Ed Darrell has been working his way through Steve Milloy’s 100 things about DDT. See if you can spot what Milloy did in number 10. Here’s Milloy:

[Rachel Carson wrote] “Quail into whose diet DDT was introduced throughout the breeding season survived and even produced normal numbers of fertile eggs. But few of the eggs hatched.” DeWitt’s 1956 article (in Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry) actually yielded a very different conclusion. Quail were fed 200 parts per million of DDT in all of their food throughout the breeding season. DeWitt reports that 80% of their eggs hatched, compared with the “control” birds which hatched 83.9% of their eggs.

And here’s the full quote from Carson:

quail into whose diet DDT was introduced throughout the breeding season survived and even produced normal numbers of fertile eggs. But few of the eggs hatched. “Many embryos appeared to develop normally during the early stages of incubation, but died during the hatching period,” Dr. DeWitt said. Of those that did hatch, more than half died within 5 days.

And here’s DeWitt’s abstract:

Egg production, fertility, and hatchability were relatively unaffected by inclusion of insecticides in diets fed breeding quail, but chicks from these matings showed high mortality rates even when reared on insecticide-free diets.

Go read Ed Darrell for the answer and more detail.


  1. #1 Jason Failes
    November 9, 2007

    Um, maybe instead of trying to change the studies to fit your beliefs, Steve, you could change your beliefs to fit he studies. It’s just easier in the long run, you know, to stay anchored to reality like that.

  2. #2 Sock Puppet of the Great Satan
    November 9, 2007

    How in the name of Jesus did Milloy pull that out of the article?

    From the Results section of the full 1955 DeWitt article:

    “Adult pheasants and quail succumbed
    to the effects of DDT poisoning when fed
    diets containing 0.02570 of the compound
    (Table I), and no reproduction occurred
    in these groups.

    No ill effects were observed
    in quail which were fed diets
    containing 0.020% DDT throughout the
    breeding season of 154 days. Body
    weights remained normal, and the number
    of eggs per hen equaled that of some
    of the control birds (Table 11). The
    percentage of fertile eggs was slightly
    higher than in the control groups, but
    the difference was not significant.

    Hatchability of fertile eggs was appreciably
    below that of eggs from the control
    group. and the difference approached
    significance (P = 0.08). Many embryos
    appeared to develop normally
    during the early stages of incubation,
    but died during the hatching period.
    Mortality among chicks from this group
    was extremely high, and more than 50%
    died within the first 5 days after hatching.

    I’d like to say I’m surprised, but I’m not.

  3. #3 Thom
    November 9, 2007

    Milloy can’t seem to get anything right–even the results from his own studies.

    From his press release on his Demand Debate survey: “Fifty-four IPCC scientists completed the survey, including
    several of the most prominent global warming alarmists and several IPCC lead authors.”

    However, reporting on the same survey for his column at Fox News: “By month’s end, I had received responses from a surprising 95 scientists.”

    54? 95? Eh….what’s the difference?

  4. #4 Thom
    November 9, 2007

    Wait. I read the Fox News column more carefully. Milloy actually writes there as well that 54 completed the survey. Why he needed to add in the factoid about the 95 that responded, I don’t know.

    At first blush, I thought he was screwing up his facts, but now I see that he’s just a sloppy, confused writer.

  5. #5 QrazyQat
    November 9, 2007

    he’s just a sloppy, confused writer.

    That’s perhaps the most basic eligibility requirement for wingnut welfare.

  6. #6 Eli Rabett
    November 9, 2007

    OK, 54 completed the survey, 95-54=41 told him to take it and shove it. RBTL

  7. #7 dhogaza
    November 9, 2007

    he’s just a sloppy, confused writer.

    No, not at all. He knows *exactly* what he’s doing. He knows that most people won’t check his “sources”, are largely ignorant of science, are easily impressed with big words and “science-iy” sounding narrative.

    So, no, he’s not just sloppy, not just confused.

    He’s evil.

  8. #8 Ed Darrell
    November 10, 2007

    I have written to Fox News asking them to check it out and take action. The claim was posted on their website in 2002. While Milloy has referred to the claim virtually every time he writes about DDT (once a month or so), I’ll wager they’ll call it water under the bridge.

    This is the sort of stuff that gets Jason Blair fired from the New York Times, Janet Cook fired from the Washington Post, and even the appearance of such wrongdoing that gets Dan Rather into hot water with CBS. But Fox News?

    The tinfoil-hat right-wing bloggers are right: The MSM are different from right wingnut bloggers. MSM have ethics, and practice them.

  9. #9 pough
    November 10, 2007

    I think Eli has it right. Just because 95 responded doesn’t mean they all took the survey. That was how I read it, anyway.

  10. #10 Sortition
    November 10, 2007

    Off topic, but an important part of the AGW mitigation policy debate we manage not to have on Deltoid: George Monbiot claims bio-fuels are a disaster.

  11. #11 windy
    November 11, 2007

    More off topic: I haven’t seen Fred Pearce’s New Scientist article on DDT discussed at Scienceblogs. Any comments?

  12. #12 Tim Lambert
    November 11, 2007

    It’s the usual Rachel Carson killed millions crap.

  13. #13 windy
    November 11, 2007

    I figured as much, I was just interested in why New Scientist would publish it… but perhaps I shouldn’t be so surprised.

  14. #14 Marion Delgado
    November 11, 2007


    I tend to agree with Monbiot, but he’s hardly a mainstream figure with a mainstream outlook on issues.

    Moreover, it’s sloppy to say “biofuels are a disaster” – you can’t even – quite – make the overly general case that “nuclear power is a disaster,” although that one is much closer to plausible. But given that even the cleanest safest nuclear technology we have or foresee very soon is close to a disaster, even with generations of favoritism ranging from military spending, proliferation, multibillion-dollar subsidies, and so on, it’s very likely that, for given nuclear power ‘solution’ A, A is a disaster. Doesn’t mean it will always be one. Pebble-bed reactors are not the Chernobyl reactor. Etc.

    That biofuels in the US and other countries have been pushed and developed in a disastrous way is one thing. Clearly, the scientific issues involved have had to take a back seat to (capitalist) economics and political issues

    But what’s disastrous about, for instance, those algae that can grow biodiesel oils in even salt water?

    Let me make an analogy: I often hear, similarly, that “hydrogen is a fraud.” No, it’s not. My thermal and stat prof devoted our 2nd semester almost entirely to fuel cells and hydrogen technology, bless his heart, and the curve of efficiency in development was very encouraging for hydrogen and other fuel cells. The fact that idiots are fraudulently claiming hydrogen is, in essence, an energy source, when it will more often operate as a transport (and often grossly inferior to normal transformed power lines), is not the fault of the technology, but again, of politicians and cult economists. One of my closest friends, at the time, cofounded an alternative energy institute in Alaska, one that was decent at getting funding (which he was gifted at).

    I was appalled at the time because there was a lot of energy voodoo around – both the HAARP alarmists and senator ted stevens (truck/tubes/internet idiot) thought you could derive enormous, perhaps unlimited, power from the ionosphere using sophisticated computer arrays and cooker antennas like at HAARP and HIPAS. The alternative energy institute in question was claiming hydrogen – as an energy source – was a “scientific” alternative (to the even more voodoo ideas currently floating around).

    My friends and I were vigorously dismissive of this, but our friend argued that credentialed scientists agreed with them, so there. (Recall this is the same set that produced climate denier Akasofu). Still, I never said hydrogen was a fraud, that would have been hubris. I just pointed out that you need energy, usually, to produce hydrogen.

    I think energy science and technology questions should be separated from political and economic questions. There are inherent energy issues with ethanol, there are issues of high compression engines with biodiesel as a transportation fuel. There are tremendous issues of adapting to low-efficiency bio-energy production. But there are also political and economic issues.

  15. #15 stewart
    November 11, 2007

    I think Monbiot’s point was similar to yours, Marion. Biofuels may be an important wedge in the future, but the current choices for biofuels are primarily a means to squeeze subsidies from government, more or less (perhaps with an exception from Brazil, I don’t know their economics). The NY Times, however, has an article on the next generation of biofuel technology, using waste cellulose mass, which may be more reasonable.
    Of course, this is vastly off-topic.
    I’m sure I saw discussion of the Fred Pearce article on Scienceblogs, but can’t find it now.

  16. #16 Dave Rado
    November 11, 2007

    Windy wrote re. a New Scientist misinformation article: “I figured as much, I was just interested in why New Scientist would publish it… but perhaps I shouldn’t be so surprised.”

    I’m surprised – does the NS have a track record of publishing misinformation?

  17. #17 Jc
    November 12, 2007


    The real real issue is producing cheap and abundant energy that motors industrial civilization. Now get your head around that one and tell us bio is a cheap alternative.

    What’s that?

    You can’t?


    Ignore the NYTimes piece. Ask them to come back to us not when some lab scientist has been able to produce a split seconds worth of power by some new way. Ask them to come back when that scientist has found a cheap altnerative. Biofuels are a crock and will remain so.

    All these subsidies are doing is raising the cost of food production. That is money better used as savings that helps develop new technology. Another word for technology or capital investment is savings.

  18. #18 windy
    November 12, 2007

    I’m surprised – does the NS have a track record of publishing misinformation?

    At least some physicists think there’s a problem. On the other hand, they were one of the few popular science mags to get junk DNA right.

  19. #19 Sortition
    November 12, 2007

    > I think energy science and technology questions should be separated from political and economic questions.

    I don’t know that this can or should be done. For one thing, science is a political activity.

    But at least here on ScienceBlogs, we should be discussing the science of sustainable energy production and other means of AGW mitigation. Why are we still stuck in the Gore vs. The Denialists phase of the discussion?

    If our host picked this issue up and started posting about it, we could be having a much more productive discussion. Tim?

  20. #20 z
    November 16, 2007

    95 scientists, 98% brandishing, it’s all in the 90s you know.

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