Sunday, June 28, 2009

Original Thinkers

By Rich Kozlovich

I originally ran this article on Wed, Oct 12, 2005 in my original blog. There has been a lot of activity in our industry lately. In Ohio and at the national level! Perhaps that is why this article kept coming into my mind. Nothing in particular that I can point my finger at....it just kept nagging at me. So with some small changes I have chosen to re-run it. RK
Updated 11-06-11. RK

Recently I have had an e
-mail debate with someone (who will not permit me to publish the debate) who kept accusing me of not being an original thinker. It was a point I was more than willing to concede, since I am more concerned with factual thinking versus original thinking. This person seemed to think this was the linchpin of his logic, because he kept making it over and over again. His last comment was that no matter how hard I tried I was never going to be an original thinker. No matter how many times I agreed with him he kept irrationally making the charge as if it was some new and terrible insight that I should care about. This silly debate did however trigger a series of questions in my mind.
1. What is an original thinker?
2. What constitutes original thinking?
3. Who decides what is original?
4. What makes original thinking so important?
5. Does original thinking have to be factual?
6. Is original thinking more important than factual thinking?
7. Is original thinking only philosophical and is philosophical thinking the only original thoughts?
8. If original thinking is only philosophical, why should it be taken seriously?
9. Is original thinking contrary to traditional thinking?
10. Is original thinking contrary to conventional thinking?
11. Is original thinking actually conventional thinking?
12. If it becomes conventional and or traditional thinking is it original anymore?
13. Can original thinking become conventional or traditional thinking?
14. How often do we think originally?
15. If we think originally all the time, how many times can we be right?
16. Is original thinking actually retread old thinking couched in new terms?
17. Are new thinking and original thinking the same thing? Is it neither?
18. Lastly, is there really such a thing as original thinking?

I was interested in what others thought about these points and sent these questions out to my Green Notes net. The first respondent was Frank Gasperini who worked at RISE at the time. Frank has graciously allowed me to reprint his comments.
Rich,

Not a direct answer, but a few Saturday morning 'musings". Original thinking is a wonderful and important thing, our world would not be the same without it, however if you think about "original thinkers" and the product of their ideas through reading history, you will find that the so called "original thinker" often completely misunderstood or failed to recognize the significance of his work-product--- and--- that those of us who embrace the concept of "Innovative Imitation" tend to be the ones who not only thrive and profit, but present humankind with the real benefits of the "original thinker's" work. This does not in any way denigrate the "original thinker", but it certainly does justify and elevate the role of the "innovative imitator".

Remember the old adage about pioneers--- 'the pioneer is the one likely to take the arrows, the pilgrim who follows ends up developing and owning the farm'. I once worked for the company that invented Gortex, but while they believed it to be a wonderful and "elegant" discovery, did not see any real value for it and thus "spun it off" to some ex-employees. I bet they wish they had kept that product--- but they invented it, failed to capitalize on its value because they only wanted to "original" things with it, not use it to do a better job of "old" things, and certainly not to "copy" anything someone else may have thought of.

There is an OLD "Harvard Business Review" classic article titled "Innovative Imitation" (mid 1970s?). It discussed in detail how innovators, 'pure researchers', and companies 'long on science and technology, but short on adaptability and willingness to imitate' end up inventing wonderful ideas that someone else profits from after they go belly-up. The old concept of 'if we didn't invent it (original thinking), we are not interested in it almost killed American industry at one point--- do you recall any "original thinking" from "Japan, Inc."? No, they took the best ideas developed by the world's "original thinkers" and improved and simplified them to fill the needs of real people!

Well, enough of a rant. I no longer consider myself a scientist, I am no longer interested in "elegant, or original thinking" for its own sake--- I am interested in ideas that make the lives of people easier and better, that protect people and the environment from harm, and whose benefits outweigh the risks. And, yes I am willing to take risks as long as they are outweighed by the benefits.

Frank
Since I had some errands to run I had time to think about what all was said, I came to the conclusion that there are really two types of original thinkers.

The first represent what I call the “nuts and bolts” thinkers. These are the people that actually come up with products and services that benefit society. This type absolutely relies on truthful information. The success is in the facts. These are people that are the “doers, and builders rather than the vandals and vacant philosophers”.

The second type of original thinker is what I call the “ideological” thinkers. These people rely on concepts and philosophy that may or may not be factual. History is replete with these types of individuals. They have the tendency to adopt the attitude, “I am going to get the truth out there and I don’t care how many lies I have to tell”.

The 20th century has had more than its share of these “ideological thinkers”. (Please view this 11-04-11 article written by Ellis Washington entitled, Alfred Kinsey's sexual revolution, where he discusses many of these "original thinkers"! RK)

Marx started a philosophical political movement that was the basis for socialism and communism. Among the great murderers of the 20th century were Stalin, Hitler, Mao Tse Tung and Pot Pol. It has been estimated these socialist/communists (Hitler was a socialist by the way) original thinkers killed over 100 million people.

Margaret Sanger, Margaret Mead and Alfred Kinsey under the guise of science set patterns of behavior into motion that has had serious social consequences ever since. Because of them society could now justify why it was acceptable to abandon values that are absolutely essential for maintaining a stable society.

Rachel Carson can be directly blamed for the death of millions as a result of her work to eliminate DDT. Although “junk science” has always existed (snake oil salesmen are a good example) and was practiced by the above mentioned people, Carson’s greatest achievement is that her success as a junk scientist was so profound she could reasonably be called the mother of modern junk science. Her acolytes have made it policy.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of original thinkers in the 20th century who caused devastation in their wake. Sadly, if you are to believe the reports of their personal lives there is every indication these people all had serious emotional problems and no affection for the traditional values they set out to destroy, nor did they have a deep attachment to facts, especially those facts that are not in harmony with their brand of “original thinking”.

Consistency is somewhat of an alien concept for them also. The first Earth Day the greenies screamed that humanity faced “a new ice age”; and the reason? Industrial pollution in the atmosphere! Today they scream “global warming” and the reason; Industrial pollution in the atmosphere.

Con artists and “ideological thinkers” have a great deal in common. Call it a shell game, three or card Monte or for that matter the Montreal Protocol or the Kyoto Accord or whatever works to fool the public, it’s all the same. Is this really original? Both of these international agreements are based on science that was dubious at best at the very beginning and as more current information comes to light it appears to be wrong.

Using misinformation to attain the goals of power and money is nothing new. The tools and names of those tools may change over time, but it is still about power and money. There is nothing original about that at all. That bodes well the question; is there really any “original thinking” if it doesn’t produce products and services to make life better?

I think the phrase “original thinker” is over used. When people use it as a condemnation of those that disagree with them, it is a cop out so as to not answer the challenges to their “ideological thinking”. It is a form of intimidation that says; “you had better not disagree with me or you are a backward thinker”, or as I was recently called..."a flat Earther" because of my views on IPM in structural pest control

I have concluded that in areas of ideology and philosophy there are no original thinkers, no original thoughts and no original outcomes. It turns out there really isn’t anything new under the sun. The fact is that those that proclaim they are original thinkers have in reality become a herd of non-conformists being washed back and forth by the latest philosophical flavor of the day. They are a bunch “self perpetuating head nodders sitting in an echo chamber of self congratulations” who aggrandize themselves by calling themselves global problem solvers. For ideological thinking to become original thinking it must be just as concerned with facts as “nuts and bolts thinking”. Otherwise it is just three card Monte.

For those that would accuse me of not being an original thinker, I say - Thank You!  I accept!

"Some ideas seem so plausible that they can fail nine times in a row and still be believed the tenth time. Other ideas seem so implausible that they can succeed nine times in a row and still not be believed the tenth time." - Thomas Sowell

Reflections on Reality

By Rich Kozlovich

Did you ever have a SHAZAM moment? All of a sudden you get this flash of insight…. SHAZAM ….all of a sudden we understand something that we have been working on mentally for some time, maybe even years. As I grow older I find that this happens much more often than in years gone by. How does that happen? I can tell you that age makes up a part of it, because clearly the brain’s abilities change as we grow older. I read James A. Michener’s book “The Source” when I was 19 and enjoyed it. I read it again when I was 30 and understood it.

The ability to draw correct conclusions from incomplete data is a work of the brain that is a very necessary gift, but there still has to be a reason for it. Everyone has this ability in varying degrees, but are we capable of training our minds to do it better? I believe so! I believe that this is done by absorbing a great deal of information and thinking a great deal about a great many small things. All of this is being filed and correlated by the brain without any conscious effort on our part. Eventually we will have a brain full of seemingly disparate and useless information that will come together into some cohesive form. A bit here, a bit there and all of a sudden..SHAZAM... you have the whole story with the informational gaps filled in automatically. How large those gaps are depends on the individual. That at least was my analysis of what was happening.

Scientists have always been interested in what they call Eureka moments. I recently read an article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal on Friday, June 19th entitled “A Wandering Mind Heads Straight Toward Insight - Researchers Map the Anatomy of the Brain’s Breakthrough Moments and Reveal the Payoff of Daydreaming”.

The article outlined some examples such as Archimedes discovering how to calculate density and volume while taking a bath. Sir Isaac Newton allegedly discovered the law of universal gravity by being hit on the head by an apple, Descartes developed what is now known as coordinate geometry by watching flies, Einstein was thinking about trains and lightening when the idea of special relativity flashed into his head and Tesla was walking with a cane when he first thought of alternating current.

They report that there is a difference between analytical thinking and insightful thinking and “daydreaming” is the key. “Kalina Christoff of the University of British Columbia on Vancouver makes the point that the “mind wandering is a much more active state that we ever imagined, much more active than during reasoning with a complex problem.” She suspects that the flypaper of an unfocused mind may trap new ideas unexpected and associations more effectively than methodical reasoning. That may create the mental framework for new ideas. You can see regions of these networks becoming active just prior to people arriving at an insight.”

No one really knows what triggers SHAZAM moments, but reflection, meditation, daydreaming, or whatever you may wish to call it, allows the mind to work unhindered by structure. The brain can’t work on anything if there isn’t anything there to work on though. Reading may cause eye trouble, but the lack of reading definitely causes ignorance.

Another article that caught my eye in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Thursday, June 25th was another example of why it is impossible to deal with or please the greenies.

It appears there’s a 58 foot high dam on the Cuyahoga River near Akron, Ohio called the Gorge Metro Dam. A company wants to turn this small dam into a small hydroelectric power plant that will serve about 2,000 homes. Green...right? The dam is already there...right? All that is required is to alter it a bit by putting the plant there and create access roads to it...right...how green can you be? Well…that is the rub.

The project is being stopped by the Ohio EPA and the Summit County Metro Parks and about 20 other groups who claim the dam serves no useful purpose, impairs water quality and prevents fish from moving upstream, so therefore the dam should be torn down. Furthermore, the project would require clearing four acres of part for a new road and the plant itself and that would ”potentially endanger plant species”.

I thought that was really interesting because when they stocked Lake Erie with Coho salmon and they went upriver they died…on someone else's property, and really made a huge stink. Without creating next year’s brood because the water quality is natually unsuitable for reproduction. What about other fish. Who cares? They aren’t salmon and will adapt.

It gets better. Remember this is a “renewable” energy source to 2,000 homes. That also is the rub because it is “only” 2,000 homes. What if it was for 200,000 homes? They would then say that the project was entirely too big versus entirely too small. It gets better. They refuse to even allow them to conduct an environmental impact study to “demonstrate the benign nature of the project”.

There is no green that is green enough to satisfy those who are “green”. I wonder if there is anything green enough to satisfy those who are insane. Oh wait...SHAZAM...They are green!



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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

US government’s climate con-job

Obama administration “report” on climate change is deceitful, scare-mongering, bogus science

by Paul Driessen

News stories, congressional hearings and subpoenas would be in overdrive. Fines and jail sentences would follow. And rightly so.

But the standards change when “climate catastrophe” is involved.

The White House has made global warming the centerpiece of its revenue-raising and energy policies. A House of Representatives 1,201-page bill would tax, regulate and penalize all US hydrocarbon energy use, to “save the planet from climate disaster.” The Senate promises an August vote.

But average global temperatures peaked in 1998 and since have fallen slightly, even as carbon dioxide levels continue to climb. Thousands of scientists say CO2 has little effect on planetary temperatures, and there is no climate crisis. Few developed countries are ready to commit economic suicide, by agreeing to reduce their CO2 emissions by a fraction of what the House bill demands for the United States.

Americans are beginning to realize the legislation would cost millions of jobs and trillions of dollars for a hypothetical 0.1 degree F reduction in global temperatures. Most put global warming dead last in a Pew Research list of 20 concerns.

The government’s answer to these inconvenient truths is simple.

Issue another report by government scientists carefully selected to exclude any who don’t subscribe to climate Armageddon. Ignore contrary data and analyses. Crank out more bogus computer-generated worst-case scenarios. Hire an activist media firm that specializes in environmental scare campaigns. And spend tens of millions hyping every imaginable climate disaster:

Rising sea levels, floods in lower Manhattan, California beaches permanently submerged. Ferocious hurricanes, floods and droughts. Food shortages, epidemic diseases, a quadrupling of heat-wave deaths in Chicago. Aged sewer systems convulsing from massive storm runoff. Wildflowers disappearing from Rocky Mountain slopes and polar bears from the Arctic. Leisure time gone, as people struggle to survive.

“Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States” is the “most up-to-date, authoritative, comprehensive” analysis ever done on how human-caused warming affects the United States, deadpans Obama “science” advisor John Holdren.

Actually, it’s the most flagrant attempted con-job and propaganda campaign in US history.

If it helps Congress enact cap-and-tax legislation, it will give activists, courts and bureaucrats control over virtually every aspect of our lives. It will enable them to confiscate hard-earned dollars, convert them to payoffs for activists and companies that get on the climate-crisis bandwagon, consign uncooperative companies and scientists to the ash heap of history, and conceal the exorbitant costs of restrictive energy policies – on families, industries, jobs and transportation – until long after the bill becomes law.

The bogus “report” conflates and confuses human activities and emissions with the powerful natural forces that have caused major and minor climate changes and weather anomalies since the dawn of time – from the Carboniferous Period to the Age of Dinosaurs, from the Big Ice Ages and interglacial periods to the Little Ice Age, Roman and Medieval Warm Periods, Dust Bowl and countless others. It relies on conjecture, conformist thinking and conspicuous elimination of contrary, skeptical, realist scientists and studies that do not support climate cataclysm conjecture and ideology.

The authors “largely ignored” critical comments to earlier drafts and made the final version “even more alarmist” than infamous UN “summaries” of global warming “crises,” says Joseph D’Aleo, first director of meteorology at the Weather Channel and former chairman of the American Meteorological Society’s Weather Analysis and Forecasting Committee. The report is simply “wrong on many of its claims” and marks “an embarrassing episode for the authors and NOAA,” D’Aleo concludes.

University of Colorado environmental studies professor Roger Pielke, Jr. says the report “misrepresents” his own work, makes claims that are not supported by citations provided, relies heavily on analyses that were never peer reviewed, ignores peer-reviewed studies that reach opposite conclusions from those proclaimed by the report, and cites analyses that do not support conclusions rendered.

“I didn’t notice a single recognized hurricane expert in the list of authors,” says NOAA Hurricane Research Division scientist Stanley Goldenberg. The report relies heavily on surface temperature data from monitoring stations located next to parking lots and air conditioning exhaust ports – falsely skewing temperature records upward – other experts noted. It is lead-heavy on assumptions, assertions and speculation – hydrogen-light on evidence.

But the most egregious miscarriage of science in this agit-prop exercise is its near-total dependence on worst-case scenarios conjured up by computer models. That’s where it gets its litany of “Day After Tomorrow” Hollywood disasters.

These climate models have never been validated by actual observations, notes Professor Robert Carter of the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at Australia’s James Cook University. Indeed, Australia’s own climate modeling agency (CSIRO) stresses that climate change scenarios are based on computer models that “involve simplifications of [real world] processes that are not fully understood. Accordingly, no responsibility will be accepted … for the accuracy of forecasts inferred” from its reports.

“Modeling results are interesting – but worthless for setting public policy,” says Carter. But that is exactly how they’re being used.

Sure, it’s conceivable that Antarctica could melt, and cause sea levels to rise 20 feet, as Al Gore and the government con-artists suggest. Greenhouse gases would merely have to increase average annual Antarctic temperatures from their current –50 degrees F to +40 degrees for a century or two, to melt 200,000 cubic miles of South Pole icecaps. A mere 90-degree swing.

That may be as likely as having the planet overrun by raptors and T-rexes cloned from DNA in fossilized mosquitoes. But it’s conceivable. And in the realm of global warming politics, that’s all that matters. As MIT atmospheric physicist Richard Lindzen observes, “global warming has developed so much momentum that it has a life of its own, quite removed from science.”

As one climate activist group put it: “The task … is not to persuade by rational argument.” It is “to work in a more shrewd and contemporary way, using subtle techniques of engagement. The ‘facts’ need to be treated as being so taken-for-granted that they need not be spoken.” The strategy is to treat “climate-friendly activity as a brand that can be sold. This is the route to mass behavior change.”

This is the kind of science, transparency, honesty and accountability we have come to expect over “human-caused climate chaos.”

If the congressional, administration and activist conspirators behind this massive deceit were in the private sector – peddling bogus drugs, rather than bogus science – they’d quickly become convicts. Instead of jail time, though, they’ll probably get bonus checks.


Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and Congress of Racial Equality, and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death.




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Saturday, June 20, 2009

So Many Experts - So Many Opinions!

By Rich Kozlovich

Who to believe? We absolutely KNOW that PhD’s cannot be trusted. Grant money and the desire for prestige has contaminated their ranks to the point that everything they say must be questioned. De omnibus dubitandum, (doubt everything) is supposed to be the basis for all that a true scientist does. It has become my personal motto and should be adopted by everyone else because entirely too many “scientists” doubt only those things that will stop the flow of grant money.

Those true scientists who stood against the “science” regarding anthropogenic global warming were virtually ostracized by their peers. Many lost positions and had their grants revoked, very often those two situations go hand in hand….no grant money….no job! As the years go by the grant money flowed faster and faster to promote all things green. Unfortunately they didn’t necessarily promote all things scientific. Because of the internet we see can now clearly see just how untrustworthy “scientists” can be and who the untrustworthy ones are. We can also see who can be trusted.

We now have access to all the arguments, both pro and con, on any given subject. Unfortunately many of the scares really are nothing more that con jobs that help make sure that the grant money keeps right on flowing into their corrupt hands, and that has consequences.

Once someone has made their mind up to really research information they find themselves in a quandary, where do I go to read the truth. It is difficult to know right away who to read and who to trust. It took me some time and a great deal or reading to find those worth reading. I now know who to go to in order to find out the truth on any matter in which I am interested, and that list grows every year.

I have been re-reading Steve Milloy’s book, Junk Science Judo. Milloy discusses statistics and epidemiological studies extensively in this book and how this information is manipulated and misrepresented. Really boring and complicated stuff, but in order to know what everyone is talking about you must understand how statistics, which has been described as an arcane art of the occult, actually works and how that data are molded.

Having said that I will come to the point! The last chapter of his book is entitled, “Know Your Friends” and one of them that he lists is the American Council on Science and Health, headed up by Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. They don’t always agree with one another, and for that matter I don’t always agree with them, but both recognize the intrinsic integrity in each other’s work, and so do I. They’re only concerned with the facts and each is prepared to follow the facts no matter where they lead.

As a member of the American Council on Science and Health I get an update called the “Morning Dispatch” which outlines the latest news scare or latest junkscience being presented to the public through a corrupt and lazy media, and they may even agree with the latest media blitz.

I have decided to write a weekly outline on stories that interest me that ACSH sends to its members. I will share their views, with my take on it on a weekly basis because I believe that much of what they have to say isn’t being seen by enough people. Many times the story will extend over a week or a month, so I will try to condense the story each week into a few paragraphs.

Swine Flu

Each week since the swine flu made its appearance on the world scene the ACSH has been a steady voice of moderation. When it appeared that the media had the world in the grip of a disastrous worldwide plague, the ACSH outlined just how many cases there were and how many deaths actually occurred. It turned out their view that this was more hype that disaster was correct. “Dr. Henry Miller of ACSH’s Board of Trustees and Stanford University's Hoover Institution is a molecular biologist and former flu researcher who argues in the Washington Times that the swine flu pandemic was labeled as such too readily.” Part of the problem is the WHO doesn’t follow its own rules for these kinds of determination.

The latest scare is that “Brazilian scientists reported on Tuesday that they have identified a new strain of the H1N1 virus”. Dr. Gill Ross states that “Influenza viruses are notoriously plastic. They change quite readily,” explains Dr. Ross. “If you analyze the genome of the currently circulating flu virus you’re going to find variability. So if the swine flu virus does mutate to become more virulent, it will most likely still contain many of the same antigens. The vaccine being developed and produced for this new H1N1 variant should still provide substantial protection, and it should still prevent a lot of cases.”

Dr. Ross likes that idea that that CDC under Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has decided to offer vaccinations against this virus right in the schools next year. Noting that “It’s a convenient location, and giving an intramuscular flu shot is a straightforward procedure. School nurses are more than qualified to do it.” Also, the FDA has been targeting websites that peddle fraudulent swine flu prevention and treatment products.

Many of you may too young to remember polio because Jonas Salk discovered a vaccine to prevent it in the 1950’s. However, he created his vaccine from dead cells, which the epidemiological world hated because he violated their first law….all vaccines had to be created from live cells. Later the Sabin vaccine was developed (from live cells) and was introduced to the general population …for free as I recall….in sugar cubes at schools. I remember the long lines and I also remember that these efforts eradicated polio…except for those few who contracted it from the live cells vaccine. There never was a case from the Salk vaccine, which I took early on. I found them to be three very painful shots, which made the Sabin vaccine much more popular….but no cases of polio from it.

Zicam

Homeopathic treatments apparently don’t need FDA approval and therefore they don’t go through the testing as would be expected of pharmaceuticals. Matrixx Initiatives, the manufacturer of Zicam has been ordered to stop selling intranasal cold remedies after more than 130 reports of people who lost their sense of smell after using the zinc-based, homeopathic products. “A public health advisory posted on the FDA website said the products “have all been associated with long-lasting or permanent loss of smell” and “have not been shown to be effective in the reduction of the duration and severity of cold symptoms.”

Stier says that “This is a problem because homeopathic supplements are like other diet supplements under the Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act of 1994 in that they don’t need to be proven effective or even safe. This law’s deferential treatment of dietary supplements is based on the unscientific notion that ‘natural’ cures are somehow safer.” ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross would like to know just how dangerous is this product? If this was a pharmaceutical the activists would be screaming to the heavens….but not a peep when it is “all natural”. And you wonder who can be trusted.

ADHD

Here is an area in which I have some personal concerns. ACSH agrees with this judgment. Regulators have advised parents to continue medicating their children for ADHD despite the risk of sudden death suggested by a study that used questionable methods. I have some personal experience with this issue of children being drugged for “acting” up. I have heard accounts of these drugs working wonders on children, and I believe these accounts. I have heard the opposite, and I believe those also. I also question the way it is determined whether treatment really is necessary. Maybe that is the real issue. Those who really need treatment versus those who are just difficult! I also have misgivings as to what these drugs do to them as they hit their teen years. I hate saying this, but If children are being prescribed drugs when they don’t really need them (which I believe is an ongoing problem with this issue) what are the long term effects.

Fortified Foods

The Wall Street Journal published an article yesterday examining the latest trend of fortifying foods with extra nutrients. ACSH’s Dr. Ruth Kava adds: “There are no daily requirements established for many of these added compounds, so there’s no way for a consumer to know if the amount in a particular food will be too little, just right, or excessive.”

For more information, see ACSH’s publication on functional foods.

Anti-Aging Hormones

Recently I linked an article in Green Notes that highlighted the Oprah Winfrey show and her “expert” guests (who she apparently agrees with) promoting all sorts of unscientific horsepucky. Their only real qualification is that they are celebrities who are paid huge sums of money to mouth other people’s words while pretending to be someone else. When are people going to stop listening to this woman?

“At their annual meeting in Chicago on Monday, the American Medical Association echoed ACSH staffers’ assessment that there's no scientific evidence to justify the claims of anti-aging hormones, including the so-called “bio-identicals” touted by celebrity non-expert Suzanne Sommers. These hormones are not just ineffective for their touted purpose, they can also be dangerous when used without medical direction.” says Dr. Ruth Kava.

Integrity Exemplified

This story is rich in irony. The Center for Science in the Public Interest accused the American Council on Science and Health of being a shill for those who support and donate to them. Dr. Elizabeth Whelan told them that if they really think that donating money to ACSH will change their views, then they should sponsor them and see what happens. They never did send a check and here we have the ultimate irony. CSPI is threatening to sue “Bayer Healthcare if it continues to claim its One-A-Day vitamins for men reduce the risk of prostate cancer” and ACSH says that they will “join CSPI in criticizing Bayer “ in spite of CSPI’s claims of bias…which is really the pot calling the kettle black. And just think……CSPI never sent a check! Of course when all you are concerned about is the facts the decision is an easy one.


Ejeta Wins World Food Prize

Ethiopian geneticist Gebisa Ejeta of Purdue University was honored with the 2009 World Food Prize for developing strains of sorghum that are resistant to drought and the parasitic weed Striga. “This is something that people across the spectrum from the left to the right should be celebrating,” says Stier. Even so, ACSH staffers doubt that we'll hear any endorsements of this lifesaving research from the anti-chemical activists at Greenpeace and similar groups.” Let’s face it….they are not about saving lives…that is the shtick they use to convince everyone to adopt practices and policies that will actually cause disease, squalor, misery, suffering and death.

Dangerous Side Effects, Dangerous Labels

If you really read the potential side effects of everything that goes into your mouth you wouldn’t eat. The same can be true of drugs. According to an Associated Press article on Friday,“After fifteen months of investigation, the Food and Drug Administration said Merck & Co. Inc., AstraZeneca, and Cornerstone Therapeutics will have to raise label warnings about psychiatric problems reported by a handful of patients taking their [asthma] drugs.” Potential problems include depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and insomnia.

“Hopefully, this won’t follow the trend of counterproductive and unanticipated effects of excessive black-box warnings from the FDA,” says Dr. Ross. “Some people correctly read them as alerts that there can be these effects, but some doctors and parents of sick children will be so fearful that they won’t give kids the medication they require.” “The most effective solution to a problem like this is for parents and doctors to pay attention to possible effects that a medication might be having on their child,” says Dr. Kava, “but of course, that’s true for any medicine.”

For more information, including asthma treatment options, see ACSH’s publication on asthma.

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Monday, June 1, 2009

"A Long Overdue Press Conference"

I don't normally do a "news" column here because it is far too much work for someone with a real job; at least for me it is. However, for those of you who read Paradigms and Demographics and don't get my weekly newsletter, where I do the link news articles, I wanted to make sure that you didn't miss this. RK


Are chemicals killing us?
S. Robert Lichter, Ph.D,, May 21, 2009


A groundbreaking study conducted by STATS, and The Center for Health and Risk Communication at George Mason University, shows how experts view the risks of common chemicals - and that the media are overstating risk.

Download a PDF of the full report here

If you believe what you see and hear in the media, Americans are being poisoned every day by the very chemicals we routinely use to improve our lives. Nora Ephron has told readers of the Huffington Post that she “loved” Teflon but had to throw out all her pans after hearing that the coating “probably causes cancer and birth defects.” The Environmental Working Group has repeatedly warned Americans that “millions of babies” are at risk from the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in plastic baby bottles. Last week Chicago became the first city to ban the sale of baby bottles and sippy cups, on the grounds that BPA has been associated with everything from cancer to obesity.

Are Chemicals Killing Us?
Ronald Bailey

May 21, 2009, 3:39pm

That was the teaser question for a press conference this morning organized by the Society of Toxicology (SOT), the Center for Health and Risk Communication at George Mason University, and the Statistical Assessment Service (STATS) think tank. The groups were reporting the results of a recent Harris poll of full members of the Society of Toxicology that aimed to determine the collective judgments of toxicologists on chemical health risks. In addition, the survey asked toxicologists how well they thought environmental advocacy groups, industry, government and media do in explaining chemical risks to the public.

The online survey, done in conjunction with the leadership of the Society of Toxicology, was sent to all of its 3600 full members and got a 30 percent (937 members) response rate. Of the respondents, 37 percent worked in industry, 25 percent in academia, 15 percent were associated with government, and the remaining members were spread among non-profit organizations, consultants, and contractors. Apparently, as a proportion of the SOT's membership, academicians were over-represented and industry toxicologists were under-represented.

What do real scientists think about the dangers of common chemicals?

Most people on the rational side of the environmental field clamor for more science and less emotion to be used in setting policy. Who could argue with that?
The problem is that many of the scientists don't actually believe in science—according to the results of a recent survey. A sampling of toxicologists was asked to complete an online questionnaire, and it was clear from the responses that many of them were just as susceptible to media hype as the lay public.

A toxicologist friend of mine, who also participated in the survey, was not surprised. He noted, cynically, that the results reflect the "diversity" of the membership, and was confident that many of the respondents who bought into the popular mythology on chemicals—including the absurd use of the precautionary principle, even if tons of data is available on a chemical—were probably from academia or the EPA.

Even worse are situations whereby certain chemicals are actually being regulated down to levels LOWER than they occur in nature, because that is what the regulators' computer models calculate.

Surveying The Experts On The Dangers Of Common Chemicals: Some Surprising Findings Emerge

By Michael D. Shaw, Contributing Columnist - HealthNewsDigest.com
May 24, 2009 - 7:01:09 AM

(HealthNewsDigest.com) - Have you ever wondered what real scientists think about the seemingly endless parade of bad news regarding chemicals in the environment? So did Dr. Robert Lichter, president of the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) at George Mason University. To get answers, CMPA teamed up with the Society of Toxicology, and presented an online questionnaire to 3,562 of its members.

While 1136 members did respond, the findings—released on May 21, 2009—were based on the responses of those 937 members who answered every question.

Lichter felt that it was important to get scientific opinion based on an expert community at large, as a counter to the opinions of the small circle of authorities often quoted in the media. Indeed, a 1997 study conducted by the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research found that media scientists portrayed so-called xenoestrogens as being a definite cause of harm to human health in 62 percent of the cases. This was vastly different, however, from the opinion of a random sample of distinguished scientists, who—again in 62 percent of the cases—characterized the threat of xenoestrogens as either "minor" or "none."

The inescapable conclusion is that the media, ever in search of bad and alarming news, tends to quote those who give them what they want, even if this is far from the expert consensus………….One can only conclude that such beliefs must be heavily influenced by the popular media…………..
The pesticides finding is strange. Other data in the study show the members almost equally divided on DDT, the historically libeled and now mostly reprieved baddie, originally maligned by Rachel Carson. Here again, exactly what sort of scientific studies can they cite to form such an opinion? They speak of balance and diversity. How would they propose to feed billions without pesticides?

The members tend to hold such environmental activist fund-raising groups as Greenpeace, PETA, the Environmental Working Group, and the National Resources Defense Council in low esteem, which prompted Linda Greer, NRDC's Director, Health and Environment Program, to react during the press conference held to announce the survey. Greer—apparently unfamiliar with survey methodology—noted that the results were not peer reviewed. If the results and methodology of a survey are to be published in a journal, then they are peer reviewed. Otherwise, a survey stands on its own, subject to the informal peer review of the media.

Lichter couldn't resist asking Greer if her organization ever releases data without peer review. She replied (as quoted by Reason magazine) "We're an advocacy group and we don't hold ourselves out as scientific researchers. We don't do peer reviewed science. Everybody knows that."