Monday, November 21, 2011

Global Warming and Consensus

"We use the archetypes," says Pulitzer winner Tom French. "We can't let the archetypes use us." 
As a cautionary tale, he cites the reporting on the dangers of silicone breast implants to the health of women. Study after study confirms the medical safety of this procedure. Yet the culture refuses to accept it. Why? French wonders if it may arise from the archetype that vanity should be punished, or that evil corporations are willing to profit by poisoning women's bodies. 
Use archetypes. Don't let them use you.  (...From poynter online 50 writing tips, tip 10)

CBS news has exposed a global warming scandal according to yesterday's Calgary Sun, July 2, 2009. It seems that two Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) experts have been suppressed from saying that the EPA is rushing, unwisely, into declaring that carbon dioxide is a pollutant. (CO2) Columnist Lorrie Goldstein is comparing Obama to Bush and saying that had Bush tried to pull this stunt the media would have noticed, big time.

Writes Goldstien, "Carlin said EPA officials wanted to rush through their decision on carbon dioxide, adding while regulatory decisions normally take a year or two, this one took mere weeks and EPA staff had only four and a half days to respond to a draft report on the decision."

I realize some people will excuse the EPA for being unethical because of the nation's current emotional claim that "CO2 is causing global warming," a claim "they say" a "consensus of scientists" believe in. I am not "some people." You can't be a "tiny bit pregnant" or a "tiny bit unethical." Ethics matter. Consensus is no excuse; the angels are not self-evidently on the side of consensus. It was less than a year ago that a "consensus of experts" would have said there would never be a global recession, surely not one led by the good old U.S. of A. (And if the U.S.was so irresponsible then surely Americans would never compound their leadership dishonor by adding insult to their world injury with a "buy America" policy, a policy that, here at home, stabs the Free Trade Agreement.)

It was in the 1990's that the media and "everybody" knew that silicon breast implants caused ill health. Such was the consensus, a consensus tested in court. It was only after Dow Corning lost a settlement case, and therefore went bankrupt, (with lost jobs) that the first ever science study was conducted. Results disagreed with the "consensus." Each subsequent study also cleared Dow. Too late. The villain here was not the EPA but the FDA. They got jittery from the consensus and therefore banned breast implants not because they were unsafe but because, with only 90 days to respond, the corporations could not prove they were safe. Today? The consensus is gone, the ban overturned. Too late. (see Risk by Canadian Dan Gardner, 2008, with a 2009 afterword on the global economic crisis.)

It was in medicine that a young Michael Crichton, with whom I am angry, got his start. I wonder what he thought of the implant hysteria? Lots of people are angry at him.

Sean Crawford
feeling stabbed
North of Montana
Calgary AB
Footnote: The November 24, 2014 edition of The Globe and Mail, "Canada's national newspaper," contains a story on a young hero who defied consensus, and received an award at the White House from President John Kennedy. She has also received a letter of honour in 2010 from President Barack Obama, which she keeps next to her 100th birthday message from the Queen.

Frances Kelsey, a young Canadian then working at the Food and Drug Administration, withstood the ongoing pressure from the drug companies, and the consensus in Europe and Canada. Because she stood against the consensus until there was more science, the U.S was spared the scourge of thalidomide. (You may recall the line in Billy Joel's hit song We didn't Start the Fire, "children of thalidomide."

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