Pushing to Restart Economy, Dr. Phil Cites (Inaccurate) Data on Car Accident, Swimming Pool Deaths: ‘We Don’t Shut the Country Down for That!’


In a bizarre, eerily-lit interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, celebrity talk show psychologist Dr. Phil McGraw argued for a rapid reopening of the economy and tried to justifiy the end of coronavirus mitigation measures by citing annual mortality data for car accidents and swimming pool deaths.

Ingraham has been vocally campaigning to re-open the economy and McGraw echoed that same argument on Thursday night, stepping into the role normally reserved for celebrity talk show doctor Dr. Mehmet Oz, who was notably absent. Oz had just hours earlier apologized for his misleading statements about the risk of reopening schools during an appearance on Hannity the day before.

McGraw’s focus during his appearance was the long-term health health risks of extreme isolation, a subject that he claimed is “never” discussed during the public epidemiological assessments about the coronavirus threat.

“This is invisible. I can’t show you an X-ray of depression. I can’t show you an X-ray of anxiety,” McGraw said. “But the fact of the matter is, the longer this lockdown goes on the more vulnerable people get and it’s like there’s a tipping point. There’s a point at which people start having enough problems in lockdown that it will actually create actually more destruction and actually more death across time than the actual virus will itself.”

But when McGraw pivoted to citing statistics supporting his argument, he both botched the data and made specious connections between well-established public health risks and a highly transmissible virus that has become the country’s number-one killer in the span of three months.

“Two hundred and fifty people a year die from poverty,” McGraw incorrectly claimed, an absurdly low number that stands more than 1,000 times lower than a 2011 study that put the number closer to 300,000. “The poverty line is getting such that more and more people are going to fall below that because the economy is crashing around us.”

“And they’re doing that because people are dying from the coronavirus. I get that,” McGraw then said, conceding a key point undermining his own argument. He then tried a different tack, while again offering misleading information.

“The fact of the matter is we have people dying, 45,000 people a year die from automobile accidents,” McGraw claimed, though the most recent CDC data for motor vehicle deaths puts the figure at 38,659, a yearly death toll that the coronavirus will easily surpass after having been in the U.S. population only since January. He then cited the absurdly high number of 360,000 for annual “swimming pool deaths” in the country. In fact, McGraw’s figure is roughly 100 times higher than the nation’s actual  unintentional deaths from drowning figure, not all of which involve swimming pools.

“But we don’t shut the country down for that!” McGraw exclaimed after that litany of inaccurate data and faulty reasoning. “But yet we are doing it for this and the fallout is going to last for years because people’s lives are being destroyed.”

” I come from a family that owned a small business, a car wash. And I’m always — my heart is always with the people who get, you know, frankly, screwed,” Ingraham said. “I hate that word, screwed, in situations like this, but the restaurateurs, their employees are their family. That’s their family. They’ve had the same employees for 30 years. And these are grown men in tears and they are like — I can’t believe — and these are grown men. And I’ve never seen this. I’ve never witnessed this before. Ever.”

After Ingraham’s heavy emphasis on the fate of business owners during the deadly pandemic, McGraw noted that some restaurant owners even had to throw out their produce because of the rapid onset of the outbreak.

“When it happened they got no warning. Some of them had just received huge orders of perishable foods. They didn’t even have time to give it away,” he noted, without mentioning that restaurant and food supply workers often face a heightened risk of contracting the coronavirus. “They have these, these people that have worked for them for 20 or 30 years. And they can’t afford to keep them on. And they can’t do takeout at a lot of these restaurants, they are not geared for that. And so people are just at home and, of course, it’s a perfect storm, Laura, because here you’ve got people that are in isolation. That creates problems. Loneliness actually create problems.”

“So we think we are protecting people’s lives by keeping them locked up. You keep them locked up long enough, there’s a paradoxical effect,” McGraw concluded, before suggesting that choosing not to follow quarantine or shelter-in-place guidelines could be a safer public health decision. “You actually destroy more lives than you do by letting them go out and protect themselves and opt in to their lives to fight for what they believe in.”

“I could not agree more,” Ingraham said. “I’ve been — I mean, I have not slept during this just because I’m so worried about our country.”

Watcht the video above, via Fox News.

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