The Relief Report ®


A newsletter covering regulatory reform efforts in Washington and across America, published by The National Center for Public Policy Research

501 Capitol Court, N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20002
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Issue #99 * October 12, 2001 * David A. Ridenour, Editor

Contents:

Martial Arts for Media Watchers: A Review of Steven J. Milloy's Junk Science Judo - Self Defense Against Health Scares and Scams

Time to Repeal the Oxygenate Mandate

 

Martial Arts for Media Watchers: A Review of Steven J. Milloy's Junk Science Judo - Self Defense Against Health Scares and Scams

If you plan on reading another newspaper or watching the nightly news, you need to read Steven J. Milloy's "Junk Science Judo - Self Defense Against Health Scares and Scams."

Milloy's new book is written to enable the reader to debunk the blizzard of phony health scares that fill today's media. This is a quick, easy read in spite of dealing with scientific issues. It won't make you an expert, but it will equip you to tell who is and who isn't.

"Mice aren't little people," observes Milloy, who often displays a sense of humor that pleasantly compliments his string of academic degrees in natural science, biostatistics and law from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Baltimore.

He follows the comment about mice with the revelation that mice used for laboratory experiments aren't even normal mice. They are specially bred to have a higher-than-normal tendency to contract cancer. Milloy also points out that tests of supposed cancer-causing agents on these mice often last the entire natural life-span of the animals - during which as many as half the animals spontaneously develop tumors not related to the tests.

The debunking of past and current phony health scares is a strong element running throughout.

PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls), which were widely used as hydraulic and insulating fluids, were reported in 1975 to cause high incidences of liver tumors in laboratory rats. The ensuing panic reports in the media led to the enactment of a law banning PCBs in 1976 and a health scare that still exists today. The problem, Milloy points out, is that no studies were done to determine the effect of PCBs on humans. Finally, in 1999, the largest-ever study of workers exposed to high doses of PCBs was published, showing no increase in cancer deaths among them. However, the ban and the unfounded health concerns still exist. As Milloy says many times and many ways in this book, "Oh, well. Another law without a scientific basis."

In the "Boycotting Bioassays" chapter, as in others, Milloy offers several common sense rules that media reporters often overlook in their work: "Humans Aren't Cancer Time Bombs; Real Cancer Risks Occur in Real People; Poisoning Animals Is Probably Not Science" and "Poisoning May be Toxic." Words to live by.

"Lesson 2: Show Me The Science," offers other pithy rules, such as:

"De Omnibus Dubitantum." Doubt everything.

"The Yoke's on Them." Scientists have to prove they are right, you don't have to prove they are wrong.

"Speculation isn't Science." However, it often is reported as such in the media.

"Anecdotes Aren't Scientific Data." But, they are often reported the same as speculation.

These and dozens more are gems of wisdom, clearly supported by simple analyses and serious documentation.

We suggest you simply pick up a copy of "Junk Science Judo." Take it with you on the train, in the car pool. Regale your companions with its nuggets of wisdom and hard facts that contradict accepted myths. Enjoy the debates that are sure to ensue.

This is not a book to be used by weenies.

(Note: A longer version of this review appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times on October 9, 2001.)

by Tom Randall

Time to Repeal the Oxygenate Mandate

Mandates for oxygenates and other components of reformulated gasoline have resulted in numerous, specialized blends of gasoline being required for many areas across the country. This means when a refinery or pipeline goes down, the gasoline it supplies cannot be replaced with alternatives from other parts of the country. Inventories run short. Wholesalers and retailers bid up prices in an attempt to avoid running out. Consumer prices soar.

It doesn't need to happen.

According to the National Research Council: Ethanol in gasoline does not improve air quality. In fact, ethanol increases emissions of oxides of nitrogen. It also increases emissions of volatile organic compounds.

So, just why do we have an oxygenate requirement -- essentially an ethanol requirement since the other oxygenate, MTBE, pollutes ground water so badly it has been banned by many states?

The requirement to use ethanol in gasoline is a boon for its producers, such as Archer Daniels Midland, which receive a 54-cent per gallon subsidy from our tax dollars. Although there is little evidence that this subsidy raises the price of the corn from which ethanol is produced, many corn growers believe it does. And as many on Capitol Hill have said, time and again, agriculture represents many votes for many congressmen and senators.

The oxygenate mandate should be repealed.

There are promising new products from farm products on the horizon - the very near horizon. The authoritative automotive industry publication Wards Engine and Vehicle Technology Update reports in its August 1 edition that a revolutionary new motor oil has been developed. It is made from oil seeds, such as canola. In the near future it will be possible to make it from soybeans, which, fortunately, are grown by most corn producers.

According to Wards, this new motor oil is superior to the petroleum-based variety in virtually every way, including the fact that it reduces vehicle emissions dramatically. Unlike ethanol, this oil actually cleans the air. Yet, unlike ethanol, it is competitive in the marketplace without a subsidy of our tax dollars.

Tests are continuing to confirm what industry experts call amazing results with the new bio-oil. However, with up to three years of successful use in approximately 35 U.S. Postal Service vehicles in the Midwest, expectations are high.

Imagine if the 54-cent ethanol subsidy, which amounts to billions of dollars, was directed instead toward another round of tax cuts.

(For more information, see National Policy Analysis #356: New Bio Oil Grown by American Farmers Offers Benefits to Farmers, Consumers and the Environment at http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA256.html )

by Tom Randall



Editorial correspondence to The Relief Report should be directed to: The National Center for Public Policy Research * 501 Capitol Court, N.E. * Washington, D.C. 20002 * (202) 543-4110 * Fax (202) 543-5975 * E-mail [email protected] * Web http://www.nationalcenter.org. Copyright 2001, The National Center for Public Policy Research. Coverage of meetings, activities or statements in the Relief Report does not imply endorsement by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints of material in the Relief Report permitted provided source is credited. To receive National Center newsletters free by e-mail, visit http://www.nationalcenter.org/Subscriptions.html.


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The National Center for Public Policy Research
501 Capitol Court, N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20002
(202) 543-4110
Fax (202) 543-5975
E-Mail: [email protected]

Web: www.nationalcenter.org