Sunday, May 20, 2007


Computing lecturer Tim Lambert is nothing if not persistent. He made a complete arse of himself in trying to nail John Berlau (see here and here), eventually admitting he was wrong -- characteristically, the admission is hidden toward the end of an almost 2,000 word post. Undeterred, Lambert has another go.

Lambert objects to Berlau connecting "Silent Spring" author Rachel Carson to malaria deaths:
Two million dying every year in Africa of malaria, a disease proven to be preventable by killing and repelling the mosquitoes that carry it with DDT. DDT wiped out malaria in much of the world, including the southern U.S. Carson vilified DDT based on distortion of facts known even then. For instance, she implied DDT was developed as poison gas, when history shows it was developed to protect our troops in World War II from typhus and malaria.
In responding Lambert pulls no punches:
Berlau is lying. Here's what Carson actually wrote about the development of DDT:
DDT (short for dichloro-diphenyl-trichloro-ethane) was first synthesized by a German Chemist in 1874, but its properties as an insecticide were not discovered until 1939. Almost immediately DDT was hailed as a means of stamping out insect-borne disease and winning the farmers' war against crop destroyers overnight. The discoverer, Paul Muller of Switzerland, won the Nobel Prize.

... one of its first uses was the wartime dusting of many thousands of soldiers, refugees, and prisoners, to combat lice.
Yes, and here's what Carson wrote in chapter three ("Elixers of Death") about synthetic insecticides in general:
For the first time in the history of the world, every human being is now subjected to contact with dangerous chemicals, from the moment of conception until death.


All this has come about because of the sudden rise and prodigious growth of an industry for the production of man-made or synthetic chemicals with insecticidal properties. This industry is a child of the Second World War. In the course of developing agents of chemical warfare, some of the chemicals created in the laboratory were found to be lethal to insects. The discovery did not come by chance: insects were widely used to test chemicals as agents of death for man.
It would have been difficult for anyone reading "Silent Spring" in the 1960s not to make a mental connection between synthetic insecticides (including DDT) and Zyklon-B.

No one should be surprised that Lambert has been caught Lamberting* yet again. Perhaps the powers that be at keep him on as light entertainment.

* Misrepresenting facts.


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