Nick Matzke finds that Michael Finkel in the National Geographic is guilty of some sloppy reporting:

The article, for once, actually sensitively discusses the issue of DDT use, and notes accurately (for once) that environmental groups and governmental agencies were not and are not opposed to intelligent use of DDT for malaria control. However, it still has one scientist repeating the anti-environmentalist propaganda that a (mythical) DDT ban killed tens of millions of children in malarious countries. This extremely serious claim is completely unsupported by any study as far as I know. See DDT Ban Myth and Putting Myths to Bed.And surprise, surprise, this bogus claim is the one bit of the article that Glenn Reynolds thinks important enough to quote. Ed Darrell has the details.

Finkel seems to have a history of inaccurate reporting — he was fired from the New York Times for inventing details in his stories.

Hat tip to karl.


  1. #1 Paul
    July 20, 2007

    The Royal Society of Chemistry had a recent policy discussion about risk vs. hazard based policies for chemical controls published in their monthly magazine. The author managed to cite DDT as being a shining example of how strict chemical control can lead to problems. This myth has managed to permeate its way right into the mainstream now. I’ve found a weblink for this, here it is:

  2. #2 Dean Morrison
    July 21, 2007

    I’ve just written a (hopefully polite) e-mail to Dr Stephen Lipworth who wrote that to try to put the record straight.

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