Science and politics

Oct 042008

I was going to bash Paul Driessen’s article about malaria and DDT at Good thing I went back and actually read it first.

I was going to complain about my fellow conservatives who rightly complain about, say, fixing education by throwing money at it, but who then turn around and want to fix malaria by indiscriminantly throwing DDT at it. And that they don’t take into account the issue of mosquito resistance, which can develop faster under indiscriminate spraying.

That would not have been fair to Driessen, who seems not to advocate blanket spraying. Whether he would agree with the Integrated Pest Management people, I don’t know, but he seems not to be one of those who wants to spray mindlessly. And he did mention the issue of resistance.

Normally the thing would be to keep quiet about having jumped to conclusions before reading. But while thinking about a reply, I found a good article in Bug Girls’ Blog that I want to link here for future reference: DDT, Junk Science, and insecticide resistance.

And there’s an item I found several days ago when discussing this issue in another forum. Dreissen’s article said that except on rare occasions, researchers aren’t looking into how mosquito bednets are actually working. I presume this is one of the rare exceptions. (I happen to know one of the researchers on this study.)

Jan 182008

In this article at spiked, Frank Furedi “challenges the moralisation of science, and the transformation of scientific evidence into a new superstitious dogma.”

Or as C.S. Lewis said, you can’t draw conclusions in the imperative from premises in the indicative.

It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I learned that this issue is called the “Is-ought problem.” I found it immensely amusing back then when I learned how you can get around it, “with a degree of cirularity.” (It’s like being a little bit pregnant.)