Tuesday, June 10, 2008


University of New South Wales computer scientist Tim Lambert, desperately trying to salvage at least some credibility, goes on the offensive:

Since I've been critical of Glenn Reynolds, Tim Blair and Andrew Bolt it's no surprise that all three linked to this post where JF Beck links to lot of his own posts, claims that I've made lots of errors and accuses me of lying. So Reynolds, Blair and Bolt linked to Beck, with Bolt declaring:

JF Beck does something very embarrassing to global warming alarmist Tim Lambert.

It is, of course, Reynolds, Blair and Bolt who should be embarrassed for linking to Beck's post without bothering to check if any of it was true. And Beck's claims fall apart under the slightest bit of examination.

Lambert then proceeds to nit-pick my post, earning high praise from Ken Parish:
Tim Lambert ably defends himself on scientific grounds against a concerted attack by anti-science RWDB “heavyweights”. ... Blair and Bolt might be heavyweights in audience size terms, but in intellectual terms neither of them could power a flashlight globe. Or perhaps it’s more wilful stupidity than lack of capacity.
Let's take a look at the "able defence" from intellectual heavyweight Lambert.

My post cites 24 examples of significant Lambert errors, many of them unacknowledged. Of these 24 errors Lambert questions the validity of only 3.

1. Lambert continues to insist that the word "toady" is abusive. The word itself is not abusive and my use of the word (in commenting at Deltoid) was not abusive. It is childish of Lambert to insist that I abused his commenters – toady might be a bit harsh I'll admit, but his commenters should be able to handle it considering some of the treatment they dish out: toady is no more harsh than "troll', which is regularly applied to any commenter who doesn't toe the Deltoid line.

2. Lambert defends Brent Herbert's supposed "DDT myth" debunking. He does this by attempting to show that I'm wrong about bed bugs' development of DDT resistance. As evidence of my error Lambert cites a 1948 journal article: Johnson, M. S. and Hill, A. J. (1948). Partial resistance of a strain of bed bugs to DDT residuals. Med. News Letter., 12, 26-28. Unfortunately, Lambert neither links to nor quotes from the article so it's impossible to determine the scope and significance of bed bugs' DDT resistance. Hey, maybe I am wrong about the resistance issue, but that doesn't make Herbert's overall DDT writing accurate. Here's the lead to the Herbert post Lambert links to:
Media stories about bed bugs are found to be full of disinformation, which is a sign of either lazy reporters not seeking out enough sources, or a disinformation campaign being launched by the chemical lobby which does not want to be blamed for an environmental disaster, such as a plague of pesticide resistant bed bugs.
As I noted back then:
Contrary to Herbert's claims, the MSM is hardly saturated with pro-DDT articles. A Google News search for "bed bugs" and "DDT" revealed a total of eight articles, with only one being pro-DDT.
Herbert responds:
I have done my own google news search, and found, much to my shocked surprise, that every single pro DDT story has now been pulled off the web. [Beck] reports that he found eight stories. Now only three remain, only one of which is pro-DDT. So I see that people have been busy pulling those stories, since they obviously were embarrassed by my post on Indymedia. Never let it be said that one person cannot make a difference, or that Indymedia does not matter, since apparently it does.
With this from a Herbert commenter:
It is interesting to note that, even though we have a pesticide resistant bed bug on the loose in the country, there are no media stories to be found when one does a search for the news about the pesticide resistant bed bug. You get zero results when you do a news search.

Now one must ask why this is true and one must also ask what this means. Why avoid an obvious angle on the story?

The answer is that the media is itself a large multinational corporation, and the chemical industry is a large corporate interest as well, and so therefore no news can come through to us until it has first been run through a giant corporate sieve. For this reason the media reports that 'no one knows why suddenly we have a spreading plague of bed bugs.' This is strange. Should not someone be asking questions so that we can find out why this is so, for to every question there is an answer.
So these two geniuses immediately assume the "missing" DDT stories were pulled as part of a corporate conspiracy not realising that Google had simply archived the stories. Relying on sources like Herbert does nothing for Lambert's credibility.

3. Lambert disputes my claim that he is wrong about DDT being the WHO's insecticide of choice as of 1994. Here's his original claim:
The fact is that until 1994, DDT was the WHO's insecticide of choice for malaria vector control.
Lambert sources the date to a 1994 journal article by C. F. Curtis, who writes:
The World Health Organization and many malariologists argued strongly that the ban should not be extended to its use against DDT-susceptible malaria vectors. W.H.O. (1984) recommended DDT as the insecticide of choice for such vectors. ... the author considers that DDT should no longer be recommended as the insecticide of choice for malaria vector control.
The journal article is an opinion piece and everything Curtis writes about DDT is questionable because he was a WWF anti-DDT activist. Maybe DDT was still the anti-malaria insecticide of choice as of 1994; if so, Lambert needs to find and link to a primary source proving it.

In his post Lambert also nit-picks me for linking to my own posts in making my points about his errors. I purposely linked to my earlier posts whenever possible because it's standard operating procedure at Deltoid; Lambert habitually self-links because sifting through multiple layers of old posts makes it difficult for his readers to judge the veracity of his claims.

Notwithstanding any errors I might have made in any of my earlier Lambert posts, Lambert has made significant errors he refuses to own up to, none of which he has denied or even commented on. I therefore challenge Lambert to address the following:
  1. Did you not claim that Eritrea's anti-malaria program produced dramatic results by switching away from DDT? Is it not true that Eritrea's DDT use actually increased during the period in question?
  2. Did you not say that malathion was the appropriate insecticide for use in Sri Lanka following the Boxing Day tsunami, when, in fact, it was already known that Sri Lanka's mosquitoes are malathion resistant? (Did you not post and then remove a correction to the post making the erroneous claim? Why did you do that?)
  3. Did you not offer this document as proof that the WHO supports DDT use (within the context of your post) when the document doesn't even mention DDT?
  4. Did you not erroneously claim that the book Fighting the Diseases of Poverty claims that DDT is banned when the book makes no such claim?
  5. Did you not say Tim Flannery never said that melting ice could raise sea level by 80 meters? Didn't you provide as proof a quote that wasn't from Flannery but was represented as such?
  6. Did you not say that USAID supported anti-malaria programs using DDT when USAID was, in fact, under attack for refusing to fund DDT use?
  7. Did you not erroneously claim that Africa Fighting malaria wanted to prevent bed net use?
  8. Did you not erroneously accuse Bjorn Lomborg of claiming DDT is banned?
  9. Did you not say that Rachel Carson never claimed that DDT was developed as part of chemical weapons program when she clearly suggested that it was?
  10. Did you not deem respected journalist Fred Pearce to have written "the usual Rachel Carson killed millions crap" in a New Scientist article that was actually nicely balanced in its treatment of DDT and malaria? (And is this not somewhat nastier than me calling you commenters "toadies"?)
  11. Did you not remove the numbered note from the end of this quote from A DDT FAQ brochure? "WHO recommends indoor residual spraying of DDT for malaria vector control." Why did you do that? Is it reasonable to expect that the WHO promulgates DDT use policy in FAQ brochures?
  12. Did you not claim that DDT did not play a significant role in reducing malaria in South Africa when South African government officials say that it did?
  13. Is it not threatening when an EU official tells Ugandans that only DDT contamination will result in agricultural import bans but adds the caveat that mere DDT use might prompt European consumer groups to boycott Uganda's agricultural produce?
  14. Why do you refuse to post some of my comments?
  15. Why do you flee whenever I try to discuss DDT issues with you?
I'm not holding my breath until Lambert admits to his errors and misrepresentations. I am honoured, however, to join Tim Blair, Andrew Bolt and Glenn Reynolds as a victim of a Lamberting.

Update: The latest installment in the ongoing saga is here.


Anonymous Bob said...

The fact that Lambert has bothered to put up a post about you shows he is starting to feel threatened.

5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What happened to Lambert's threat of ignoring you?

5:53 PM  

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