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De Omnibus Dubitandum - Lux Veritas

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Silent Spring: The Consequences of 50 Years of Junk Science! Part II

By Rich Kozlovich

(Originally published November 17, 2012)

Silent Spring originally appeared in the New Yorker magazine in a serialized form and was received with such enthusiasm they published the book in late September 1962.

Pest Control Technology came out with their September issue; “Silent Spring Turns 50!”  As a result there are comments that I feel needed to be dealt with first.  In this issue I will continue to deal with the book, the author and some comments made by contributors.

PCT states:
Whatever you may think of this woman and her message, her effect on the course of history is undeniable. Designated as one of the 100 “most important people” of the 20th Century by Time magazine, Carson was a posthumous recipient (in 1980) of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the two highest civilian honors in the United States. In 1992, her landmark work was judged to be the most influential book of the past 50 years by a panel of 22 distinguished Americans from across the political spectrum. In 2005 — demonstrating that its ability to polarize remains undiminished — “Silent Spring” was included in a list of the “most harmful books of the 19th and 20th Centuries” (along with such worthy companions as “The Communist Manifesto” and “Mein Kampf”) by the conservative magazine Human Events.”

According to PCT they wanted to know what the impact Silent Spring had on the industry.  They wonder; “how many of today’s PMPs had actually read the five-decades-old book that launched the environmental movement, which ultimately led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.”  Apparently they were surprised to find that few had read it and a large number had never heard of it.  What I am surprised at is they were surprised.  Those who know me know I talk to everyone about the green movement in all of its manifestations, including Silent Spring and Rachel Carson.  You would be even more amazed at how many people who style themselves as environmentalists have only heard about it, but never read it.

Having read it twice (thirty years apart, which makes a real difference) I can tell you even after knowing all that I know about Carson and the misinformation she published, I found once again her writing ability is so mesmerizing that I almost emotionally  drawn right back into her spider’s web.  I recommend that everyone read her work.  I recommend that everyone read the truth first.  Then after reading her book, go back and read the truth again. 

You'll need it! 

Let’s make no mistake about this - it was Rachel Carson’s amazing writing ability that won through against her critics - not her scientific acumen.   Carson even attempted to make comparisons between “radiation” and commonly used herbicides.  This is inexcusable since the mode of action for each is totally different.

Yet in spite of the fact that so much of her work has been thoroughly exposed as junk science and deliberate misrepresentation of the facts, her book is required reading in many schools and the impact is still so devastating it is difficult to overcome because Silent Spring has become a religious document.  In short it is the primary religious text of the environmental movement; a movement that is now a secular religion, which included Integrated Pest Management and Green structural pest control, neither of which exists.  It was never a scientific document.  And the environmental movement isn’t a scientific movement.  IPM doesn’t exist in structural pest control and green pest control is environmentalist mythology!

Green is a mixture of blue and yellow. That is the only factual definition of green that will stand the test of time. After that; any other definition is a corruption of a perfectly nice color.  As a philosophy; green is a religion based on mysticism. The ancient Druids would be very comfortable with today’s green movement.  They also willing sacrificed people to their gods of nature.

The featured writer is a Dr. Al Green, an “entomologist and national IPM coordinator for the GSA’s Public Building Service in Washington, D.C.  Clearly his views reflect his reality, however, he at least honestly recognizes that the “IPM” community is divided between the “idealists” and the “pragmatists”!  As for the IPM idealists he notes; It is, at its core, a product of the social upheaval and activism of the 1960s that spawned a variety of major, interrelated, ideological campaigns that challenged the status quo: environmental, civil rights, women’s rights, consumer protection and antiwar.” I am inclined to think his views lie somewhere in between the two groups.  He does talk about his “economic entomology professor” who “vehemently denounced [Silent Spring] as insidious claptrap.” 

He should have listened to him. 

He states that he doesn’t understand why structural pest control people get so upset at this book because Carson has only passing references to structural applications.  I have to believe he is being disingenuous. In this book Carson says that people died in relatively short time frames after being exposed to DDT.

Ronald Bailey notes; But hinting at cancer doom decades away was not enough. Carson was convinced that pesticides could wreak their carcinogenic havoc much sooner rather than later. As evidence she cited various anecdotes, including one about a woman "who abhorred spiders" and who sprayed her basement with DDT in mid-August. She died of acute leukemia a couple of months later. In another passage, Carson cites a man embarrassed by his roach-infested office who again sprayed DDT and who "within a short time … began to bruise and bleed." He was within a month of spraying diagnosed with aplastic anemia.” 

Anecdotes are stories!  Stories require no references, no medical history, and most importantly,  no science.  I think that alone is enough reason for our industry to get enflamed.

So many of her references were misleading and often in direct opposition to what was actually stated.  In short….she lied!  In short….she knew she lied!  In wasn’t an accident. 

Green says of Carson - “methodically building her case through an enormous amount of documentation that ranges from the cellular level to the ecosystem. Despite the inevitable, mostly minor, examples of oversimplification and fact-stretching to make a point for general audiences, “Silent Spring” remains an unusually compelling and persuasive book.” 

Is he kiddng?  Did he really read her book?  Does he really understand what happened there?  Unusually compelling and persuasive as her book may have been because it was so well written, the fact remains - it was full of lies.  In a court of law once a witness is found lying all of their testimony is considered worthless, irrespective of how well they tell their lies.  Why is it different in “science”?  

Actually it isn’t - at least it shouldn't be - unless of course those lies benefit the green movement.  Then they will be drug out and touted over and over again, and Ph.D. fellow travelers will attempt to show in some way so those lies don’t matter because they support a “greater good” and then “progress” can be made.  What progress are they talking about?  Adopting Carson’s radical environmental philosophy is not progress.

For now let’s clarify exactly what happened with Carson’s book, which set the pattern for every green scare ever since. Madeleine Pelner Cosman, Ph.D. notes that there are seven steps to this process and usually follow this pattern.
1. Create a "scientific" study that predicts a public health disaster
2. Release the study to the media, before scientists can review it
3. Generate an intense emotional public reaction
4. Develop a government-enforced solution
5. Intimidate Congress into passing it into law
6. Coerce manufacturers to stop making the product
7. Bully users to replace it, or obliterate it

This is the pattern set by Silent Spring, which is no less junk science than the book, “Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence and Survival? — A Scientific Detective Story”, based on work out of Tulane University which implicated pesticides and other chemicals as endocrine disruptors, which also turned out to be fraudulent, yet these fraudulent claims are still touted by people like Mark Lame as a justification to use less pesticides and support….guess what ?….IPM.

If here is no alternative there is no problem!

To replace what's now being called traditional pest control with an emphasis on pesticides, an alterntive needed to be found.   By claiming there is such a thing as IPM in structural pest control they have an alternative.  So with IPM as the alternative - they can now insist there is a problem.   But pesticides and traditional pest control isn't the real problem.  The real problem is that there is no such thing as IPM or green pest control in structural pest control because neither has a logical foundation.  In agriculture it's “threshold limits”.  What is the logical foundation in structural pest control?  There isn’t any!  Neither IPM nor green pest control has foundation or parameters.

Dr. Green talks about “contamination of our food supply was far more serious, and almost no regard was given to the massive wildlife kills and environmental mayhem that resulted from aggressive aerial campaigns.” 

That is a bit confusing.  Contaminated food?  What contamination? Just how bad was it?  Where did it take place?  When did that take place?  Who was sickened?  How many were sickened?  He doesn't say!   Why not?  In my world I'm challenged constantly to substantiate everything I say, and I expect it and I provide those references in my articles.  Perhaps he became confused with all the food contamination and recalls originating from "organic" farming  practices - and if he's unaware - I can provide reference work.

What massive wildlife kills?  Where did they happen?  What wildlife was impacted?  How many were killed?  Again, no substantiation! I remember the massive fish kills along Lake Erie, but was that caused by pesticides?  Or was it caused industrial pollution, including urban waste?  I think that needs some clarification.  But it absolutely wasn’t caused by DDT. 

All in all, Green did attempt to give the impression of reasonableness.  However, I feel this is merely whitewash and this last expression fully clarifies that for me.  He says;
“Unfortunately, there is one, more seriously flawed, part of Carson’s exposition that has received attention through the years all out of proportion to its significance in her overall message. This is her focus on cancer as the primary health risk that the pesticides of her time presented to humans, a hunch that was only tenuously supported by the data available to her. As an accusation that proved to be extraordinarily energizing for IPM activists, it has similarly served as a lightning rod for critics who have treated it as a central defect that somehow discredits everything else she wrote about the collateral damage of broad-spectrum toxins or the folly of over-reliance on chemical fixes to bend nature to our will. Considering the abundance of subsequent research on a host of non-cancerous human pathologies for which the older pesticides are conclusively responsible, invoking Carson’s cancer connection to disparage her is nothing less than a blatant diversion from the main issue.”
That is not a blatant diversion from any “main issue” - it was foundational to her book.   This was the prod that drove this beastly book into fame and infamy.
“Carson vilified the use of DDT and other pest controls in agriculture but ignored their role in saving millions of lives worldwide from malaria, typhus, dysentery, among other diseases. Millions of deaths, and much greater human suffering, ultimately resulted from pesticide bans as part of disease-eradication campaigns.”  J. Gordon Edwards
Furthermore her book and her philosophy, which was radical in spite of the fact she wasn’t marching in the streets, demonized agricultural technology, clouded the overwhelming evidence before our eyes that modern technology – especially pesticides - created an overwhelming good for human health, and in spite of the amount of pesticides used represent no harm to the environment when used properly.

At least Chris Donaghy got it right.  As for me - I was quoted - lending clarity to the subject - but I had expected to be a featured writer for this issue since I contend I'm the pest control industry's foremost expert on the DDT story.   But, then again, perhaps I'm wrong.  Perhaps we can have PCT or the National Pest Management Association arrange a debate with me and some of these people regarding Carson, Silent Spring, IPM, Green pest control, the EPA or the green movement as a whole - or for that matter - any or all of them.  And since I'm an autodidact with no advanced education and no formal scientific training I would think those who have those intellectual advantages - and find fault with my observations and claims - would enjoy such an easy challenge.

Silent Spring: The Consequences of 50 Years of Junk Science! Part I

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