Gresham’s Law: DDT disinformation crowds out facts


I love irony.

Henry VIII devised a novel way to save money. He ordered coins be minted containing silver, as during the reign of Henry VII, but he ordered that the purity of the silver be reduced. Edward VI continued the policy so that, by the time of the rule of Queen Elizabeth I, royal advisor and financier Sir Thomas Gresham observed that most of the old, high-silver content coins were out of circulation, hoarded by people against future inflation, allowing the lesser-valued money to circulate. Gresham told Elizabeth the bad money drove out the good money.

The principle had been observed earlier by Aristophanes and others. It is known in modern economics as Gresham’s Law, since 1858 when British economist Henry Dunning McLeod decided to honor Gresham by naming the rule after him.

The bad drives out the good, the cheap drives out the more expensive, gossip drives out good information – the principle is widely observed in areas beyond economics.

And so it is that with regard to DDT, the good information about the dangers of DDT and the benefits of restricting use of the chemical has been driven out of the marketplace by bad information claiming DDT is safe, and ignoring the significant benefits reaped when massive use of DDT was stopped.

And here’s the irony: DDT-happy critics of good environmental policy now claim to be the good information driven out by the “bad” information of DDT’s harms. No kidding. A columnist named Natalie Sirkin, in a column delivering almost nothing but bad, vile information, says bad information drives out the good, never once noting the irony.

The defense of DDT was, from the beginning, a lost cause. A few of us vainly hoped that science would prevail. We soon found that Gresham ’s Law, which states that bad currency drives out good currency, applies to science as well as to economics.

No kidding it applies. Do a Google search for “DDT” today and you’ll find all over the internet the disinformation of Gordon Edwards’ ghost and junk science purveyor Steven Milloy. You will have a difficult time finding any solid study showing how DDT nearly killed off the American bald eagle, however, and you’ll have to do a targeted search to learn of any dangers of DDT — information on human toxicity is almost impossible to find, though it’s easy to find many recountings of Gordon Edwards’ bold drinking of a teaspoon of DDT before lectures.

(Natalie and Gerald Sirkin write for the American Spectator; at this writing, Google features warnings on all of their material at the time of this writing, saying the site host may try to insert “malicious software” on your computer — so I have not linked there. This problem should sort itself out, I hope.)

(The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) works to get a history of the agency up on the ‘net; a lot from the DDT ban era is now available at the EPA site for scholars; Milloy will not be happy to have factual rebuttal officially and easily available.)

Below the fold, I’ll offer a point-by-point rebuttal of the bizarre claims in favor of DDT and against the noble public officials who worked to restrict its use.

From Connecticut Commentary: Red Notes from a Blue State:

DDT, MISINFORMATION THEN AND NOW

Natalie Sirkin, in an eye opening column on DDT, points out the difference between pop-science and the real thing. Africa is awash with preventable diseases because false science, in obedience to Grisham’s law, has driven out real science.

Roger Bate is a South African who has devoted himself for decades to promoting the use of DDT in the battle with malaria in Africa . Bate in his November 5 Wall Street Journal piece, “Last Chance for DDT,” tells how the use of DDT is being undermined by environmentalists and organizations selling alternatives to DDT.

Roger Bate is also a biased source. He is dedicated to slamming environmentalists more than anything else — he’s a corporate lobbyist. His expertise in DDT and malaria and public health is entirely public relations.

Environmentalists are scaring undeveloped nations telling them that DDT causes cancer or birth defects (totally false).

DDT is a known carcinogen to animals, and every cancer-fighting agency in the world lists it as a suspected human carcinogen. It causes birth defects in birds through endocrine disruption, which makes chicks unviable. Endocrine disruption is also documented in fish, reptiles, amphibians and mammals. Environmentalists are not “scaring” undeveloped nations about it — the nations get it from the World Health Organization and toxic chemical control agencies. In one sentence, Sirkin gets two whopping falsehoods in.

European Union officials are suggesting their crops would be boycotted. Within national donor agencies, teams are writing anti-malaria literature while running No-Spray programs. The U.N. is hurting. Mozambique has run a successful indoor residual spraying program, but the media ignore the news.

Notice a clever bait and switch here. Sirkin tells us that environmental organizations are scaring nations away from using DDT, but then notes that Mozambique is using DDT in an indoor spraying program. Clearly Mozambique was not scared off – nor were Kenya, Uganda, South Africa or many other other nations. Mexico has used DDT constantly since 1946. Who is being “scared off?” Sirkin doesn’t say, we cannot check.

Plus, she notes that Mozambique uses an “indoor spray program.” What she does not say is that limited indoor spraying (or “indoor residual spraying” or IRS), in a program of integrated pest management, was known to be effective in the late 1950s. That is the program recommended in 1962 by Rachel Carson, in her book Silent Spring. Sirkin fails to tell her readers that Rachel Carson has been vindicated by malaria control programs around the world, and that DDT is being used safely in those programs.

Why? If she told you that, you’d wonder all the way through her piece, why is she writing this? If she admitted that her rant is unjustified, you’d know.

News of any success against malaria tends to get play, by the way. Not big, but with the WHO and the Gates Foundation leading efforts against malaria, what works gets news.

Finally, after alleging it’s environmental organizations that agitate against DDT, Sirkin’s offered example is the public health protection and food safety arms of the European Economic Union (EEU). EEU is not an “environmentalist organization.”

DDT is a miracle. DDT is a killer. Which is it? The National Academy of Sciences’ President said DDT is the greatest chemical ever discovered.

No, that didn’t happen. It was called a “miracle chemical” in an NAS publication. But the NAS president did not say DDT is the greatest chemical ever discovered. It’s probably not so (think of urea, think of vitamin C, think of penicillin); in any case, NAS didn’t say it.

Rachel Carson said DDT and other pesticides silence nature. She made outright misstatements, but she did it in mellifluent prose that the world found persuasive. Ten years later, William Ruckelshaus, head of EPA, cemented her mission with a ban on DDT.

Carson said unwise use of pesticides threatened to silence nature unless people acted, and acted more wisely. Carson’s story of a town with no birds was a parable, a view of the future unless people started to act more wisely with regard to use of pesticides. Carson also accurately predicted that diseases like malaria, which rely on insects to carry them for part of their lifecycles, likely would roar back stronger than before. She was right about that, too.

Fortunately, people and nations stopped acting quite so stupidly. DDT was banned for frivolous and damaging uses (but it has always been available for use in human health and other emergencies).

DDT advocates always forget to mention most of the details about Ruckelshaus’s actions. The Departments of Agriculture, and Interior, severely reduced use of DDT starting in 1958, because of the harms it already shown. Local advocates had stopped broadcast spraying of DDT in Wisconsin and New York through court actions, in which the evidence for the harms of DDT was well laid out — including the fact that DDT spraying killed birds like robins shortly after the spraying, either through direct contact or their having eaten DDT-contaminated creatures.

EPA was created in 1970. It inherited from the Department of Agriculture several regulatory actions to further and permanently reduce DDT use. By 1971, two federal courts had ordered EPA to speed up their processes and get DDT off the market for broadcast agricultural use, as the law required. Ruckelshaus and EPA dragged their feet a bit, and the courts were unhappy about delays.

In 1972, the harms of DDT were well established. Later research would show the harms to have been underestimated. Courts ordered EPA to get DDT off the market for agricultural uses. This history is completely missing from the half-truth story told by Sirkin.

Today, according to Bate, some of the motivations for misidentifying DDT have changed, but DDT is not much closer to being allowed to save humanity from death from malaria and two dozen other infectious diseases than it was.

Ruckelshaus’s ban followed a seven-month public hearing on DDT from 125 experts in over 9,300 pages of testimony. The Hearing Examiner, Edmund Sweeney, held that DDT is not carcinogenic, mutagenic, or teratogenic to man. The uses of DDT under the regulations do not have a deleterious effect on freshwater fish, estuarine organisms, wild birds, or other wildlife . . .; there is a present need for the essential uses of DDT.”

Here’s where Sirkin’s piece departs dramatically from the facts. Sweeney did not find DDT harmless. Sweeney noted that DDT is a probable carcinogen. Sweeney’s hearings produced significant evidence of harm to wildlife. The hearing produced significant evidence of danger to human health. Sweeney’s decision was based on proposed labeling changes that would have severely restricted DDT use, almost to current levels. Sweeney’s decision assumed that EPA did not have authority to go any farther.

But remember, EPA was under court order. The courts had already determined that EPA had the authority to pull the registration for DDT; and the courts had already ruled that EPA needed to act quickly. Ruckelshaus, acting as the last appeal inside the agency, squared the EPA order with the other court orders.

Had Ruckelshaus acted capriciously or arbitrarily, under U.S. administrative law, appeals courts would have been obligated to overturn the order. Does anyone think the DDT manufacturers didn’t appeal the ruling? The federal courts backed Ruckelshaus’s order completely.

Sirkin errs when she claims the evidence from the Sweeney hearings exonorated DDT — it found instead that DDT is a hazard to wildlife, damaging to the environment and a potential danger to human health. Sirkin misleads when she fails to tell us the circumstances under which Ruckelshaus acted, with two federal courts watching to make sure EPA moved quickly, and correctly.

The Environmental Defense Fund, then three guys and a clipboard, appealed to Ruckelshaus to reverse Judge Sweeney’s decision. Ruckelshaus agreed. He assigned the appeal to—Ruckelshaus—himself–as appellate judge.

Ruckelshaus knew nothing of the case, had not read a page of the transcript, had not attended a day of the hearing. His decision was “padded with propaganda from EDF literature that appeared nowhere in the entire transcript of the hearings,” according to J. Gordon Edwards, professor of entomology at San Jose State University, whose corrections of Ruckelshaus’s errors were placed in the Congressional Record (pp. S11545-47, 24 July 1972) by Senator Barry Goldwater.

Ruckelshaus should not have attended a moment of the hearings. As the final appellate power in the agency, he should have stayed away. Ruckelshaus acted according to law. The Supreme Court does not attend trials of cases it knows it will later have to rule upon. Sirkin suggests misconduct where the law and fairness requires exactly what Ruckelshaus did.

In two separate cases, federal courts found Ruckelshaus’s ruling square with the evidence and the law. Gordon Edwards was a great entomologist, but his views on DDT are contrary to other findings by other scientists, and his views on the legal foundation of Ruckelshaus’s ruling are contrary to the law, and contrary to history. Edwards’ views on these events do not square with what happened. He’s not an authority to be trusted in this matter.

Had Edwards’ views merited attention, and been accurate, he could have filed an amicus brief with the courts reviewing Ruckelshaus’s decision. Assuming he didn’t file such a brief, the pesticide manufacturers certainly would have noted the problems in their appeal. That Edwards’ views were instead inserted into the Congressional Record suggest that they are political views, not necessarily relevant to the case and not necessarily accurate in the science.

The basis for Ruckelshaus’s decision, as he wrote in a letter to the Wall Street Journal, was “its impact on the thickness of eggshells of raptors, brown pelicans, and the peregrine falcon.” Was this the first time eggshell-thinning was made the chief reason for banning DDT? Probably not. Aaron Wildavsky, in his account in his book “But Is It True? A Citizen’s Guide,” makes the statement (though without explanation) that DDT thinned raptors’ eggshells, which caused depopulation of the bald eagle, the brown pelican, the peregrine falcon, and the osprey.

To this day, people believe it. What are the facts? In the articles and manuscripts of Professor Edwards and in Wildavsky’s book, these facts can be found:

• Bald Eagles: Before DDT was widely used, only a few bald eagles nestled in northern U.S. , none in New England . The Audubon Christmas Count per-observer recorded 197 bald eagles seen in 1941. In 1960, after years of heavy DDT use, there were 891 per observer, a 25% increase. The Hawk Mountain Sanctuary counts showed that the number of bald eagles migrating through Pennsylvania more than doubled during the first six years of heavy DDT use, 1946-52.

Actually, before DDT there were thousands of eagles nesting in New England and the northern U.S. Eagles were under assault from the beginning of European colonization, however, and the population decline was particularly severe in the more populated areas of the U.S., especially the northeast. To stop the decline of eagles, laws were passed protecting the birds in 1918, and made more strict in 1940. Hawk Mountain Sanctuary counts showed minor increases in the number of migrating birds, but an almost complete absence of immature birds. The minor increases trailed off as older birds started to die.

The actual counts of birds in the Hawk Mountain and Audubon annual bird counts surveys increased, but this increase was due to increased numbers of observers in more places. Ornithologists were alarmed at dramatic drops in population in most places for eagles, and by evidence that big raptors were abandoning old migration routes as their failure to reproduce devastated their populations. Sirkin is citing another claim from Gordon Edwards, that eagle populations increased. Only Gordon Edwards ever made that claim; the actual bird counts and conclusions from the Audubon Society and ornithologists showed declines, not increases; migration shifts, not population increases.

Gordon Edwards, and now Steven Milloy, keep claiming that the bird counts show increases in affected birds. They cite no studies, however, and Edwards’ citations to Audubon publications are inaccurate. Statements he claims can be found in the Audubon publications do not exist, or contradict Edwards’ claims (especially for counts through the 1950s). I have spent hours in the archives of the Dallas Public Library searching the Audubon Society publications, and I can only conclude that Edwards mistook higher counts caused by more observers in more places as increases in population, while the opposite conclusion was reached by the actual observers.

• Peregrine falcons: Over the last century they declined. Eastern populations declined before DDT, completely disappearing east of the Rockies . There have since been massive captive breeding programs, and they have become abundant.

• Ospreys: In 1946, 191 ospreys were seen by the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association. During the years of great use of DDT, there were great increases: 1951 254; 1961 352; 1967, 457; 1969, 527; 1971, 630; then in 1974, 318; 1975, 279, according to the Sanctuary newsletter. It was thought they were migrating to the West.

• Brown pelicans: There were few in Texas and Louisiana from around 1918 and fewer, around 900, in 1934. In 1937, instead of 1300 nests, 300 were seen. They continued to decline, and were around 300 in 1942 to around 1959. But they were plentiful in California during 20 years of heavy DDT use till the oil spill at Santa Barbara in 1969.

Environmentalists blamed DDT, never mentioning the oil spill.

Peregrine falcons were among the species most severely damaged by DDT. Their populations were in decline, as were eagle populations. Attempts to bring them back were frustrated by the failures of the eggs. All research on peregrine falcons demonstrates a dramatic recovery of the viability of their eggs as DDT residual levels in the mothers’ blood dropped. Once peregrines were able to successfully breed again after DDT was reduced by the ban, it was possible to reintroduce the bird to its heritage haunts in the northeast U.S. Everyone affiliated with peregrine falcon recovery attributes the success of the programs to the ending of DDT use in the U.S. The captive breeding program could not have succeeded without the ban on DDT.

Osprey counts at Hawk Mountain experienced the same phenomena as eagle counts; the numbers of sightings rose with the number of watchers. However, the bird experts did not believe then, and do not believe now, that the increased count was due to increasing population. The migration Edwards notes was believed to be caused by ospreys’ desperate response to their failure to breed.

Since 1972, and in an almost exact correlation with declining DDT in their blood, osprey reproduction has rebounded. In 2007 osprey experts attribute their recovery directly to the reduction in use of DDT in the U.S.

Brown pelican populations have increased also in direct correlation to the decline of DDT in their blood and fatty tissues. Their eggs resumed viability after the reduction of DDT after 1972. Edwards may be right that the Santa Barbara oil spill is not specifically noted in much of the literature — the oil spill in the bay and Pacific Ocean off of Santa Barbara could not have been a factor in the depletion of the pelican populations off of Florida in the Atlantic, nor in Texas and Louisiana on the Gulf of Mexico. All brown pelican populations that recovered did so only after DDT use was reduced, and residual blood levels dropped.

Did Edwards really believe an oil spill in Santa Barbara would have affected birds in Louisiana, or is he just playing fast and loose with the data in an attempt to snow an innocent and uninformed observer, like Natalie Sirkin?

Of the 25 different birds observed in the Hawk count, 15 were more numerous in 1960 than 1941, and only nine, less numerous. It is surprising, therefore, to find Professor Thomas H. Jukes, professor of biophysics at the University of California at Berkeley , writing in 1992 that his and his pro-DDT colleagues had no strong faith that science would win:

The defense of DDT was, from the beginning, a lost cause. A few of us vainly hoped that science would prevail. We soon found that Gresham ’s Law, which states that bad currency drives out good currency, applies to science as well as to economics.

By Natalie Sirkin
c2007

If a professor of biophysics misunderstands bird counts, that could well explain why he ended up on the wrong side of this debate, and why he so badly misunderstands the issues and why DDT use was so severely restricted. You don’t have to misunderstand or misstate the bird counts, however. Bird counters and ornithologists who actually studied the birds found reductions in population due to reproduction failure; in almost every case, that reproduction failure could be attributed to DDT.

You can see that almost all the “information” put out by Roger Bate, and by Natalie Sirkin, in this article, is bad information. In claiming that bad information drives out the good, perhaps Ms. Sirkin hopes to confuse you as to which is the good and which is the bad information.

Almost every point posted by Sirkin is false; those that are correct are posted in a way to mislead an unwary reader.

Fact is, DDT is dangerous. Fact is, DDT is not a panacea against malaria. Fact is, environmentalists are not the bad guys. Sirkin and Bate tell you the opposite.

Ironic. Using bad information, spread effusively, to drive out the good. Gresham would be troubled, I’m sure, at the misuse and misunderstanding of his observations.

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8 Responses to Gresham’s Law: DDT disinformation crowds out facts

  1. [...] The calumny continued on the internet, however, with an active hoax campaign for DDT and against environmental protection and Rachel Carson.  Steven Milloy joined Lyndon Larouche in promoting the anti-Carson screeds of the late Dr. Gordon Edwards, a UC Davis entomologist who argued against science that DDT was harmless to humans and animals. [...]

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  2. [...] am engaging Ed Darrell who, I have noted, has been caught in a lie. Yes, there are studies — which he links to and discusses in some detail — that support Rachel Carson’s thesis. There are also [...]

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  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Hmmmmm. Did I say that? Out loud?

    It’s still true that you misuse and abuse information. If you don’t want to be known as someone who does that, don’t do that. You don’t need a psychiatrist, just a Henny Youngman joke book.

    Lambert says that, too? I’m in good company.

    Proof that DDT killed someone? Acute toxicity standards are based on deaths. Are there acute toxicity standards for DDT? Did you get a chance to look that up?

    Understand that I’m not arguing DDT needs to be banned because of acute toxicity. The issue has nothing to do with this discussion, other than as an indicator of accuracy and willingness to recognize the science. I think you know this is irrelevant to the discussion. That’s what I mean when I say you misuse and abuse information.

    If DDT were not acutely toxic, would that justify changing anything in its regulation? Since it was not a factor in the establishment of current regulations, no, it wouldn’t justify any change.

    So why do you keep bringing up such an irrelevant issue? Why do you keep insisting that I’ve told it wrong, when you can’t find anything to rebut what I’ve said? (Got a link to that EPA page? I don’t mean to imply that I don’t trust your summary, so let me say it flat out: I don’t trust your summary.)

    If you don’t advocate anything other than Rachel Carson’s IPM use of DDT in Africa, when do you apologize for claiming she was wrong, and admit you’re a fan of hers, and call for Sen. Coburn to change his position?

    If rodents are not analogs for humans, how can we do any animal research with them? Of course rodent cancers strongly suggest human cancers will result from the same stuff. Why is it listed as a probable carcinogen? Because we’ve reduced DDT exposures to humans, and we don’t know for certain that it will cause cancer. Every indicator is that it will I (and since you and I began this discussion, there is that study that shows the effect is in the second generation).

    Lambert’s very accurate, and very demanding. What you call error, it seems, the rest of us call “accuracy.” It’s difficult dealing with the Bizarro lingo, but we’ll do it.

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  4. J F Beck says:

    Ed, you called me a troll because I persist in pointing out your errors:

    “Beck, you’re a troll. You misuse and abuse information. You abuse the good offices of bloggers who allow you to post. You’ve almost exhausted all the falsehoods of Steven Milloy — are you creative enough to make new ones? Or, alternatively, are you ethical enough to change your ways?”

    That’s straight out of Lambert’s playbook – if someone persists in disagreeing, call him a troll. Well, at least you finally admit that I do not make significant errors on DDT. Your errors continue, however.

    One of the pages at the EPA site recommended by you clearly states that no one has died due to acute DDT poisoning. Now unless you can find some proof that DDT has killed someone, you really should admit you’re wrong. But if you want to persist in the very weird justifications you continue to give in attempting to worm your way out the corner you’ve backed yourself into, knock yourself out; it’s great fun to watch you squirm.

    I haven’t misstated you claim about poisoning Africa. No reputable individual or organization advocated DDT use for anything other than Indoor Residual Spraying with tiny amounts of the chemical. You say this amounts to wanting to poison Africa. It’s an appeal to emotion that’s tantamount to an accusation of racism.

    Silent Spring is a well written book that gets some things right and others wrong. Carson was not a prominent scientist. What’s the big deal?

    If DDT’s potency as a rodent carcinogen is proof it is a human carcinogen, why is DDT listed only as a possible or probable carcinogen (depending where you look)? And by the way, I do not argue that DDT is not a carcinogen: I accept that it causes cancer in laboratory rodents.

    As for Tim Lambert, he probably makes more DDT errors than other other blogger on the planet. But at the rate you’re cranking out the errors you’ll soon overtake him.

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  5. Ed Darrell says:

    J. F. Beck writes:

    In the same thread you attack Elizabeth Whelan for claiming DDT has killed no one, saying “we have toxicity figures, which can only be established with deaths from the stuff”. This is incorrect according to documents at the EPA history site you link to above, one of which states:

    “There are no documented unequivocal reports of a fatal human poisoning occurring exclusively from ingestion of pure DDT, but deaths have been reported following ingestion of commercial preparations containing also other substances.”

    Will you now admit that DDT poisoning has killed no one or are you again going to try your worm your way out of this error? (In formulating your answer please bear in mind that the discussion concerned only the acute toxicity of DDT.)

    Please explain to me again how toxicity figures are determined, will you? You appear to have so much more knowledge. Tell us exactly how those figures are arrived at with no evidence of any actual deaths. I’d really love to hear your description of things like “LD 50″ rates.

    And, since we now have electronic methods of sampling most things down to amazing levels, we know that there are very few pure substances in circulation in any fashion. So, if DDT preparations killing things cannot be attributed to DDT, by your standard, we cannot say DDT is effective at all (see Paul Muller’s work — you’ll notice he always used preparations, most often mixed with oil which, of course, is toxic itself; perhaps you are right and DDT is completely ineffective as an insecticide. I actually suspect a flaw in your argument of an evidentiary nature). But more importantly, by your standard we cannot say anything is toxic, or safe, since it’s impossible to get pure substances to test. I suspect even the most radical libertarians would not support your position there.

    And lest we forget the more serious human consequences, you probably should look at these:
    A study on DDT and breast cancer
    Effect Measure’s post on the study
    An editorial from the Christian Science Monitor on bringing DDT back
    Mr. Beck’s comrade-in-DDT advocacy, Roger Bate, sounding oddly familiar

    In past threads here and at other blogs you argue that DDT’s apparent ability to cause cancer in laboratory rodents means it must be a human carcinogen because “[t]here is no other substance known to be an mammal carcinogen that is not also carcinogenic in humans”. In fact, many substances can cause cancer in one species and not in another. Will you now admit that you are wrong or are you again going to try to worm your way out of this error?

    Despite not a single recognized authority classifying DDT as a human carcinogen you repeatedly misled your readers by saying DDT is a human carcinogen. Will you now admit you are wrong or are you again going to try to worm your way out of this error?

    I think it’s important to remember your position: I noted that it is incorrect to say DDT is NOT carcinogenic, since every agency that lists carcinogens lists DDT as a probable human carcinogen, and since it is carcinogenic in other mammals. That’s a carefully phrased argument. I resent your inability to restate it, and I resent your repeated attempts to restate it as an erroneous claim of mine.

    Why do you reject the listings by the American Cancer Society, WHO, EPA and others? Your position is unrational on this issue. Those agencies are “recognized authorities” by any rational definition.

    You accuse those who advocate Indoor Residual Spraying (me included) of wanting to “poison Africa”. Will you now admit this to be emotive rubbish?

    Once again you misstate my position. We should be clear here: Rachel Carson advocated IPM back in 1962. IRS is useful, and almost safe, only in an integrated pest management program. You rail against Rachel Carson’s position.

    Are you being hypocritical here? Or do you withdraw your criticism of Rachel Carson? I haven’t seen that.

    Consequently, since she argued only against abuse and overuse of DDT, I must presume your advocacy is for abuse of the substance. Otherwise, you’re a lying, scheming hypocrite. Surely that last possibility is not realized, and you are instead, based on evidence, arguing for broadcast spraying of DDT in greatly expanded programs. Because, surely you would not be adopting such a hypocritical position just for Internet Debating Points (IDPs) . . . would you?

    You have repeatedly tried to discredit me by alleging I make frequent DDT errors; at one point after consulting with mentor Tim Lambert you adopted his name-calling strategy by calling me a troll. I have asked you to point out some of my “errors” but you are yet to do so. Please either point out some of my significant “errors” or withdraw your accusation.

    Did I ever call you a troll? Refresh my memory. Whatever could you have said that would have made me do such a thing?

    You don’t make a lot of errors on DDT, but like DDT itself, you’re persistent in them. Your insistence that DDT is not a carcinogen, despite the much more nuanced position of cancer agencies on the substance, which is suspected of causing human cancer after 60 years of study, for example. I don’t think it wise to throw out 60 years of good information for IDPs.

    And your unfair and misguided criticism of Carson, and scientists and commenters such as Tim Lambert, are errors I prefer not to follow. You’ve not retracted the erroneous claims — in fact you repeat them here — so I see no need to retract my corrections of the claims.

    Come on Ed, drive out some of your bad information with good.

    No, I prefer to let your comments stay on the blog. I’d let Neil Simpson’s comments stand, too. I don’t believe in censorship. It’s instructive for others to see what the DDT advocates and others Chronically-Obsessed With Rachel Carson (COWRC) are up to.

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  6. J F Beck says:

    Hi Ed,

    Your DDT posts are riddled with errors you refuse to acknowledge, making them great examples of bad information driving out the good.

    In an earlier thread you write:

    “Nothing in your post suggests any error about DDT on my part, and certainly no justification to go poison the heaven out of Africa with DDT.” This is incorrect, so I’ll restate just several of your errors to see if you’ll correct them.

    In the same thread you attack Elizabeth Whelan for claiming DDT has killed no one, saying “we have toxicity figures, which can only be established with deaths from the stuff”. This is incorrect according to documents at the EPA history site you link to above, one of which states:

    “There are no documented unequivocal reports of a fatal human poisoning occurring exclusively from ingestion of pure DDT, but deaths have been reported following ingestion of commercial preparations containing also other substances.”

    Will you now admit that DDT poisoning has killed no one or are you again going to try your worm your way out of this error? (In formulating your answer please bear in mind that the discussion concerned only the acute toxicity of DDT.)

    In past threads here and at other blogs you argue that DDT’s apparent ability to cause cancer in laboratory rodents means it must be a human carcinogen because “[t]here is no other substance known to be an mammal carcinogen that is not also carcinogenic in humans”. In fact, many substances can cause cancer in one species and not in another. Will you now admit that you are wrong or are you again going to try to worm your way out of this error?

    Despite not a single recognized authority classifying DDT as a human carcinogen you repeatedly misled your readers by saying DDT is a human carcinogen. Will you now admit you are wrong or are you again going to try to worm your way out of this error?

    You accuse those who advocate Indoor Residual Spraying (me included) of wanting to “poison Africa”. Will you now admit this to be emotive rubbish?

    You have repeatedly tried to discredit me by alleging I make frequent DDT errors; at one point after consulting with mentor Tim Lambert you adopted his name-calling strategy by calling me a troll. I have asked you to point out some of my “errors” but you are yet to do so. Please either point out some of my significant “errors” or withdraw your accusation.

    Come on Ed, drive out some of your bad information with good.

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