Michael O’Donnell is devoting the entire editorial page in the March issue of his wellness promotion journal to a moving plea for me (and Vik) to stop bullying Ron Goetzel. (Several people were thoughtful enough to send me an advance copy.) It’s not fun to be bullied. I know how Mr. Goetzel feels because a number of Penn State’s employees told me how upsetting it was to be bullied into disclosing intimate details about their sex lives in order to avoid $1200 fines. Oh, wait a second! Hmm…that was a program conceived by Ron Goetzel (and his Highmark cabal).
Despite repeated requests from the targets of this anti-employee jihad, Mr. Goetzel never apologized for his role in the Penn State debacle. In sharp contrast, I will be the first to apologize for the specific instances of bullying that I’ve done. (See the “prequel” for how this all came to be.) After all, two wrongs don’t make a right. (As a brief aside, I’m not sure our interactions could be classified as “bullying.” Victims of bullying are people who have repeatedly expressed a strong interest in being left alone, like the Penn State faculty did. By contrast, if a boxer decides to step into the ring time and time again expecting not to be knocked out with one punch but keeps getting knocked out with one punch, he can’t claim the other boxer bullied him.)
I apologize for questioning Mr. Goetzel’s ethics after he called his sponsor Health Fitness Corporation a “best practice” in wellness after HFC admitted lying about saving the lives of 514 alleged cancer victims who it turned out never had cancer in the first place. (HFC also didn’t disclose their sponsorship of Mr. Goetzel’s award that they won.)
I apologize for asking him 11 questions about his own statements that would have been difficult to answer since they highlighted their inconsistencies. As penance, I am perfectly happy to answer 11 questions that he might have about my statements to be published alongside of his answers to my questions.
I apologize for forcing him to admit that his client (the very same Koop Award sponsor, Health Fitness Corporation) had snookered him and his Koop Committee (including Michael O’Donnell) another time as well, with an outcomes claim that was obviously falsified but that somehow none of the self-proclaimed analytical experts on that Koop Award Committee noticed until the 4th time I pointed it out.
I apologize for pointing out that yet another Koop Award winner (and, of course, board member), Staywell, was also making up outcomes and also snookered his Committee.
I apologize that the business and lay media has treated his industry badly as a result of my and Vik (and others) bringing their misdeeds to their attention. The LA Times was very mean in calling wellness a “scam.” Shame on them! And the Incidental Economist? Really, I’d expect more civility from the New York Times’ economics blog. Huffpost? All Things Considered? Sheesh! What do you expect from liberals! Newsmax? The Federalist? Those right-wingers should be ashamed of themselves! And Harvard Business Review? RAND? Seems like everyone in the media is bullying Mr. Goetzel’s wellness industry. They should apologize too.
I apologize for observing that almost every award that his Koop Committee has given out in the last 5 years went to a company that was somehow connected to the Committee, either as a sponsor or through the Board of Directors, but didn’t disclose that connection in their award announcements.
I apologize for noting the sharply constrasting irony that Dr. C. Everett Koop himself was a man of great integrity.
I apologize for offering (scroll to final paragraph) Mr. O’Donnell, Mr. Goetzel, and all the other members of the Koop Committee half-price for my course in Critical Outcomes Report Analysis, so that they could learn how to analyze outcomes, which given the number of times they’ve all been snookered and embarrassed, is training they apparently could really use. I’m not saying it’s their fault they can’t do simple outcomes analysis. It’s possible that their mothers simply didn’t listen to enough Mozart when the Committee members were in their respective wombs.
I apologize for taking exception to being compared to “a climate change denier” and a “tobacco executive lying to Congress” in Mr. Goetzel’s webinar in which my work was singled out for typically fallacious criticism.
I apologize for actually believing him when he said he wanted to “respect the dignity of employees,” and offering to co-author an open letter to the Business Roundtable and others saying exactly what Mr. Goetzel said–and he declined. (Read that thread and you make the call. I studied his essay and tried to capture it in this letter…and offered him the opportunity to edit it, rather than sign it as is. I also apologize for not realizing why this offer was objectionable.)
I apologize for asking the organizations Mr. Goetzel is affiliated with (as noted in Mr. O’Donnell’s plaintive plea, I did indeed ask them — that email is available on request) whether and how they wanted their names used in conjunction with my reporting on the Nebraska state wellness program hijinks, rather than go ahead and use the names without their permission. (They wanted nothing to do with the Nebraska ethical scandal, by the way.)
Finally, I apologize for what Mr. O’Donnell calls “slander” (since I put everything on the public written record to avoid misunderstandings, I suspect he means “libel” but doesn’t understand the distinction between the two words) against Mr. Goetzel, and would once again urge Mr. Goetzel to tell me – publicly, right here on this site — exactly what I’ve said that is false so that I can take anything off this site that isn’t true. He hasn’t done this despite two $1000 offers. Yes, we did offer him $1000 twice: the self-imposed penalty in the rules of our site means that perpetrators get one week to answer our questions or tell us why we are wrong to ask them. If they do so, they get $1000. (Not sure how many other bullies offer to pay their “victims” $1000 not to be bullied. One would expect it to be the other way around.)
I apologize for not already offering Mr. Goetzel the opportuntiy to bully me. I’d love for him to challenge my outcomes, invent a clever nickname for me that describes how I might react if my statements are ever proven to be made up, ask me questions, debate me. Exactly the type of “bullying” I do to him I’d ask him to do to me. Please, Ron, don’t make me beg!
Further, I am happy to apologize for anything else, too. Just ask me. While we are on the subject of apologies, Mr. O’Donnell deserves one too. I apologize for pointing out that the meta-analysis of wellness programs published in his own journal says that randomized controlled trials of wellness programs show negative ROIs. Obviously it was an oversight by Mr. O’Donnell that any statement admitting wellness doesn’t work would be allowed into his journal. Shame on Vik and me for pointing out that his key article actually acknowledged a fact!
Postscript: Michael O’Donnell said that he wasn’t going name me (and Vik) so he wouldn’t embarrass us. We wrote a comment and said, thank you for your graciousness but we are thrilled to be “embarrassed” by being named. My suspicion is that he didn’t name me and won’t print the comment for a different reason altogether: It might encourage people to come to this site and actually think for themselves, which is the Wellness Ignorati’s second-worst nightmare (next to facts). We’ll see.
Postscript 2: As predicted, Michael O’Donnell did not publish the comment. While it’s his publication and he is allowed to censor it, this is typical of the ignorati. My comment was only to waive my right not to be embarrassed and name myself, but we were right: publishing that would have sent a few people to this site, and they may have learned to think for themselves.