March 2000 (vol. 16, #3)
1601 N Tucson Blvd #9, Tucson AZ 85716
c 2000 Physicians for Civil Defense
``Then come, come, ply your trade. Tell me some lies.''
With his celebrated sneer, Gama asks: ``How do you like your king?'' and ``Vile rumor has it he is all but imbecile. That's not true, is it?''
Florian replies: ``We love our King,'' and ``The court values his words of wisdom like precious stones.''
The concept of the divine right of kings has not perished, but has been reincarnated, in secular terms, in the form of a Public- Private Partnership. The State anoints the orthodox scientific elite with credentials and money, and the scientific elite confers an Imprimatur on state policy. Those who question orthodoxy are the functional equivalent of heretics.
There is, of course, the Establishment Clause in the U.S. Constitution, the wall of separation between church and state. The British arrangement, under which the monarch is also titular head of the established Church of England, would clearly be unconstitutional.
The wall appears to exist, however, only for recognized religions-not for orthodoxies (established doctrines) that are called something else. Replace ``good'' and ``evil'' with ``natural'' and ``unnatural'' (man-made, artificial), and canon law with the Code of Federal Regulations, and the resulting theology is evidently immune from the same Supreme Court scrutiny that attends mention of, say, the Ten Commandments.
There are many examples that illustrate the theological nature of the regime. Under National Park Service guidelines adopted in the 1960s, mountain goats entering Yellowstone from the west side are protected, whereas goats of the same species entering from the northeast or south side are slated for destruction. The former are deemed to be ``natural,'' whereas the latter were introduced by hunters. Similarly, coho salmon spawned in ``natural'' habitats are to be protected-even if it requires the destruction of critical dams in the Northwest-but genetically identical salmon are literally being clubbed to death by Oregon state workers because they started life in a fish hatchery.
Similar distinctions may also be applied to molecules. Ben and Jerry's Homemade Holdings brags that its new ECO pint ice cream containers are completely free of dioxin, which is, according to environmental groups, ``among the most dangerous toxins known.'' The evil substance is found everywhere, especially in products of waste incinerators and fertilizer plants. In Ben & Jerry's ice cream, the pure containers notwithstanding, it is found at 200 times the EPA's recommended ``safe'' dose. Possibly, the molecules in the ice cream come from natural sources such as volcanoes and forest fires. (The Competitive Enterprise Institute announced a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission about Ben & Jerry's deceptive advertising at a press conference, where very few reporters turned down free samples of the ice cream -- CEI Update 2/2000.)
Literature published jointly by Ben & Jerry's and Greenpeace claims that the only safe exposure to dioxin is zero: another application of the Linear No-Threshold (LNT) Hypothesis most familiar to our readers in the context of radiation.
Fortunately, even EPA zealots recognize that Zero Tolerance cannot be applied literally to radioactivity or molecules-just as the Manichaean Perfects (see DDP Newsletter, March 2000) knew they had to eat something.
The LNT Hypothesis is based on faith alone. Moreover, it is actually contradicted in numerous experiments that show beneficial effects of low-dose exposures. Such results may be actively suppressed, as in the Canadian study of fluoroscopy and breast cancer, which showed a statistically significant reduction of breast cancer by 1/3 in the group with a mean dose of 15 cGy. This would translate into 10,000 fewer cancers in 1 million women exposed to 15 cGy excess radiation, rather than the 900 excess cancers claimed. Studies designed to seek such effects, which Japanese researchers found in the treatment of certain cancers with low-dose radiation (alone or in combination with other treatments), could not receive U.S. government funding. Instead, U.S. government policy is based on relatively poor studies with results sufficiently ambiguous to enable claims that ``the linear model is not precluded.'' Contradictory data may actually be misrepresented, according to a report by James Muckerheide of Radiation, Science, and Health, to be presented at the 8th International Conference on Nuclear Engineering.
Government rule-making is based on recommendations by a self-selected group of individuals that depend on, and are rewarded by, radiation-protection agencies, which also provide the funding necessary to establish academic credentials. Muckerheide states that ``scientific misconduct investigations are warranted for some results promulgated by radiation protection-funded scientists, including review committee participants.''
(Mr. Muckerheide will be a featured speaker at the DDP meeting in San Francisco, July 1-2.)
The biological rationale for the LNT Hypothesis is that a single ionizing particle can cause DNA damage leading to cancer. However, the human body experiences about 15,000 such impacts per second, or more than a billion per day, due to natural causes. Moreover, a million DNA nucleotides in each cell are damaged daily by normal metabolism and body heat.
As pointed out by Dr. Lois Gold (also scheduled to speak at the DDP meeting), ``even Rachel Carson was made of chemicals.'' About 99.9% of the chemicals that humans ingest, and 99.99% of pesticides, are natural. The regulatory agencies focus on the evil (man- made) chemicals, although of the mere 71 good (natural) pesticides that have been tested, 37 are carcinogenic. At the very least, significant harm to human beings is caused by the regulatory distraction alone.
The world economy and the Western way of life are under assault by policy based on orthodoxy-also including man-made global climate catastrophe, acid rain, ozone depletion, and an endless list of other dragons. The worst danger is that science itself-the relentless search for objective Truth-is in danger of being swept away by political correctness (orthodoxy) disguised under a white coat.
Lecturing at her all-female university, Princess Ida said that while narrow-minded pedants still believe that two and two make four, women would prove that it could equal three, five, seven, or five-and-twenty, as the case demands. Unlike Steven Schneider, et al, Ida was honest about the outcome of subjecting truth to politics and fashion: ``Let chaos come again!''
How far should scientists go to promote a cause? The ``creeping advocacy syndrome'' is discussed in a generally laudatory article in the Feb. 18 issue of Science 287:1188-92.
``Tensions over advocacy came to a boil in 1951,'' writes Jocelyn Kaiser, when scientists ``branched off from their more circumspect colleagues'' in the Ecological Society of America (ESA) to form The Nature Conservancy. The modern environmental movement was born a few years later, when ``Rachel Carson sounded the alarm on how DDT and other pesticides were harming wildlife.'' Silent Spring spurred the formation of the Environmental Defense Fund.
Poor Rachel and others ``paid a price for getting involved.'' Some scientists question the objectivity of papers published by advocates, and Rachel ``spent the last months of her life fending off a vicious backlash from pesticide manufacturers.'' Science includes no mention of the scientific criticism (see, for example, DDP Newsletter, Nov. 1999, and the more detailed critique by J. Gordon Edwards at www.oism.org/ddp).
Silent Spring still sells well at amazon.com. Negative reader comments, as by your editor, elicited this interesting reply: `` I was disappointed to say the least of some of the following reviews of Silent Spring. It is no wonder that our earth is being so abused....You see, the significance of Rachel Carson's book was not its scientific accuracy, nor the position it took on DDT. Its significance was that it helped to turn national, even global, consciousness in a different direction.... The steps we take...actually have an impact on the rest of the world....Ban pesticides, eat a hamburger. Both have significant impacts on the health and hunger of those less fortunate. We help one, we hurt another....[Shouldn't] securing the future of the earth...be a universal goal?''
The ``citizen-scientist guru'' featured by Science is Steven Schneider, who believes that scientists ``shouldn't shy away from painting `scary scenarios' -such as deadly heat waves in New York City and a dried-up Mississippi River as possible results of global warming-to get a message across.'' The idea is to prepare a ``hierarchy of products'' from sound-bites to scholarly papers-with the caveats only in the latter.
The most successful scientist-advocates ``claim they can lead a successful double life.'' Science calls it ``taking a value-laden leap of faith beyond the present state of knowledge.''
Gama would call them courtiers who tell lies.
The nations aiding people stranded by floods in Mozambique are the same ones who will be responsible for the even more devastating aftermath of malaria if they keep the nation from spraying with DDT.
``Its use there 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,'' according to a report in the March 11 British Medical Journal.
Even prior to the floods, South Africa began using DDT in response to an explosion of malaria. Use was withdrawn there in 1995, after which malaria cases more than quadrupled to 50,000, with hundreds of deaths.
There is a renewed attempt led by conservation and environmental groups to enact a legally binding treaty for a global ban on the use of DDT and ``other organic pollutants.'' A prior attempt failed because of a worldwide campaign by public health workers, scientists, and the WHO. The same environmental groups want to ban the use of chlorine for sanitation, along with the use of genetically engineered crops such as nutritionally enhanced rice.
(See www.acsh.org/press/editorials/malaria032000.html. The moderator of the OEM-ANNOUNCE list also refers readers to www.rachel.org, which as yet has no specific reply.)
Current absurd radiation standards are based on the LNT Hypothesis and several other factors, according to Zbigniew Jaworoski, including: psychological warfare playing on public fear of nuclear weapons; lobbying by fossil fuel industries; the interests of radiation researchers striving for recognition and budget; the interests of politicians for whom radiophobia is a handy weapon in power games; and the interests of news media that profit from fear-mongering (Physics Today 1999;52(9):24-29, or www.riskworld.com/Nreports/1999/jaworowski/ NR99aa01.htm). Despite the publication of more than 2,000 scientific articles on hormesis (the beneficial effect of low-dose radiation), the phenomenon was recognized by UNSCEAR only in 1994. Recent evidence is the lower-than-normal incidence of leukemia and greater longevity in A-bomb survivors.
The absurdity of the LNT Hypothesis was brought to light by the prediction that 53,400 people would die of Chernobyl-induced cancer over 50 years. More than 270,000 people were forced to evacuate from areas with projected radiation doses of 6 and 60 millisieverts between 1986-95: an action that calls for ethical scrutiny. (The average individual lifetime dose from natural radiation is 120 mSv, ranging to 1,000 mSv).
In attempting to assess the relative roles of natural climate variability and anthropogenic influence, borehole temperatures are being used to reconstruct temperatures from the preindustrial era. Trends over the past 500 years show that warming has been most pronounced in the 20th century (Nature 2000;403:756- 758). Of the 616 temperature profiles that were analyzed, 479 showed a net warming over the past five centuries (and 137 or 22% did not). When asked about data from earlier times, Henry Pollack referred me to an article about the Greenland ice sheet, which presents a very different perspective: ``The last [10,000 years]: The [Climatic Optimum] is 2.5 K warmer than the present temperatures and at [5,000 years before present (BP)] the temperature slowly cools toward the cold temperatures found around [2,000 BP]. The last 2,000 years: The medieval warming (1000 A.D.) is 1 K warmer than the present temperature, and ... the [Little Ice Age] is followed by a temperature rise culminating around 1930 A.D. Temperature cools between 1940 and 1995'' (Science 1998;282:268-271).
A graph of estimated mean annual temperatures in England since 800 A.D. accompanies a discussion of malaria in England during the Little Ice Age at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/vol6no1/reiter.htm. While the spread of malaria into temperate zones is commonly predicted as a consequence of global warming, historical documents show that ``from 1564 to the 1730s-the coldest period of the Little Ice Age-malaria was an important cause of illness and death in several parts of England. Transmission began to decline only in the 19th century, when the present warming trend was well under way.'' The ague, or malaria, is mentioned in eight plays by Shakespeare (1564-1616). The diagnosis is clear from careful pre- and postmortem examinations by William Harvey (1578-1657). Wetlands (marshes) were considered foul, noxious, and unhealthy-for excellent epidemiologic reasons, and for want of DDT.