If so, says Arianna Huffington, you'd better ask for more regulations that augment helicopter parenting with nanny government - and you'd better be part of the 1% that will be able to afford food when all pesticides are banned. What is her evidence? Rachel Carson started telling us 50 years ago that scientists were out to kill us all.
It's no secret that progressives are anti-science today, and Carson is a Saint in the Church of Nature, but at least their being anti-science has been a lot less harmful than when they tried to be on the science side; the original progressives were so pro-science they created laws to sterilize 'loose' women, breed out dumb people and to train the ones who escaped selective breeding in public schools solely for manual labor - eugenics and social Darwinism.
Obviously, I would not ordinarily single out a progressive like Huffington or any other political blogger when it comes to science issues - there's no point because anyone reading Huffington Post for science knows exactly what they are getting; the scientization of politics, finding evidence to claim a worldview is correct ('natural' is good, modern is bad, Republicans are anti-science, you name it) and pretending that is what the evidence truly shows. But her piece extolling Rachel Carson has to be discussed because Carson has become deified by the left. Her cultural impact is so pervasive that even scientists, who almost five decades ago dismissed her 'evidence by anecdote' and unethical massaging of statistics as junk science, today regard her with some respect and assume there must have been solid science in the book, rather than hand-picked statistics to back up dubious claims.
She starts off endorsing an article by fellow HuffPo writer and former biostatistician Lynne Peeples, basically quoting some of the vague things that Carson wrote that turned out to be correct, like that we ingest chemicals in every day life. Really, you have to be a Nostradamus believer to read those kinds of vague prognostications and ignore all of the batty nonsense and declare anything Carson wrote speaks to us today.
For example, "Every human being is now subjected to contact with dangerous chemicals, from the moment of conception until death” - no kidding. The natural fetish had infected kooky anti-science hippies before this was written but it never seemed to make any sense then, nor does it now. Example: It used to be that conservatives liked 'the past' and the obvious question was, will conservatives 50 years from now say today was so much better? So it goes with progressives. A number of irrational progressives today long for 1995. Why? Carson insisted in 1962 that we were already screwed.
In reality, the quality, safety and consistency of every food product today is far, far greater than it was 50 years ago, and that was much better in 1962 than it was a hundred years ago. Upton Sinclair's The Jungle was written in 1906 and it highlighted concerns about the meat-packing industry. Like Carson's book, it led to investigations and regulations. Unlike Carson's book, no one claimed it was science. What Carson meant was that 'natural' chemicals we ingest from conception until death - just like human ancestors did a million years ago - but not newer ones were somehow okay. Not to me. I avoid all-natural Strychnine but you go ahead and spray it on your organic vegetables if you want.
Along with vague quotes, the article by Peeples is also chock full of 'appeal to authority' fallacies offered as supporting documentation. Erin Brockovich, the famous single mother who took on Pacific Gas&Electric Company, warns us that chemicals are bad. As does the CEO of an advocacy group and then another lawyer. What is lacking is any actual science in the claims that five of Rachel Carson's "predictions" were not the same risk as they were a hundred years ago. It's name dropping at its best.
Huffington goes further and seems to think no science existed before she created Huffington Post. "Decades after Carson wrote in Silent Spring that harm from chemical exposures begins in the womb, scientists learned she was right."
Scientists did not know for decades that chemicals could harm a developing fetus? That makes no sense. Thalidomide was taken off the market a year before Carson claimed scientists were stupid in The New Yorker. Yet Huffington thinks scientists regarded the womb as some sort of super shield in the early 1960s.
Lead is bad for you, Huffington notes. What does that have to do with Rachel Carson? Nothing, except Carson claimed everything 'caused' cancer. Huffington is apparently the one person on planet Earth who understands oncology even less than Rachel Carson, who believed if you sprayed DDT in your basement you would get cancer and die. She basically understood cancer as well as Michelle Bachmann understands vaccines.
Today, "more American school children die of cancer than from any other disease" Huffington notes - and that is true, and it was true then also. That sounds bad, right? How many kids is that? About 2,300 per year. Three times that many die in car crashes and almost as many drown in pools. How many children worldwide die from Malaria? 736,000. Carson's 1964 screed was a vendetta against DDT and what scientists actually do know "Decades after Carson wrote in Silent Spring" is that she was flat out wrong about DDT and its successors were less effective and more dangerous to both the ecology and humans than DDT.
Will any tearful odes to Carson in the next two years include how many children died because she terrified the public and policymakers banned it? She was the intellectual grandmother of the modern progressive movement and its anti-vaccine and anti-GMO foundation - a foundation that rests on a distrust and hatred of science. We have a huge surge of Whopping Cough in California because the people on the coast refuse to get their children vaccines.
What gets left out is that cancer only kills children more than any other disease now. Science, the thing progressives hate, killed the big issues of food-borne and vector-borne diseases, and created vaccines - all things the intellectual disciples of the Carson Church want to deny in their retreat to the past.
I respect Huffington, despite her lack of a meaningful clue what she is talking about when it comes to science, because she talked someone into buying Huffington Post for $300 million - and to progressives, big corporate success (or working for the government) is legitimacy. But the science community is not impressed by her wealth.
Still, I don't want people to think there is nothing of value in her writing, so I will leave you with this quote, sure to rank among the choicest bits of science wisdom for the future generations she cares so much about:
"When it comes to the explosion of chemicals in our world, tomorrow is today".
I don't even know what that means, but somewhere Rachel Carson probably agrees.
- Building A Straw Man Out Of Red Herrings.
- Rachel Carson's Advice On The Eve Of The California Labeling Vote: Why Smart Environmentalists Back GM Foods
- Is There A Link Between Pesticides And Diabetes?
- DFDT: Nazi Cousin Of DDT Has Been 'Rediscovered' But Will People Want It?
- New And Improved Crop Protection: Oxitec Self-Limiting, Genetically Engineered Diamondback Moth For Brassica