Earlier today, Douglas Anthony Cooper wrote a very nice article for the Huffington Post about Merritt Clifton.
In the piece, he calls out Clifton as a "fraud" from a research perspective -- and in the process, takes out Canadian Columnist Barbara Kay in the process who has oft relied on Clifton as the "primary resource" for her opinion pieces.
Cooper also takes aim at Clifton's oft-cited "research" on dog "Maimings and Mortalities" and the fact that this "research" has been kept hidden from the public for more than 30 years.
Cooper cites one teacher at the University of Toronto:
"The biggest problems are often found in one or more of three areas: collection, presentation, and interpretation. To my mind, collection is the big one when ameteurs, especially those with an ax to grind or a position they've staked out in advance, are involved. To be believable, the dataset has to be available in its entirety for examination and the collection methodology had to be described in full. In essence, one must be able to replicate and reach the same conclusion."
However, Clifton has never made the data available -- at least, not to anyone who might possibly disagree with him. I know no fewer than 6 people who have legitimately tried only to be denied. Cooper is one of them, and concludes:
"If the data even exists, my guess is that it's embarassing: inaccurate, incomplete ore incomprehensible. Otherwise, who better to share it with than the pit bull advocates ("nutters") -- so they might be convinced of the error of their ways?"
I tend to share Cooper's skepticism and would at this point almost be more surprised if the product of the raw data wouldn't look more like the picture on this page than anything worthy of scientific ponderance.
I've found many inaccuracies in Clifton's data over the years.
-- I'd argue that any research based solely on media reports has a huge collection bias.
-- His data also is under-representative of the entirety of the number of severe dog bites in this country, accounting for only about 2% of the total dog attacks in a given year.
-- And he's mathematically inaccurate. During at least one 3-year period, the number of dog attacks attributed to pit bulls, Rottweilers and Presa Canarios in Clifton's "research" actually increased by more than the total number of attacks he recorded during that time.
-- Clifton's numbers have increased dramatically over the past 5 years. Clifton attributes this to an increase in the number of attacks, however, it is far more likely to be a product of information availability and better access to information via the internet than he's ever had before.
Nice work by Cooper and the Huffington Post.
For more information:
KC Dog Blog: More deceit from Merritt Clifton attacking shelter pets....