Originally Posted by JimSmith
It wasn't intended as rhetorical, it was intended to note the idea of eradicating environmentalists so the path of least resistance for any and all causes, usually making money, but in this case saving millions of lives from a problem that has been overcome elsewhere without DDT, is a pretty shallow concept. I very much doubt DDT only affects the egg shell integrity on a single species of bird, but I could be wrong. I also find the original point of DDT being safe enough to eat with your Wheaties every morning makes the rest of the argument suspect. Without some not free education and supervision program I see the benefits of DDT in this case a short term benefit with potential long term risks that the case made does not address from a funding or personnel or training or any other perspective.
A couple of observations here: The people who are vouching for the safety of DDT are form the Harvard Center for International Development (among many others). I would hardly characterize Harvard as being a right wing think tank bent on putting profit over science or principle. Would you?
Also they are not he only ones recommending the limited use of DDT in Africa. The World health Organization is too, as are many physician groups.
Secondly I do not disapprove the use of all toxin control measure. Some are ridiculous:
Trichloroethylene standard of 2.7 (vs 11) mcg/ml in drinking water: $34,000,000/YLS
..and some I support:
Chlorination of drinking water: $3100/YLS
Ban asbestos in brake blocks: $29,000/YLS
Automatic collimators on X-ray equipment to reduce radiation exposure: $23,000/YLS
Everything we do has a cost associated with it. What I oppose is spending ridiculous amounts of money to reduce risk to nearly zero when it takes that resource away from solving other problems.
Finally, I'm kind of surprised that you didn't do a google search and look for counter-arguments to the use of DDT, because they are out there.
So the question becomes: how do we evaluate conflicting claims in science? It's something I do in my line of work every day. E.g., there has been a raging controversy in the Emergency Medicine community about the use of tPA for stroke since the NINDS published their much criticized study a decade ago. In fact emergency medicine professional societies, in both the U.S. and Canada, have all come out against making tPA the standard of stroke care because they dispute the science upon which this recommendation is based. The American Academy of Neurology has taken the opposite position. So what is the practioner in the field supposed to do when faced with conflicting evidence? I don't know about you but I can't comprehensively investigate the validity of every
position that I hold on a scientific matter. So what I do is read some original research and when faced with conflicting claims I look at who has the most credibility in my mind. It's the same way a jury would decide a case like this. So as far as I'm concerned the opinions of World Health Orgnanization and the Harvard Center for International Development trump those of someone who is trying to make a buck by selling a controversial book e.g.
Let me point out that you can find conflicting evidence on just about any scientific topic. There are those who believe, e.g., that HIV does not cause AIDS. Take a look at the site virusmyth.com
e.g. That's "virus myth." This in spite of the fact that protease inhibitors, which specifically target the HIV virus, have been dramatically effective
in increasing survival and decreasing opportunistic infections in AIDS patients. There are those who deny the holocaust happened and they have web sites and all sorts of "scientific evidence" that you can spend a lifetime refuting. There is a movement that claims that the U.S. government, not Al-Queda, blew up the WTC on 9/11 and one of its most prominent proponents is a physicist from Brigham Young University who states, contrary to the opinion of many other scientists, that the buildings could not possibly have collapsed in the way that they did. How does one then explain the planes that we all clearly saw on tape colliding into the buildings? Just a few days ago Al-Queda released video footage of several of the 9/11 hijackers in a training camp in Afganistan using box cutters to immobilize their "opponents."
But conspiracy theories flourish nonethelss.