Home > Environment > The right in LaLaRouche land

The right in LaLaRouche land

October 13th, 2009

I just spoke at an event organized by the UQ Greens to discuss emissions trading. There was lively debate over the relative merits, and prospects for success of emissions trading, carbon taxes, and direct regulation (my views here).

Things were made even livelier by the attendance of some LaRouche supporters who explained, as usual, that emissions trading was a genocidal plot by the British Royal Family. On an issue like climate change, LaRouchites represent the extreme fringe of rightwing opinion, taking the usual conspiracy theories about grantgrubbing scientists and environmentalist plans for world government into utterly paranoid territory.

But the traffic isn’t all one-way. On the issue of DDT, a lot of people buy a watered-down version of the LaRouche theory presented in LaRouche’s 21st Century Science by Gordon Edwards back in the early 1990s, according to which the US ban on agricultural use of DDT in 1972 produced a global ban on the use of DDT to fight malaria, costing millions of lives as part of a genocidal eco-imperialist plot.

Tobacco lobbyist Steven Milloy, looking for a stick with which to beat the environmental movement, used his junkscience site (then affiliated with the Cato Institute) to push Edwards’ LaRouchite fantasies, including the claims of genocide, but (doubtless in deference to conservative sensibilities) without the usual LaRouche link to the Royal Family (Milloy’s genocide clock is here). Roger Bate of AEI later took up the same line with great success, though he has backed away from it more recently.

But who would be stupid enough to fall for the second-hand propaganda of a nut group, recycled by the tobacco industry ?

(Answer over the fold)

1. An incomplete list of prominent rightwing commentators and institutions buying the LaRouche line on DDT (I’ll update this and add links as I get time)

Australia: Andrew Bolt, Centre for Independent Studies, Miranda Devine Institute of Public Affairs, Jennifer Marohasy, Christopher Pearson, Ian Plimer, Quadrant


AEI[1], CEI, Cato, Fox News, the Republican Party, the Wall Street Journal etc etc


Monckton, the Spectator, Spiked/RCP[2]

2. A complete (AFAIK) list of rightwing commentators and institutions who explicitly reject the LaRouche line on DDT and criticise its advocates

(This line intentionally left blank)

I’d welcome any additions to Group 2. Also, rightwingers should feel free to write in explaining why LaRouche is right on DDT, or why your version of the DDT ban myth isn’t really the LaRouche/Milloy/Bate version (which will qualify you for an asterisk). But special rules apply for this post. Real names and country of origin required so your name can be added to the list. Anonymous/pseudonymous comments in support of the DDT ban myth or apologising for its advocates will be deleted.

[1] It’s interesting to compare the 2004 piece linked above, blaming the 1972 US ban on agricultural use for millions of deaths, with this from 2007 which, while still pro-DDT, is more or less factually accurate, noting “Although many believe that DDT was banned after 1972, it actually was not”. Unlike Milloy, Bate has responded to criticism by backing away from some of the more extreme claims.
[2] What is it with the right and crazy ex-Comms/Trots? The Revolutionary Communist Party (now Spiked) showed a parallel evolution to LaRouche from far left to far right, but treated with much more respect for reasons I can’t fathom.

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  1. Glenn Tamblyn
    October 13th, 2009 at 22:05 | #1

    In Robert Heinlein’s novel, The Number of the Beast, after a lot of rather tedious chapters about ‘lifeboat rules’ and alternate universes he introduces the idea of The Ficton. The elementary particle of fiction. Every act of fiction produces a splitting into multiple universes in which all possible fictional characters and events exist.

    Which leads to his final chapter. A huge convention (this is SciFi after all) at which every character from every SciFi story he liked, including his own, rocks up for a really cool poolside party. He even has a neat ‘venue’ for that most odious of creatures – The Critic. A giant Klein Bottle, a 2d structure in 3D space. A bit like the Hotel California. You can enter any time you like, you can never leave.

    John. You have just given us the initial guest list for the ‘Sci Fi Critics Marquee’ special guest list. Any other nominees? Just think, they could hang out with each other till hell freezes over, secure in the knowledge that they are only talking to those in the know.

  2. Flower
    October 14th, 2009 at 00:11 | #2

    John Quiggin – Graham Young over the road has suspended me for alluding to Fred Singer’s association with the tobacco industry (and the Moonies) and has invited me to return, providing I submit my “real contact details.” Since I advised him that I’d feel much more secure giving those details to Jack the Ripper, I prefer to remain anonymous for the time-being.

    However whether you delete this post or not, the information may be of assistance to you (if not already)……. but hark……..is that wailing and gnashing of teeth I hear, from the grim reapers – the chlorine industry and the industry shills?

    Organochlorines (including DDT) are one of the greatest scientific blunders of man’s desire to tamper with stuff of which he knows little and the chlorine industry is losing its grip on the greasy totem pole but nuff said. I shall leave you to peruse the links provided:

    Here’s the good bits:


    And the bad bits:


    Cheers for now

  3. Michael of Summer Hill
    October 14th, 2009 at 07:36 | #3

    John, if I’m correct the ARL & Citizens Electoral Council of Australia are associated with LaRouche and are in bed with the conservative side of politics in Australia ie Trevor John Perrett (National Party), Kenneth James Aldred (Liberal Party, etc and which may account for the the WA Liberal’s views on climate change and many other issue. You got to feel sorry for Turnbull putting up with such trash.

  4. Lucas
    October 14th, 2009 at 08:01 | #4

    From Argentina add another nutty right-wing noise machine called FAEC (Argentinean Foundation for a Scientific Ecology). It’s an offshot of the Heidelberg Appeal.
    Check their position on DDT and chemicals, you will be surprised 🙂

  5. October 14th, 2009 at 08:30 | #5

    We really need a new label for the bunch of Australians you’ve listed. ‘Rightwing commentators’ lacks precision.

  6. Michael of Summer Hill
    October 14th, 2009 at 08:44 | #6

    Ken Lovell, what do you suggest?

  7. Jim Birch
    October 14th, 2009 at 08:53 | #7

    I think we need a term for epistemologically challenged people. Would it be possible to come up with an unequivocal definition?

  8. October 14th, 2009 at 09:19 | #8

    Pr Q says:

    * What is it with the right and crazy ex-Comms/Trots? The Revolutionary Communist Party (now Spiked) showed a parallel evolution to LaRouche from far left to far right, but treated with much more respect for reasons I can’t fathom.

    There is no “organic” Right in AUS. And not much of it in the US, apart from the Old South, now throughly discredited by association with segregation.

    Thus the Right-wing in liberal settler countries tends to be grafted on or drafted from some other political formation. That gives it an artificial flavour.

    The AUS Right-wing is frequently staffed by refugees from the Far-Left like Pearson, Ackerman and Windschuttle. They seek to recapture the thrill of the contentious politics of their youth and simply latch onto the opposite side of political extremism, simply changing ideological signs. In short todays “flipped” Far-Righters are in an ideologically arrested state of development as permanent adolescents.

    Unfortunately they have inherited the same ideological dogmatism, paranoia and Manichean sensibility that they formed in the political operations of their youth. This gives them their apostate fury and polemical skill. And their susceptibility for lunatic social theories on DDT and AGW.

    One should also not underestimate the temptation to hop onto the bandwagon, which was student Trots in their youth and Murdoch in their middle-age.

  9. October 14th, 2009 at 09:22 | #9

    Michael if I was any good at thinking up catchy labels I’d be making a fortune in marketing. But there’s only a few dozen of these Australian names that keep cropping up all over the world promoting the same nonsense and a unique identifier for the collective bunch of them might put them into context. Citing their institutional affiliations – even the dodgy ‘institutes’ and ‘foundations’ – gives the impression they represent a much wider and more authoritative base of scientific opinion than is actually the case.

  10. jquiggin
    October 14th, 2009 at 09:32 | #10

    I’ve offered “delusionists” in the context of AGW, but it works more generally. I should do a post on this when I get time.

  11. October 14th, 2009 at 10:07 | #11

    Pr Q says:

    treated with much more respect for reasons I can’t fathom.

    The new-found respect accorded to Ackerman & Hitchens et al is simply a function of the elevated social-status of todays ex-Trots now working for Murdoch. They have moved up-market from their dingy offices in Farrago & Honi Soit. Now occupying more salubrious suites in Surrey Hills. With elevated status comes intellectual respect.

    There is no “unfathomable” mystery about the respectful hearings granted to Right-liberal delusionists. There is a price for such status elevations, since who pays the piper calls the tune.

    Until recently Murdoch favoured delusionism on AGW and Iraq or at least support for Bush’s delusionism on such subjects. Think his “$20 per barrel oil”.

    Whereas in the seventies there were none such interests supporting delusionism about Red Army missile installations, Pol Pot, boiler-suited bra-burners and so on.

    I dont accuse the Murdoch Right of naked political harlotry. More likely they are just playing to their proprietors and audiences prejudices, who are themselves invested in delusional positions, one way or another.

    Of course this is just another instance of the Marxist theory of historical materialism: ideological superstructures must conform to sociological bases. (With a dash of Gramsci’s “false consciousness” thrown in for good measure.)

    I think that Pr Q is playing ideological favourites here again. Anti-scientific delusionism is not the special folly of Right-liberals.

    It should go without saying that there is plenty of Left-liberal anti-scientific delusionism going about on the general subject of anthropology. The widely held Left-liberal belief that the distribution of cultural traits is sociologically constructed, rather than biologically conserved, is the most egregious example of this intellectual deformity.

    This has had disastrous humanitarian consequences. Particularly in AUS where Left-liberal ideological fantasies and institutional rackets greatly contributed to the consolidation of misery in remote indigenous communities. Examples of the disasters this kind of fallacy creates can be multiplied endlessly in education, health, law & order, immigration.

    But I understand that the advance of genomic science has made Left-liberals into an ideologically endangered species. So we are not really permitted to take pot-shots at them.

  12. Michael of Summer Hill
    October 14th, 2009 at 10:18 | #12

    Ken Lovell, most would agree that the delusionalists are selling their soul for 30 pieces of silver without offering any significant scientific input.

  13. jquiggin
    October 14th, 2009 at 10:24 | #13

    Jack, I would have thought you would be a bit more cautious about the advance of genomic science by now. I’ve lost count of the number of hypothetical genes for particular human behaviours (e.g “helper” genes for homosexuality) and claimed discoveries of actual genes for such behavior (eg the “God gene” a while back) that have been loudly announced then quietly forgotten.

    And now that the political right have had a free go at some of the problems you’ve mentioned, such as those of indigenous communities, they are discovering that the reason the left-liberals didn’t do so well is that these are in fact highly intractable problems that don’t admit an easy solution.

    It’s true that, at various times, some on the left (fans of New Soviet Man, extreme social constructionists) have made silly claims implying that cultural behavior is infinitely malleable. But such claims are pretty marginal these days.

    The state of the science on what can be crudely called the nature-nurture question is that both play a role, but, for most outcomes of political/social/cultural interest, we still don’t know very much about which is more important or how they interact. That is, I think, the standard left-liberal view these days and it looks a lot more robust than the opposing position which has been such a failure as to need regular renaming (hereditarianism, sociobiology, Evolutionary Psychology, lower case evolutionary psychology and so on …).

  14. Tim Macknay
    October 14th, 2009 at 10:45 | #14

    I don’t know if he’s rightwing per se, but Professor Jeff Bennett of the Environmental Economics Research Hub at ANU seems to have bought into the DDT myth as well. He used it as an “example” of environmental policy having perverse results at a Cost Benefit Analysis course I attended just under a year ago. When I pointed out to him that it was a myth, he responded that he got the information from a “reputable source” I didn’t query what the source was, although I suspect it was an opinion column in the national broadsheet.

    In Prof Bennett’s case, though, I think it may be more a case of naivety regarding his sources than ideological commitment.

  15. wilful
    October 14th, 2009 at 10:49 | #15

    I wouldn’t want to speak for him, he comments here from time to time, but Harry Clarke is an economist who self-identifies with the Right, who rejects climate change denialism, and who may well reject DDT lunacy.

  16. Fran Barlow
    October 14th, 2009 at 11:12 | #16

    Oddly enough John, the people I spoke to in the late 1970s who had known Lynn Marcus in the early 1960s through the RT spoke of him as being nobody’s fool. He was apparently able to argue any side of any case with plausibility and able in real time to cite references that seemed to support whatever claim he would make.

    At party events in the early 1960s, this was apparently his trick. Someone would give him an absurd claim and ask him to cite Marx, Engels, Bebel, Plekhanov, Kautsky, Lenin or Trotsky in support … and he would oblige, often citing from four of them.

    These stories reminded me that being mad, stupid and ignorant need not be co-extensive. Intellignece comes in a variety of forms.

  17. October 14th, 2009 at 11:14 | #17

    You can add Graham Young’s Online Opinion to the list.

  18. jquiggin
    October 14th, 2009 at 11:15 | #18

    Frank Furedi (of RCP/Spiked) is similarly clever, though I don’t find anything he says particularly original or insightful. But he has certainly done well enough for himself as a pundit.

  19. Fran Barlow
    October 14th, 2009 at 11:22 | #19


    True enough .. in the UK in 1979-80, his acolytes were easily recognisable as the sexiest and least scruffy people at the demos we attended. While your average Cliffite was pretty scruffy chap who looked as though he was playing to the someone who just stepped off the Longford assembly line or else looked like hippies your RCP types were immaculate, in a kind of punk chic kind of way.

    They were also, apart from us Sparts, the keenest and best equipped to talk theory in very earnest tones, which, at the time, made them more interesting as well as easy on the eyes. If you were going to sleep with the enemy, they were the ones you’d most easily justify doing it with …

  20. James
    October 14th, 2009 at 11:35 | #20

    My personal term for holders of the mindset in question is “Adullamite”.

    From Cornford’s Microcosmographia Academica:
    “The Adullamites are dangerous, because they know what they want; and that is, all the money there is going. They inhabit a series of caves near Downing Street. The say to one another, ‘If you will scratch my back, I will scratch yours; and if you won’t, I will scratch your face.’ It will be seen that these cave-dwellers are not refined, like classical men. That is why they succeed in getting all the money there is going.”

    Substitute Capitol Hill, Wall Street, or Parliament House for Downing Street as required.

  21. October 14th, 2009 at 12:30 | #21

    Do you think it is appropriate to link people to LaRouche on the grounds that they have some over-lapping beliefs. For example, if a person agrees with the LaRouchites about having a national bank, does that necessarily mean they also should be associated with the LaRouchites?

  22. Fran Barlow
    October 14th, 2009 at 13:33 | #22

    @John Humphreys

    if a person agrees with the LaRouchites about having a national bank, does that necessarily mean they also should be associated with the LaRouchites

    Not at all, unless their rationale is the same, or they pitch it at the same crowd or they share other LaRouche positions on the same grounds they do.

    One may be right for the wrong reasons — some Americans, for example, object to action to mitigate anthropogenic climate change but favour cutting down on oil use so as to reduce imports of “foreign” and especially “Arab” oil so as to strengthen America’s ability to act as it pleases in trade and diplomatic matters. Even Obama has given a half-nod to this position.

  23. nanks
    October 14th, 2009 at 13:41 | #23

    how is evolutionary psychology linked to the right?

  24. Michael of Summer Hill
    October 14th, 2009 at 13:54 | #24

    John Humphries, fringe groups that claim Global Warming is one big conspiracy are just a sandwich short of a picnic for it is not evidence based and pure fiction. And as far as I know, LaRouchites just like to distort the truth without having developed an economic concept let alone a unified economic theory.

  25. Freelander
    October 14th, 2009 at 14:12 | #25

    It is interesting that these people would swallow the La
    Rouche stuff because frequently La Rouche attacks the Mont Pelerin Society but even then what he has to say is rubbish. Some of his Australian foot soldiers are regularly on the ground in the Melbourne CBD, amongst other things, trying to convince people that Australia is currently in the midst of a hyper-inflation rivaling the one that hit Germany last century. I asked them, if that’s true where is the evidence? Where are the people being paid twice a day and taking their pay home in wheel-barrows? Show me the twice daily or more price changes in shops. It is amazing the nonsense one can spout and still manage to attract devotees.

  26. October 14th, 2009 at 14:36 | #26

    John H, we group people together on the basis of shared beliefs all the time. Why should we treat the folks who think that Rachel Carson killed 40 million people differently from truthers and birthers?

  27. jquiggin
    October 14th, 2009 at 14:36 | #27

    @John Humphreys “Do you think it is appropriate to link people to LaRouche on the grounds that they have some over-lapping beliefs.”

    No, I think it’s appropriate to link them when it’s clear, as in the case of DDT, that their opinions are derived from LaRouche sources, peddled to them by tobacco hacks. As I mentioned, the case of AGW is one that goes the other way – the LaRouchites get their view from the mainstream right, and amplify the conspiracy component.

  28. October 14th, 2009 at 14:54 | #28

    I note that over at Andrew Norton’s John Humphreys grouped together John Quiggin and Graeme Bird, claiming that hey were both “extremists” about climate science.

  29. Sea-bass
    October 14th, 2009 at 15:21 | #29

    I got into a huge verbal slinging match with one of the LaRouchites on the ANU campus. Interestingly enough, he ended up calling me a fascist becuase of my support for the distinctly classical liberal concepts of economic freedom and individual liberty. I note that LaRouche is a huge fanboy of FDR’s New Deal (as are many neo-cons) and has put forward the idea of nationalising the banks and establishing a new set of international regulations and other restrictions on the market, which to me puts him ideologically alongside people such as Paul Krugman. Indeed, when someone asks me to name a climate change denialist on the left, I would have unhesitatingly said Lyndon LaRouche. His attitude towards free markets is pretty lukewarm at best.

    I think JQ has obfuscated the issue somewhat by using the left-right spectrum. Two of my economics professors come to mind as being supporters of free market policies and associated with the CIS, while still following the scientific consensus on climate change. The Kenyan classical liberal economist James Shikwati has written a lot on agricultural techniques that will reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Even Ron Paul believes in climate change and has proposed several measures to cut emissions and encourage the development of alternative energy, such as drastically reducing the size of the US military presence. “Max Gladwell” is the invention of some very environmentally-minded Ayn Rand worshippers, who no doubt are inspired by John Galt’s invention (from Atlas Shrugged). And Daniel Hannan (UK conservative MP) said something that still resonates very strongly with me, that “we cannot let environmental matters become the exclusive domain of the left”. Just because some choose to take a pro-business approach by choosing to ignore a particularly inconvenient externality, doesn’t mean they all deserve the same condemnation.

    Nonetheless, my reservations about climate change (or more accurately, the policies designed to mitigate it) were awakened when I noticed that many advocates of a planned economy (and you can visit virtually any Marxist or socialist website) are inevitably climate change alarmists. I imagine if you could somehow run a regression analysis on climate change alarmism with the independent variable being degree of support for a planned economy, there would be a near perfect correlation. Of course, around the time of the collapse of communism, most anti-capitalists jumped on board the environmentalist bandwagon, so I think we can be excused for some of our skepticism. Also, some of their irrational Gaia-worshipping Chiken-Little-ism is particularly disconcerting. After wall, why the DDT ban was probably justified, Norman Borlaug faced a hell of a lot of irrational condemnation from green groups in bringing about the “Green Revolution”.

  30. Sea-bass
    October 14th, 2009 at 15:26 | #30

    By the way, I should have added in the post above that I am aware that comparing LaRouche and Paul Krugman in such a way ignores the fact that their opinions differ dramatically in other ways, which should be obvious.

  31. John Fast
    October 14th, 2009 at 15:58 | #31

    You’re all pretty panicked at the public dropping its superstitious fear of global warming, aren’t you?

  32. Michael of Summer Hill
    October 14th, 2009 at 16:04 | #32

    Sea-bass, I am a bit thick and slow these days but can you explain as to why the quality of air in Europe has suddenly improved? Is it due to a natural phenomena, a miracle and/or some factor.

  33. jquiggin
    October 14th, 2009 at 16:16 | #33

    John Fast, the post topic is the mythical ban on DDT. If you’d like your name added to one of the lists above, please say so.

  34. Tim Macknay
    October 14th, 2009 at 16:26 | #34

    I’ve deleted a comment retracted by the commenter. Thanks for doing this voluntarily – JQ

  35. October 14th, 2009 at 16:44 | #35

    Just out of interest, where did the “modern” green movement spring from and what was it’s founding date? I presume, from your comment, you must be able to give precise dates and show why it owed nothing whatsoever to what had come before.

  36. Tim Macknay
    October 14th, 2009 at 17:11 | #36

    I’ve deleted a comment retracted by the commenter. Thanks for doing this voluntarily – JQ

  37. Tim Macknay
    October 14th, 2009 at 17:15 | #37

    I take back the comment about your character, Andrew, which was unwarranted and which I now regret.

    Since the last two comments of mine have contained snark bordering on the hostile, which are probably on the edge of breaching Prof Quiggin’s comments policy, I’ll make no more comments on this thread.

  38. Michael of Summer Hill
    October 14th, 2009 at 17:24 | #38

    Tim Macknay, what is wrong with you? Don’t you know that the Green Movement has influenced the Italian Prime Minister’s conservative views for he loves his greens and cannot go without an extra root or two.

    That’s enough along those lines – JQ

  39. Sea-bass
    October 14th, 2009 at 17:29 | #39

    @Tim Macknay

    “Not content with Climate Change denial and the DDT myth, “sea-bass” invents a new rightwing myth – that environmentalists opposed the green revolution.”

    Yes, I just invented a new right-wing myth – my source for this being the notable propagator of right-wing myths, Wikipedia.

  40. melaleuca
    October 14th, 2009 at 17:39 | #40

    If you want to see a smoking gun, Jen Marohasy, until recently a director with the IPA, routinely features a LaRouchite guest poster. Note how the guest poster links to LaRouche sources, including 21st Century Science, in this post http://www.jennifermarohasy.com/blog/archives/002176.html

  41. Michael of Summer Hill
    October 14th, 2009 at 18:09 | #41

    Sorry John, I promise to be good. But to answer Andrew Reynolds question, the concerns of modern-day Greens which took shape during the 1960s is not too dissimilar from those held by the early trade unionists. This was vindicated in the 1842 Chadwick Report on Sanitary Conditions and others detailing the effects of pollution and rampant diseases upon the working class in England.

  42. John Fast
    October 14th, 2009 at 18:31 | #42

    John Quiggan bloggers

    Since you have no intention of making a useful comment, and can’t even spell my name when it’s printed in front of you, I think we can do without your contributions, JF. Consider yourself permanently banned. Don’t let the swinging doors hit you on the way out

  43. gerard
    October 14th, 2009 at 19:03 | #43

    I accidentally posted on the other thread, but there used to be this online “newspaper” (back nearly ten years ago before all these blogs came out) called The New Australian that was always banging on about the “genocide” caused by the Green movement’s supposed banning of DDT. it was a few years ago now does anyone remember it, or knows who ran it? I googled it today and it seemed to have vanished.

  44. gerard
    October 14th, 2009 at 19:05 | #44

    by the way, thank you personally John for your stepping up to the plate in putting that hoax to rest.

  45. October 14th, 2009 at 19:14 | #45

    [email protected]#13 October 14th, 2009 at 10:24

    Jack, I would have thought you would be a bit more cautious about the advance of genomic science by now. I’ve lost count of the number of hypothetical genes for particular human behaviours (e.g “helper” genes for homosexuality) and claimed discoveries of actual genes for such behavior (eg the “God gene” a while back) that have been loudly announced then quietly forgotten.

    Pr Q, I am sorry to derail the discussion too much from the subject of Right-wing delusionism, which I agree is the more pressing problem at the moment. But the general problem of intellectual delusionism still remains and afflicts both sides of politics. It must be addressed or else we will be condemned to ideological Ground Hog day on Culture, History and Science Wars.

    In any case its a little more fun and profit than ritualistic denunciations of soft targets like Milroy or Bolt. You might want to step up into a more competitive league.

    I am second to no one in my “caution about advances in genomic science”, you’ll get no talk from me on specific genes for IQ or EQ just yet. The conservative anthropologists I correspond with are not invested in “just-so” stories about evolutionary history or publicity hound “discoverers” of special behavioural genes (such as God gene or gay gene). The “Old Adam” Right has spent quite a bit of time demolishing such nonsense from both the “Blank Slate” Centre and the “Noble Savage” Left.

    Evo-psychos are cop-out wimps who do not represent mainstream the anthropological science of human bio-diversity, as typified by figures such as Jensen, Eysenck, Gottfriedson, Sailer, Cochran, Lahn, Risch and Edwards. Although some results from evo-psycho in relation to gender do confirm the Cultural Right’s long-held prejudices (patriarchy is inevitable).

    Its true that some “ultra-Darwinists” have taken the genetic paradigm way beyond reason. Intellectuals such as Dennet and Darwin have made absurd claims for the all-encompassing theoretical efficacy of Darwinian theory. Very ably mocked and criticised by both Gould and Stove. But, guess what, these folk tend to be drawn from the Left-liberal part of the ideological spectrum. I don’t see why the Darwinian Right should be tarred with their brush.

    Pr Q says:

    And now that the political right have had a free go at some of the problems you’ve mentioned, such as those of indigenous communities, they are discovering that the reason the left-liberals didn’t do so well is that these are in fact highly intractable problems that don’t admit an easy solution.

    The successful reception of the Intervention represents an admission of colossal failure for the “indigenous self-determination” faction Left-liberalism, equivalent in its own way to the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Under the Left-liberal regime we were heading in the wrong direction – exacerbating, rather than ameliorating, the anomic tendencies ever-present in the post-modern era. I should add that the problem here is the “liberal”, rather than “Left”, side of this hyphenate.

    Undoubtedly “the political Right” will have its hands full restoring law and order in the administration of remote indigenous communities. Although some of these “intractable problems” are most likely grounded in unmentionable and explosive area of race. I see zero evidence that Left-liberals are willing to even acknowledge, let alone deal with, this gorilla squatting in the living room.

    Under a more “corporal” regime (whether Left- or Right-wing in ideological complexion) we can at least stop the rot and start to rebuild ravaged social structures. I know about these problems first hand from the people who originally dealt with them, the “Outside Man” in New Guinea, missionaries, much maligned Aboriginal Protection officers etc. Nothing new under that sun etc

    Pr Q says:

    It’s true that, at various times, some on the left (fans of New Soviet Man, extreme social constructionists) have made silly claims implying that cultural behavior is infinitely malleable. But such claims are pretty marginal these days.

    This looks to me like a discreet back-pedal coming from the man who not so long ago rubbished the rubbisher of the Blank Slate. “Extreme social constructionism” is not “pretty marginal these days”. It is still the conventional wisdom, so far as the intersection of policy and the academy is concerned. Try to find a hint of biological realism in such areas such as family law, immigration, education, financial regulation and you will quickly get marching orders.

    Only in health policy is the social constructivist dogma about race being questioned. Here the lives of people of color are at stake, so there is less tolerance for lies here.

    Pr Q says:

    The state of the science on what can be crudely called the nature-nurture question is that both play a role, but, for most outcomes of political/social/cultural interest, we still don’t know very much about which is more important or how they interact. That is, I think, the standard left-liberal view these days

    I have to admire the audacity of a Left-liberal claiming ownership of the “nature-nurture” position this late in the game. Unfortunately the existence of internet archives makes such bluffs rather easy to call.

    To correctly state the case: the “standard Left-liberal view…of the nature-nurture question…these days” is that “race is a biologically meaningless” social construct. A view recently affirmed by the author of this blog.

    I challenge Pr Q to name one prominent Left-liberal who has come out as a race or gender realists over the past generation. The only ones I can recall who took this position that were James Watson and Larry Summers. And we know what happened to them.

    In recent times the virus of social constructivism has tended to infect the Right. Most conspicuously on the part of GW Bush whose policies on invading Iraq, immigrating Hispanic labour and indebting the minority housing market are premised on such monumental ignorance.

    More generally, Right-liberal intellectuals have fallen over themselves to second the Left-liberal social constructivist consensus. You can see this every other day in the columns of the New York Times where house conservative David Brooks tries to wriggle and squirm his way out of the implications of the anthropological realism.

    Pr Q says:

    and it looks a lot more robust than the opposing position which has been such a failure as to need regular renaming (hereditarianism, sociobiology, Evolutionary Psychology, lower case evolutionary psychology and so on …).

    Again applause is warranted for this cheeky ideological bait and switch. The correct term for the scientific study of man is anthropology. But what passes for “anthropology” in the 20th C was long since ruined by frauds and fools like Boas and Mead.

    The “opposing position” to liberal social constructivism is now socio-biological realism. Back in the real world this unexceptional nature-nurture “hybrid” position has been doggedly laid out by the Cultural Right, despite a continual rain of calumny from the Left. Murray, Sailer are all anthropological “hybridists” – why else would they get exercised by “family values”?

    The reason for the periodic renaming the “nature” position has nothing to do with it being “such a failure” on an intellectual level. The HGP and Cavalli-Sforza’s principle components analysis more or less fits Billy Hughes classification of mankind. Not much good news here for Left-liberal social constructivists here, which is why the more prominent among them are calling for a ban on such research.

    The periodic renaming of the “nature” position has occurred because cultural conservatives in the academy have been “on the run”, desperate to avoid political persecution owing to the systematic delusionism and dishonesty in academia on this subject. Largely perpetrated by Cultural Left-liberals under the guise of politically correct “cultural sensitivity”.

    This is a shameful state of affairs and its way past time that Left-liberals started owing up to their ideological knavery and intellectual folly in this department of knowledge. This is why Cultural Rightists get a little impatient with Cultural Leftists talking at length about delusionism. Pot calling kettle etc.

    This issue has major political implications. The Centre-Left still faces a massive road block to implementing its policy program until it deals with “the cultural question”. In late 2007 Pr Q proclaimed, on the eve of victories by Rudd and Obama, suggested it was time for “mopping up operations in the Culture War”. A little while later he wondered which parties would fill “the hole in the political landscape”.

    Unfortunately the answers to these questions have not been music to Left-liberal ears. In the US the Culture War still rages, largely as sub-text to the Who-Whom of health care reform. And in the EU it turns out that parties like the BNP, rather than the Greens, are filling the hole in the political landscape. This is a moment when the Left should be cleaning up.

    These issues hinge on the kind of questions that, guess what, have been ruled as out of court by Left-liberal anthropological delusionists. We have been here before. The “nationalities question” long vexed social-democrats. So at some stage there is going to have to be a showdown at the OK Corrall because “this town ain’t big enough for the two of us…”

  46. John Fast
    October 14th, 2009 at 19:17 | #46

    It’s called censorship, John.

    Oh dear, not another whining rightwinger who doesn’t understand property rights. Read the comments policy, then go away

  47. robert
    October 14th, 2009 at 19:25 | #47

    gerard :
    I accidentally posted on the other thread, but there used to be this online “newspaper” (back nearly ten years ago before all these blogs came out) called The New Australian that was always banging on about the “genocide” caused by the Green movement’s supposed banning of DDT. it was a few years ago now does anyone remember it, or knows who ran it? I googled it today and it seemed to have vanished.

    I won’t swear to this, but I think that the man who produced THE NEW AUSTRALIAN was named Gerald Jackson. There seems to be something similar (perhaps run by the same person, I don’t know) called BROOKESNEWS (http://www.brookesnews.com/).

  48. jquiggin
    October 14th, 2009 at 19:40 | #48

    @Jack Strocchi

    This looks to me like a discreet back-pedal coming from the man who not so long ago rubbished the rubbisher of the Blank Slate.

    On the contrary, I’m repeating the point I made in my critique of Pinker, that the Blank Slate is a strawman caricature of a position (almost) nobody actually holds. It’s the mirror image of the caricatured “biology is destiny” position that is commonly used on the opposite side of the debate to set up their opponents. I spelt all this out in my review – maybe you should reread it.

  49. nanks
    October 14th, 2009 at 20:19 | #49

    There is a large literature on behavioural genetics – I don’t think Pinker is seen as a significant contributor. Certainly not when I was doing my PhD developing statistical methods for analysisng brain function that could be used in genetics studies. That was a while ago now though – perhaps he has become more significant in the field in the last decade – it’s not an area I’ve kept up in. It seems to me John that you are using the same strawman strategy – by attaching Pinker circa The Blank State to people who are workng in the fields of evolutionary psych / behavioural genetics.

  50. jquiggin
    October 14th, 2009 at 20:51 | #50

    Nanks, I may have been unfair to lower case evolutionary psychology, which seems to be aimed at making a break from the Cosmides/Tooby/Pinker version of Ev Psych on which, I think, Jack is relying for the suggestion that science has refuted the views of the left.

    Obviously there is room for a sensible and realistic research program in this area, but my advice would be to avoid the term evolutionary psychology, as having been irreversibly tied to the kind of program put forward by Pinker.

  51. Stephen L
    October 14th, 2009 at 22:09 | #51

    I think the infection of the Right with the La Rouche created DDT myth goes further than you may realise John. A couple of years ago I had a conversation with someone who is now a Liberal Senator where he was trotting out these lines. Not so surprising, except that the individual in question is certainly one of the most intelligent, honourable and honest MPs the Liberals have (which is why I’m not mentioning his name), although admittedly that bar is pretty low at the moment.

    He didn’t buy the genocide stuff, but was seriously telling me that millions had died because environmentalists had got African governments to give up DDT. I hadn’t read your and Tim’s demolition at that stage, but I pointed out that resistance might be a more likely explanation. Another individual noted how improbable it was, given the lack of sympathy these governments had shown to more substantial Green concerns, such as deforestation. Nevertheless, he was adamant: environmental opposition to DDT had persuaded governments to drop it for no good reason and the consequences were disastrous. He didn’t think it was a conspiracy, just people not seeing the bigger picture.

    If that’s one of the Libs’ best and brightest, I hate to think what most of the others think.

  52. Michael of Summer Hill
    October 14th, 2009 at 23:00 | #52

    Stephen L, DDT is one bad chemical which should not be on the market. But having said that, recently Bangladesh researchers discovered a new antibiotic, Tigecycline, which has shown promise in fighting malaria and may eventually supplement traditional antimalarials drugs such as artemisinin in combating multidrug-resistant malaria. Tigecycline belongs to a new class of antibiotics which seems to be effective against bacteria that develops resistance to the common antibiotic tetracycline. If true, then it is a step in the wright direction.

  53. October 14th, 2009 at 23:35 | #53

    Michael, malaria is not caused by bacteria but by a protozoan parasite.

  54. Timothy
    October 15th, 2009 at 05:54 | #54

    Wow, I’m just amazed that the LaRouchies are active so far away and at this late date. I thought they were US-only crazies.

  55. Michael of Summer Hill
    October 15th, 2009 at 07:19 | #55

    No dispute there Tim Lambert, maybe I was thinking about Guido Favia work.

  56. Dave McRae
    October 15th, 2009 at 08:32 | #56

    I’m floored that myths, and average ones at that, can have a life of their own more so than the actual facts – but thanks JQ for posting this, and to others here for their sensible comments. (Good reasoning StephenL)

    (I got little to add, but just on another thing, one of Tim Lambert’s scienceblog colleagues has created a very blunt yet hopefully unambiguous demonstration of those property rights mentioned to a JF poster above – http://getyourownmotherfuckingblogasshole.wordpress.com/ – (funny stuff, but if this is dealt with already feel free to scrub this comment)

  57. Michael of Summer Hill
    October 15th, 2009 at 08:56 | #57

    Tim Lambert, if I am correct the fight against malaria is moving down the path of symbiotic bacteria whereby the internal bacteria living within the blood-sucking mosquitoes is genetically altered. Earlier this year Johns Hopkins researchers treated mosquitoes with antibiotics to kill the gut bacteria and the results looks promising for treated mosquitoes were more susceptible to infection by Plasmodium when feeding on infected blood compared to mosquitoes that were not treated with antibiotics.

  58. October 15th, 2009 at 12:11 | #58

    Tigecycline is proving to work against malaria, even though it was developed as a replacement to tetracycline to combat MRSA. I am not sure why this is the case, but it is not through action in the mosquito – it acts directly on the patient.
    Looks like a possible triumph for big pharma – Wyeth (the developers) are one of the biggest and are about to merge with Pfizer.
    If this works the last allowable use of DDT may not be necessary.

  59. Michael of Summer Hill
    October 15th, 2009 at 13:23 | #59

    Andrew Reynolds, where scientists previously thought they could eradicate malaria by killing off the vector mosquito using insecticides (which have since become resistant), the current thinking is to genetically modify them in such a way that they can still live but cannot sustain the cycle of the parasite within them. As for Tigecycline, my understanding is that the drug will be used as a supplement to artemisinin in combating multidrug-resistant malaria.

  60. October 15th, 2009 at 13:46 | #60

    When dealing with this sort of thing generally the only way (short of a magic bullet) is to attack on all front at the same time. The malaria parasite has proved to be a very tricky beast.

  61. Michael of Summer Hill
    October 15th, 2009 at 13:56 | #61

    Andrew Reynolds, that is precisely the reason for changing course 180 degrees.

  62. October 15th, 2009 at 14:09 | #62

    [email protected]#48 October 14th, 2009 at 19:40

    On the contrary, I’m repeating the point I made in my critique of Pinker, that the Blank Slate is a strawman caricature of a position (almost) nobody actually holds. It’s the mirror image of the caricatured “biology is destiny” position that is commonly used on the opposite side of the debate to set up their opponents. I spelt all this out in my review – maybe you should reread it.

    Once again I apologise for derailing and hi-jacking a thread. And for the occasional impatience that creeps into my tone. But the question of the ideological distribution of science delusionism is an important one to settle, both for its own sake and for its effect on weightier matters of state.

    The parties contending in the so-called “Culture War” are stale-mated over the question of whether race and gender differences are real. And, if so, is it fair and reasonable to take account of such differences in public policy.

    I am happy to concede that I have unfairly characterised Pr Q’s position on nature-nurture, wrongly caricaturing him as a naive “Blank Slater”. Although I still find this revision hard to reconcile with his support for Steven Rose’s race-denialism. Pr Q alleges that Rose is “right to say that “race” is not a biologically meaningful construct”. There are some heavy-hitter molecular biologists who beg to differ.

    I grant that Pr Q is a member of the class of Left-liberals who are prepared to publicly own a sophisticated nature-nurture (“hybrid”) position. This exclusive club is a very small one indeed, offering membership to only a very select few. It is pretty much identified with the authorship and readership of Slate and Crooked Timber. Left-liberals outside this rarefied atmosphere who are prepared to acknowledge the significance of “nature” in human culture are vanishingly rare.

    Its true that the Leftists have lifted their scientific game on culture over the past decade, under the onslaught of genomic science, failed social experiments and relentless mockery from the satirists, such as Wolfe, Sokal, Lander etc. It could have hardly gotten much worse from its catastrophic state in the mid-nineties.

    Rightists, by unfavorable comparison, have come down with a more virulent case of post-modernism, allowing them to cultivate pet delusions on ecology, “stratergy” and plutology. Which is baffling in some ways. Why would smart, successful people such as Murdoch and the Republican Party deliberately opt for such self-destructive policies in relation to AGW, Iraq, derivatives trading? Melted ice caps will not irrigate green and pleasant lands, brute force does not recruit client states in Arab countries and orgies of speculation and conspicuous consumption do not accumulate wealth.

    But nothing much of substance in my claim about Left-liberal delusionism on “anthropology” hangs on these concessions. This is because the vast and decisive bulk of (Left-liberal) “cultural workers”, who lack Crooked Timber’s intellectual sophistication, are effectively “Blank Slaters” in both word and deed.

    This is not a hostile “set-up” for some Left-liberal to act as fall guy. Again, I repeat my challenge to Pr Q: name one prominent Left-liberal who had publicly identified “natural” differences in race and gender as a significant factor in both private behaviour and public policy. And gotten away with it unscathed, either professionally or politically.

    Even this offer is being charitable to a fault. Most Left-liberal “hybridists” will resist drawing obvious conclusions by making repeated tactical withdrawals, hedging with reservations and calling for “more research” and a “campaign of public education”. Occasionally, in Maoist-style episodes of self-criticism and re-education, they will offer their own heads up on a platter to appease the mob baying for their blood. Accompanying the whole exercise with ostentatious bouts of hand-wringing, brow-furrowing and nose-holding at the unsavoury company they are forced to keep.

    This die-hard anthropological skeptic strategy is perfectly encapsulated by Pr Q: he suggests that “for most outcomes of political/social/cultural interest, we still don’t know very much about which [nature-or-nurture] is more important or how they interact”. This is CYA as far as professional practice is concerned but effectively identifies with race and gender reality-deniers in matters of public policy.

    My point about the bi-partisan nature of science delusionism is that anthropological skeptics act in very much the same spirit as ecological skeptics. Both often pose as sophisticated nature-culture “hybridists” to hedge their intellectual bets.

    They usually accompany their outright delusionism about science with substantial lashings of delay-ism and dolittle-ism on policy. ie “we don’t know enough about complex interactions”, “natural factors may be of greater importance”, “lets not make hasty recommendations” etc.

    Perhaps there is a difference between the two schools but it takes a sharp man to spot it.

  63. jquiggin
    October 15th, 2009 at 14:17 | #63

    Jack you are indeed derailing the thread, and your link is not to a “heavy hitting molecular biologist” but to an absurd blog review of a contrarian book by a “prominent author, journalist and corporate consultant ” affiliiated with a notoriously anti-science rightwing thinktank (AEI, home of John Lott and Roger Bate). It took me all of 15 seconds to spot a ludicrous error of reasoning in the review (not sure if it’s in the book, or the reviewer’s own). If that’s the best you can do, or even a representative sample, I think you need to engage in some self-criticism yourself. However, I don’t intend to carry on further debate.

    That’s enough on this topic. No more please, until further notice.

  64. Thomas
    October 16th, 2009 at 04:40 | #64

    Andrew Reynolds, MoSH,

    Tetracycline use against malaria isn’t new. Tetracyclines have been known for a long time to be effective antimalarials, and doxycycline is a standard prophylactic for areas with chloroquine-resistant malaria. According to http://aac.asm.org/cgi/content/abstract/50/9/3124, tetracyclines act on the an organelle called the apicoplast. Like the mitochondrion, this probably evolved from a symbiotic bacterium, and is susceptible to the antibacterial treatment. Tigecycline may be more effective than doxycycline, or it may just be an attempt to get another market for the drug.

  65. Michael of Summer Hill
    October 16th, 2009 at 07:08 | #65

    Thomas, thanks for the above but Tetracycline is not Tigecycline.

  66. Michael of Summer Hill
    October 16th, 2009 at 07:23 | #66

    Thomas, I should have added Glycylcyclines are a new class of antibiotics derived from tetracycline.

  67. Steve
    October 16th, 2009 at 11:41 | #67


    I remember The New Australian. It was run by Gerard Jackson, who is now here:

  68. gerard
    October 16th, 2009 at 13:12 | #68

    bad enough sharing a first name with Hendo

  69. Alice
    October 16th, 2009 at 16:14 | #69


    says who subscribes to Lalarouche land (or is that LaLarouche follies?)

    “Australia: Andrew Bolt, Centre for Independent Studies, Miranda Devine Institute of Public Affairs, Jennifer Marohasy, Christopher Pearson, Ian Plimer, Quadrant”

    Usual bunch of fringe suspects.

  70. Alice
    October 16th, 2009 at 16:16 | #70

    I am sure most of those names are well paid to lie through their back teeth (Maro, Miranda, Plimer, Bolt, etc) and we know IPA and CIS pay piece raters for politicalkly slanted articles from the junior ranks of the liberal party (barracuda training policy – learn to lie before they walk).

  71. October 16th, 2009 at 16:37 | #71

    [email protected]#13 October 15th, 2009 at 14:17

    Jack you are indeed derailing the thread, However, I don’t intend to carry on further debate…That’s enough on this topic. No more please, until further notice.

    Understood and, as a some-time Right-winger, I respect the blog owners proprietorial authority on the matter of managing threads.

    I request permission to raise the subject of the “ideological implications of anthropological dissertations” on more general posts (“weekend reflections” etc) in this blog. Or, to clarify, is the ban on this topic a blog-blanket one UFN?

    I may only be so bold only because of late developments. Over the week-end two high-profile organs, one in elite science the other in popular culture, have signaled an intention to address this issue. This seems germane to two subjects oft-touched on by this blog, namely “the future of the Left” and “the politicization of science”.

    I make no further comment beyond drawing the public’s attention to this and seeking permission to discuss it on other posts.

  72. October 16th, 2009 at 16:51 | #72
  73. gerard
    October 16th, 2009 at 18:24 | #73

    Jack we get the point that you are a big “Bell Curve” fan. here you are obviously hoping that the respectability of the Nature article (about human genetic diversity) will rub off on the trash tabloid article, which is about how one particular Professor of Psychology (with whom you obviously sympathize) is being interviewed on television regarding his views that race determines IQ. nice try.

    it’s quite strange the way you are carrying on as if there is some sort of equivalence between the Right’s denial of climate science and your pet issue of race/gender-determines-intelligence “science”.

    For one thing, the former subject has reached a stage of almost complete academic consensus based on hard physics and chemistry. the latter is not remotely near that stage, our understanding of the human development, intelligence and genetic diversity are all in comparative infancy.

    Secondly, the size of the stakes could hardly be more different. with climate science, the stakes are the future of civilization, whereas when it comes to your favorite hobbyhorse, the highest stakes are the comfort of people like yourself in assuming the general inferiority of blacks and women.

    so it might make you feel better as a Right-winger to pretend that there’s some sort of equivalent level of “denial” going on, but in fact the comparison is a pretty pathetic stretch.

  74. jquiggin
    October 16th, 2009 at 18:34 | #74

    I broadly agree with Gerard, and think his response was justified by Jack’s reopening the topic after I had called for closure on it. Sorry, Jack, but I don’t really feel like having this bunfight again for a while in any of my threads. If you have something genuinely new to say on the topic, email me and I’ll take a look.

  75. johncanb
    October 17th, 2009 at 13:37 | #75

    The head of the malaria department at WHO in 2006 took the view that the campaign against DDT by environmentalists had led to lower use of DDT in malaria control than was appropriate,

    ‘Press Statement by Dr Arata Kochi
    Director of the World Health Organization’s Malaria Department
    September 15th, 2006….
    I asked my staff; I asked malaria experts around the world: “Are we using every possible weapon to fight this disease?” It became apparent that we were not. One powerful weapon against malaria was not being deployed. In a battle to save the lives of nearly one million children ever year – most of them in Africa – the world was reluctant to spray the inside of houses and huts with insecticides;
    especially with a highly effective insecticide known as dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, or “DDT.”’
    Even though indoor spraying with DDT and other insecticides had been remarkably effective preventing malaria sickness and death where used, this strategy seemed to have been abandoned by most countries nearly 30 years ago. By the early 1980s, WHO was no longer actively promoting it……WHO is now recommending the use of indoor spraying not only in epidemic areas but also in areas
    with constant and high malaria transmission, including throughout Africa’.

    I think it is fair to say the reluctance to use DDT did lead to more malaria deaths than would have occurred had DDT been more appropriately used ,but of course nowhere near the many millions the extremists claim.

  76. gerard
  77. jquiggin
    October 17th, 2009 at 17:03 | #77

    Kochi is a political headkicker who (unlike the scientists who had previously headed the malaria department) saw the need to placate the right by presenting a marginal change in policy as a major realignment. Hence this statement.

    As soon as the right forgot about DDT, the long-standing trend towards alternative measures was resumed.


  78. October 17th, 2009 at 17:07 | #78

    Johncanb: you are wrong. See here.

  79. johncanb
    October 17th, 2009 at 20:13 | #79

    John Q and Tim. I don’t know why you two are so absolutist on this issue.
    Kochi’s statement does have some inaccuracies in it, he is a headkicker but he is also a physician and therefore qualified to make judgements in this area about the science. I have read many of the documents and understand that there is significant debate among scientists in the area as to when it is appropriate and cost-effective to use insecticides on housing, and when DDT is best, and when other modalities are better etc. And, although the experts differ, my understanding is there are probably not many situations now where DDT is the most appropriate choice. But I still think the unscientific hysteria on DDT from some (not all) environmentalists in the past 4 decades did inappropriately reduce the use of insecticides and DDT in malaria control. The use of DDT in malaria control should have been a scientific decision based on the costs and benefits to human health and the environment, but in some cases the decision was affected by unscientific DDT hysteria, and that is a problem. You, Tim and John Q quite rightly condemn the right wing unscientific hysteria that has reared its head on this issue and climate change etc. Can’t you concede that left wing unscientific hysteria on this issue was also wrong and caused damage. Only a small amount of damage it turns out, but a more scientific policy would have saved some lives.

  80. Michael of Summer Hill
    October 17th, 2009 at 20:52 | #80

    Johncanb, there is good reason for Tim and JQ to rightly condemn the right wing unscientific hysteria for DDT is one of a “Dirty Dozen” chemicals banned by a U.N. 2001 Convention and the only reason DDT is currently being used is because exemptions have been granted in many developing nations.

  81. johncanb
    October 17th, 2009 at 22:07 | #81

    If you read what I said, I was agreeing with Tim and JQ that we should condemn the right wing unscientific hysteria for DDT (and other things), because that unscientific hysteria has led to wrong thinking and practice. But that means we should also condemn leftwing unscientific hysteria because that also causes damage. DDT was totally demonised , so it became difficult to have a rational debate about the circumstances in which DDT might be beneficial in net terms.

  82. jquiggin
    October 18th, 2009 at 07:27 | #82

    @johncanb I agree that DDT became the symbol of a whole lot of debates about pesticides and environmentalism in general, with the result that strong positions were taken both for and against. Undoubtedly this had some effect in discouraging the use of DDT in circumstances when it might have been a good option. As events since the Kochi statement have shown, those circumstances were not very common, and the use of DDT was never abandoned, so the net effect was probably small.

    But nothing here changes the fact that the entire political right swallowed a lunatic genocide theory cooked up by LaRouchites and the tobacco lobby, and managed to sell it with some success. It’s unsurprising that they are so desperate not to abandon it.

  83. October 18th, 2009 at 09:22 | #83

    I have my own concerns about the Citizens Electoral Council and have, on quite a few occasions, engaged in long heated arguments with one CEC member on Online Opinion against the CEC’s bizarre beliefs in favour of higher population and immigration (which, actually, are not that different to the beliefs of the Murdoch Press to whose tune the Federal and state governments have been dancing to for years). An example is to be found here.

    Although I am far from uncritical of the British Royal Family I also have trouble with CEC’s view that they are at the centre of most of what is wrong with the world today and their labelling of Prince Phillip and Prince Charles as genocidal and racist for their sensible advocacy of population stability.

    Nevertheless, I think the CEC also has a lot of worthwhile ideas, particularly in regard to our banking system, which is a ridiculous and needless scam that is the essential cause of nearly every economic crisis for at least the last 300 years.

    If we abolished the whole stupid private banking system tomorrow and simply allowed Governments, instead of privat banks, to create the money we need to exchange goods and services, our society would be immeasurably better off (although we we would still have a lot of serious environmental problems to deal with).

    I also take exception to condemning a group such as the CEC for holding “the usual conspiracy theories”.

    Surely, it is obvious that the whole process by which all our governments consistently act against the public interest has to be the result a vast and ongoing conspiracy against the public, that is, unless people seriously believe that the Queensland Government’s decisions, as examples, to flog of $15 billion worth of publicly owned assests against the wishes of over 84% of the Queensland public or to forcibly amalgamate local governments just dropped out of the sky.

    There are a good deal of views about critical issues that the mainstream media and the supposedly alternative media avoid discussing simply by labelling those views ‘conspiracy theories’, the most obvious being the false flag terrorist attacks of 11 September, which remain, to this day, the principle justification for the wars in which we have been engaged since then, and the removal of many of our guarnatees of human rights and democratic freedoms.

    How anyone can seriously believe that 9/11 was launched from Afghanistan when, after 8 years of military occupation, not one person with a proven link to 9/11 has been captured, is beyond me.

  84. October 18th, 2009 at 09:49 | #84

    RE: the above list. The label “right-wing”/conservative applies only to the CIS and IPA, but not to Cato – an anti-war pro-drug legalization libertarian think-tank, and therefore outside the traditional spectrum.

    In any case, what’s really “stupid” is to believe in the capacity of a parasitical organisation (i.e. government) to make a positive contribution to society. That is by definition impossible. JQ your intense religious faith in politicians and bureaucrats is as naive as you claim your opponents are. But that’s OK, I’d be pro-government too if my means of making a living consisted of looting the taxpayers through academic grants and employment.

    The last sentence is a straightforward violation of the comments policy (read it if you haven’t already). I’ll forgo the easy tu quoque, and offer you the chance to make an unqualified retraction and apology. Otherwise, you can take your business elsewhere.

  85. Michael of Summer Hill
    October 18th, 2009 at 10:45 | #85

    No Sukrit, JQ is only telling the ‘truth’ which Libertarians don’t want to hear that Governments take up the slack when markets fail. That is called making a positive contribution.

  86. gerard
    October 18th, 2009 at 11:40 | #86

    In any case, what’s really “stupid” is to believe in the capacity of a parasitical organisation (i.e. government) to make a positive contribution to society.

    Like 6000-odd years of civilization?

    Which is not to say that the hunter-gathering society has nothing going for it.

  87. Alice
    October 18th, 2009 at 11:47 | #87

    Sukrit – I dont see any intense religious faith in politicians and bureacrats in JQ at all (evidence??).
    I do see, however, an intense religious hatred for politicians and bureacrats in you.

  88. Fran Barlow
    October 18th, 2009 at 13:52 | #88


    I do see, however, an intense religious hatred for politicians and bureaucrats in you.

    You are mistaken Alice. Sukrit shows no personal hatred of politicians and bureaucrats here. What he hates is the idea of politicians and bureaucrats, because these are, for him, connected with the concept of the res publica of public policy. The very idea of collaboration is for him offensive. Thus what he really hates are not humans per se but the usages of collective humanity in general. This misanthropic anomie is both a reflection of his politics and a reinforcing element.

    I often wonder what drives people to have such fear of others. One day I feel sure I will find out, but what is salient is to see it when it appears in arguments over public policy.


  89. Michael of Summer Hill
    October 18th, 2009 at 16:52 | #89

    Fran Barlow, Sukrit & his Libertarian mates has been brainwashed for they don’t believe in universal health care.

  90. October 18th, 2009 at 18:41 | #90

    Johncanb, I am puzzled why you claim that I am absolutist on this issue. Let me post the letter from Schapira that I have posted on my blog before. Schapira knows more about the issue than Kochi.

    Nature 432, 439 (25 November 2004);

    DDT still has a role in the fight against malaria

    Sir — Your News story about the Roll Back Malaria campaign (“Struggling to make an impact” Nature 430, 935; 2004) quotes me as claiming that pressure from government and other donors made spraying difficult to push through politically. I am also quoted as saying: “We have had very, very strong lobbying over DDT. We have had to give up.” The quotations give the impression that the World Health Organization (WHO) has given up on DDT under the pressure of lobbying. I believe this is misleading.

    When interviewed, I explained that we sometimes had to give up trying to convince a specific donor to financially support indoor spraying with DDT, if they flatly refused because of its perceived toxicity and ecological hazard. This has occasionally occurred in countries where the government wished to use DDT, and there was evidence that it was the best option for malaria-vector control.

    However, in general terms, the WHO has never given up in its efforts to ensure access to DDT where it is needed. At meetings of the intergovernmental negotiation committee on the Stockholm Convention—which seeks to control the spread of persistent organic pollutants—the WHO has successfully defended the right of countries to use DDT for disease-vector control, if no suitable alternative can be found. The WHO also supports worldwide efforts to develop alternative products and phase in alternative control strategies (link).

    The Stockholm Convention came into force in May this year. Its exemption allowing restricted and controlled use of DDT according to WHO guidelines is a good example of appropriate international regulation on a difficult dilemma. It is not a compromise but a solution, which ensures that disease-control programmes maintain access to a useful product, while fully respecting the need to prevent environmental damage from persistent organic pollutants, such as DDT.

    Allan Schapira
    Strategy and Policy Team,
    Roll Back Malaria Department,
    World Health Organization,

    And let me state again that the reason why DDT is still useful at all against malaria is because of the restrictions on its use.

  91. johncanb
    October 18th, 2009 at 19:21 | #91

    Tim. In saying you were absolutist, I was specifically referring to your statement
    ‘You are wrong’ in post 28, which was a response to my post, and I took to be you saying my concluding statement (below) was wrong.

    ‘I think it is fair to say the reluctance to use DDT did lead to more malaria deaths than would have occurred had DDT been more appropriately used ,but of course nowhere near the many millions the extremists claim’.

    Your statement from Schapira supports my statement.
    I think there is a tendency in debate to say the right wing nongs are wrong in every way, whereas I think it is more productive to concede that they get the occasional thing right. And with Kochi, his media release contains errors which is bad, and he was trying to curry favour with the Republicans in the US, but I think
    his blunderbuss approach did succeed in changing somewhat the paradigmns in malaria control thinking so that people were more prepared to consider all the options. It had the unfortunate side-effect of initially giving succour to the loony right, but I actually think that impact has finished now.
    And I should apologise for not making clear in the first post (which I did in the second) that I consider some of Kochi’s statements in the media release to be factually incorrect.

  92. October 18th, 2009 at 19:21 | #92

    So – if I do not believe in the use of the force of government to imprison others to pay for the costs of my own health care then I have been brainwashed?
    What a wonderfully morally absolute world you live in.

  93. Michael of Summer Hill
    October 18th, 2009 at 19:53 | #93

    Andrew Reynolds, in Australia we are lucky in having a universal health care system when you compare it to the failed US system. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 47 million Americans, or 20 percent of the population under the age of 65 do not have health insurance and miss out on much needed medical attention. If that is the system you prefer God help us all.

  94. Fran Barlow
    October 18th, 2009 at 20:51 | #94

    Why should Andrew’s opinion, flawed as it is, demand divine intervention? If his opinion demands divine intervention we’re in a lot of trouble Mosh, because there is no god …

  95. Alice
    October 18th, 2009 at 20:52 | #95

    @Michael of Summer Hill
    Not only that Mosh but the “failed” privatised version of US healthcare is grossly inefficient and costs more per head than a lot of countries which have a national public health system. It might have been fine in the days when people had real jobs that the employer covered health insurance but what has happened in the US is that many more people have part time and casual jobs (underemployment) hence their health insurance provided by the employer is grossly inadequate. US healthcare has developed into a system for “insiders” and outsiders whereby “insiders” receive everything money can buy but outsiders receive very little. The more advanced medical systems get – the greater the number of people become outsiders as dictated by inurance companies. In other words as Krugman observes, the greater the number of medicaln advances made, the worse the system becomes for many American’s health.

    Its a lopsided inequitable system. In 2001 65% of Americans had full medical coverage but by 2006 it is down to 59%. What about the almost half the population who doesnt have it?

    No one in their right mind could claim the US health system as efficient. McKinsey report noted the additional costs of US health administration in excess of other advanced nations govt insurance costs amounted to 84 billion dollars. The US States health administrative spending amounts to 31% of total health spending compared to less than 17% in Canada which has a government system.

    The US health system is a disaster but the free marketers (funded by insurance companies and drug companies) have run successful denialist campaigns brainwashing people of not so great intyelligence that it would cost them more to have a government system of healthcare. In fact it would cost the whole country less in taxes.

    Liars poker being played by Andy yet again. Ill call your bluff Andy. You dont know what you are talking about (and it should be in your interests to pay less tax when talking about the US health system but no…as usual we get the “why should I pay for someone else’s healthcare patter”).

    Andy if you were an ordinary American taxpayer now – you are actually paying more for insiders healthcare than you would be for all under a public system. Make up your mind. Your ideologies are blatantly clashing. What do you want Andy? User pays healthcare OR lower taxes. You cant have both as the US health system clearly demonstrates.

    Personally Id be wanting the best value for money (Canada’s system, if I was an American). Why do you think people cross the border for it Andy??

  96. Alice
    October 18th, 2009 at 21:00 | #96

    @Fran Barlow
    There has not been a Godly intervention in Andy’s viewpoint Fran…..but there has been an intervention…

  97. Sea-bass
    October 18th, 2009 at 21:31 | #97

    @Michael of Summer Hill
    And how many of those 47 million are young, healthy and/or rich and don’t need to purchase health insurance? Also, I thought Obama recently revised that number downwards so as to not give people the impression that illegal immigrants would be the beneficiaries of free heatlhcare/socialised medicine.

    As for people missing out on healthcare, that’s false. Hospitals are legally obliged to treat people that walk through the doors in need of care – which of course is not the same as them having the means to pay for it. Then again, a lot of people just skip out on their bills.

    I would like a free market health care system, but calling the US system “free market” is a strawman argument.

    I would not describe US healthcare system as “failed”. Given how tightly regulated it is, I’m surprised it does as good a job as it does – but no doubt the recent legislation will further raise premiums and costs. It’s definitely not “free market health care”, since government spending per capita is higher than most developed countries – in fact 60% of costs are paid by the government, which is not much lower than Australia. Their system is 60% socialism, and yet you complain about how free market it is? Unbelievable.

    Given that, I don’t how having completely socialised medicine would make it any cheaper, given the massive price tag attached to Obama’s recent plan. Unless they did what all other countries currently do, which is ration health care.

    Canada’s system is woeful. And I’ve heard plenty of stories of Canadian’s crossing the border to the USA to get far superior care. If I had to have universal coverage, I’d opt for Singapore’s system, where people are forced to save for their own healthcare. At least then they appreciate the costs and don’t go around clogging up the system everytime they get a cold or an upset stomach. Besides, they have probably the most market orientated system, and total costs come in at 4.3% of GDP

    Besides, Andy is thoroughly correct. Why should I pay for someone else’s healthcare? Why should I be responsible for their lifestyle choices? We should stop coddling people who can’t take care of themselves. In fact, we should make THEM pay. We should scrap the Medicare Levy and implement a 20% “fat tax”. That is, if your BMI is above a certain number, you should pay a premium everytime you receive care and further burden society for your selfish lack of self-discipline. Not the most libertarian solution, but if we’re going to have health care as a “right” then we need some responsibilities as well.

    But no, that would never do, because all the liberal lefties would say “oh, but obesity is a social problem – we need to understand each other better” or some garbage.

  98. Michael of Summer Hill
    October 18th, 2009 at 21:41 | #98

    Sea-bass, do some reading.

  99. Ubiquity
    October 18th, 2009 at 21:44 | #99

    It is often the case that unforseen consequence of our actions could turn promising ideas into disastrous events. The 1972 campaign to ban DDT is an example were plans with good intent have gone badly. The campaign warned against the potential for causing cancer, egg shell thining, and other horrific environmental effects……If you recall it was a William Ruckelshaus, the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency who made the ultimate decision to ban DDT in 1972,using his demagogue style.DDT was banned by W.R the EPA administrator who ignored the decision of his own administrative law judge. To quote, Judge Edmund Sweeney, concluded that “DDT is not a carcinogenic hazard to man… DDT is not a mutagenic or teratogenic hazard to man… The use of DDT under the regulations involved here do not have a deleterious effect on freshwater fish, estuarine organisms, wild birds or other wildlife.”

    Another more recent example of this law of unintended consequences is “that government support for ethanol in gasoline have led to “unintended consequences”: a cruel tradeoff of food for fuel that has contributed to a global increase in food prices”.


    Now Alice, Fran and Michael before you start beating up on the Libertarians, consider the effect of the unintended consequences, when a huge entity, with huge corecive influence starts on its well intended path only to lead to disastrous unintended consequences on a massive scale way beyond a single ecosytem or community. No wonder us libertarians are nervous about big government. I might add this dosen’t even take into consideration the huge element of corruption that the state can potentially engage in with other private corporations.

    Perhaps this might give you a little peek into why us libertarians are opposed to massive stimulus packages that have been introduced to counter the GFC. The good intent behind the stimulus package is marred by the desire of our state to cover up the true farce they have made of managing our banking systems on a large scale for fear of the people realising there poor mismanagement and desire for quick political gain.

    and then you’ve got the looney right and the looney left confusing matters even further…

  100. gerard
    October 18th, 2009 at 22:09 | #100

    I would like a free market health care system, but calling the US system “free market” is a strawman argument.

    have you ever seen one in action? I mean, a place where Emergency Rooms were not legally obliged to treat people? I was in an emergency room in China with people lying, groaning and bleeding were being ignored while they desperately waited for some friend or relative to turn up with the cash to pay for admission, one woman with doubled over in pain screaming at her husband for turning up without enough money. It was pretty much the most nauseating scene I ever witnessed. Perhaps if you saw the same thing it might cure you, assuming you are not a complete sociopath.

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