Ducking the quacks on DDT

December 9, 2010

Howard Stern may not re-up with Sirius, I hear.  That would make it easier to avoid the quackings of one of the latest and greatest cranks on DDT and malaria.

Rutledge Taylor, the erstwhile (still?) beauty-cream peddler to the stars, spoke with Stern on the telephone the day after the Pearl Harbor anniversary, apparently on the air, and demonstrated greater lunacy about DDT and malaria than in the past; the conversation was posted to YouTube.  Among other things Taylor gets dead wrong he claims:

  • Bedbugs did not develop resistance to DDT as reported in the 1950s and confirmed by recent detailed studies
  • No one studied bedbugs in the past three decades or so
  • DDT was banned to kill people, not due to any danger
  • Mosquito nets are “antiquated”
  • DDT doesn’t harm birds, doesn’t thin eggshells
  • Linus Pauling’s vitamin C studies show that DDT works
  • William Ruckelshaus completely banned DDT use everywhere, by himself, with no science to back the action

Taylor claims to have five file cabinets full of the studies on DDT, but it becomes clear that he hasn’t read any of them.  For example, he cites the erroneous claim that DDT saved 500 million lives, from a 1970 study by the National Academy of Sciences — but he’s not got the honor to tell his listeners that NAS then concluded that despite its value, DDT is too dangerous to keep using.

Stern’s newsletter said, for the December 8, 2010 program:


Howard got Dr. Rutledge Taylor on the line to discuss his DDT advocacy: “This is the guy who believes in DDT.” Robin remembered Dr. Rutledge’s infamous YouTube video: “He drank it!” Dr. Rutledge said anti-DDT activists cited faulty–or just plain old–research: “There’s not been a study on DDT and bedbugs in 30 years…it’s the safest pesticide on the planet.” Howard asked about the common claim that DDT thins bird eggs, so Dr. Rutledge said he’d never seen proof: “Total bullshit. I’ve got every study going back to 1940.”
Howard asked if Dr. Rutledge was really dating 80s pop star Debbie Gibson, and the doc confirmed it: “She’s right here. Right now.” Debbie grabbed the phone: “I’m the crazy-supportive girlfriend up in the middle of the night making this phone call with him. Look, he’s saving the world and I wrote ‘Shake Your Love.’ It’s a match made in heaven.” Howard joked: “Does Dr. Rutledge ever bring DDT into the bedroom? Rub it on you?” The doc laughed: “It’s better than chocolate.”

Back in the olden days, broadcasters had to demonstrate that they broadcast in the public interest.  Sirius needs to make no such demonstration.  Otherwise, Stern’s Know-Nothing rants on DDT, alone, would put their license into question.

Instead of urging people to donate $10 to Nothing But Nets to save a kid from malaria, Taylor insists that people should go see his movie, “3 Billion and Counting,” instead.

Fortunately, the movie is no longer in release.  So, Dear Reader, make Howard Stern apoplectic, and save a kid’s life, by sending $10 to Nothing But Nets, and ignore Stern completely.

The facts?  You can’t get them from Stern or Taylor:

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