Not long ago the New England Journal of Medicine ran an article on the vexed question of physician-assisted suicide in the case of the terminally ill, and doctors were asked to vote, for or against, online. The results of the poll have just been published.
As the editors are at pains to point out, such a poll has no scientific validity, since those who took the trouble to vote were not a representative sample of anyone but themselves. This does not mean, though, that the poll was altogether without interest, though certain data would have made it even more interesting.
In all, the journal received 5,205 votes from doctors around the world. However, the editors noticed that there were multiple votes in quick succession from several locations in Canada, suggesting a concerted effort to influence the result. These – 1,137 of them – were excluded from the report, leaving 4,068 votes deemed valid.
It would have been interesting to know in which direction the discounted votes voted, but this information was not given. Do those against or those in favor of physician-assisted suicide have a more active lobby or pressure group in Canada? I am not sure I would know which way to bet: one could almost hold a poll on the subject.