Note: This is not as clever as our usual stuff. The sequel (in this case, prequel) is never as good as the original. Nonetheless, it’s important to know how we got to where we are and how the now-viral “Open Apology to Ron Goetzel” came to be.
I was just called “mean-spirited” by Michael O’Donnell regarding Ron Goetzel, so I thought a little background might be in order. Some people no doubt think Vik and I just popped up out of the blue and started insulting people. Michael O’Donnell’s editorial says we haven’t been willing to engage in “respectful debates” and all sorts of other stuff. So let’s climb into the Wayback Machine and set the dial for 2011. I submitted the final manuscript of Why Nobody Believes the Numbers to the publisher, John Wiley & Sons, for June 2012 publication. For those of you whose consultants and vendors haven’t told you about it (for obvious reasons), this was an award-winning trade-bestselling book on outcomes measurement, that is used in at least 5 graduate-level classrooms.
Despite being almost 3 years old, it is quite relevant today, as a new “official” welness outcomes measurement guide compiled by many of the people profiled on this site recommends 7 approaches to measurement, 5 of which my book had already completely invalidated.
Page 82-83 contain the following lines. I am using screen shots because, as is usual, no one would believe me if I just quoted text.
I genuinely believed that he was seeking the truth and that his analysis was “much better than mine.” I was the Boxer to his Snowball.
But then, over the following years, a funny thing happened. I reluctantly realized that the entire Wellness Ignorati cabal — the Koop Committee, WELCOA etc. — had no interest in facts. They simply wanted to perpetuate their existence at the expense of their customers. I had originally been very polite. for instance, when I displayed the infamous Health Fitness Corporation slide (now disowned) on p 85 of Why Nobody Believes, I didn’t name names:
And I know Ron read p. 85, because he copied pages 82-83 and used it in his own presentations until Wiley made him stop.
But you know what happened after Ron read that HFC’s award-winning slide had self-invalidated? No “respectful debates.” Nothing. (We’re still not sure how he didn’t notice in the first place.) HFC didn’t apologize and didn’t stop using the slide. Ron didn’t retract their Koop Award. (It wasn’t until our Health Affairs expose almost three years later, that Ron was shocked, shocked to discover that that infamous and highly visible slide was, to use his choice of the passive voice, “unfortunately mislabeled.” It is still a mystery who did the mislabeling. No one has stepped forward. We think it might have been the North Koreans.)
The same thing kept happening — Nebraska, Staywell, Mercer, Milliman, Wellsteps etc. Basically most of the Koop Committee and plenty of others All of them had mistakes quietly pointed out…and none of them did anything to correct them. Politeness failed. When a “mistake” is pointed out and not fixed, it becomes a lie. In retrospect, what we did was as naive as if Rachel Carson had brought her findings to Monsanto and asked them to please stop selling DDT.
That’s why and when we started blowing the whistle, which has been interpreted as bullying. Leave a comment: what you would have done? The health of employees all over the country is being jeopardized by overscreening, overdiagnosis and overdoctoring, the evidence is being ignored by the perpetrators…what choice did we have?