Speaking Truth to Green Ideology

By Keith Kloor | October 22, 2012 11:27 am

Earlier this year, you might recall a pair of essays I wrote challenging green dogma. They were published at Discover’s website. The first was called “The Limits to Environmentalism” and the second, “Is Environmentalism anti-science?” This is a theme I’ve explored at Collide-a-Scape which, as one conservative reader has noticed, “provokes less than friendly responses from the environmentally correct.”

More recently, I’ve focused on how the GMO issue is covered in liberal media precincts and discussed by foodies and greens. That has been a lonely, thankless task. I know Chris Mooney thinks liberals are more open to new information than conservatives. That has not been my experience.

Anyway, Fred Pearce has now picked up on some of the same arguments I’ve been making in an essay titled, “Why Are Environmentalists Taking Anti-Science Positions?” He writes that enviros

have been making claims that simply do not stand up. We are accused of being anti-science “” and not without reason. A few, even close friends, have begun to compare this casual contempt for science with the tactics of climate contrarians.

That should hurt.

Oh, I think it has. The response to my Slate piece suggests that it hit a nerve.

Pearce’s essay may sting even more, given where it’s published and his standing in the environmental journalism community. More importantly, Pearce joins a brigade of prominent, refreshing voices, such as Andy Revkin, Mark Lynas, Stewart Brand, and Emma Marris, who also are challenging entrenched, dogmatic positions in the green movement.

We may soon be at a tipping point, where greens are forced to honestly reexamine some of the dominant worldviews that have shaped environmentalism over the past 40 years. That will be painful for them, but such a reappraisal is long overdue.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: environmentalism
  • Mary

    Hmm. Things are getting interesting.

  • Roddy Campbell

    Fred has real standing and locus, although he was MASSACRED by Realclimate over Guardian coverage of climategate and his book on it, the vituperation against ‘one of their own’ was amazing.I think that experience has shown him (as with Lynas etc) that dogmatism lurks everywhere.

  • Keith Kloor

    Roddy,

    Quite true.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    “Greens” should rightly be smacked around for their fears about the health safety angle of GMOs. The ones who have unscientific fears of nukes (rather than legitimate security and economic concerns) should be as well.

    But much of what you and Pearce are angry about hippies over stems from disagreements based on economics and morals, rather than science. Or issues where there is no clear scientific consensus position (e.g. the relative merits and drawbacks over fracking) equivalent to that about anthropogenic climate change, evolution, etc.

    Both liberals and conservatives interpret scientific consensus based on their own worldviews- this is well documented by Kahan and others. That’s an important point to make, and people like Pearce who know that they can get a lot of eyeballs by hyping the issue do everyone a disservice by obscuring the real problems with false equivalency.

    Oh, and Roddy- Pearce was savaged because his behavior and journalism were both rubbish.

    It looks like not all that much has changed. Here’s Pearce perpetuating a right wing smear against Silent Spring that has zero basis in fact:

    “When Rachel Carson’s sound case against the mass application of DDT as an agricultural pesticide morphed into blanket opposition to much smaller indoor applications to fight malaria, it arguably resulted in millions of deaths as the diseases resurged.”

    No, Pearce, it didn’t. Not arguably, not at all.

    Like I said, there are some good points to be made here. There are people doing great work on this issue.

    Pearce isn’t one of them.

  • Keith Kloor

    TB,

    Just because Real Climate didn’t like Pearce’s reporting on climategate doesn’t make it rubbish.

    On his piece overall, am curious, what is the false equivalency that Pearce is hyping?

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    Keith,

    It has nothing to do with RealClimate “liking” anything. This is simply reality:
    - Pearce’s reporting on “climategate” was riddled with factual inaccuracies
    - Pearce hyped a paper that was so grotesquely flawed a first year calculus student could easily demonstrate its idiocy
    - Pearce completely invented a narrative about Mojib Latif predicting decades of global cooling when he did no such thing
    - Pearce lied about Gavin Schmidt, attributing to him positions he explicitly rejects

    Etc.

    Now we have him perpetuating the DDT holocaust lie.

    It’s convenient for you to dismiss criticisms of Pearce because you buy his narrative. It’s the same with Pielke. It’s a shame that you don’t bother vetting the people you agree with half as well as the people you don’t. It would save you a great deal of embarrassment.

    And, just to be clear, I am absolutely supportive of genuine efforts to marginalize/correct unscientific fears about GMOs, nukes, etc. When it’s done wrong, as it is here (Pearce), it only sabotages efforts by those who are not nearly so sloppy and undermines their hard work.

  • Joshua

    TB -

    - Pearce completely invented a narrative about Mojib Latif predicting decades of global cooling when he did no such thing

    He was responsible for that in some way? Really? Can you provide a link?

    That whole situation so well typifies the fraudulence of many “skleptics” – where they bash climate scientists for supposedly not discussing uncertainty and then shamelessly twist  what climate scientists say when they do discuss uncertainty.

  • Keith Kloor

    TB,

    Is there a criticism of Pearce’s climate reporting you can point me to NOT from RC or one of its bloggers (or one of RC’s Amen bloggers in climateblogsphere? Will take a closer look if so.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    It is amusing to go back and read the hyperventilating over the email hack and how it damaged climate science oh so much.

    http://ncse.com/news/2012/10/climate-change-american-mind-september-2012-0014609

    Gee, I wonder what could have happened in 2008 that would have led to a drop in belief about climate that opportunists attributed to a “scandal” that most Americans were and are completely unaware of.

    I bet James Carville has an idea…

  • Joshua

    When it’s done wrong, as it is here (Pearce), it only sabotages efforts
    by those who are not nearly so sloppy and undermines their hard work.

    Many arguments live inside of the “outrage machine”; some are brought out into the open for inspection and  some never get to see the light of day.

  • Tom Gray

    Mr. Kloor – you have really hit a nerve with this. In the public. One can see it in the comments on eh Slate blog and here as well. sphere, science has been replaced by scientism which has none of the humility and rigor of true science.It may be nothing  but I note that Thnngbreak uses the scientism expression “scientific consensus” rather than the scientific expression “rigor”. using consensus to determine truth is a postmodern concept. Postmodernism is much criticized by certain scientists since it says that “science” is a social enterprise. Science is decided in postmodernism by the needs of the group that supports it and rests on the consensus of that t group. So pure science drifts into the scientism of the group.A more scientific approach would be to depend on the classical ideas of scientific and mathematical rigor but that has now been superseded. One does not have to be rigorous in one’s experiments or calculations. One must only get the correct result. Good results justify bad science or in other words scientism is science just as the postmodern philosophers indicate.We are facing a serious issue with the climate and the supposed science around it has been so politicized that we have no rigorous results on which to base policies. 

  • http://planet3.org Michael Tobis

    “Amen chorus”, that’s a new one.

    The complete lack of appreciation of the genuine eminence of the RealClimate team is very much symptomatic of our problem in having good evidence inform public discourse.

    The thing about science is that some people are very very good at it, and they are easily recognized as such by those around them. When the leaders reach broad agreement about something it becomes “consensus”. That doesn’t constitute scientific canon, which emerges over a much longer time, but it’s generally your best bet.

    Science is not a democracy, and consensus does not emerge by voting. It’s a meritocracy, and consensus emerges from the conversation among those scientists of highest merit closest to a particular issue. By its nature such merits are not distinguishable to those who aren’t experts. Nobody knows what to do about this; it does indeed allow for pockets of quackery to emerge, though in the physical sciences that is rare. When controversy arrives, those adept at exploiting controversy are quick to take advantage of the opacity of the process. And here we are.

    Some of the key contributors to climate science contribute to RealClimate. You can tell from not just the number of publications, but the quality of their coauthors. So it’s uncommon for RealClimate to get things drastically wrong in substance. Accessibility and impact are more spotty, but after all you can’t expect them to be communication professionals too.

    To the participation of key scientists in the public discourse I do say something like “Amen!” To beat journalists who can’t tell or won’t say the difference between the leaders, us hangers-on, and the charlatans, I have other things to say.

    So Keith, you are claim to be looking for a criticism of an allegedly incompetent science reporter but you exclude those who recognize the leading voice of the relevant competent scientists as such. This reminds me of Watts’s approach. Pure agnotology. You are arranging the data so as to be maximally uninformative. You really are trying very hard NOT to figure it out, aren’t you?

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Yeah, Keith–you and Tony Watts! Peas in a Pod! And the chorus goes ‘Amen.’ The Eminence of Real Climate stands in glory…

    Sometimes the mask slips a little and the belief system slips through. Dr. Tobis, who is saying that science is a democracy? As for competent scientists, how many competent scientists would lie to the U.S. Congress about using R2 to verify the significance of their calculations–and leave those calculations in a folder on their website? 

    It really is a religion for these guys.

  • sl149q

    Add Fear of Food Irradiation to the list… another great technology that has failed to take off due to activists.With the recent E-Coli outbreak up here in Canada you would think that a discussion about safe hamburger might be appropriate.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    Keith,

    I find your preemptive disqualification of sources to be a little perverse. But the good news is you can just do what I did, what some folks call journalism, and actually read the primary sources in question yourself.

    I don’t want to trip the spam filter, so here are some bitly links minus the http part:

    Pearce’s New Scientist article lying about Mojib predicting global cooling that went viral in the denialosphere:
    bit.ly/1cPWj

    Here’s Latif’s actual presentation, which did no such thing (under “Advancing climate prediction science”):
    bit.ly/RrK5oE

    and slides:
    bit.ly/fdMs9f

    Here is one of Pearce’s climategate articles that was subsequently edited (see the note at the bottom) to fix three substantive factual inaccuracies (the last being the most ludicrous):
    bit.ly/cXS9ij

    Here is Pearce’s New Scientist “he said, she said” trainwreck about the absurd McLean et al. paper (which a competent high school student could have eviscerated):
    bit.ly/9nDxey

    Bob Grumbine makes that point easy for nonscientists to understand:
    bit.ly/bTZIs

    Here’s Pearce lying about Schmidt, which he was also forced to retract:
    bit.ly/fQoha0

    No links to the evil RealClimate, or *gasp* people who have the temerity to occasionally agree with them.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @7 Joshua: “He was responsible for that in some way?”

    Yup. It’s even noted in Latif’s wikipedia entry. If you want to read what Latif actually said in the conference, I transcribed it. If you Google “Mojib Latif Fred Pearce”, it’s probably still the number one result.

  • Keith Kloor

    TB (15)

    Ah, my fun little anonymous troll, you do let yourself get worked up, don’t you? 

     ”I find your preemptive disqualification of sources to be a little perverse.” 

    Really? You mean I’m not paying sufficient tribute to RC?  I’m supposed to just kiss the ring? Sorry, I didn’t realize.

    As long-time readers know, I’ve been very clear about how I view RC–and that has been with utmost respect, even to the point of defending them multiple times on this blog. But oh, because I dare to question their interpretation of a reporter’s story, that is somehow “perverse.” Give me a break with your phony sanctimonious outrage. I have absolutely no tolerance anymore for the bullshit from climate skeptics or the diehard tribalists on the other side of the spectrum.

    This bit about Pearce “lying” is really rich, too, when he wasn’t the only one to misinterpret what Mojib said. Here’s another account of that episode from someone you should trust. What you and everyone got so worked up over then was that the climate spinners on the right exploited the misinterpretations.

    So enough with your histrionics.

    Go trolling somewhere else if you need to let out a primal scream about a reporter you don’t like. 

  • http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid Tim Lambert

    Keith are you really claiming Pearce’s lie about DDT is a “Truth”?  I have a graph here showing the relationship between DDT use and malaria incidence during the malaria resurgence in India in the 70s.

  • Keith Kloor

    Tim (18)

    What was Pearce’s “lie”? Cause I could have sworn that he used the term “arguable” in his Yale 360 piece.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    Let’s look at the actual arguments Keith makes vs. venting his spleen about me:

    Insults and Logical Fallacies:
    - I am an “anonymous troll”.
    - I “am worked up” rather than making a legitimate points.
    - I am demanding some sort of weird subservience to RealClimate rather than objecting to fallacious, unjustified, preemptive source degradation, despite saying nothing remotely to that effect: “You mean I’m not paying sufficient tribute to RC? I’m supposed to just kiss the ring”.
    - I am demanding Keith accept RealClimate’s views on things without verifying them himself: “because I dare to question their interpretation of a reporter’s story”.
    - I am engaging in “sanctimonious outrage”.
    - I am “histrionic”.
    - I am “trolling”.
    - I have a grudge against reporters(?)

    Actual Arguments:
    - Other people were also misrepresenting Latif, so my criticism of Pearce is somehow invalid: “This bit about Pearce ‘lying’ is really rich, too, when he wasn’t the only one to misinterpret what Mojib said”.

    RE: the snearing about me personally and the logical fallacies, I think that speaks for itself.

    RE: The lone actual attempt at a rebuttal (“But so-and-so was wrong, too!”), it strikes me as… unsatisfactory.

    I don’t expect Pearce, or Andy Revkin, or anyone else to never make a mistake. I do, however, expect people not to make a habit of promulgating misrepresentations and factual inaccuracies when it’s their job to, you know, do the opposite.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    “What was Pearce’s ‘lie’? Cause I could have sworn that he used the term ‘arguable’ in his Yale 360 piece.”

    Oh dear.

  • Keith Kloor

    TB (20),

     You got all frothy and lied about Pearce (remember, you’re the one that characterized him as “lying”– twice. So since you got that wrong, it’s okay for me to say you were lying, right?). Now you want to walk it back.

    Fine. Next time keep your emotions in check when you start throwing around accusations of a reporter “lying”–unless you have the goods to prove it.

    And if you’re not being overwrought, then stop playing these silly games already. It’s so tedious.

  • Keith Kloor

     #21

    So what is the lie? I’m all ears.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Sept. 1: It may well happen that you enter a decade, or maybe even two, when the temperature cools, relative to the present level. - Mojib LatifSept. 4: 

    One of the world’s top climate modellers said Thursday we could be about to enter one or even two decades during which temperatures cool. ”“ Fred Pearce

    Hmm. I don’t see the lie.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @23 Keith Kloor:

    Just so we get this straight, and don’t get accused of misrepresenting your position, it’s completely fine for someone to make whatever sort of outlandish claim he wants, as long as it’s hedged with some weasel wording like “arguably”?

    Really?

  • Keith Kloor

    @25

    Since I’m still up (way too late), adrenalized by the debate, why not indulge me and say what the “lie” is? You know, since you’re talking about being straight and all.

    Okay, so  now you’ve upgraded “lie” to “outlandish claim.” Great. Now tell me what it is. Really.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @22:

    “You got all frothy and lied about Pearce”

    Uh, when?

    “So since you got that wrong”

    Huh?

    “Now you want to walk it back.”

    What am I walking back?

    “if you’re not being overwrought, then stop playing these silly games already. It’s so tedious.”

    I have no idea what’s going on. I feel like I am having one conversation, and you’re having a completely different one with someone else.

    Pearce is a habitual misrepresenter of facts. He has, as a point of fact, invented and attributed positions to people that they do not hold.

    He is also a journalist. Perhaps it’s too harsh for me to call it “lying” in your view. In my view, it’s precisely because Pearce is a journalist that I assign that label to his behavior. A grade schooler might not know that it’s dishonest to his or her spin on something and claim it was said by someone else.

    Pearce does. Where I come from, that’s lying.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    “Pearce is a habitual misrepresenter of facts.” 
    Citations, please.

  • Keith Kloor

    @27

    Nice try.  

  • Joshua

    TB – I’m going to agree that it’s potentially inaccurate and at least unsubstantiated to label either of the Pearce’s errors in question as lies. 

    On the other hand, they are no doubt journalistic errors, which makes them ironic at best and more importantly, likely counterproductive in advancing at least some of the issues Pearce is focusing on: inaccuracy science reporting and they hyping of bad interpretations of science.

    The situation with Latif is unambiguous in that regard. It was sloppy and inaccurate reporting. I don’t think it needs to be seen from a tribal perspective, although maybe if I knew more about Pearce’s work, it would turn out that hatin’ on hippies and “the team” is part of his “schtick,” and in that sense maybe it was tribal.

    As for his DDT reference, hiding behind the qualifier of “arguably” asks us to assume a valid argument is being alluded to. Without controlling for a variety of obvious factors then you are not presenting a valid argument when you’re presenting a counterfactual. You are simply presenting a facile argument and saying that it’s arguable (i.e., to exaggerate the point, the moon is arguably made of green cheese).

    No doubt, Pearce is accountable for being more careless. Hiding behind the qualifier of “arguably” does not change that fact. The problem is that in his sloppiness, he is also promoting harmful disinformation (about DDT), disinformation which has been used with great effect to marginalize legitimate environmental advocacy. It is irresponsible to make the marginalization of legitimate environmental advocacy a focus – say, through discussing the spread of disinformation about GMO – and then contribute to that very same problem.

    As you say, we all make mistakes. If it happens repeatedly, it may still be attributable to sloppiness, but the argument that it is merely sloppiness (as opposed to pursuing an agenda) become weaker. The more repeats, the weaker it gets.

  • Joshua

    I guess to make my example more accurate, I should change it to be a counterfactual:  If  green cheese had been around at the moment of the big bang, the moon might have arguably been formed from free-floating green cheese.

  • http://planet3.org Michael Tobis

    #24 is very interesting. 

    It may well happen that you enter a decade, or maybe even two, when the temperature cools, relative to the present level. - Mojib Latif

    is claimed to be reasonably summarized by

    One of the world’s top climate modellers said Thursday we could be about to enter one or even two decades during which temperatures cool. ”“ Fred Pearce

    In fact we could be, and in fact it is not inconsistent with the actual statement by Latif. Without too many presumptions it could be said to follow from what Latif said. But Latif did not say the second thing, he said the first. There was no emphasis on the near future and no prediction. That was injected by the journalist. That’s really hard to justify and it’s disturbing to see it presented as if it were entirely fine. 

  • Joshua

    There was no emphasis on the near future and no prediction.

    In fact, Latif has been quite clear that he doesn’t make predictions. For a journalist to get that wrong is pretty bad. That kind of error should not be defended, and someone focusing on the fallout from  inaccuracy in scientific reporting shouldn’t get within 10 feet of defending that kind of error.

  • Roddy Campbell

    Gosh this got boring very quickly.  Pearce is / was / should be one of the favourite journalists of the climate/environment concerned, given his long record.  No journalist is perfect of course.   This article expresses how he feels about the environment movement, which he has been reporting on for decades.  To nit-pick is ridiculous.  In fact, it proves his point – the concerned/activists don’t like the thrust of his article so try and take him down on something he once said about Latif, or one para about DDT – it’s utterly pathetic.  Take on the thrust of the article, which is the same thrust we get from Lynas on some issues such as nuclear or GMO, from Monbiot on nuclear.  Think about it.  Read the headline, and the second headline.  ‘……. environmentalists are increasingly refusing to
    listen to scientific arguments that challenge standard green positions.
    This approach risks weakening the environmental movement…..’

  • Tim Lambert

    So, Keith, you would have no problem with a journalist who wrote “gm food arguably causes cancer”? 

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Still don’t see a lie. What I see is the usual hysteria about anything that veers away from the party line. Latif believes in AGW. So does Pearce. Anybody who believes otherwise is a dribbling idiot. 

    Pearce put a specific time frame on Latif’s general statement and qualified it as a possibility. One which still remains a possibility here and now in 2012.

    There’s no point in speaking truth to green ideology. They don’t understand the language.

  • Jack Hughes

    Strange crew, the “climate concerned community”.They are convinced that they are nobly working to “save the planet” – but to everyone else it looks like they have nothing else to do except nit-pick on a blog.

  • Barry Woods

    Mann calls Pierce ‘anti-science’ – now where have we heard that sort of rhetoric used before..http://twitter.com/MichaelEMann/status/260423952780910593 

  • Roddy Campbell

    It didn’t take long for Realclimate to swing into action I see – viz that Mann tweet.  What I find interesting is that the ‘climate/environment concerned’ reaction to the Pearce article seems to support the Pearce article.  They don’t like the article, so seize on a small DDT para near the end of the article (and misquote it, Deltoid), seize on something he once said about Latif, seize on his climategate reporting, ANYTHING to rebut that there might be value in his article.  If he’d ever spoken at a Shell conference that would be there too.  Depressing tactics, as Pearce says reminiscent of the worst sceptics.

  • Tom C

    Contrary to most commentary on the subject, the most distressing thing to be illuminated by the Climategate E-mails was how, almost to a man, the IPPC scientists would bash Mann in private but fiercely defend him in public.  In private he was accused of slanting research, bullying colleagues, drawing unsupported conclusions, making things up, etc.  Still to this day, no one dares break ranks and call him out.  It is a mystery why.  He is laughably incompetent, can’t write to save his life, indulges in wild hyperbole.  But still, no one from the tribe dares to say a word (in public).  Lesson: what they say can’t be trusted. 

  • Tom C

    Michael – Give us a break regarding the “eminent” RealClimate scientists.  All relatively young and unaccomplished in any field save IPCC public relations.

  • Keith Kloor

    Roddy Campbell,

    You nailed it.

    Tim Lambert,

    Your ridiculous post is an example of what Roddy is talking about. You still haven’t pointed out the lie. 

  • Tom Gray

    If people would stop screaming at each other for just a moment, maybe we could discuss the real point of Pearce’s article. That is the necessity for scientific rigour and the supposed lack of it in environmental issues. It seems like a topic over which there could be reasoned discussion but inevitably it creates the bickering that one finds here.Now I expect this posting to be completely ignored and the yelling, screaming and name calling to go on. Do any of you find it revealing that the issue of climate change is of absolutely no importance in the current US presidential election?Now back to the screaming

  • Joshua

    In fact, it proves his point ““ the concerned/activists don’t like the
    thrust of his article so try and take him down on something he once said
    about Latif, or one para about DDT ““ it’s utterly pathetic. 

    Yes., good points Roddy.

    Let’s not speak about his inaccuracy in  reporting about science, and instead focus on his point that inaccurate reporting about science is harmful. 

    Let’s not speak about hyping false arguments under the cover reporting about science as we speak about hyping false arguments under the cover about reporting about science.

    And I love how you assemble together “concerned” and “activist” to create your guilt-by-association “concern” about inaccuracy and dangerous hype. So let’s fear-monger about fear-mongering, eh?

    In point of fact, not to speak for others for whom your comments may be more appropriate, but I am not attacking Pearce and I’m not attacking his message. I’m criticizing specific inaccuracies – in particular because he has picked up on, or promoted,  specific harmful and inaccurate memes that have been used to undermine solid science and legitimate concerns. It is harmful, in a real sense, that Latif’s words were used in a deliberately and misleading campaign to promote the notion of”global cooling.”. It is harmful that scientifically legitimate concerns about DDT, and indeed scientifically legitimate concerns about why DDT has been under-utilized, get assembled together with facile arguments for the effect of undermining legitimate environmental advocacy. It is harmful when people put together being concerned with activist to argue from a perspective that they are one and the same, and that anyone who is concerned or an activist is simply promoting inaccuracy when they point to poor journalism.

    These harms don’t negate inaccurate memes being promoted about GMOs – but they contribute to the same harmful process of undermining valid science.

    The problem as I see it is that the “outrage machine” will get us nowhere. It will only perpetuate the same counterproductive interactions. Castigating “liberals” with broad stroke, and even worse promoting inaccuracies in the process of doing so, will get us nowhere. Overwrought concerns about GMOs comes from somewhere that lies beneath political affiliation. Even if you have data that it correlate with liberalism, which Keith and others have  provided anecdotally but as far as I can tell not in a controlled scientific or comprehensive manner, the problem lies deeper than political ideology. Pointing out the existence of some correlation is fine, and in fact I’d say important – but when you move into the territory of implying causation or some kind of lockstep correlation, they you step into the territory of promoting false memes. That problem is only exacerbated when it is done with inaccurate reporting of science.

    Keith attacks me because he thinks that I’m “exercised” about comments in threads at his blog – and he misses my point. The world doesn’t care that huxley thinks that opposition to GMOs occurs because liberals are stupid. But the motivated reasoning that is expressed in huxley’s comments – and they are an example of a widespread phenomenon – is only enhanced by inaccurate reporting, hyping false memes, and facile generalizing about unqualified correlations.

  • Roddy Campbell

    Indeed.  I was just chuckling at the scientific rigour on the Deltoid blog post.  There is clear lack of rigour in environmentalism which when it becomes denialism damages environmentalism by making it unbelievable and unsupportable, that’s the Pearce point, they yield the high ground and will lose credibility and support.  His examples are good – nuclear, GM and so on; biofuels I think are almost better as the environmental flip flop is so interesting.  Monbiot’s incredulity when he found that that many anti-nuclear arguments were invented and unsupportable was genuine.  There was a brilliant long article in the Guardian (I think) the other day on the Royal Society for Protection of Birds – RSPB – who have such entrenched attitudes on some issues (such as control of predator birds, or managed shooting estates) that their mission, to protect birds, gets completely lost.

  • Joshua

    Pearce put a specific time frame on Latif’s general statement and
    qualified it as a possibility. One which still remains a possibility
    here and now in 2012.

    Pearce inaccurately characterized Latif’s statements – in such a way that it aligned with false climate skepticism.

    Trying to re-brand that in some fashion doesn’t help any more than calling him a liar. 

    It was inaccurate. It was an error. Such inaccuracy and errors have real impact.

  • andrew adams

    Keith,

    The “lie” that Tim Lambert is pointing to is this -

    When Rachel Carson’s sound case against the mass application of DDT as an agricultural pesticide morphed into blanket opposition to much smaller indoor applications to fight malaria, it arguably resulted in millions of deaths as the diseases resurged.

    You may or may not agree with Tim’s assessment of that argument but I don’t think there is any doubt what he is referring to.

  • Tom C

    Joshua -  I agree that Pearce played fast and loose with Latif’s words.  I would probalby not call it a lie, but a correction, clarification, or retraction would seem in order.  But why are we parsing every sentence and clause of Fred Pearce when nearly once a month Michael Mann comes out and says “the frequency and intensity of hurricanes is increasing”.  It is a bald-faced lie and he keeps saying it.  Gavin? Lambert? Tobis?  Silence.

  • Joshua

    Tom C -

     Same ol’ same ol’ (motivated reasoning).

  • Joshua

    Posts #45 is Roddy’s best contribution to the iron-o-sphere.

    There is clear lack of rigour in environmentalism

    And with one swell foop, Roddy explains our problem: the clear lack of rigour in environmentalism. An absurd generalization, a textbook case of selective reasoning, ironically used to defend a lack of rigor.

  • Tom C

    Joshua -

    I’m sorry, you can’t wriggle off the hook that easily.  You seem highly offended by what Pearce did and have devoted a lot of long posts with bolded words.  My question is an easy one.  It seems much more serious to me when the star climate scientist (Tobis said he was eminent!) goes around telling easily identifieable lies.  Yet I know you will never peep about Mann and “motivated reasoning” (ad nauseum).  Why?

  • Roddy Campbell

    My dear incomprehensible Josh, who never uses one simple word when twenty tortured ones will do (your comment #44 is especially wonderful) …… the lack of scientific rigour in environmentalism is what Pearce was discussing in his piece; you know, the one that this blog post is about, the one you keep trying to turn into a Latif discussion, that same Latif who isn’t even mentioned in the Pearce essay, has nothing to do with this blog post, and I could care less about.  Anyway, I do apologise for staying on topic, and replying to Tom Gray in his comment #43.  It won’t happen again.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    “I’m going to agree that it’s potentially inaccurate and at least unsubstantiated to label either of the Pearce’s errors in question as lies.”

    He took Latif’s discussion of a hypothetical and Pearce-ified it into Latif making forecast that it was going to take place.

    There are two relevant definitions at Merriam-Webster for lying:
    : to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive
    2: to create a false or misleading impression

    It sounds like you and Keith only consider definition #1 to be a lie, whereas I (and, well, the dictionary) maintain #2 is also a lie.

    I am not surprised that Keith’s knee-jerk reaction was to preemptively put his fingers in his ears on the chance that someone cited one of the people Pearce represented. Keith wants very much to agree with people like Pearce and Pielke even when they’re being less than factually accurate. It’s tribalism at work.

    I am not even surprised that Keith responded to my non-RC links by attacking me rather than acknowledging the clear instances of Pearce being so unquestionably wrong in his reporting that he was forced by his editors to change his reporting.

    I have to confess I was surprised, however, at what Keith said at 19.

    If all it takes to inoculate someone against criticisms of lying is to insert weasel words like “arguably” into their phrasing, we would have a very, very hard time calling anyone a liar. The anti-vaxxers, the IDers, climate denialists, anti-GMO nutters, homeopaths, Truthers, Holocaust Deniers- many of them cage their phrasing in such ways.

    Most people speaking out for the side of reality don’t accept such weasel words as sufficient defense against charges of lying.

    There was “widespread opposition” to using DDT in agriculture. It was still permitted for indoor spraying. Its use was continued in many places. In others, it declined because of resistance in mosquitoes, political instability, genuine-science-based health concerned by governments, and preferences by the people that had nothing to do with unscientific concerns (e.g. for pyrethroids which also killed cockroaches or netting which didn’t involve coating ones walls with a sticky unpleasant substance).

    It is not “arguable” that environmentalist anti-science opposition to DDT resulted in millions of deaths. This is a lie. A fringe, free market think lie just like smoking doesn’t cause cancer and CO2 doesn’t cause climate change.

    And this goes back to my original point.

    There are unquestionably anti-science beliefs held by environmentalists. People across the ideological spectrum interpret scientific evidence to accord with their preexisting worldviews. Some of these environmentalist anti-science beliefs include health concerns over GMOs and unscientific beliefs about the actual health risk posed by nuclear power.

    However, there are plenty of environmentalists that oppose GMOs for reasons completely unrelated to fears of cancer, concerning the ethics of corporations like Monsanto and their business practices. There are people who are completely in accord with the scientific evidence about nuclear power’s immediate health impacts that have economic and national security concerns that make its use a complicated rather than no-brainer decision.

    Same with fracking. There is no scientific consensus about its environmental impacts, let alone one as robust as the scientific consensus about evolution or anthropogenic climate change.

    This is naked false equivalency.

    There are anti-science environmentalists. They need to be either marginalized, or preferably, brought into accord with the scientific mainstream. Pearce making sh*t up and misrepresenting the facts does not accomplish either. In fact, it just lends power to those arguing that no one should pay attention to him and there is no problem that needs resolving.

    People like Pearce (or Pielke) sacrifice truth in the service of a narrative they know appeals to people like Keith. They count on such supporters not fact checking them, or else sweeping their untruths under the rug, because the only people fact checking are “partisans”.

    Tribalism, in other words.

    There are people doing good work on this topic. Pearce is not one of them.

  • jeffn

    It’s useful to remember at this point why partisans (on both sides) are so determined to be seen as the defenders of science. It’s useful because the reason is so dangerous to science.
    Partisans use science as a tool to end discussion, not start it. At #4, Things Break claims “the hippies” argue “from disagreements based on economics and morals, rather than science.” Actually, the fuss is over the fact that they do just the opposite in the case of GMOs and nuclear and, as a result, many believe with climate change as well.
    If you can produce a “study” that purports to “show” that Monsanto’s products kill people, there is no reason – no room in fact – for a discussion about the economics and morality of engineering plant life. If you control the journals and “the field” of GMO study nobody has standing to question your “science.” Then you merely smear anyone outside of “the field” as being enthralled with anti-science “motivated reasoning.”
    It doesn’t end there, of course. Once you get away with declaring that some entity – Monsanto, Exxon – is “killing” people, the next step is court. Lethal strategy- use psuedo-science to declare something “deadly”, shout down debate, then get the unelected branch of government to impose bans. Maybe even arrest a few folks such as the hapless earthquake scientists in Italy.
    The Environmental Defense Fund is proud to be founded on this idea: http://www.edf.org/about/our-mission-and-history
    The court ordered ban they are so proud of? DDT, of course.
    “In 1966, the court imposed a ban on DDT. In 1970, the governor enacted a statewide ban, based largely on the testimony from that Long Island case. And in 1972, the lawyers and scientists played a major role in securing a nationwide ban.”
    The EDF are liars, Things Break?

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @jeffn:
    “they do just the opposite in the case of GMOs and nuclear”

    Yes, there are those that do, which I have clearly and in no uncertain terms stated several times, with the additional statement that these people should either be marginalized or else brought into accord with the evidence.

    “The EDF are liars, Things Break?”

    I don’t understand what your point is here. Are you under the mistaken impression that the DDT ban in the US was responsible for millions of deaths? That it magically carried over to the developing world? That there were no exemptions for public health? That the ruling was not subjected to scientific review?

    A little help, please. I’m not sure what you’re trying to say. I know what it sounds like you’re trying to say, but I am extending the benefit of the doubt.

  • http://planet3.org Michael Tobis

    Michael Mann comes out and says “the frequency and intensity of hurricanes is increasing”.  It is a bald-faced lie and he keeps saying it.  Gavin? Lambert? Tobis?  Silence.

    Link, please? Is that a direct quote? 

    I spent some time with Mike Mann a few weeks ago, and as a consequence I am now willing to vouch for him as competent and reasonable, and an all-around mensch. Through no fault of his own he is permanently surrounded by a sea of noise. It’s a real shame. Amazingly, he manages to get good work done nonetheless. It’s sad to contemplate how much more he might have gotten done had he not had an extra career as McIntyre’s designated scapegoat.

    If he said the “frequency” of “hurricanes” is “increasing”, though, as far as I know that is wrong. I rather doubt he said exactly that, because he is very much plugged into the science community and generally knows what he is talking about.

  • Jeffn

    #55, I see. It’s a “ban” when bragging to the like minded, but it’s a “lie” to suggest it was a “ban” in the context of discussing the consequences.
    Speaking of “magical,” we are to believe that the disappearance of DDT in malarial areas at the very moment of the bragged about “ban” is purely coincidental? Banning something in the US has no affect elsewhere? Good to know WRT carbon emissions.

    Nice way to dodge the point tho- environmentalists have a habit of using bad “science” in order to stifle debate, gain acces to courts to shut down things they don’t like, and then deny any responsibility for the negative consequences of their actions. How could that possibly result in a trust issue?

    Where’s Willard? So many squirrels, so little time.

  • http://planet3.org Michael Tobis

    I do not think anthropogenic climate change is an “environmental” issue. It did not emerge from the environmental community.

    I would begin by distinguishing environmental science as a movement from earth systems science as a discipline. The movements that these related but distinct concerns gave rise to are equally distinct.

    Of course there is a lot of overlap between those who are concerned about managing the earth as a system and those who are concerned with environmental and ecological issues. That is inevitable, since the ethical concerns are related. But the intellectual bases are different. The sustainability movement is best understood as distinct from the environmental movement. 

    In particular, the very real and occasionally very disruptive excesses and irrationality of environmentalism cannot be fairly used to tarnish the reputation of the sustainability movement. 

    Let us make our own mistakes.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Two observations: What Keith’s piece and this subsequent discussion reveals fairly clearly is that science is clearly secondary. The same arguments the consensus use in climate science are turned on them for GMOs and the same people are as happy to fight science as defend it.

    In a way, it’s healthy. Science is a tool to understand reality, not reality itself. Science is not particularly effective insofar as determining appropriate policy and scientists have been lamentably poor when trying to direct policy on matters going back as far as eugenics.

    The opportunities for irony are endless, and as a partisan member of the lukewarmer tribe I am enjoying it here. But I’m also aware that the usefulness of science as a tool is being threatened with devaluation by the behavior of the consensus. Yes, science is only a tool for understanding reality. But it’s an extremely useful tool for that purpose, head and shoulders above most alternatives and certainly above the tools it replaced.

    Scientists like Michael Mann, with lapses in ethics and science as well, work to devalue science. People like Tobis and Thingsbreak just tend to obscure it with noise.So this conversation is better than what Michael Mann does, surprising as it may seem. And as the garbage can be responded to in real time, it can sometimes have an antiseptic quality to it.

    The other observation is not new–that the Konsensus is pretty quick to eat their young and draw their knives on those who stray, no matter how faithfully they have served in the past. Poor Andrew Revkin. Poor Fred Pearce. Two more voices of reason consigned to the wilderness.

    The Konsensus rages against policies put forward by the Tea Party while adopting their tactics wholesale.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @57 jeffn:

    “it’s a ‘lie’ to suggest it was a ‘ban’ in the context of discussing the consequences.”

    When you call something that makes specific provisions for the use DDT for public health a “ban” on using DDT for public health, yes. That’s a lie.

    Perhaps you can be more clear on this.

    - Are you under the belief that the domestic ban with public health exemptions the EDF described had anything to do with the ability of the US or other nations to use DDT to combat malaria?
    - Are you under the belief that the domestic ban the EDF described resulted in millions of deaths?

    Thanks.

  • http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid Tim Lambert

    Just so you can’t pretend not to understand me any more, Keith.  The lie is Pearce’s claim that environmentalists’ opposition to DDT has killed millions of people.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    But he said “arguably”! Just like it’s “arguably” true that the moon landing or Holocaust was a hoax. And no one would ever say the latter were lies, would they, Tim?

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    There are a substantial number of people who sincerely believe that the U.S. ban on DDT and the knock-on effects it had on DDT’s use in the developing world was harmful to human health and contributed to the death of many people from malaria.

    So far we have heard the case from the lamentable Tim Lambert in opposition to that theory. Since my opinion of Tim Lambert is very low (about as low as his opinion is of me, I’m sure) I do not take his statements at face value.

    But this argument is as politicized, although not as widely reported on, as climate change and requires as much background reading and evaluation of sources. I don’t have the time to undertake this level of education, but because Lambert weighs in on one side I think the other side should at least be exposed to those on this thread.

    Here’s the case as made by the American Council on Science and Health. This is Elizabeth Whelan’s outfit–it’s a non-profit that gets much of its funding from industry and is generally believed to side with industry in controversies such as this.

    “…Since its founding in 1978 the American Council on Science and Health has been dedicated to separating real, proven health risks “” such as cigarettes “” from unfounded health “scares” based on questionable, hypothetical, or even nonexistent scientific evidence. This report summarizes some of the most noteworthy scares of the past half century.

    “…As you read this report, you will see common themes and patterns emerge in the accounts of the scares:the indiscriminate extrapolation of laboratory tests involving rodents fed huge doses of a given substance, with the presumption that if a substance caused cancer in these rodents, it also causes cancer in man;

    ignorance of the basic principle of toxicology, “The dose makes the poison,” as consumers fretted over the presence of even a single molecule of a substance that might be hazardous in far larger amounts;

    the acceptance “” implicit or explicit “” of the “precautionary principle,” which states: “where there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent degradation.” (Bear in mind here that next to no evidence can be considered “lack of scientific certainty.”); and

    the fear of “synthetic” chemicals even when some of the same substances exist far more abundantly in nature.These themes and patterns were all present in the first of our scares, the infamous 1959 “cranberry scare.” They continued to pop up in almost every scare of the next three decades, and they reached their zenith with the great Alar scare of 1989.

    “…DDT’s effectiveness, persistence, and low cost (only 17 cents per pound) resulted in its being used in antimalarial efforts worldwide. It was introduced into widespread use during World War II and became the single most important pesticide responsible for maintaining human health through the next two decades. The scientist who discovered the insecticidal properties of DDT, Dr. Paul Müller, was awarded the 1948 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine.3

    “…In the years preceding the DDT ban, the National Academy of Sciences,26,27 the American Medical Association, the U.S. Surgeon General,28 the World Health Organization,29 and the Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations30 had been among those who spoke out in support of the continued use of DDT as a disease fighter and crop protectant.In 1971 authority over pesticides was transferred from the Department of Agriculture to the newly formed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In April 1972, after seven months of testimony, Judge Edmund Sweeney stated that “DDT is not a carcinogenic hazard to man. . . . The uses of DDT under the regulations involved here do not have a deleterious effect on freshwater fish, estuarine organisms, wild birds, or other wildlife. . . . The evidence in this proceeding supports the conclusion that there is a present need for the essential uses of DDT.”31

    Two months later EPA head William Ruckelshaus””who had never attended a single day’s session in the seven months of EPA hearings, and who admittedly had not even read the transcript of the hearings”” overturned Judge Sweeney’s decision. Ruckelshaus declared that DDT was a “potential human carcinogen” and banned it for virtually all uses.32

    “…The ban on DDT was considered the first major victory for the environmentalist movement in the U.S. The effect of the ban in other nations was less salutary, however. In Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) DDT spraying had reduced malaria cases from 2.8 million in 1948 to 17 in 1963. After spraying was stopped in 1964, malaria cases began to rise again and reached 2.5 million in 1969.33 The same pattern was repeated in many other tropical”” and usually impoverished””regions of the world. In Zanzibar the prevalence of malaria among the populace dropped from 70 percent in 1958 to 5 percent in 1964. By 1984 it was back up to between 50 and 60 percent. The chief malaria expert for the U.S. Agency for International Development said that malaria would have been 98 percent eradicated had DDT continued to be used.34″

  • harrywr2

    #60

    Are you under the belief that the domestic ban with public health exemptions the EDF described had anything to do with the ability of the US or other nations to use DDT to combat malaria?

    If the US bans something after vigorous and expensive scientific enquiry and public debate many places without the resources to conduct independent vigorous scientific investigation will follow suit.Isn’t an argument of climate activists that the US must set the ‘example’ for the world to follow?How does 3rd world glorious benevolent leader explain to his mostly uneducated population that ‘on balance’ the use of DDT is warranted in malaria infested places when the US just issued a ‘broad ban’ with limited exceptions?You see…one can ‘argue’ that the ban ended up having consequences that were unintended. I.E. 3rd world nations, with substantially less educated populations would end up enacting a ‘complete ban’ rather then a ‘nuanced near total ban’.It’s difficult enough to make a nuanced argument with an educated population. It’s impossible with an uneducated population.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @Tom Fuller:

    El. Oh. El.

    “The effect of the ban in other nations was less salutary, however. In Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) DDT spraying had reduced malaria cases from 2.8 million in 1948 to 17 in 1963. After spraying was stopped in 1964, malaria cases began to rise again and reached 2.5 million in 1969.33 The same pattern was repeated in many other tropical”” and usually impoverished””regions of the world.”

    That pesky time-traveling, border-hopping US domestic ban, managing to stop DDT use in Sri Lanka years before it actually happened in the US.

    Why was spraying stopped in 1964? Because DDT was banned in the US? In Sri Lanka? Of course not. The program was moved to its “consolidation” phase because it was deemed successful.

    “The same pattern was repeated in many other tropical”” and usually impoverished””regions of the world. In Zanzibar the prevalence of malaria among the populace dropped from 70 percent in 1958 to 5 percent in 1964. By 1984 it was back up to between 50 and 60 percent.”

    And was the domestic ban responsible for the decline in DDT use in Zanzibar beginning in 1967? Of course not. The perception that malaria was no longer a severe threat, administrative problems, and DDT resistance led to a combination of reduced employment and decreased efficiency.

    This is hysterical. Fuller’s sources are as always good for a chuckle.

  • Joshua

    You see”¦one can “˜argue’ that the ban ended up having consequences that were unintended. I.E. 3rd world nations, with substantially less educated populations would end up enacting a “˜complete ban’ rather then a “˜nuanced near total ban’.It’s difficult enough to make a nuanced argument with an educated population. It’s impossible with an uneducated population.

    Those countries with substantially less educated populations also lacked adequate hosing (how  do you spray wall of houses if the houses have no  walls?). They also lacked the funding and the infrastructure to use DDT in ways that are effective. Ineffective agricultural usage continued in some areas and as a result was not effective as a vector control methodology.

    Unqualified assumptions and counterfactual arguments about what might have happened had the US not banned DDT with exceptions for careful usage for proven needs, are not valid arguments. There is now a well-established track record of such unvalidated arguments being used as a weapon against environmentalism. If the goal is to highlight the harm from unvalidated environmentalism, using unvalidated counterfactuals based on facile assumptions is not the way to go.

    Just out of curiosity:

    .It’s difficult enough to make a nuanced argument with an educated population. It’s impossible with an uneducated population.

    Is your argument that the US should not have banned the use of DDT except in specific cases where it could be used for vector control? Are you suggesting that we should have allowed large-scale spraying for agricultural purposes. If the answer to those questions are “no,” then what do you think should have been done, and how would you think the actions you would have recommended would have lead to different results internationally. Keep in mind that what happened was international agreements that allowed for continued use for vector control. Do you think that there may not have been unintended consequences to alternative policies?

    IMO, there it is valid to say that arguably, there may well have been unintended consequences to the US policy on DDT. There are unintended consequences to virtually any policy, and so of course that is a valid argument. It is another thing entirely to say that arguably, millions of people died because of the ban. They are not close to the same argument. And IMO, the problem is when people use a binary mentality to go from an argument that there may have been unintended consequences to then attack the very notion of regulation of potentially harmful chemicals. Saying that “arguably” millions of people died because of the US DDT policy – without validation of the argument by controlling for obvious counterarguments, supports the facile, binary, partisan, and counterproductive bickering that largely characterizes these debates.

  • Joshua

    And in addition to lacking hosing, they also lacked housing.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Thingsbreak, you as well as Lambert sort of serve as an anti-validator for me, and I suspect for many others. Your position on this automatically raises suspicions on my part that the truth lies elsewhere. 

    I have read elsewhere that organizations quit using or forbade the purchase of DDT due in large part to U.S. actions on it. Are you saying that never occurred?

    I mean, correlation between cessation of usage of DDT and a reappearance of malaria as a significant public health issue in the countries named does not necessarily mean causation. But it sure flags up an area at which to look. Unless you have religious blinders pinned on.

  • Joshua

    Somewhere, and I can’t find it now, I read an epidemiological study that quantifies projections of  what might  have happened absent the ban, given what we know about the problem of resistance. As I recall, the results of the study suggest that the outcomes absent the international agreements to eliminate agricultural spraying of DDT may well have been worse than what eventually occurred. I haven’t been able to find that study again; if anyone has a link to any study that attempts to actually address the counterfactual arguments in a way that is comprehensive to any degree, I’d appreciated it. It’s time to put the facile arguments to bed and move on to a scientific discussion of the issue.

  • Nullius in Verba

    I’m a bit confused about what the environmentalists’ position is on DDT. I can think of a number of options.

    1) People not using DDT caused all the millions of deaths claimed, but it wasn’t technically a ban.

    2) People not using DDT caused some number of deaths in the millions, but less than all of them because of things like resistance and poor management.

    3) People not using DDT caused a number of deaths strictly less than 2 million.

    4) People not using DDT caused no deaths at all. DDT makes no difference to the incidence of fatal malaria.

    I’m wondering, what number of deaths do they think it did cause, and where is the calculation documented? Just curious.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @66 Joshua:

    You’re being too generous. The idea that the US ban caused developing countries to stop using DDT for malaria control is false. That it’s been perpetuated by anti-regulatory think thanks and parroted in the fringes of the right wing echo chamber does not make it any less divorced from reality.

    There’s no need to lend it any more credence than any other FUD from the same outlets. Being polite (which I admire about you) doesn’t mean you have to indulge falsehoods.

  • Joshua

    I have read elsewhere that organizations quit using or forbade the
    purchase of DDT due in large part to U.S. actions on it. Are you saying that never occurred?

    There is some evidence that some international funding was made contingent upon the cessation of the use of DDT, and some countries complied even though they felt that continued use of DDT for agricultural purposes was warranted. The paternalistic aspect of that dynamic is troubling unto itself, but what I haven’t seen are scientific analyses of the validity of those views that continued use for agricultural purposes was warranted. 

    There is also evidence that availability and cost of DDT was made more problematic by virtue of the US policy.

    None of that justifies, however, a facile statement that the deaths of of millions were “arguably: attributable to the US policy on DDT. Funding being made contingent on agreements to not use DDT, and problems created through increased cost and decreased availability to not make a valid argument that US policy on DDT lead to the deaths of millions. To make that argument, you need to comprehensively assess a variety of counterfactual variables – primarily the impact of increased, widespread resistance. This is a matter of science. It is counterproductive, let alone hypocritical, to use bad science to argue that bad science has a negative effect.

  • http://www.skepticalscience.com/ Andy S

    It’s undoubtedly and trivially true that some of the more extreme environmentalists have views that are antithetical to consensus science. But to draw the conclusion that environmentalists generally are anti-science is absurd.For evidence, look again at Pearce’s article. He relies on statements from four individuals who strongly disagree with anti-science attitudes of some environmentalists. Who are these four? Brand, Lynas, Monbiot and Pope, environmentalists all of them and all of them people who changed their minds on the basis of the evidence.  So much for environmentalists generally being politically-motivated rejecters of consensus science.And, yes, Mooney’s correct; there is an asymmetry here and loyalty seems to trump fairness as a virtue on the political right. Imagine writing an article criticizing the anti-science views of some on the anti-environmentalist right based around the views of prominent anti-environmentalists, pundits who have changed their minds because of the evidence and who have taken their fellow travellers publicly to task in the name of science. To be sure, there are a few reasonable people on the political right in the United States–and many in Europe– who have taken  positions on climate change consistent with the scientific consensus. But among those who have been prominent in the campaign against what we might characterize as the IPCC view, I can think of none who have changed their minds or criticized their colleagues. Perhaps Keith can suggest some names and we can then see how their criticisms of their own side compare to those of Monbiot et al.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    I don’t think people involved in this particular discussion are actually interested in saying the United States is unilaterally responsible for the deaths of x number of people.

    I believe the interest lies rather in exploring the possibility that a rush to judgement on the public health merits of DDT vs. the environmental costs it might cause led to poor-decision making that had negative results and caused loss of life.

  • http://planet3.org Michael Tobis

    #63 Sometimes it’s worth stating the obvious. So…

    If many people sincerely believe a lie, they are not exactly lying when they repeat it, but of course it is still a lie that they sincerely believe that they are repeating.

    It is not difficult to come up with historical examples of lies which many people believed. Sincerity among those who believe a claim that might be a lie is therefore of no use in evaluating the claim.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @Tom Fuller:

    “Are you saying that never occurred?”

    Without a specific claim, I can’t say.

    But the examples you provided are unambiguously false.

    It’s bad enough that the actual reasons for decline in malaria use in the countries named are completely unstated (of course they would have to be, as they had nothing to do with the US domestic ban), but the sheer chutzpah it takes to blame something that happened in 1964 or 1967 on an event that didn’t even take place until years later is astounding.

  • Joshua

    TB –

    You’re being too generous.

    I think that in hindsight, the US policy might have been crafted and implemented differently with the potential for benefits and not much downside. I think it is true that DDT could have been used more effectively than it was over the years.

    However, it is simply facile to state that a lack of the US policy that was created and implemented would have lead to significantly better, let alone not more, deaths from malaria. Absent the existing policy, DDT would have continued to be used improperly and the lack of appropriate funding for a well-balanced approach would still have been lacking.

    And to extend that facile argument to use the cheap emotional appeal of “millions of deaths” becomes a destructive facile argument. It becomes fear-mongering about fear-mongering. In fact, it can  be essentially exploiting the deaths of millions for partisan (primarily anti-regulation partisanship) purposes. I don’t see evidence to conclude that is what Pearce was doing. I think his comment about DDT  was sloppy and consequently irresponsible. However I certainly have seen that deaths from malaria exploited in the “skept-o-sphere” on a  fairly regular basis. I think that someone like Pearce should be careful to not contribute to that kind of facile argumentation and cheap exploitation. 

  • Joshua

    NiV -

    You are confusing the use (or lack thereof) of DDT and the US policy regarding DDT. They aren’t one and the same.Saying that DDT might have been used better than it was is not the same argument as “arguably” millions died because of the US DDT policy. Even if US DDT policy was fully and singularly responsible for less DDT usage across the globe, then if would also be singularly and fully responsible for a significant reduction in entirely ineffective and inappropriate usage of DDT and the follow-on effects such as  widespread resistance.  You can’t (validly) just look at the one counterfactual w/o considering the other.

    I think it is possible to learn lessons going forward, w/r/t regulation and related issues, from examining the US DDT policy. Facile argumentation that exploits the deaths of millions, and used to serve an anti-government agenda, won’t get the job done, IMO.

  • Joshua

    #73 Andy S -

    It’s undoubtedly and trivially true that some of the more extreme environmentalists have views that are antithetical to consensus science.

    I think it is more than trivially true. I think it is important to note that some people, in particular extremists, of all stripes have views antithetical do science. 

    But to draw the conclusion that environmentalists generally are anti-science is absurd.

    And this, IMO, is where the triviality begins. It is trivial, and not true that environmentalists are generally anti-science.

    The difficulty becomes how to acknowledge the first reality without descending into the triviality of the overly general inference. I think it is a difficult balance – particularly because combatants on both sides of these issues seek to exploit any possible opening to support their motivated thinking. I respect Keith’s attempts, and those of others, to walk that line. I don’t think that oversteps should be personalized. I would argue that it isn’t possible to explore these issues with depth and meaning without there being some oversteps. Someone has to get the dog dirt on their  shoes. 

    For me, what becomes important, and unfortunately telling, is how folks on both sides react after the fact.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    Here’s a paper outlining some of the reasons why malaria resurgence took place when and where it did:
    http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1000412 for anyone genuinely curious. You’ll note that “greens” and a domestic-only US ban with provisions for public health that occurred after the main drivers isn’t listed, for what I hope by now are obvious reasons.

  • Joshua

    #74 Fuller -

    Lol!

  • Nullius in Verba

    #78,

    “You are confusing the use (or lack thereof) of DDT and the US policy regarding DDT.”

    That was what I was trying to determine. Is it purely an argument about whether Rachel Carson, or US government policy, caused the change in DDT usage but we all agree on the consequences of that change, or do people actually argue that stopping the use of DDT didn’t cause millions of deaths? Because I’m still not clear. If they’re only arguing about whether it was technically a ‘ban’, I can write it off as a silly argument about semantics and ignore it. The human cost is the same, whatever the cause.

    Projecting the consequences of pesticide resistance requires the projection of the policy responses to that resistance. Some recent resurgence occured when mosquitos became resistant to the alternatives brought in after DDT was phased out, and only brought under control again by re-introducing DDT. (Unless that is contested?) You can thus argue both ways. DDT alone versus nothing, or DDT plus a range of others versus just the range of others. I find it quite hard to see how resistance can end up killing more, given that the consequence is eventually only the same as not using it, but I guess you can model any amount of human stupidity.

    Frankly, I have my own view on the societal consequences of the phobia about pesticides which I’m not likely to change, but I do like to know what the opposing argument actually is.

  • Joshua

    #80 – TB -

    Thanks for that link. If you come across anything like that I asked about in # 69,I would appreciate a link

    DDT is not a magic bullet. It is one piece of a well-rounded anti-malaria arsenal. Its usage requires a sophisticated approach and strategies that vary widely depending on the particulars of a given region. It is no different from other vector control methodologies in that regard.

    It is incredibly ironic that so commonly I see facile arguments about DDT promoted from within arguments about the importance of validating science.

  • Tom Scharf

    Comments on Nuclear…GMO…Fracking….crickets.  Seems like this blog is proving Pearce absolutely correct.  There is zero interest in maintaining scientific integretiy.  Tribal allegiance trumps everything.  And credibility doesn’t matter.  And thus climate change dies its own withering death and they blame everyone but themselves.

  • Keith Kloor

     Tim Lambert,

    Roddy’s got your number. Here’s his comment at your site on your site:

    Roddy Campbell October 23, 2012

    Yes, but what do you think of his article?

    (And he didn’t say DDT was banned, he said enviros developed blanket opposition to its use, by implication, given the article’s thrust, regardless of scientific evidence on efficacy and harm. Not dissimilar to the blanket opposition to GM, or nuclear, or hs other examples. So take on the article, don’t invent a “˜lie’.)

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    Here’s another article discussing causes of resurgence: http://www.malariajournal.com/content/11/1/122

    Again, the absence of dirty hippies and the US domestic ban of 71 are notably absent, in favor of things that actually happened, like budget concerns, complacency because of perceived success, intentional time limits on programs, political instability, etc.

    @Keith Kloor:
    “Roddy’s got your number.”

    >>[Pearce] didn’t say DDT was banned, he said enviros developed blanket opposition to its use

    And claimed millions of deaths could be attributed to this purported opposition. Which is, of course, a lie.

    Malaria resurgence and resulting deaths had basically nothing to with unscientific environmentalist concerns.

    But hey, what do malaria historians and epidemiologists know?

  • Joshua

    he said enviros developed blanket opposition to its use,

    And the evidence is? And “enviros” means?

    How does anyone think that unvalidated and unqualified references (again the conflation of extreme positions with all “enviros?) promotes a careful approach to validating science.

    The international agreements had provisions for vector control (so much for “enviros” and blanket opposition, eh?). The focus was on preventing indiscriminate agricultural usage for a number of reasons. One was environmental effects. Another was questions w/r/t human health effects. But another major concern was the resistance that  would result from indiscriminate agricultural usage – which would render even careful usage for vector control ineffective, thus reducing the arsenal by one effective weapon. 

    Keep in mind, also, DDT can create problems if used improperly because of a deterrence effect. The deterrence effect would seem to be a positive, but consider that  rather than dying from exposure, mosquitoes avoid sprayed areas to go bite someone somewhere else and where beyond a certain point of careful usage, over-usage leads to fewer mosquitoes getting lethal doses as compared to other methodologies. Thus, the point is to look at these issues scientifically not rely on facile argumentation to score cheap points through exploiting the deaths of millions.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @Tom Scharf: “Comments on Nuclear”¦ GMO”¦ Fracking”¦ .crickets.”

    There is no scientific consensus about the environmental impacts of fracking, much less some sort of consensus that if we want to stabilize GHG emissions, we have to employ fracking.

    Unscientific fears about GMO health safety are foolish and should absolutely be ameliorated or marginalized. GM crops will probably play an important part in adapting to the amount of anthropogenic climate change we’re going to see.

    Unscientific fears about nuclear power safety are foolish and should absolutely be ameliorated or marginalized. But there is no consensus that if we want to stabilize GHG emissions, we have to employ nukes. That being said, I do support an all out push for nukes, but recognize that there are economic and national security objections that might make it unfeasible.

    You’ll notice I’ve said this before, and not just in this thread.

    “Tribal allegiance trumps everything.”

    I wonder what tribe I’m in. I’m pro nuke, pro GMO, pro doing something about climate change. I’m anti-liar, though, and I know that rubs people the wrong way.

    “And thus climate change dies its own withering death”

    Truly, concern over climate change is dead.

    Oh, wait: http://ncse.com/news/2012/10/climate-change-american-mind-september-2012-0014609

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Thingsbreak, can 1 unnecessary death be attributed to environmentalists’ resistance to the use of DDT? Two? None at all? Are dirty hippies (which I once was) completely exonerated?

  • Joshua

    Shorter Fulller: TB – have you stopped beating your wife?

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Gee Thingsbreak. Your plaintive lament in #88 sound remarkably similar to comments I made two years ago about global warming. I wrote that I supported a carbon tax, technology transfer to the developing world, investment in research for energy efficiency, EPA regulations of large emitters, that I was committed to the proposition that anthropogenic contributions to global warming were real, negative and needed to be addressed in the short term. And you and your buddies continued merrily on your witch hunt ways and the Denier Chorus began–and continues today.

    Your tribe sucks, basically. And it’s amusing to see you feel the effects of the blowback.

  • Tom C

    The problem with environmentalism is that it is a philosophy, bordering on a religion, that distorts science to achieve its ends, which are to create certain feelings in the adherents.  It’s no use arguing how many people might or might not have been killed because of Silent Spring, or this or that ban.  There is no way of knowing. The better question is “why are school children all taught about Rachel Carson but not about Fred Soper?”  The former should not be the scientific icon; the latter should.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    #90, you were at least making sense previously. Did the acid kick in all of a sudden? (Dirty hippie reference…)

  • Joshua

    Keith – What’s your vote – is this evidence of the scientific distortion of  libruls and hippie “enviros” and their “blanket ban?”http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/65088/1/WHO_Mal_396.pdf

  • Joshua

    Flashbacks, Fuller, flashbacks.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @Tom Fuller: “can 1 unnecessary death be attributed to environmentalists’ resistance to the use of DDT? Two? None at all?”

    Show me a DDT malarial control program that was actually abandoned due to environmentalists’ unscientific beliefs and I will be happy to answer.

    Preferably one that doesn’t involve time travel, yeah?

    “And you and your buddies continued merrily on your witch hunt ways and the Denier Chorus began”“and continues today.

    Your tribe sucks, basically. And it’s amusing to see you feel the effects of the blowback.”

    I have no idea what this means. Your little psychodramas are undoubtedly quite meaningful to you, Tom, but spare the rest of us.

  • grypo

    So what does it matter whether or not Pearce said “banned” or “arguably”? The question is if:

    When Rachel Carson’s sound case against the mass application of DDT as an agricultural pesticide morphed into blanket opposition to much smaller indoor applications to fight malaria, it arguably resulted in millions of deaths as the diseases resurged.

    is at all an accurate statement. Just backing up each other isn’t good enough. The anti-environmental movement only has as much credibility as it is willing to take on.

  • Jeffn

    Niv, there is no opposing argument. We’ve already shown that when they talk amongst themselves, there was a ban, it was real and it was the result of their efforts. When the subject is the consequences of the ban, the answer is there was no ban, whatever did happen wasn’t really real, and stoppage of use of DDT wasn’t the result of anything they did.
    But this one line from Joshua is classic: “There is also evidence that availability and cost of DDT was made more problematic by virtue of the US policy.”
    Ya think? A global environmental movement with carte Blanche access to the media to call your company the great Satan of environmental crimes against the Earth and ban your product in the worlds largest market and only some of you are grudgingly willing to concede that maybe – just maybe- that might have had a teeny tiny affect on product availability. Tighten the supply line a bit maybe. After all, who’d give up the lucrative half-ounce spray bottle for mud huts market just because every Greenpeace trial lawyer is waiting to put you out of business at the first hint that some illiterate ignores the memo and dumps it on his field instead.

  • Tom Scharf

    #88: TB

    There is no scientific consensus about the environmental impacts of fracking

    …and yet there is almost blanket opposition to fracking from the greens.  Seems a bit premature, eh?  Nothing to do with a historical anti-big energy stance, eh?  If it drills, we shall shill against it…

    And your usage of “consensus” is obviously limited to a “consensus” of those who agree with your values, not an actual non-partisan group.   There is a lot of room between proven safe and proven dangerous. Many technologies ”proven dangerous” are used anyway as their benefits outweigh their costs.  Two lane roads are a fine example.  Grown ups have to make real world decisions based on complex trade-offs.  

    Nuclear for example, the question is not whether there is a consensus we “must” use it for lower carbon, the issue is why is it essentially forbidden from discussion inside green circles?  The reasons seem to be quite unscientific in nature.  It is clearly a wedge issue.  They won’t support it, even to “save the world”.

    Here’s a question to ponder…if nuclear power was currently undiscovered and it was newly discovered under Obama’s recent green energy funding, would it make a difference in how green’s view it?

    You bet it would.  NIH is a huge factor.  Windmills/solar vs.  Nuclear/fracking.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @Tom Scharf:
    “and yet there is almost blanket opposition to fracking from the greens.”

    Pearce’s claim is that environmentalists are anti-science in the same way the climate denialists are. It’s a false equivalency on two fronts: one is that there is no corresponding consensus about the environmental consequences of fracking for environmentalists to supposedly be in opposition to. The other is that there is no consensus that fracking is necessary to stabilize GHG emissions- and given the fact that it’s fossil fuel and it can potentially displace alternatives, there’s certainly reason to explore that more fully.

    If Pearce’s article merely said:
    Some enrvironmentalists who believe GMOs cause cancer are as bad as those who reject the scientific consensus on the anthropogenic nature of the present climatic change or evolution through natural selection, he wouldn’t get nearly as much pushback.

    But he goes well-beyond what is actually equivalent, and starts conflating is questions with ought questions and portraying positions he thinks are optimal as though they enjoy a scientific consensus that they simply don’t.

    Are environmentalists knee-jerk hostile to fracking? Sure. Does that make them as anti-science as climate denialists? Not even close.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Actually, Thingsbreak,the majority of environmentalists are just as a-scientific as the majority of skinheads who deny the Holocaust occurred. They just get better press.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Keith from where I sit you’re getting your ass handed to you on this one. I don’t expect you to admit it of course. tribal blinders and all that :)

  • Joshua

    BTW – an interesting article on the counterproductivity of fear-mongering about fear-mongering:

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-to-stop-misinformation-from-becoming-popular-belief

    Some of you will have to skip past the Lewandowsky references to get anything out of it.

    Personally, I find the “belief perseverance” concept to be useful frame for something we all know intuitively if you’ve spent more than 10 seconds inside the climate blogosphere. 

    “If the issues go to the heart of people’s deeply held world views, they become more entrenched in their opinions if you try to update their thinking.”
    [...]
    Psychologists call this reaction belief perseverance: maintaining your original opinions in the face of overwhelming data that contradicts your beliefs. Everyone does it, but we are especially vulnerable when invalidated beliefs form a key part of how we narrate our lives. Researchers have found that stereotypes, religious faiths and even our self-concept are especially vulnerable to belief perseverance.[...]“It’s threatening to admit that you’re wrong,” he says. “It’s
    threatening to your self-concept and your worldview.” It’s why, Nyhan
    says, so many examples of misinformation are from issues that
    dramatically affect our lives and how we live….Misinformation is a human problem, not a liberal or conservative one, Nyhan says.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Belief perseverance. I see that every day in the comments section here. Funnily enough, it comes from the consensus team. 

    Has any of them ever admitted they were wrong?

    Has any of them ever admitted that their rock star idols were wrong?

  • Joshua

    I see that every day in the comments section here. Funnily enough, it comes from the consensus team. 

    I’m not sure that if we searched all the blog comments in the blogosphere, we’d find a more ironic comment.

    Tom sees evidence of belief perseverance only from the “consensus team.”

    Tom, if you look at the research, if you look at the article I linked, if you just look at the freakin’ comments I excerpted, you will see that the notion that these phenomena break down partisan lines (be the political or other branches of partisanship) is in direct contrast to the concepts discussed. Put on  your thinking cap, dude.

  • http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid Tim Lambert

    Earlier, I wrote:

    Just so you can’t pretend not to understand me any more, Keith.  The lie is Pearce’s claim that environmentalists’ opposition to DDT has killed millions of people.

    I was wrong and would like to apologize to readers. It turns out that Keith could continue to pretend not to understand me, reposting a comment posted by Roddy at Deltoid  that ignores Pearce’s claim that environmentalists killed millions of people and pretends that all he said was that oppose all DDT use.Now that’s not true either.  Greenpeace UK’s position isn’t hard to find: “We support the continued use of DDT in malaria control programmes where there are no effective alternatives.”At best that’s sloppy journalism from Pearce, but that’s not the lie I charged Pearce with repeating.  The lie is Pearce’s claim that environmentalists’ opposition to DDT has killed millions of people.

  • Keith Kloor

    Tim (106)

    You are incredibly disingenuous. In your post, you deliberately take Pearce’s statement out of context. (He did not say there was a ban.) Here’s what he wrote (my emphasis): 

    “Many environmentalists are imbued with a sense of their own exceptionalism and original virtue. But we have been dangerously wrong before. When Rachel Carson’s sound case against the mass application of DDT as an agricultural pesticide morphed into blanket opposition to much smaller indoor applications to fight malaria, it arguably resulted in millions of deaths as the diseases resurged.”

    It’s also obvious that he’s referring to what happened in the years following Carson’s book–not what Greenpeace says today.

    Tim, it’s been patently obvious for some time that you have no desire to engage in good faith. What I don’t understand is why you and TB raise all this ruckus in the comment thread at my blog. Why haven’t either of you gone over to the Yale 360 thread to raise your objections, where there are many comments? Keith Schneider, Stewart Brand have left comments. Certainly you guys can too. (Among the commenters on my thread who somewhat shares your perspective on this issue, it appears that only Joshua was moved to leave a comment at Yale 360—assuming it’s the same Joshua.)

    Marlowe  (102)

    That would be your confirmation bias–where you sit.

  • http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid Tim Lambert

    Dear Keith,Pearce implies there was some sort of ban on the indoor application of malaria.  In his 2007 New Scientist piece where he made his argument in more detail he explicitly refers to bans.  And how are those dangerous environmentalists supposed to have killed millions if they didn’t somehow prevent DDT from being sprayed indoors?In my very post in this thread I already addressed the question of what happened in the years following the publication of Carson’s book.  During the resurgence of malaria in India in the 70s, DDT use was increasing, so do please explain how you think it is possible the resurgence and millions of deaths were caused by the alleged blanket opposition from environmentalists. As for Stewart Brand, last year I already had an extensive exchange with his his spokesperson about Brand’s false claim that there had been a global ban on DDT use against malaria.  Needless to say Brand would not admit that that there was no such ban.  I seem to recall that you also went in to bat for Brand at that time.

  • Tom C

    Both sides in this DDT debate overplay their hand.  Rachel Carson can’t be blamed for any given number of deaths.  That is a demogogic approach to describing the impact of Silent Spring.  But, the book and the movement it spawned continues to have a baleful impact on our politics. 

    The problems with the book are that it played on emotions rather than reason, was not based on strong science, and told only one side of the story. The concerns about environmental degradation are communicated in anecdotes about song birds.  Missing is any fair description of the heroic efforts of malaria eradication using DDT. 

    As a result, the mind-set of a comfortable Western populace dictating environmental policy to a desperate third world took hold, and remains to this day.  TB’s head is exploding right now and he will demand “name one death that can be atrributed to enviros…” but he does not understand the point that Jeffn raised in #98. It takes a large multi-national chemical company like Dupont or Monsanto to undertake complex efforts like supply of a insecticide to remote corners of the world. They have the resources to do the research on optimum usage, to send application experts to the countries that are purchasing it, to ensure uninterrupted distribution, to monitor results and adjust strategies, etc. The real effect of the ban in the US and most other developed countries was to put manufacture in the hands of foreign firms that could not mount such an effort. That is part reason why efforts were fitful and scattered for so many years.

    So, is there a direct line from “ban in the US” to “deaths in third world countries”?  Probably not.  Was proper DDT usage set back by Silent Spring?  Yes, even if that was not what the author intended.

  • Joshua

    Keith -

    Are you saying that you believe that: (1) Pearce’s reference to DDT wasn’t sloppy – by virtue of using “arguably”?, and (2) the term “blanket opposition” is accurate?

  • Joshua

    And Keith -

    Is it disingenuous to not acknowledge that the opposition was focused on irresponsible and indiscriminate spraying for agricultural purposes, and not controlled and careful use for vector control?

  • andrew adams

    I think using “arguably” as a modifier is acceptable (I caught myself using it yesterday) as long as you are prepared to actually make the argument. Using it as a “get out” to avoid defending the argument being made is obviously indefensible.   

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    Keith Kloor: “hat I don’t understand is why you and TB raise all this ruckus in the comment thread at my blog. ”

    I’m confused. Why do you have a comments section for this post, if you’re not looking for our feedback here on your own blog?

    I have to say that I am just astounded that you are going to defend Pearce’s trafficking in one of the biggest lies about environmentalism there is. It is pretty much exactly what he is accusing anti-nuke people of doing!

    The reasons for malaria resurgence not shrouded in mystery- look at the metaanalysis of causes: http://www.malariajournal.com/content/11/1/122 The drop off in DDT use in fighting malaria was not due to some sort of environmentalist groundswell. Programs with a deliberate time limit, complacency with results, budget shortfalls, political mismanagement/instability, and resistance were all contributing factors. Hippies were not. Of the handful (9%) of cases of decline in community acceptance, the cited causes were resistance and perceptions that the programs were just not working, not fears about DDT safety.

    Why defend this?

    If Pearce said, “GMOs arguably cause cancer” you wouldn’t defend it. If he said “Vaccines are arguably responsible for millions of cases of autism” you wouldn’t defend it. If he said “Global warming is arguably caused by volcanoes” you wouldn’t defend it.

    How is this any different?

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Thingsbreak, I would assume you have noticed that, despite a career full of opportunities, Pearce never has made those arguments for GMOs causing cancer or vaccines causing autism. 

    I have read Pearce for years. I have read his book, The Last Generation. He is a responsible, sane writer with obvious and intelligent concern for the environment. He and I are on the opposite sides of the fence with regards to some elements of the climate change debate. But even in discussion of climate change, he has not ventured far past teh realms of reality, unlike many on the consensus side.

    If Pearce has been diligent and conscientious in his other work, avoiding inflammatory and unsubstantiated statements, acting very much like a credible and conscientious journalist… if he has avoided the quick-hit adoption of the latest scare in other fields…what on earth leads you to the conclusion that he would lie about DDT and the political struggle that prevented it from being used to its fullest extent?

    I can easily point to what I believe are errors in what he has written about the climate change debate and about the Climategate controversy. I know the man’s not perfect. 

    But your hysteria is way over the top, as is Lambert’s. Again. And again.

  • Joshua

    # AA – 112 -

    I think using “arguably” as a modifier is acceptable (I caught myself
    using it yesterday) as long as you are prepared to actually make the
    argument.

    Agreed. I will reiterate that I think that the bar over using “arguably” is whether or not the putative “argument” is a valid one (not that a valid argument doesn’t have to be true). And again, I don’t see how anyone can say that the “millions died from DDT bans (or ‘blanket opposition’)” is a valid argument unless they deal with the counterfactual nature of the argument with some integrity.

    But TB says it best with his questions. It will be interesting to see whether Keith answers the questions, and if he does, on what basis he distinguishes the bogus  “millions died arguably” because of enviros argument from TB’s parallel bogus arguments

    If Pearce said, “GMOs arguably cause cancer” you wouldn’t defend it. If he said “Vaccines are arguably responsible for millions of cases of autism” you wouldn’t defend it. If he said “Global warming is arguably caused by volcanoes” you wouldn’t defend it.

  • Joshua

    sorry – not that a valid argument has to be true.

  • andrew adams

    Joshua,Agreed.

  • JimR

    The revisionism of the history of DDT on display here is quite amazing. A perfect example is the World Health Organization which changed it’s position to support the use of DDT in 2006 after 30 years of opposition. Prior to that WHO had waged a somewhat successful war on malaria with DDT as their primary weapon. And now to claim that environmental groups weren’t opposed to all uses of DDT and that this opposition didn’t have a global impact?? Amazing. The environmental war on DDT should be seen as both a success and a failure. It successfully ended the widespread agricultural use of DDT but the anti-DDT movement carried over to disease vector control where it had saved millions of lives and could have saved millions more if allowed to continue. It boggles the mind that some are pretending the environmental movement played no role in this.

  • http://planet3.org Michael Tobis

    “Has any of them ever admitted they were wrong?”

    Although given an irrational opposition, admission of error must be done with some finesse, there are some clear examples. Certainly there’s general acknowledgement that science failed utterly to predict the recent Arctic sea ice meltdown. That is a particularly striking example.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @Andrew Adams and Joshua:

    There are really two points at issue with the “arguably” nonsense.

    One is that Keith is treating it like a get out of jail free card for Pearce, i.e. “Pearce isn’t really claiming that environmentalists are responsible for millions of deaths, he’s just saying someone could make that argument.” We all seem to recognize the cravenness of such a position and it is not accepted in other examples. It is, plainly stated, a cop out.

    However, as Tim Lambert points out, the way Pearce is actually using it is not necessarily the “cop out” position that Keith is defending. Pearce genuinely seems to believe that environmentalists were responsible for a ban on DDT that led to the deaths of millions. This is a position he has taken in New Scientist, for example. He is arguably not as a “weasel” word, but rather in a mild qualifier of a position he apparently is very willing to claim as true.

    If this is the case, then Pearce shouldn’t be knocked for taking the craven position of hiding behind “arguably”. But then he should be condemned even more vehemently for his belief in and propagation of a demonstrable lie.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @118 JimR:
    “The environmental war on DDT should be seen as both a success and a failure. It successfully ended the widespread agricultural use of DDT but the anti-DDT movement carried over to disease vector control where it had saved millions of lives and could have saved millions more if allowed to continue.”

    This is, of course, a lie. Regulations and agricultural bans on DDT use include exemptions for disease vector control explicitly citing malaria. This is true in the US ban, it is true in the Stockholm Convention.

    The idea that environmentalists somehow banned DDT for fighting malaria is a lie.

    “A perfect example is the World Health Organization which changed it’s position to support the use of DDT in 2006 after 30 years of opposition.”

    This is another lie. The WHO never opposed or prohibited using DDT in fighting malaria. They did not actively promote it because it was not seen as the most effective method of combating the disease. This had nothing to do with “antiscience environmentalists” and everything to do with the evidence it gathered about previous decades battling malaria and the benefit DDT use would have weighed against its logistical drawbacks as well as its legitimate, science-based health and environmental drawbacks. By 2006, a lot of the hurdles that previously made DDT impractical for widespread use were lessened and the benefits of use relative to the drawbacks were improved.

    Citing the science- and evidence-based policies of the WHO as antiscience environmentalist hysteria is exactly the same as claiming that the Physical Science Basis IPCC Assessment Reports are antiscience environmentalist hysteria.

  • grypo

    The word ‘arguably’ has meaning. To use it, one must point out what the argument is. Not doing so in the face of opposition to the statement is already a journalistic stinkbomb. This should be pretty obvious. One must link or explain what the argument is. Pointing out someone who shares the opinion is not enough. Nor is blithly defending one’s past record. The only statement that matters now is one of argument. I’m not sure why this is so hard. There has been no argument yet put forth that supports the claim that Pearce made as being ‘arguable’. If it were, present an argument.

    There are two possible arguments, one here in the thread by harry, another seems to be the supposition of guilt of causation through correlation. Harry’s argument has two premises, neither which pass muster. It is not true that not being an American makes you unable to protext you’re own interest, nor is it true that public health decisions are made by uneducated health officials because of mass education problems within a poor population. It is much more likely that other confounding issues exist that have nothing to do with a ban in the US. The other premise, that the US must lead in these situations has a kernal of truth, but not in any way that supports the DDT argument. It’s actually more of a strawman, stiched together with assumptions about how others feel about the US. The only truth to the ‘US must lead on Climate’ argument is that it is one of the economic superpowers, totaling imports near all of Europe. So, economically, the US needs to be involved. This has no relevance to ban on DDT that allowed for the exemptions that these poor countries could take advantage of, if they had the same rules, which they didn’t.

    The second argument, is that the ban is guilty, and enviros are responsible for millions of deaths, due to a correlation. This means that post-ban, some places in the world used less DDT and more people had malaria. Any correlation must be able to measure, both it’s own variable, and those of confounding factors. Where is that correlation? It appears that the factors listed by experts do not even include the US ban, or enviros, so this arguments is essentially a null until further evidence is presented.

    I’m not sure why Pearce had to move away from his points about GMO’s and nuclear. Those are, at least, clear and arguable. Was it necessary to try and come up with examples that show enviros to be stubborn, ruthless, and unable to admit unforeseen consequences of policy ideas? The malaria example doesn’t have any evidence and the biofuel example actually shows the oppposite. I don’t get it.

    So if it is ‘arguable’ that enviros caused millions of malaria deaths, what is the argument? Someone said it? Some people think it? Correlation? I’m unsure as to why Pearce should be let off the hook before presenting his argument that he seems to believe exists.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @grypo: “I’m not sure why Pearce had to move away from his points about GMO’s and nuclear…

    …So if it is ‘arguable’ that enviros caused millions of malaria deaths, what is the argument? Someone said it? Some people think it? Correlation? I’m unsure as to why Pearce should be let off the hook before presenting his argument that he seems to believe exists.”

    It appears that Pearce said it because he believes this is what actually happened. He appears to believe the lie that some sort of environmentalist antiscience hysteria resulted in a ban on using DDT for fighting malaria, despite this being a demonstrable falsehood.

    If his earlier writings are to be believed, he brought it up because he apparently thinks it’s true. Which means he’s worse than a trolling coward- he’s failed in his journalistic duties and has joined the ranks of the Jenny McCarthys and 9/11 Truthers of the world.

    Pretty ironic given the subject matter of his post, huh?

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Thingsbreak, as with Lambert, your vehemence is one of the things that makes me wonder if you’re just protecting your safe little version of history.  Lies! Lies! Lies! Trolling Coward! (Any relation to Noel?) Jenny McCarthy! (Why not Charlie? Especially as you seem to be adopting the role of Clueless Joe in the McCarthy department)

    We know Pearce from his writing. He’s not a liar. Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

  • Joshua

    JimR says:

    A perfect example is the World Health Organization which changed it’s position to support the use of DDT in 2006 after 30 years of opposition.

    Here is what I have read:

    The fact is that WHO has always recommended DDT as one of 12 insecticides for use in IRS campaigns targeting malaria. It’s recommended dosage, 2 g/m2, hasn’t changed in years, either. The only thing that changed in 2006 was that in addition to recommending IRS (with DDT or with any 11 other insecticides) in areas of episodic transmission, the WHO now also recommends IRS in areas of constant,
    endemic transmission. Despite the strongly worded press release by Arata Kochi, there was no “new” assessment of DDT’s health effects, and the
    policy change related to IRS in general, not DDT specifically.

    http://www.world-science.org/forum/ddt-malariamay-berenbaum/

    And I also found this:

    The WHO previously approved DDT for dealing with malaria, but didn’t actively support it.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6083944

    And are you aware of the Stockholm Agreement? 

    Please note – approval is not consistent with opposition.

    And please note, that at the time of the policy change in 2006, some environmental groups supported the change while others didn’t. I’m still looking for that “blanket opposition.”

    So what is your evidence for the opposition of which you speak? And if you could add evidence for the “blanket opposition” as described by Pearce, it would be appreciated.

  • Joshua

    Excuse the double post, but I don’t like waiting for things to get through moderation (add http to links):JimR says:

    A perfect example is the World Health Organization which changed it’s position to support the use of DDT in 2006 after 30 years of opposition.

    Here is what I have read:

    The fact is that WHO has always recommended DDT as one of 12 insecticides for use in IRS campaigns targeting malaria. It’s recommended dosage, 2 g/m2, hasn’t changed in years, either. The only thing that changed in 2006 was that in addition to recommending IRS (with DDT or with any 11 other insecticides) in areas of episodic transmission, the WHO now also recommends IRS in areas of constant,
    endemic transmission. Despite the strongly worded press release by Arata Kochi, there was no “new” assessment of DDT’s health effects, and the
    policy change related to IRS in general, not DDT specifically.

    http://www.world-science.org/forum/ddt-malariamay-berenbaum/

    And I also found this:

    The WHO previously approved DDT for dealing with malaria, but didn’t actively support it.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6083944

    And are you aware of the Stockholm Agreement? 

    Please note – approval is not consistent with opposition.

    And please note, that at the time of the policy change in 2006, some environmental groups supported the change while others didn’t. I’m still looking for that “blanket opposition.”

    So what is your evidence for the opposition of which you speak? And if you could add evidence for the “blanket opposition” as described by Pearce, it would be appreciated.

  • Joshua

    Arrrggghh: Excuse the double post, but I don’t like waiting for things to get through moderation (add appropriate prefixes links):JimR says:

    A perfect example is the World Health Organization which changed it’s position to support the use of DDT in 2006 after 30 years of opposition.

    Here is what I have read:

    The fact is that WHO has always recommended DDT as one of 12 insecticides for use in IRS campaigns targeting malaria. It’s recommended dosage, 2 g/m2, hasn’t changed in years, either. The only thing that changed in 2006 was that in addition to recommending IRS (with DDT or with any 11 other insecticides) in areas of episodic transmission, the WHO now also recommends IRS in areas of constant,
    endemic transmission. Despite the strongly worded press release by Arata Kochi, there was no “new” assessment of DDT’s health effects, and the
    policy change related to IRS in general, not DDT specifically.

    link=world-science.org/forum/ddt-malariamay-berenbaum/

    And I also found this:

    The WHO previously approved DDT for dealing with malaria, but didn’t actively support it.

    link=npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6083944

    And are you aware of the Stockholm Agreement? 

    Please note – approval is not consistent with opposition.

    And please note, that at the time of the policy change in 2006, some environmental groups supported the change while others didn’t. I’m still looking for that “blanket opposition.”

    So what is your evidence for the opposition of which you speak? And if you could add evidence for the “blanket opposition” as described by Pearce, it would be appreciated.

  • Joshua

    # 122 – grypo -

    Very nicely said. I have been trying to express similar points, but much less successfully.

    # 123 – TB -

    It appears that Pearce said it because he believes this is what actually happened.

    That is my impression – which goes back to sloppy (and irresponsible) journalism. Given that Pearce’s article was focused on sloppy and irresponsible interpretation of science (and by extension science journalism), I find it a real head-scratcher why folks concerned about those issues seem to be reflexively defending Pearce’s sloppiness.

    FYI – my sense is that at least part of the reason is because disagreement has been focused on Pearce personally, which triggers tribalistic responses. This goes back to your comment about me being polite. I am not a particularly polite person; I think that this is a matter of approach to debate and why it is important to avoid personalizing the disagreements. These are inherently complex issues which will necessarily result in some over-stepping. Yes, repeated over-stepping does become suspect, but I think that benefit of the doubt should be offered, generally, as a starting point. We are all affected by tribalism, and being tribal does not speak to the real underlying motivations but simply to “motivated reasoning.” Those are not the same thing although they are often conflated. One’s motivation could be to reach the truth and nonetheless engage in “motivated reasoning” that makes it appear otherwise.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “The word “˜arguably’ has meaning. To use it, one must point out what the argument is. Not doing so in the face of opposition to the statement is already a journalistic stinkbomb.”

    Sometimes the meaning is that the two sides of a controversy disagree on the facts, so while there are arguments that can be made for both positions, neither side will admit this. Neither side believes it to be the case.

    And of course in that situation opposition goes with the territory.

    “I’m not sure why this is so hard.”

    Because people are passionate about it. On one side you have people who remember living through the pesticide scare, when starting with DDT all pesticides were regarded as dangerous contaminants and opposed, and bans on many brought in. It was one of those ‘everybody knows that…’ things that were part of the unchallenged cultural background. To have history and memory suddenly shift under your feet is a disorientingly Orwellian experience.

    On the other you have a group out to defend The Cause, who have assembled a set of documentary evidence they are convinced is true, and get angry that people ignore it and keep on telling their own version of events.

    Fred Pearce, as a journalist without the expertise to disentangle who is correct, has chosen not to take sides. He says ‘arguably’ because it is arguable, not certain. It’s a widespread view, which as a journalist he reports and as a polemicist he uses, but he knows there are other people who think it’s incorrect and therefore puts in a few caveats to try to reduce the incoming fire. Of course, it doesn’t work because passionate people with a Cause cannot tolerate even the slightest dissent.

    It’s like saying “Mohammed, arguably the prophet of God”. You enrage both sides by doing that.

  • Tom Scharf

    Wow, if there is no argument on the subject of DDT, there sure is a massive amount of words here dedicated to not arguing about it.

  • Joshua

    Fred Pearce, as a journalist without the expertise to disentangle who is correct, has chosen not to take sides. He says “˜arguably’ because it is arguable, not certain.

    I think you miss the point here, in two ways. First, as I’ve said repeatedly, saying “arguably” there indicates that he thinks that there is a valid argument – which is independent of whether he feels he is in a position to judge its truth. Otherwise, it is no more professional than saying that it is arguable that the moon is made of green cheese. There is not valid argument unless he takes a position on the counterfactual nature of the –enviros killed millions– argument.  Second, as a journalist who writes about these issues, it is possible but highly  implausible that he wouldn’t be able to predict the outcomes of sloppy use of “arguably” in that context.

  • Tom Scharf

    From the bastion of reliability: Wikipedia:

    It has also been alleged that donor governments and agencies have refused to fund DDT spraying, or made aid contingent upon not using DDT. According to a report in the British Medical Journal, use of DDT in Mozambique ”was stopped several decades ago, because 80% of the country’s health budget came from donor funds, and donors refused to allow the use of DDT.”[122] Roger Bate asserts, “many countries have been coming under pressure from international health and environment agencies to give up DDT or face losing aid grants: Belize and Bolivia are on record admitting they gave in to pressure on this issue from [USAID].”[123]

    The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has been the focus of much criticism. While the agency is currently funding the use of DDT in some African countries,[124] in the past it did not. When John Stossel accused USAID of not funding DDT because it wasn’t “politically correct,” Anne Peterson, the agency’s assistant administrator for global health, replied that “I believe that the strategies we are using are as effective as spraying with DDT … So, politically correct or not, I am very confident that what we are doing is the right strategy.”[125] USAID’s Kent R. Hill states that the agency has been misrepresented: “USAID strongly supports spraying as a preventative measure for malaria and will support the use of DDT when it is scientifically sound and warranted.”[126] The Agency’s website states that “USAID has never had a ‘policy’ as such either ‘for’ or ‘against’ DDT for IRS. The real change in the past two years [2006/07] has been a new interest and emphasis on the use of IRS in general””with DDT or any other insecticide””as an effective malaria prevention strategy in tropical Africa.”[124] The website further explains that in many cases alternative malaria control measures were judged to be more cost-effective that DDT spraying, and so were funded instead.[127]

  • Tom Scharf

    Double post – other is in modeation

    From the bastion of reliability: Wikipedia:

    It has also been alleged that donor governments and agencies have refused to fund DDT spraying, or made aid contingent upon not using DDT. According to a report in the British Medical Journal, use of DDT in Mozambique ”was stopped several decades ago, because 80% of the country’s health budget came from donor funds, and donors refused to allow the use of DDT.”[122] Roger Bate asserts, “many countries have been coming under pressure from international health and environment agencies to give up DDT or face losing aid grants: Belize and Bolivia are on record admitting they gave in to pressure on this issue from [USAID].”[123]

    The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has been the focus of much criticism. While the agency is currently funding the use of DDT in some African countries,[124] in the past it did not. When John Stossel accused USAID of not funding DDT because it wasn’t “politically correct,” Anne Peterson, the agency’s assistant administrator for global health, replied that “I believe that the strategies we are using are as effective as spraying with DDT … So, politically correct or not, I am very confident that what we are doing is the right strategy.”[125] USAID’s Kent R. Hill states that the agency has been misrepresented: “USAID strongly supports spraying as a preventative measure for malaria and will support the use of DDT when it is scientifically sound and warranted.”[126] The Agency’s website states that “USAID has never had a ‘policy’ as such either ‘for’ or ‘against’ DDT for IRS. The real change in the past two years [2006/07] has been a new interest and emphasis on the use of IRS in general””with DDT or any other insecticide””as an effective malaria prevention strategy in tropical Africa.”[124] The website further explains that in many cases alternative malaria control measures were judged to be more cost-effective that DDT spraying, and so were funded instead.[127]

  • Joshua

    Wow, if there is no argument on the subject of DDT,…

    The question is whether there is a valid argument. Please show me an argument that deals with the likely outcomes, including the impact of widespread resistance, of continued DDT practices that were targeted by the international agreements. Please show me an argument that deals with the likely outcomes, including the impact of widespread resistance, of continued DDT practices that were banned by the US policy on DDT usage for agricultural spraying.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @Joshua: “y sense is that at least part of the reason is because disagreement has been focused on Pearce personally, which triggers tribalistic responses.”

    Of course. Keith goes to bat for the Pearces and Pilekes of the world because he buys into their narrative, not because he’s actually investigated their arguments (which turn out to be false).

    One thing I’ve learned in a lot of the social science literature on the rejection of the consensus on climate is that ostensibly fact-based arguments almost never are.

    If this was about facts, Keith would call Pearce out for trafficking in the very nonsense Pearce claims to be upset about. But it’s about values and worldviews, and Pearce is telling a tale that affirms Keith’s.

    So here we are.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “First, as I’ve said repeatedly, saying “arguably” there indicates that he thinks that there is a valid argument”

    That’s arguable. He may just be using it to indicate that there is a disagreement, and is making no judgement on the validity of either or both positions. Words don’t always take their literal meanings.

    And it’s also possible that he does think there is a valid argument, but he’s not going to waste his time discussing it with people who will never agree.

    If there was a controversy surrounding the claim that the moon is (or is not) made of green cheese, then it would be proper to discuss it in those terms. I’ve seen philosophers discuss that, and even stranger theories.

  • Joshua

    NiV -

    He may just be using it to indicate that there is a disagreement,

    It indicates to the reader) that he thinks there is a valid argument. It does not mean that he meant to make that indication or that he actually feels that there is a valid argument. This issue is controversial enough and well-trodden enough that to weigh in with “arguably” has created an easily foreseeable response. As such, it is sloppy and irresponsible.

    And it’s also possible that he does think there is a valid argument, but he’s not going to waste his time discussing it with people who will never agree.

    Which would also be irresponsible given the context. He has either undermined the strength of his overall argument (which focuses on sloppy or irresponsible interpretation of science) or poisoned the well (as willard might say) only to watch others talk about how objections to his sloppiness are proof that he’s right because the waters are poisoned (people rejecting his larger argument because of his sloppiness). That’s like when people claim that strong objection to their arguments is  proof that they have “struck a nerve” — implying that the simple fact of disagreement proves that people are unwilling to look at their own biases. Sometimes that is true and sometimes it isn’t, and making that claim without distinguishing who it is or isn’t true of (in a juvenile and boasting manner) only undermines the goal of getting people to examine their biases.

  • andrew adams

    Well none of us have a window into Pearce’s mind but it reads to me like he believes there is a valid argument.

    Certainly I wouldn’t personally imply that a particular group was implicated in the deaths of millions of people unless I was sure there was a pretty good case for saying so.

  • Joshua

    TB -

    If this was about facts, Keith would call Pearce out for trafficking
    in the very nonsense Pearce claims to be upset about. But it’s about values and worldviews, and Pearce is telling a tale that affirms
    Keith’s.

    So here we are.

    I honestly don’t understand why Keith has not weighed in on the validity of the “enviros killed millions” argument, but only engages on related questions such as whether or not Pearce lied. I’m not sure what to attribute that to. I suppose he might argue that the question isn’t relevant to him, or he feels it’s responding to trolling, or off-topic, or something along those lines. IMO – addressing the “enviros killed millions” meme is really of more substance when it comes to addressing the tribalistic bickering about the impact of environmentalism. But I don’t see why, then, he’s responding to the “Pearce lied” arguments. The “enviros killed millions” argument is ubiquitous as a weapon used to club environmentalism. It is not an argument that is incidental to the larger debate. If he thinks it is based on the politicization bad science, seems to me that he should say so since the politicization of bad science is very much a part of his focus.  

    I wonder if I should expect an attack, now, for stating that opinion as opposed to receiving a good faith response or no response at all. I will hope to get a good faith response.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #137,

    Well, it indicates that to at least some readers.

    “to weigh in with “arguably” has created an easily foreseeable response. As such, it is sloppy and irresponsible.”

    Depends whether you see the response as a bad thing. Journalists sometimes write articles to stimulate debate.

    “He has either undermined the strength of his overall argument”

    He has (arguably) undermined it with one side, while strengthening it with the other. It depends on who the intended audience is.

  • JimR

    @121TB

    “This is, of course, a lie. Regulations and agricultural bans on DDT use include exemptions for disease vector control explicitly citing malaria. This is true in the US ban, it is true in the Stockholm Convention. The idea that environmentalists somehow banned DDT for fighting malaria is a lie.”

    Who said anyone banned DDT for fighting malaria? This is a straw man you keep building. There was no ban, however there is no doubt the anti-DDT environmental movement carried over into it’s use fighting malaria. The World Bank tied loans to prohibiting the use of DDT. The World Health Organization changed it’s policy on the use of DDT and only reversed that decision in 2006. 

    “This is another lie. The WHO never opposed or prohibited using DDT in fighting malaria.”

    Seriously? After decades of fighting malaria with DDT WHO pulled all support of DDT and their publications recommended against it’s use except in areas with active outbreaks and not for prevention. Their strategy changed from prevention to treatment and it didn’t work out. It wasn’t until 2006 that WHO very publicly changed it’s stance. Even in it’s announcement WHO said: “We are asking these environmental groups to join the fight to save the
    lives of babies in Africa,” Kochi said. “This is our call to them.”

    You can keep claiming people are lying but trying to revise history to claim environmentalism didn’t play a major role in the reduction of use of DDT and the resurgence of malaria is simply revisionism.

    Hopefully I have the paragraph breaks figured out.

  • JimR

    Joshua

    From WHO’s press release on the 2006 change:

    “WHO actively promoted indoor residual spraying for malaria control
    until the early 1980s when increased health and environmental concerns
    surrounding DDT caused the organization to stop promoting its use and to
    focus instead on other means of prevention. Extensive research and
    testing has since demonstrated that well-managed indoor residual
    spraying programmes using DDT pose no harm to wildlife or to humans.”

    That seems to say that WHO stopped promoting the use of DDT for environmental concerns and after 30 years decided that the indoor use which had been stopped was not harmful.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    I don’t really have time to do this justice, but:

    From the EPA website

    [EPA press release - December 31, 1972]The general use of the pesticide DDT will no longer be legal in the United States after today

    Since 1996, EPA has been participating in international negotiations to control the use of DDT and other persistent organic pollutants used around the world. Under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme, countries joined together and negotiated a treaty to enact global bans or restrictions on persistent organic pollutants (POPs), which includes DDT, known as the Stockholm Convention on POPs. The Convention includes a limited exemption for the use of DDT to control mosquitoes which are vectors that carry malaria – a disease that still kills millions of people worldwide.

    In September 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared its support for the indoor use of DDT in African countries where malaria remains a major health problem, citing that benefits of the pesticide outweigh the health and environmental risks. This is consistent with the Stockholm Convention on POPs, which bans DDT for all uses except for malaria control.

    From To Ban or Not to Ban DDT, William Freeman:

    “…The Sri Lankan case illustrates a general tension in DDT use that has arisen in several developing countries. Although now illegal by the U.N. convention, massive spraying of cropland by DDT was used in agriculture to combat insects that destroy valuable harvests. In addition to adding to the global reservoir of DDT circulating in the air, however, such widespread use promotes the development of resistance by the mosquitoes to DDT in the local area.

    Consequently, the (legal) use of much smaller
    amounts of the insecticide to combat malaria is
    rendered largely ineffective, because the mos-
    quitoes are resistant to it.

    Although in 1969 the WHO abandoned the goal of completely eradicating malaria, they have continued efforts to control and treat the disease.

    The use of DDT never proved particularly
    successful in tropical areas where mosquitoes
    are present in all seasons. The WHO program
    did not come into force in sub-Saharan Africa,
    and consequently malaria continued there
    unabated.”

    From the WHO website (2006): “WHO actively promoted indoor residual spraying for malaria control until the early 1980s when increased health and environmental concerns surrounding DDT caused the organization to stop promoting its use and to focus instead on other means of prevention.”

    WHO (200): Provisions related to the reduction and or elimination of DDT are among the key issues to be discussed in Bonn this week.

    Extensive use of DDT for agricultural purposes has resulted in serious damage to the global environment. Although the pesticide is now banned from agricultural use, it continues to be used in limited quantities for public health purposes. WHO projections suggest that the amounts of DDT needed for malaria control are a small fraction of what has been used for agricultural purposes.”

    WHO (2004): “Under pressure from environmentalists, South Africa suspended DDT for IRS in 1996 after five decades of use and switched to another class of insecticide known as pyrethroids. But the 1999-2000 malaria epidemic in KwaZulu-Natal and neighboring provinces prompted the government to revert to DDT for prevention.”

    (More than 50,000 people in that region were infected by malaria in 1999. insecticides. Between 1996 and 1999 reported malaria cases increased from an average of 600 cases per month to over 2 000 cases per month (Department of Health ““ unpublished data, 2000). However, after DDT use was reintroduced in March 2000 there was a huge ecrease in the number of cases from approximately 42 000 in 2000 to less than 2 100 in 2002. [Impact of DDT Reintroduction on Malarial Transmission in KwaZulu-Natal, R Maharaj et al, SAMJ 200]).)

  • Joshua

    JimR -

    That seems to say that WHO stopped promoting the use of DDT for
    environmental concerns and after 30 years decided that the indoor use
    which had been stopped was not harmful.

    Please read my previous post in response to you again. You failed to address the point I made about the inaccuracy of your earlier post. This most recent post of yours adds or changes nothing w/r/t what I already posted about WHO policies and policy changes.

  • Joshua

    And JimR – please read again the excerpt I provided from the world-science.org website. It is quite specific as to the WHO policy change  – and in my view, when addressing these kinds of questions specificity is sometimes helpful for evaluating veracity. I would recommend the entire thread, btw, for an interesting discussion about the larger issue. It is one of the more informative sources I have seen.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Jim and Joshua, the money quote from the WHO was,

    “WHO (2004): “Under pressure from environmentalists, South Africa suspended DDT for IRS in 1996 after five decades of use and switched to another class of insecticide known as pyrethroids. But the 1999-2000 malaria epidemic in KwaZulu-Natal and neighboring provinces prompted the government to revert to DDT for prevention.”

  • Tom Scharf

    The real argument is not about DDT, it is about how environmentalists knee jerk “do no harm” / “against everything all the time” stances sometimes results in counter-productive results.  Several examples were given, mostly valid.  

    The built in biases against big-ag, big-energy, and big-* have resulted in premature objections to safe and effective technologies.  Once those anti-* stances are made, they are rarely, it ever, withdrawn.  The point being that magnifying small deficiencies in specific technologies and calling for their ban without properly weighing their benefits is misguided and wrong.

    This is most curiously evident with nuclear technology.  After decades and decades of (relative to other energy tech) safe use, greens are still against it even when faced with a self marketed carbon crisis.  Any sane person responds to this with WTF?

     It leads one to believe this isn’t about science, but politics, or something else that I don’t quite understand.  Quite frankly pro-AGW and anti-nuclear don’t belong in the same room.  These people are cranks.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Thingsbreak? You still around?

  • JimR

    Sorry Joshua, no word games for me. I may rarely post but I read here daily and find your games add no value. I learned back on USENET that those with the highest number of posts were generally arguing minutia and adding very little of substance.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller
  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Without trying to rub anything in anybody’s faces, we see from a publication by the World Health Organization that Pearce’s characterization is correct and that calling him a liar is in fact a lie.

  • Joshua

    The viability of properly controlled usage of DDT varies by context. One of those contexts is the existence of a well-established governmental infrastructure. It is not valid to apply what happened in South Africa, or Sri Lanka, or another specific location to make a broader argument (such as enviros killed millions) if you haven’t controlled for the numerous variables involved such as the existence of a well-organized governmental infrastructure.

    Further, once again, if you’re going to talk about how “enviros killed millions” because of “bans,” then because you’re presenting a counterfactual (in the sense of saying what would have happened if things had been different) you have to deal with myriad other counterfactuals about what would have happened absent these supposed “bans,” which would mean (at least a strong probability of) widespread agricultural spraying in countries that lacked appropriate infrastructure to administer DDT programs effectively (and the follow-on environmental and public health implications of such spraying). That would have lead to widespread resistance, possibly rendering any use of DDT ineffective and possibly leading to a greater number of deaths. It may have lead to increased local resistance to the use of DDT (which is a reoccurring problem where it has been used poorly) even if it were later to be used properly.

    Your “money quote” is virtually meaningless w/r/t evaluating the claim that enviros “killed millions” in any kind of comprehensive manner. Put your thinking cap on, dude. Stop trying so hard to prove that hippies are mass murderers and you will be less likely to simply confirm your biases.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Joshua, I am not trying to prove anything about hippies. I am trying to provide evidence that Pearce is not a liar but that Lambert and Thingsbreak are when they call him one.

    I think I did a pretty good job of it, too.

  • Joshua

    JimR –

    Sorry Joshua, no word games for me.

    I asked you for evidence for this claim:

    after 30 years of opposition. 

    I provided you with direct evidence that your statement was inaccurate. You basically repeated what I said that showed that you were inaccurate, and apparently failed to understand even what you excerpted from the WHO. I’m not playing “word games.” I am pointing out your inaccuracy. If you recommend using something, but don’t support it’s use, that is not “opposing” its use.

  • BBD

    Just for fun, here’s Oreskes in Merchants of Doubt*

    Sometimes reopening an old debate can serve present purposes. [...] In the demonizing of Rachel Carson, free marketeers realised that if you could convince people that an example of successful government regulation wasn’t, in fact, successful – that it was actually a mistake – you could strengthen the argument against regulation in general.

    *Chapter 7: Denial Rides Again: The Revisionist Attack on Rachel Carson

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    “Under pressure from environmentalists, South Africa suspended DDT for IRS in 1996 after five decades of use and switched to another class of insecticide known as pyrethroids”

    So, from causing a global resurgence in Malaria beginning in the mid-60s and causing millions of deaths, the dread environmentalist assault on DDT has been reduced now to a single country switching in 1996 before switching back in 2000?

    Wow, those goal posts are a-movin’! But let’s not pop any champagne bottles yet, fellas. There’s a difference between phasing out DDT due to scientifically-grounded environmentalist pressure and phasing DDT due to antiscience environmentalist pressure. I’d like to see someone show his work.

    There are real environmental and health drawbacks to using DDT. Alternatives to DDT had been viewed as desirous for this reason for decades. In situations where DDT was not necessary, alternatives were preferred by the science and health community, not just hippies.

    DDT spraying indoors was also very unpopular at the local level for reasons that had nothing to do with DDT’s health impacts that Carson was concerned about. People didn’t like getting their walls sprayed (DDT discolored and smelled bad). Additionally, DDT did not kill bed bugs, but rather (from the public’s perspective) stimulated them. So people often painted over or replastered their walls, rendering the spraying ineffective:

    Another concern was that DDT doesn’t kill bedbugs. In fact, it stimulates them so that they feed more and they lay more eggs. So the spraying of DDT is generally followed by an outbreak of bedbugs. So it’s not popular in the community. As soon as it’s sprayed we have people just replastering over it because it is preferable to have the mosquitoes than the bedbugs”¦ So the community doesn’t like it. And anything that the community doesn’t like will not work.”

    A 1995 study of a malaria-prone area in South Africa revealed that almost half of residents were replastering their walls after spraying, which completely negated DDT’s effectiveness. The smell, the staining, and the bedbugs are all “environmental” concerns that had nothing to do with greens Silent Spring.

    [Mnzava, A. E., B. L. Sharp, D. J. Mthembu, D. le Sueur, S. S. Dlamini, J. K. Gumede, and I. Kleinschmidt (2001), Malaria control--two years' use of insecticide-treated bednets compared with insecticide house spraying in KwaZulu-Natal, S. Afr. Med. J., 91(11), 978"“983.]

    And it is these “environmental” concerns that are explicitly identified as the cause of South Africa switching to pyrethroid in the literature, e.g.:

    Cliff, J., S. Lewin, G. Woelk, B. Fernandes, A. Mariano, E. Sevene, K. Daniels, S. Matinhure, A. Oxman, and J. Lavis (2010), Policy development in malaria vector management in Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe, Health Policy Plan, 25(5), 372″“383, doi:10.1093/heapol/czq008.

    It’s amazing what happens when you do even a cursory investigation of these claims, isn’t fellas? They just vanish in a puff of smoke.

    I look forward to the next goalpost move, which no doubt will point to a single town banning DDT in 2009 for a week and claiming that justifies Pearce’s laying millions of deaths at environmentalism’s feet.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    “I am trying to provide evidence that Pearce is not a liar but that Lambert and Thingsbreak are when they call him one.

    I think I did a pretty good job of it, too.”

    The sad thing? I bet you actually do…

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Thingsbreak, your intellectual laziness is equalled only by your intellectual dishonesty. I found one case where WHO said environmentalists worked against use of DDT. I linked to a paper that showed the results.

    I did not search globally, for lack of time. But I found one case that you did not. I did not characterize the environmentalists’ motives or facts on the ground. I brought, as you specifically asked for, one case where this had happened. Talk about moving the goalposts. 

    Were I still practicing journalism, the quote from the WHO would have served as backup for a peripheral point to my piece. The fact that environmentalists might have had sound reasons for advising the cessation of DDT in South Africa would be somewhat relevant, but not crucial. The key facts were the dramatic increase in malaria in KwaZulu Natal after the cessation of DDT application and the equally dramatic fall in malaria following its reintroduction.

    You have a peculiar case of moral blindness.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    Tom,

    Your original claim that Pearce’s perpetuation of the antiscience environmentalist hysteria DDT-holocaust lie was justified referred to the very real resurgence of malaria starting in the mid-1960s. This had nothing to do with environmentalist antiscience hysteria.

    You are now citing an incidence that absolutely cannot be responsible for the “millions of deaths” Pearce claims. It also had nothing to with environmentalist antiscience hysteria.

    In your mind, you no doubt have struck some sort of great blow against the evidence I’ve been citing showing that the antiscience environmentalist hysteria DDT-holocaust myth is demonstrably false. People find all manner of ways to justify ridiculous things. While you’re fantasizing, treat yourself to a nice make-believe scotch, on me.

    But in the real world? Pearce’s position continues to be demonstrably false. No matter how much it might feel good to say that antiscience environmentalists are responsible for the deaths of millions, it just ain’t so.

  • Joshua

    Tom -

    I found one case where WHO said environmentalists worked against use of DDT. I linked to a paper that showed the results.

    Tom – leave aside the fact that neither of us has yet seen a valid “arguable” explanation for how enviros were responsible for the deaths of millions… in what world does that one case = “blanket opposition?”

    Or maybe I’m mistaken, and  you weren’t arguing that the one instance proves that Pearce’s statement was neither sloppy nor irresponsible? What then, pray tell, were you arguing?

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @Joshua: “in what world does that one case = ‘blanket opposition?’”

    The same world where a 1970s domestic ban on DDT in the US is responsible for a reduction of DDT use in Sri Lanka in 1964, naturally.

    If it feels true, isn’t that good enough?

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Joshua, as I mentioned above, I looked for and found one case. A case that Thingsbreak said didn’t exist. Environmentalists opposed the use of DDT in a province in South Africa. They discontinued its use. The incidence of malaria skyrocketed. They reintroduced DDT. The incidence of malaria plummeted.

    I was trying to say Thingsbreak’s feeble argument and fevered ranting were false because I found (in about 10 minutes) a case that proved him wrong. I was not trying to map the history of DDT, its usage and controversies surrounding it.

    Are you arguing that that is not a valid case? Are you arguing that it is valid but it is the only case? Or are you arguing for argument’s sake?

    In any case, Thingsbreak and Lambert lived down to expectations as usual. Or live down to expectorations…

    Pearce did not lie. Thingsbreak and Lambert did.

  • Tom Scharf

    I suppose if we come up with two cases, it will be required that we have at least 3?

    It has also been alleged that donor governments and agencies have refused to fund DDT spraying, or made aid contingent upon not using DDT. According to a report in the British Medical Journal, use of DDT in Mozambique ”was stopped several decades ago, because 80% of the country’s health budget came from donor funds, and donors refused to allow the use of DDT.”[122] Roger Bate asserts, “many countries have been coming under pressure from international health and environment agencies to give up DDT or face losing aid grants: Belize and Bolivia are on record admitting they gave in to pressure on this issue from [USAID].”[123]

    The number is between 1 and millions.  Endless games of what would have happened in alternate realities are never going to be resolved.  If I’m wondering around Africa in a swarm of mosquitoes and the local govt can’t or won’t use DDT in response due to events in the USA, that is a bad thing IMO.  

    Is sacrificing a few birds of prey worth preventing humans from dying from malaria? Some do-gooder enviro’s would say not.  If DDT killed 99,000 but saved 100,000, is it worth it?

    Most greens like to pretend there are never harsh trade offs like these requiring hard decisions to be made.  They’d rather chase unicorns in do-good land.  That’s why they are so bad at policy.  They live in a world where there is always an obvious right answer where no one ever gets hurt.  They believe if they outlaw all harm, no harm will happen.

    It just doesn’t work that way.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    “A case that Thingsbreak said didn’t exist.”

    Wow. I guess I have overestimated your reading comprehension, Tom. That’s my bad, I apologize.

    Let me make this as explicit and simple as I can, so that you can understand:

    1. Fred Pearce claims that environmentalist antiscience beliefs caused the deaths of millions of people due to a ban on malaria.
    2. This is a lie.
    3. The resurgence of malaria that the “millions of deaths” claim stems from has nothing to do with environmentalist antiscience beliefs, but rather was caused by factors I noted above.
    4. You cited a instance that has nothing to do with the “millions of deaths” in question. It likewise had nothing to do with environmentalist antiscience beliefs.
    5. At no point did I say that there was no hiatus anywhere in the world at any time in history that could be related in any way to environmental concerns. I am saying that the meme that “millions of deaths” are due to antiscience environmental hysteria is demonstrably false.
    6. The South Africa example in no way supports the “millions of deaths” part of the lie, and actually reading about the causes of the cessation of DDT use reveals that it has basically nothing to do with the kind of concerns (i.e. those from Silent Spring) that Pearce was talking about.

    I understand that there is basically no chance that you’re going to acknowledge that Pearce’s claims remain completely false. I understand that you’re going to continue to declare victory despite failing utterly to address the substance of the claims at issue. I understand that you want very badly to believe Pearce’s claims are not falsehoods, and will seize on whatever chaff you can to distract from this.

    I am writing this so that you are absolutely clear, despite whatever you claim later, that you’re attacking strawmen. Additionally, I am writing this so no one else is confused about what I did and did not argue.

    As usual, you will no doubt try to misrepresent my position long after I’ve stopped commenting. Heads I lose, tails you win. Have a great night!

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    ban on DDT, not malaria.

  • Joshua

    Fuller – this is why you shouldn’t strain your self looking for facile arguments. This is from the abstract of the study referenced re: introduction of DDT in Kwazulu:

    After DDT re-introduction, the number of malaria cases decreased to levels lower than those recorded before the epidemic. A. funestus appears to have been eradicated from the province. The combination of an
    effective insecticide and effective antimalarial drugs in KwaZulu-Natal has resulted in a 91% decline in the malaria incidence rate. Unfortunately the continued exclusive use of DDT within the malarious
    areas of the province is threatened by the emergence of insecticide resistance.

    link=ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16344885

    You are trying to create simplistic arguments out of complicated circumstances and data. You are trying to attribute causality in prevalence rates to only one variable when you lack the sufficient information. Please also read this:

    link=ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3072826/

    You will see that the reasons for turning away from DDT (IRS) to nets (ITNs) was complex, region and stakeholder specific and history dependent – as were the reasons for going back to IRS from ITNs.

    The point is that you are straining to stuff 10 lbs of sh*t into a 5 lb bag. That is what Pearce did also. It was sloppy and irresponsible for  him to do so. It is unfortunate that you are also doing so in order to defend his sloppiness and irresponsibility. I believe that you honestly are concerned about scientific scare-mongering. I think that given that you have that genuine concern, you should be more careful not to partake in scientific scare-mongering.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    January 29, 1999: “The World Wildlife Fund Wednesday called for a global ban on the production and use of DDT by 2007. DDT has been banned in North America, but is still used to control mosquitoes and other diseasecarrying insects in many developing nations.WWF said new research shows that DDT sprays even when used indoors leak significant levels of DDT into the environment and pose hazards to both human health and wildlife.”…DDT is such a potent chemical that as long as it is used anywhere in the world, nobody is safe, said Clifton Curtis, director of the WWF Global Toxics Initiative.”

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    December, 2000,South African Reader’s Digest: “According to the World Health Organisation estimates, there are 300-500 million cases of malaria each year and around one million deaths. These numbers are climbing, by up to 20 percent a year in some regions. Peru, for example, experienced a seven-fold increase between 1990 and 1996. Cases of a fatal strain of malaria jumped from 140 to 36 000 in the Loreto region of the Amazon basin. South Africa had 8 750 cases and 44 deaths in 1995, but nearly 51000 cases and 393 deaths in 1999. Just one village near Oka Priyanti’s home in Indonesia had around 15 cases a year through the early 1990s, but 921 last year. 

    …”For years, the rich, developed nations that no longer have malaria have pressured tropical countries which do into giving up DDT,” says Don Roberts, professor of tropical public health at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. “When countries stop using DDT, malaria spirals out of control.” Even so, the United Nations Environmental Program is on the verge of a momentous, and controversial, decision – to phase out the use of DDT.”

    …”Nevertheless, American, European and Canadian aid agencies, the World Bank, the United Nations and other international agencies have urged developing countries not to use DDT for any reason. 

    The results? According to Professor Don Roberts, malaria cases have jumped 90 percent in Brazil, Bolivia and Peru in the past decade, and 80 percent in Guyana. Says Roberts: “Only Ecuador temporarily increased DDT use and – surprise! – malaria dropped by 60 percent.” 

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @Tom Scharf: “I suppose if we come up with two cases, it will be required that we have at least 3?”

    You could at least come up with a real one, rather than one that is either talking about agricultural spraying is just plain fictitious.

    According to a report in the British Medical Journal, use of DDT in Mozambique “was stopped several decades ago, because 80% of the country’s health budget came from donor funds, and donors refused to allow the use of DDT.”

    DDT was used as the main method to control malaria in Mozambique until 1993. Either that quote is referring to agricultural spraying, or the author is wrong/lying.

    Mozambique moved away from DDT in 1993 not due to pressure from antiscience environmentalist hysteria, but rather based on the scientific evaluations and CBAs of the WHO and its own National Malaria Control Program. It had reintroduced DDT use by 2005. Again, it should go without saying that something that happened decades after the “millions of deaths” purportedly occurred can’t causally be responsible.

    Like I said, puffs of smoke.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Malaysia banned DDT in 1999Malaria cases Pen M, 1995, 13,100. in 2000, 30,800Sarawak, 1995, 2,700. In 2000, 23,700 

  • Joshua

    “¦”Nevertheless, American, European and Canadian aid agencies, the World
    Bank, the United Nations and other international agencies have urged
    developing countries not to use DDT for any reason. 

    Ah yes. That famous group of enviro-Nazis, the World Bank.

  • Joshua

    Tom -

    You’re just throwing anything out there now, eh? I take my previous statement back – you’re not trying to stuff 10 lbs of sh*t into a 5 lb bag, it’s now up to 100 lbs.

    You’re actually now referencing the World Bank under your banner of “blanket opposition” from environmentalists?

    And on another note, effin’ Giants.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    From the same Dr. Robert’s testimony to Congress in 2004:” House spraying controlled malaria and even eradicated it in some regions.  The period of spraying and its intensive control of malaria lasted for about 33 years, ending in 1979.  In 1979, the World Health Organization strategy for malaria control changed to de-emphasize indoor spraying.  In 1985 WHO further distanced itself from indoor spraying in a World Health Assembly resolution (38.24) that directed countries to decentralize malaria control programs.Those changes in global strategies brought most effective spraying programs to an end.  Instead of spraying, WHO and  donors like USAID place an emphasis on case treatment, community participation, and integrated vector management.  This modern strategy for malaria control has failed.  Since the startup of the “Roll Back Malaria” initiative in 1995, malaria rates have actually increased. The World Health Organization, however, touts one Asian country as a success story of its modern malaria control strategy: Vietnam.  A WHO report  titled “A STORY TO BE SHARED: THE SUCCESSFUL FIGHT AGAINST MALARIA IN VIETNAM” recounts the story of this success.  The report describes  Vietnam’s transition from a program based on indoor spraying using DDT to a program of spraying with Icon (a pyrethroid) and treated nets, as well as changes in strategies of case detection and case treatment.  If this is the success story that is the basis for USAID’s and WHO’s current strategies for malaria control, they need to re-evaluate the lessons this story teaches.  The story begins in 1991, when over a million cases of malaria occurred in Vietnam, and ends in 1999, when the number of cases of malaria dropped  to under 400,000.  The report’s overview states that the government completely changed the malaria control strategy in 1991 away from use of DDT, implying that this was a voluntary change. In fact, I visited Vietnam’s control program in the early 1990s.  Government officials told me that they wanted to use DDT, because it still worked well in Vietnam, but Vietnam had long ago used most of its DDT stocks.  The government had been trying to get DDT for several years.  However international agencies and foreign donors refused to help the government make those purchases.  Vietnam didn’t choose to switch to another insecticide.  It had no choice but to switch.  I have heard this same story of  international agencies and donors like USAID blocking use of DDT in country after country, in both Asia and the Americas.  Despite its unwilling switch, Vietnam did have significant reductions in malaria between 1991-1999, brought about  by the use of indoor spraying, effective case treatment, and the use of treated nets.  When indoor spraying is used, malaria cases drop immediately, which is fortunate as the use of nets grew slowly in Vietnam.  The costs of the program however skyrocketed.  In 1991, malaria control cost $US 540,000.  From then to 1999, the malaria program cost $US 28 million (about $US 3.5 million per year), and it didn’t yield as large a decline in malaria cases as control programs had in the past.  In earlier years when the country carried out DDT spraying, malaria declined by a factor of 20-fold (2000%) in the north and 4-fold in the south.  In 1999, Vietnam reported 350,000 cases, representing a 2.9-fold decline from number of cases in 1991.  In areas where malaria is brought under control, treated nets are the primary preventive measure.  House spraying remains the primary means of control in remote areas, areas of persistent malaria, and in  outbreak areas. Although Vietnam has enjoyed some success, the 350,000 cases in 1999 represents a lot of malaria, making Vietnam the fourth most malarious country in Asia.Since the shift in malaria  control policies that began in 1979 occurred, malaria has increased greatly in countries outside Africa (see Figures 1-5).  In Africa, which had been excluded from the malaria eradication campaign  of the 1950s and 60s, there is almost no evidence that malaria rates are changing for the better as a result of implementing the WHO program of case treatment, community participation, integrated vector management, and treated nets, but not indoor spraying.  On the other hand, countries in Africa that have gone against WHO doctrine and used indoor spraying, such as Madagascar and Zambia, have seen large declines in malaria rates.What I have described in the preceding text and figures is a struggle between public health science and an environmental ideology. It is an ideology that strives for an environmental utopia, an environment free of man-made chemicals.  The ideology is strong, pervasive and extremely destructive.  It prioritizes a scientifically unfounded risk of environmental harm over the basic health needs of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.  As the driving force behind the modern policies for malaria control, it ignores the time honored practice of malaria control to use all available measures to curb the disease, and replaces it instead with partial control measures adopted because they are apparently more palatable to those living in developed countries.  Our national and international bureaucracies put this ideology over the needs of poor people in developing countries.   It is an irrefutable fact that for over two decades WHO, bilateral and multilateral donors, and other international agencies have been pressing countries to abandon indoor spray programs.   The world has already paid an enormous price in lost life, lost economic vitality, and lost human welfare as a result of those practices.  It is time to stop this flagrant use of public funds to force compliance with a scientifically fraudulent and immoral ideology.”Of course, if you google Professor Roberts the first result is a batshit crazy attack on him by Tim Lambert.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Sorry–formatted:From the same Dr. Robert’s testimony to Congress in 2004:

    “ House spraying controlled malaria and even eradicated it in some regions.  The period of spraying and its intensive control of malaria lasted for about 33 years, ending in 1979.  In 1979, the World Health Organization strategy for malaria control changed to de-emphasize indoor spraying.  

    In 1985 WHO further distanced itself from indoor spraying in a World Health Assembly resolution (38.24) that directed countries to decentralize malaria control programs.Those changes in global strategies brought most effective spraying programs to an end.  Instead of spraying, WHO and  donors like USAID place an emphasis on case treatment, community participation, and integrated vector management.  

    This modern strategy for malaria control has failed.  Since the startup of the “Roll Back Malaria” initiative in 1995, malaria rates have actually increased. The World Health Organization, however, touts one Asian country as a success story of its modern malaria control strategy: Vietnam.  A WHO report  titled “A STORY TO BE SHARED: THE SUCCESSFUL FIGHT AGAINST MALARIA IN VIETNAM” recounts the story of this success.  The report describes  Vietnam’s transition from a program based on indoor spraying using DDT to a program of spraying with Icon (a pyrethroid) and treated nets, as well as changes in strategies of case detection and case treatment.  

    If this is the success story that is the basis for USAID’s and WHO’s current strategies for malaria control, they need to re-evaluate the lessons this story teaches.  

    The story begins in 1991, when over a million cases of malaria occurred in Vietnam, and ends in 1999, when the number of cases of malaria dropped  to under 400,000.  The report’s overview states that the government completely changed the malaria control strategy in 1991 away from use of DDT, implying that this was a voluntary change.

    In fact, I visited Vietnam’s control program in the early 1990s.  Government officials told me that they wanted to use DDT, because it still worked well in Vietnam, but Vietnam had long ago used most of its DDT stocks.  The government had been trying to get DDT for several years.  However international agencies and foreign donors refused to help the government make those purchases.  

    Vietnam didn’t choose to switch to another insecticide.  It had no choice but to switch.  I have heard this same story of  international agencies and donors like USAID blocking use of DDT in country after country, in both Asia and the Americas.  

    Despite its unwilling switch, Vietnam did have significant reductions in malaria between 1991-1999, brought about  by the use of indoor spraying, effective case treatment, and the use of treated nets.  When indoor spraying is used, malaria cases drop immediately, which is fortunate as the use of nets grew slowly in Vietnam.  

    The costs of the program however skyrocketed.  In 1991, malaria control cost $US 540,000.  From then to 1999, the malaria program cost $US 28 million (about $US 3.5 million per year), and it didn’t yield as large a decline in malaria cases as control programs had in the past.  In earlier years when the country carried out DDT spraying, malaria declined by a factor of 20-fold (2000%) in the north and 4-fold in the south.  

    In 1999, Vietnam reported 350,000 cases, representing a 2.9-fold decline from number of cases in 1991.  In areas where malaria is brought under control, treated nets are the primary preventive measure.  House spraying remains the primary means of control in remote areas, areas of persistent malaria, and in  outbreak areas.

    Although Vietnam has enjoyed some success, the 350,000 cases in 1999 represents a lot of malaria, making Vietnam the fourth most malarious country in Asia.

    Since the shift in malaria  control policies that began in 1979 occurred, malaria has increased greatly in countries outside Africa (see Figures 1-5).  In Africa, which had been excluded from the malaria eradication campaign  of the 1950s and 60s, there is almost no evidence that malaria rates are changing for the better as a result of implementing the WHO program of case treatment, community participation, integrated vector management, and treated nets, but not indoor spraying.  

    On the other hand, countries in Africa that have gone against WHO doctrine and used indoor spraying, such as Madagascar and Zambia, have seen large declines in malaria rates.

    What I have described in the preceding text and figures is a struggle between public health science and an environmental ideology.

    It is an ideology that strives for an environmental utopia, an environment free of man-made chemicals.  The ideology is strong, pervasive and extremely destructive.  It prioritizes a scientifically unfounded risk of environmental harm over the basic health needs of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.  

    As the driving force behind the modern policies for malaria control, it ignores the time honored practice of malaria control to use all available measures to curb the disease, and replaces it instead with partial control measures adopted because they are apparently more palatable to those living in developed countries.  Our national and international bureaucracies put this ideology over the needs of poor people in developing countries.   

    It is an irrefutable fact that for over two decades WHO, bilateral and multilateral donors, and other international agencies have been pressing countries to abandon indoor spray programs.   The world has already paid an enormous price in lost life, lost economic vitality, and lost human welfare as a result of those practices.  

    It is time to stop this flagrant use of public funds to force compliance with a scientifically fraudulent and immoral ideology.”

    Of course, if you google Professor Roberts the first result is a batshit crazy attack on him by Tim Lambert.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    If Pearce is guilty of anything, it appears to be understatement.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    Oh, goodie! A Gish Gallup. I don’t have time to do this tonight, so I hope someone else follows up. Remember, it’s all puffs of smoke.

    “Malaysia banned DDT in 1999″

    Here are the data for malaria in Malaysia from 1995-2010:

    http://i.imgur.com/69Dzu.jpg

    Tom apparently doesn’t understand that you will get an increase in cases of malaria even as infection rates are falling due to population growth.

    But hey, it’s chaff, so he’s gotta fling it!

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    Also, people should feel free to google the Donald Roberts that Tom has suddenly become so enamored with.

    That this is all coming in the context of antiscience beliefs is too precious.

  • Joshua

    Haven’t Googled it yet, but here are some interesting quotes from a Donald Roberts study:

    Countries are banning or reducing the use of DDT because of continuous international and national pressures against DDT (e.g., the International Pesticide Action Network is “…working to stop the production, sale, and use…” of DDT [14]) and aggressive marketing tactics of producers of more expensive alternative insecticides.

    and

    There is no inference of causation between changing policies and malaria increases. In fact, the HSRs [house spray rates] were declining (as illustrated in Figure 8) even before global strategies were changed.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2627649/pdf/9284373.pdf

    Conclusion? Either enviro-Nazis are running insecticide companies, and the word causation has absolutely no scientific meaning, or Tom Fuller is now up to 200 lbs of sh*t into a 5 lb bag.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @Joshua: “Conclusion? Either enviro-Nazis are running insecticide companies, and the word causation has absolutely no scientific meaning, or Tom Fuller is now up to 200 lbs of sh*t into a 5 lb bag.”

    1970s US bans causing 1964 changes in Sri Lankan policy? Decreases in malarial infection rates proving malaria increased?

    Causation you say?

    Forget it, Josh. It’s Fullertown.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Yes, do go to bed, Thingsbreak, before the excitement gets to you. You can dream of cherrypicking, as you do above, ignoring the abstract to the paper you link to:

    “…The standardized APIs  calculated for Brazil, Peru, Guyana, and for 18 other malariaendemic countries of the Americas presented a consistent pattern of low rates up through the late 1970s, followed by geometric growth in malaria incidence in subsequent years. True growth in malaria incidence corresponds temporally with changes in global strategies for malaria control. 

    Underlying the concordance of these events is a causal link between decreased spraying of homes with DDT and increased malaria; two regression models defining this link showed statistically significant negative relationships between APIs and house-spray rates. Separate analyses of data from 1993 to 1995 showed that countries that have recently discontinued their spray programs are reporting large increases in malaria incidence. 

    Ecuador, which has increased use of DDT since 1993, is the only country reporting a large reduction (61%) in malaria rates since 1993. DDT use for malaria control and application of the Global Malaria Control Strategy to the Americas should be subjects of urgent national and international debate. We discuss the recent actions to ban DDT, the health costs of such a ban, perspectives on DDT use in agriculture versus malaria control, and costs versus benefits of DDT and alternative insecticides.”

    So let’s explore…

  • Joshua
  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    “The general pattern presented by conventional APIs for Brazil (2-4) is presented in Figure 2. Our analysis shows that population growth, combined with decreased numbers of slides examined, underestimates upward trends in malaria cases.

    Variable numbers of slides examined, combined with population growth, resulted in ABER values from 2.1 to 2.55 until the mid-1980s; after 1985, ABERs steadily declined (Figure 4). Given the quantitative components of API, a comparison of indexes is meaningful only if numbers of slides examined relative to the population base are comparable across years.

    To illustrate, a population of 4,000,000 (with 200,000 slides examined and 60,000 malariapositive slides) equates to a 30% slide-positivity rate and an API of 15. However, if 400,000 slides are examined, the API will be 30. This example shows how sensitive API is to the number of slides examined. We recalculated APIs for Brazil by using the slide-positivity rate for each year and a standardized ABER of 2.31 (ABER for Brazil in 1965). The number of slides examined for each year was recalculated as follows: Number of slides examined/year = (2.31/100)(total population).

    When the derived or standardized API is plotted (Figure 4), the pattern of increasing quantities of malaria is very different from Figure 2. The pattern in Figure 4 shows stable or small yearly increases in malaria rates from 1965 to the late 1970s. After 1978, APIs increased fivefold through 1995. 

    Similar relationships were found with years versus standardized indexes for falciparum and vivax malarias (not shown). Standardized APIs were also developed for Peru and Guyana (2-4). Like Brazil, Peru and Guyana show geometric growth in numbers of malaria cases (Figure 5)(also for falciparum and vivax malarias [not shown]).

  • Joshua

    Fascinating: From the abstract:

    Underlying the concordance of these events is a causal link between decreased spraying of homes with DDT and increased malaria;

    and from the Discussion and Conclusion section:

    There is no inference of causation between changing policies and malaria increases. In fact, the HSRs were declining (as illustrated in Figure8) even before global strategies were changed.

    Now there is some weird science. Next time read past the abstract, Tom.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    “The policies and strategies of the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, and national donor agencies contributed to the successful control of malaria from the late 1940s to the late 1970s (6-8). However, the policies and strategies of these organizations have changed (8). In 1979, the World Health Organization Expert Committee on Malaria (9) developed a new malaria control strategy with four tactical variants.

    In 1985, the 38th World Health Assembly adopted resolution WHA 38.24, which recommended that malaria control be developed as an integral part of the national primary health care system (8). In October 1992, the Ministerial Conference adopted the Global Malaria Control Strategy that had been developed at World Health Organization interregional meetings in 1991 and 1992 (1). The Global Malaria Control Strategy calls for deemphasis of vector control and emphasizes case detection and treatment.

    Failure to maintain control over malaria most likely results from failures in the functions of interventions or from failures to make proper application of interventions. Although DDT resistance is often posed as a reason for malaria control failure, resistance of vector populations to DDT is not widespread in South America (10).Consequently, we studied the effect of DDT on malaria rates with regression models to look at the interactive effects of home-spray and malaria rates across years of malaria control activities.

    Go Giants!

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    “Countries are banning or reducing the use of DDT because of continuous international and national pressures against DDT (e.g., the International Pesticide Action Network is “…working to stop the production, sale, and use…” of DDT [14]) and aggressive marketing tactics of producers of more expensive alternative insecticides. It has become easier for political pressures to succeed given the global strategy to deemphasize use of the house-spray approach to malaria control. A recent agreement of the North American Commission on Environmental Cooperation for eliminating the production and use of DDT in Mexico within the next 10 years is the latest development in the campaign to eliminate DDT.

    There is a cost in abandoning DDT for malaria control. This cost is seen in the results of malaria control programs from 1993 to 1995. We can get a uniform picture of events from 1993 to 1995 by standardizing malaria rates according to size of population at risk for malaria in each country (3,4). Since there were variations in this population variable for the 3 years, we took the population estimates for the midyear interval, 1994, as the basis for adjusting malaria rates for 1993 and 1995 (2). Each country was also characterized according to its reported use of DDT for malaria control in 1993 through 1995 (2-4). 

    As shown in Figure 7, countries that discontinued their house-spray programs reported large increases in malaria rates. Countries that reported low or reduced HSRs also reported increased malaria. Only Ecuador reported increased use of DDT and greatly reduced malaria rates.

  • Joshua

    Fascinating interview with Roberts. Seems he’s unfamiliar with the problems associated with the repellent effects of DDT, and is unaware that insects evolve w/r/t the repellent effects. Seems he’s also aware of the problem with user resistance with nets, but not with DDT. Curious, that. 

    Anyway, some highlights:

    Question: That is another way to look at it; people who have a higher standard of living tend to have fewer children, so they can raise them to have an even higher standard of living.

    They tend to produce fewer children. It’s like the population growth that we see in Japan and Europe. Many countries are very concerned about their lack of population growth. You’ll also
    find that these are rather wealthy countries.

    So, I think the people who are against DDT because it prevents disease and death, and do so from the standpoint of controlling human population, are just terribly misled.   

    Question: Unless they are the Bertrand Russell types, who advocated the use of disease as a killer.

    I’ve never been able to figure out the role of that ideology within this mix of issues. I know it’s out there. I don’t doubt that; I just don’t know how big of an issue it is.  

    Question: Any time I’ve questioned persons who are opposed to DDT, it turns out that they are Malthusians. They think that fewer people in the world would be better.

    There’s no causality there, necessarily, but those two things usually go together. It’s the same with nuclear energy and fusion. . . . They oppose it because it will lead to cheap energy and more industrialization.

    It’s very sick, and it’s wrong – it’s wrong ethics and wrong thinking.

    link=bibliotecapleyades.net/ciencia/ciencia_ddt03.htm

    And a fascinating comment from the reviewer from another source:

    Global Warming’ is, and always was, a policy for genocidal reduction of the world’s population.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Yeah, what would this guy know about the repellent effects or even developing resistance?

    Professor of Preventive Medicine (Ret.), Edward F. Hebert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md.; Chair, World Health Organization’s Working Group on Indoor Residual Spraying; Member, External Scientific Advisory Committee of the Gates Foundation’s Innovative Vector Control Consortium; Member, Board of Directors for Africa Fighting Malaria.

    He served in an Army preventive medicine unit in Thailand, conducted field research on malaria in Brazil, ran the Department of Entomology at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) in Washington, D.C. and collaborated with his USUHS research team to develop laboratory assays that screen chemicals for their behavioral actions. While malaria was at the center of Dr. Roberts’ research from the very beginning, as his career progressed he became more focused on the behavioral responses of mosquitoes to a controversial chemical-Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, or DDT. By demonstrating that DDT can be safely and effectively used to repel mosquitoes from homes, and by trying to deliver this message to malariologists and policy makers, Dr. Roberts has been on a mission to reverse global policy that has been against DDT. 

    their walls are built of cannon balls, their motto is don’t tread on me…

  • Joshua

    Apparently my comment went right over your head, Tom. Obviously he knows about the different aspects of the repellent effects of DDT, but he somehow neglected to mention in that long interview the downside of the repellant effects or the complications w/r/t evolution of resistance to the repellent effects.

    But nice appeal to authority. I thought that you “skeptics” objected to that?

    Did you get to the conclusion of the study yet?

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Yes, and it’s funny how your quote from it neglected a few sentences…

    “There is no inference of causation between changing policies and malaria increases. In fact, the HSRs were declining (as illustrated in Figure 8) even before global strategies were changed. However, it certainly seems that the new strategies are not producing a desirable outcome.

    “…as numbers of DDT-sprayed houses declined, malaria incidence increased. The period from 1959 to 1978 can be characterized as a period of insecticide-controlled malaria. The period from 1979 to 1995 can be characterized as a period of decreased use of residual spraying and geometric growth in malaria incidence. Other factors contribute to resurgent malaria, but none would appear to equal the influence of decreases in the house-spray programs.”

    “…Today, DDT is still needed for malaria control. If the pressure to abandon this effective insecticide continues, unchanged or declining health budgets, combined with increasingly expensive insecticides and rising operational costs, will result in millions of additional malaria cases worldwide.”

    Again–Pearce was correct and Thingsbreak and Lambert lied. Environmental organizations did in fact agitate for the total ban on DDT. Where they were successful, malaria increased. Countries that were able to stand up to them saw malaria decrease. 

    The morbidity and mortality due to unnecessary cases of malaria is considerable. Funnily enough, I cannot find estimates. But hey–they’re not white or rich, so who needs numbers?

  • Joshua

    Tom – I am still puzzled. What part of this confuses you?:

    There is no inference of causation between changing policies and malaria increases. In fact, the HSRs were declining (as illustrated in Figure8) even before global strategies were changed.

  • Joshua

    And Tom – since you referred to his expertise, why no mention of the complications related to the repellent effects and no mention of the evolving w/r/t the repellent effects? Any ideas?

  • Joshua

    And Tom, while you’re thinking this through a bit, give some thought to the notion of controlling for variables in order to draw conclusions about causality. Just a suggestion.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Geee, Joshua I don’t know. Maybe because the point I am trying to make is not related to those things. 

    The point I’m trying to make is that Pearce didn’t lie and Thingsbreak and Lambert did. And the evidence I cite is again,

    “”Countries are banning or reducing the use of DDT because of continuous international and national pressures against DDT (e.g., the International Pesticide Action Network is “”¦working to stop the production, sale, and use”¦” of DDT [14]) and aggressive marketing tactics of producers of more expensive alternative insecticides.”

    and, “It is an irrefutable fact that for over two decades WHO, bilateral and multilateral donors, and other international agencies have been pressing countries to abandon indoor spray programs.   The world has already paid an enormous price in lost life, lost economic vitality, and lost human welfare as a result of those practices.”

    and, “ Government officials told me that they wanted to use DDT, because it still worked well in Vietnam, but Vietnam had long ago used most of its DDT stocks.  The government had been trying to get DDT for several years.  However international agencies and foreign donors refused to help the government make those purchases.”

    and, “In 1979, the World Health Organization strategy for malaria control changed to de-emphasize indoor spraying.  In 1985 WHO further distanced itself from indoor spraying in a World Health Assembly resolution (38.24) that directed countries to decentralize malaria control programs.Those changes in global strategies brought most effective spraying programs to an end.”

    and, “”¦For years, the rich, developed nations that no longer have malaria have pressured tropical countries which do into giving up DDT.”

    and, “January 29, 1999: “The World Wildlife Fund Wednesday called for a global ban on the production and use of DDT by 2007.”

    and, “It has also been alleged that donor governments and agencies have refused to fund DDT spraying, or made aid contingent upon not using DDT. According to a report in the British Medical Journal, use of DDT in Mozambique ”was stopped several decades ago, because 80% of the country’s health budget came from donor funds, and donors refused to allow the use of DDT.”[122] Roger Bate asserts, “many countries have been coming under pressure from international health and environment agencies to give up DDT or face losing aid grants: Belize and Bolivia are on record admitting they gave in to pressure on this issue from [USAID].”[123]” (thanks Tom Scharf)

    and, “”WHO (2004): “Under pressure from environmentalists, South Africa suspended DDT for IRS in 1996 after five decades of use and switched to another class of insecticide known as pyrethroids. But the 1999-2000 malaria epidemic in KwaZulu-Natal and neighboring provinces prompted the government to revert to DDT for prevention.”

    Pearce did not lie. Thingsbreak and Lambert did.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    As is always the case with a Gish Gallop, it takes far less time to throw the stuff at the wall in hopes that some of it will stick than it does for someone to actually go through and evaluate it. And of course there is never, ever any mention of the crap already thrown at the wall that has slid off and puddled at the feet of the thrower.

    When your goal is deflection and distortion, being completely unarguably wrong about your past accusations is irrelevant. There are always more, completely unrelated, claims to make. Making arguments that are factual and coherent is just not the point. Finding anything, no matter how unrelated or contradictory to earlier claims, to throw out there is all that matters.

    So let’s have a look. Will any of Tom’s new claims meet the requirements of Pearce’s claim (antiscience, blanket opposition due to environmentalists, resulting in millions of deaths, etc.)?

    @184 Tom Fuller:

    “The policies and strategies of the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, and national donor agencies contributed to the successful control of malaria from the late 1940s to the late 1970s (6-8). However, the policies and strategies of these organizations have changed (8). In 1979, the World Health Organization Expert Committee on Malaria (9) developed a new malaria control strategy with four tactical variants”

    El. Oh. El.

    Citing the decisions of the WHO, whose reports extensively document the scientific, economic, and logistical costs and benefits associated with different strategies as proof of antiscience environmentalist hysteria.

    This the best yet. Well, not quite as comical as time traveling treaties or down-is-up Malaysian infections, but pretty close.

    If anyone sees anything that Tom has copypasta’d that comes remotely close to Pearce’s demonstrably false claim, let me know. This is just too absurd for me to take seriously.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    It’s convenient for you to dismiss criticisms of Pearce because you buy his narrative. It’s the same with Pielke. It’s a shame that you don’t bother vetting the people you agree with half as well as the people you don’t. It would save you a great deal of embarrassment.

    People like Pearce (or Pielke) sacrifice truth in the service of a narrative they know appeals to people like Keith. They count on such supporters not fact checking them, or else sweeping their untruths under the rug, because the only people fact checking are “partisans”.

    Of course. Keith goes to bat for the Pearces and Pilekes of the world because he buys into their narrative, not because he’s actually investigated their arguments (which turn out to be false).

    One thing I’ve learned in a lot of the social science literature on the rejection of the consensus on climate is that ostensibly fact-based arguments almost never are.

    If this was about facts, Keith would call Pearce out for trafficking in the very nonsense Pearce claims to be upset about. But it’s about values and worldviews, and Pearce is telling a tale that affirms Keith’s.

    So here we are.

    @TB.just wanted to tip my hat to you sir. you’re in fine form in this thread and Keith, as usual, is doing his best to ignore your contributions. Rest assured, the rest of us are paying attention and can see pretty clearly what is going on.

  • Keith Kloor

    Marlowe (195)

    I pretty much ignore TB and Tim Lambert because I don’t trust them to represent arguments (or a person’s perspective) fairly. They have demonstrated this to me repeatedly. The way Lambert misrepresents people (including myself) is so odious that I don’t take him seriously at all. TB is an articulate writer, so I do read what he says and will occasionally engage him, time permitting. 

    That said, Tom Fuller captured how I feel about both upthread (#68):

    “Thingsbreak, you as well as Lambert sort of serve as an anti-validator for me, and I suspect for many others. Your position on this automatically raises suspicions on my part that the truth lies elsewhere.” 

    TB’s initial histrionic attack on Pearce (accusing him of being a liar and such) immediately raised my antenna.

    I’m interested in exploring the criticism of Pearce on this particular issue because if he’s perpetuating an urban myth, I’ll gladly take it on.  I suspect that TB and Lambert, because of their animus to Pearce, have overzealously prosecuted their case. I don’t see anyone I respect taking Pearce to task on this. That doesn’t mean I’m taking his word. I just refuse to take the word of two people (one who is anonymous) that have demonstrated bad faith with me too many times.

    One last thing: I know the editors at Yale 360. They actually edit. So the fact that they let Pearce’s statement stand indicates to me that they weren’t too troubled by it. That holds more weight to me than anything an anonymous commenter or a rabid partisan like Lambert could say.

    So Marlowe, nice try again. Like Romney trying to bluff about his supposed momentum, you give the impression of something not true. I’m not surprised. 

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    So Thingsbreak abandons the battlefield. Apparently so has Lambert. That happens frequently when they confront someone (anyone, not just me) who actually will look at their idiocies.

    I don’t think I have proven any conspiracy or cover-up regarding DDT and its use and disuse. This is a subject that I think a good journalist would spend weeks on and I don’t know what final answer she or he would come up with.

    What I think I was able to show is that a writer like Fred Pearce is more than justified to use the language he did in the context of his piece and that Thingsbreak and Tim Lambert were, as usual, reflexively rising to defend their tribe with no regards to the facts of the case.

  • Joshua

    Keith -

    Do you think that there is a valid argument that “blanket opposition to much smaller indoor applications …resulted in millions of deaths as the diseases resurged.”

    If you don’t think that such an argument is valid, (let’s say in response to grypo’s #122) then do you think that the use of “arguably” is good journalism?

    What is the reason that you have not weighed in on (what seems to me) the substance of the Pearce’s comments about DDT, and instead have posted comments related to the back and forth accusations of “lying” – which (IMO) is little more than just same ol’ same ol’?

  • Keith Kloor

    Joshua (198)

    Two reasons I have not weighed in. 1) I’m busy with other stuff and 2) I have no interest in getting sucked into a wormhole with TB.

    So I’m paying attention to the thread–the point-counter-point made by the various combatants.

    The bottom line is this: I find Pearce to be a credible earnest journalist. I see people like Michael Mann and lambert et al trying to discredit him. I ask myself why?

    So I take all this into context and file it away for another time when I can delve into this particular issue.

     

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Reason #3–I know Fuller is enough of a sucker to do the first sort on internet coverage and I’m willing to let him do the footwork ;)

  • Joshua

    I hope you get to it Keith. It isn’t the first time this debate has surfaced at CaS – and it rages throughout the climate debate and many, many other skirmishes related to environmentalism and bad science and scare-mongering – all subjects you spend a lot of time on.

    Saying that environmentalists are responsible for the deaths of millions (I’ve seen the claim tens of millions made many time also) – whether you tack on “arguably” or not – and piling on with race-baiting as Fuller did in post #189 (and which happens often in the fights about DDT) seems pretty consequential to me. I mean if it just happens in the bowels of the blogosphere it doesn’t really matter much, but someone like Roberts testifies before Congress and then promotes conspiracy theories (as you can see in the interview I linked), I think it is fairly important.

    Not to justify over-reactions and personalizing the debate – but I can see why accusations of abetting millions of deaths would stimulate tribal bickering back-and-forth. How could anyone not expect that? It would seem irresponsible not to.  If the point is that tribalism gets in the way on both sides (which is my point anyway), then needlessly or gratuitously contributing to the phenomenon is counterproductive, and I would say irresponsible. I go back to willard’s description of poisoning the well and then complaining that the water has been poisoned.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Joshua, I am pretty sure there is no law against you doing the research and publishing the results. Blogging is free.

  • Joshua

    I’m interested in Keith’s take on it, Tom. He’s got mad skillz. My research would likely be of not much more value than the dribble you gish galloped all over this thread. Funny that  you’re so proud of that, even though you just can’t wrap your mind around the concept of causation.

    There is no inference of causation between changing policies and
    malaria increases.
    In fact, the HSRs were declining (as illustrated in
    Figure8) even before global strategies were changed
    .

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    You’re just lazy, Joshua. Always happy to introduce irrelevancies that have little to do with the topic. Always happy to criticize others without adding anything concrete to the conversation.

    Always happy to let others do the work so you can criticize the results.

  • Joshua

    Always happy to introduce irrelevancies that have little to do with the topic.

    Spectacular:

    There is no inference of causation between changing policies and malaria increases. In fact, the HSRs were declining (as illustrated in Figure8) even before global strategies were changed.

    Oh yeah. “Irrelevancies” that have little to do with the topic.

    My freakin’ sides.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    I just thought of something for you, Joshua–if you really want Keith to investigate this further, pay him.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    And as for the quote from Roberts you can’t seem to resist, eventually you will notice, as he does, that confusing inputs with outcomes does not shed light on the subject.

    Oh–and both you and Thingsbreak need to go back and brush up on your definition of Gish Gallop.

  • Joshua

    And as for the quote from Roberts you can’t seem to resist,…

    Which one is that? The one where he talks about inference of causality – and says that there is no inference of causality in the data? Is that the one you’re talking about? This one?

    There is no inference of causation between changing policies
    and malaria increases. In fact, the HSRs were declining (as illustrated
    in Figure8) even before global strategies were changed.

    The one where he talks about the “irrelevant” concept of inference causality when discussing whether there is causality between changing policies and malaria increases? Is that the quote you mean?

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Yes, exactly, Joshua. Think a bit….

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    Keith: “I don’t see anyone I respect taking Pearce to task on this. That doesn’t mean I’m taking his word. I just refuse to take the word of two people (one who is anonymous) that have demonstrated bad faith with me too many times.”

    Or, you could, you know, actually do some journalism yourself instead of waiting for someone you like to tell you what to believe.

    I’ve provided several references to the scientific literature on this that you can check yourself. There’s no need to take my word for it, or Tim Lambert’s, or anyone else’s.

    The idea that you’re hostile to the facts of the situation because of your dislike of me is worrisome, to say the least.

    Oh, and here’s the disreputable rag Slate pointing out what Tim and I have been. It’s a shame no one considers that place trustworthy:

    DDT had been effective against malaria in Europe, in Northern Africa, in parts of India and southern Asia, and even in the southern United States, where the disease was already being routed by other means. But these were mostly developed areas. Using DDT in places like sub-Saharan Africa, with its remote and hard-to-reach villages, had long been considered problematic. It was an old story and one still repeated: Africa was everybody’s lowest priority.

    And in any case, the World Health Organization had begun to question its malaria-eradication program even before Silent Spring was published. One object lesson was that the heavy use of DDT in many parts of the world was producing new strains of mosquitoes resistant to the insecticide. Much as it can happen with antibiotics, the use of an environmental poison clears susceptible organisms from the ecosystem and allows those with immunity to take over. The WHO also faced declining interest in the disease among scientists and sharp reductions in funding from the international community.

    It’s one thing for you to have antipathy to me, Keith. It’s another to reject the information I have provided you because of that dislike. If you’re going to do that, you might as well just ban me from commenting.

    The idea that “blanket” anti-science environmentalist opposition to DDT caused the “deaths of millions” is demonstrably false. Pearce is trafficking in a lie. If you’re really interested in calling things fairly rather than defending your team, you’ll have no trouble saying the same thing.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Zing!

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Thingsbreak, when you quit characterizing the prima facie evidence provided in support of Pearce instead of misnaming it a Gish Gallop, perhaps the conversation can move forward.

    Pearce quite obviously didn’t lie. You quite obviously did.

  • Keith Kloor

    #210

     ”Or, you could, you know, actually do some journalism yourself instead of waiting for someone you like to tell you what to believe.”

    This is precisely why I find it increasingly tedious to engage with you. How do you infer that I’m waiting for someone I like to tell me what to believe? Because I won’t take your word and no one else (other than the odious Lambert) has yet to challenge Pearce? I’m sorry I’m not immediately investigating this matter in full for you, but it’s not a priority for me at the moment. 

    Meanwhile, as I’ve made clear in the past, it’s not that I don’t like you–I don’t trust you. For starters, you’re anonymous and you’ve shown a proclivity for point tribal point scoring. I don’t think you argue in good faith. I have stated this to you before numerous times. Obviously, you disagree. Fine. You’re welcome to keep commenting on my blog for the benefit of those who are more appreciative of your perspective and talents. 

    Looks like other places like Planet 3.0 are happy to recycle your rants. More power to them. 


  • Joshua

    TB -

     Or,
    you could, you know, actually do some journalism yourself instead of
    waiting for someone you like to tell you what to believe.

    I think that you have contributed valuable information and analysis on this thread. FWIW, when I read something like that, I can’t help but see it as detracting from the value of your other input. Not because I have any concern about the impact of denigrating Keith, not because I take some offense to a lack of politeness, but because it shows poor analysis. Just like Tom and others have done up and down this thread, it shows a basic misunderstanding of causality – drawing conclusions without sufficient information or control of variables.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    C’mon Joshua and Thingsbreak–pass the hat and commission an article, the way freelance journalists actually accept assignments…

  • JimR

    #208 Joshua -

    You keep quoting those 2 sentences about figure 8, yet the lack of correlation is only in relation to 3 major strategy changes regarding the use of DDT in 1979, 1985 and 1992. As the text and figure 6 point out there is a negative correlation between house spray rate of DDT and malaria. Indoor spraying worked yet was already on the decline in South America prior to these major policy dates, a decline which started in the early 1970′s when many countries banned DDT and the environmental movement was actively pushing against the manufacture and use of DDT. 

    Those 3 dates are for policy changes by the World Health Organization which in 2006 reversed course and again promoted the use of DDT over those failed strategies. How many lives could have been saved if those failed strategies had not been enacted? I don’t think it can be quantified but the environmentalist push against any use of DDT and subsequent policy changes arguably had an impact and cost lives.

    I think BBD explained your tribal behavior well in #155. You and TB won’t concede the obvious as you feel that would be a blow to your tribe. DDT may not be the cure all for malaria there is no question it saves lives and there is no question it’s use has been on the decline since the environmental movement targeted it.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    JimR, don’t confuse him with facts. They muddle the message.

  • http://planet3.org Michael Tobis

    Wait a minute. Now Tim Lambert is “odious”?

    I realize I’m in danger of Keith-perceived odiosity myself. I just wonder how people that I perceive as diligent in pursuit of truth get that label. Is it because they refuse to come to some reasonable compromise with lies?Facts are stubborn things.

    And what in hell does “people like Mike Mann” in #199 mean?

    People who respect evidence and reason?

    I guess I’m odious too, because I think you’re doubling down on being factually and ethically wrong here. I’m very deeply disappointed.

    But we have made some sort of progress. After saying “The bottom line is this: I find Pearce to be a credible earnest journalist. I see people like Michael Mann and lambert et al trying to discredit him. I ask myself why?” you have no leg to stand on when you say you are not tribal. Your “bottom line” reads to me explicitly that personal affinity trumps evidence.

    I say that is BS by definition. It’s the opposite of science and the opposite of what most of your customers expect from journalism. But what it’s not the opposite of is tribalism.

    I strongly recommend and deeply hope you back off.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    don’t hold your breath michael. keith’s typical response to cogent criticisms of his arguments is to play the man not the ball. in a non-tribal fashion of course.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Dr. Doom, as winner of the hot potato Woody Allen award you must assume some of the responsibilities associated with the position.

    You believe Tim Lambert diligently pursues truth. You evidently agree with Thingsbreak that Pearce is a liar–if your yellow-fever yellow churnalism post at P3 is any indication.

    You evidently think Kloor’s position is tribal–you don’t mention if you think yours is. Assigning credibility for past performance is now an indicator of tribalism, therefore. Telling the truth consistently is all that’s required to be a member of Kloor’s tribe.

    Wild accusations of serial lying are obviously what it takes to be a part of your tribe–you just did that at P3. 

    I can live with that. 

    No wonder you think your opponents are Genghis Khan. With your level of incompetence a kindergarten class would look unbeatable.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Oh–and Dr. Doom, really nice piece on declining sea-levels. Way to get that pre-emptive strike in. Care to revisit those posts on the subject where you excoriated we ‘nay-sayers’ for pointing out that sea level rise was  not increasing as predicted?

  • http://planet3.org Michael Tobis
  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Again, your tribe is so clueless that you don’t know when you suck and when you blow.

  • Keith Kloor

    Michael,

    If you think I’m going to follow you down one of your rabbit holes, you are sadly mistaken. You are the last person to be an arbiter of what constitutes BS, tribalism or good journalism. Please.

    My journalism speaks for itself. Open to any and all challenges.  

    I have no idea what I’m doubling down on, so save your faux disappointment. 

    I strongly recommend you get a grip on reality or stop playing silly bloggy gotcha games about what you think I said in the back and forth exchanges of this thread.

    Yeesh. 

  • Keith Kloor

    #222

    I wish I would have seen that before responding to you.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Dr. Doom is venue-shopping, Keith. He is scattering his arguments across different blogs to enable him to confuse what he’s saying and who he’s talking about. 

    Tribal tactic #232.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @214, 213 Joshua and Keith:

    “This is precisely why I find it increasingly tedious to engage with you.”

    “FWIW, when I read something like that, I can’t help but see it as detracting from the value of your other input…it shows a basic misunderstanding of causality ““ drawing conclusions without sufficient information or control of variables”.

    I apologize. I failed pretty badly at trying to convey what I was thinking, and I did so in a way that distracted from the real issues at play.

    A lot of the time when I try to express amused exasperation, it comes off like an attack, and I apologize for it.

    When I see comments from Keith like: “Is there a criticism of Pearce’s climate reporting you can point me to NOT from RC or one of its bloggers (or one of RC’s Amen bloggers in climateblogsphere? Will take a closer look if so.” and “I don’t see anyone I respect taking Pearce to task on this.” it drives me a little crazy.

    I don’t mean this in a rude way, but I just don’t understand this mindset at all. I saw Pearce’s New Scientist piece claiming that Latif was predicting decades of cooling and it didn’t sound right to me at all. I didn’t click over to RealClimate or some other blog to see who had some sort of spin that would confirm my preexisting belief, I watched Latif’s presentation myself and transcribed what he said. He wasn’t making a prediction, he was discussing hypotheticals. His talk was not a changing view of climate, NAO variability is a well-known large influence on climate (as climate scientists more familiar to the US press like Mike Mann will be glad to point out and have published on extensively). Pearce took something Latif said in one context and spun it for his own purposes.

    I called that, at one point, lying. Pearce created a false or misleading impression, which is literally the dictionary definition of “lie”.

    Keith objects to this characterization- fine. For the purposes of this discussion, let’s agree that my characterization was too strong.

    I said Pearce’s reporting on the email hack was riddled with factual errors. I did not have to point to someone else’s blog saying the same thing- it’s right there as addendum to his writing in the Guardian that he got substantive facts wrong, including the (to anyone familiar with the field or IPCC reports) preposterous claim that issues were somehow obscured from readers of the IPCC report, when in fact they were publicly discussed comments during its creation.

    Confronted with something- environmentalists are responsible for the deaths of millions due to blanket anti-science suppression of DDT use in combating malaria- that is a well-known lie (debunked by places such as Slate; its use against malaria supported by Greenpeace, EDF, Sierra Club, etc.), I did not cite some friendly blogger’s opinion.

    I did what I did whenever I have to look at as much evidence as possible, I looked for a meta-analysis or review paper on the topic. While I used Web of Science, Google Scholar is an alternative that costs nothing to use.

    It took me virtually no time to find a meta-analysis of the causes of malaria resurgence:

    http://www.malariajournal.com/content/11/1/122

    It shows, just like every other examination of the issue from a reputable source, that the causes had nothing to do with what Pearce claimed. Which is and was a demonstrable falsehood.

    I don’t expect Keith to have to write articles based on my, or anyone else’s whims. I don’t expect him to take my word, or Tim Lambert’s, or anyone else’s and have said as much:

    There’s no need to take my word for it, or Tim Lambert’s, or anyone else’s.

    And I even understand his desire to ignore or discount things I say. That’s human nature. But part of being a writer (or a scientist) is a responsibility to fight against our very understandable human shortcomings and go a step beyond. Set aside a dislike (or distrust) and read the provided papers. Or find your own primary sources.

    It’s no secret that I find Tom Fuller’s claims to be silly. But I go a step beyond and point out why the 1972 US domestic ban couldn’t have caused a drop off in Sri Lankan DDT use in 1964. I show that actual rates of malarial infection in Malaysia decreased. I cite the scientific literature on the causes of South Africa’s brief move away from DDT from 1996-2000. I point out that you can’t magically substitute environmentalist antiscience hysteria with decisions from the WHO based on decades of research and pretend that’s kosher.

    We all have biases. I don’t begrudge Keith for that. But this is a pretty cut and dry case, for anyone willing to make a tiny bit of effort themselves.

    Like any decent conspiracy theory, it weaves together fact and fiction together in a way that’s superficially plausible to anyone who really wants to believe it. But it’s just. Not. True.

    Sure, environmentalists distrusted DDT after Silent Spring. There were absolutely bans and donor pressure to stop DDT use in widespread agricultural spraying. There was a resurgence of malaria caused by a reduction in DDT usage in the 60s.

    But those things are not causally linked, as the above-cited meta-analysis illustrates. The scientific and public health professional communities had serious misgivings about DDT due to its real public and environmental health consequences, its practicality, and its effectiveness. There were administrative problems. Resistance developed. Alternatives became available. People fought IRS application for reasons that had nothing to do with Silent Spring. And on and on.

    Pearce is someone Keith trusts. I shot myself in the foot by slamming him, which understandably caused a very human negative reaction from Keith. I apologize for that. I know better.

    But after all is said and done, we have to be able to push past our prejudices and call a spade a spade. Keith doesn’t need to take my word for it, but I hope he can move past his biases and mine and do the right thing here.

    I am sorry for acting in a way that caused more heat than light. I knew better and I made agreement more difficult.

  • http://planet3.org Michael Tobis

    I will try to get a grip on reality; I rather like doing that. I suggest you try it yourself. The way to get a grip on reality is to address yourself to evidence.

    There is such a thing as evidence, and I want journalists who know what that looks like, as opposed to following their hunches and endorsing their peers on the basis of their good intentions.

    After making his acquaintance recently and corresponding for the last couple of years, I am convinced of Mann’s good intentions, but as I keep insisting, I am convinced of Fuller’s too. That decides nothing.

    The issue is who knows what they are talking about, not whom you like to hang out with. It is entirely possible that Pearce is completely out of line here, regardless of his intentions.

    However compelling the evidence is, you don’t have the patience to look at it. Rather, you think of the people ever-more-insistently parading the evidence as “odious” because they adamantly refuse to hold to some “center” halfway in between truth and lies.

    I know the name bothers people for trumped-up reasons, but if that isn’t “denial” I don’t know what to call it.

    If the contrary is what mainstream journalistic thought looks like, if this is what j-school professors teach, if a moderate demeanor is taken to be identical with credibility regardless of evidence, and if an accusation of extremism is tantamount to extremism, it is little wonder our discourse is broken.

    As for “You are the last person to be an arbiter of what constitutes BS, tribalism or good journalism. Please.” I suggest that is a case in point. What is the BS that so disqualifies me ad hominem? That I think the expert consensus is approximately correct and should define the center of our discourse and not an extreme? That I think science actually is the best system for arriving at truth?

    What extremist tribalist BS I propound indeed! And how thoroughly this tribal affinity for, you know, reason and evidence and expertise and stuff, disqualifies everything I say!

    I give up. The only people listening to me around here are the people who already have a clear understanding of the problem. In short, the centrist impulse has been manipulated by clever cynics into a flatly anti-scientific stance.

    It’s very simple. If you want to convince a “centrist” that an innocent man has committed a murder, accuse him of two murders. The centrist will split the difference, having no time to look at the evidence, and convinced that the truth must lie somewhere in between.

    I have no horse in the DDT race, but my eyes are open. You win. Tom wins. It’s been fun but I’m out of here.

  • Tom C

    Michael Tobis – You simply can’t believe that Keith added Mike Mann to the list of people that can’t be trusted.  But as I pointed out to you far back on this thread, Mann frequently lies about extreme weather trends in very public venues and gets cover from people like you and ThingsBreak. 

    He can’t be trusted and neither can you.  Like others on this thread, I didn’t know a whole lot about the DDT issue and was actually inclined to believe it had been somewhat by free-market advocates.  But, as with Fuller, the fierce advocacy here of TB and Joshua got me thinking that maybe there is something to the anti-DDT claim. I think I will do some more reading. 

  • Tom Scharf

    OMG…Tobis is a true blue M. Mann fan boy. I sure hope you got his autograph the time you said you met him .  That must have been very special for you.  Did you get a tingle down your leg?

  • Tom C

    TB, Joshua, Tobis – I refuse to google “Gish Gallop” because I don’t want to adopt this juvenile vocabulary consisting of ”Groundskeeper Willie”, numerous Monty-Python references, etc.  Debate like adults, not like perpetual teenagers.

  • andrew adams

    The charge that the ban/restriction or whatever on DDT caused millions of deaths and that responsibility lays at the door of environmentalists is one routinely thrown at the green movement by people, usually on the hard right, who are opposed to its aims. I certainly haven’t done the depth of research which TB has done but from the arguments I’ve seen here and elsewhere it does seem to me that this claim is at best a wild over-exaggeration, and I can certainly understand why environmentalists and those sympathetic to their cause would strongly object to it.

    So when a person who actually identifies themselves with the environmental movement and claims to have its interests at heart trots out this claim themselves how are people expected to react? Apart from the fact that people tend not to appreciate being implicated in the deaths of millions of others there is also the fact that given Pearce’s supposed green credentials his endorsement of the charge is going to validate it in the eyes of many people who don’t know the full facts.

    If he wants to defend his argument he is of course entitled to do so, but he and his admirers can hardly be surprised that he is on the receving end of some pretty fierce criticism.  

  • andrew adams

    I’m not entirely sure why that last paragraph is bold.

  • http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid Tim Lambert

    TB: Back in 2010, when Monbiot demolished Stewart Brand’s claim that environmentalists had killed millions by preventing DDT use, Keith called Monbiot a “thug” and dismissed his case as a mere semantic quibble.  Keith, of course, finds Monbiot reliable on the issue of nuclear power. So don’t beat yourself up about the tone of your comments — Keith is uninterested in evidence that conflicts with his favourite positions and will seize on whatever excuse he can to dismiss it without examination.

  • Kuze

     ”Keith, of course, finds Monbiot reliable on the issue of nuclear power.”
    *chortle* Yeah, what a goofball! Disagreeing with Monbiot on one thing but agreeing on another!

  • Joshua

    JimR

    You keep quoting those 2 sentences about figure 8, yet the lack of
    correlation
    is only in relation to 3 major strategy changes regarding the use of DDT in 1979, 1985 and 1992.

    You’re talking there about correlation and I (and in the quote I excerpted, the author) am talking about causation. In fact, what TB is also talking about is causation – and how facile conclusions about causation only reveal an analysis driven by agenda. Read some of what TB wrote if you want to get a better understanding of how facile is the “enviros caused deaths of millions” meme.. Tom (and others in this thread)  is also talking about causation – except he’s doing so with no evidence of causation – and actually his take on the causation is in contradiction to the author he’s quoting.

    Just as an aside – that (as far as I can interpret) the abstract of Roberts’ study states something that is in direct contradiction to what he says in the conclusion seems to me to be one of the more bizarre things I’ve ever seen in an academic article. (I assume there must be some explanation – perhaps there’s something I’m not understanding – let’s hope that’s what it is rather than that his science is that bad).

    But I must say, even though that may be truly bizarre, it is probably less bizarre than the conspiracy theories endorsed by Roberts in the interview I linked. Let’s hope that when/if Keith decides to undertake some investigation of the DDT debate, if he concludes that the “enviros killed millions” argument is valid, he isn’t doing so on the basis of conspiracy theorists. Let’s also hope that Pearce – in implying that the “enviros killed millions” argument is valid, is relying on non-conspiratorial sources. It would be a true shame if he stands behind the “enviros killed millions” meme w/o a better foundation.

  • Jeffn

    Time to give up, Fuller. You proved the case convincingly, but you’re arguing with the tribe that still claims Ehrlich was right and the only things the peak oilers got wrong was the peak, and the oil bits
    Though I suppose it’s time to throw them a bone: replace “environmentalists killed millions” with “environmentalists accidentally discovered a successful new population control program and, in keeping with the spirit of environmental justice, ensured this program was available only to the poorest around the globe.”

  • Joshua

    Kuze

    *chortle* Yeah, what a goofball! Disagreeing with Monbiot on one thing but agreeing on another!

    Read what Tim wrote again, and see if you can figure out how your comment is a non-sequitur.

  • Joshua

    Tim -

    Keith called Monbiot a “thug”

    Would you happen to have a link?

  • Kuze

    @238. Can’t. Please enlighten me. Bonus points if you can answer without using following words: 1.”Motivated” 2.”Reasoning”.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Apart from the fact that people tend not to appreciate being implicated in the deaths of millions of others”

    You’re not implicated unless you went along with it, and/or still do. If you make it clear you disagree with the policy, you can’t be blamed for the outcome.

    But people who fight it because they don’t want to be implicated wind up being implicated.

    The problem with an argument like this one is that it gives the impression that preventing reputational harm to the Green Cause is the point, as opposed to the facts. Even if you’re right, such a position doesn’t look good. Whereas admitting the ocasional fault is actually a pretty good way of enhancing your reputation, it makes people more inclined to believe you when you insist you’re right.

    And everyone should sometimes consider the question: “what if I’m wrong?” How would you find out?

  • Joshua

    TB -

    When I see comments from Keith like: “Is there a criticism of Pearce’s
    climate reporting you can point me to NOT from RC or one of its bloggers
    (or one of RC’s Amen bloggers in climateblogsphere? Will take a closer
    look if so.” and “I don’t see anyone I respect taking Pearce to task on
    this.” it drives me a little crazy.

    W/o getting into mommymommyism or who can rightly say “but he started it,” I will say that that looks like bait to me, and you only have yourself to fault for taking that bait. In the end, it serves no function other than to lower the value of your own input.

    I don’t mean this in a rude way, but I just don’t understand this
    mindset at all.

    I don’t think that Keith’s mindset in these debates is very different
    than anyone else’s. I’d say that in any of us fails to understand someone
    else’s mindset here – it ultimately reflects a lack of introspection.

    I think that specific criticism of Pearce’s input w/r/t Latif and the “enviros killed millions” is entirely justified. I think that going from that to personalizing the debate and characterizing him in some manner fails a basic test of skepticism. It’s the kind of weak logic that I laugh at in “skeptics.”

    I called that, at one point, lying. Pearce created a false or
    misleading impression, which is literally the dictionary definition of
    “lie”.

    My personal feeling is that when someone in these debates resorts to quoting a dictionary definition, they have more or less invariably lost the debate. We all know what the working definition of a liar is, and quoting the dictionary serves no meaningful purpose. I work with non-native speakers of English a lot, and when they try to write something by using the dictionary, the lack of appropriate context often makes their discourse incomprehensible. I am a prescriptivist not a descriptivist. The meaning of words lies in how the listener/reader interprets them. I am a believer in writer-responsible prose, not reader-responsible prose.

    Keith objects to this characterization- fine.

    I object to it also. Not because I think it matters whether or not Pearce has been called a liar, but because I think it lowers the value of your input. The common understanding of a lie means a deliberate  falsehood. You lack the information to make that claim stick. It is a matter of looking at the evidence appropriately when establishing causation to an event. If your conclude a spurious causation in one situation, it suggests that you might be more likely to do so in another.

    For the purposes of
    this discussion, let’s agree that my characterization was too strong.

    I think it was more than too strong. I think it was fundamentally in error from an analytical standpoint.

    I agree with everything else, pretty much, that you wrote in that post. I will add one more criticism, however. When you talk about what you did to investigate the claims it sounds to me like much of the boasting I read from “skeptics” – as if to say that somehow I should accord you some respect because you did your own analysis. In the end, that doesn’t work for me whether it comes from you or from a “skeptic.” Strong analysis stands on its own, and if you did the analysis on your own it is evident in what you write. We can both spot someone who is just aping what someone else has said a mile away, and if there were any doubt, it quickly melts once you ask them to dig into the analysis more deeply. This is why Fuller has no response to Roberts’ comments related to causation – because he’s stuck at the level of merely quoting what Roberts wrote. 

    I think that Keith is pretty good at doing the research behind his articles. Even though sometimes I feel that Keith’s research is not comprehensive enough to support the conclusions he draws, I think its pretty clear that he doesn’t rely on someone to tell him what to believe. Like the statements about Pearce lying, IMO, when you make that kind of statement it undermines the solid analysis that you present. .

  • Joshua

    Kuze -

    Quite honestly, it is so obvious that if you can’t see it there is no point in me trying to explain it.

  • Joshua

    Heh – just in case it wasn’t totally obvious from context, I’m a descriptivist not a prescriptivist.

  • Joshua

    I think only a prescriptivist could write “more or less invariably.”

  • Keith Kloor

    Joshua,

    As usual, Tim Lambert (234) misrepresents what I actually was taking issue with–WRT to Monbiot’s overzealous attack on Brand.

    Here’s the chronology of related posts that I wrote at the time on this issue (which will provide some good background to the current discussion): Start here, then move to this. Then here. (All three posts written over a two-week period in 2010.)

    What you’ll see is a classic case of overreach by Monbiot. He’s not content to just point out Brand’s error–he wants to tar and feather him with character assassination.

    This is exactly what I see happening with Pearce in the current case. That’s why I have such low regard for Lambert. He knows this and he pretends otherwise.

  • JimR

    #236 Joshua “You’re talking there about correlation and I (and in the quote I excerpted, the author) am talking about causation.”

    That is what I meant when I said arguing minutia. You might have understood more of the Roberts paper if you didn’t fixate on those 2 sentences. Yes, figure 8 doesn’t show causation since there is little correlation between HSR and policy changes due to HSR in South America dropping prior to the 3 major policy change dates by WHO. But those 2 sentences don’t imply there is no causation by the anti-DDT movement and increases in global malaria. In fact the study shows a strong inverse relationship between DDT use in HSR and malaria. DDT is a strong weapon in the fight against malaria and unfortunately due to the environmental fight against DDT (which was aimed primarily at agricultural use) this weapon has seen little use when it could have saved lives.

  • Joshua

    JimR -

    That is what I meant when I said arguing minutia.

    Discussing the difference between correlation and causation is “minutia?” Interesting. Well, anyway, the “enviros killed millions” folks have been asserting causation up and down this thread. That is the meat of the entire debate. There is correlation in multiple directions with multiple factors. The entire point is about whether or not attributing causation is a valid argument. If you think that’s “minutia,” more power to you.

    But those 2 sentences don’t imply there is no causation by the anti-DDT movement and increases in global malaria.

    Really? I’ve already quoted it something like 5 times, but here we go again.

    There is no inference of causation between changing policies and malaria increases. In fact, the HSRs were declining … even before global strategies were changed.

    And Jim,

    In fact the study shows a strong inverse relationship between DDT use in HSR and malaria.

    At this point it has to be asked: Do you understand the difference between correlation and causation?

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @242 Joshua: “When you talk about what you did to investigate the claims it sounds to me like much of the boasting I read from ‘skeptics’ ““ as if to say that somehow I should accord you some respect because you did your own analysis.”

    Then you misunderstand me completely. It’s not boasting- it is the opposite. Doing a due-diligence check of primary sources/the scientific literature is not something anyone should be proud of, rather it’s the bare minimum someone should do when assessing truth claims.

    I pointed out that it was trivial to do as a contrast to the ideas that:
    - I was looking for like-minded sources in my forming my own view
    - Keith had to wait for someone to provide him with evidence from sources he deemed acceptable

    Not sure why that didn’t come across.

    @246 Keith: “Start here”

    Now I am completely baffled. From that post it looks like you’re in complete agreement with the Ecological Sociology author, who writes:

    Personally, I want science journalism that holds itself to higher standards than the ideological hacks that dominate political blogs and unthinkingly repeat whatever quote they can find that justifies their position. Michelle Bachman can claim that Obama’s trip is costing $200 million per day and Fox News can amplify that claim all they want. It doesn’t make it true. And pointing to a Indian blogger (or Gwadz) as the source doesn’t free you from responsibility. By not assessing the claim for accuracy — the explicit criteria Brand has laid down for the environmental movement — both Brand and Bachman need to recognize that they (as well as the sources) were wrong.

    You could switch out just a word here and there and that’s exactly the point I was making about Pearce.

    I don’t get it.

  • Joshua

    Keith – (246)

    I’ll take a look at the links to gain context – but for now I’ll say there is another question beyond the nature of your disagreement with Monbiot. Tim put your labeling him a “thug” in quotes. If that’s accurate, then (again contingent on context) I would guess it is pretty much on par with TB and Tim calling Pearce a “liar” and it would raise questions (again before reading the links) about how you might later align with someone you previously deemed a “thug.”  I mean have you met Monbiot? Know anything about him personally?

    What you’ll see is a classic case of overreach by Monbiot. He’s not content to just point out Brand’s error”“he wants to tar and feather him with character assassination.

    I’m trying to remember the last blogosphere thread I’ve seen where what you describe there didn’t happen. If overreach and even character assassination earns someone the label of “thug,” we need to change the name of this place to the thugosphere.

  • Joshua

    I don’t see anything objectionable in those three posts, Keith. In fact, I think they are spot on.

  • Keith Kloor

    TB (249)

    No, I don’t think you get it. What you (and Marlowe and Tobis) should understand by now is that I know the facts of what I write about. I’ve been writing for Science since 1999. I live in fear of getting something wrong. I really do. If I don’t know the facts, then I keep my mouth shut.

    So I know all about the non-ban. I know that Brand was wrong on this. But that’s a separate issue from whether the pressure brought from NGOs and greens was still so great (what Pearce vaguely and generally referred to as “blanket opposition”) that it amounted to countries on their own banning DDT use.

    Now you all have been arguing (and parsing) all the evidence for/against this. I’m paying attention to that. I get there are all sorts of nuances and complicating factors.

    What you object to is Pearce effectively saying (“arguably”) that this pressure from greens (unintentionally) resulted in millions of deaths. This is a much thornier question to get at. I don’t see it as a black and white issue, so I will agree Pearce that this is “arguable.” Now to put it more charitably, this is what is known as the law of unintended consequences. But what you did (with an assist from Lambert) is to take this “arguable” issue and lump it with other grievances against pearce and impugn his professional character. 

    This is where my previous posts on the Monbiot/Brand dust-up come into play. Because what I saw there was an effort to demonize (and discredit) brand over a mistake he made in one sentence. Lambert joined in with the tarring and feathering of Brand over this, just as he did again this time with Pearce. The outrage expressed in both cases is totally, wildly out of proportion to the mistake (in Brand’s case) and the statement by Pearce.

    So when I see braying vigilantes on the loose, I get skeptical about what they’re claiming. 

    My advice to you would be to not do like Monbiot did and overplay your hand. 

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    Keith, I get your point, but again, saying it’s “arguable” that environmental antiscience hysteria is responsible for millions of deaths due to an “effective” ban on DDT is no more factually true than saying it’s “arguable” that GMOs cause cancer. It’s a fiction.

    Like I said before, any decent conspiracy can weave together some real facts with fictional events to create the illusion of causation, but that doesn’t make it real.

    Read the meta-analysis I linked to if nothing else. Please.

  • grypo

    I wonder if blaming greens instead of the funding problems and program complacency is arguably contributing to millions of deaths to children from Malaria. Considering what we know caused most of the damage, according to almost all resurgence studies, I would say it’s arguable.

  • JimR

    #248 Joshua, sigh…

    So I say that those 2 sentences don’t imply there is no causation between the anti-DDT movement and increases in global malaria… and you respond by repeating those 2 sentences?? Yes, you have repeated them many times but I don’t think you understand them. The lack of causation referred to in those 2 sentences and figure 8 is specifically based on the 3 dates of policy changes by WHO. And those 2 sentences are specifically about South America. Those 2 sentences do not say there is no causation between the anti-DDT movement and the increase in global malaria.

  • Joshua

    Jim…sigh,

    Those 2 sentences do not say there is no causation between the anti-DDT movement and the increase in global malaria.

    You keep missing my point. Although folks are arguing in favor of causation up and down this thread, you have no evidence of causation on a global scale, in addition to no evidence of causation in South America.  What you have is correlation. Why is this so difficult for you to grasp? And why in a discussion about the existence of causation, and where you argue about the difference between correlation and causation, do you argue that the difference between correlation and causation is “minutia?’

    In fact the study shows a
    strong inverse relationship between DDT use in HSR and malaria.

    A negative inverse relationship is not causation. Causality may be attributable to multiple factors. In fact, Roberts’ article discusses multiple factors. Read TB’s discussion and links. What do you see? Multiple factors.

  • Joshua

    And Jim.

    Allow me to refocus you to the question of causality:

    “When Rachel Carson’s sound case against the mass application of DDT as an agricultural pesticide morphed into blanket opposition to much smaller indoor applications to fight malaria, it arguably resulted in millions of deaths as the diseases resurged.”

    What is “it?” This causality implied by Pearce is the causality implied throughout this thread by the “enviros killed millions” crowd.  This is what the debate is about. Where is your evidence? Do you have any? If not, what is your point? Are you merely trying to point out that you have no evidence of causality? Because if that’s the case, then you and I are in agreement.

  • Kuze

    For many, environmentalism is a sacralized moral value and to criticize  any aspect of it spurs very strong defense mechanisms. When you criticize a prominent envionmental figure or policy position of environmentalists, it is taken as a criticism of the sacralized value as a whole. Morality precedes and is served by reason. For strong moralists, very special scorn is reserved for the likes of  Brand, Kloor, Pielke, Pearce etc. because for one, their invocation of pragmatism and self-reflection is seen as treachery. The “deniers” are the enemy but even worse than an enemy is a traitor. And secondly because we very much dislike being wrong about anything, espcially something sacred. If a right wing shill says something bad about enviormentalism that’s easy for the brain to parse because of who it’s coming from: an asshole whose values are perpendicular to my own. But when it comes from someone who I agree with on several issues it becomes very difficult and discomforting because of the conflicting signals my brain is receiving: “I trust this person, I agree with them issue X but not issue Y. What if  I’m wrong?”

    “Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith but in doubt. It is when we are unsure that we are doubly sure.” -Reinhold Niebuhr

  • Joshua

    For many, environmentalism is a sacralized moral value and to criticize  any aspect of it spurs very strong defense mechanisms.

    Good point. Saying enviros are responsible for the deaths of millions (of poor and/or brown skinned children) = “criticiz[ing] any aspect.”

  • JimR

    #256 Joshua “You keep missing my point.

    No I got your point as you repeatedly implied there was no causation between the anti-DDT movement and malaria on a global scale by referencing a claim in a paper based on 2 South American nations and talking about the causality of 3 WHO policies. This discussion is about causation and you’ve been mixing apples and oranges.

    I would agree causality may be attributable to multiple factors, however this and other studies show that DDT used in HSR dramatically decreases cases of malaria. There is no doubt about the causality and there is no doubt that more use of DDT in vector control measures against malaria would have saved lives.

    Let me ask you a simple question, do you believe if DDT had been used more over the past 30 years specifically for malaria vector control measures it would have saved lives?

  • JimR

    #257 Joshua “What is “it?”“I think Keith phrased it well that “it” is the “the law of unintended consequences”.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    To get an idea of scale, Global malaria deaths increased from 995″ˆ000 (95% uncertainty interval 711″ˆ000″“1″ˆ412″ˆ000) in 1980 to a peak of 1″ˆ817″ˆ000 (1″ˆ430″ˆ000″“2″ˆ366″ˆ000) in 2004. 

    Close to a million. Most of it in Africa.

    We already have seen that in one South African province malarial cases climbed from 2,000 a year to 50,000 for the two years that DDT was not used, then dropped back to 2,000 when DDT was reintroduced. We have it from boots on the ground that environmentalists pressured for the discontinuation of DDT there and then.

    Now we have Thingsbreak doubling down, adding Professor Donald Roberts to the list of those who must be slimed, calling him a propagandist and innumerate on his own weblog without providing evidence for either.

    It will never stop. When a quote is provided that the WWF called for a blanket ban on DDT, he responds that another organization did not. When the EDF is shown to have called for a blanket ban, he responds that they later recanted.

    We are attacking a faith. 

    And sorry, Thingsbreak–I forgot your nasty habit of deleting comments. I won’t be going back there.

  • Kuze

    262. “We are attacking a faith.”

    Exactly.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    And just to get back to the point I’m trying to make, during the period between 1992 (when many developing countries succumbed to pressure from the WHO, USAID, environmental organizations and the producers of more expensive alternatives to DDT and banned it) to 2006 (when the WHO re-emphasized DDT’s fitness for indoor spraying and began once again to push for it), tens of millions contracted malaria and millions died of it.We see from incidence and mortality from some (not all) of these countries that many (not all) of these cases and deaths were preventable.So when Fred Pearce writes at the end of an article “When Rachel Carson’s sound case against the mass application of DDT as an agricultural pesticide morphed into blanket opposition to much smaller indoor applications to fight malaria, it arguably resulted in millions of deaths as the diseases resurged” he is not lying.Nor, as the quote is here, can we see one mention of the word ‘environmentalists’. Not even ‘dirty hippies’.A study titled, “Malaria resurgence: a systematic review and assessment of its causes” looked at 75 instances where malaria resurfaced after successful periods of control. Drug resistance was implicated as a cause of resurgence in 15/75 events (20%).Funding issues were strongly implicated. So was complacency. The WHO and USAID and other organizations share some part of whatever responsibility there is to assign to this. But so do some environmentalists and some environmental organizations.Did Pearce lie? No. Did Thingsbreak and Lambert lie? Yes.Will they stop? Never.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Sigh… Formatted:And just to get back to the point I’m trying to make, during the period between 1992 (when many developing countries succumbed to pressure from the WHO, USAID, environmental organizations and the producers of more expensive alternatives to DDT and banned it) to 2006 (when the WHO re-emphasized DDT’s fitness for indoor spraying and began once again to push for it), tens of millions contracted malaria and millions died of it.We see from incidence and mortality from some (not all) of these countries that many (not all) of these cases and deaths were preventable.So when Fred Pearce writes at the end of an article “When Rachel Carson’s sound case against the mass application of DDT as an agricultural pesticide morphed into blanket opposition to much smaller indoor applications to fight malaria, it arguably resulted in millions of deaths as the diseases resurged” he is not lying.Nor, as the quote is here, can we see one mention of the word “˜environmentalists’. Not even “˜dirty hippies’.A study titled, “Malaria resurgence: a systematic review and assessment of its causes” looked at 75 instances where malaria resurfaced after successful periods of control. Drug resistance was implicated as a cause of resurgence in 15/75 events (20%).Funding issues were strongly implicated. So was complacency. The WHO and USAID and other organizations share some part of whatever responsibility there is to assign to this. But so do some environmentalists and some environmental organizations.Did Pearce lie? No. Did Thingsbreak and Lambert lie? Yes.Will they stop? Never.

  • Joshua

    JimR -

    This discussion is about causation and you’ve been mixing apples and oranges.

    This discussion is about causation and I’ve been arguing that despite claims to the contrary, no one has offered proof of causation – whether it be in S.A. or globally between policies and malaria, or between “blanket opposition” from environmentalists to vector control and the deaths of millions. As I stated, we have correlations in different directions among multiple factors. As I stated, you have to control for variables to prove causation, particularly if someone is arguing a counterfactual about what would have happened had things been different. Please go back and read my posts.

    You, on the other hand, after misunderstanding my point, went on to say that differentiating between causation and correlation is “minutia” and then went on to repeatedly confuse correlation with causation.

    Let me ask you a simple question, do you believe if DDT had been used more over the past 30 years specifically for malaria vector control measures it would have saved lives?

    If you’re going to characterize what I write, as you have multiple times, you should at least read what I’ve written, and then you wont’ have to ask me questions that I’ve already answered. From way up in the thread.

    I think that in hindsight, the US policy might have been crafted and implemented differently with the potential for benefits and not much downside. I think it is true that DDT could have been used more effectively than it was over the years.

    The problem, as I’ve been stating all along, lies in the counterfactual nature of Pearce’s argument. His statement implies a valid argument of causality and I  have yet to see a valid argument of causality. To do so would require controlling for resistance, for issues related to evolution against the repellent effect, for the multiple factors that led to less usage including resistance in communities and and other forms of resistance other than from environmentalists, for the multiple influences on policy development, for the lack of needed infrastructure, etc. In fact, for all we know, absent opposition to agricultural spraying of DDT, there may well have been more deaths due to malaria than have occurred, with various other deleterious environmental effects to boot.  An effective tool going forward might have been rendered more or less completely useless and unavailable for the programs initiated in the last decade. There is little doubt that opposition to vector control had a negative impact, but you can’t isolate that from actual history to prove a counterfactual that doesn’t account for the rest of the relevant issues. You can’t just pick and choose your negative unintended consequences simply to confirm a bias. Absent opposition to DDT, there would have been unintended consequences to continued use of DDT.  So what is the point of all of this? I think that the point is that we can learn something about how to better regulate potentially harmful chemicals in the future. . But that won’t happen as long as people cynically exploit the deaths of millions to bash environmentalists and engage in tribal wars.

    In a perfect world, DDT would have been used carefully as one tool in a well-funded arsenal of tools. Countries lacking the infrastructure necessary to use DDT effectively for vector control would have been given the resources to build the necessary infrastructure. Widespread agricultural spraying would have been eliminated. And partisans wouldn’t cynically exploit the deaths of millions to demonize environmentalists, and then object to the well being poisoned when people take exception to the facile arguments being presented to pursue tribal agendas.

  • Joshua

    And btw, JimR -

    FYI, you say:

    …you repeatedly implied there was no causation between the anti-DDT
    movement and malaria on a global scale by referencing a claim in a paper based on 2 South American nations….

    Roberts says in the conclusion:

    We have shown the patterns of real growth in malaria rates for Brazil, Peru, and Guyana. Figure 8 shows a similar pattern of growth in malaria rates for 18 other countries of the Americas.

    And the figure description says:

    Figure 8. Standardized annual parasite indexes for 21 countries of the Americas, 1959″“1995.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    Tom says: “To get an idea of scale, Global malaria deaths increased from 995″ˆ000 (95% uncertainty interval 711″ˆ000″“1″ˆ412″ˆ000) in 1980 to a peak of 1″ˆ817″ˆ000 (1″ˆ430″ˆ000″“2″ˆ366″ˆ000) in 2004.

    Close to a million. Most of it in Africa.”

    I noticed the weird mid-sentence capitalization and realized that Tom was copypasta’ing again. So I googled the phrase. Turns out, Tom excised some context. Specifically, what Tom’s source says is:

    Global malaria deaths increased from 995″ˆ000 (95% uncertainty interval 711″ˆ000″“1″ˆ412″ˆ000) in 1980 to a peak of 1″ˆ817″ˆ000 (1″ˆ430″ˆ000″“2″ˆ366″ˆ000) in 2004, decreasing to 1″ˆ238″ˆ000 (929″ˆ000″“1″ˆ685″ˆ000) in 2010. In Africa, malaria deaths increased from 493″ˆ000 (290″ˆ000″“747″ˆ000) in 1980 to 1″ˆ613″ˆ000 (1″ˆ243″ˆ000″“2″ˆ145″ˆ000) in 2004, decreasing by about 30% to 1″ˆ133″ˆ000 (848″ˆ000″“1″ˆ591″ˆ000) in 2010. Outside of Africa, malaria deaths have steadily decreased from 502″ˆ000 (322″ˆ000″“833″ˆ000) in 1980 to 104″ˆ000 (45″ˆ000″“191″ˆ000) in 2010.

    From: Murray, C. J., L. C. Rosenfeld, S. S. Lim, K. G. Andrews, K. J. Foreman, D. Haring, N. Fullman, M. Naghavi, R. Lozano, and A. D. Lopez (2012), Global malaria mortality between 1980 and 2010: a systematic analysis, The Lancet, 379(9814), 413″“431, doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60034-8.

    Tom is correct that most of the increase in deaths come from Africa. More specifically Sub-Saharan Africa, as the paper goes on to say. Strangely (or not) Tom makes no attempt to control for population growth, just as he failed to do with Malaysia, inflating the numbers relative to an apples-to-apples comparison. This is what the changes look like in both total malaria deaths and population:

    http://i.imgur.com/lUybz.png

    Top is total global malaria deaths in children 5 or younger, middle is deaths for older than 5, and bottom is population growth for Sub-Saharan Africa over the same time period. Sub-Saharan African deaths are magenta and the three mauve/ pinkish colors. . Sub-Saharan African population more than doubled over the same period that all African malarial deaths went from ~500,000 to 1.13 million.

    And of course Tom’s source in no way tries to attribute the increase to hippies blocking DDT use. Because this is a demonstrable falsehood, as demonstrated by the meta-analysis on malaria resurgence causes several times.

    Tom writes: “We already have seen that in one South African province malarial cases climbed from 2,000 a year to 50,000 for the two years that DDT was not used, then dropped back to 2,000 when DDT was reintroduced.”

    This is absurd. There was an unusually severe mosquito pool due to unusual weather conditions that played a huge role in the temporary upswing. It’s like cherry-picking the ’98 El Niño. It’s not apples to apples. This large pool also had pyrethroid resistance. The pyrethroid, if you recall, was implemented because villagers were less likely to plaster over its spraying, not because of hippies.

    “We have it from boots on the ground that environmentalists pressured for the discontinuation of DDT there and then.”

    Uh, no “we” don’t. In fact, the “boots on the ground” cited a number of reasons why DDT was discontinued in South Africa, relating to non-compliance by villagers that had nothing to do with “environmentalist pressure”. We have reviews of the programs and changes to implementation over time.

    This is what those reviews found:

    Another concern [in addition to locals thinking the spray teams were part of the secret police] was that DDT doesn’t kill bedbugs. In fact, it stimulates them so that they feed more and they lay more eggs. So the spraying of DDT is generally followed by an outbreak of bedbugs. So it’s not popular in the community. As soon as it’s sprayed we have people just replastering over it because it is preferable to have the mosquitoes than the bedbugs”¦ So the community doesn’t like it. And anything that the community doesn’t like will not work.

    From: Mnzava, A. E., B. L. Sharp, D. J. Mthembu, D. le Sueur, S. S. Dlamini, J. K. Gumede, and I. Kleinschmidt (2001), Malaria control–two years’ use of insecticide-treated bednets compared with insecticide house spraying in KwaZulu-Natal, S. Afr. Med. J., 91(11), 978″“983.

    and

    However, since the mid-1980s these gains were being gradually eroded with malarial epidemics becoming frequent and more severe. In 1996, the entire region experienced one of the most severe epidemics recorded in recent times (le Sueur et al. 1996). The recent trend in the reduction of the impact of IRS has been attributed to a number of factors including environmental, biological and social constraints. Increased risk has been partly attributed to weather disturbances linked to global climatic events such as El Nino (le Sueur et al. 1996). The appearance of Plasmodium falciparum resistance to chloroquine in the mid-1980s (Deacon et al. 1994) and Fansidar resistance in South Africa (Bredenkamp et al. 2001) has contributed to an increase in malarial cases as treatment failure increased the pool of malarial infections for the following transmission season. Detection of A. funestus resistance to pyrethroids in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa (Hargreaves et al. 2000) was a further reason for the reduced effectiveness of IRS. Behavioural avoidance of DDT sprayed surfaces by vectors due to its irritating effects also posed an effectiveness problem (Sharp et al. 1990). Social resistance to DDT application due to bedbug infestation, as they are resistant to DDT (Newberry & Jansen 1986) and replastering of sprayed walls because of the presence of DDT stains (Mnzava et al. 1998) reduced effective IRS coverage. Lack of proper supervision and/or skilled personnel is another mitigating factor because effective application of residual insecticides requires properly trained individuals. Population migration from uncontrolled areas also leads to the deterioration of malarial situation in neighbouring countries that have brought malaria under control (Delfini 1969; Sharp et al. 1988).

    From: Mabaso, M. L. H., B. Sharp, and C. Lengeler (2004), Historical review of malarial control in southern African with emphasis on the use of indoor residual house-spraying, Tropical Medicine & International Health, 9(8), 846″“856, doi:10.1111/j.1365-3156.2004.01263.x.

    These concerns regarding DDT [about bedbugs and replastering walls]had led to a switch to pyrethroids [in South Africa], but when pyrethroid resistance was established and a malaria outbreak occurred, the government switched back to DDT.

    From: Cliff, J., S. Lewin, G. Woelk, B. Fernandes, A. Mariano, E. Sevene, K. Daniels, S. Matinhure, A. Oxman, and J. Lavis (2010), Policy development in malaria vector management in Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe, Health Policy Plan, 25(5), 372″“383, doi:10.1093/heapol/czq008.

    That’s what actual rigorous reviews published in the scientific literature found. They share a consilience of evidence and coherence of narrative. Tom’s source is the South African version of reader’s digest.

    This is the behavior of the 9/11 Truther and the creationist. Act as though hearsay is equivalent to scientific literature. Act as though facts that in no way demonstrate your case are evidence of your claims. And then pretend that people pointing this out are denying the facts.

    It takes a lot more time to show how a Gish Gallop is wrong than it does to perform one. I am sure Tom will invent yet more reasons to support the DDT-holocaust lie over night.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    > We are attacking a faith.

    A faith in proper quotations, perhaps.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    And speaking of Brandt, I believe that Monbiot was (arguably) guilty of too much uncheerfulness.

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/1572295799

  • JimR

    #266 Joshua “This discussion is about causation and I’ve been arguing that despite
    claims to the contrary, no one has offered proof of causation
    “.

    Actually you’ve repeatedly posted 2 sentences out of a report you didn’t understand and claimed that proved there was no causation. “

    Please go back and read my posts.”

    That would be cruel and unusual punishment. I just counted and you have posted 74 of the 267 comments in this thread. Have you ever tried thinking of words as a natural resource and conserving?  :-)

    You’ve now moved the goalposts away from your incorrect claims of no causation (such as in #248) to claiming that no one has proved there is causation. But I don’t think you can realistically prove that something that didn’t happen would definitely have caused something else. What we are left with is the fact that there was a massive environmental push against DDT. And on the whole this was a good thing IMO, however the use of DDT in the fight against malaria also suffered and cases of malaria and the death toll rose. 

    In a perfect world, DDT would have been used carefully as one tool in a
    well-funded arsenal of tools. Countries lacking the infrastructure
    necessary to use DDT effectively for vector control would have been
    given the resources to build the necessary infrastructure. Widespread
    agricultural spraying would have been eliminated. And partisans wouldn’t
    cynically exploit the deaths of millions to demonize environmentalists,
    and then object to the well being poisoned when people take exception
    to the facile arguments being presented to pursue tribal agendas.

    And that is the point – even you seem to agree that DDT is a tool that should have been used in the fight against malaria. It’s the whole “demonize environmentalists” thing that has you and others up in arms but the reality is that this valuable tool against malaria has been little used for several decades when lives could have been saved.

  • andrew adams

    #241 NiV

    You’re not implicated unless you went along with it, and/or still do. If you make it clear you disagree with the policy, you can’t be blamed for the outcome.

    Of course, but I believe that the “DDT ban killed millions” charge against environmentalists is often made with the intention to implicate the green movement as a whole in those deaths.

    The problem with an argument like this one is that it gives the impression that preventing reputational harm to the Green Cause is the point, as opposed to the facts.

    I did consciously try to avoid giving that impression, but maybe not hard enough. Just to clarify, I believe the claim made by Pearce is, as far as I understand the issue, false or at least wildly exaggerated, and that’s the main reason he shouldn’t have made that claim. But I think it’s also fair to point out that it is more damaging coming from him than from some anti-green libertarian type. I have no problem with him making criticisms of the attitudes to some in the green movement to nuclear or GMOs.

    Having said all of that, I do think that whilst it is occasionally right and necessary to criticise people who are on your “side” it’s also reasonable to try to do so in a way which does not give ammunition to your opponents.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #272,

    “Of course, but I believe that the “DDT ban killed millions” charge against environmentalists is often made with the intention to implicate the green movement as a whole in those deaths.”

    Of course. There are people who think it is right that it should be.

    If the green movement ever did make a mistake that killed millions (hypothetically), don’t you think there should be some acknowledgement of that? Do you think such errors are not possible? Do you think the good they do elsewhere justifies it?

    The same goes the other way. Scary examples of pollution and poisoning are cited to implicate the scientists and industrialists in those consequences. Take that liberal classic: the tobacco industry. They also killed millions – unintentionally – but when they found out they tried to argue that they hadn’t. They saw it as an attempt to implicate them in those deaths and illnesses – a culpability that would allow millions to claim compensation. They tried to avoid handing such ammunition to their opponents. It was that attempt to deny responsibility that they are condemned for.

    You see, it’s right and proper to argue on the basis the accusations are incorrect, if they are, but you can’t argue on the basis that admitting anything would implicate the green movement. It’s argument from adverse consequences, and in fact makes it look even worse if people suspect that’s the real reason you’re arguing.

    “I did consciously try to avoid giving that impression, but maybe not hard enough. Just to clarify, I believe the claim made by Pearce is, as far as I understand the issue, false or at least wildly exaggerated, and that’s the main reason he shouldn’t have made that claim.”

    Fine, but I’m still unclear in what way. I asked the question at #70 what the counter-position being argued was. Most of the debate seems centred around my option 1, apart from Joshua’s brief foray into counterfactuals. Is that so?

    If that’s so, then there are two questions to consider – one is to examine exactly what Pearce said in this case, and the other is to examine the widespread accusations it is interpreted as repeating.

    Pearce said: “When Rachel Carson’s sound case against the mass application of DDT as an agricultural pesticide morphed into blanket opposition to much smaller indoor applications to fight malaria, it arguably resulted in millions of deaths as the diseases resurged.” That’s actually a defence of Carson (she only made a case against mass agricultural use), he doesn’t say who the blanket opposition came from – it’s your own interpretation that that means the green movement – or even that it was specifically environmental concerns that it morphed into, and the arguability of the consequences depends on what counterfactuals you compare. It seems to me a case of seeing what you’re expecting to see, rather than what’s there.

    On the question of whether environmental concerns did lead to blanket opposition to pesticides, including DDT, well it’s clear from the comments here that the story is more complicated than the simplisitic version would have it, but I don’t think that means there’s nothing to it. That would take a much longer and less emotional discussion.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think those outcomes were ever intended, or that decent environmentalists take them lightly. I regard most environmentalism as well-meaning but naive, with a tendency to blunder into unintended consequences. It’s the air of unquestionable virtue and moral certainty that I see as the problem; it’s nothing personal against the environmentalists themselves, who are mostly nice people.

    “Having said all of that, I do think that whilst it is occasionally right and necessary to criticise people who are on your “side” it’s also reasonable to try to do so in a way which does not give ammunition to your opponents.”

    It’s understandable, certainly. Do you agree that it’s reasonable for your opponents to do the same?

  • andrew adams

    NiV,Sorry, I don’t have much time now but a couple of quick answersIf the green movement ever did make a mistake that killed millions (hypothetically), don’t you think there should be some acknowledgement of that? Do you think such errors are not possible? Do you think the good they do elsewhere justifies it?Yes, of course it would have to be acknowleged. I do think the green  moveent has done a lot of good (IBTW,  don’t actually associate myself with the green movement), I’m not going to try to weigh that up against some hypothetical harm which has not actually been demonstrated.It’s understandable, certainly. Do you agree that it’s reasonable for your opponents to do the same?
    Yes.

  • Joshua

    NiV -

    That’s actually a defence of Carson (she only made a case against mass
    agricultural use), he doesn’t say who the blanket opposition came from ““
    it’s your own interpretation that that means the green movement ““ or
    even that it was specifically environmental concerns that it morphed
    into, and the arguability of the c
    onsequences depends on what
    counterfactuals you compare.

    That is a good point. However, the statement still isn’t true – and so his statement still isn’t valid. 

    I regard most environmentalism as well-meaning but naive, with a tendency to blunder into unintended consequences.

    As opposed to what group advocating for policies. People are picking and choosing unintended consequences for the purpose of pursuing an agenda. All actions have unintended consequences. 

    It’s the air of unquestionable virtue and moral certainty that I see as the problem;

    Which is what I find about people who cherry-pick unintended consequences.

    it’s nothing personal against the environmentalists themselves, who are mostly nice people.

    Ok, outside of what seems incredibly condescending (most environmentalists are naive but mostly nice people?), it may not be anything personal for you – but this argument is part of a larger political campaign to, specifically, demonize environmentalists. To hide from that fact seems rather disingenuous to me, or perhaps naive, actually.

  • Tom C

    OK Joshua, I finally got a chance to read the Roberts article that you referenced in #178.  You are grossly misrepresenting what Figure 8 means and what the accompanying text means.  JimR has been fighting a lonely battle on this point for dozens of comments now, but he is exactly right.  Moreover, you did crop the last sentence off the paragraph (as Fuller pointed out) which changed the meaning entirely. 

    Moving on to your comment #186, you tried to paint Roberts as ignorant based on a few points that were not addressed.  Then, when Fuller again called you on it by listing Roberts’ eminent qualifications, you claimed, in #188, that your comment was subtle, or ironic, or something, and that it went over his head.  But there is no hint of any such meaning in #186. 

    Maybe we should be discussing your honesty rather than Pearce’s honesty. 

    But, never worry, Willard has shown up.  We are fighting to keep our heads above the rising tide of your typical flood of words (you must be really smart to write so many words!) but everyone will soon flee rather than be drowned in the new tidal wave of nicknames and juvenile references that he will produce.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @Joshua: “Ok, outside of what seems incredibly condescending (most environmentalists are naive but mostly nice people?), it may not be anything personal for you ““ but this argument is part of a larger political campaign to, specifically, demonize environmentalists.”

    It’s about more than that. Of course there are regular people who repeat the meme because they believe it, despite it being demonstrably false. But there meme itself is part of a much broader strategy to rewrite history and cast clear environmental and public health success stories as losses- pursued by anti-regulatory groups like CEI, AEI, et al. and their financial backers.

  • Tom Gray

    Could I just say that bickering about blame back and forth may be emotionally satisfying but it is not going to prevent one case of malaria or convince anyone. Do any of you wonder why in the current US  presidential election,that climate change is a non-issue? I can say the same thing about politics in my  my home country of Canada. Maybe shouting matches about guilt and blame are part of the reason. There are other reasons in Canada as well but the shouting matches and posturing have much to do with it.Anyway, back to the shouting, name calling and posturing.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #275,

    “As opposed to what group advocating for policies.”

    Exactly. Green is just another advocacy group, as fallible and a matter of opinion as any other. But people often seem to treat criticising it at all as morally bad, or taboo.

    “this argument is part of a larger political campaign to, specifically, demonize environmentalists.”

    Speaking as a member of a group that has been demonised by environmentalists, why is that a bad thing? Isn’t it just business as usual? Isn’t that the way the game is played?

  • Joshua

    Could I just say that bickering about blame back and forth may be emotionally satisfying but

    I can only say that it would be sad if anyone found it to be emotionally satisfying.

  • Joshua

    NiV -

    But people often seem to treat criticising it at all as morally bad, or taboo.

    This reminds me of when you talk about “skeptics” as a group to dismiss extremists – except this is in reverse. I think specificity is important.

    Perhaps some people think that “criticizing [environmentalists] at all” is morally bad or taboo – but that is basically a non-sequitur with what is going on here. This is not environmentalists (as a group) being criticized “at all” – this is environmentalists, as a group, being assigned responsibility for the deaths of millions (and many folks like Tom like to tack on racism and disregard for the poor as well in the accusations). The accusation is specious and based on facile reasoning – and it is exploitative of the deaths of millions in order to serve an agenda. 

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard
  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @Keith:

    Let me see if I put this in a context that makes it a little less thorny, and a good deal more black and white.

    For every death that is supposedly attributable to environmentalist antiscience hysteria, the following conditions have to be met:

    1. Quantify how many, from where, and over what time interval the “millions of deaths” are supposed to have occurred.

    2. Demonstrate that there was a ban (actual or “virtual”), restriction, or other meaningful impediment to using DDT for malaria control (vs. for example agricultural spraying) in place for all deaths claimed in the above.

    3. Demonstrate that had DDT been implemented, all deaths claimed in the above would have been prevented (taking into consideration obvious confounding factors like the increase in resistance to DDT).

    4. Demonstrate that had DDT been implemented, the overall net result including health, economic, and environmental problems would have been positive- in other words, that using DDT would have resulted in more good than harm.

    5. Demonstrate that the cause of DDT not being implemented in all of the above cases was specifically attributable to “blanket” anti-science environmentalist opposition, rather than science-, economics-, efficacy-, and logistics-based reasons from professional science and health organizations like the World Health Organization, or implementation problems that had nothing to do with Silent Spring (such as replastering and bedbug concerns raised in places like South Africa).

    Until someone can provide specific answers to those conditions- before anyone even actually tries to assess their validity- the claim is not “arguably” true because it hasn’t actually been argued.

    The reason is pretty simple. It’s a demonstrable falsehood- just some vague temporal associations between two phenomena that actual analyses have demonstrated were not causally linked.

  • Tom Scharf

    Joshua says:

    …and how facile conclusions about causation only reveal an analysis driven by agenda

    Hmmmmm…wonder if there is anywhere else this wisdom could be applied?

    Joshua, you can now go back to your strategy of “winning by word count”.  Good luck.  

  • Tom Scharf

    #283 TB:

    There is a big difference between proven true, not proven, and proven false.  Not proven does not equal proven true or proven false.  Clearly no-one is going to prove that millions were killed to your satisfaction, and IMO this statement is likely an exaggeration. On the other hand you haven’t proven it false either.  

    Many died from malaria is true, many would have died anyway even with DDT use.  Unraveling how many is a fools errand.  In today’s world you could fund directed studies to come to opposite conclusions and you would get what you want.  The analysis itself won’t bring back anyone.  The fact that there was an evident reversal by many on DDT use, shows that those many thought it was an error in the cost/benefit analysis.  I applaud those many.  Do you?

    It is arguable, although I would say millions is a weak argument, thousands would be a strong argument.  

    Does the exact number matter?  The entire point was whether greens apply a proper scientific cost / benefits analysis to their actions.  Sometimes they demonstrably do not.   Mistakes are made, even on your side, get over it.  

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Sorry Thingsbreak, you don’t get to invent the rules. A number of fields use statistical inference for the purposes of attribution, including the UN, the WHO and a number of institutions studying climate change. It’s not rocket science to use it here.

    Which is why the environmental organizations fell all over themselves trying to disassociate themselves from their former strident opposition.

    Alexander King: “”My own doubts came when DDT was introduced. In Guyana, within two years, it had almost eliminated malaria. So my chief quarrel with DDT, in hindsight, is that it has greatly added to the population problem.”

    More than 100,000 people died as a result of malaria epidemics in Swaziland and Madagascar in the mid-1980s after house spraying with DDT was stopped. Since the early 1970s the UN and the WHO have blackmailed developing countries, through the withholding of financial aid, to force them to discontinue the use of DDT. The result has been an upsurge in the number of cases of malaria. The South African government has reported that the annual number of deaths from malaria there have risen from 20,000 to 350,000 since the ban on DDT. 

    As of 2006, malaria was the biggest killer in Uganda, accounting for more than one in five deaths in the country’s hospitals and killing more than 100,000 children under 5 years old annually. At that time, Uganda announced that it would begin using DDT indoors despite threats from the European Union that such a move could lead to a ban on certain agricultural imports.

    (From U.S. News and World Reports) “Fortunately, in September 2006, the World Health Organization announced a change in policy: It now recommends DDT for indoor use to fight malaria. The organization’s Dr. Anarfi Asamoa-Baah explained, “The scientific and programmatic evidence clearly supports this reassessment. Indoor residual spraying (IRS) is useful to quickly reduce the number of infections caused by malaria-carrying mosquitoes. IRS has proven to be just as cost effective as other malaria prevention measures and DDT presents no health risk when used properly.”

    So during the decades in which DDT was not used, when the world bowed to undoubtedly well-intentioned environmental activists, about 50 million people””overwhelmingly African children””died, mostly unnecessarily.”

    In a February 25, 1971, media release, the president of the Sierra Clubstated that his organization wanted “a ban, not just a curb” on DDTLast year, deaths from malaria in Africa reached an all time high. Next year they will probably do so again,claiming around a million children. Yet in this deadly upward spiral, political pressure is building at the United Nations Environment Programme to pass a treaty by the end of 2000 to internationally ban or restrict one of the world’s best anti­malarial tools.That tool is, of course, DDT””dichlorodiphenyl­ trichloroethane. The campaign to ban it, joined by 260 environmental groups, reads like a who’s who of the environmental movement and includes names such as Greenpeace, Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), and (ironically) the Physicians for Social Responsibility.Together, they are “demanding action to eliminate” DDT and its sources. (Ref 1 International POPs Elimination Network. Background statement and POPs elimination platform.)  (accessed 17 Nov 2000)

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Sorry Thingsbreak, you don’t get to invent the rules. A number of fields use statistical inference for the purposes of attribution, including the UN, the WHO and a number of institutions studying climate change. It’s not rocket science to use it here.

    Which is why the environmental organizations fell all over themselves trying to disassociate themselves from their former strident opposition.

    Alexander King: “”My own doubts came when DDT was introduced. In Guyana, within two years, it had almost eliminated malaria. So my chief quarrel with DDT, in hindsight, is that it has greatly added to the population problem.”

    More than 100,000 people died as a result of malaria epidemics in Swaziland and Madagascar in the mid-1980s after house spraying with DDT was stopped. Since the early 1970s the UN and the WHO have blackmailed developing countries, through the withholding of financial aid, to force them to discontinue the use of DDT. The result has been an upsurge in the number of cases of malaria. The South African government has reported that the annual number of deaths from malaria there have risen from 20,000 to 350,000 since the ban on DDT. 

    As of 2006, malaria was the biggest killer in Uganda, accounting for more than one in five deaths in the country’s hospitals and killing more than 100,000 children under 5 years old annually. At that time, Uganda announced that it would begin using DDT indoors despite threats from the European Union that such a move could lead to a ban on certain agricultural imports.

    (From U.S. News and World Reports) “Fortunately, in September 2006, the World Health Organization announced a change in policy: It now recommends DDT for indoor use to fight malaria. The organization’s Dr. Anarfi Asamoa-Baah explained, “The scientific and programmatic evidence clearly supports this reassessment. Indoor residual spraying (IRS) is useful to quickly reduce the number of infections caused by malaria-carrying mosquitoes. IRS has proven to be just as cost effective as other malaria prevention measures and DDT presents no health risk when used properly.”

    So during the decades in which DDT was not used, when the world bowed to undoubtedly well-intentioned environmental activists, about 50 million people””overwhelmingly African children””died, mostly unnecessarily.”

    In a February 25, 1971, media release, the president of the Sierra Clubstated that his organization wanted “a ban, not just a curb” on DDT. Last year, deaths from malaria in Africa reached an all time high. Next year they will probably do so again,claiming around a million children. Yet in this deadly upward spiral, political pressure is building at the United Nations Environment Programme to pass a treaty by the end of 2000 to internationally ban or restrict one of the world’s best anti­malarial tools.That tool is, of course, DDT””dichlorodiphenyl­ trichloroethane. The campaign to ban it, joined by 260 environmental groups, reads like a who’s who of the environmental movement and includes names such as Greenpeace, Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), and (ironically) the Physicians for Social Responsibility.Together, they are “demanding action to eliminate” DDT and its sources. (Ref 1 International POPs Elimination Network. Background statement and POPs elimination platform.)  (accessed 17 Nov 2000)

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @285 Tom Scharf: “The fact that there was an evident reversal by many on DDT use, shows that those many thought it was an error in the cost/benefit analysis.”

    That’s a completely justified assumption. To take but one example, in South Africa, the CBA changed due to changing circumstances. Villagers were compromising the effectiveness of DDT IRS, so pyrethroid spraying was used in order to save lives. Mosquitoes developed pyrethroid resistance. Climatic conditions gave rise to an abnormally large pool of mosquitoes. So DDT was employed to combat this change of events.

    This is an example of evidence-based planning and response to real world factors.

    The idea that “DDT banned because hippies, malaria increase!; DDT restored, malaria go down!” is a buffoonish caricature of what actually happened. Undoubtedly some individuals like Fuller may believe this is what occurred, but it absolutely is false.

    “I applaud those many. Do you?”

    I applaud science-based methods to achieve the maximum good. In cases where DDT was employed to that end, I absolutely applaud it.

    “Mistakes are made, even on your side, get over it.”

    You seem to be under the impression that I am a “green”. I am not. I care about ecological health and function, I don’t care about Greenpeace. I am pro-GMO, pro-nuke, pro-research for geoengineering. I am a utilitarian.

    If you’re under the impression that I am pointing out that the DDT-holocaust lie is false because I am defending environmentalism for its sake, you’re mistaken.

    I only became aware of the lie because of climate issues- the same anti-regulatory front groups who were in the business of spreading FUD about climate are the ones who did the same on ozone depletion, acid rain, tobacco-cancer, and- it turns out- Silent Spring.

    I want the lie called out for what it is because it is a lie, and the groups (if not all the individuals) spreading the lie are doing so to undermine the public good for private gain, not because I want to make hippies look good.

    “Many died from malaria is true, many would have died anyway even with DDT use. Unraveling how many is a fools errand.”

    If someone cannot even articulate the argument how environmentalist anti-science led to millions of deaths, then the claim is not “arguable”.

    “It is arguable”

    Really? Make the argument then. I’ll wait. No wandwaving in the direction of two vaguely temporally associated events, make the argument.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Thingsbreak, is this a lie?”Yet in this deadly upward spiral, political pressure is building at the United Nations Environment Programme to pass a treaty by the end of 2000 to internationally ban or restrict one of the world’s best anti­malarial tools.That tool is, of course, DDT””dichlorodiphenyl­ trichloroethane. The campaign to ban it, joined by 260 environmental groups, reads like a who’s who of the environmental movement and includes names such as Greenpeace, Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), and (ironically) the Physicians for Social Responsibility.Together, they are “demanding action to eliminate” DDT and its sources. (Ref 1 International POPs Elimination Network. Background statement and POPs elimination platform.)  (accessed 17 Nov 2000)”

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    Tom Fuller copypastas: “More than 100,000 people died as a result of malaria epidemics in Swaziland and Madagascar in the mid-1980s after house spraying with DDT was stopped. Since the early 1970s the UN and the WHO have blackmailed developing countries, through the withholding of financial aid, to force them to discontinue the use of DDT.”

    Tom presents these two sentences as though they are causally linked. What caused Madagascar to stop using DDT? Was it nefarious blackmailing by the WHO (who once again magically are allowed to stand in for hippies) n the 1970s?

    Of course not. The reason DDT spraying stopped in Madagascar was a common one: complacency:

    In 1949 a malaria eradication programme based on DDT spraying and drug chemoprophylaxis and chemotherapy was launched. By 1960 malaria was eliminated and DDT spraying cancelled.

    From: Mouchet, J., S. Laventure, S. Blanchy, R. Fioramonti, A. Rakotonjanabelo, P. Rabarison, J. Sircoulon, and J. Roux (1997), [The reconquest of the Madagascar highlands by malaria], Bull Soc Pathol Exot, 90(3), 162″“168.

    And Swaziland? DDT spraying has been in effect since 1954.

    From: Govere, J. M., D. N. Durrheim, and S. Kunene (2002), Malaria trends in South Africa and Swaziland and the introduction of synthetic pyrethroids to replace DDT for malaria vector control, South African journal of science, 98(1-2), 19″“21.

    I don’t have time to debunk each and every falsehood Tom throws at the wall in hopes one sticks. It’s especially asymmetrical given that he’s just copypasta’ing pre-formulated arguments of someone else’s creation rather than doing any thinking or arguing of his own, and is making no effort to discriminate between outright fiction, true but irrelevant facts, and things that are both true and relevant.

    Hence, make the argument. Be explicit.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    RE: @ Tom

    “That’s a completely justified assumption”

    Er, UNjusitified.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @289 Tom Fuller: “is this a lie?”

    Jesus Christ, Tom. YES. It is a LIE. The Stockholm Convention EXPLICITLY PERMITTED DDT USE FOR DISEASE CONTROL and this was supported by groups like Greenpeace.

    http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/about/greenpeace-ddt-and-malaria

    This is not shrouded in mystery. These are easily verifiable facts. You are regurgitating blatantly false propaganda.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    You’re saying that Greenpeace did not call for a complete ban on DDT? That 260 environmental organizations including Greenpeace did not call for a ban?

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    The Stockholm Convention was signed in 2001 and became effective in 2004. What happened between 1990 and 2001? Oh, yeah–Africa underwent a huge increase in incidence and mortality due to malaria.

  • grypo

    Do we even have a statement directly from NGO, either calling for a “complete ban” even in vector control? Do we have documented evidence of “pressure” put on governments to stop DDT use for vector control by an influential NGO?. I had figured that this was a given to the “arguable” Pearce statement, until I tried to find one. The closest I have is WHO’s intial statement making a target for 2007 – included in the plan to find alternatives. They took the target out after publication due to anger and confusion.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    As it happens, here is the NGO Network for POPs Elimination: Background Statement and Elimination Platform.

    It was presented for consideration during the deliberations leading up to the Stockholm Convention.The undersigned organizations are in agreement that:

    15. The goal of a global POPs convention must not be defined as the “better management of risks associated with POPs.” POPs do not represent a “risk,” but rather a current source of significant injury to the biosphere — to humans, to wildlife and to entire ecosystems around the world. Nor is the better management of POPs and POPs releases an appropriate goal for a global POPs convention. POPs, by their very nature, are unmanageable substances.

    16. The appropriate goal for a POPs convention is the establishment of a systematic and sustained programme of action to eliminate POPs and their sources. This is the only course of action that can, over time, eliminate the injury that POPs cause. (A POPs management regime should be pursued as interim measures under circumstances where POPs elimination requires an extended phase-out period.)

    17. The world’s governments, through the UNEP-authorized Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC), must establish a legally binding global Programme Of Action designed to eliminate POPs and their anthropogenic (of human origin) sources based on the following principles:http://www.chem.unep.ch/pops/POPs_Inc/proceedings/Iguazu/FURTADO.html

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    Tom Fuller: “You’re saying that Greenpeace did not call for a complete ban on DDT? That 260 environmental organizations including Greenpeace did not call for a ban?”

    Whether or not your reading comprehension skills are sufficient to grasp this, your @289 quote was made in reference to the Stockholm Convention. Which had a provision for DDT use for disease control. Which Greenpeace and other environmentalist groups endorsed.

    Your @289 quote, in other words, is a demonstrable lie.

    I don’t expect you to admit that you’re wrong here, just like you have not admitted any of the other instances in which you have been laughably wrong. I understand that you’re not making a coherent, rational argument based on evidence from reputable sources, but are flinging whatever crap you can copypasta off the internet at the wall in hopes that some of it sticks.

    No one is fooled by this behavior, Tom.

    If you want to make the argument that environmentalist anti-science caused the deaths of millions, make the argument.

    Explicitly. Quantitatively. Numbers. Places. Dates. Not magically substituting science and health organizations or the World Bank for hippies. Not quoting two sentences next to each other as though they imply causation that’s temporally impossible.

    Make the argument.

    Or just STFU already.

  • Joshua

    You’re saying that Greenpeace did not call for a complete ban on DDT? That 260 environmental organizations including Greenpeace did not call for a ban?

    Fuller – You’re’ saying that have you stopped beating your wife?

    The same fraudulent argument over and over and over. Whether or not those organizations called for a complete ban is not irrelevant to the larger discussion – and it is worth examining, but it is immaterial to Pearce’s statement about what is arguable – as his statement indicates causality.

    What is material is whether or not a “blanket opposition…resulted in millions of deaths as the diseases resurged.”

    It is actually quite impressive how often the same thing needs to be pointed out, in any number of variety of ways. Perhaps what is even more impressive is that it needs to be pointed out to people who believe that they’re arguing in favor of unbiased and valid interpretation of science.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @grypo:

    Shockingly (or not), Tom cuts that statement off in mid-number. Here’s part “b” of number 17:

    b) No country or region must be asked or required to take action under a POPs agreement that is substantively harmful to the health or to the well being of its people. Special consideration should be given to infectious disease control, necessary food production and other significant social or health-related matters. A proposed alternative to a POP should not be considered appropriate or acceptable if it poses a real local or regional health or environmental threat because of acute toxicity or other properties — even if that alternative is not a POP

    People cannot make the argument honestly because there is no argument to make.

    All they have are demonstrable lies, quote mining, and hand-waving.

  • Joshua

    TB -

    Actually what he left in is sufficient to show the fraudulence of his argument:

    A POPs management regime should be pursued as interim measures under circumstances where POPs elimination requires an extended phase-out period.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Thingsbreak, I told you there was language in there you would seize upon as a get out of jail free card. I told everyone to follow the link and look at it.

    I included the phrase about interim management. 

    But their goal is explicit:  ”The appropriate goal for a POPs convention is the establishment of a systematic and sustained programme of action to eliminate POPs and their sources.”

    So all your crap about hand-waving and lies is, in fact, hand-waving and lies. 

  • Joshua

    But their goal is explicit:  ”The appropriate goal for a POPs convention is the establishment of a systematic and sustained programme of action
    to eliminate POPs and their sources.”

    A program of action that includes extended phase-out depending on whether circumstances require such measures.

    What are you arguing again? Do you even know?

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Joshua, please come back after you have studied causality and the statements you are referring to in greater depth.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Joshua, you are deliberately missing the main point. That this was in preparation for a treaty convention held after 10 years of increasing incidence and mortality due to malaria in part caused by the same NGOs.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #281,

    “This is not environmentalists (as a group) being criticized “at all” ““ this is environmentalists, as a group, being assigned responsibility for the deaths of millions…”

    And again, speaking as part of a group assigned responsibility for the deaths of future millions by environmentalists, what’s wrong with that?As Keith says in another context: “Why is one science accepted and the other rejected?” Why will liberals/greens casually repeat one without a scrap of proof, while being outraged and demanding all sorts of evidence before anyone should be allowed to say the other?

    Is it genuine respect for science and truth that drives their stance on these battleground issues, or pure political tribalism?

  • Joshua

    Fuller, please come back after you have studied causality and the statements you are referring to in greater depth.

  • Joshua

    NiV -

    And again, speaking as part of a group assigned responsibility for the deaths of future millions by environmentalists, what’s wrong with that?

    So your point is “Mommy, mommy, they did it fiiiirrssst?” Really?

    As Keith says in another context: “Why is one science accepted and the other rejected?”

    I am not arguing that science should be rejected under any circumstances. Facile and fraudulent claims are not science, and they are not acceptable mere;y because facile and fraudulent claims have been made by someone else, IMO. If assignation of responsibility is appropriate, so be it. So let’s examine whether or not it is appropriate. Do you have a valid argument to offer? Let’s run it through the screen that TB outlines in #283 – or perhaps if you have some criticism of that screen, you’d offer another?

  • Joshua

    And btw:

    Is it genuine respect for science and truth that drives their stance on these battleground issues, or pure political tribalism?

    One of the few things we know for absolutely certain in these debates is that what you have described is a false dichotomy. In almost all cases (more or less invariably!) there is much cross-over. This is what the social science research into how people reason tells us. If you have evidence or data to invalidate those findings, I would love to see it.

  • grypo

    That wasn’t WHO in my last comment, it was WWF.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @Tom Fuller:

    “I told you there was language in there you would seize upon as a get out of jail free card.”

    The actual exemption for disease control that the people lying about the “anti-malarial DDT ban” outright claim or imply doesn’t exist?

    That’s not a “get out of jail free card”, Tom, it’s the factual basis that makes their claims unequivocally false.

    This is descending into self-parody.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    as a small aside, DDT isn’t the only POP (persistent organic pollutant) covered by the Stockholm Convention or subsequent international agreements. Other wonders of modern chemistry that made the grade include PCBs, hexachlorobenzene, mirex, etc….

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    All a decade too late.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #307,

    “So your point is “Mommy, mommy, they did it fiiiirrssst?” Really?”

    No. The point is that it’s apparently perfectly acceptable behaviour in a political debate. The green movement is a political advocacy as subject to hyperbolic accusations and criticism as any other.

    “Let’s run it through the screen that TB outlines in #283 ““ or perhaps if you have some criticism of that screen, you’d offer another?”

    Sure – just for fun. 1) Quantify the deaths that are to occur from global warming, where, when and why. (Can models make regional projections yet? Do we even know how much?) 2) Demonstrate that we did anything at all to stop Al Gore and other greens reducing their own emissions, by for example not flying round the world on jets to climate conferences. If all the left-hand half of the world that believes reduced their emissions, we’d already be halfway there. 3) Demonstrate that had a CO2 ban been implemented all the deaths would have been prevented, showing what the weather would have been otherwise. (Taking into account obvious confounding factors like greater prosperity allowing adaptation.) 4) Demonstrate that if we reduced carbon emissions by the amount demanded that the net result – on the environment, economy, prosperity, health, and liberty – would be positive. (Economic models say not, unless you fudge the numbers.) 5) Demonstrate that we actually prevented a ban by our scepticism, rather than it being other political and economic factors (like Byrd-Hagel).

    There are parallels and differences. But I don’t see how the greens’ evidence for the 100 million deaths we cause between now and 2030 can be any better than the evidence of malaria deaths caused by pesticide phobia. The main question is why do we see different standards of evidence?

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @Tom Fuller: “What happened between 1990 and 2001? Oh, yeah”“Africa underwent a huge increase in incidence and mortality due to malaria.”

    “All a decade too late.”

    Are you making the argument, Tom? Wonderful. It looks like you’ve at least established a time window. One that, of course, completely excludes many of your earlier claims. But, hey, better than nothing.

    + How many malarial deaths from 1990-2001 are you willing to claim, and from what locations?

    Please note that by actually putting numbers to your time frame, you have disqualified yourself from claiming deaths resulting in actions before or after this period.

    + What specific ban(s) (actual or “virtual”), restriction, or other meaningful impediment to using DDT for malaria control (vs. for example agricultural spraying) are you claiming were in place for all of the deaths are you claiming?

    + Please demonstrate that had DDT been implemented, all deaths you are claiming would have been prevented (taking into consideration obvious confounding factors like the increase in resistance to DDT).

    + Please demonstrate that had DDT been implemented, the overall net result including health, economic, and environmental problems would have been positive- in other words, that using DDT would have resulted in more good than harm. I assume you don’t think that government and public health organizations should have deliberately engaged in net harm.

    + Please demonstrate that the cause of DDT not being implemented in all of the deaths you are claiming was specifically attributable to “blanket” anti-science environmentalist opposition, rather than science-, economics-, efficacy-, and logistics-based reasons from professional science and health organizations like the World Health Organization, or implementation problems that had nothing to do with Silent Spring (such as replastering and bedbug concerns raised in places like South Africa).

    Go ahead, Tom. Make the argument.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Oh–Thingsbreak. Does that mean you are now conceding what you spent the last day denying and labeling as lies from Pearce, Professor Donald Roberts and myself?

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @Tom Fuller: “Does that mean you are now conceding what you spent the last day denying and labeling as lies from Pearce, Professor Donald Roberts and myself?”

    Don’t be silly, Tom! I am simply waiting for you to continue making the argument.

    You’re finally putting some definite numbers and specifics in place- forming a coherent, causal account of events. I don’t want to get in your way by assessing the truth of any particular part before you’re finished.

    So you’ve picked your time frame- you’re off to a start! We won’t worry too much about the past few days arguing different time frames, that’s all water under the bridge.

    + How many malarial deaths from 1990-2001 are you willing to claim, and from what locations?

    + What specific ban(s) (actual or “virtual”), restrictions, or other meaningful impediments to using DDT for malaria control (vs. for example agricultural spraying) are you claiming were in place for all of the deaths you’re claiming above?

    + Please demonstrate that had DDT been implemented, all deaths you are claiming would have been prevented (taking into consideration obvious confounding factors like the increase in resistance to DDT).

    + Please demonstrate that had DDT been implemented, the overall net result including health, economic, and environmental problems would have been positive- in other words, that using DDT would have resulted in more good than harm. I assume you don’t think that government and public health organizations should have deliberately engaged in net harm.

    + Please demonstrate that the cause of DDT not being implemented in all of the deaths you are claiming was specifically attributable to “blanket” anti-science environmentalist opposition, rather than science-, economics-, efficacy-, and logistics-based reasons from professional science and health organizations like the World Health Organization, or implementation problems that had nothing to do with Silent Spring (such as replastering and bedbug concerns raised in places like South Africa).

    Keep up the momentum, Tom! You can do it! You can make the argument.

  • Tom C

    Very interesting book review by Prof Roberts http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/Articles_2011/Winter-2010/Books_The_Fever.pdf It’s worth keeping in mind that Joshua has waged a campaign on this thread trying to recruit Roberts to his side by distorting a paragraph in one of his papers.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Umm, thingsbreak, look at what you’re writing. ‘Make the argument, Tom. You can do it!”

    So you concede there’s an argument to be made. Hence Pearce didn’t lie when he said that  ”When Rachel Carson’s sound case against the mass application of DDT as an agricultural pesticide morphed into blanket opposition to much smaller indoor applications to fight malaria, it arguably resulted in millions of deaths as the diseases resurged” he was not lying. You have entered into the argument.

    Sorry, TB. You lose.

  • Joshua

    Yes – that is an interesting review, Tom. Part of what is interesting is that as I pointed out before, Roberts talks about the repellent effect of DDT – saying that the ” primary mode of action is as a spatial repellent, not as a killing agent” but yet somehow  neglected to mention the complications related to the repellent effect (that they go bite someone, somewhere that hasn’t been sprayed – a complication in countries without adequate infrastructure who rely on DDT spraying programs), including the evidence that mosquitoes develop resistance to the repellent effect. Curious, that. Must have been an oversight, eh?

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    <iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/YjDR9aMRUhg” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Whoops! Let me try again…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjDR9aMRUhg

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller
  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @Tom Fuller:

    “So you concede there’s an argument to be made. Hence Pearce didn’t lie when he said… it arguably resulted in millions of deaths as the diseases resurged” he was not lying”

    Tom, again, I seem to have wildly overestimated your reading comprehension skills. That’s on me. I apologize.

    As I explicitly stated hours ago:

    Until someone can provide specific answers to those conditions- before anyone even actually tries to assess their validity- the claim is not “arguably” true because it hasn’t actually been argued.

  • JimR

    # 323TB – you seem to be backing down from your earlier claims of “demonstrable falsehood” and “demonstrable lie” to now trying to setup conditions where someone would need to prove this beyond a shadow of a doubt to even concede that it is “arguably” true. I think that is about as close to an admission of defeat as I’ve ever seen from you.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @JimR: “you seem to be backing down from your earlier claims of “demonstrable falsehood” and “demonstrable lie””

    You’re likewise missing the point.

    The enviro-aniscience-DDT-holocaust meme is a demonstrable falsehood. A lie. The evidence is clear on the causes of malarial resurgence, and it has nothing to do with hippies.

    http://www.malariajournal.com/content/11/1/122

    In response to Keith saying that it was not “black and white” but it was “thorny” because Pearce wasn’t really stating the lie outright, and rather couched it with “arguably”, I re-framed the point. There are no actual arguments (marked by verifiable specifics, coherence of narrative, evidence, and causation) being made to support the lie. As I said @283:

    Until someone can provide specific answers to those conditions- before anyone even actually tries to assess their validity- the claim is not “arguably” true because it hasn’t actually been argued.

    The reason is pretty simple. It’s a demonstrable falsehood- just some vague temporal associations between two phenomena that actual analyses have demonstrated were not causally linked.

    “to now trying to setup conditions where someone would need to prove this beyond a shadow of a doubt to even concede that it is “arguably” true.”

    This is absolutely not true. I said explicitly before anyone even actually tries to assess their validity.

    “I think that is about as close to an admission of defeat as I’ve ever seen from you.”

    Restating what I’ve been stating for hours, which is completely inline with what I’ve been saying all along, is “an admission of defeat”? Okay…

  • Joshua

    you seem to be…now trying to setup conditions where someone would need to prove this beyond a shadow of a doubt

    Since the “arguable” assertion is a counterfactual, to be valid  it would have to rest on an analysis that controls for a variety of variables, or at least tries to do so. What is interesting is that despite reading  many posts that this thread and throughout the “skept-o-sphere that assume causality,” and despite the seeing a contention of causality from many, many rightwingers, I have yet to see anyone offer an argument that even remotely attempts to control for that variety of variables.

    Curious, that. 

    Same ol, same ol.

  • JimR

    #325 TB “You’re likewise missing the point.”

    No, I get your point. However while you’ve claimed this is a “demonstrable lie” you haven’t been able to demonstrate that it is. And you’ve had ample opportunities in your many posts on this topic. For example the Malaria Journal article you keep posting doesn’t actually address causes of the lack of funding for existing programs which it shows was the single most commonly cited reason for resurgence or the lack of new programs over the past 30 years. It doesn’t consider the actual issue we are discussing.

    And that is my point, without being able to demonstrate what you’ve repeatedly claimed is a “demonstrable lie” you are now trying to re-frame conditions to a level absurdity that is… well pointless. 

  • Joshua

    Fuller – I do want to note that your 322 post shows that you really are capable of stepping up your game to write a post that doesn’t rely on specious reasoning.

    Congrats!

  • OPatrick

    Having read through much of the thread it’s saying something when I point to #318 as the ‘gotcha’ nadir of arguments. Upstaged for me only by the beautiful synchronicity of Tom C’s ‘debate like adults’ comment #231 following on from Tom Scharf’s fine example at #230.

  • Tom C

    Joshua – I’m sure someone of Roberts standing in this field understands the concepts involved.  As long as we are on the topic of demonstrable lies, why don’t you address the point that JimR, Fuller, and I have brought up: that you repeatedly distorted Fig 8 and the accompanying text in the paper you cited.

  • Tom C

    It must gall someone like Roberts, who has deep understanding of the science but also has devoted his life to implementing strategies to save the lives of real people, to have people like Sonia Shaw running around trying to undo it all.  Shaw is a journalist who focuses on “gender issues” and issues of “corporate power”.   But, Time, NY Times, NPR rave about her and her book.  How about you ThingsBreak? Joshua?  Shaw must be catnip to you guys. Who is a more reliable guide to these questions?

  • http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/ddt-chronicles-at-millard-fillmores-bathtub/ Ed Darrell

    The issue on DDT is that Pearce is dead wrong.  His premise is wrong, his statement of the facts (sparse as it is) is wrong, and his conclusion is wrong.  It may take some explanation, but when one understands how thoroughly screwed up is Pearce’s version, one may justifiably assume that it is pure incompetence that causes such error, and that everything else he claims must be checked thoroughly before granting him any credence at all.Pearce’s claims cannot be supported in science, history or law.It helps to get all the facts straight, and keep the timeline straight, too.First, DDT has never been banned in Asia nor Africa.  Even under the 2001 Persistent Organic Pollutants Treaty (POPs), any nation may use DDT, simply by sending a letter to WHO saying it intends to use it.  Second, indoor residual spraying (IRS) has never gone out of style.  Not sure who is claiming environmentalists opposed it, but that’s not accurate.  In fact, EDF, the group that first sued to stop DDT applications anywhere, has long endorsed use of DDT in Africa and Asia for IRS.  (Pearce and readers here don’t even allow for this possibility, that EDF is more concerned about beating malaria, than scoring a political victory.)Third, WHO’s ambitious campaign to eradicate malaria was discontinued in 1965, and then officially closed down in 1969.  Malcolm Gladwell’s fine profile of super malaria-fighter Fred Soper, in The New Yorker, has the details.  The campaign had difficulty moving into Central and Subsaharan Africa.  Some nations simply did not have government structures required to carry out the highly coordinated program, which required certain and regular treatments of at least 80% of homes in an area; those problems perhaps could have been overcome, but while working on them Soper’s teams discovered that mosquitoes in Africa had already developed resistance and immunity to DDT, due to abuse and overuse of the stuff in other enterprises.  Notice those years:  1965 was just three years after Rachel Carson’s prediction that overuse of DDT would render it less effective or useless in fighting malaria (one of the key reasons she said use had to be curtailed); but it was seven years BEFORE EPA ordered DDT out of over-the-counter sales in the U.S.Fourth, EPA’s order banned ONLY use of DDT on crops, out of doors.  Of course, EPA’s jurisdiction ends at the U.S. border, and did not ban DDT from use in foreign nations.Fifth, EPA’s order specifically allowed DDT manufacture to continue in the U.S., dedicating all production of DDT to export.  So the EPA “ban” on DDT effectively multiplied the amount of DDT available to use against malaria in Africa and Asia, had anyone cared to do so.  Manufacture of DDT in the U.S. continued at least until 1984 (up to the implementation of the Superfund law). Sixth, malaria infections and deaths continued to decline, especially after DDT use to fight the disease fell off.  At peak DDT use, in 1959 and 1960, malaria infections worldwide numbered about 500 million, and 4 million of those people died.  Infections and deaths have declined, year by year including those years of “resurgence,” so that by 2010, according to WHO, infections had fallen by 50%, to 250 million; deaths were cut more than 75%, to fewer than 800,000.There are a couple of other facts to remember about the science and law, when we get sucked into stupid discussions about <i>Silent Spring</i> by people hell bent on smearing Carson’s reputation.Carson’s science was, and is, rock solid.  Not a single study she cited in 1962 has ever been retracted or countermanded or rebutted by peer-reviewed research.  It’s important to remember that a panel of the nation’s best biology and pesticide scientists studied Carson’s book, at the order of President Kennedy.  The President’s Science Advisory Council issued its report on May 15, 1963, and it found Carson’s book completely accurate, scientifically.  The panel recommended that the government immediately act to cut DDT use, something Carson did not recommend, because the panel found dangers of the stuff to be acute.  Much of what is cited against Carson is pure fiction.  Audubon did NOT count more eagles in DDT years; no science study ever found DDT not harmful to birds; DDT remains a toxic poison that kills entire ecosystems.DDT advocates also hope you don’t understand how the law works.  EPA was reluctant to act against DDT, and the agency undertook the regulatory hearings on DDT only after two separate federal courts had found DDT to be an uncontrollable poison in the wild, and had ordered DDT use and production completely banned, under then-existing pesticides laws.  Those orders were stayed so EPA could conduct hearings on new label instruction proposed by the DDT industry.  The new label, incidentally, proposed that labeled uses include only IRS spraying for health reasons; but had that label been approved, DDT would have been available over the counter.  Abuses would be the fault of the purchaser of the stuff.The 9,000-plus page hearing record fully confirmed the harmful effects of DDT on wildlife, when DDT was used outdoors.  On that basis, EPA administrator William Ruckelshaus ordered the manufacturer-suggested label instead be made a regulation, which would stop over-the-counter sales, and end any possibility of abuse in the U.S.  Under U.S. law, and under EPA’s organic act, such a regulation can only be issued if the science backing the regulation is sufficient (we do not allow government regulation by whim).  Two cases were brought to challenge EPA’s rule, one by DDT manufacturers who said the rule was too tough, and one by environmental groups who said the rule was too lax.  Both cases were decided in favor of EPA, both cases stating that the science record was sound and clear, and EPA’s regulation was justified on the record.This is important.  If the science had been bad, or had later been discovered to be bad, had the wildlife effects been found to be exaggerated, any party wishing to use DDT could challenge the regulation in court and get it overturned.  Since 1972, to the best of my knowledge, no one has challenged the regulation.   In 1970 the National Academy of Sciences did a review of DDT and few other chemicals, and offered policy advice on regulation.  NAS said DDT was one of the most beneficial chemicals ever synthesized, but it found that the harms outweighed the benefits.  In 1970, NAS called for a rapid phase-out of DDT.  (There was an unfortunate editing error, in which NAS listed the annual infection rate, 500 million cases, as the number of lives saved by DDT; at 4 million deaths per year, however, if we assumed DDT use had started in 1942, and stopped ALL malaria deaths until 1970, there would be 112 million lives saved; but we know that the impact on malaria deaths did not really bite until after 1960, and 112 million is somewhat short of 500 million.  Alas, NAS has never sent out an erratum not that I have found.)Today, bednets tend to be two or three times more effective than IRS with DDT in preventing malaria infections.  Some bednets are DDT impregnated, in areas where local populations of mosquitoes are determined to be susceptible to the poison; but rotation of pesticides is used to try to prevent resistance to pesticides in the insects.Great success against malaria since 2000 is obtained through the use of Integrated Vector Management (IVM, or IPM in the U.S.) — the methods Rachel Carson urged to be used to fight malaria, in 1962.  Had we listened to Carson in 1962, and acted then, DDT might still be a great tool to fight malaria, and millions more lives might have been saved.  Regardless, millions of lives are being saved due to the work and writings of Rachel Carson, and anyone who argues otherwise is absolutely, completely dead wrong.  Anyone who genuinely looked at the issue could not fail to find a more accurate version of sci
    ence, history, and law, than Pearce bolloxed up in one short paragraph.Come on over to Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub if you want citations.

  • Joshua

    Tom C -

    I can certainly see why you didn’t get what also went over Tom Fuller’s head. I don’t doubt Roberts’ expertise – never did. What I find interesting is that as an expert, when talking about the repellant effect, he doesn’t talk about the aspects of the repellent effect that I pointed out. It is very curious. It seems that a possible explanation is that he is pursuing an agenda. I assume you’d have an alternative explanation – what would it be?

    As for my “distortions,” – I quoted Roberts over and over in his conclusion about no inference of causation (and I have not disputed his descriptions of correlation).  Quoting isn’t distorting.  No matter how many times I tell JimR that he is wrong in his interpretation of the point I was proving by quoting Roberts – I will convince neither him nor you (in your obsession with me) nor Tom Fuller. You all are entitled to interpret what I meant all you want in any way that you want – knock yourself out in doing so. It only serves to underscore my point that you reach specious conclusions because you are willing to formulate conclusions w/o sufficient information. I pointed it out to TB when I thought that he was formulating conclusions w/o sufficient basis in evidence – you will notice that he responded on point rather than gish galloping. Maybe you should follow his example rather than just stamping your feet and repeating your argument by assertion.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    “Maybe you should follow his example rather than just stamping your feet and repeating your argument by assertion.”

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    As someone who occasionally gets paid to search for information on the internet and collate and analyze the results, an observation:

    The information needed to settle questions like the history of DDT use, withdrawal and ultimate aptness is not likely to be found on the internet. It is even less likely to be found by a group of people new to the issue, such as most of us posting here.

    People like Thingsbreak should have had a decided advantage due to prior knowledge of the issue–he knows what sites to visit and may have bookmarked other sources of information.

    Sadly, Thingsbreak did not use this advantage wisely,  nor in the cause of spreading information. He husbanded his knowledge and challenged me, among others, to find conclusive evidence he was wrong. 

    I was fortunate (not wise–I’ve been sucked into this kind of game before and probably will be again) that the thesis I was looking to test was much simpler–whether it was appropriate to call Fred Pearce a liar (and many more epithets as well) based on what he wrote.

    The clearest indication that my response–that it was not appropriate to call Fred Pearce a liar–was the instant contamination of anyone associated with my ‘side’ of the argument with exactly the same phrasing. All of a sudden, it wasn’t just Pearce who was a horrible liar–it was Professor Donald Roberts, me and anyone else playing this game (for game it is) on the other side from Thingsbreak. The hyper-sensitive reaction from TB and Lambert served as a signal that there was more to be revealed. And it was. 

    Pearce, who did not even accuse environmentalists of anything, noted the possibility of a policy error that may have led to increased human misery. He didn’t attempt to quantify it and couched his phrasing with appropriate qualifiers. But he stepped too close to the locked closet and was attacked–although what was happening was actually a warning–Do Not Step Within.

    To actually validate the strategies adopted by the international community with regard to widespread application of DDT against malaria would require a fair bit of primary research and quite a bit of time. It’s clear that some sanitizing has gone on. Pages are missing from the websites of some NGOs, reports are couched in careful terms to avoid certain phrasing, etc. This does not necessarily indicate guilt–only a certain sensitivity to the possibility of accusations in the future.

    There’s a story to be told here. It hasn’t been told yet, obviously. But the Guardians at the Gate will be pretty attentive in the near future. 

  • OPatrick

    “it arguably resulted in millions of deaths as the diseases resurged” v. “the possibility of a policy error that may have led to increased human misery”.  Hmmm.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    OPatrick, excess mortality may well have been in the millions. Again, using the dog that didn’t bark theory of investigation, if this were not plausible, those statistics would have been collected, pored over and published. The fact that it’s all undiscussed is an element of the discussion.

  • Tom C

    Joshua, The two sentences you repeated endlessly were not conclusions.  They were explanatory and in reference to Figure 8.  You kept presenting them as conclusions of the paper, even though the concluding sentence of the paragraph contradicts the supposed “conclusions”. And now, since you are an expert on DDT, you are busy trying to slime Roberts as having “an agenda”. No doubt there is furious googling going on trying to find an angle on Roberts.  Maybe he is a smoker (like Lindzen!), maybe he is religious (like Christy!), maybe he is Canadian (like McIntyre!), maybe he once gave a seminar at a chemical company. Whatever, anything will do.  Prior to reading this thread I was actually not strongly on either side, and I’m still not.  I just object to the character assassination (ala Lambert, TB, and now you) of anyone who dares question politically correct dogma on this or any other issue.

  • JimR

    #332 Ed That is quite a rambling post. Is it a cut and paste? I ask since much of it doesn’t seem applicable to the discussion we are having.

    For example your first point no one suggested DDT had been banned in Africa or Asia. Same thing with your point on the EPA where no one suggested the EPA controlled DDT use outside the US.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “indoor residual spraying (IRS) has never gone out of style”. We know from several studies that globally IRS dramatically decreased and in malaria prone areas there was a corresponding rise in cases of malaria. The use of DDT had become very unpopular with environmental pressure and there were few willing to fund anti-malaria DDT programs.

    Also this stood out:

    “but while working on them Soper’s teams discovered that mosquitoes in Africa had already developed resistance and immunity to DDT”

    Now I hope you aren’t trying to say that mosquitoes all over Africa were resistant starting in the 1960′s. While resistance in mosquitoes was discovered DDT was still and continues to this day to be effective in most of Africa for vector control. 

    Can you provide a reference for this: “Today, bednets tend to be two or three times more effective than IRS with DDT in preventing malaria infections.”? I’ve read that bed nets can be cost effective but 2 or 3 times more effective sounds a bit off. 

    And this point should be explained:

    “Had we listened to Carson in 1962, and acted then, DDT might still be a great tool to fight malaria, and millions more lives might have been saved.”

    What does that even mean? DDT is to this day a great tool in the fight against malaria and if there had more DDT use in vector control millions of lives could have been saved.

  • http://planet3.org Michael Tobis

    #338 “character assasination of anyone who dares question politically correct dogma”

    http://planet3.org/2012/10/27/recognizing-and-coping-with-lies/

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    > The claim is not “arguably” true because it hasn’t actually been argued.

    True enough.

    Arguably, perhaps.

  • Joshua

    Joshua, The two sentences you repeated endlessly were not conclusions.  They were explanatory and in reference to Figure 8.  You kept presenting them as conclusions of the paper,

    Dude. Look at the title of the article. Consider the subject of the paper. Look again at the statements w/r/t causation in the conclusions section. Get back to me. We’ll talk. 

    I haven’t “slimed” Roberts. I pointed out the interview where he says some highly questionable things, and I pointed out that despite being an expert (which you wrongly assumed I questioned in some way) he leaves out obviously important factors when he talks about the repellent effect. I find that curious – and think that it might suggest that he has an agenda. How about you? Do you have an explanation for why you think he neglected to talk about those issues when he talked about the repellent effect? Do you think that they are unimportant?

  • Harry

    “What was Pearce’s “lie”? Cause I could have sworn that he used the term “arguable” in his Yale 360 piece.”Arguably, up is down.  Arguably.

  • Harry

    I’m having trouble seeing why TB would be classified as a troll.  He argues a point, he provide evidence, it’s on topic.

  • Tom C

    Joshua – Tom Fuller produced Roberts’ qualifications:

    Professor of Preventive Medicine (Ret.), Edward F. Hebert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md.; Chair, World Health Organization’s Working Group on Indoor Residual Spraying; Member, External Scientific Advisory Committee of the Gates Foundation’s Innovative Vector Control Consortium; Member, Board of Directors for Africa Fighting Malaria. 

    Got that?  He was chair of the WHO working group on IRS.  He is a scientific adviser to the Gates Foundation.  His opinion on the issue at hand is summarized well in #189. 

    You lifted two sentences from the paper and twister them to mean “policy decisions by environmental groups have had no effect on malaria resurgence”.  They do not mean that. They mean “we do not mean to imply that malaria resurgence has occurred solely because of these policy decisions shown on Fig 8″.  They then add that these policy decisions are not helping anything. 

    But again, don’t let me keep you from formulating more character assassination on Roberts. 

  • Joshua

    Tom C -

    You really need to learn to better differentiate between your fantasies about what I say and what I actually say. In no way did I  “twist” what Roberts said to mean “policy decisions by environmental groups have had no effect on malaria resurgence.” It is nothing short of bizarre that you put that comments in quotation marks. 

    You aren’t arguing with me, my friend, you are arguing with (and quoting)  your fantasies of me that inhabit your imagination.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Harry, Thingsbreak is not a troll. He’s just a bit single minded. But, as you say, he argues a point, offers evidence and stays on topic. Please send us a thousand of him before we see another invasion of the trolls.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Dr. Tobis at #340, you write “#338 “character assasination of anyone who dares question politically correct dogma” and link to some defensive drivel spewed by Gavin Schmidt. After saying here that you were done and sulking publicly at P3, somewhat like Achilles in his tent.

    You are one of the true pioneers of character assassination of anyone who dares question politically correct dogma. The idea that you would attempt to argue against your own modus operandi is obscene.

    In your turgid piece at P3 you write, “Scientific skepticism is also about being willing to acknowledge extant disproofs. A failure in that regard is colloquially known as “beating a dead horse”. Contemporary journalists do this dead-horse-beating habitually.”

    And yet you continue to defend Michael Mann. Please explain the disconnect.

    You write at P3, “If a person is unfamiliar but interested in a matter, they may say “some people say A and some say B. Some of the A-sayers suggest that B is refuted but I myself am new to the subject and have not been able to follow their argument.”

    And yet you continue to slime Steven Mosher while refusing to read the book he co-wrote. That doesn’t stop you from lying about the subject matter, of course.

    More to the topic of this thread, you wrote, “That is, the history of the relationship between DDT and malaria, though complex, is immensely well-studied and reasonably well understood, and the evidence flatly contradicts the claims about tragic consequences of DDT bans commonly being made.”

    I have seen no evidence on this thread and I doubt that Thingsbreak and Joshua would have failed to cite it. Please bring it forward.

  • Michael

    What a read…..awesome Gish galloping from Fuller.Factually wrong on a dozen or more points…….never acknowledges a single one, and just dishes out the next spam from his latest google search.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    #349–Good. Another idiot who doesn’t even know the terminology of his own tribe. Please come back when you understand what a Gish Gallop is and entertain us with your new-found knowledge. You may be proud of your newly-acquired literacy, but that really just isn’t enough.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Speaking of terminology, here’s what we can read on p. 30 of Groundskeeper’s Willie’s political hit job:

    > The be sure, early on in the debate some of the sckeptical science did have questionable funding sources. But this was not true for the skeptics that actually proved to be leaders or agenda setters — not McIntyre and not Watts, certainly.

    Are the persons referred by the emphasized names skeptics that actually proved to be leaders or agenda setters?

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Willard, you’ve brought your droppings back. What a pity. Oh, yeah–someone above was confused about what a troll is. So glad you’re here to remind us all. Hey, Harry–look at #351. That’s trolling.Topic: Speaking truth to green ideology. Willard: Are McIntyre and Watts leaders? Connection between topic and Willard-droppings: None.As for your bete noir, McIntyre and Watts have certainly driven the agenda–Watts as setter, McIntyre as re-setter. And they have led certain aspects of it. But are you even sure they’re skeptics?Enlighten us Willard–who was the fearless leader who thought Xtreme Weather was a good fall-back strategy for the Klimate Konsensists?Now, willard–like a little rodent you secured a copy of our book without paying for it. Goodie for you! And I’m sure you’d like to discuss elements of it and I’m happy to do so. Nonetheless, you are way off topic here and I don’t want to play that game.So here’s what I propose. If you have questions you want to ask about our book, Post them up on your weblog and notify me that they are there. I will endeavor to answer them.If you try to introduce them off topic here or elsewhere in the future, I will quite correctly call out your trolling as the pathetic crap that it is and ignore you. Deal?

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Here’s a thought–some of the hotly contested issues in either science, the blogosphere or both include issues of particular relevance to those living in sub-Saharan Africa. 

    These issues include (but are not limited to) DDT for malaria control as seen here, GMOs that could revolutionize agriculture and go a long ways towards making sub Saharan Africa self supporting, golden rice which could help deal with micronutrient deficiencies, and selection of a proper fuel portfolio. 

    An example of the latter was South Africa’s long fight to get World Bank loans for construction of a large coal-fired power plant. Greenpeace opposed this for years (and one outcome was the email from a Greenpeace executive saying ‘We know where you live’ to their opponents). We all have noticed that there has been no opposition to Germany’s new construction of 23 coal power plants…

    In fact, it is the politically incorrect faith-based organizations who have worked hard to expand rural electrification programs.

    It seems to me that neither the welfare nor the voices of those in sub-Saharan Africa count for very much in these debates.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    > Are McIntyre and Watts leaders?

    A more appropriate question for terminological issues, would be:

    > Are McIntyre and Watts skeptics that actually proved to be leaders or agenda setters?

    Answering that question matters insofar as we need to check Groundskeeper Willie’s claim, which might arguable be untrue.

    Answering that question might arguably help evaluate Groundskeeper Willie’s knowledge of the proper tribal terminology.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Put it on your weblog, Willard.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Arguably, Groundskeeper Willie might be talking of McIntyre and Watts as skeptics when it suits him.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Arguably, willard is trolling and deflecting conversation from the topic of this weblog.

    I’ll repeat willard. If you ask questions about our book on your weblog I will answer them. If you ask them here I will not. If you continue asking questions at the inappropriate forum, I will withdraw my offer to answer any questions at all.

    I can understand you not wanting to discuss the implied racism in your team’s behavior. I can understand you not wanting to defend your indefensible green ideologies.

    But if you don’t want to stay on topic, go elsewhere. Or just STFU.

  • OPatrick

    “implied racism” – whoa. Is that like ‘arguably responsible for millions of deaths’?

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    The topic was Keith’s bandwagonning of his tribe:

    We may soon be at a tipping point, where greens are forced to honestly reexamine some of the dominant worldviews that have shaped environmentalism over the past 40 years. That will be painful for them, but such a reappraisal is long overdue.

    Arguably, finding a topical comment would be hard.

    In any case, this topic has arguably nothing to do with Michael’s knowledge of tribe terminology, as in #350. Unless we’re willing to contemplate the possibility that tribes are constantly mischaracterized, which is arguably illustrated by my quote.

    Arguably, the topic was not Mann, introduced in that conversation as soon as #38. But since that’s Groundskeeper Willie’s whipping boy, it might arguably be alright.

    Groundskeeper Willie arguably got sacked a few times by TB and yet celebrates as if he scored a touchdown every time after having lost 10-15 yards.

    Groundskeeper Willie’s not the boss here. He can keep his STFU.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Yes, OPatrick, it is.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    OPatrick,

    See how Groundskeeper Willie refuses to answer a simple question and sideswipes all the slime he can, while associating me with the party he wishes to slime.

    See how Groundskeeper Willie just slimed Michael:

    Another idiot who doesn’t even know the terminology of his own tribe.

    How will Groundskeeper Willie judge himself?

  • Michael

    Tom @350.Having carefully watched the evolution-deniers and their antics over the last 40 years, I’m only too painfully aware of what a Gish Gallop is and what it looks like….and you’ve been hard at it.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    You really need to look it up, Michael. You’re using the wrong insult–I’m telling you. Why–it’s as if you’re evidencing Dumpkof Krugerrand Syndrome! Heaven forfend…

  • Michael

    Tom, it’s a not an insult, just a description. 

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Michael,

    It would be a description if you would take the time to present the evidence. You’re just being judgmental.

    It would be nice to have a run down of all the baits and switches Groundskeeper Willie presented to this audience so far in this thread, arguably not unlike most of the threads in which he deserved the first star.

    Yet another instance of the fullerene law:

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/5366203633

  • Michael

    Willard,I did, but it seems to have disappeared into the spam bucket….I’ll just wait a bit longer to see if it’s retrieved before trying to re-post.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Michael,

    Thanks.

    Please bear in mind that you are allowed of one URL per post and that you must edit the source if you want to have paragraphs. Click on the blue brackets and add the appropriate HTML tag (“p” and “blockquote” should be enough) with two alineas between them.

    Also, remember that now you have a moderated post, your numbering might be odd with other readers.

  • Michael

    Willard,<p>I’m sure I screwed up the formatting.</p>

  • Michael

    OK<br/> how about a line break?

  • Michael

    oh, c**p.

    OK, now I got it??

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Glad you’ve got the form down, Michael. Now, about the substance…

    I don’t deny evolution, Michael. It’s just when I see the tripe that issues forth from idiots like you and Willard, I fail to see the evidence. In more ways than one….

    Here’s a definition of Gish Gallop for you: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Gish_Gallop

    The woman who coined it, Eugenie Scott, is one of my favorite human beings on the planet. She spent hours of far too valuable (for her) time speaking with me about creationists and other scientific delusions back in the 90s. 

    It’s because of people like her that I don’t let jerkoffs like you and Willard get me down about the future of science.

    So don’t let her down. If you’re going to spew crap, use it correctly. 

  • Michael

    OK, once more (if i get it wrong again, I give up).

    @63 tries to use Sri Lanka as an example of stopping DDT

    @68 ignores he was corrected for the timeline error @63 and gives an ‘i read somewhere’ response with no cite

    @74 now moves on to a new interest, the “rush to judgement”;
    “I believe the interest lies rather in exploring the possibility that a rush to judgement on the public health merits of DDT vs. the environmental costs it might cause led to poor-decision making that had negative results and caused loss of life.”

    @143 returns to the US ban in ’72 and the 1960′s example of SL, ignoring the temporal incongruence which has already been pointed out to him. Gish galloping in circles!

    And then refers the EPA actions in 1996 and WHO in 2000. So an agricultural ban in the US in ’72, leads to the EPA’s and WHO’s “˜rush’ 24 years and 28 years, respectively, later!?

    @151 ignoring his attempt to recover from his first error on SL with the “˜rush to judgement’ goal-post move, Tom now rushes headlong into self-proclaimed victory on the basis of a South African decision to stop DDT use…. 24 years after the US ban.
    An own-goaling Gish Galloper…..,what a sight!

    @167 and having forgotten Pearce’s “˜blanket opposition’ claim, Tom now picks out single cases ““ such as the WWF in 1999 (while ignoring their complete position ie. when suitable replacements can be found)

    @168 and having forgotten the claim was about the “˜enviro’s', Tom starts posting snippets blaming aid agencies and even the World Bank for the cessation of DDT use.

    @170 it’s galloping off to Malaysia 1999 ““ any reason to believe that “˜blanket opposition’ from “˜envior’s’ is to blame for this, or that it’s a “˜rush to judgment’ (LOL!) from the ’72 US decision?????

    And between each these claims, some poor soul (mostly TB), posts detailed studies from the literature demonstrating the falsity of the claims,which Tom mostly ignores before googling up his next gallop.

  • Michael

    Tom @371. Thanks.

    As you see above, you fit the definition most admirably.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Michael,

    Thank you for your efforts.

    It would be interesting to have quotes for all these baits and switches.

    You might be able to construct a very long greenfieldism, arguably the longest we ever saw.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Sigh. When the people you consider your mortal enemies have to teach you the rules of the game, it says something about you. Sorry, Michael, you have not achieved the next level status of World of Wee Willie Winkles. Maybe next year.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Michael,

    Compare and contrast Groundskeeper’s latest with yours.

    Notice the editorial level, the target, the insinuations, the roles presumed.

    Your comment was arguably way more descriptive.

    Please beware that Groundskeeper rejoices in personal confrontations: recall the fullerene law. When the confrontations fade away, his relevance dissolves. Not unlike some fantasy beasts that inhabit the virtual worlds.

    Think of his overall character as some kind of test.

    Thank you for your concern,

    w

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Michael, here’s the opportunity to put one of Willard’s favorite tactics to good use: Go after me for a wide variety of reasons, none of which need to be grounded in reality. Then if I respond in any way, you can make the claim that I’m making the thread about me!

    It’s a pity that such art is only appreciated by other trolls, but you’ll learn to appreciate your fellow cave dwellers–if you can get past the stench…

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Michael,

    I point to this:

    Willard’s favorite tactics to good use: Go after me for a wide variety of reasons, none of which need to be grounded in reality.

    I point to this:

    Speaking of terminology, here’s what we can read on p. 30 of Groundskeeper’s Willie’s political hit job:

    > The be sure, early on in the debate some of the sckeptical science did have questionable funding sources. But this was not true for the skeptics that actually proved to be leaders or agenda setters “” not McIntyre and not Watts, certainly.

    Are the persons referred by the emphasized names skeptics that actually proved to be leaders or agenda setters?

    Groundskeeper is arguably conflating due diligence to his sayings with personal attacks.

    Speaking of which, let’s recall the comment of my terminological question:

    Another idiot who doesn’t even know the terminology of his own tribe. Please come back when you understand what a Gish Gallop is and entertain us with your new-found knowledge. You may be proud of your newly-acquired literacy, but that really just isn’t enough.

    And now that what you arguably described as a Gish Gallop, look how Groundskeeper threatens to rip off his shirt.

    We’re making him do it, no doubt.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Ooh, Good Michael–your lessons in Trolling 101 continue. Invent names–probably better for you as you apparently don’t understand the existing terminology–lots of names and refer to them often. It gives you the air of an insider, even though for most the inside it seems to refer to is a padded cell.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Michael,

    Do you believe that McIntyre and Watts are skeptics?

  • Michael

    Willard @374.

    For the sake of brevity I summarised Tom’s posts, but should he feel misrepresented I’ll undertake the painful task of quoting him

    Note: my long list above was only the beginning of Tom’s galloping.

  • Michael

    Willard @ 380.

    I have a somewhat conservative take on the issue of scepticism and prefer the old-school scientific version; that scepticism is the careful weighing of the evidence relating to a specific proposition, and that holding or adopting a position on the proposition requires sufficient weight of evidence, or a lack thereof justifying a wait-and-see stance.

    I distinguish this from pop-scepticism which is a more general antagonism towards a proposition.

    The genesis of McIntyre’s bears some relevance. I believe he came to the table with some strong beliefs based on other matters. He then seemed to embark on a long process of confirming his pre-existing belief based on some less than comprehensive weighing of evidence (itself, not exactly Grade 1 evidence). At least pop-sceptic, possible even an anti-sceptic.

    Watts….let’s not go there.

  • http://planet3.org Michael Tobis

    Dr. Eugenie Scott on Evolution and Global Warming Denialism: How the Public is Misled

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvZA68DHFi8

    Agree she is terrific.

  • http://climate-change-theory.com Doug Cotton

    There is absolutely no evidence of any “sensitivity” of climate to carbon dioxide levels.Scientific debate should never be decided by consensus. It should be “decided” by empirical evidence that validates, or otherwise, the hypothesis in question. Joseph Postma’s new paper (22 October 2012) looks for empirical evidence of a GHE, and finds none. He puts forward cogent arguments as to why this lack of evidence is to be expected. All should read this ground-breaking work, which also cites my paper (March 2012) pp 47-49: http://principia-scientific.org/publications/Absence_Measureable_Greenhouse_Effect.pdfDoug Cotton

  • Lenny

    Thanks for introducing me to Eugenie Scott, Tom.

  • Tom Gray

    Ah – the name calling and insults have now descended to the level of  self-mockery. Don’t anyof you realize what fools you are making of yourselves with this behaviour.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Michael,

    Thank you for your answer. I share your conservatism in the usage of “scepticism”. My interest for the moment is the usage of the term “skeptic” in Groundskeeper’s political hit job

    The term is defined on p. 30:

    Finally, the last faction is the “skeptics”. That perhaps is a poor choice of names for this group of people as they have many beliefs and positions. However, the chief defining characteristics of a skeptic is someone who does not believe that it is getting warmer, or does not believe that increased GHGs cause the planet to warm. As alternatives they look to other causes for the changes in the temperature record.

    We see that this description shares our concerns.

    But now, let’s look again at the quote I provided above, which appear four paragraphs below that definition :

    The be sure, early on in the debate some of the sckeptical science did have questionable funding sources. But this was not true for the skeptics that actually proved to be leaders or agenda setters “” not McIntyre and not Watts, certainly.

    So the obvious answer is: no, they’re not skeptics. (Disclosure: I’m relying on hearsay re: Tony’s beliefs.) But the sentence is arguably expressed in a way that if I were a skeptic , I would want them in my tribe, at the very least honoris causa. We all want to feel close to leaders and agenda setters, especially the market targetted by Groundskeeper’s political hit job.

    ***

    Regarding Steve’s perspective, here’s what we can read a bit later, on p. 45:

    In 2002 while the Kyoto treaty was being discussed, McIntyre had a lunch discussion with a friend who was a geologist. The friend mentioned that he thought the time scale the climate scientists were considering was very short in geological time and that the warming was nothing to take note of. McIntyre, motivated by nothing more than curiosity [etc.]

    On the basis of this heartwarming story, we can thus say that the Auditor has been “primed” (if that effect arguably exists) by the geological perspective.

    The class of scientist who tend to be most unimpressed with IPCC-type climate science are geologists ““ which is where I got started in this. If you took an Oreskes-type survey among geologists, I don’t believe for a minute that you would get anything like IPCC solidarity. Unlike most scientists, geologists also happen to know a lot about climate history.

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/1137329903

    This geological perspective might explain why we see an Archibald’s figure in the preface of the political hit job, p. 13, with this comment:

    If this view [let's call it the geological perspective] is accurate, then, worries about global warming seem, at best, premature, and the use of the term “Optimums” to describe times when it was warmer than today may indicate that some warming is not that bad.

    We can presume that Groundskeeper was not made aware that he could say “arguably” to dispense himself of any responsibility regarding the peddling of the geological perspective.

    We can find more details on this geological perspective on Archibald’s personal website. There is also a very nice picture of him with Vaclas Klaus at the Hradcany Castle, in Prague.

    ***

    Now, according to Groundskeeper’s definition, is David Archibald a skeptic?

    In fact, is there a skeptic that is both a leader or an agenda setter?

    Many thanks!

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Is that on your website,Willard?

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Good question. What does “that” mean?

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    neuter relative pronoun, definite article.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Click on my name, something you don’t have the honor to have.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    What is your name?

  • RickA

    Williard:
    According to the Groundskeeper definition, most “skeptics” wouldn’t be skeptics.
    From my reading, most skeptics actually believe the Earth has warmed, and that some of this warming is from the increased GHG’s emitted by humans.

    Most skeptics (in my opinion) actually only quibble with the indirect feedback warming, not the actual direct warming.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Your questions seem to be directed at someone named ‘Groundskeeper’ or ‘Groundskeeper Willie’ (scarily close to your dishonorable pseudonum). If you have questions for me, ask them of me.

  • http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/ Ed Darrell

    Hello?  Is this thing on today?Quote:  “#332 Ed That is quite a rambling post. Is it a cut and paste? I ask since much of it doesn’t seem applicable to the discussion we are having.”Well, no, not if you accept Pearce’s claim about DDT and Rachel Carson as gospel, and you regard any contrary fact as heresy or blasphemy.Pay attention to my “ramble.”  The history of Rachel Carson’s book, DDT use and regulation, and malaria, are not really questionable. To “argue” that the non-existent ban on DDT “caused” millions of deaths, is to make stuff up.  DDT use was not banned (but DDT stopped working so well); deaths decreased, not increased.  The cause effect chain is exactly backwards.That’s rather basic stuff in science, or should be.  Someone who gets the end results exactly wrong, is then using incorrect data to draw a conclusion.  So, if you agree with Pearce that DDT is quite useful, rather than the science that shows it increasingly useless; AND you agree with Pearce that malaria infections and deaths rose, instead of the history and science that show malaria infections and deaths dramatically dropped; AND you agree with Roger Bate’s astonishing implicit assertions that Texas mosquitoes migrate to Africa to infect Africans with malaria; AND you agree with Bate that William Ruckelshaus traveled back in time, from 1972 to 1965, to reduce DDT use in Africa seven years before his agency ruled it could not be used in the U.S., then my post probably doesn’t make any sense to you.But if you agree with that, obviously you cannot distinguish between your burro and a burrow, and you have no business discussing science, philosophy, history, or law, and probably not art either.Yeah, I go on a bit.  Pearce’s statement is so stunningly contrary to history, law and science, that I had hoped you would see that.  He’s not even wrong.  He’s in an alternative universe, where quantum mechanics doesn’t yet work.Is he anti-science?  He’s not even making sense to the theater of the absurd.  Is he anti-science?  With respect to his fatuous claims about DDT regulation, only to the extent that his favorite letter of the alphabet is a number between yellow and B-flat.How can someone be anti-science who can’t read a calendar and tell that 1965 comes before 1972?  How can someone be anti-science who thinks not spraying DDT in Arkansas somehow affects mosquitoes in Rwanda?Seriously — is there a competition to replace Eugene Ionesco, and did I step into the readings for the finals?

  • http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/ Ed Darrell

    In my studies of DDT and malaria, I didn’t come across anything that explains how to format stuff on this site.  Anybody want to clue me in on how to make paragraph breaks?  Thanks.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Ed Darrell, a lot of what you assert in #396 is in direct contradiction to what I  read in my investigation of the slime job directed against Fred Pearce. 

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Ed Darell, in the menu bar are two blue parens <>. If you click on that button after you have entered your comment and before you submit, you enter into HTML editing mode. You can create line breaks by finding the markup sign </P> and hitting the Enter key to manually create line breaks.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Ed,

    click on the blue < > button to reveal codes. manually insert a blank line between the paragraph tags. a pain, but most of the other formatting buttons (e.g. indent) work…

  • JimR

    #395 Ed – yes formatting here is a bit annoying. 

    “To “argue” that the non-existent ban on DDT “caused” millions of deaths, is to make stuff up.”

    But no one (at least here) is arguing that there was any such “ban”. In the article we’ve been discussion Pearce didn’t either. I can’t tell if you are still continuing an argument from years ago or are just building a straw man. However we know DDT became very unpopular and rightly so. Many nations banned the agricultural use of DDT. At the same time DDT has seen less and less use in the fight against malaria. WHO changed their policy from prevention with DDT to treatment and that was a failed policy as WHO acknowledged in 2006 with the reversal of this policy. 

    “(but DDT stopped working so well)” and “So, if you agree with Pearce that DDT is quite useful, rather than the science that shows it increasingly useless”

    Again, I hope you are not trying to claim that DDT stopped being used in the fight against malaria because of resistance. Resistance was seen and in certain places such as Sri Lanka where DDT had been heavily used in agriculture resistance was substantial. But that is not true globally and science doesn’t support such a position. It’s pretty much an anti-science position as in the topic of the head post.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.cm willard

    > If you have questions for me [Groundskeeper], ask them of me [Groundskeeper].

    I don’t. Nor have I responded any offer in that direction so far.

    Groundskeeper should wonder in who’s interests answering my questions would serve.

    To return to the accusation of idiocy hurled at Michael, here’s the basic description of a Gish Gallop:

    The Gish Gallop [...] is the debating technique of drowning the opponent in such a torrent of half-truths, lies, and straw-man arguments that the opponent cannot possibly answer every falsehood in real time.

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Gish_Gallop

    This reference has even been used in Groundskeeper’s Gish Gallop! Without daring to explain why he thinks what he does is so unlike a Gish Gallop that only an idiot could associate his google spreads with it.

    Speaking of which, please note that the Gish Gallop is often seen with a technique with the acronym PRATT:

    It is often successfully combined with the “point refuted a thousand times” (PRATT). The gallop must consist of as many points as possible, and even old and worn out arguments are useful in overwhelming the respondent and bamboozling the audience. The technique also takes advantage of the one single proof fallacy, since if a respondent only manages to refute 99 out of 100 points there is still one point that proves the galloper correct. The galloper takes to heart Joseph Stalin’s advice that “quantity has a quality all its own.”

    That Groundskeeper can’t fathom that he’s not alone on the Internet to know about this stuff does not justify his dishonorable “Qui, moi?” demeanour whence it might arguably be very, very, very plausible to describe his modus operandi, from on thread to the next, as going from one Gish Gallop to the next, which might explain why he’s making a career of squirelling away talking points, if not outright PRATTs.

    That’s he deems to call people idiots about a question of tribal is just too splendid, considereing that Groundskeeper can’t even get play fairly with his characterization of skepticism in the page where he introduced it of his political hit job.

    Groundskeeper simply has no honor.

    I have not said “arguably”, but simply.

    Arguably the most despicable sophist I have ever encountered.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.cm willard

    That’s he deems to call people idiots about a question of tribal terminology, that is.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    I dunno about that last part willard. there are an awful lot of despicable sophists to choose from round the climate interwebs. Perhaps a scoring/ranking system could be developed to treat the matter fairly?

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.cm willard

    Marlowe Johnson,

    For the purpose of evaluating those whom I have encountered, I prefer to let my gut feeling decide.

    But do notice that I’ve inserted the miraculous “arguably” in there, so do as you please.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Actually, Daffy, I think the term you want is dethpicable.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    RickA,

    Thank you for your perspective. It seems that the Auditor arguably agrees with you:

    As for Figure 1, but restricted to “true” skeptics, i.e. excluding skydragons.

    http://climateaudit.org/2012/09/10/the-third-skeptic/

    So lukewarmers are the true skeptics. At least in that caption.

    Here’s another way to characterize skeptics:

    Pielke Jr obviously doesn’t have a particularly high regard for Peter Gleick, Gavin Schmidt and Michael Mann, but these are positions that one can reasonably hold without being a “skeptic” who obsessively yelps and who disregards satellite records.

    So there are real skeptics, “skeptic”-with-scare-quotes, who arguably are untrue. By chance we have skydragons to deflect the stigmata.

    I’m not sure if “yelping” is an action that human beings. By chance it was not in the section about “deshumanising language”. It was only in the next section.

    The characterization of yelping deserves due diligence.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    So there are real skeptics and “skeptic”-with-scare-quotes, of course.

    I intended to insert another use, but that can wait.

    An idiot guide to tribe terminology might be needed.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    This was the other use:

    Little noticed at the time was Lewandowsky’s caricature of what skeptics actually believe ““ a caricature clearly serving to dehumanize his targets. Consider that, for example, Richard Lindzen, the leading skeptic, unequivocally agrees that temperature had increased and that increased CO2 has contributed to the temperature. Lindzen disputes the estimated impact of doubled CO2, both on global temperature and on negative impacts. John Christy and Roy Spencer, two other leading skeptics, are the architects and developers of the satellite record. They regularly report temperature data showing an increase in global temperature since 1980, but like Lindzen, believe that climate sensitivity is less than assumed in IPCC models and that the negative impacts will be less than advertised by IPCC, WWF and Greenpeace The opinions of the most prominent bloggers regarded by warmists as “skeptical” (Anthony, Lucia, Andrew Montford, Jeff Id, myself) are more or less along these lines. Arguably even Joe Bast of Heartland. This does not preclude holding an opinion that the surface temperature indices of Phil Jones and Jim Hansen are biased somewhat warm. Christy and Spencer believe this, as does Lindzen. While I’ve not surveyed blog readers on the point, my guess is that most “denizens” of “skeptical” blogs hold similar opinions. This is not to say that there aren’t a few extreme skydragons who challenge whether CO2 has had an impact on global temperature, but my guess is that they make up only a very small percentage of readers of skeptical blogs. I’ll return to this point later.

    http://climateaudit.org/2012/09/08/lewandowsky-scam/

    Notice the role of Skydragons there: “just” a few “extreme” bad apples thrown under the bus of reason. Notice the neutral “negative impacts”. The “unequivocally”. The allusion to Greenpeace. The “somewhat warm”. The occurences of the word “guess”.

    Does anyone know where we can read about this point on the Auditor’s blog in a more formal form than guessing games?

    This is a true PR guerilla warfare.

    So here’s the model we’re being sold:

    On the one extreme, we have a few untrue unreasonable skydragons.

    On the other, we have the alarmists.

    In between, we have a few valliant legions of lukewarmers.

    Please think about our actual description: as soon as you are skeptical of something and you accept basic physics, you’re a true skeptic, a lukewarmer.

    Are there other reasonable positions than lukewarmism?

    For the sake of the narrative, yes. My guess is that it rests on an esoteric casuistry. It depends upon greenline tests. It depends upon how you situate yourself regarding the lukewarm scandal du jour. It depends upon how you react to their furious shrieks.

    You are being played, folks.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    “You are being played, folks.” Willard–you’re finally confessing!

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Groundskeeper’s playing an old game:

    In Greek mythology the Erinyes (Ἐρινύες, pl. of Ἐρινύς, Erinys; literally “the avengers”) from Greek ἐρίνειν ” pursue, persecute”–sometimes referred to as “infernal goddesses” (Greek χθόνιαι θεαί)– were female chthonic deities of vengeance. A formulaic oath in the Iliad invokes them as “those who beneath the earth punish whosoever has sworn a false oath”. Burkert suggests they are “an embodiment of the act of self-cursing contained in the oath”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erinyes

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Groundskeeper’s playing an old game:

    In Greek mythology the Erinyes (Ἐρινύες, pl. of Ἐρινύς, Erinys; literally “the avengers”) from Greek ἐρίνειν ” pursue, persecute”–sometimes referred to as “infernal goddesses” (Greek χθόνιαι θεαί)– were female chthonic deities of vengeance. A formulaic oath in the Iliad invokes them as “those who beneath the earth punish whosoever has sworn a false oath”. Burkert suggests they are “an embodiment of the act of self-cursing contained in the oath”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erinyes

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    By now, readers might ask: how the hell does this relates with Keith’s post?

    Just look at Keith’s narrative:

    Pearce’s essay may sting even more, given where it’s published and his standing in the environmental journalism community. More importantly, Pearce joins a brigade of prominent, refreshing voices, such as Andy Revkin, Mark Lynas, Stewart Brand, and Emma Marris, who also are challenging entrenched, dogmatic positions in the green movement.

    We may soon be at a tipping point, where greens are forced to honestly reexamine some of the dominant worldviews that have shaped environmentalism over the past 40 years. That will be painful for them, but such a reappraisal is long overdue.

    On the red corner, a bandwaggon brigade of prominent, refreshing voices.

    On the blue corner, entrenched, dogmatic positions in the green movement.

    In the shadows, dominant worldviews that have shaped environmentalism over the past 40 years.

    No wonder Groundskeeper applauds.

    You are being played, folks.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    @412

    +1

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Speaking of being played, have I mentioned yet that Pamela Ronald, the UC-Davis plant geneticist to which Keith handwaved blogs at Biofortified? The site features interesting anti-regulation op-eds.

    Oh, and there’s also this book **Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food**.

    It’s all very convenient, isn’t it?

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Reminds me of the English professor who spent his entire academic career trying to prove that the famous writings were not in fact written by Homer but by another Greek with the same name.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    I point to this:

    None of this seems to bother Tom Philpott, the popular food blogger for Mother Jones, who writes that Seralini’s results “shine a harsh light on the ag-biotech industry’s mantra that GMOs have indisputably proven safe to eat.”

    Schettler added the way the paper presents some of its data is “unusual” and was hard for him to decipher. Overall, he said, he’s “intrigued” by the results, but isn’t convinced. “I don’t want to trash” the study, he said, “but I just don’t see enough there that’s very persuasive to me at this point.” He added: “It does suggest to me that we need longer term feeding studies with GM foodstuff, in a standardized way with the right number of animals in each group so we can pick up the changes and be confident that they exist.” He stressed that using enough rats to show robust, statistically significant results would be very expensive.

    So where does all of this leave us? This latest study is hardly definitive, but it provides a disturbing hint that all might not be right with our food””and shows beyond a doubt that further study is needed. Hansen and Schettler’s remarks to me about how proper studies would require a serious commitment of resources reminded me of just how little funding GMO safety studies get here in the United States, the global capital of GMO production and consumption.

    http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2012/09/gmo-corn-rat-tumor

    That is all.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    The first quote comes from Keith’s:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2012/09/are_gmo_foods_safe_opponents_are_skewing_the_science_to_scare_people_.html

    The second one from Tom Philpott.

    Perhaps Philpott should have written:

    This week, a French research team published a paper in a peer-reviewed US journal showing that rats exposed to low doses of both genetically modified corn and the widely used herbicide Roundup had negative health effects. The results, already generating plenty of debate, are not as clear-cut as they seem at first glance. But they arguably do shine a harsh light on the ag-biotech industry’s mantra that GMOs have indisputably proven safe to eat””and establish an urgent need for more long-term research.

    Our modification.

    Do note the omitted words:

    The results, already generating plenty of debate, are not as clear-cut as they seem at first glance. [Insert Keith's quote that ends with "mantra"] that GMOs have indisputably proven safe to eat””and establish an urgent need for more long-term research.

    Does the precautionary principle apply to the act of quoting?

  • andrew adams

    Willard,

    Have you seen this?

    http://grist.org/climate-energy/hawks-vs-scolds-how-reverse-tribalism-affects-climate-communication/

    In particular

    These folks accept climate change “” they are of the climate “tribe” “” but they spend most of their public communication efforts attempting to distinguish themselves from that tribe, casting the tribe as partisan, hysterical, and gripped by groupthink, themselves as independent, judicious, and devoted to the facts above all else.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    andrew adams,

    No, I had not. Thanks for this. Also thanks for the references the other day at Judy’s too.

    David Roberts and Thomas Crowley are arguably rediscovering an old Internet tradition:

    A concern troll visits sites of an opposing ideology and offers advice on how they could “improve” things, either in their tactical use of rhetoric, site rules, or with more philosophical consistency.

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Concern_troll

    We arguably need a new epithet, as it is now an whole new blog genre.

    This genre arguably subsumes all of the auditing sciences.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Hi Andrew,

    The money quote in your link is “This is a Sophie’s Choice: If we respond to the moral imperative to raise public awareness and alarm about climate, we have to be deceptive. If we are committed to truth and scientific accuracy, we have to talk in hedged, caveat-filled, probabilistic language that is utterly ineffectual in reaching and activating a tuned-out public.”

    I cannot imagine a more damaging statement. It borders on the insane, or at least something lifted from an Orwellian nightmare.

    Imagine this–we now have in Tropical Storm Sandy an occurrence that can be logically tied to climate change. Large amounts of open water in the Arctic caused the blocking front that caused Sandy to turn left instead of right. Both theory and observation lead to the clear idea that the Arctic has been warming at a quicker pace and anthropogenic contributions have spurred this along.

    If morons and idiots hadn’t spent the last year or two blowing up Pakistani floods, Russian heatwaves and Texan droughts out of all proportion, making stupid claims and just crying wolf in general, a sober conversation about less frequent but more powerful tropical storms could have been taking place since the time the depression formed.

    The ‘deceptions’ that Roberts feels are necessary to actually communicate his ‘moral imperative’ have shot down the chance to use truth to back up science.

    As for whining about climate hawks, he’s just following along the path laid down by Clive Hamilton and frozen brained commenters, some of whom babble on incessantly in this space.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    andrew adams,

    See how what he reads conspires to confirm Groundskeeper’s concerns.

    Notice how naturally each of his PRATTs are introduced in the comment, paragraphs after paragraphs, larded with lukearmly felt insults. One would arguably be an idiot to see this as a Gish Gallop: Tropical Storm Sandy and the artic melt; Pakistani floods, Russian heatwaves and Texan droughts; Clive Hamilton and frozen brained commenters.

    Because, well, it’s quite idiotic to say that there is always a trade-off between clarity and correctness. Except perhaps for lukewarm shrieks, or perhaps in spite of “using truth to back up science”, which has an inspiring ring to it, when uttered by our lukewarm sophist.

    Dethspicable.

  • grypo

    Talk about someone ^ completely misreading an ^ easy distinction between truth and lies as false dichotomy ^. Jeez ^.

    ^ = arguably

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    grypo,

    Notice how many squirrels have ^ been introduced in #420. Compare to all the ones in response to thingsbreak’s #4.

    Let’s also ^ point at this from andrew adams’ link:

    [T]hey spend most of their public communication efforts attempting to distinguish themselves from that tribe, casting the tribe as partisan, hysterical, and gripped by groupthink [...]

    Notice from #13:

    It really is a religion for these guys.

    A religion is ^ oftentimes caricatured as partisan, hysterical, and gripped by groupthink.

    If that does not ^ suffice, we could also ^ see how the rationality of related persons has been JAQed off in our dethpicable thophith’th last comment:

    I cannot imagine a more damaging statement. It borders on the insane, or at least something lifted from an Orwellian nightmare.

    It ^ does bring a new interpretation of one of the condition for a successful Gallop:

    The Gish Gallop [...] is the debating technique of drowning the opponent in such a torrent of half-truths, lies, and straw-man arguments that the opponent cannot possibly answer every falsehood in real time.

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Gish_Gallop

    Just imagine how much effort Thingsbreak had to invest to defuse all of Groundskeeper’s (^) PRATTS, so many lukewarm squirrels to distract us from his #4.

    Dethpicable.

  • andrew adams

    Hi Tom,

    I think your reading of Roberts’ piece, particularly the paragraph you quoted, is somewhat uncharitable. Bear in mind the paragraph which follows:BR>

    Dishonest or ineffectual. Alarmist or concern troll. Those are our choices?BR>

    He clearly sees this as a false dilemma between two undesirable extremes and his point is that it is possible to make statements about the dangers of climate change that are both strongly worded and honest.BR>

    As for Sandy, I have seen a number of very good pieces about the extent to which climate change has been a factor, and not just on climate blogs, so as far as I can tell from here there seems to be a perfectly sober, reasonable and properly nuanced public discussion going on. I see no evidence that this is being hindered by the supposed past sins of the “consensus” side and the people objecting are the precisely the ones one would expect.   

  • andrew adams

    Hi Tom,

    I think your reading of Roberts’ piece, particularly the paragraph you quoted, is somewhat uncharitable. Bear in mind the paragraph which follows:BR>

    Dishonest or ineffectual. Alarmist or concern troll. Those are our choices?BR>

    He clearly sees this as a false dilemma between two undesirable extremes and his point is that it is possible to make statements about the dangers of climate change that are both strongly worded and honest.BR>

    As for Sandy, I have seen a number of very good pieces about the extent to which climate change has been a factor, and not just on climate blogs, so as far as I can tell from here there seems to be a perfectly sober, reasonable and properly nuanced public discussion going on. I see no evidence that this is being hindered by the supposed past sins of the “consensus” side and the people objecting are the precisely the ones one would expect.   

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Hi Andrew,I think you’re being a little too charitable about his perceptions of his choices. But I certainly hope you’re correct about past mistakes not impeding intelligent discussion about Sandy.

    This is the first weather event that I think warrants serious discussion in conjunction with anthropogenic climate change and I hope that it proceeds in a logical fashion.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    andrew adams,

    Please don’t let our artful dodger off the hook.

    There is no need to try to convince him that his interpretation of that article is rather shallow.

    It’s just another PRATT in the making.

    Even if you show him how wrong he is, he will forget that you did and will still use his refuted interpretation as a lukewarm truthiness in future threads.

    Please remind him why you cited that Grist article instead.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Hey Daffy, when you say ‘dethpicable’ does spittle spray out of your mouth?

  • Steve Mennie

    Strictly speaking…wouldn’t that be ‘thpittle’…?

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Tribe terminologists will appreciate this blast from a recent past:

    Now, OPatrick, please pay attention. I am not a skeptic. I sympathize with their plight, as the various Goon Squads have subjected me to the same treatment as skeptics.

    http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/dilemmas-in-science-communication/#comment-16098

    The short rippin’ goes without sayin’, as goes the thread necromancy on October 1st.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    We have reasons to believe that this last use of “skeptic” we just underlined, dated from April 2012, is not the same as RickA’s.

    Nor is it the same as the Auditor’s.

    There was an interesting article at Keith’s in that same month, where we are learning that

    The paranoids in the climate skeptic sphere are unmoved.

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/2012/04/30/inside-the-climate-skeptic-hive-mind/

    when someone incredulous chap comes to the defense of the Honest Broker himself. This use of “skeptic” does seem to be different than RickA’s and the Auditor’s.

    According to RickA’s and the Auditor’s, is the Honest Broker in chief a skeptic?

    ***

    Here’s the first occurence of “skeptic” in the comment thread:

    There are some kooky skeptics out there. There are some kooky alarmists. The mistake for all is to class the kooks with the rest.

    Tribal terminologists should go confirm who wrote that comment.

    Let’s sympathize with the plight of these kooky skeptics.

    Let’s also note the rhetorical strategy: if you remove kooky skeptics and kooky alarmists, what is left?

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Another interesting use of “skeptic”, courtesy of a random poster paying lip service to John Postma’s opus at Judy’s:

    “Skeptics” are described as if they are one small block of fringe extremists, but not only is half the population skeptical in some sense, in this debate I am not on either extreme, but a centrist, smack in the middle. On the one hand, alarmists are convinced the climate is headed for a catastrophe, and on the other some people are convinced there is no greenhouse effect at all. Wes Allen, sits in the middle with me, and he’s been engaged in an intense debate with people on both ends of the spectrum.

    http://joannenova.com.au/2012/10/a-discussion-of-the-slaying-the-sky-dragon-science-is-the-greenhouse-effect-a-sky-dragon-myth/#comment-1163372

    Our emphasis.

    The Rule of Three ruling another blog post.

    Way less polarizing than a simplistic dichotomy. Inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Speaking of Judy’s, let’s recall this blog post:

    http://judithcurry.com/2012/09/18/skeptics-make-your-best-case-part-ii/#comment-241688

    which is a sequel to the part I.

    Among the many occurences of “skepti”, here’s one that I find noteworthy:

    Skepticism is the friend of the people, the enemy of oligarchy and bureaucracy, the friend of empiric truth and the enemy of propaganda’s
    myth making. Centralized government and bureaucratic thinking? “¦Fergit it,- it so easily becomes conventional and self serving, an enemy ter the open society”¦

    But “¦don’t ““ fergit ““ ter ““ wonder ““ at ““ the ““ stars ““ and ““ us ““ flawed ““ humans ““ who ““ created ““ poetry, ““ philosophy- and ““ science, seeking ter make sense of our world.

    A way to frame this with the Rule of Three would be to talk about corporate fascism, watermelon communism, and democratic freedom fighting. Or something like that. I leave the marketing exercise to others.

    Of course, there are less caricatural ways:

    [o]ur opponents are not alarmists. Our opponents are skeptics and ignorant people who dont understand science [and] scientists who over estimate their certainty.

    Ah, the good old decoy effect. Why buy the cheapest unit or the most expensive one when you can buy the one in between?

    Please note how the use of “alarmist” is always lukewarmly welcome.

    INTEGRITY — Depends What You Sell

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Damn negation: the use of “alarmism” is not always lukewarmly welcome.

    One last use of “skepti” for this morning:

    But I agree that fatigue is justified regarding skydragon type arguments about the greenhouse effect and second law of thermodynamics. But that kind of discussion seems to have pretty much disappeared from the main stream skeptical blogs? In the recent thread Skeptics: make your best case. Part II , I don’t recall seeing any greenhouse effect refutations, mainly there were discussions about solar, ocean oscillations, sea level rise and other impacts. Is it possible that the blogospheric discussions on the greenhouse effect ( at Climate Etc, Science of Doom, etc) have actually slain the skydragons?

    http://judithcurry.com/2012/09/29/what-are-blogs-good-for-anyways/

    The title of the post asks an interesting question: what are blogs good for anyway? An arguably temporary result for this morning would arguably be: to implement the Rule of Three over and over again.

    In the case of Judy’s, it’s (a) the IPCC, (b) the Skydragons, and a (c) left as an exercise to the readers.

    Do note that the skeptics are arguably identified as the skydragons, in contradistinction to RickA’s and the Auditor’s usage.

    ***

    I believe that I have provided enough evidence to show that even the less idiotic tribe terminologists might have problems keeping track of the usages underlying the labels.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Oh, and why not underline the slip:

    I point to this sentence from Judy:

    But that kind of discussion seems to have pretty much disappeared from the main stream skeptical blogs?

    And I point to the following one:

    In the recent thread Skeptics: make your best case [...]

    Both expressions emphasized arguably point to two quite different concepts of skepticism.

    INTEGRITY — From One Sentence to the Next.

  • Jeffn

    Tom, the big problem that Grist misses is the cumulative affect on believers when you send them out ill prepared into the world with cocoon-thought.
    Remember that part of the Gore crusade was to “train” activists to go tell “the facts” to their friends and family. A relative used to lecture me that those “facts” included claims that hurricanes were unprecedented in number and size, which was easily debunked with five minutes of Google. It’s probably more important to Grist that my relative is less likely to trust the activists rather than what I think of the activists.
    Imagine the dinner table this thanksgiving.
    Grist devotee- Superstorm Sandy was the biggest and baddest ever, totally caused by Exxon, totally unprecedented!
    Uncle joe- well, yeah except for the ones in 1944, 1900, 1926, 1960, 1969, 1928, 1938… You are exactly right except for the part about big, bad, unprecedented and GHG- related. Here’s the federal storm ranking.
    Grist devotee- shit, this isn’t the first time I’ve been burned by Grist.

  • andrew adams

    Tom,<BR><BR>
    I disagree. For a start, I think that given the number of high profile extreme weather events we have seen in recent years  – the drought in Texas, floods in Australia, heatwave in Moscow etc. it’s inevitable that there will be speculation about the extent to which they are related to climate change. Here in the UK we have not suffered such extremes but we have had unusually (by recent standards) severe conditions in the last three winters, and people are interested in why this is. It’s right that climate scientists try to add some light to that debate rather than leave it to the uninformed and those with ulterior motives and even if it’s not possible to prove a direct link between such events and AGW (or indeed that there is no link) there are still things which can be said about how they are consistent (or not) with our expectations and how they can shape our understanding of what the future may bring.<BR><BR>
    It’s also natural that scientists will be working on examining possible links between extreme events and climate change, whether in terms of a direct cause and effect or from a statistical perspective such as Hansen’s work on heatwaves, and they should be free to discuss there things openly, and so should the rest of us who are interested in the subject. Yes we need to choose our words carefully sometimes but we don’t have to allow others to set the terms of the debate, and that I think is partly the point that Roberts was making. 

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Hi JeffN and Andrew both. It’s obvious that Sandy was neither the biggest nor the baddest storm in either recent or historical times. That’s not the point. The point is that the vastly increased amount of open water in the Arctic may well have spurred creation of the block that induced Sandy to turn left instead of right.

    To me, at least, that’s interesting. The weather events you mention, Andrew, are not interesting from a climatological point of view–they’re just repeats of periodic events with no way of determining what if any effect climate change had on their occurrence or severity.

    The problem with what Dave Roberts said at Grist is not how it may affect the discourse of scientists. It’s the potential effects on non-scientists, such as one other recent commenter here.

    Scientists don’t need Dave Roberts to give advice on communication. Someone needs to give Mr. Roberts some advice. 

    I presume he was at least literate during the media debate on Mr. Schneider’s similar statement–just from a desire to remain politically savvy, Roberts had no business saying what he said.

    And Roberts wasn’t directing his writing to scientists, but to other debaters and specifically to journalists sharing his point of view.

    As has been the case so often with the consensus team, ethically wrong, strategically stupid and tactically pointless shooting one’s self in the foot.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Andrew,

    Thank you for reminding Roberts’ point.

    Speaking of “setting up the debate”, I have a minute to remind ourselves of another use of the word skeptic, this time with scary quotes:

    The third “skeptic” blog is “¦. Pielke Jr.

    Does this entail that it would be idiotic to consider Pielke Jr. as a skeptic?

    In other words, what is the underlying concept of “skeptic”?

    ***

    Let us also note that A. Scott does not seem to have gotten the memo about the proper tribe terminology:

    And the skeptics, including Mr. McIntyre, Mr. [Groundskeeper Willie] and others have independently shown the same conclusions.

    http://climateaudit.org/2012/09/14/the-sks-link-to-the-lewandowsky-survey/#comment-352443

    You might notice the arguable subtlety of playing close enough to the Skydragons to remain in the skeptic tribe, while being able to throw them under the bus when asked if they’re a bit “kooky”, paraphrasing with lukewarmly accepted terms.

    Arguably, we should feel for the kookies. They’re people too. More so that they’re so useful tools when comes the time to apply the Rule of Three.

  • andrew adams

    Hi Tom,

    Bloomberg reported Sandy as being “the largest tropical system recorded in the Atlantic” so it seems pretty big and bad to me. Or were they wrong? Mind you Grist never called it “the biggest baddest ever” so that argument was a straw man anyway.

    You may not find the other events I mentioned interesting from a climatological point of view but others disagree. For example there is good reason to believe that recent severe winter conditions in the North Atlantic may be linked to the reduction in arctic sea ice.

    I don’t know why you find Roberts’s argument ethically objectionable, unless you are equating it with the highly dubious reading of Schneider’s argument which the skeptics like to trot out. What you think he was saying is obviously very different from what myself and others here are reading,

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Andrew,

    Beware that you arguably are entering a conversation you already had before, e.g. last August and last September.

    On the very same Bat channel.

    With the very same tribe terminologist.

    Please mind being played.

  • jeffn

    Andrew- Grist wanted to tell people that Sandy was bigger and badder than prior storms as a result of AGW, otherwise what’s the point of discussing it? A perfectly normal storm is a good time to talk about the disastrous affects of AGW?

    Also, this sentence of yours is a great example of the cocoon: “For example there is good reason to believe that recent severe winter conditions in the North Atlantic may be linked to the reduction in arctic sea ice.”

    No doubt that sounds great to devotees. Not so much to the layman, who remembers when you guys were banging your gongs and shouting that there would be no more “severe winter conditions” as a result of AGW and that anyone who disagrees is an idiot or corrupt.
    Now you want to say the opposite because your prediction didn’t come true (and, of course, sneer that “it wasn’t a prediction, it was a projection”)
    My point is that there are activists who screamed the “no more sever winters” message in people’s faces because you guys told them to. Each time they scream something that’s wrong, the number of activists willing to scream gets smaller. Grist, here, is telling the activists to get back in peoples faces and scream something wrong. That will not convince people who aren’t paying attention and it will turn away Grist allies who keep getting burned.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    For reference, here’s the title of Roberts’ op-ed is Hawks vs. scolds: How “˜reverse tribalism’ affects climate communication

    Here’s what he says about Sandy:

    [W]hen a climate hawk says, “Sandy is climate change,” scolds immediately reduce that message to a piece of scientific literalism “” “Sandy couldn’t have happened in the absence of climate change” “” and set about scolding.

    But why do that? Most of the public doesn’t have a clue about climate science and never will, any more than they understand health science or biological evolution. [...] What the public wants and needs is a sense of what climate change means, how it fits into their worldview, what values and feelings to associate with it. After all, I don’t know much about the physiological mechanisms by which smoking causes cancer. But I know what smoking means, the web of social and economic practices around it. And I know what cancer means. And I know what it means for one to lead to the other. I have a social and ethical context in which to situate those facts.

    http://grist.org/climate-energy/hawks-vs-scolds-how-reverse-tribalism-affects-climate-communication/

    This op-ed is not about Sandy, but about the “scolds” vs the hawks, and more precisely about the scolds’ playbook in Sandy’s times.

    One can arguably see a lot of words just by reading.

    Better yet, let’s try our lesson in the Rule of Three: there are those who can’t read, there are those who won’t read, and there are those who do read; among those who can’t or won’t read, there are kookies; etc.

  • Jeffn

    Oh for goodness sakes, he’s writing about his twitter beef with the “scold” Andy Revkin over whether to use Sandy as the latest weather=climate example. And he specifically concludes that you should.
    And you dodged the issue again. Let’s take it out of the climate context for a moment. Do you think this would be a winning strategy both for motivating activists and winning votes this Tuesday?
    “we know there are many reasons to vote for Obama Tuesday, but from today on we want you to tell everyone that deficit spending is at the lowest ever. Insist on it. Get in their faces. Be particularly nasty to independents who are voting for Obama. If they think deficits are high but they’ll vote for Obama for other reasons, call them liars, compare them to Nazis..”

    “scolds” say you shouldn’t spotlight your weakest argument. It de-motivates supporters and it is unconvincing if not counterproductive when communicating to the unconvinced.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    I point to this:

    A storm like Sandy provides an opportunity for those who understand climate change to help construct that context. It provides a set of experiences “” a set of images, sounds, smells, feelings, experiences “” that can inscribe climate change with the cultural resonance it lacks. That’s what persuades and motivates people: not the clinical language of science, but experiences and emotions and associations. Of course communicating scientific facts is important too, but it’s not the primary need, nor the standard by which other communications should be judged. What scolds often do is interpret the language of emotion and association through the filter of science. That’s neither helpful nor admirable.

    http://grist.org/climate-energy/hawks-vs-scolds-how-reverse-tribalism-affects-climate-communication/

    And I point to this:

    Grist, here, is telling the activists to get back in peoples faces and scream something wrong. That will not convince people who aren’t paying attention and it will turn away Grist allies who keep getting burned.

    That is all.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    > And you dodged the issue again.

    The issue again.

    Here was the quote that Andrew found relevant to one of my points, which have yet to be countered so far in this thread:

    These folks accept climate change “” they are of the climate “tribe” “” but they spend most of their public communication efforts attempting to distinguish themselves from that tribe, casting the tribe as partisan, hysterical, and gripped by groupthink, themselves as independent, judicious, and devoted to the facts above all else.

    This has something to do with Keith’s new pet topic: the dominant worldviews that have shaped environmentalism over the past 40 years. It is relevant because Keith’s playing with the same trick in the playbook: the Rule of Three.

    Noone has yet to contest this point.

    This is arguably why we see more “Look! Schneider!” or “Look! Obama!” or even worse “Look! Ze ithue!”

    I will never understand why people play squirrel with me.

    Concern trolling is a self-defeating proposition. It’s as simple as that.

  • Jeffn

    Actual ly, I addressed your point directly. “scolds” take note of the times your tribe is partisan and hysterical precisely because they, accurately, note that those times are counterproductive to the goal they share with you.
    You have yet to show why the scolds are wrong.
    It’s as simple as that.
    Speaking of concern trolling and squirrels, when will you post some more five-year old cut-n-pastes from climate audit? They’re so exciting.

  • Tom C

    Willard – Please do us all a favor and get a job, stop excavating snips from ancient blog posts and tying them together with your weird private phrases, and embark on a project of self-understanding that will in time help you see that you are really not very clever.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    jeffn,

    A partisan tribe. Imagine that. That deserves some serious concerns.

    The Concerned is wrong for many reasons.

    First, because of the systematic reliance on PRATTs.

    Second, because these PRATTs are used to lump everything together and create tribes.

    Third, because this tribe creation helps create their smear campaigns.

    Fourth, because smear campaigns are wrong.

    Fifth, because smear campaigns are certainly not justified to combat what is perceived as smear campaigns.

    Sixth, because they are working the audience by deligitimizing their adversaries by the Rule of Three narratives.

    Seventh, these adversaries are portrayed as friends, thus enacting the “I Only Want to Help” transational game.

    Eighth, these tribes are needed, and yet are quite fuzzy.

    There sure are other reasons, but for now I believe this should be enough.

    The point of my research was to show that the Concerned can’t even get the tribe of skeptics right. That some of the quotes are old does not diminish my point. On the contrary, in fact. Non nova, sed nove.

    The “scolds” shriek about what they perceive as shrieking. This makes no pragmatic sense. Their overall stance makes no even based on their advertized pursuit of truth: most of these perceptions are mostly PRATTs, like the one you’re trying to sell about Roberts “asking activists to scream”.

    The Concerned does not even have to make pragmatic sense: it’s a view from nowhere, a simple contemporary extension of the Erynies.

    Motht of them doeth not even detherve a yawn. But thome of them are more than wrong: one ith even dethpicable.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Tom C,

    Thank you for your concerns.

  • andrew adams

    Jeffn,Sandy was both very big and very bad, are you disputing that? And it was quite likely bigger and badder than it would otherwise have been due to AGW. It doesn’t need to be the biggest ever for that to be important and Roberts didn’t say it was – he didn’t make any “factual” claims about Sandy which were incorrect.There is credible science supporting the link between severe winter conditions and arctic ice levels, that was my argument and it stands. It is probably fair to say that this is something which was not previously anticipated, so what - our understanding of how complex systems react to change can improve as events develop over time. I’m not responsible for what other people may have said in the past and I’ve never made any predictions or projections, nor have I ever told activists to scream anything in anyone’s face. As for your claim that “Grist, here, is telling the activists to get back in peoples faces and scream something wrong”, it’s simply not true.

  • andrew adams

    Willard,

    Thank you for the advice at #441

    I will point to this

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/10/31/quote-of-the-week-rationalizing-deceptive-practices-in-tabloid-climatology/

    and wonder if anyone here would like to have a go at rationalising deceptive practices.  

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Arguably, this:

    I’m not responsible for what other people may have said in the past and I’ve never made any predictions or projections, nor have I ever told activists to scream anything in anyone’s face.

    bears repeating, as it simply refutes the overall stance sold by the concerned.

    It’s as simple as that.

  • Jeffn

    ” It is probably fair to say that this is something which was not previously anticipated, so what - our understanding of how complex systems react to change can improve as events develop over time. ”

    Oh, classic. Except your tribe used to call us idiots for suggesting your “anticipation” could be wrong. A suggestion we made on account of the fact that our understanding of complex systems can… “improve.” We’re you wrong before, or can you admit that? How many times can you be wrong before you lose followers? How many times can you be wrong and nastily deny it before you lose more followers? Don’t worry, Willard will never leave you!

    Do I dispute that Sandy was big and bad? Not at all, it should come in around number 17 or 18 on the big-bad meter, behind storms from the 00s, teens, twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties, 2000s. So it’s a “new” phenomenon to you? By all means rush out an tell everyone you meet. Pay no attention to their rolling eyes.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Andrew,

    I just saw your #452.

    It seems that Team WUWT [1] are having lots of concerns.

    So much concerns about his tribe that our Concerned ran with a talking point to a skeptic, or not, depending upon the definition of a “skeptic”.

    “Deceptive practices”: Team WUWT might know a thing or two bout that.

    [1] http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/21794194024

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Oh, classic [0]. Except your tribe [1] used to call us idiots [2] for suggesting your “anticipation” could be wrong. [3] A suggestion we made on account of the fact that our understanding of complex systems can”¦ “improve.” [4] We’re you wrong before, or can you admit that? [5] How many times can you be wrong before you lose followers? [6] How many times can you be wrong and nastily deny it before you lose more followers? [7] Don’t worry, Willard will never leave you![8]

    [0] Deflection.
    [1] Guilt by association.
    [2] Weaseled understatement.
    [3] Righteous hindsight.
    [4] Righteous hindsight.
    [5] Guilt by association. Greenline test.
    [6] Join the Bandwagon! Heap fallacy.
    [7] Join the Bandwagon! Heap fallacy.
    [8] Join the Bandwagon! Guit by association. Empty prediction.

  • Jeffn

    So convincing, Willard! One would almost forget that your whole day is spent impenetrably diverting conversations to the contemplation of what evil motivates McIntyre and Fuller to ask the sorts of questions you should care about the answers to.
    Well, if you cared about global warming. But you care about communication, right?
    It’s as simple as that

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Jeffn,

    Yuk yuking does not count as an answer:

    [Y]our claim that “Grist, here, is telling the activists to get back in peoples faces and scream something wrong”, it’s simply not true.

    Thanks for playing,

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    From Andrew’s latest link, let’s also note Tony’s PRATTing:

    I would not have believed this if I didn’t see it in print. It’s another example of the playbook pioneered by the late Dr. Steven Schneider.

    The word “playbook” contains this URL:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/09/19/steven-schneiders-1992-argument-against-balance-in-science-reporting/

    But of course, it’s all about “Just Asking Questions”, as Jeffn just says.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    #457, your counting skills are truly impressive, but I think the proper phrasing in 6 and 7 is ‘heap big fallacy’.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    From big to tall or from tall to big, the fallacy is the same.

    More proper terms could be “Sorites paradox” or “continuum fallacy”, but Groundskeeper Willie can suit his fancy while fame and glory await him for his renewed PRATTing of Schneider’s memory.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    If I could suit my fancy this would be a willard-free comment section. But into every life a little willard must fall.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Sometimes the mask slips a little and the belief system slips through.

  • andrew adams

    Jeffn,<i>it should come in around number 17 or 18 on the big-bad meter, behind storms from the 00s, teens, twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties, 2000s.</i>Well I guess people here will be able to compare that statement with the claim (which was not actually made) that Sandy was the “biggest and baddest ever” and decide for themselves which is the more dubious.   As for the rest, Willard pretty much nails it @ 456.

  • andrew adams

    Jeffn,

    it should come in around number 17 or 18 on the big-bad meter, behind storms from the 00s, teens, twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties, 2000s.

    Well I guess people here will be able to compare that statement with the claim (which was not actually made) that Sandy was the “biggest and baddest ever” and decide for themselves which is the more dubious.   

    As for the rest, Willard pretty much nails it @ 456.

  • Jeffn

    #457 let us recap:
    We are asked to view a Grist column where the writer posits that “scolds” are preventing the concerned from “using” Sandy to tell the story of AGW. The “scolds” reply that this is not a good idea as Sandy wasn’t unusual and wasn’t caused by your car.
    To which the “concerned” reply that nobody said anything about Sandy and they certainly didn’t say anything about using Sandy to tell the story of AGW.
    Somebody forgot to send the new, new memo to Mayor Bloomberg, but never mind, jeffn is a nut for suggesting that anyone wanted to use Sandy.
    Of course, where Jeffn sits an easy bike ride to the shore in Virginia Beach, we are familiar with the term “hurricane” which probably explains why his greatest frustration during the storm was the loss of satellite signal just before the new episode of Walking Dead. But then our Mayor hasn’t spent the last year drawing up soda serving size regulations. We did goofy stuff like hardening the electric grid, building up dunes, shoring up sea walls and reminding residents to have several days of non-perishable foods.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    > We are asked to view a Grist column where the writer posits that “scolds” are preventing the concerned from “using” Sandy to tell the story of AGW.

    An untruth, yet again.

    Here’s what I was asked to view:

    These folks accept climate change “” they are of the climate “tribe” “” but they spend most of their public communication efforts attempting to distinguish themselves from that tribe, casting the tribe as partisan, hysterical, and gripped by groupthink, themselves as independent, judicious, and devoted to the facts above all else.

    See how Jeffn’s devoted to the facts about all else. His latest recap gallops the PRATT that “scolds are preventing the concerned from “using” Sandy to tell the story of AGW.”

    See how the beginning of the sentence serves as a bait to switch to a strawman: “nobody said anything about Sandy “. Exactly, nobody said anything relevant here about Sandy. Nobody, including Roberts.

    See how from the strawman jeffn follows with a little shirt rippin’: “never mind, jeffn is a nut for suggesting that anyone wanted to use Sandy”.

    This should be enough to have a lukerwarm story about Mayor Bloomberg and the word “hurricane”.

    So let’s recap:

    An untruth. A switch and bait. A strawman. Some shirt rippin’.

    And let’s not forget that warmfelt story.

    Pure gold. Please do continue.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Andrew,

    Perhaps this might put Jeffn’s warmfelt story into its proper scolding context:

    In a surprise announcement, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said Thursday that Hurricane Sandy had reshaped his thinking about the presidential campaign and that as a result, he was endorsing President Obama.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/02/nyregion/bloomberg-endorses-obama-saying-hurricane-sandy-affected-decision.html

    No, no need to ask how this is supposed to be related to your Grist link.

    A lukewarm lesson in communication.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Willard, you said something about a mask slipping… I’m curious. Neither I nor many of the others who share my opinion have ever been shy about our distaste for your face filling, space killing idiocies. You’re a long-winded troll who is determined to disrupt communications between people who do not share your religion.

    What mask? When did it slip? 

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    > What mask?

    The concerned mask.

    > When did it slip?

    When Groundskeeper Willie galoped to his skeptic team (or not, depending on the definition, which depends upon the mood, or the opportunity to play with the Rule of Three) with his PRATT-in-the-making, a PRATT which will be quite useful to him for the years to come.

    Dave Roberts? Scheider’s Playbook!

    Yes, but Dave follows Schneider’s Playbook.

    “See how us poor skeptics (or not, depending on the definition, which depends upon the mood, or the opportunity to play with the Rule of Three) [insert your favorite bit of shirt rippin']“.

    And if Groundskeeper Willie gets called by the ref, he could whine that Dave’s Making Do It, followed by a lukewarm communication lesson.

    Pure gold.

    ***

    Perhaps I should have talked about your kilt.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    I guess making sense really is optional. I wish you would opt to do so once in a while.

  • andrew adams

    Jeffn,

    Your original claim to which I objected was that Grist was telling people that Sandy was the biggest and baddest hurricane ever. Roberts never said this, nor did he make any particular claim about Sandy to which I think one could reasonably object. It is certainly implicit in his argument that Sandy was a) an extreme event and b) influenced at least to an extent by climate change, and “scolds” are certainly at liberty to argue that these things are not true – I guess we will see exactly whose credibility suffers as a result.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    The Chewbaccattack [1] arguably signals the beginning of the end.

    Groundskeeper Willie has not much else in his hand.

    The win usually obtains by slowly, but surely explaining each of the points over and over again, gaining more ground in each comments. Here’s a possible scenario:

    - [Auditor] By concerned mask I mean a concern that goes beyond justified disingeniousness.

    - [Concerned] What the hell does “justified disingeniousness” mean? You make no sense!

    - [Auditor] I was alluding to John Nielsen-Gammon’s intervention in the antartica affair. You want me to recall it?

    - [Concerned] No! What’s a PRATT-in-the-making? You make no sense!

    - [Auditor] An untrue meme that will serve as a ringtone to discredit anything Dave Roberts might eventually say in the years to come. Just like when you hear “William M. Connolley” you recall his Wikipedia affair or better Tiljander.

    - [Concerned] Whatever. Where did I ripped off my shirt in this thread?

    - [Auditor] Nowhere, and I thank you for it. That might explain why Jeffn does it. Do you have other questions?

    - [Concerned] Yes, but where did I ripped off my shirt in this thread?

    - [Auditor] Nowhere. I never said otherwise. It’s just something that usually happens here. And come to think of it, I now recall that you did ripped off your shirt a bit about the fullerene law…

    - [Concerned] Again with the expressions that make no sense whatsoever.

    - [Auditor] The fullerene law, as you may recall,

    - [Concerned] Yes, but Da Publik [followed by an inaudible lukewarm lesson about communication.]

    - [Auditor] Come on, Groundskeeper: we’re nearing the 500th comment at Keith’s. Please give me a break about the Public. I’m talking to you, to Andrew, to Marlowe who’s no doubt following. Perhaps even PDA, who might resurface with another satirical montage. Besides which the “Plain Folks” card belongs to the propa…

    - [Concerned] Enough mansplaining! Why the hell are you talking with imaginary dialogues with that? You make no sense!

    - [Auditor] I owe this trick to Plato, and most importantly to my theater friends. Are you getting a bit why I am here, now, characterizing your game?

    - [Concerned] You make no sense!

    Et cetera.

    Pure gold.

    Pure disingenious gold.

    [1] “You make no sense.”

  • andrew adams

    Willard,

    From that snippet you quoted I can only assume that Bloomberg is a really big fan of “Walking Dead”.

  • BBD

    Tom, I’m having no trouble following willard’s commentary here and it’s most enjoyable. On several occasions I have laughed out loud.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Idiots of a feather.

  • BBD

    I may be an idiot, but willard certainly isn’t. And you, Tom, know this perfectly well. Acknowledge your intellectual respect for your adversary. Denial is foolish, as we all know. 

  • Marlowe Johnson

    willard you’ve been in particularly fine form these last few days. what’s your secret? Tom OTOH has been as transparently disingenuous as ever.

    FWIW I think Robert’s post deserves a ‘post of the year’ nomination. These bits in particular:

    But the scolds are missing something too: Forensic attribution “” the complex science of picking out climate signals from weather noise “” is not the only thing worth talking about in connection with climate and weather events! There’s no law that says that communicators must address the public in the probabilistic language of climate science, with all its jargon and hedges and opacity. And there’s no law that says climate communication should be judged by the standards of scientific language, or that scientific language is the only responsible, accurate form of language. We take this for granted in other areas “” look at all the metaphors and parables and moralisms used around the deficit “” but in climate, for some reason, we take scientism for granted. So when a climate hawk says, “Sandy is climate change,” scolds immediately reduce that message to a piece of scientific literalism “” “Sandy couldn’t have happened in the absence of climate change” “” and set about scolding….

    That’s the key missing ingredient on climate change: not a technical understanding of stochastic modeling, forensic attribution, and degrees of probability, but a visceral, more-than-intellectual sense of what climate change means. Most people simply lack a social and ethical context for it, so they end up jamming it into other, more familiar contexts (“big government,” “environmental problem,” “liberal special interest group”).

    A storm like Sandy provides an opportunity for those who understand climate change to help construct that context. It provides a set of experiences “” a set of images, sounds, smells, feelings, experiences “” that can inscribe climate change with the cultural resonance it lacks. That’s what persuades and motivates people: not the clinical language of science, but experiences and emotions and associations. Of course communicating scientific facts is important too, but it’s not the primary need, nor the standard by which other communications should be judged. What scolds often do is interpret the language of emotion and association through the filter of science. That’s neither helpful nor admirable.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Andrew,

    Yup. Speaking of **Walking Dead**, and to insure some balance in the coverage of the political race, we just learned that Joss Whedon has now issued his support for Romney:

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/34539235026

  • BBD

    I’ll not be outdone by this DVD-era Whedon upstart. I once proposed a George A. Romero Award for PRATTfalls only a zombie could carry off convincingly.

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Collide-a-Scape

Collide-a-Scape is a wide-ranging blog forum that explores issues at the nexus of science, culture and society.

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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