Effect Measure

Earlier in the month there was a hilarious piece on Fox News (where else?) by hack lawyer turned hack commentator Steven Milloy trying to counter the extremely bad publicity one of his closest friends was getting. This close friend was a chemical, bisphenol A (BPA; see here and here) which just got panned by the Canadian government, the US National Toxicology Program, Walmart, Nalgene (maker of BPA containing water bottles) and even the Washington Post. Here’s Milloy turning away from the scientific evidence and standing on his head, a contortion guaranteed to bring you face to face with an asshole:

The saga has continued since that April 24 column [wherein Milloy pooh-poohs any evidence showing BPA is a hazard]. On April 27, the Washington Post reported in an ominous front-page, above-the-fold article that Congress is getting involved in the BPA controversy because, “Despite more than 100 published studies by government scientists and university laboratories that have raised health concerns about a chemical compound that is central to the multibillion-dollar plastics industry, the Food and Drug Administration has deemed it safe largely because of two studies, both funded by an industry trade group.”

While this 100-to-2 seems like daunting weight-of-the-evidence against BPA, the fact is that the two industry studies were carefully conducted according to FDA-dictated protocols and oversight.

In contrast, the alleged “100 published studies” supposedly raising concerns about BPA are of such dubious scientific validity that the National Toxicology Program had to all but eliminate traditional standards of science to shoehorn them in as any kind of evidence against BPA?s long track record of safety. (Fox News)

There follows the usual strawman arguments about trial lawyers and “activist friendly” politicians, specifically naming Chuck Schumer of New York, the politician most responsible for getting torture ignorant anti-privacy Attorney General Michael Mukasey confirmed. Schumer is no pearl of great value in my book and what he says about BPA is immaterial to me or, for that matter to a developing fetus. The scientific evidence is what it is.

Milloy, the lawyer, is able to do what professional scientists convened by NIH cannot do: discern with certainty the two studies out of 102 that are valid. By no coincidence they are the only two studies that support his position that exposing developing fetuses to levels of BPA that cause adverse consequences in many different experimental systems is nevertheless fine and dandy. He must be a real expert. In what?

He is a junk science expert, advocate of free enterprise and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

“Junk science” is an interesting field of expertise. Does it mean he does junk science expertly? Or does it mean that he has special expertise in critiquing scientific studies across many different special areas to pick out just those that aren’t scientifically valid? I didn’t realize they taught this skill in law school. As for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, they have just published a book claiming that the biggest threat to freedom and democracy is . . . well, you read it:

“The largest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy, and prosperity at the end of the 20th and at the beginning of the 21st century is no longer socialism,” writes Klaus. “It is, instead, the ambitious, arrogant, unscrupulous ideology of environmentalism.” (CEI website)

Wow. Who knew? CEI is funded by big multinationals, including Exxon, Pfizer, General Motors, Philip Morris and Far Right foundations, like Koch and Scaife. CEI believes second hand smoke is no problem, concern over global warming is a fraud, fuel economy standards are a deadly hazard, the FDA over regulates drugs but should be believed when it doesn’t regulate BPA, etc., etc. Gotta keep the patrons happy.

That’s Stephen Milloy, the usual upside down and backwards Fox News bobblehead, a typical CEI wingnut whackjob. He writes truly hilarious stuff. Too bad (for him) it wasn’t his intention.


  1. #1 Chirp
    May 29, 2008


    For added reference…

    With respect to Milloy’s attitude toward the pandemic risk, in December 2006, he blasted a new study published in The Lancet. The research had attempted to estimate the mortality should a 1918-scale pandemic occur today. The study was unlike earlier theoretical models which took a more qualitative approach, making strong assumptions about influenza attack rates and case-fatality rates. Instead, these researchers sought to conduct quantitative analyses based on actual government medical records from the time period. They only looked at countries which had nearly complete vital registration systems for the study period of 1915-23.

    Milloy would have nothing of it, attacking the researchers’ motives and methodology.

    On December 27, 2006, I posted a lengthy critique of Milloy’s specious arguments. Your readers may want to at least skim over that post to get more of a gist of Milloy’s world view.


  2. #2 revere
    May 29, 2008

    Chirp: We’ve had the “pleasure” of discussing Mr. Milloy often here. He is a nutcase. Expect him to show up in the Comment threads. He often does when his name is mentioned (he has alerts for when he is mentioned).

  3. #3 gilmore
    May 29, 2008

    “The largest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy, and prosperity at the end of the 20th and at the beginning of the 21st century is no longer socialism,” writes Klaus. “It is, instead, the ambitious, arrogant, unscrupulous ideology of environmentalism.”

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    I guess terrorism and roadside bombs in Massachusetts are now Number 2. . . Windbag


  4. #4 Ken Clark
    May 30, 2008

    I can’t wait till Bush is out and then mabey, just mabey, the EPA can get back to doing its real job (hate to say it, but it’s going to take a purge of thier upper management) instead of being a mouth piece for Bush friendly industry.

  5. #5 Douglas
    June 1, 2008

    Remember, the EPA was established by Nixon’s administration, assembling federal control over the growing number of agencies set up by the states. Once under control, the money from Big Corp. can buy a little squeezing room to survive the threat of real, grass roots environmentalism. So don’t count on EPA doing much, other than to legitimize those who will continue to ravage, plunder and lay waste our resources…Exxon, Pfizer, Dow, Chevron, The Coal Industry, etc.
    Perhaps the EPA should consider the following, courtesy of:


    # More than half of the electricity in the U.S. today is generated by coal-fired power plants.

    # Demand for electricity in the U.S. has increased by 136 percent since 1970.

    # In the 1999-2000 election cycle, the coal mining industry contributed more than $3.6 million to federal parties and candidates.

    # The U.S. is responsible for 22.3 percent of the world’s coal-related carbon emissions.

    # 52 percent of U.S. energy is powered by coal.

    Time for a change, away from coal, for example.

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