8/20/2006

Rachel Carson and the Birth of Corporate Junk Science

"...she was vilified as a nature-mystic, a Communist, and a person threatening the world with hunger. Her work was satirized and "scientific articles" were written to counter her claims. It was one of the first examples of "junk-science" being used against science."

Dr. Rachel Carson was a scientist whose book, Silent Spring, became the means by which the American public first found out that pesticides killed other species in addition to "pests." The title of her book indicates what would happen if pesticide use were not regulated: a spring without birds. She wrote eloquently, yet as a scientist—presenting data and extrapolating what would happen if the trends persisted. The pesticide industry tried to halt publication of the book, and after it was published, she was vilified as a nature-mystic, a Communist, and a person threatening the world with hunger. Her work was satirized and "scientific articles" were written to counter her claims. It was one of the first examples of "junk-science" being used against science.

Read more on Rachel Carson and the ban on DDT.

43 comments:

Cato said...

The ban on DDT is directly responsible for millions of preventable deaths. Allowing DDT supposedly hurt birds.

I think humans are more important than birds. But hey, that's me. It's probabally because I think of each person as an end unto himself, whereas there are others in this world that think of each man as merely a means to a greater end and are expendable, and moreso than birds.

Anonymous said...

Where did the deaths occur?

Cato said...

Ahhh the third world. The first world used DDT all they wanted and eradicated malaria but the third world couldn't use the DDT because the producers of DDT (first world) banned it. While they do have some usage of it today, it's all closely monitored by the UN.

It's not that I personally don't give a damn about the third world, it's that the government of this country shouldn't (if you were planning on saying something like "but its the third world what does it matter?"... I care more about people than birds. How about you?)

AndyRand said...

CATO:

Where are you getting your background info for this? Please don't tell me it's Steve Maloy?

Cato said...

Just google "DDT deaths." You'll find interesting figures from hundreds of different sites (many of which link to scientific papers in addition to WHO facts about malaria deaths (and malaria is preventable!)) like how 3 million are killed every year by this preventable disease.

Anonymous said...

I don't see your point on the DDT ban. I was killing off birds and causing a slide toward the elimination of numerous species. Africa is a different continent. Are they not responsible for their own decisions on DDT use?

Likewise, what was going on in Africa before the introduction of DDT? Aren't there millions of people dying in Africa today? If this post was about the US government funnelling billions into Africa instead of a DDT ban, you'd be saying the Africans should learn to wipe their own asses.

Cato said...

DDT was produced in the first world. Since we in the first world no longer had a malaria problem we could care about morally unimportant beings, like birds. Banning DDT here effectivley ended the creation of DDT. Sure, the third world should get it's act together and start pirating how to make DDT. Or how about this, we stop stopping businesses form creating this life-saving chemical here in the states. We make some money and people in the third world live instead of die. Win-win.

AndyRand said...

CATO:

I willing to have an open mind on this. I believe people are more valuable than birds as well. But wiping out entire species doesn't seem like a wise idea either. I'll have to educate myelf more on the subject.

Cato said...

Supposedly it thinned eggshells of birds and there was a decline in higher species of birds of prey. But there are studies that point the other way (bird populations actually increasing during DDTs prime usage, eggshells not thinning on average, etc...).

In any event I would stipulate that one human is worth more than all the birds in the world, or all the damn mosquitoes, whose annoyance can be deadly and for many is. It would be a shame to allow one person to die just to satisfy some sacrament of enviornmentalism.

Anonymous said...

The story of DDT is a very good illustration of the interconnectedness of man and nature. Africa had a pre-DDT malaria problem. Africa has an AIDS problem, but you don't see BIG PARM rushing into to develope a benevolent care. There ain't not cash in that transaction.

You've throw in the old ad hominem argument to make it look like American capitalists give a crap about people dying in Africa. If there ain't no money in it, they won't be there. Leave the to Bono and Bill Gates.

Rachel Carson's fight against DDT was aimmed at an important environmental issue with far reaching implications. A song that comes to mind is "the knee bone is connected to the tight bone...etc." It is an intercommentec world.

If BIG PETRO CHEMICAL cared about people dying in Africa after the ban on DDT, they would have poured on the coals and developed an alertnative remedy for the problem. Onace again, there weren't no money in it.

Cato said...

Eh, there's money in curing the common cold.

They just can't do it. Viruses are tricky things.

There is also money in killing all mosquitoes.

There just isn't a good enough alternative.



F

AndyRand said...

CATO:
you said:
"In any event I would stipulate that one human is worth more than all the birds in the world, or all the damn mosquitoes, whose annoyance can be deadly and for many is. It would be a shame to allow one person to die just to satisfy some sacrament of enviornmentalism."

I think anon makes a good point.
When environmentalists are the "problem" your social concernt level rises to a 10. If there is an unmet need that the Corporate World should claim some responsibility your response is "let them eat cake, it's not my problem". I think you're demonstrating something of a double standard in your concern for the humans.

I veiw radical environmentalists with about as much distain as objectivists. But there are valid reasons to not extinquish species.

Cato said...

What the above sophistory by anon illustrates is the same thing the communists in charge of Russia did. "Make it work." You can't just make it work. "Well if only we had the right people!" You know these things take time, and money. If you think there can be a cure why don't you put your money where your mouth is, create a R&D facility, pay for all the workers and make billions off of curing viruses like the common cold. Until then you can be quiet about it because you don't know what goes into this research and development, the millions that needs to be poured into it. It's a guessing game really. We have trouble deducing why medicines work NOW, we just know they do. Until there is better understanding of the issues most of the time we're just throwing darts in the dark in random directions. You cannot force the issue because we do not know where to focus in at at this juncture. Unfourtently, that is the nature of viruses.

As for DDT, they've tried all sorts of stuff. People go into fear mode about EEE and such over in this country. We can't use DDT so we use less effective alternatives. Well people die. But a few people dead is better than a few birds right...

Cato said...

No andy, you are wrong.

I personally may be concerned about people. It is irrelevant to whether or not government should be.

There is a difference between me being concerned about people and me thinking my government should do something about it.

Instead of placating your guilty conscience by having governments take care of things for you, I think you ought to do it yourself. Instead of sloughing off whatever responsibility you feel each man has towards his fellow man onto the government, perhaps you should take up that cross yourself. I demand nothing of no man and ask the same curtesy from everyone else. I can be kind and help someone out, or say that "hey government shouldn't be banning this lifesaving substance" and have no "double standard."

AndyRand said...

CATO:
I'm used to always being wrong in your eyes.
You've devised a fool proof cop out to be right all the time.

"Go do it yourself your say to others." The in the next breath you say you don't demand anything of anyone else don't demand it of me.
Don't ask me to do anything especially through my government."

Get REAL. You know damn well individuals will never have anything near the resources needed to takle these problems. Even Bill Gates with his Billions in donations sponsors programs in concert with governments.
In you attempt at philosophical purity, you are impractical in the extreme.

Besides, my point was you don't express concern over problems created by Corporations, only those created by government, and environmentists, your pet whipping boys.

Anonymous said...

Cato:

I believe the pragmatic approach is what has worked in America and we see little evidence of that in Soviet Russia. Americans have long been identified with the incremental improvement approach.

Or is the comparison to the communists another extention of your ad hominem approach to the discussion here. Regardless of the political framework that you are working in, you will find all shapes and sizes of the mothers or invention. I thought you argued with more than the colors of black and white.

Cato said...

Corporations do not force their customers to pay for whatever problem or percieved problem they create or others create.

Governments and enviornmentalists do. If enviornmentalists did what they did without government involvement whatsoever I would not care.

So my concern is with the use of force to coerce people into doing what they do not want to do. To force them to sacrifice their lives (property = your past time and effort = part of your life) for some percieved greater good. I disagree with the idea that their ends are good alltogeher, yes, but I also disagree with their coercive methods of force.


As for me being "impractical" at least I have a solid moral foundation that does not sanction theft. It's so very easy to spend other people's money isn't it?

And I do not ask anything of others. I merely suggested that if you want to placate your guilty consceince you should do it yourself. I am not here to do it for you.

666 said...

Cato:

Out of miilions of taxpayers there must be a few who haven't paid their taxes. Can you provide a few examples of the non-payers who have been taken out back and shot by the government?

Cato said...

Uh, yeah: Ruby Ridge.

Cato said...

Anarchy =/= chaos. I hope you understand this truism. As I stated before, only the idea that government is for it's own citizens is really keeping me from going all the way to the anarchists. Anarchism is lack of government. While the details (where the devil is of course) may be fuzzy please do not confuse anarchy and chaos.

Enviornmental regulation is, interestingly enough, a product of corporate welfare. Corporations would rather be fined a set amount than risk being sued for an undetermined amount later. Sure, they would much rather not have either but they are just taking a pragmatic approach. So they lobby and get these regulations put in, which allows pollution so long as there are fines and whatnot, and it just becomes a different cost to them. The people the pollution harms? Let the taxpayer pay for it.

I would say those harmed should sue the corporation for everything they are worth.

AndyRand said...

CATO said:
"Corporations do not force their customers to pay for whatever problem or percieved problem they create or others create."

Of course they don't. They just dissolve themselves and leave the government holding the bag. If it weren't for environmental regulations, who knows how many more Love Canals and Cuyahoga rivers we would have seen.

As for your moral stratosphere,
There's yet to be a civilization to function by your ideals, and there will never be one. If your ideal non-government were become reality, anarchy and chaos would reign in a matter of months if not sooner.

AndyRand said...

You cannot sue entities that have no legal status.
Try to sue the old K-mart, or Carborundum, or Hooker chemical.
They have vanished. Suits are the most assinine way to settle grevences.
They inevitable cost both parties as much or more than the initial damages and linger in the courts for years, often unsettled until the remedy is meaningless.

Cato said...

Corporations have he legal status of a person. What do you mean "no legal status"? Legally each corporation is a "person." This is so you can sue them. Many people find this wrong however, since corporations are also thus afforded legal protections of people.

666 said...

Cato:

Rudy Ridge had to do with entrapment of a private individual for a gun sale and a subsequent murder of a man's family by ATF agents that were out of control.

Where do income taxes come into play on Ruby Ridge?

AndyRand said...

No legal staus as in , they no longer exist.
And what about the years in court? You did not address that. Maybe there is not a better alternative. But how many people want to risk years of their lives fighting in court for the CHANCE of getting a remedy. For most it's not worth the effort. Maybe that's why you are such a fan of lawsuits?

Every instance I've seen where government becomes non-existent or ineffective (Natural disasters for one) Chaos ensues within hours. (e.g. looting etc.) That kind of self government I and I imagine most can do without.

Cato said...

He failed to pay for the tax on his shotgun. it's why they came to his house in the first place, shot their dog and then his kids in the back...

Cato said...

The looting that occured after Katrina was done by criminals, who ran rampant in that city before the hurricane. It's the same thing that happens if you leave 5 year old with a loaded gun. People have to be more mature and ready to accept responsibilty before one can cast off the chains of oppression from the government.

You see, I do not do bad things to other people because they are wrong. There are many in society who do not do things because they are told that government will do X to them. But this does not mean that without government there would not be law and order. There are plenty of works on the subject. I would suspect that there would be some major shaking out (which of course would result in many people dying) if there was to be a drastic change. But if it was slow and gradual back to a point where citizens took a more active role in their own responsibility to themselves and each other than I do not think such would happen. But there is a very small chance of anarchy actually coming to frutition without a violent end to government, which I oppose. The only hope is to shrug amd then not bother to re-establish.

AndyRand said...

Ruby Ridge:

One tragedy among millions of others.
Sure this should never have happened
but the anti-Government crowd will never let it go. You don't hear them whining about Wounded Knee do you?

AndyRand said...

CATO:

"People have to be more mature and ready to accept responsibilty before one can cast off the chains of oppression from the government."

This premise is naive as Lenin's in his "State and Revolution".
You cannot be serious?
I don't know where you'll get this fairy dust to make everyone good and responsible. Who will run the prisons for those who are not. I've never heard anything so lucicrous in my life.

Don't forget there were claims of police looting. More than likely they were helping themselves to essentials to keep themselves alive. I talking food and toilet paper, not wide screen TVs. Are they looters.
Are they above doing wrong. When push comes to shove, people will do what it takes to survive especially when it comes to property.

Cato said...

So, do you think that just because someone else doesn't criticise the government over something that it should be immune from criticism? It was awful terrible what happened.

So how long between atrocity and present can we complain about it? 10 years? It's only been 14 years since it happened. Should I just let it go? Maybe I should just let go all government atrocities a few days after they occur. Surely they should not have happened but I should just let it go, eh?

Cato said...

Police looting are criminals, and are not above doing wrong. I would shoot them in the face.

You just illustrated the reason why people need to be better armed than their governments.

As for the other part of your post, I was saying that people themesleves need to become more mature and responsible. You know, be able to wipe their own ass after having government do it for them for so long. Atrophied muscles need to be rebuilt.

AndyRand said...

CATO:
"So how long between atrocity and present can we complain about it? 10 years? It's only been 14 years since it happened. Should I just let it go? Maybe I should just let go all government atrocities a few days after they occur. Surely they should not have happened but I should just let it go, eh?"

I don't hear you morning about other atrocities.
Pick a different atrocity to obsess over, as I said there are millions to choose from. This is just your pet. I'm sure what's happening in DarFur isn't of any concern to you.

I'm starting to sound as calloused as you. True, Ruby Ridge was wrong and terrible. But it's the only thing people of your ilk remember. That and WACO.

Cato said...

Was our government committing atrocities in Darfur? I think we should fix our own problems first and mind our business.

AndyRand said...

So you are so morally upright that, you wouldn't take a can of beans from a flooded and unoccupied grocery store, a can that could not be resold and would surely be dicarded? That's not moral, it's just plain foolish. This is the "looting" I referred to by police.
If it were a new computer, it'd be different.

AndyRand said...

Not all atrocities are governmental!
In the minds of some yes, by our negligence.

AndyRand said...

Besides, that is what I'm saying, you only whine about government atrocities.

Cato said...

Here is the disconnect andy. You want to bend rules to show that stealing isn't stealing.

But the fact of the matter is: it is stealing.

Yes, I am so morally uptight that I would not steal from my fellow man. And I would expect the same of them. Apparently you are not and would steal from other people. Isn't that nice.

666 said...

Cato:

"Corporations do not force their customers to pay for whatever problem or percieved problem they create or others create."

Of course corporations do this. They do it by pouring cash into the political system and turning a hefty ROI on it.
---
Ruby Ridge: I asked about income tax. Name someone who has been taken out back and shot because they didn't pay their income tax?

I believe what happened at Ruby Ridge and Waco were examples of the law taking the law into its own hand and committing murder.

It's much like the murder committed by corporate America via unsafed goods and services. Notice the post on how the BIG TOBACCO lied about the facts. Corporations actually don't lie -- the people that run them do.

AndyRand said...

CATO:

You convieniently focus on the letter of the law and totally ignore it's spirit.
You couldn't find a jury in this country to convict anyone of theft for taking a damaged can of beans from an unoccupied store in the midst of a disaster. You know you couldn't. And frankly, if your stomach was growling after several days of not eating, I have no doubt you would "steal" in this manner.

666 said...

Andy:

You must not forget the Cato previously stated the he adheres to his libertarian principles by not taking welfare or using public transportation.

Of course, he does use public roads to drive to work. That would be a form of public transportation. He most likely takes as many tax exemptions as legally feasible. That would be a form of welfare.

Cato said...

666 -- you did not ask about income taxes you asked about taxes. Since taking away your freedom is taking away part of your life (although not your life proper which is what you want me to find out) being jailed for failure to pay income taxes is taking away part of people's lives.

Please don't tell me you asked something you did not. It is quite plain what you asked. In fact we can go over it. You said:

Out of miilions of taxpayers there must be a few who haven't paid their taxes. Can you provide a few examples of the non-payers who have been taken out back and shot by the government?

I answered your question.

"BIG TOBACCO" please. they were peddling a product. If people die from using it it's their own fault.

"Doctor when I punch myself in the face it hurts!"

"Than stop doing it."

"But BIG TOBACCO says it's ok for you to do it!"

"I guess you can't fix stupid."

The rest of your comments deserve no recognition.




Andy, I would hang the jury if I needed to.

AndyRand said...

CATO said:

"Andy, I would hang the jury if I needed to."

What kind of "hang" do you mean?
As in Kill? That's certainly the higer moral ground!!!
Or am I missing your sarcasm?

Cato said...

No, no sarcasm. A hung jury is one that cannot reach a verdict... if you stipulated that "no" jury would convict than I would hang it if I was in it, because I would uphold the law (which is what the jury is supposed to do mind you).