicago. Let's keep that Father Rob's little secret, shall we?

In the article, Father Rob makes it sound as if Dr. Bell is hearing about the Schiavo case for the first time. ("I have spent the past ten days recruiting and interviewing neurologists willing to come forward and offer affidavits or declarations concerning new testing and examinations for Terri....") Yet Bell, apparently accepting Father Rob's version as gospel, has made up his mind: "It seems as though they're fearful of any additional information," "medical realities are no longer governing this case," "once a decision is made they don't want additional information." No prejudgment there either.

Father Rob is a man who likes to cherry-pick his experts and avoid disclosure of important but inconvenient facts. If we judge him by his own standard, he can't be trusted.

p.s. Here's more on the "pro-lifers" with a keen interest in the Schiavo case.

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