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De Omnibus Dubitandum - Lux Veritas

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Silent Spring: 50 Years of Junk Science, Part IV: The Legacy

“Truth would very patiently wait for us”.  Benjamin Franklin
By Rich Kozlovich
Carson became the visionary for modern environmental activism, in spite of the fact that Carson was “neither profound nor original” in her thinking.  Carson’s “core message was very much in line with the content of previous’ ‘books and articles published in widely circulated magazines and newspapers.” In reality the “ideological core of modern environmentalism can be traced back to ideas that have been around for centuries and in some cases millennia.”
So why did she have such much of a larger impact on society than the writers before her?  Carson wrote differently than her predecessors.  Their writings were so obviously misanthropic that they made little impact with anyone outside their circle of like thinkers.  Carson wrote claiming there were serious health hazards from chemicals to humanity, especially DDT, and that was her message, a plea for the good of humanity.  Make no mistake; it was her claims regarding chemicals and cancer that really struck a chord with the public. 
She claimed that DDT was a serious carcinogenic agent that with continued use would eventually impact almost 100% of the population.  Nothing could have been further from the truth.  
In 1969 primates were used as test subjects for the cancer causing potential of DDT and were fed 33,000 times the amount of DDT than the estimated adult human exposure without any conclusive evidence of it being carcinogenic……Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology 1999; 125(3-4):219-25
In over a 20 year period 692 women were studied (265 postmenopausal women with breast cancer and 341 controls) and found “no correlation between serum DDE (the metabolite or breakdown product of DDT) and breast cancer” in women…Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 1999 June; 8(6):525-32
Workers exposed to 600 times the average amount of DDT the general population for periods of 9 to 19 years showed no elevated cancer risk ………..ER Laws, 1967. Archives of Environmental Health 15:766-775
To cap off her fallacious claims, a number of individuals ingested 35 mg of DDT daily for two years and tracked for several years afterward.  No indication of cancer or even an elevation of risk of cancer…Hayes, W. 1956. JAMA 162:890-897
The science against DDT wasn’t weak; it was non-existent and remains so to this day.  Malaria spraying campaigns began during WWII.  Since that time until 1972 hundreds of millions of people around the world had been exposed to DDT in large concentrations including using DDT dust directly on people during the war to get rid of lice.  Some of the people were liberated concentration camp internees with seriously compromised health who showed no ill effects from these applications.  The fact is that “not even one peer reviewed, independently replicated study linking exposure to DDT with any adverse health outcome." according to international health scholar Amir Attaran.  
But it was Carson who became the right writer, with the right style, for the right time.   She stunned the nation with “revelations” that society was “eroding the very fabric of life”, with our modern industrialized lifestyle. 
Carson’s attack on “synthetic pesticides is not her most notable achievement”.  It was her wider “ecological critique” of society as a whole that has had the most lasting impact.  The most important thing was must come to understand is the popularity of Silent Spring created a pattern of thinking.  As an example, in 1965 “Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas wrote Wilderness Bill of Rights, proposing that animals, plants and natural objects should have legal rights just as humans do.”  This irrational mental pattern continues almost unabated. 
The most lasting achievement of Silent Spring was the embrace of the Precautionary Principle, the foundation for every piece of junk science ever promoted.  The Precautionary Principle is more commonly known as the “better safe than sorry” principle.  It is based on a totally unscientific line of thought that anything can do something detrimental so therefore we need to prevent its use before something bad happens; the lack of scientific findings not-with-standing.  
If the Precautionary Principle had been imposed during Edison’s day we wouldn’t have electricity today since the Principle demands that you must prove something is safe before you can use it, and we know that electricity isn’t safe.  Proving something is safe is a scientific impossibility known as proving a negative.  You cannot prove a negative.  You can only prove what things do - not what they don’t do - and the green movement knows it.    It’s like demanding proof that someone isn’t cheating on their spouse. 
The interesting twist in their reasoning is that they refuse to apply this principle both ways.  In other words; what would be the negative impact if a product isn’t used.  The green movement has never been fond of truth, facts or logic.  Neither are they consistent in their thinking.  The theme of this movement is that man and all his works are evil and nature and all of its works are benign.  Both over simplifications, and both wrong, and since environmentalism is the secular religion of the urban atheist, any deviation is heresy.  But that is Carson’s legacy,
The Precautionary Principle was not unique to Silent Spring, but Carson made it popular thinking.  Carson and Silent Spring is cited as illustrative in the thinking when developing the Registration, Evaluation, Authorizations, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) in the EU, which was enacted in 2005.  Silent Spring crossed international boundary’s impacting the world with irrational regulations and unpleasant consequences. 

Rachel Carson's work created irrational fears that completely ignored the promise and solutions modern technology brings.  Her work laid the foundation for a modern movement that prevents real solutions and real progress, which may actually harm humanity and the environment the green movement claims to be trying to protect.  Wind mills are a classic example.  They are destroying bat and avian life at massive levels, including endangered species, and the green movement says nothing.   Let’s not fail to see things clearly.  The movement she is credited with creating is, irrational, misanthropic and morally defective.  That is her true legacy. 

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