10.08.2006

Fox News, Crichton, and other reality-challenged folk

Yes, I'm so easy I'll even blog myself. Today I saw an ABC article about Global Warming and better yet, Michael Crichton! You aren't to the self serving part yet, just read on.

Michael Crichton's 2004 book "State of Fear" is what started me off on this blog. The original post is Fox News Science Expert is *way * off base. in which I criticise them for quoting a lunatic-fringe-conservative-blogger called "Junk Science" and not paying enough attention to the CDC and WHO.

Originally, my wife gave me the book to shut me up because she knows I used to love Science Fiction. "State of Fear" is a thriller that uses environmental terrorists as its bad guys. I thought it was fun although the science was a bit funky. But when I got to the end of the book - (yes I am slow on the uptake) - I saw that Crichton was evidently serious about his science. Here is a moderate and reasoned criticism of the book.

I'm not a real scientist. Certainly not an earth science person who comprehends the calculations involving gigatons of this or that and how vegetation, solar radiation, planktonic uptake of carbon, subduction currents, ice packs, and manure (methane) work together with anthropogenic contributions to make the earth change its average temperature.

I am however, interested in malaria. When I saw remarks in the book about the number of children who die each year from malaria and the odd remarks about DDT not being dangerous, I got curious. So I visited the CDC and WHO websites and did a search at the Science (sciencemag.org) website. What I came up with was quite a different story than the one Crichton told.

I went searching for quotes using literal strings from the book and found junkscience.com, a site authored by a man who works for a foundation that has accepted money from Exxon-Mobil. His mortality numbers are incorrect and the information on DDT is incorrect. Both Crichton and Fox news use him without reservation. That means they consider him such a genius that it is unnecessary to use other sources.

You may have noticed that I did not quote any numbers or facts of my own. The reason is that the people who make up this garbage will argue all day about what should or should not be considered part of a particular fact. Do you remember the conversation a few weeks ago on the news where the President of Iran was asked why he doesn't accept the Holocaust as a historic event? His answer was that there were lots of other people killed by the Fascists, so the Jews didn't deserve any special recognition.

As I said, I'm not a real scientist. I do know that a real scientist would not say that DDT is safe. He or she might say that DDT is probably safer than not having any pesticide at all. There are, however 12 alternative pesticides most of which degrade in less than 6 months.

This posting is here for the purpose of saying that ignorance is not a point of view. You don't have to accept it. You don't have to argue with it. Just turn your back. If you think something is worth knowing then read up on it. You won't find references at Fox News though. Just links to what they feel is their most powerful argumentation.

Fox News is once again carrying out the old FUD. DDT is probably carcinogenic. The WHO never outlawed it, but they did discourage the use of DDT for that reason. Countries with malaria problems were encouraged to find a suitable solution all along.

CDC DDT FAQ doesn't say DDT is carcinogenic. They should.
WHO DDT FAQ
More details from CDC see the quote below from this source:

How likely are DDT, DDE, and DDD to cause cancer?
Studies in DDT-exposed workers did not show increases in cancer. Studies in animals given DDT with the food have shown that DDT can cause liver cancer.

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) determined that DDT may reasonable be anticipated to be a human carcinogen. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) determined that DDT may possibly cause cancer in humans. The EPA determined that DDT, DDE, and DDD are probable human carcinogens."



Low lactation causes mortality study.

Pro-DDT letter saying that the deaths are worth it.

Fox news article on DDT and how the CDC says it is OK now and isn't "illegal." Please note the pejorative nature of the attack on the Audubon Society! OMG the amount of money they must have. Well, actually their assets include lots of land that birds can poop on. Same with the Sierra Club. And their donations are not a drop in the bucket compared to Exxon-Mobil's contribution to things like the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Institute. BTW, Jeb Bush used to sit on the board of Hoover with Scaife and Coors. Scaife (Tribune media) and Coors fund some of the more colorful organizations.

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