Blue Collar Scientist, Jeff Medkeff

August 4, 2008

Blue Collar Scientist burst on the blogosphere last December.  News from Pharyngula is that Jeff Medkeff’s liver cancer took him — he died last night.

With luck, someone will be sure his on-line and in-print work is archived.  His voice, his activism, his enthusiasm, his patience and deep knowledge seem irreplaceable.  Scientists and other rational people will have to work much harder to fill in the gaps.

So long, Jeff.

DDT poisoning spreads: Critics Kling to their favorite untruths

August 4, 2008

No, I’m not talking about actual poisoning by the chemical, an organochloride insecticide. I’m talking again about people driven to madness by false claims that DDT will cure malaria, that DDT is banned for use against malaria, and that some few super powerful people, all of them evil environmentalists, are forcing governments, all health workers, and the world’s tobacco companies to stop the use of DDT — ergo, they say, everyone who has died from malaria since [some point in the past that is surely the fault of environmentalists] died due to lack of DDT.

Which makes those people worse murderers than Stalin at least, so the crazies claim.

Here’s the latest fuse that set me off. I’ll analyze it below the fold, after the lecture.

Is it a virus that spreads in late summer? I’ve noted here earlier the tendency of the pro-DDT wackoes to surge out of the woodwork in summer to claim, against the facts, that West Nile virus would be no problem if there were DDT. Mosquitoes that carry West Nile are best killed in as larva, living in water; DDT is not as efficient as other larvacides, particularly when weighed against DDT’s tendency to kill everything that comes in contact with the water and the plants and animals living in and around it.

But watch: Any mention of malaria in the news, and they drop letters to the editors of every weekly newspaper in America, blaming unnamed environmentalists for killing millions in Africa, or Asia, or both. In the Bizarro™ World of DDT advocates, all insect-borne diseases were on the run until Rachel Carson personally padlocked every DDT manufacturer in the world. I have news browsers set to pick up mentions of DDT, and except for the recent surge in news about the band DDT from Russia, every day brings another internet mention of how DDT could have saved the world, if only.

Dear Reader, Dear God, there are several inaccuracies there. It’s curious that some people can get ideas so exactly contrary to the facts, contrary to reality, so often.

Arnold Kling, economist blogging at the Freedom Fund's Library of Economics and Liberty -- in this case, misblogging against science and medicine.

Arnold Kling, economist blogging at the Freedom Fund’s Library of Economics and Liberty — in this case, misblogging against science and medicine.

Wait. What’s this? There’s a trail of misinformation and disinformation we can follow. This livejournal poster links to this Wikipedia article on “seasteading,” and from there to this blog on the value of seasteading, which bases the pie-in-the-sea philosophy on the common, occasionally-but-randomly correct rant against government, based on Arnold Kling’s rant at EconLog.

Have we seen this before? Yes, Dear Reader, we have — and if you look in the comments to Kling’s rant, you’ll see Tim Lambert fiercely shoveling facts to try to put out the fires of ignorance. I even posted there — back in April. The facts, the links, the arguments, are all there, for anyone with half a brain and half a desire to do the right thing and get the facts right.

April to August (misdated September). The nutty DDT advocates are working on a four month cycle. Repeat the falsehoods every four months, three times a year (intentionally or not; some viral marketing works better if it’s not intentional, like the innocent carriers of typhoid who are unaffected by it, don’t mean to spread it around, but breath the pathogen out with every breath).

Blather, don’t bother to rinse, repeat.

It’s time someone wrote a new book on propaganda, warning of its evils.

Read the rest of this entry »

Global warming hampers al Quaeda and Taliban?

August 4, 2008

Scrappleface has a feature on global warming hampering the efforts of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

I’ll wager it was U.S.-caused warming, too.

(/hoax mode)

Scrappleface makes a good case for the satire abilities of the right-wing.  Alas, where satire is inappropriate, they can’t turn it off.  It’s almost impossible to distinguish between the satire of Scrappleface and the press releases from John McCain, or policy arguments from the Heritage Foundation.  Can we get someone to repeal Poe’s Law?

Tip of the old scrub brush to Pseudo-Polymath.

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