August 31, 1999
store special of the day: FREE copy of Silencing Science with a purchase of Slow Burn Today only, get a free copy of Silencing Science (an $8 value) with each purchase of Slow Burn: The Great American Antismoking Scam (And Why it Will Fail). Slow Burn is a new, 600-page book by Don Oakley, a former editorial writer for Newspaper Enterprise Association in Cleveland, Ohio, and Scripps Howard News Service in Washington,D.C. Through junkscience.com, Slow Burn costs $14.50 plus $2.50 postage and handling (U.S.) -- cheaper than amazon.com! A free copy of Silencing Science makes it an even sweeter deal! Click here to order Slow Burn. Click here to read reader reviews of Slow Burn on amazon.com.
letter-to-the-editor of the day: "Falcon's fall" Here's my letter to the editor of the San Francisco Examiner, published on August 29, about this editorial.
junk of the day: "Light drinking may help men avoid sudden cardiac death" CNN reports, "Consuming two to six alcoholic drinks per week can greatly reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death, according to a new report from researchers at Harvard Medical School." Overlooking that alcohol intake and all other lifestyle and dietary data in this study were self-reported and not verified, and that the study population was likely biased (22,000 physicians), the study reported no reduction in risk for nonfatal heart attacks and nonsudden coronary heart disease. The researchers only presume that alcohol has some differential effect on the development of arrhythmias leading to sudden cardiac death -- but they have no biological evidence to support their presumption. Many want to believe that moderate alcohol consumption [music link] has beneficial health effects -- and maybe it does. But studies like this make me question that idea.
junk commentary of the day I: "Deadly chlorofluorocarbons" Mitzi Perdue writes, "If you've ever had a bad sunburn, you know what even very small amounts of ultraviolet radiation can do. The radiation that does get past the ozone layer can cause skin cancers, damage to the immune system and cataracts." But scientists have yet to see any increase of solar ultraviolet radiation at the Earth's surface. Click here for more on the ozone depletion controversy.
junk commentary of the day II: "Standing firm against pollution" The Boston Globe urges Northeastern states to pressure the EPA to crack down on emissions from Midwestern power plants. But the Midwest is not responsible for smog in the Northeast -- the Northeast is. Although intuitively attractive to Northeastern states looking to avoid reducing their own emissions, the notion that emissions from the Midwest travel hundreds of miles to significantly contribute to Northeast smog is without factual basis.
"PETA plans to grill McDonalds with ads" Reuters reports, "[Peopls for the Ethical Treatment of Animals] is launching a billboard, bumper sticker, print ad and T-shirt campaign that features such images as a slaughtered cow's head and the slogan 'Do you want fries with that? McDonald's. Cruelty to go.' Another shows the company's clown mascot Ronald McDonald holding a bloodied butcher knife and reads 'Son
of Ron -- America's No. 1 Serial Killer.'"
"Fertilizers add to public health" Pete Frewell writes for Scripps Howard, "The fertilizer industry and the state of California both funded scientific risk assessments of fertilizer safety, and both studies independently reached essentially the same conclusion. Today's fertilizers are safe. Almost all fertilizers - natural or commercial, recycled or otherwise -
contain some heavy metals. But the fertilizers are safe for growing food. Results of their studies are available on the Internet at www.wa.gov/agr/test/pmd/fertilizers/index.htmdatabase. In light of the recent media stories, the Environmental Protection Agency also reviewed scientific data on fertilizers and decided against new federal regulations for fertilizers. Its database report can be found at www.wa.gov/ecology/hwtr/fertilizer."
"Decline in AIDS deaths now slowing: Officials say drug cocktails’ may be losing their punch" So reports MSNBC. I wonder what Peter Duesberg thinks. The HIV virus has never been scientifically proven to be the cause of the AIDS condition, according to Duesberg.
"Lower dose of tamoxifen may be effective" Reuters reports, "One quarter of the usual dose of tamoxifen, a drug that has shown promise in preventing breast cancer in at-risk women, may be just as effective as the regular dose, according to a European study." Too bad recent research indicates that, after about 5 years of use, tamoxifen may increase breast cancer risk.
"Cow's milk 'as good as iron-rich baby feed'" The Daily Telegraph reports, "Mothers who give their babies formula feeds enriched with iron in preference to cow's milk may not be giving their infants any advantage, researchers say today." Another case of consumers paying a premium for something they don't need?
"Row over drink firms' ties to sport: Government rejects report urging restrictions on alcohol sponsorship to make drinking less glamorous" The Guardian (UK) reports on a controversy coming soon to the U.S.
"Health bias against alcoholics 'unfair'" The Independent(UK) reports, "Alcoholics do just as well with a liver transplant as any other patients and denying them the option of a new organ amounts to unfair discrimination, new research suggests. In a study that will fuel the controversy over whether patients who cause their own ill health - through smoking or drinking, for example - have the same rights to treatment as others, doctors in France compared the outcome of liver transplantation in drinkers and non-drinkers."
August 30, 1999
store special of the week: FREE copy of Silencing Science with a purchase of Slow Burn Today only, get a free copy of Silencing Science (an $8 value) with each purchase of Slow Burn: The Great American Antismoking Scam (And Why it Will Fail). Slow Burn is a new, 600-page book by Don Oakley, a former editorial writer for Newspaper Enterprise Association in Cleveland, Ohio, and Scripps Howard News Service in Washington,D.C. Through junkscience.com, Slow Burn costs $14.50 plus $2.50 postage and handling (U.S.) -- cheaper than amazon.com! A free copy of Silencing Science makes it an even sweeter deal! here to order Slow Burn. Click here to read reader reviews of Slow Burn on amazon.com.
"Malaria fears over planned DDT ban" The Guardian reports, "More than 350 of the world's leading experts in malaria have signed an open letter of protest against plans for a global ban on the pesticide DDT, which they say will lead to millions more people dying in the developing world from the disease."
"Green ideal clashes with third world need" The Guardian reports, "Malaria, a scourge of much of the developing world, kills some 2.7m people every year, most of them children under five and pregnant women, while up to 500m become ill, cannot work and need care."
"The unblinking eye" About the U.S. Park Service's plan to put photo radar along a major Washington, D.C.-area highway, the Washington Times comments, "Nixing photo radar will mean some 'speeders' get away with driving faster than some bureaucrat thinks appropriate. It also means we won't be under the thumb of people who've well-demonstrated they can't be trusted with such power. Area residents should encourage the Park Service to put the brakes on this bad idea."
"Greens Say They'll Quit French Government if It Plans New A-Plants" The New York Times reports, "France's Green Party, emboldened by a good showing in the recent elections for the European Parliament, has threatened to pull out of the government coalition if Prime Minister Lionel Jospin approves a new generation of nuclear power stations to replace old ones." And the bad news is...?
"Activist Jurors Help Carve Out New Law" The Washington Post reports, "Jurors are ready to believe that they are the public avengers. Because the governor won't do it, the state legislature won't do it, the jurors are the only ones who will do it."
"With Organic Meals, Berkeley Schools Aim For Healthful Habits" The Washington Post reports, "Beginning with organic salads, milk without bovine-growth hormones, organic cereals, fruit and a few entrees such as pizza pockets, the district hopes eventually to extend the initiative to all food served in the district's 15 schools. Every school will have its own organic vegetable garden tended by the students to teach them about agriculture and ecology and to provide perhaps 25 percent of the organic produce needed."
"Mozart Sonata's IQ Impact: Eine Kleine Oversold?" The Washington Post reports, "It was a small study that showed a short-lived, modest improvement in adults' performance of a specific mental task. But it wasn't long before Mozart's heavenly oeuvre got co-opted by coldly utilitarian pedagogues and parents hoping to squeeze from the Master's musical scores a few extra points on their kids' SAT scores. Then, to make matters worse, the marketing began."
"Lords of the flies" The Washington Times comments, " Remember the $500 hammer? When word got out that the federal government had spent that much for a tool one could pick up for a few bucks at the local hardware store, it became a permanent symbol of Beltway extravagance or, depending one's perspective, waste. But the story of the $500 hammer is nothing compared to the one about the $500,000 fly."
'Tis the season to put an end to 'ecohype' Here's a letter to the editor of the Washington Times by junkscience.com friend Philip Stott, who runs the
"Acclimating to a Warmer World: With some climate change unavoidable, researchers focus on adaptation" Science News wrings its hands over global warming. "Oh my God, what'll we do? What'll we do?"
"Hazardous trade-offs" The Financial Times reports, "Now, in a landmark book, Jonathan Krueger, a specialist in trade and environment issues at Harvard University's Global Environmental Assessment Project, analyses the first 10 years of the [Basle Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal] and examines its future."
"US dustbowl fears return" Worldwatch links the drought in the eastern U.S. with global warming.
August 29, 1999
article of the day: "DDT, Target of Global Ban, Has Defenders in Malaria Experts" The New York Times reports, "Now the United Nations is drafting a treaty that may lead to a worldwide ban on DDT. But the negotiations, set to resume in Geneva next month, are drawing opposition from an unlikely quarter: public health professionals, who say DDT is necessary to stop the spread of malaria, a disease that kills as many as 2.7 million people each year, mostly children in undeveloped countries." If you haven't already, check out "100 Things You Should Know About DDT."
commentary of the day: "Keeping Scientists Honest When Peer Review Fails" Karen Wright comments favorably on the data access law and OMB's proposed implementation, in the Los Angeles Times.
scare-tistic of the day: "Stamp out smoking" This St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial says that smoking will kill 120,000 Missouri kids, a blend of bogus statistics -- i.e., 3,000 kids start smoking every day (from a 1989 Journal of the American Medical Association study involving "kids" over 20 years of age) and
smoking kills 400,000 annually). For more on the smoking controversy, read Don Oakley's Slow Burn: The Great American Antismoking Scam (And Why it Will Fail), available at the junkscience.com store -- for less than amazon.com!
risk factor of the day: "Developing countries facing heart epidemic " The BBC reports, "The World Health Organisation has warned of an epidemic of heart disease in developing countries in the next decade... Factors contributing to the increase are longer life expectancy... " Trust the WHO to turn living longer into a health risk.
"we'll saying anything" of the day: "Global warming threatens tourism" The BBC reports, "A report commissoned by the World Wide Fund for Nature (UK) says heat waves, droughts, rising sea levels, flash floods, forest fires and disease 'could turn profitable tourist destinations into holiday horror stories'... Tourism is itself contributing to the very process that threatens it." The enviros will say anything -- and everything -- to scare people about global warming. The enviros don't like jet emissions. But tourism will really suffer if we go back to sailing ships.
"New Trade Threat for U.S. Farmers" The New York Times reports, "American farmers paid premium prices this spring to sow many of their fields with genetically engineered corn and soybeans, but now as the fall harvest nears, more of the international buyers they depend upon are saying they do not want those crops."
"The Rocky Flats study" The Denver Post comments on the recent study that basically found no health risks created by plutonium from the the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant.
"Cleaning Out Farms" The Detroit News comments, "The Environmental Protection Agency’s bid to combat toxic runoffs should be resisted because it could lead to the loss of farmlands."
August 28, 1999
'must read' of the day: Slow Burn: The Great American Antismoking Scam (And Why it Will Fail) Slow Burn is Don Oakley's great new book (600 pages, June 1999). Don is an author and a former editorial writer for Newspaper Enterprise Association in Cleveland, Ohio, and Scripps Howard News Service in Washington,D.C. You can buy the book through junkscience.com for $14.50 plus $2.50 postage and handling (U.S.). This price is cheaper than amazon.com and -- here's comes the pitch -- junkscience.com needs your support. Buy two or more copies, and you'll get one unique junkscience.com coffee mug for each extra copy. Click here to order the book. Click here to read reader reviews of Slow Burn on amazon.com.
'to do' of the day: "Is the weather getting worse? Floods. Drought. Tornadoes. Now, we're in the heart of hurricane season. Experts from the Weather Channel explain what's really going on." A pretty balanced article in USA Weekend. Send your compliments to USA Weekend.
scare of the day: "'Scientists started Aids epidemic'" The BBC reports, "A polio vaccine using tissue from primates could have been behind the leap made by the human immunodeficiency virus - HIV - from apes and moneys to humans, a new book claims... The theory also alarms those who believe the future of medicine is likely to include xenotransplantation, where organs from one animal - such as a pig - are placed in a human."
junk of the day: "Depleted uranium study 'shows clear damage'" The BBC reports, "The controversy over the reported dangers of depleted uranium (DU) has intensified, with a Canadian study said to show "unequivocal" evidence of damage to health." But is a report of one soldier passing DU in his urine eight years after the Gulf War really "unequivocal" evidence of damage to health?
"Led by New York, Northeasterners Alter Stance on Air Pollutants From Other States" The New York Times reports, "After years of battling over smokestack pollution that blows from the Midwest and the South, Northeastern states, led by New York, have signaled for the first time a willingness to retreat from their demands that other states significantly reduce their emissions." It's about time since Midwestern emissions have little, if anything, to do with Northeastern smog -- that's according to EPA's own science advisers. If Northeasterners want less smog, they need to look at their own emissions.
junk commentary of the day: "Return of the falcon: Peregrines back from the brink of extinction" The Sacramento Bee hails former EPA administrator William Ruckleshaus for "ignoring the advice of his own agency" in banning DDT. This editorial is wrong about Ruckleshaus and wrong about the return of the peregrine falcon. Check out "100 Things You Should Know About DDT" and then e-mail your comments to the Sacramento Bee.
"Blaming Disasters on Global Warming Doesn't Help" "The sooner people take responsibility for coping with natural hazards instead of hand-wringing over the presumed perils of greenhouse gases, the quicker the benefits in sustainable development and disaster resiliency," writes george Taylor, president of the American Association of State Climatologists.
"Modified foods are like drugs" This Boston Globe op-ed urges that so-called functional foods be treated by the government as if they were drugs.
"The Week That Was August 28, 1999" The weekly update from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.
"Better than Limp Bizkit" About last weeks' study debunking the Mozart effect, the Boston Herald comments, "So all you young parents who might have received classical CDs with your babies - play them. Mozart might not turn your kids into geniuses, but if he steers them away from Limp Bizkit, [music link] isn't that a start?"
"Killer weeds: Foreign intruders literally taking over California's natural landscape." The Fresno Bee whines that Californians don't want foreign weeds but don't want to take the steps necessary to get rid of them (burning and herbicides). Instead, the Bee urges "local weed management areas." Maybe pulling weeds by hand is the most fitting -- and most useful-- job for California bureaucrats?
"Government panel finds no links between ammo and Gulf War illnesses" The Associated Press reports, "A presidential oversight board concluded Friday there is no link between mysterious Gulf War illnesses to exposure to depleted uranium used in U.S. munitions."
"U.S. judge allows new diet drug suit to go to trial" The Associated Press reports, "A federal judge has certified a class-action suit by users of the "fen-phen" diet drug combination seeking payments to have medical checkups for potential heart and lung problems." Click here for my recent Wall Street Journal op-ed on the fen-phen fiasco.
"Greenpeace urges China to protect environment" The Associated Press reports, "The environmental group Greenpeace said Friday that China must abandon its "get-rich-first, clean-up-later" attitude toward the environment to prevent its economic growth from wreaking ecological catastrophe. The environmental group has launched a campaign to lobby the Chinese government, but it is being cautious, avoiding the confrontational approach it has adopted elsewhere."
August 27, 1999
commentary of the day I: "Fashion Statement" The Wall Street Journal editorializes, "In trying to decipher the implications of the $50 million settlement over Norplant, most of us are inclined to turn to the business press. But for a good take on what's really going on behind the curtain, you can't beat this month's issue of Glamour, which notes how trial lawyers are cynically using the issue to line their own pockets."
commentary of the day II: "Cleaning Up Toxic Classrooms" The Los Angeles Times editorializes, "The agriculture industry correctly argues that Proposition 65 was not intended to ban all uses of potentially toxic chemicals, but rather to educate Californians about proper use... The right first step is to review and quantify to determine the extent of the problem of pesticides in schools."
junk of the day: "Stress makes baby girls more likely" The BBC reports, "People who suffer severe emotional stress around the time they conceive a baby are more likely to parent a girl, a study suggests." But is smog really a "severe life event?" Click here for the full study.
"Norplant makers to settle; Settlement over birth control device reportedly could total $50M" CNN reports, "The plaintiffs claimed they suffered health problems including irregular menstrual bleeding, headaches, nausea and depression after using Norplant, a device that is injected into the arm to prevent pregnancy for about five years. The company said most of the plaintiffs experienced routine side effects described in the product's labeling. In its statement, Wyeth-Ayerst said it would continue to offer the product and said it would defend 'any and all new lawsuits aggressively.' The company says it has won three jury verdicts, more than 20 summary judgments before trials, and the dismissal of about 14,000 claims. Our legal success has come at a steep price because lawsuits are time-consuming, expensive, and have a chilling effect on research..."
corporate political correctness of the day: "Home Depot vows not to use lumber from ancient forests" The Associated Press reports, " Home Depot, the largest single retailer of lumber in the world, said it will stop selling goods made from wood harvested in ancient forests in a sweeping policy change aimed at protecting redwoods, the rain forest and other ecologically sensitive tracts." Call me shallow, but there's nothing quite like a redwood deck. Also, when old trees are cut down, new trees grow back -- see how it works? And if you're worried about global warming, new trees take more carbon out of circulation than old trees.
Eat less and live longer, gene study suggests" The Associated Press reports, "the study, to be published in the journal Science on Friday, may explain why a reduced-calorie diet can cause mice to live up to 50 percent longer." So let me get this straight -- if I put out milk and cookies for my mice, instead of making them scavenge for food, they'll die 33 percent ealier?"
"Florida court upholds $31 million asbestos award against Owens Corning" The Associated Press reports, "Owens Corning showed "blatant disregard for human safety" in an asbestos-related death, the Florida Supreme Court said Thursday in upholding a $31 million award against the company."
"Exercise may reduce lung cancer risk" Reuters reports, "Moderate exercise for 6 to 8 hours per week may reduce the risk of lung cancer in middle-aged men, US researchers report." Unfortunately for this study, the reduction in risk (39 percent) is too small to be credibly observed via unverified, self-reported data, small study size (only 245 cases) and a biased study population (mostly white male Harvard students from 1916-1950).
"CDC advises states on tobacco control programs" Reuters reports, "Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that a comprehensive tobacco control program would cost the average state $31 million to $83 million annually, a total of $1.6 billion to $4.2 billion for anti-tobacco programs nationwide." There was no estimate of what such programs might accomplish.
"Genetically modified seeds divide farmers in Brazil" The Christian Science Monitor Network reports, "In few other countries are the stakes so high in the debate over genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Brazil is the second-largest soybean producer in the world, after the United States. "
August 26, 1999
for regulatory geeks only: Today's Federal Register junkscience.com now carries a link to the current Federal Register -- the source for how federal agencies are making life more costly and difficult. Look under the links section.
commentary of the day: "The Bitter Truth About a Sweetener Scare" Cyclamate discoverer Michael Sveda died last week. Elizabeth Whelan writes about Sveda, the cyclamate travesty and DDT in this Wall Street Journal op-ed.
study of the day: "Virus blamed for all cervical cancers" The BBC reports, "Fresh evidence suggests that a virus may be the sole cause of cervical cancer - adding weight to calls for new tests and vaccines." But Stan Glantz and the rest of the anti-tobacco Gestapo told me that cervical cancer was caused by smoking and even secondhand smoke. What gives?
indictment of the day: "Two EPA officials indicted for obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice and perjury" Hot from the Department of Justice. So how high does this go?
chagrin of the day: "Bad weather means good news on air pollution" The Daily Telegraph (UK) reports, "The biggest improvement in air quality since records began in 1993 was announced yesterday by John Prescott, Deputy Prime Minister. He was forced to admit, however, that most of the improvement last year came about because of the weather."
adios of the day: "Goodbye, for Now" A parting shot from New England Journal of Medicine editor Jerome Kassirer. "I have been privileged to use the Journal's bully pulpit. In my 70 editorials I have criticized... organizations that tried to undermine science for political motives," he said overlooking his own blatantly partisan anti-gun agenda and his embarrasing flinch when enviros barked at him over this book review. Hey Jerry, adios, farewell, goodbye, good luck, so long [music link].
scare of the day: "Radiation risk from thyroid treatment" The Daily Telegraph (UK) reports, "Patients given radiation to treat thyroid problems have been warned not to get too close [music link] to their loved ones." Click here for the original New Scientist article.
junk of the day: "Mozart's nice but doesn't increase IQs" CNN reports, "The news stories sounded like, well, music to the ears when researchers at the University of California, Irvine reported in 1993 that college students could raise their IQs by listening to a few soaring bars of a Mozart sonata. But there's a problem with the concept of classical music as sort of a Gatorade for the brain. According to two studies reported in this week's issue of the journal Nature, classical music has no ability to increase basic intelligence in adults or children." Maybe they just need to switch genres? [music link] Click here for Associated Press coverage.
"Meta-Analysis of Rat Lung Tumors from Lifetime Inhalation of Diesel Exhaust" This study in Environmental Health Perpsectives (September 1999) concludes, "Our meta-analysis of the low-exposure data in rats does not support a lung cancer risk for DEP exposure at nonoverload conditions." E-mail me if you want the full study.
"Answering the Endocrine Test Questions" The abstract of this article in Environmental Health Perpsectives (September 1999) reads: "Evidence suggesting that certain chemicals may bind to endogenous hormone receptors and disturb normal endocrine functioning, thereby increasing the risk of reproductive problems and cancer in humans, has led to international efforts to screen chemicals for endocrine activity and potential health effects. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recommended that some 87,000 commercial chemicals for which there currently are inadequate toxicity data be evaluated. In December 1998, the EPA's Endocrine Disruptor Screening and Testing Advisory Committee (EDSTAC) recommended the use of a tiered system of screening and testing assays to sequentially eliminate chemicals for which further testing is deemed unnecessary. The first step toward implementing such a system--validation of the tests to be used--is presenting some challenges, however, with stakeholders disagreeing over which tests to validate, how extensively to validate them, and how much it will cost."
"Where the Chips Fall: Environmental Health in the Semiconductor Industry" The abstract of this article in Environmental Health Perpsectives (September 1999) reads: "Three recent lawsuits are focusing public attention on the environmental and occupational health effects of the world's largest and fastest growing manufacturing sector--the $150 billion semiconductor industry. The suits allege that exposure to toxic chemicals in semiconductor manufacturing plants led to adverse health effects such as miscarriage and cancer among workers. To manufacture computer components, the semiconductor industry uses large amounts of hazardous chemicals including hydrochloric acid, toxic metals and gases, and volatile solvents. Little is known about the long-term health consequences of exposure to chemicals by semiconductor workers. According to industry critics, the semiconductor industry also adversely impacts the environment, causing groundwater and air pollution and generating toxic waste as a by-product of the semiconductor manufacturing process. In contrast, the U.S. Bureau of Statistics shows the semiconductor industry as having a worker illness rate of about one-third of the average of all manufacturers, and advocates defend the industry, pointing to recent research collaborations and product replacement as proof that semiconductor manufacturers adequately protect both their employees and the environment."
"Functional Food Fights" From Environmental Health Perpsectives (September 1999), "One of the mostly hotly debated questions in nutrition today is whether--and how well--so-called functional foods are being regulated."
"Passive Smoking and Coronary Heart Disease" Correspondence to the New England Journal of Medicine about the
March 25 meta-analysis of studies on passive smoking and heart disease. Note that despite being put on the spot for being politically incorrect about passive smoke, John Bailar doesn't budge off his terrific editorial.
"'GM crop can help environment'" The BBC reports, "Some crops which have been genetically-modified to produce pesticides may have an 'environmental advantage' over sprays, because they do not harm useful insects, according to UK researchers."
"British beef relaunched with a lunch in Brussels" The Daily Telegraph (UK) reports, "Britain launched its campaign yesterday to recapture lost beef markets, serving the first exported steak since the three-year ban caused by the outbreak of BSE in cattle ended on Aug 1."
August 25, 1999
note to visitors: junkscience.com has changed its look! To improve junkscience.com, I'll be changing its appearance and functionality over the next several weeks. Thanks for your patience. Let me know what you think of the changes. Suggestions are always welcome.
commentary of the day I: "Mad Regulatory Disease" About the FDA's decision to ban blood donations from anyone who has spent a cumulative six months or more in the United Kingdom since 1980, the Wall Street Journal editorializes, "Reactive regulation, as opposed to a careful balancing of risks, often is worse than no regulation at all. Potentially, it could cost lives."
commentary of the day II: "Mud in your eye" About the controversy over dredging the Port of New York, the Wall Street Journal notes, "The truth is that what they are calling toxic is based on the most minute measurements-x parts of contaminants per trillion parts dredged material-that weren't even technologically possible until a few years ago. What we have here is a dispute about whose measurements to use: the old EPA standards or the new Clean Ocean Action standards."
hypocrisy of the day I: "Cigarette in a Postal Service Ad Burns Up Some Critics of Smoking" The Wall Street Journal reports that while smoking has been air-brushed out of stamps, the U.S. Postal Service is not above using smoking to glamorize itself in advertisement.
hypocrisy of the day II: "Clinton caught in the act" About President Clinton being photographed smoking a stogie while on vacation, the Boston Herald comments, "So the message from the White House is what again? Do as we say, not as we do?"
perpetuated myth of the day: "Back from the brink" About the removal of the peregrine falcon from the endangered species list, the New York Times says in this editorial, "The bird's recovery owes much to the late Rachel Carson, who first drew attention to the dangers of DDT, and to the subsequent passage in 1972 of a Federal law banning the pesticide." But the decline in the U.S. peregrine falcon population occurred long before the DDT years. Peregrine falcons were deemed undesirable in the early 20th century. Dr. William Hornaday of the New York Zoological Society referred them as birds that "deserve death, but are so rare that we need not take them into account." Falconers, egg collectors and hunters were blamed for decimating populations. In 1966, scientists impaneled by the UK government concluded "There is no close correlation between the declines in populations of predatory birds, particularly the peregrine falcon... and the use of DDT." Many experiments on caged-birds demonstrate that DDT and its metabolites (DDD and DDE) do not cause serious egg shell thinning, even at levels many hundreds of times greater than wild birds would ever accumulate. After seven months of testimony during 1971-1972, an EPA administrative judge concluded that DDT had no deleterious effect on wild birds. He was overruled by EPA administrator William Ruckelshaus who decided to ban DDT, even though he never attended one minute of the DDT hearings and never even read the hearing transcript. For more info on DDT, check out "100 Things You Should Know About DDT." Send your comments to the Times' editors at email@example.com.
junk commentary of the day: "Too Many Bad-Air Days" The Governor of Maine and an enviro blame the Midwest for ozone problems in the East, in this New York Times' op-ed. They write "The Midwestern utilities play down the idea that pollution can be transported, but everyone who watches the news knows our weather moves from west to east. At the same time, experts have concluded that ozone is harmful at even low levels." Actually it was the EPA's own science advisers who shot down the ozone transport theory saying, "The distance of ozone transport between the precursor emissions and ozone removal is in the range of 150 to 500 miles (Figure 9a). The transport of ozone manifests itself differently at the local, sub-regional and regional scales. In general, local (30-150 miles) transport contributes most to the non attainment of the 120 ppb standard. Beyond 100 - 200 miles the ozone concentrations tend to decrease with increasing transport distances. Statistical correlation analyses of the regional ozone pattern suggest ozone transport distances of up to 300-500 miles, but it is not clear to what extent this actually represents transport of ozone and/or precursors, or is a meteorological correlation." [From Final Report, Vol. I, OTAG Air Quality Analysis Workgroup, June 2, 1997.] As far as ozone being harmful at low levels, if this is true at all, it is only true for the "elderly, urban, asthmatic jogger" -- hardly the guidepost for public health standards. Northeastern states hope to reduce their own regulatory burdens by blaming their smog problems on Midwestern states. Send your comments to the Times' editors at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Europe's once-radical 'Greens,' taking power, set centrist course " The Boston Globe reports (Aug. 24), "Quietly but inexorably, the so-called "Green" parties of Europe, once considered part of the radical fringe, are becoming more mainstream and gaining power throughout the continent."
"US groups step up modified food campaign" The Financial Times reports, "US consumer and environmental groups yesterday stepped up their campaign against genetically modified foods. The Consumers Union, the largest consumer organisation in the US, said it was backing calls for universal labelling of products containing GM foods."
"Fly stops bulldozers in fierce California development battle" The Associated Press reports, "Construction projects in Southern California valued at hundreds of millions are being held up by a fly in the development."
panhandling of the day: "States spend too little on tobacco prevention" Reuters reports on the anti-tobacco industry's whining for more money from the recent $200 billion tobacco settlement. Personally, I'd rather have new and improved roads than Stan Glantz driving a new Mercedes-Benz.
"Genetically engineered foods on US supermarket shelves" Reuters reports, "Only a third of Americans surveyed recently were aware that US supermarkets now carry a wide range of foods containing genetically engineered ingredients, according to the September issue of Consumer Reports magazine."
"Internet addiction affects lives, marriages" Reuters reports on "virtual infidelity."
"Creationists try to make headway in schools" Scripss Howard reports, "The Kansas Board of Education's recent decision to remove evolution from the state's science curriculum underscores that the debate pitting evolution vs. creation has not abated and may even be intensifying."
"Anti-tobacco campaigns appear to be working, CDC says" The Associated Press reports, "Aggressive anti-smoking campaigns appear to be working in states like Oregon and California, while smoking rates rose in states with few controls such as Kentucky, the federal government said Tuesday."
August 24, 1999
commentary of the day I: "Crop busters" About the environmental extremists who destroyed genetically altered crops last week, the Boston Globe comments, "There's nothing wrong with peaceful protest or with insisting that troubling eco-questions be answered. But slashing an experiment and attempting to stop science is the height of ignorance."
commentary of the day II: "Paducah’s Plutonium Scare -- Is It Fact or Hype?" Bob Gresham comments in the Paducah Sun, "If the public were better educated about the lack of risk from low level radiation, the present unfounded radiation-phobia would disappear which could lead to a better future for United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC) in Paducah."
commentary of the day III: "Charitable Foundations or Evil Empire?" Anne Fennell takes a look at a few "charitable" foundations.
"Inside Medical Journals, a Rising Quest for Profits" Lawrence K. Altman writes in the New York Times, "A generation ago, leading medical journals measured their profits in the tens of thousands of dollars. They were scholarly publications meant to help doctors keep abreast of scientific advances and share information on new remedies. The mission has not changed, but the journals have increasingly become cash cows for the medical societies and companies that own them, with annual profits in the tens of millions of dollars, largely from drug company advertisements. And the imperative to sustain and build those profits is changing how the journals do business -- and how the public learns about medicine -- in ways their founders could scarcely have envisioned."
surprise of the day: "Smoking Cessation and Mortality Trends among 118,000 Californians, 1960-1997 " This study in the September issue of Epidemiology reports, "While cessation clearly reduces the mortality risk among long-term former smokers, the population impact of cessation appears to be less than currently believed."
"Organic in Berkeley: Cafeteria plan isn't just nuttiness" About the Berkeley school board's plan to serve as much organic fare as possible in school cafeterias, the Sacramento Bee comments, "When it comes to feeding students, the Berkeley schools are saying that quality matters. They are paying heed to research on the risks that certain pesticides pose to children, farm workers and the larger environment." But there is no data that legally-applied pesticide residues in food harm children. The notion that pesticides somehow harm the larger environment is leftover from the DDT myth. As far as farm workers, their chief risk is from mishandling pesticides. Should children not use any products that involve risk to workers during the manufacturing process?
"Consumers, Health Experts Desire Benefits of Biotech Foods and Concur with Current FDA Labeling Policy" "The Councilfor Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST), The Georgetown Center for Food and Nutrition Policy, and The International Food Information Council (IFIC) agree with Consumer Reports' statement that, 'There is no evidence that genetically engineered (biotech) foods on the market are not safe to eat.'"
"Water Chlorination and Birth Defects" In this study from the September issue of Epidemiology, the researchers did not study individual cases of birth defects -- only population statistics. For all they know, the reported birth defects are due to lack of dietary folic acid.
"Risk of Childhood Leukemia Associated with Exposure to Pesticides and with Gene Polymorphisms" So reports this study in the September issue of Epidemiology. It's too bad the researchers don't have any idea whether study subjects were actually exposed to the pesticides maligned in the title.
"Adult Glioma in Relation to Residential Power Frequency Electromagnetic Field Exposures in the San Francisco Bay Area" This study in the September issue of Epidemiology reports that it "cannot provide strong support against, but clearly do not support an association between, adult glioma and residential power frequency electromagnetic field exposures."
"Britain 'failing to protect wildlife'" The Independent(UK) reports, "The UK is bottom of the international league table of wildlife protection, with a worse record of safeguarding its environmentally important areas than many Third World countries, according to Friends of the Earth (FoE)."
"Alcohol has no direct effect on social anxiety" Reuters reports "The belief that one has received alcohol, but not alcohol itself, reduces social anxiety, according to study findings published in the August issue of
The American Journal of Psychiatry. [Researchers] asked 40 patients diagnosed with social phobia to give two impromptu speeches in front of a small audience. In the randomized, double-blind study, half of the group received placebo before both speeches. The other half received placebo before the first speech and a 1.0-mg/kg dose of alcohol, equivalent to two or three mixed drinks, before the second speech. Anxiety, as assessed by subject reports, the length of time a subject was able to speak, and heart rate monitoring, did not differ between the placebo and alcohol groups. However, subjects who believed that they received alcohol prior to the first speech reported less anxiety and fewer negative thoughts than those who believed that they did not receive alcohol. The authors point out that '...these results conflict with the popular perception that alcohol is a social lubricant by virtue of its ability to reduce anxious distress in social situations.'" [Source: Am J Psychiatry 1999;156:1237-1243.]
"Study finds increase in marital stress for newly retired men" The Associated Press reports, "Retirement may be an
escape route from conflict with your boss and co-workers, but it may generate friction with someone else - your spouse - a new study suggests." Changes of life change things. What's the news? Calling this a "study" is like calling
"Television's effects on kids: It can be harmful" Television is fine. It's the parents that we need to worry about.
"Models 'not to blame for eating disorders'" The BBC reports, "Being exposed to images of ultra-thin models does not have a lasting effect on most teenage girls, according to a US survey." Click here for the press release.
"Poor health blamed on work insecurity" The BBC reports, "Record levels of job insecurity are wrecking people's health, according to a study."
August 23, 1999
"Calif. Judge Denies Class Status In 'Fen-Phen' Case" Reuters reports, "American Home Products Corp. said Friday a California judge had denied class-action status to a group of former 'fen-phen' diet drug users in the state who want the company to pay costs of monitoring their medical conditions."
commentary of the day I: "Suicide myths and Vietnam vets" Michael Kelley writes in the Boston Globe, "Since returning from the war, 160,000 Vietnam veterans have committed suicide. Or so said one reputable veterans' publication. If true, that's nearly three times as many as died in the war itself."
commentary of the day II: "Baby food for thought: Anti-technology extremists have cowed Heinz and Gerber away from safer products" Henry I. Miller writes in the San Jose Mercury news, "It is not too late for Gerber to reverse its decision. By using genetically engineered foods and publicly defending that position, Gerber would enjoy the advantages of the best production tools, and mothers would be assured that they are purchasing the best product that technology can offer."
junk of the day: "study finds large doses of vitamin C reduce stress, prevent disease" "... in rats" is what's missing from this headline. The paradigm of extrapolating from animal bioassays to humans is bankrupt.
junk commentary of the day: "The un-endangered falcon: Its survival is another triumph for threatened animal species" The San Francisco Examiner perpetuates the myth that DDT harmed peregrine falcons. Send your comments to the San Francisco Examiner.
"Crime-Abortion Link Isn't a Racist Attack" R. Richard Banks writes in the Los Angeles Times, "The negative reaction of many civil rights advocates to a recent study regarding the effect of abortion on crime rates is understandable, yet unwarranted." But Banks is only half right. Any reaction to this study is unwarranted. The study was an ecologic analysis of population statistics that reached unjustified conclusions. No examination of individuals was undertaken. The authors' association of abortions preventing the birth of criminals -- though intuitively attractive -- is pure speculation.
"Getting hotter" Stephen Reucroft and John Swain write in the Boston Globe, "After this summer we probably all now believe in global warming. However, proving it scientifically is not so easy."
"'Health hazards' of hi-tech offices" The BBC reports, "The amount of work-related illness is likely to soar over the next 10 years, research has found."
"Caught in the Net" The BBC reports, "Nearly 6% of Internet users are driven by some kind of addiction, a study of Net surfers has concluded... The researchers warned that compulsive Internet surfing was now a more serious problem than lottery addiction."
"Agencies at Odds Over Dioxin Risk in Bay" The Los Angeles Times reports, " Citing threat to San Francisco anglers, EPA adds the pollutant to list of contaminants. State says move will mean costly and unnecessary monitoring."
August 22, 1999
horrific thought of the day: "How will the jury vote on global warming?" David Ignatius writes in the San Jose Mercury news, "If predictions [human-induced of global warming] prove accurate, the companies that have worked so hard to deny them may have a problem. Indeed, they may even have legal liability. And in a world where rising seas are inundating Miami and mudslides are devastating Los Angeles, the potential liability could total trillions of dollars. Lynn Coleman, a former deputy secretary of energy who does legal work for some of the big oil companies, warns that the industry shouldn't ignore the risk of this sort of litigation. Energy may not be very different from tobacco or guns, he says."
blunderbuss approach of the day: "States Criticized on Lax Lead Tests for Poor Youths" The New York Times reports, "Federal investigators say most states are flouting a 1989 law requiring that young children on Medicaid be tested for lead poisoning. As a result, they say, hundreds of thousands of children exposed to dangerously high levels of lead are neither tested nor treated." This article reports the tired CDC scare-tistic that 890,000 children from ages 1 through 5 have blood lead levels in excess of 10 micrograms/deciliter (mg/dl). But a closer look into CDC research reveals that 95 percent of these children (845,500) have blood lead levels between 10 mg/dl and 25 mg/dl. Until 1991, the "safe" blood lead level was deemed to 20 mg/dl. As a matter of policy, not science, the "safe" level was lowered to 10 mg/dl. So this is hardly the crisis of numbers portrayed by the lead scare industry. Further, the notion that a blood lead level within this range is harmful to child development is strictly junk science. The godfather of this myth is the University of Pittsburgh's Dr. Herbert Needleman, who for his research, was all but called a fraud by investigators with the National Institutes of Health Office of Reseach Integrity and the University of Pittsburgh. Lead poisoning may be a problem in some children, but a broad brush attack is clearly a waste of resources. What's going on here is simply an attempt by the lead-scare industry to drum up funding.
scare of the day: "hitting soccer balls with head may result in impairment: study associates loss of mental abilities with headers" But MSNBC reports, "no study has conclusively demonstrated that headers -- as opposed to concussions from colliding with other players -- are to blame. It is also unknown if the impairment, as measured by psychological tests in such studies, translates into any real handicaps in everyday life."
"A LOOK AT...Experts in the Courtroom: A Way to Sort Out Science From Spin" David Faigman writes in the Washington Post, "The presence of court-appointed experts will have other salutary effects. Most immediately, it seems to me, it will help juries and judges understand the issues more quickly, likely leading to faster settlements and lowering litigation costs. I also believe that court-appointed experts could keep the opposing sides' experts honest: They are less likely to make heroic claims when an authority in their field is sitting next to the judge. Most importantly, though, they will increase the science quotient of every judge they work with. And that is a benefit with lasting effect."
shame of the day: "Evidence Mounts in Paducah" Reporter Joby Warrick became the enviromental reporter at the Washington Post based on a series of articles he wrote for the news and Observer (Raleigh, NC)about the politics of hog farm cleanup -- his first major foray into anything environmental. Warrick was "reassigned" as an investigative reporter when his environmental journalism didn't quite meet the Post's expectations -- which in the wake of predecesor, Gary Lee, couldn't have been all that high. Warrick now thinks that he can get back in the Post's good graces by climbing over the dead bodies of former nuclear power plant workers.
"Taking a Vacation in the Ozone: study Finds Higher Levels of Air Pollution in Prime Mountain, Seashore Areas" The Washington Post reports, "Summer vacationers who think they're getting away from it all by going to America's national parks and tourist attractions should know there's one problem they haven't left behind--air pollution." What's the evidence? A lone woman who had an asthma attack while hiking the Appalachian Trail.
"Sexual health under microscope" The BBC reports, "Researchers in Edinburgh are launching Scotland's largest study of men's reproductive health. They are looking for 1,200 men aged between 21 and 31 to take part in the survey, which will investigate the reasons for reductions in sperm counts."
"Safety probe at BSE cattle dump" The BBC reports, "The Environment Agency has begun an investigation into how waste potentially contaminated with BSE is escaping into the environment."
"Florida program teaches school kids that tobacco advertising is full of deceit" When will they teach kids about the deceit from the anti-tobacco industry?
junk commentary of the day: "Keeping jet skis under control" The Boston Globe wants to restrict says jet skis because they "can cause chromosomal damage..."
August 21, 1999
junk of the day: "Air crashes boost health" The BBC reports, "Researchers have found that people who come through crashes end up with better long-term mental health than those who have never experienced danger in the air. They compared the psychological well-being of 15 survivors to that of eight individuals who travel frequently by air for business or pleasure and have never been in a crash."
obituary of the day: Michael Sveda: Discoverer of cyclamate The Washington Post reports the death of Michael Sveda, the discoverer of cyclamate. The story of cyclamates is one of the most notorious cases of junk science. Although the FDA generally gets the blame for banning cyclamates, I believe that the FDA was goaded into the ban by then-Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D-WI) who acted on behalf of rival sweetener manufacturer Archer Daniels Midland.
"$67-Million Settlement Reached for DDT Cleanup" The Los Angeles Times reports, "Environmental officials have won $67 million to help restore ocean resources damaged by a massive deposit of DDT under a settlement with 150 Southern California municipalities and three corporations approved this week by a federal judge... Montrose Corp. contends that the DDT is degrading and gradually sealing itself with natural accumulations of sediment, so there is no reason for the EPA to seek money to fix the problem." For more on DDT, check out "100 Things You Should Know About DDT."
"Browner rules EPA as creative referee" This Miami Herald profile of EPA administrator Carol Browner [music link] is enough to make you gag.
"Into Paducah Seeps an Invisible Threat" The Washington Post takes pride in launching the plutonium scare in Paducah, KY. Click here and here for more perspective on plutonium.
"Darwinism and Design" Jay Richards comments in the Washington Post, "Students certainly should be taught about Darwinian evolution, because it is the prevailing view in modern biology. But its rivals should be discussed as well, so students will have the resources to evaluate the theory rationally. Fairness and objectivity in the science classroom require that teachers teach the controversy, not deny its existence."
"Unpopular Science: Public Distrust of Science and Technology Can be Deadly" Mike Fumento writes, "Our society seems to be embracing superstition and the paranormal in a way it hasn't since alleged witches were toasted by the thousands in Europe. A poll done just last year, comparing beliefs in 1976 with beliefs today, showed the surprising rise in belief in the paranormal in the U.S."
"The Week That Was August 21, 1999" The weekly update from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.
"Gene causes infertility" The BBC reports, "Scientists have discovered an abnormal gene which sharply reduces sperm production and appears to be a cause of infertility." Could this be the final nail in the coffin for the theory that chemicals in the environment are the cause of claimed declines in sperm counts? Click here for MSNBC coverage.
August 20, 1999
junk commentary of the day: "How to restore public trust in science" Nature (Aug 5) features this commentary from Greenpeacers who write, "The scientific community has a credibility problem... . The role of corporate scientists in these cases has not been admirable, and the attitude of industry and scientific institutions, in demanding conclusive proof to justify preventative action, has rightly not reassured the public about scientists' trustworthiness." Yeah, right. Corporations are blasted for not surrendering to junk science. Of course, Greenpeace's role has been very admirable? Nature really has lost its credibility as a leading "science" journal. Send your comments to Nature.
perpetuated myth of the day: "Peregrine falcon soars off endangered list" The Associated Press reports, "Peregrine falcons have been under federal protection since 1970 after the pesticide DDT ravaged the birds' eggs." But junkscience.com readers know this is a myth. For the actual reasons peregrine populations declined, check out "100 Things You Should Know About DDT." Click here for Los Angeles Times coverage. Correct the Times by e-mailing a letter to the editor or reporter Elizabeth Shogren.
lame excuse of the day: "Doubts raised on certain lab mice" Now we know why the enviros haven't been able to demonstrate endocrine disruption in the lab -- they've been using the wrong damn mice! [music link] We should have known the only valid materials, data and methodologies are those that support the enviro agenda. Click here for BBC coverage.
junk of the day: "Experts think plastics may be dangerous, but more study needed" Reuters reports, "Chemical additives found in a range of consumer products from baby bottles to intravenous drip bags may be dangerous to humans, a panel of experts said on Thursday, but they said they needed more time to decide." After 40 years of use, plastics either are dangerous or they're not. If we still need more research and more time to decide, plastics must be safe.
question of the day: "Teen drug use shows 13-percent drop from 1997 to '98" This study says teen smoking is unchanged -- and more money is urged for federal programs. Last month, the feds wanting credit for improved national well-being said teen smoking was down. Last October when the feds were still whipping up public sentiment against the tobacco industry, teen smoking was up. So which is it? Or is it whatever the feds want whenever they want it?
poll of the day: "Snakes, heights, flying top fear poll" I'd be interested in seeing the full survey results. Just where to chemicals and pollution rank among our fears?
scare of the day: "Wok cooking linked to lung cancer risk" Reuters reports," Because it can release potentially toxic fumes from cooking oils, indoor Chinese-style wok cooking may increase the risk of lung cancer, a new study suggests." At best, this headline should read "A lot of indoor wok cooking in a poorly ventilated area over the course of a lifetime may slightly increase the very small risk of lung cancer."
"EPA's Browner Admits Support for Anti-Roads Activists Wrong, Promises Reform" Toll Roads reports, "USEPA Administrator Carol Browner says the longstanding Transportation Partners Program (TPP), under which the federal government’s environmental agency has been coordinating and funding anti-road groups around the country 'will be replaced with a more balanced program.'"
"Turkey's environment feels the heat" The BBC reports that while thousands are dead from the earthquake in Turkey, Greenpeace activists are concerned with pollution.
"The Postwar Hospitalization Experience of Gulf War Veterans Possibly Exposed to Chemical Munitions Destruction at Khamisiyah, Iraq" This study in the September 1 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology " [does not] support the hypothesis that Gulf War veterans are suffering postwar morbidity from subclinical nerve agent exposure."
"DDE and DDT in Breast Adipose Tissue and Risk of Female Breast Cancer" This study in the September 1 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology reports no association between DDT and metabolite DDE in breast fat tissue, and breast cancer. If you're interested in DDT, don't forget to check out "100 Things You Should Know About DDT."
"Maternal Smoking and Childhood Asthma" This study in the September 1 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology reports that heavy maternal smoking is associated with a 284 percent increase in childhhod asthma.
August 19, 1999
leaked EPA internal memo of the day: 'Damage control' memo from EPA science chief over embarrassing new report EPA science chief Norine Noonan is embarrassed about being caught off-guard over a new report by an EPA contractor critical of EPA science.
congressional letter of the day: Letter to EPA about Tier II/Gasoline sulfur proposal Rep. David McIntosh (R-IN) tells EPA administrator Carol Browner that EPA's recent proposal on SUV emissions and gasoline sulfur content "... does not fulfill basic procedural requirements for a proposed rulemaking and that implementation of the rule, if finalized, may pose significant risks to
public health." Click here for a related media release.
today's Gore-ing: "Al Gore's stolen spring" Ken Smith writes in the Washington Times, "In view of the NRC panel's findings [about so-called "endocrine disrupters"], perhaps Mr. Gore should worry less about a silent spring than one lost to unwarranted and exaggerated fears. That too is a man-made risk."
foregone conclusion of the day: "Steady Support of Research on Toxic Airborne Particles Urged" This EPA-funded National Research Council report urges more research on air pollution. Shocking. Click here for the full report.
junk of the day I: "Genes may raise pesticide cancer risk in children" Reuters reports, "Exposure to household pesticides before birth added to the inheritance of certain genes appears to increase the risk of developing childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia, researchers report." Although I haven't seen the study yet, I'm pretty certain these researchers had no data on fetal and postnatal exposure to pesticides. They most probably assumed that self-reported parental use of pesticides equates to fetal/postnatal exposure -- a likely fatal flaw for the reported weak associations.
junk of the day II: "Chlorinated water linked to birth defects in Norway " Reuters reports, "Chlorination of surface water to make it into drinking water may raise risks for birth defects, according to results of a study conducted in Norway." The reported results are extremely weak statistical associations calculated via the ecologic method -- i.e., absolutely no data about individuals, only populations. The observed neural tube defects could actually be due to a lack of folic acid in the diets of pregnant women. But our researchers wouldn't know because they didn't collect any data on individuals.
commentary of the day I: "Mother India" About India reaching one billion in population, the Detroit news comments, "India’s socialist economy, not its population, should be considered the real problem."
commentary of the day II: "Enviros mucking around" The San Francisco Examiner criticizes enviros for "preemptive stands against new runways on Bay fill before any study is made."
Smoke-free bar study criticized in JAMA About a recent study claiming improved lung function among bartenders following the California smoking ban, a letter to the Journal of the American Medical Association states "Cessation of ETS exposure in the workplace may provide improvements in subjective symptom scores and statistically significant gains in lung function. However, the data provided by Eisner et al do not seem to support a corresponding clinically important gain in lung function."
"Smoke on the water" The New Scientist reports, "The full impact of global warming has been curbed by the emissions from ship's smokestacks, [music link] according to researchers in Pennsylvania. Sulphur from burning marine fuel has been seeding clouds over the open ocean, which then reflect sunlight back into space rather than allowing it to heat the planet."
"Don't mention Darwin" New Scientist coverage of the Kansas State Board of Education decision not to require the teaching of evolution. [music link]
"No More Mystery Meat For School Lunches" Reuters reports, "Berkeley, California, longtime hippie haven and world capital of political correctness, is expected to approve a plan Wednesday which would make its school cafeterias among the first in the nation to offer all organic meals."
"'Weak' ministry rebuked over BSE" The BBC reports, "The UK Ministry of Agriculture's handling of the mad cow disease crisis in 1996 was weak, says a powerful group of MPs, the House of Commons public accounts committee."
August 18, 1999
commentary of the day I: "Fear Nature, Not Technology" Peter Huber writes in the Wall Street Journal, "For several decades now, green oracles of catastrophe have been trying to pin earthquake scenarios on capitalism, and its technological fruits. Return to nature, they insist, and we reclaim the better life--cleaner, safer, more stable. They have it completely wrong. Capitalism and its technology don't end in catastrophe; they distance us from it. They don't cause catastrophe, they stand as our main shelter and defense against it."
commentary of the day II: "Kansas and Charles Darwin" Andy Rooney comments, "The Kansas Board of Education has assured itself a place in the annals of ignorance by decreeing that Darwin's theory of evolution be removed from the state's school curriculum."
"Motley Group Pushes For Labels on Biofoods" The Wall Street Journal reports, "[a] lawsuit filed by the religious officials charges, among other things, that genetically altered foods are sinful, unethical -- and maybe not kosher."
scare of the day I: "Cassini 'A-OK' for Earth flyby" The BBC reports, "Mission control scientists in America are making final preparations for a close encounter with the Cassini spacecraft as it swings past the Earth on the final leg of a seven-year mission to Saturn... But environmental groups have warned that any accident would risk spreading poisonous carcinogenic plutonium dust around the world."
forbidden message of the day: "Drug increases bone density in postmenopausal women, study says" This week's Journal of the American Medical Association reports that Eli Lilly & Company's Evista (raloxifene) is an effective treatment for osteoporosis. But this isn't news. Evista was approved by the FDA for this purpose almost two years ago. This article almost incidentally mentions that raloxifene is also reported to reduce breast cancer risk. IMHO, this study is simply a life support system for the breast cancer message [music link] -- a message that Lilly's sales force had been ordered to cease by a federal judge in July. Click
here for some background on Lilly's raloxifene campaign. Also, researchers recently reported that tamoxifen, a drug of the same class as raloxifene, may actually increase breast cancer use after 5 years. Raloxifene has only been tested for about 2 years. The forbidden breast cancer message is also in this MSNBC article and this Associated Press article. I guess Lilly found an effective way to circumvent the federal judge's order. After all, the media isn't officially part of Lilly's sales force.
scare of the day II: "U.S., Canada ban blood donations by frequent travelers to Britain" A ban based on no knowledge of how 41 Brits contracted "new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease" and the possibility that, one day, a link may be found between transfusions and CJD. The chief executive officer of Canadian Blood Services said the move was necessary to restore confidence in the blood supply system. Now if we only had confidence in the bureaucracy...
scare of the day III: "Farmers warned of antibiotic threat" The BBC reports, "The use of antibiotics in British farming could present 'a real threat' to human health, according to the first expert report in 30 years."
"Kennedy to call for GM restrictions" The BBC reports, "The new Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy will call for tougher restrictions on the growing of genetically-modified crops when he visits a test site on Wednesday."
Consumers Union v. American Council on Science and Health Check out this battle of letters.
"European Coke scare still a mystery" The Associated Press reports, "The cause of the scare that led to bans on Coca-Cola products in Belgium and France remains a mystery, says a report from the European Commission that rejected the company's initial explanation as 'highly unlikely.'"
August 17, 1999
news of the day: EPA science blasted in new report; Agency upset at being blind-sided by contractor Resoures for the Future will release tomorrow a report that is very critical of science at the Environmental Protection Agency. EPA management is particularly upset because the report was paid for in part by the agency. Norine Noonan, EPA's assistant administrator for research and development -- i.e., the head honcho of what passes for science at the EPA -- even issued internal memorandum apologizing for the report's existence -- not the fact that science at the EPA is in a state of shambles. Noonan reportedly promised that such an embarrasment -- i.e., being unprepared for release of a negative report -- would not happen again under her watch.
article of the day:
"Science Fiction " In the wake of the National Research Council report concluding there is no evidence of harm from endocrine disrupters, Greg Easterbrook writes in the New Republic, "...it's strange to think how quickly speculative, lightly researched claims, advanced by advocates with a fund-raising interest, can go straight to the top of the national policy agenda, while so many undeniably genuine problems languish."
media goof of the day:
"Story exaggerated conclusions on bias in heart care" The Associated Press reports, "A study's use of an unusual statistical method led The Associated Press to misreport and greatly exaggerate conclusions about possible gender and sex bias in heart care in a Feb. 25 story."
'hit' of the day:
"Love those chips! One woman's olestra Saga can be a lesson for us all. " Salon.com goes after olestra.
junk of the day I:
"Obesity raises colon cancer risk " Reuters reports, "Obesity is a risk factor for colon cancer in both men and women, reports a federal researcher." But these results -- based on weak statistical associations between body mass index and colon cancer -- contradict the other prosective study on obesity-colon cancer. Since the authors admit they have no idea how obesity could possibly cause colon cancer, I doubt the Reuters headline is justified.
junk of the day II:
"Passive smoking stroke risk" The BBC reports, "Non-smokers significantly increase their risk of stroke - by as much as 82% - if they live or work with a smoker, researchers have found." Click here for the study. Aside from the weak association based on self-reported data, this study classified some former smokers as nonsmokers. So stroke that perhaps should be attributed to the smoking lifestyle was attributed instead to passive smoking. Typically, nonsmokers are defined as those who have smoked fewer than 100 cigarettes.
"The Radioactive Dinner Table - An Industry Gone Mad" This Environmental news Service article has it wrong about cancer risk to Rocketdyne workers. Compared to the general U.S. population, nuclear workers monitored for radiation at the Rocketdyne/Atomics International nuclear research/production facility in Southern California experienced no increase in cancer mortality and mortality from all causes, reported a study in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine (January 1999). The study involved 4,563 workers, 875 total deaths and 258 cancer deaths. According to the study, the nuclear workers had a statistically significant 32 percent decline in
overall mortality and a statistically significant 21 percent decline in cancer mortality. No statistically significant increase in mortality was report for any individual type of cancer.
"Blowin' smoke at Public Health" The Boston Herald comments, "today the state's Public Health Council will be asked to stretch the state sanitary code to the breaking point and use it to ban smoking in all restaurants and bars on the grounds that 'toxic substances' can be outlawed in eating establishments."
"Resistance to transmitters in cell-phone-crazed Italy" The Associated Press reports, "Under a 1998 law, Italy has far more stringent standards for the intensity of electromagnetic fields generated by transmitters than other European Union countries have. 'The perception of risk is strongly distorted,' said Angelo Lozito, a physicist for Legambiente, an environmental protection
group. 'They don't know that in the house, the clock radio, the refrigerator, generates far more (electromagnetic) pollution.'"
"The Air You Breathe Can Kill You" So say EPA-funded scientists. Quel surprise! Click here for what Mike Gough and I think of the epidemiologic evidence of the claimed association between fine particulate matter and premature death.
August 16, 1999
"Raising Fears of Gulf War Vets" Mike Fumento takes the Washington Post to task for its article linking Gulf War vets with Lou Gehrig's Disease.
"Unsavoury facts about organic food: Acid test" What do people think about using "carbon-based biological technology to make novel foods sold at premium prices in niche markets?"
junk journalism the day:
"What’s Coming Out of Baby’s Bottle?" MSNBC has Francesca Lyman. Science news' resident bonehead is Janet Raloff, [music link] who advises her readers that they should follow the advice of the National Environmental Trust [music link] and avoid baby bottles and foodware not made from polycarbonates. About polycarbonate safety, Raloffs writes "Clearly, the jury is still out." If so, the jury must be from a kangaroo court. Polycarbonates have been used for 40 years without evidence of harm. No scientist has been able to replicate the outrageous claims of chief accuser Frederick vom Saal. Two weeks ago the National Research Council reported there was no evidence of harm from so-called endocrine disruters -- including polycarbonates.
commentary of the day I:
"Psst...It's the sun" Lorne Gunter writes in the Edmonton Journal (Aug 15), "Before we let the weather and the rhetoric of environmentalists panic us, we would do well to hang signs reading 'Psst...It’s the sun,' in every newsroom and political office in the country."
commentary of the day II:
"The Church of Darwin" Philip E. Johnson writes in the Wall Street Journal, "Take evolution away from the worldview promoters and return it to the real scientific investigators, and a chronic social conflict will become an exciting intellectual adventure."
"Superfund Law Needs a Cleanup" Re. Tom Bliley (R-VA) writes in the Washington Post, "Congress is not poised to undermine the successes in the Superfund law. Rather, its members stand ready to address the problems of an inefficient and excessively litigious law. We must act now."
"Global warming becomes hot topic in sultry summer" The Trenton Times reports, "It's easy to say that scientists' warnings about global warming are so much hot air. Then the weather reports arrive. New York endures its hottest July on record. New Jersey wilts under a serious heat wave. States make plans to deal with drought conditions after weeks without significant rainfall. Suddenly, the climate is right for discussing the climate."
"The Week That Was August 14, 1999" The weekly update from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.
"Sorting out myths and facts about weight loss" The Associated Press reports, "'For overweight individuals in good health, there is no compelling evidence to show that mortality rates are reduced with with weight loss,' said researcher Glenn A. Gaesser of the University of Virginia. The idea that fat people die early is based on faulty studies and misinterpretation, he said."
"Trashing Landfill Fears" The Los Angeles Times reports, "There is good news about trash in Ventura County. The much-ballyhooed landfill crisis has failed to materialize. And though it's too soon to celebrate the end of the throwaway society, the success of recycling programs has made all the hysteria over bulging landfills seem like so much trash talk."
"UN probes Balkan depleted uranium" The BBC reports, "The United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) says it is investigating possible damage to human health caused by depleted uranium weapons used in the Balkan war."
"Shoppers raise GM food fear" The BBC reports, "Shoppers fear the UK Government may be deliberately misleading them over gentically-modified (GM) foods, a report has suggested."
August 15, 1999
commentary of the day:
"Bag the Mandate" The Detroit news editorializes, "The air bag mandate should be repealed for having failed to deliver its promised benefits while imposing unjustified risks on drivers."
scare article of the day:
"Biotech Food Raises a Crop of Questions" The Washington Post does its best to scare readers about genetically-modified foods. I doubt the biotechnology industry -- like other industries -- will be marketing products that kill customers.
WARNING of the day:
"Eclipse sends a warning to Earth" The Independent (UK) reports, "The sun is getting brighter, research carried out in Cornwall during Wednesday's solar eclipse reveals. The preliminary results of the research, which show that radiation from the Sun has increased over the past 50 years, provide a warning for the world. The scientists say that a brighter Sun increases global warming."
editorial ignorance of the day:
"Fen-Phen Stampede?" This Washington Post editorial says, "When a Mayo Clinic study in 1997 showed the fen-phen combination led to serious heart valve damage in some patients and a rare lung condition in others..." Click here for a much more accurate recounting of the facts.
study of the day:
"Child leukaemia linked to infection" The BBC reports, "Childhood leukaemia is caused by an infection rather than radiation or environmental pollution, according to a study by researchers from Newcastle University."
junk of the day:
"Infant pain may have long-term effects" The BBC reports, "Pain and stress suffered by new-born infant is likely to cause long-term changes to behaviour, researchers have found... Experiencing pain as a new born infant may lead to increased anxiety in later life associated with seeking medical care." Here's some of the so-called evidence: "One study on rats given a daily injection of a salt solution as infants showed that they went on in adulthood to develop an increased stress response after receiving an electric shock or surgery."
"Reuse of disposable medical devices stirs debate" CNN rpeorts, "'We're not saying it's safe.... We're not saying it's unsafe. We don't know. We're still looking at this,' said Larry Spears, FDA's director of medical device enforcement." Hmmm... sounds like the FDA is getting rady for more "ready-fire-aim."
"Recycling at Nuclear Plants Worries Watchdogs" The Los Angeles Times reports, "Workers used hammers and acetylene torches to strip away bits of gold and other metals from the warheads' corrosion-proof plating and circuitry. Useless parts were dumped into trenches. But the gold, some of it still radioactive, was tossed into a smelter and molded into shiny ingots. Exactly what happened next is one of the most intriguing questions to arise from a workers' lawsuit against the former operators of the U.S.-owned uranium plant in western Kentucky."
"Clinton invokes Clean Water Act in call to environmental action" The Associated Press reports Carol Browner as saying, ""More than 90 percent of the American population lives within 10 miles of one of these polluted bodies of water." And President Clinton said "Parents have a right to expect that our recreational waters are safe for their children to swim. All Americans have a right to expect we're doing all we can to clean up our waterways." So what have Clinton and Queen Browner been doing for the last six and one-half years?
"UK urged to end nuclear reprocessing " The BBC reports, "The pressure group Friends of the Earth says a leaked government report shows that the reprocessing of nuclear fuel should stop at once."
"GM police to guard crop trials" The Independent (UK) reports, "Ministers are secretly planning specialist round-the-clock police squads to guard genetically modified crop trials from environmental protesters."
"Four new GM sites named" The BBC reports, "The government has chosen four new sites where farm-scale trials are to start on genetically modified crops in the autumn. The whereabouts of the sites are being made public, after ministers rejected calls from the GM industry to hold the trials at secret locations following recent attacks on fields planted with GM crops."
August 13, 1999
junk of the day:
"Smokers at high cancer risk from radon" There is no credible evidence that exposure to residential radon increases lung cancer risk, including in smokers. A Medline search produced no epidemiologic studies focusing on smoking, residential radon and lung cancer. The CDC's claim that "smoking and radon exposure seem to work in 'synergy' to push lung cancer risks even higher" is based on higher reported lung cancer rates among underground uranium miners who smoked. Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that higher lung cancer rates in the nonsmoking miners were due to radon, miner exposures to radon were much higher than typical residential exposures. This appears to be another lame attempt by the gooberment to discourage smoking. I doubt that smokers are too concerned about the small hypothetical risk of lung cancer from residential radon. Click here for the CDC report.
junk commentary of the day:
"Too easy to dismiss link between abortion, crime" The Seattle Times' editors buy into the recent study claiming abortion reduces crime. But the study isn't science -- only statistics fitted to a conclusion that appeals to some.
"After research questioned, feds want money back from lab" CNN reports, " The National Cancer Institute is demanding that Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory repay $804,321 in grant money given to a researcher found to have faked data linking electromagnetic fields to cancer." Click here for a letter from the scientist in question in today's Wall Street Journal.
"Some increase in student smoking" MSNBC reports, "The percentage of high school students who smoke frequently [music link] rose in six of 11 states surveyed during the 1990s, federal health officials said on Thursday, but they said the figures did not necessarily reflect a national trend." Click here for the CDC report.
"Some Kansas schools plan not to change evolution teaching" The Associated Press reports, "Some of Kansas' local officials are not planning to change what their schools teach about evolution, even though the State Board of Education's new testing standards de-emphasize its importance and the theory that men descended from apes." Click here for a related editorial from the New York Times.
"Gulf war leaves legacy of cancer" The British Medical Journal reports, "The incidence of cancer and congenital defects has increased significantly in Iraq after the Allied use of depleted uranium bullets during the Gulf war, a recent conference in London was told." Assuming the reported increases in health effects are true -- and that is a big assumption -- how do we know they're not attributable to the effects of poverty?
"Young women advised to avoid douching" Reuters reports, "Teen girls and young women should be discouraged from vaginal douching because the practice increases the risk of certain disorders of the reproductive tract, say US researchers... Although douches have not been conclusively shown to be the cause of such problems, no benefit of douching has been found either, according to the report in the August issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine."
junk science-induced violence of the day:
"French farmers attack new McDonalds restaurant" It all started with an EU ban on U.S. beef based on made-up cancer risk.
August 12, 1999
"Philip Morris, Others Asked to Give Non-Smokers Clear Warnings" Bloomberg reports, "Philip Morris Cos. and 15 other tobacco companies should be barred from selling cigarettes in California until they provide clear warnings about cancer-causing secondhand smoke, state prosecutors said."
killer shower curtains: "Panel to Evaluate Plasticizers for Possible Reproductive, Developmental Risks" Mark your calendars for this debate about whether the federal government needs to protect us from shower curtains and raincoats. I wonder if this panel will discuss the best evidence that plastic causes infertility -- the fact that Barbie and Ken remain childless. They're made of plastic, it's fantastic! [music link] BTW, Barbie made an appearance today in a fen-phen lawsuit against American Home Products.
commentary of the day I: "Why Greens Should Love Pesticides" Dennis Avery writes in the Wall Street Journal, "Humanity in the 21st century can banish hunger, end nutritional deficits in its children--and save virtually all of the remaining wildlands in the process. But there are only two ways to do it: either murder four billion people, or use chemicals and biotechnology to triple the yields on the land we're already farming."
commentary of the day II: "JAM strikes again at gun owners" The Claremont Institute's Dr. Tim Wheeler writes, "Into a field already flooded with advocacy research comes another blast of junk science directed at gun manufacturers and owners. An article published in the latest Journal of the American Medical Association touts the high public cost of treating gunshot wounds. The problem? It says nothing about the money and lives saved when guns are used defensively."
junk commentary of the day: "Slide on pesticides" This virtually unintelligible editorial indicates its Washington Post authors are totally confused about pesticides. The worst the Post can say about pesticides is "Enough evidence of possible harm exists that at least some scientists are worried." Coming from the Post -- which regularly promotes health scares and shills for enviros and regulators -- you may interpret that statement to mean that pesticides are safe.
'profit-from-junk science' of the day: "Airtech Announces Automobile Air Filter; S-999 Air Filtration Unit Removes up to 99% of All Airborne Contamination Inside Automobiles" The California Air Resources Board (CARB) recently claimed the air inside cars is more dangerous than the air outside. Here's a company exploiting this bit of junk science.
"Lawyers argue drug maker obscured risks of fen-phen drug" Don't forget to check-out my op-ed from Tuesday's Wall Street Journal. "And there's no fen-phen fun since the FDA took it away. [music link]
"Cinema sound warning" The BBC reports, "Going to the cinema could seriously damage your hearing, a standards watchdog has warned."
"An unlikely threat" From the Bulleting of the Atomic Scientists: "Question: Over the past 100 years, how many people have died in chemical or biological terrorist attacks in the United States?"
"UK 'must heed nuclear waste fears'" The BBC reports, "An independent committee that advises the UK Government on civil radioactive waste says there should be much more open public debate on what to do with it."
"Pressure gets to you" The New Scientist reports,"Blaming poor performance on "something in the air" could be a legitimate excuse, say researchers in the Ukraine. They have found that minute variations in air pressure can affect people's thinking."
"Early humans got smart by cooking veggies, study says" CNN reports, " Fire helped early humans evolve and become more intelligent not because it allowed them to barbecue meat, but because it allowed them to cook vegetables, researchers said Tuesday." You've got to love these anthropologists. They talk as if they were there, 2 million years ago.
"'Hereditary virus' could unlock breast cancer" I hate to throw cold water on this news but... I can't help it. The researchers say that 20 percent to 30 percent of the U.S. population carry the virus associated with breast cancer -- that's tens of millions of women. About 180,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. There doesn't appear to be -- how do you say -- ah yes -- a strong association between simply having the virus and getting breast cancer. Also, the Robert Garry mentioned in the news article may be the same Robert Garry as in this JSHP story from 1997. If so, this news will need a towel.
letter of the day: "High Standards or Double Standards?" In the wake of an interesting Brill's Content article, the American Council on Science and Health sends an interesting letter to Consumers Union. Click here for another ACSH-to-Consumers Union candy-gram.
August 11, 1999
'to do' of the day: "OMB seeks comment on revised data access proposal" Please review the revised data access proposal and send your comments to OMB as directed in this Federal Register notice. If you need to be reminded about why data access is so important, read my Wall Street Journal op-ed from yesterday and this recent press release.
nostalgia of the day: "Global warming may usher in new ice age" We've come full circle in the global warming debate. Anti-industry activists claimed in the 1970s that fossil fuel emissions would accelerate the advent of next ice age. The Financial Times reports today, "Global warming could paradoxically tip the world into a sudden ice age, according to new research combining the impact of the sun and human activity on climate."
letter-to-the-editor of the day: "Peer Review's Limits" Our own Anne Fennell educates New York Times' readers about peer review.
overlawyered.com of the day: "Your perfect birth control...blocked?" Check out the latest on the trial lawyers' assault on Norplant.
junk commentary of the day: "Chesapeake Bay's Vital Signs" The New York Times blames the poultry industry for eutrophication and pfiesteria in the Chesapeake Bay. But there is no link between nutrient run-off and pfiesteria. It's hard to believe farm run-off is a significant or exclusive cause of any Bay eutrophication for many reasons, including: (1) the region is now experiencing the drought of the century, so there's not much run-off; (2) lower (and slower) water levels contribute to eutrophication; (3) poultry is not the only type of farming in the region; (4) much of the entire Delaware-Maryland-Virginia region drains into the Bay; and (5) natural run-off is a major contributor to eutrophication. Why should taxpayer dollars be used to subsidize poultry farming operations? If the government wants to impose expensive regulations on farmers, make the farmers bear the costs and pass them along to consumers. We'll see how long the public supports government policies that result in chicken selling at lobster prices.
"Cancer Survivorship" The National Cancer Institute says it deserves credit for the increasing the number of cancer survivors. But the more probable reasons for more survivors are: (1) more non-fatal cancers are being diagnosed and (2) more fatal cancers are being diagnosed earlier. Earlier diagnosis leads to more people surviving for five years -- the definition of "surviving cancer." The only thing sadder than the NCI trying to remake its poor track record is
Al Gore campaigning off it.
"It's time to show D.A.R.E. the door" The Chicago Tribune comments, "A recent study at the University of Kentucky is only the latest in an impressive body of research showing that D.A.R.E., a popular anti-drug program, does virtually nothing to keep kids off drugs. Yet thousands of schools each year put their pupils--some as early as first grade--through it."
"Kansas reconsiders teaching of evolution" USA Today reports, "The State Board of Education is expected to vote this week on whether evolution should be left off a list of topics on statewide assessment tests in science for high school students."
"Health Literacy and Numeracy" This small survey in the Journal of the American Medical Association (August 11) reports clinicians may have problems with basic math concepts as they apply to health care.
"Release of GM crop to get official approval approved for release" The Independent (UK) reports, "The government is set to defy environmentalists by approving the Europe-wide commercial release of a genetically modified crop currently being tested in the UK."
"US drinking rates on the decline" Reuters reports, "The number of Americans who drink alcohol fell by 8% between 1988 and 1992, according to data released Tuesday by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)."
'duh' of the day: "High fat consumption tied to child weight gain" Although weight gain also depends on metabolism and activity level, this report is pretty dumb. The researchers actually call for more research. Sheesh!
"Mother's caffeine intake not tied to SIDS" Reuters reports, "A study published in the August issue of Archives of Disease in Childhood reports no connection between sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy or after delivery. However, "heavy postnatal... intake of alcohol by the mother increased the risk" (of SIDS)."
"Hair samples show mercury, lead not the cause of Andrew Jackson's death" Perhaps historians should leave scientific and medical issues to the relevant experts.
"Arctic wildlife feels the heat" The BBC reports, "A Greenpeace expedition to the Arctic says it has found new evidence to show that climate change appears to be affecting the region's wildlife."
"GM food firm rapped over adverts" The BBC reports, "Biotechnology company Monsanto has been criticised by advertising watchdogs over its campaign for genetically modified (GM) foods in the UK."
August 10, 1999
"Drugmaker Denies Fen-Phen Hurts Heart Valves" Reuters reports, "American Home Products Corp. said Tuesday that continuing studies clearly showed no evidence that its diet drugs Pondimin and Redux caused heart valve damage 'or symptoms of cardiovascular disease' in any patients that took the drugs."
commentary of the day: "Tort Lawyers Getting Fat Off Fen-Phen? Blame the FDA." My op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal. The Hoover Institute's Henry I. Miller and I first spotlighted the FDA's role in the fen-phen debacle many moons ago.
junk of the day I: "More abortions 'mean less crime'" The BBC reports, "An increase in the abortion rate among the young and disadvantaged has been linked to a fall in the crime rate in the USA." A clear case of science by press conference.
junk of the day II: "study urged of pesticide, youth violence link" CNN reports, "[A university researcher] believes that the increased use of pesticides in combination with a diet of low-fiber, processed foods has led to high levels of pesticides in children and may be the root cause of the trend of youth violence in the United States."
junk commentary of the day: "Food Safety Confusion" Contrary to the impression given by this New York Times editorial, the U.S. food supply is exceedingly safe. To the extent there is a weak link, it's generally with consumers who improperly handle food. It's not clear how, short of consumer education efforts, government can reduce this risk. Food processors have plenty of incentive to ensure food safety. The federal government is not in a position to guarantee food safety. Rearranging the deck chairs on the U.S.S. Bureaucracy is unlikely to make passengers safer.
"EPA strikes out on MTBE" Bonner Cohen takes the EPA to task for its role in the MTBE controversy.
"Tyranny of the unelected regulators" Waynes Crews writes in the Washington Times about the "Congressional Responsibility Act, which would require Congress to approve major agency rules and regulations before they are binding."
"Assessing Hormone-Mimicking Chemicals" The Washington Post finally gets around to reporting on last week's National Research Council report on endocrine disrupters. Of course, Post coverage pales in comparison to
this fine Chicago Sun-Times report.
"US Senators push for warning labels on French wine" Reuters reports, "Three US senators are advocating that French wines carry labels warning of possible contamination with animal blood infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or 'mad cow' disease). BSE has been linked to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a fatal degenerative brain disorder in humans."
"New Jersey Supreme Court revives Norplant liability lawsuits" The Associated Press reports, "The New Jersey Supreme Court Monday revived scores of product liability lawsuits filed by women who say they became ill after using the Norplant contraceptive."
"1 in 4 feels angry at work, survey says" The Associated Press reports, "Nearly 25 percent of respondents to a 1996 Gallup nationwide telephone survey of 1,000 adults age 18 or older who were employed full- or part-time indicated that they were "generally at least somewhat angry at work," according to a new study."
"Tory U-turn on smoking ads" The BBC reports, "The Conservative Party has abandoned its previous commitment to oppose the ban on tobacco advertising, as part of a raft of new policies aimed at cutting smoking. The Conservatives on Tuesday also said they wanted anti-smoking efforts to focus on persuading smokers in their late 20s and early 30s to quit. Hard-hitting advertising campaigns highlighting side effects of smoking such as impotence should be targeted at this group, the party said."
August 9, 1999
commentary of the day I: "Greenwar" The Wall Street Journal comments, "The best lesson we could learn from Europe is the foolishness of allowing food technology and safety to become politicized merely for the benefit of fund-raising by the fringe."
commentary of the day II: "At the Cato: Statistical half-truths" The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review comments, "Statistics are the eyes and ears of the interventionist - the intellectual reformer, the politician, and the government bureaucrat, said Murry Rothbard, the social contrarian. His wry observations have sparked cries for a return to limited government among the public; they have caused shudders of horror among those who would be newly and necessarily limited. 'Cut off those eyes and ears, destroy those crucial guidelines to knowledge, and the whole threat of government intervention is almost completely eliminated,' Rothbard said." [Note: This link will disappear after today.]
commentary of the day III: "Don't get fooled again" On the topic of cell phones and cancer, James Freeman writes in USA Today, "Let's get the whole story this time before we indict a new cancer villain." Don't worry James, we won't get fooled again [music link].
"Richardson Orders Probe of Ky. Uranium Plant" The Washington Post presses the "junk-reporting" button and the Department of Energy responds. Be sure and check out this related story from yesterday's Sunday Times (UK). Click here and here for more perspective on plutonium.
junk commentary of the day: "Pesticides and Politics" This New York Times' editorial displays (probable author) Philip Boffey's rampant ignorance and enviro proclivity. The Food Quality Protection Act was passed unanimously because the Newt Gingrich-led Republican congressional leadership essentially ordered members to vote for the law. Industry was told not to oppose the law. Congressional Republicans [music link] were made gunshy on environmental issues by their embarrassing loss on regulatory reform in 1995. There is not one scientific study that even alleges that methyl parathion and azinphos methyl food residues threaten anyone's health. The EPA jihad against pesticides is aimed at satisfying the anti-chemical crowd, not protecting the public health.
"Disposing of computers becoming a global concern" The Associated Press reports, "More than 700 chemicals are used to manufacture a PC, about half of them toxic... Incinerating computer remains can release dioxin and heavy metals into the atmosphere, contributing to acid rain." [music link]
"Warning over 'Nazi' genetic screening" The BBC reports, "British scientists are developing a technique to weed out embryos at high risk of developing cancer."
"A Shock to the System" Mark Kingwell asks in yesterday's New York Times Magazine, "If electromagnetic fields don't cause cancer, what's left to believe in?" [music link]
August 8, 1999
article of the day: "Even NSF's allies concede many projects are waste" An excellent expose of the National Science Foundation in today's Washington Times.
'goose egg' of the day: "In Harm's Way, But in the Dark" Washington Post "investigative" reporter Joby Warrick tries to write a scary article about plutonium exposures at the nuclear weapons plant at Paducah, KY. But Warrick acknowledges that "Health consequences remain unclear... The health effects for Paducah workers remain an open question" -- media-ese for "we got nuttin'."
today's Gore-ing: "Presidential politics spreads junk science" The Boston Herald comments, "Sounding like a cross between Chicken Little and the boy who cried wolf, Ozone Al dropped ice cubes into an overflowing water pitcher in A feeble attempt to show what the melting of polar icecaps would do to the planet."
editorial surprise of the day: "Regulating Repetitive Stress" The usually regulation-happy Washington Post editorializes that OSHA's ergonomics rule is too broad.
"When Summer Turns Deadly" After never having written about global warming before, New York Times columnist Bob Herbert pens his second alarmist column on global warming this week! Click
here for his first column.
"Scientists hid BSE jab threat" The BBC reports, "Children were given vaccinations in the late 1980s despite a risk of becoming infecting with the BSE virus, it has emerged."
"Scientists Seek Ways to Bring Marine Life Back to World's 'Dead Zones'" The Los Angeles Times attributes the Gulf of Mexico's so-called "dead zone" to nitrogen fertilizer run-off. Observations of an upturn in anoxia correspond with the use of nitrogen fertilzers in the 1950's, according to the Times.. But an article in Science (July 1998) acknowldeges nitrogen has not been traced from farm fields to the gulf. Science also points out "biologists so far have been unable to link serious declines in a gulf fishery to the transient hypoxic zone." Apparently, only the facts are being choked off.
August 7, 1999
junk verdict of the day: "$23 million awarded in diet-drug case" The Associated Press reports, "A Texas woman who suffered heart-valve damage was awarded $23 million Friday by a jury in the first verdict involving the diet-drug combination fen-phen." But the Associated Press also reports "The American Heart Association says it is still too soon to tell whether the drugs caused significant damage to anyone, and whether the effects wore off when they stopped taking them." Click here for a related op-ed by the Hoover Institute's Henry I. Miller and me from November 24, 1997.
"China blocks import of French wines over Mad Cow scare" Agence France-Presse reports, "The Chinese authorities have blocked French wine imports for the past three weeks, fearing a spread of Mad Cow disease from a beef blood additive, a French official on Friday."
"Chocolate 'is good for you'" The BBC reports, "Chocolate may be better for your health than tea because it contains more of a chemical that could prevent cancer and heart disease, researchers have said."
historical revision of the day: "How Red Baron became dead baron" This explanation for the demise of the Red Baron seems implausible. If his head wound was so debilitating, how was the Red Baron able to shoot down 23 more allied planes during the 8 months following his hospital discharge? Such a feat would have earned him Germany's then-highest military award, the "Blue Max," but he had already won the medal almost three times over before incurring his head wound. Not mentioned in this article is the fact that when he was shot down, the Red Baron was simultaneously being fired upon by Canadian pilot Roy Brown and Australian ground gunners -- both claim credit for downing the Red Baron. The most likely explanation for the Red Baron's downing is that, after shooting down 80 enemy airplanes, his unsurpassed flying skills were not able to overcome bad luck.
"The Week That Was August 7, 1999" The weekly update from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.
"Blowing hot air about global warming threat" Pat Michaels writes in The Oregonian, "Summer temperatures are no worse than usual; don't blame air conditioners, which save lives."
August 6, 1999
article of the day: "No chemical threat found" My article about the National Research Council's report on so-called "endocrine disrupters" in today's Chicago Sun-Times.
boo-hoo of the day: "Rare Cancer in Amoco Employees Is Probably Work Related" The New York Times reports that trial lawyers are unhappy because only some brain cancers can be attributed to the Amoco working environment.
question of the day: "A Blow for Secret Evidence" No, this Washington Post editorial is not about the Environmental Protection Agency refusing to allow the public to review taxpayer-funded scientific data used to regulate the public to the tune of tens of billions of dollars annually -- but it should be. Ask the Washington Post why it's wrong for the Immigation and Naturalization Service to withhold evidence, but not for the EPA.
update of the day: "Cot death rate falls" Earlier in the week, the BBC reported SIDS rates were down 25 percent in the UK. Because maternal smoking is an oft-rumored risk factors for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), I wondered whether the maternal smoking rate had changed. Coincidentally, my question was answered two weeks ago by
this Daily Telegraph article which reports, "The number of pregnant smokers has not changed since 1992." Click here for BBC coverage. [Thanks to Kees van der Griendt for finding the article.
junk of the day: "Pesticides 'reduce male fertility' " The BBC reports, "Men who are exposed to pesticides as a result of their jobs may find it harder to father children, according to researchers." PUH-lease. The study is very small. The primary result is based on 16 couples where the man had "confirmed" pesticide exposure -- where "confirmed" means self-reported. These 16 couples were then compared with 816 couples in the non-exposed reference group -- what a fair comparison!
"Vacation Areas Have as Much Smog as Big Cities, study Says" The New York Times' Matthew Wald -- who looks more and more like he's ignorant enough to be Joby Warrick's replacement at the Washington Post -- perpetuates the myth that emissions from the Midwest are a significant cause of smog in the Northeast.
"Breast implant-neurologic disease link refuted" Reuters reports, "Data from the largest-to-date pathologic examination of nerve and muscle biopsy specimens from women with silicone breast implants offer no support for a link between the implants and any "unique" neuropathologic disorder. 'This is the first complete pathological assessment of biopsies of any sort from women with silicone breast implants,' study investigator, Dr. Hannes Vogel told Reuters Health... The finding supports results from prior '...convincing epidemiologic studies...' that also showed
no evidence of an association between silicone breast implants and neurologic disease,... 'It's not likely that further studies will reveal a link between silicone breast implants and systemic disease,' according to Dr. Vogel." The cite for the study is Neurology 1999;53:293-297.
"House passes bill to delay action on ergonomics standards" Reuters reports, "The US House of Representatives has approved a bill that would require the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to delay publishing its proposed ergonomics standards until the National Academy of Sciences completes a review in the year 2001.The House passed the bill, which was introduced by Representative Roy Blunt (R-MO), by a 217-209 margin. OSHA proposed ergonomics standards in February designed to protect workers from repetitive stress injuries or injuries due to overexertion in the workplace."
"Raloxifene as a multifunctional medicine?" This British Medical Journal commentary is a misleading advertisement for Eli Lilly & Co.'s drug raloxifene or "Evista." Raloxifene has FDA approval for use in preventing osteoporosis. But Lilly has been cleverly marketing raloxifene as a breast cancer prevention drug -- so much so that a federal court recently ordered Lilly's salesman to stop such illegal pitches. Just last week, a study reported that tamoxifen -- a drug of the same class as raloxifene -- was reported to increase breast cancer after five years of use. Raloxifene has only been tested for two years. For all we know, extended use of raloxifene may also increase breast cancer risk. Multifunctional? Perhaps. But how many of the functions are beneficial?
"Mortality associated with oral contraceptive use" This letter in the British Medical Journal challenges a link between oral contraceptives and mortality from cervical cancer.
"US death rate hits all-time low" Reuters reports, "The death rate in the US hit an all-time low in 1997, largely because of a drop in deaths due to HIV infection, heart disease, cancer, stroke, and homicides." Click
here for Gina Kolata's article in the New York Times.
'science for socialism' of the day: "Uninsured Americans pose a health crisis, expert warns" Reuters reports, "A lack of health insurance for all Americans 'is a catastrophe that's already
occurring,' the president of the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine (ACP-ASIM) declared Wednesday."
"Born to be wild" Robert Adler writes in the New Scientist, "If you're fed up with the weather, just wait a decade or two. A new climate model shows that radical changes [music link] in local climates occur even without global warming."
"Turn-off" Matt Walker writes in the New Scientist, "Female rats that are exposed to PCBs in the womb are reluctant to mate as adults. This raises the possibility that similar chemical contaminants can cause low sex drives in women." Maybe the rats just needed some mood music [music link].
Shopping carts cause back pain The BBC reports, "Wrestling with uncooperative supermarket [shopping carts] is a leading cause of back pain according to physiotherapists. "
"Sun damage 'cuts cancer risk'" The BBC reports, "Skin cells damaged by the sun commit suicide to prevent the onset of cancer, researchers have said." Click here for MSNBC coverage. Click here for a related news story from earlier this week.
"More good news on red wine: study shows vino does not suppress immune system" MSNBC reports, "Red wine, already hailed as helpful in preventing heart disease, does not appear to hurt the immune system like other alcoholic drinks do, according to a University of Florida study released on Thursday."
"Public not wowed on P&G's fat substitute" The Associated Press reports, "It seemed like a sure thing: a no-fat ingredient that makes food taste as good as the real thing. But Procter & Gamble Co. has not had a sure thing with olestra, which it spent more than $200 million and 25 years developing."
"Fen-phen suit seeks checks, checkups for diet drug users" The Associated Press reports, "Healthy but worried, thousands of people who took the fen-phen diet drug combination are seeking millions to pay for medical checkups in case they develop heart or lung problems." But fen-phen is much less of a problem than trial lawyers.
August 5, 1999
junk of the day:
"EPA warns of cancer risk from upper Hudson fish" The Associated Press reports, "Marshaling more evidence about the scope of PCB contamination in the Hudson River, federal authorities said eating fish from a northern section of the river raises the risk of cancer to unacceptable levels." But what is this so-called "evidence?" Extrapolation from discredited animal tests. Click here for New York Times coverage. Click here for Mike Fumento's take on the controversy.
commentary of the day I: "Why So Hot? Don't Blame Man, Blame the Sun" Sallie Baliunas writes in the Wall Street Journal, "One reason for the failure of the [climate] models is that they overlook an important natural factor that probably influences temperatures: the changing sun."
commentary of the day II: "junking the junk Science" The New York Post comments, "Surely 'everyone' remembers the study from a few years ago that "proved" power lines caused cancer, right? Well, it now comes to light that not only was that study wrong, it was a fraud."
commentary of the day III:
"Utilizing junk science for big payoffs " Joe Perkins writes in Jewish World Review, "The nation's utilities got off lucky. The trial lawyers were unsuccessful in using junk science to shake them down for billions of dollars. It's a pity that other industries targeted by junk scientists and lawyers -- like the silicone implant industry -- were not similarly lucky."
"Hot Enough for You?" Taking advantage of the recent heatwave, the New York Times' Bob Herbert advocates action on global warming.
"Health groups call for added sugar disclosure on labels" Reuters reports, "A group of health experts and consumer advocacy groups called for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday to require that food and soft drink labels disclose the amount of added sugars [music link] in the products. "
"Ban Urged on Reusable Medical Devices" The Los Angeles Times reports, "Amid an unfolding national debate over the safety of reprocessed, single-use medical devices, a Sacramento lawmaker announced that he will introduce a bill to temporarily ban the use of such devices in California."
"Pest may beat GM insecticide" The BBC reports, "Scientists have shown that a key way of preventing pests becoming resistant to the defences of genetically-modified (GM) crops may not be effective."
"Health food shops 'give dangerous advice'" The BBC reports, "Assistants in many of Britain's health food shops give potentially harmful advice to their customers, a survey suggests. "
August 4, 1999
report of the day: "Hormonally Active Agents in the Environment" The long-awaited, but now anti-climactic National Research Council report on endocrine disrupters has been released.
- Click here for the press release annotated with my comments.
- Click here for the unannotated press release.
- Click here for the executive summary.
- Click here for the online version of the full report.
- Click here for New York Times coverage.
- Click here for Los Angeles Times coverage.
junk of the day I: "Pediatricians urge parents to ban TV for kids under 2" The Chicago Tribune reports, "A visit to the pediatrician's office could soon include a warning for parents: Teletubbies and Barney the Dinosaur are hazardous to your toddler's health. The advice tops off a new policy from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which urges parents to ban television for children younger than 2... But officials cited no research showing that TV harmed brain development or produced academic or social problems later."
junk of the day II: "Breast cancer gene may increase other cancer risks" CNN reports, "The same genetic mutation that puts some people at increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer may also increase their odds of getting prostate, pancreatic and other cancers, according to a study released Tuesday." But reported breast cancer risks for carriers of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have varied wildly -- from less than 40 percent to 90 percent. I doubt the small risks reported in this study (2.58 percent to 4.65 percent) are very reliable.
commentary of the day I: "A Killer of Babies Or Just Weeds?" Mike Fumento takes on the recent Environmental Working Group [music link] report on atrazine in Midwestern drinking water. A version of this is in today's Investor's Business Daily.
commentary of the day II: "Truth takes a holiday" About last week's second World Conference on Breast Cancer, Margaret Wente writes in the Globe and Mail (Canada) (July 31), "The consequence of this toxic stew of misinformation is false hope (get rid of chemicals, and all will be well) and unnecessary fear. What a waste."
today's Gore-ing: "Political 'Science'" Investor's Business Daily comments, "Vice President Al Gore 'taught' fifth- graders Monday that man causes global warming and the GOP-led) Congress is cutting funds for fighting it. If his leadership is on par with his 'science,' Americans should think twice before voting for him."
trial lawyer godsend of the day: "Gunshot injuries total $2.3 billion in medical care" Amidst the litigation between municipalities and gun manufacturers, the Associated Press reports, "The annual cost of treating the nation's gunshot victims averages $2.3 billion, with the government footing half the bill, a new study found."
"Seeds of Controversy: Some Worry Sterile Seeds May Mean Disaster for Farmers" ABC news reports, "Some farmers are worried that genetic engineering may be turning their land from fields of plenty into fields of peril." But what they're really unhappy about is that they have to buy seeds from Monsanto every year.
"Sunscreen 'increases cancer risk'" The BBC reports, "Wearing sunscreen makes people stay in the sun too long - and could release cancer-causing substances into the body, according to specialists." Click
here for the Associated Press report. Click here for the MSNBC report.
"Cancer study into artificial sweetener" The BBC reports, "Scientists are to study whether an artificial sweetener used in popular diet drinks is linked to an increased risk of malignant brain tumours."
"Environment, not biology behind illness 'gender gap'" Reuters reports, "As a rule, female workers tend to report more minor illness compared with men.
British researchers now believe that this disparity is due to the poorer working conditions of women versus men -- and not to any biological difference existing between the sexes."
"Smoking in pregnancy ups baby's ear infection risk" Reuters reports, "A mother who smokes during pregnancy may more than triple her child's risk for ear infection, researchers report." But the researchers report no biological mechanism.
irony of the day: "Pollution takes toll on healthy adults" The BBC reports, "A study, published in the journal Occupational Environmental Medicine, found that the poisonous gas carbon monoxide, found in the exhaust fumes of cars, severely reduced exercise performance." Ironically, this study is released within a week of
a severe blow to the fuel additive MTBE -- added to gasoline to reduce tailpipe emissions of carbon monoxide.
government program of the day: "Project DARE ineffective 10 years later" Reuters reports, "The drug prevention program, Project DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), has no more long-term effectiveness in curbing substance abuse than standard health education classes, according to researchers at the University of Kentucky."
"Cot death rate falls" The BBC reports, "The number of cot deaths in England and Wales fell by over a quarter between 1997 and 1998, official figures reveal." I'll bet that maternal smoking -- an oft-rumored risk factor for SIDS -- hasn't changed by that much.
"World's population reaches six billion" The BBC reports, "According to one estimate, at 1833 GMT on Monday 9 August the six billionth person will enter the world."
"GM soya milk gives children herpes, senior surgeon tells the Government" The Daily Telegraph (UK) reports, "A leading British surgeon is to give evidence to the Government that genetically modified soya milk triggered a herpes-related virus in her daughter."
"Smoking at any cost" Smoking through a stoma (a hole in the neck) is not evidence that nicotine is addictive. But it is evidence of a severe psychological problem.
"Depressives have longer fingers" The Independent (UK) reports, "Men with unusually long ring fingers are more likely than most to feel depressed, researchers said yesterday. A study has found a strong link between ring-finger length and the likelihood of a man suffering depression."
August 3, 1999
doom-and-gloom of the day: "Human Impact Triggers Massive Extinctions" The Enviroment news Service reports, "Humanity's impact on the earth has increased extinction rates to levels rivaling the five mass extinctions of past geologic history, transformed nearly half of Earth’s land and created 50 dead zones in the world’s oceans, according to research being presented this week at the 16th International Botanical Congress."
"Citing Children, E.P.A. Is Banning Common Pesticide" It's too bad EPA couldn't cite any science. A literature review of methyl parathion reveals no scientific basis for the EPA action. To the extent a hazard may exist from this insecticide, it is an oocupational risk to farm workers from overexposure or accidental poisoning. There is no basis for alarming the public about residues on food.
"Wondering About a Wonder Drug" In this New York Times op-ed, breast cancer advocate Susan Love recognizes that tamoxifen is not the miracle prevention drug it has been touted to be. But Love fails to acknowledge that the National Cancer Institute pushed tamoxifen only to shore up its poor track record in the war on cancer.
"Lou Gehrig's Disease Claims Gulf Veterans; 28 Cases Have Researchers Taking Closer Look" The Washington Post reports, "Persian Gulf War veterans seem to have a slightly high incidence of the fatal neurological disease ALS, according to a six-month study of selected veterans' health records. But so far, the number of cases is barely above what would normally be expected in men and women in the veterans' age range. Whether the excess is the result of something that happened in the gulf is uncertain, and will be hard to determine. The cause of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is unknown, and "extra" cases can occur in any population entirely by chance."
humor of the day: "Toilet flush capacity lowered again" The Web Lampoon reports, "For Americans who have gotten used to the 1.6 gallon toilet in the past few years, there is another adjustment coming - the .8 gallon flush. Beginning January 1 of next year, toilets with the halved-again tank size will be the only ones available."
commentary of the day I: "Attack of the killer toasters" The Washington Times comments, "Call off the scare. It's all right to keep your electric appliances and computers after all. The findings of a study linking electric power [music link] to cancer have dissipated under the scrutiny of federal fraud investigators. So as long as you aren't in the habit of taking a shower with your toaster, it's not the killer originally feared."
commentary of the day II: Epidemiology Epidemic? Anne Fennell asks, "Why not shut down the Lifestyle Epidemiology Empire and throw the money where it matters?"
commentary of the day III: "The EPA screws up--again" The New York Post comments, "... America should also enjoy government agencies that don't slap regulations on us when they don't know what they're doing."
junk reporting of the day: "Coffee beats tea on heart disease" This story is a perfect example of "buffing a turd into a popsicle." The last sentence of the underlying study reads "The most likely explanation for our findings is that we have not been able to remove all confouding effects..." So even the study authors acknowledge, as Al Capone [music link] scoffed at the Feds' evidence against him, "Dey got nuttin'."
"Loud music threat to the young" The BBC reports, "Nearly half of young people experience hearing problems after being
exposed to loud music, [music link] according to research by the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID)." So what if you can't hear. You can always "feel the noise." [music link]
"Environmental coalition accuses Coke of breaking recycling pledge" The Associated Press reports, "An environmental group
dedicated to recycling said Monday that Coca-Cola Co. broke a promise made nine years ago to use recycled plastic in its soda bottles." Click here [music link] for Coca-Cola's best response.
"Book portrays nation's losing battle against the waves " The Associated Press reports on Cornelia Dean's new book, in which she writes, "In the long run, extensive development cannot coexist with an eroding beach - and most American beaches are eroding. We Americans must reconsider our attitudes toward our beaches." But who cares about this sourpuss' prophesies of gloom-and-doom? Beach replenishment (offshore dredging of sand) works. It may be expensive but consumers pay for it in higher prices at the beach [music link].
"Asbestosis claims rise among women" The BBC reports, "The number of women in Scotland seeking legal advice over illness caused by asbestos brought home in their work clothes has risen sharply, according to lawyers."
August 2, 1999
Bill Nye the junk science guy?: "Gore Announces Release of Declassified Arctic Images to Help Research Global Warming " Al Gore teams up with Disney's Bill Nye the Science Guy to blow a fast one past unsuspecting kids. Shame, shame, shame.
perpetuated myth of the day: "Peregrine falcons resurgent at Acadia " This Boston Globe article says, "Peregrines, well known for their hunting ability, became extinct in the eastern United States in the 1960s, largely due to the use of the chemical pesticide DDT. Despite being able to swoop down on prey at more than 100 miles per hour, the falcons were powerless against the effects of DDT on their ability to reproduce, making the shells of their eggs so thin they cracked before chicks were ready to hatch." But since you've read "100 Things You Should Know About DDT," you know the GLobe article is wrong, wrong, wrong. Send your thoughts to the Boston Globe.
commentary of the day: "We take risks in order to progress" The Daily Telegraph editorializes against the "precautionary principle."
"Flat Carbon Dioxide Emissions Give Experts Hope of Compliance" John Fialka, the Wall Street Journal's resident global warming shill, writes naively about the recent WorldWatch report claiming that carbon monoxide emissions can be lowered while maintaining a booming economy. But WorldWatch would say anything to get the U.S. to sign on to the Kyoto global warming treaty.
"When Kids Get Poisoned" "Should General Electric be held financially responsible for the huge burden placed on Hudson River Valley school systems by learning disabled kids?," asks John Peterson Myers, the director of the nutty W. Alton Jones Foundation [music link] in this letter to the Washington Post. Of course, if Myers had a functioning brain cell, he'd know that the claims that PCBs affect child development are less credible than the claim "I did not have sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky."
"A Pesticide Balancing Act: EPA Caught Between Farmers, Food Safety Fears" The Washington Post reports, "the EPA is expected to ban
most uses of methyl parathion and a related pesticide on fruits frequently consumed by infants and children." But a literature review of methyl parathion and azinphos-methyl reveals no scientific basis for the EPA action. To the extent a hazard may exist from these insecticides, it is an oocupational risk to farm workers from overexposure or accidental poisoning. There is no basis for alarming the public about residues on food.
"CDC: Life expectancy has climbed 30 years since 1900" Maybe pollution isn't so bad after all?
"Pollution and JFK Jr.'s Flight" In its "Science Notebook," the Washington POst reports, "Air pollution may have contributed to the plane crash that killed John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife and sister-in-law, according to an atmospheric scientist." Two other "contributing factors" are inexperience and gravity.
'ready-fire-aim' of the day: "Risky Reuse of Medical Equipment Is on Rise" The Los Angeles Times reports, "Millions of medical devices that come in contact with blood or other body fluids and are supposed to be discarded after one use are instead being reprocessed and reused, putting other patients at risk without their knowledge, some experts fear... Independent, peer-reviewed studies of reused disposable devices are scarce. The few studies that have been done, experts agree, are not substantial enough to conclude that reprocessing disposable devices is either safe or unsafe." Yet the article notes, "The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is poised to crack down on the largely unregulated practice, which is escalating because managed care reimbursements are not sufficient to cover the costs of new devices."
humor of the day: "Laying Off the Source" suck.com reports, "According to a report in today's Washington Post, The New York Times relies too heavily on the journal Nature for much of its science reporting. Further, said the report, The Washington Post avoids this impropriety simply by not reporting on the sciences, except in this instance."
August 1, 1999
corporate boneheads of the day: "Baby food maker to drop genetic engineering products" Hey Novartis, stupid is as stupid does! [music link]
commentary of the day I: "Politics and Cynicism Dominate UN Biotech Deliberations" Henry I. Miller writes, "Regulators from around the world were dealt a blow last February when a small group of nations led by the United States rejected a proposed biotechnology regulation advocated by more than 130 countries. The proposed regulation, a UN biosafety protocol (BSP) that would regulate the testing of and trade in gene-spliced organisms, seeds and products derived from them, is unscientific and anti-competitive. In anything resembling its present form, the regulation would be harmful to consumers and the environment and catastrophic for efforts to improve agricultural growth."
commentary of the day II: "Dangerous Mix" The Detroit news comments, "Recent incidents in which government-funded scientists faked evidence or prematurely rushed dangerous chemicals into use illustrate how political agendas can taint science."
"Goodbye, MTBE" The Pittsburgh Tribune-review comments, "In a stunning but welcome reversal, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recommended that Congress drop its nearly decade-old requirement of oil companies to add the compound known as MTBE to gasoline... Congress should follow this EPA recommendation posthaste."
"More Buyers Asking: Got Milk Without Chemicals?" The New York Times reports, "The FDA and Monsanto contend that use of the hormone is benign for both cows and people. 'We review all new evidence as it comes to light, and so far nothing has caused us to believe rBGH is a hazard,' said Dr. Stephen F. Sundlof, director of the agency's center for veterinary medicine. But some consumers remain skeptical. [music link]"
"NOAA's budget: Asea in Congress" An op-ed from the Miami Herald. This op-ed doesn't quite explain how giving more money to federal bureaucrats will reduce overfishing or improve coastal ecosystems -- its deification of Rachel Carson doesn't qualify as a rationale.
"Death Toll Soars to 148 Despite Letup in Heat" Though these deaths are heatwave-related, watch for the EPA and its junk scientists to attribute them to air pollution in hopes of justifying more regulation.
"Hot, Dry, Still; ‘Bermuda High’ Keeps Cool Air Away " The much-dreaded "global warming" is beginning to appear more frequently in media reports about the current Midwest/East Coast heatwave [music link].