Anthony Watts targets Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub, ends up getting scrubbed

Continuing comedy/tragedy at Watts Up With That, Anthony Watts’ staunchly anti-global-warming-science blog.

Funny in the denial of the obvious, funny in the dance to get around the science, tragic in that anyone grants much credence to the denials of the obvious and science — Watts steams on.

Watts and his moderators haven’t completely blocked my comments, and I can sneak one in on occasion just slipping under their radar.  We are all plagued by a recent spate of pro-DDT publicity, prompted by what I am not sure but encompassing a full-court press from anti-science moguls like Paul Driessen, pro-poison advocates, and a film by a crank (quack?) physician-to-the-stars who appears fearful of revealing his full name, Rutledge Taylor and “3 Billion and Counting.”  (Taylor’s film is sort of the “Expelled!” of the Chronically Obsessed with Rachel Carson (COWRC) set, but without the charm and science of Ben Stein’s film, since the scientists refused to sit for an interview with Taylor.)  (Taylor’s publicity refers to him as “Dr. Rutledge.”  Perhaps he aspires to the heights of academic and science credence granted Dr. Phil.)

Watts gave his pedestal over to an engineer, Indur Goklany, for a diatribe against Bill Gates. In comments, I tried to insert some data into an increasingly shrill and increasingly error-prone howl against Gates.  Of Gates I am no great fan (unfairly; I use Windows), but sometimes one needs to stand up for accuracy and fairness, just for the sake of accuracy and fairness.

Watts gave Goklany a platform to go after my two comments.  I’m Watts’ target for the day.

Dancing on the edge of science is treacherous, as Watts and Goklany may have discovered.  Goklany claims I make many errors in my comments, but he cites no evidence suggesting I err at all.  I merely pointed to the decline in death totals from malaria, and to the real work of the Gates Foundation.  Nothing in those comments has been tagged as incorrect.

In comments, however, truth breaks out.  Franklin’s adage about truth winning in a fair fight holds true, especially on a topic like malaria and DDT, where Watts and Goklany together, even were they the acme of broadcast meteorology and dissident engineering, can’t snuff out factual comments fast enough to keep up the tirade.  [You fellows there on the side:  Stop your betting about whether Goklany is a creationist!  Gambling is not allowed here, especially when the fix is in.  He confesses he is "an engineer," after all.]

I may err; but take a look, Dear Reader, and see if the contrived case against Rachel Carson and for poisoning Africa with DDT doesn’t take a few hits, especially in comments.

Sometime, perhaps this week, I hope to get a substantial comment about the flurry of crank science on DDT, and Rutledge Taylor’s contemptible falsehoods.  But I am without time, and without computer most of the day.

Now, if only being Watts’ target would persuade his readers to actually come here to find the facts about DDT, it would be worth it.


Tim Lambert at Deltoid explains where Goklany runs off the rails of accurate information, and as usual, has more comments than we get in the Bathtub.

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19 Responses to Anthony Watts targets Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub, ends up getting scrubbed

  1. karl says:

    @kathy: The simple answer is that it’s not the 1950′s anymore. DDT isn’t nearly as effective today as it was then. (Incidentally, the same is true for chloroquine, the antimalarial that Gates also mentions). Furthermore, since the 1950s and 60s we have so many more tools for fighting malaria–many more effective and safer than DDT. (Incidentally, the same is true of chloroquine–today there a number of new and more effective drugs to treat malaria.) 60 year old tools aren’t necessarily the best tools today. So saying that DDT should be our first line of defense against malaria is a little like saying leeches should be a first line medical treatment. Also: DDT isn’t banned for malarial use anyways, and it never was.

    @bev: “Dr.” Rutledge is a quack. First off, he’s not even an MD, according to his own website. Secondly, he hawks mail order dietary supplements on his website. This should raise red flags. Thirdly, I haven’t seen the movie, but most everything the he says in the preview about DDT and malaria is wrong. I saw an interview with Rutledge and his GF Debby Gibson talking about the movie, and he comes off as a raving conspiracy theorist. I suspect this movie is only going to be persuasive among the Tea Party and/or “911 was an inside job” crowds.


  2. Ellie says:

    Ed, looks like your blog has become the place to advertise that “doctor” and his movie. I especially enjoyed the ONE WITH ALL THE CAPS!


  3. bev says:

    I recently saw an Excellent documentary, 3 BILLION AND COUNTING by Dr. Rutledge Taylor. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND FOR ALL! IT IS A MUST SEE; A REAL EYE-OPENER! This film actually SHOCKS you back INTO SANITY. Dr. Taylor reviewed EPA testimony from over ONE HUMDRED SERIOUS SCIENTISTS AND DOCTORS and has copies, saying DDT is Safe for Humans and The Environment. DON’T DENY TRUTH. BRING DDT BACK! It is the Safest, Cheapest, and most effective way TO ERADICATE BLOODSUCKERS.


  4. kathy says:

    I have a question..
    if Bill Gates says “Sure, he mentions that DDT and chloroquine “brought the death rate down”” (and I heard this myself) and you have quoted him here .. THEN WHY are you continuing to fight for the ban of DDT? Since it has been proven to bring the death toll DOWN, and we experienced the wiping out of Malaria in the States .. WHY Dear Lord .. is this battle still going on? Check out and learn something. STOP calling people liars because they have gotten off the couch and did some leg work and uncovered the TRUTH! You just REPEAT lies.


  5. Hank Roberts says:

    National Punctuation Day, September 24, celebrates the importance of proper punctuation.


  6. Russell says:

    At Watts Up With That, National Talk Like A Climate Pirate Day comes 365 times a year


  7. J Bowers says:

    Oh give it a rest Watts. You banned Ed because he’s showing your blog up to be the lame, pseudo-science rag it is, so you’ve used any “oh, I’m such a victim” meally-mouthed excuse to silence a critic. Ed explained but you’ve decided to ignore it and garner the sympathy vote.

    Man up.


  8. Ed Darrell says:

    I see that Eli Rabett and others including Tim Lambert continued in that thread*. Carrying light to the forces of darkness is a thankless task, and one I have too little patience for. Those who continue to post the facts at Watts Up With That have my deep admiration.

    (* Except when the Evil Twin, Tobacco Tony, stifles the conversation. One wonders why people get so perturbed when the past accomplishments of the advocates are mentioned.)


  9. toby says:

    Well done, Ed, for standing up to Watts. I was annoyed to see you traduced on his blog – I have already admired the way you stand up for science and rational thinking in a difficult environment.

    But be warned – you will not find science and rational thinking on Watts’ blog.


  10. Nick K says:

    Then Mr. Watts must absolutely just love Ms. O’Donnell from Delaware.

    Same idiocy, same ignorance, same ideaology…different genders.

    Hm…a match made in heaven.


  11. Marion Delgado says:

    Watts has a demonstrated lack of scientific knowledge even at the secondary school level. If ever there was an argument for just discarding the alleged expertise of TV weathermen, he’s it. Though Bastardi helps a great deal, as well.

    Roughly speaking, Watts’ position on DDT resistance is that of a creationist. People that believe market fundamentalists are proper skeptics who don’t deny evolution are simply wrong. Throughout the DDT mythos creation and promulgation – a classic example of TeaBag Science – they’ve denied evolution explicitly and implicitly. It’s the basis of their attacks, along with a complete ignorance of statistics (willful ignorance for the most part).


  12. karl says:

    Hi Ed,

    I posted the following at WUWT. Thought I’d post here too, just in case it gets lost over there. Given the threats Watt’s made to you over allegedly putting words in his mouth, it’ll be interesting to see what he does about Indur putting words in Gates’ mouth:

    There’s so much wrong with Indur’s post, but let’s start with him putting words in Bill Gates’ mouth: “Whatever people may think of Bill Gates stance on global warming, there is little doubt that he exhibited substantial political courage in espousing malaria control with DDT. ” Sorry, but nowhere in that 20 minute video does he “espouse” the use of DDT. Sure, he mentions that DDT and chloroquine “brought the death rate down” in the past (3:40), and later (5:45) he mentions that DDT and bed nets can cut deaths by over 50%, but that’s all he says about DDT, and nowhere does he boldly advocate increased use of DDT now. He also notes (~6:15) that “every tool [for combating malaria] has eventually become ineffective”. This would presumable include DDT.

    Maybe Gates has indeed espoused DDT use somewhere, maybe he’s even funding it, but the link Indur provides to back this claim up doesn’t support him. He’s putting words in Gates’ mouth.

    Speaking of bad citations: How about citing some folks from the mainstream rather than relying on the tired clique of right wing/free market pundits. The guys who’ve been pushing the DDT ban myth for years as part of a strategy to slander the environmental movement and make the world safe for free enterprise unbridled by environmental regulations. Guy affiliated with think tanks funded by oil companies and the Koch brothers. Indur quotes a passage from AFM which cites mostly researchers affiliated with AFM (Roberts, Bate), or the American Council on Science and Health (Whelan), or himself. Then he he quotes himself a bit, including work published by Cato. Then he mentions Don Roberts (again), Amir Attaran, Roger Bate (again) and Richard Tren –all guys affiliated with AFM. Finally, he tops it off with a section of “Additional References,” which includes mostly works by these same people. The problem is these guys all hail from a very narrow section of the ideological spectrum. Lot’s has been written on the history of malaria and the history of DDT, and there’s a lively policy debate going on right now about how best to address malaria. Indur seems to be acquainted with only an exceedingly narrow range of views on these topics. If he’s smarter than this, he doesn’t show it with this post.

    Lastly he cites figure 13 of a 2009 EJSD paper to support the statement that “the US ban was imposed only after malaria had been wiped out in the US for practical purposes.” Fair enough, but that that same figure also indicates that by 1945, when DDT was introduced in the US, death rates from malaria had already been steadily declining. This is borne out more dramatically in CDC’s graph of US malaria morbidity and mortality here: So the implication that DDT was essential to our defeating malaria and then we callously banned it once we were malaria free is not supported by US malaria mortality trends.

    In fact, to bring it back to the Gates video, he hints (3:50) at the real reason why malaria was eliminated from rich countries some 50 years ago but still plagues Africa and much of Asia: climate. Rich countries tend to be in temperate zones, and poor ones in tropical zones where the climate is more conducive to malaria. Sure DDT (along with chloroquine and other measures) played a role, but we had–and continue to have–a much easier time dealing with malaria simply because we’re in the temperate zone.


  13. Ed Darrell says:

    Anthony, you’ve been done with science and the facts for a long time.


  14. Anthony Watts says:

    Ed, I’m done with you.


  15. Ed Darrell says:

    It’s difficult for me to believe that you were unaware that your blog promotes those views. No, you didn’t say it — and I should have put a comma in there (you have to read it with your intent to make it say what you claim even without the comma), but here’s the bottom line: If you don’t disavow those views, plus you promote them, they are as good as yours.

    I find it difficult to believe you were unaware of what you were doing, but if you wish to claim it, I’ll let you off with that claim of innocence. That is, I’ll let you off so long as you disavow the views.

    Still waiting.

    As I explained at your blog (comments through your moderation yet?):

    I agree, Anthony, we shouldn’t dance around the issue.

    You’re giving a platform here on your blog to people who espouse contemptible views, including the bizarre claim that Rachel Carson was a mass murderer. You have not disavowed any part of those views, but have instead defended them, even to the point of making up fantastic stories about Jackie Kennedy and Rachel Carson over at my blog.

    That’s water under the bridge. I was unaware that you were unaware of the offensive claims of the people you’ve been promoting here. I owe you an apology for assuming you knew.

    I gather you are offended by the claim that Rachel Carson was a mass murderer. You apparently did not know that Christopher Monckton, Richard Tren, Roger Bate and others had made such claims.

    I apologize that I had not apprised you directly earlier. I hope that you will repudiate those views, and that you will discontinue promoting the crank science views of people who make such claims.

    Surely you do not wish to be known as one who would consort with such crank science. I apologize for not making you aware earlier, and I look forward to your clear statement that it’s not an accurate description of your views.

    You don’t share those views, right? And surely you will act to stop the spread of those claims here, right?

    Now that you know why I find Christopher Monckton’s views so offensive, and you agree as to why they are offensive, I hope you’ll join me in condemning the claims.

    I’m sick and tired of your impugning me personally while you give a pass to such offensive views. It will be good to have to join me in opposing such bizarre claims.

    Don’t dance around, Anthony. It’s time to march. Are you joining us?


  16. Anthony Watts says:

    Is is possible to be more wishy washy and avoid answering the direct question posed to you there. You found it, now answer it directly please.

    Putting words in my mouth I did not say is dishonest.

    Yes Ed, unless you can show proof of what you claim I said, then your comment was dishonest.


  17. Ed Darrell says:

    I presume this is what Anthony is worried about.

    In a comment to the diatribe Watts gave a platform to which falsely complains I err, I said:

    [Quoting Watts' guest author]First, although the US banned DDT in 1972, its use continued in much of the rest of the world.

    Then I commented:

    Could you tell that to Anthony Watts, Paul Driessen, and all the other people who claim Rachel Carson was a mass murderer?

    DDT was left open to U.S. manufacture by the “ban,” also — which is why we have several DDT manufacturing plants designated as Superfund sites today.

    DDT has never been out of production, nor out of use against malaria.

    Which means that the claim that DDT could have saved millions of lives is specious.

    Now, if you could just convince your buddies Tren, Bate and Roberts to get their math right, and their history right, we could get on with fighting malaria, instead of bashing science and scientists.

    Generally these DDT advocates complain we need a lot more DDT, and they complain that the “ban” killed millions of kids in Africa. Tren, Bate, Roberts, Monckton, Driessen and others have been happy to accuse Rachel Carson of being a mass murderer on the scale of Mao or Stalin or Hitler.

    Watts defended Moncktons stuff earlier on this blog.

    Anthony wrote:


    Mr. Ed Darrell, I’ve had quite enough of you. Cite EXACTLY where I called Rachel Carson a “mass murderer” in my own words. I have never made such claim.

    Either proof or an an apology is required for your continued presence here.

    And, you should check you own blog first: before you say that I’ve used the phrase. And a gentlemanly warning to you sir, I take this seriously.

    - Anthony Watts

    Now I’m curious.

    Anthony, are you saying you were unaware of the claims of the people whose views you’ve promoted on your blog? Are you saying that you did not know Tren, Bate and others — who you allow to be cited as authorities in your feature posts — carry those views?

    Are you saying you disapprove of those views?

    Or are you saying that you’re merely the piano player, and you’re not responsible for the stuff you post on your blog?

    If you disavow the claim that “Rachel Carson is a mass murderer,” and if you disavow the claim that DDT could save millions of lives if only those meany old environmentalists would let Idi Amin spray a little DDT, I’d be happy to acknowledge I got your views in error, for the want of a comma.

    Are you taking down your advocacy of the repugnant views of Christopher Monckton? Are you rewriting the post by Mr. Goklany to eliminate the views of Tren, Bate and Roberts?

    Or is this crocodile tears now that you’ve been caught?

    I’ll post this over at Watts’s blog, but without the apology he demands, I have no real expectation he’ll let it go. It would be interesting were he actually outraged at the statements of the people he’s promoted — but I expect he’ll disavow the messenger, and stick to the message.


  18. Ed Darrell says:

    Is it possible to be more cryptic?


  19. Anthony Watts says:

    There is a comment from you at WUWT that needs your attention.


Play nice in the Bathtub -- splash no soap in anyone's eyes.

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