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Your handy free guide to science-based alarmism past and present

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Here’s an interesting piece on science-based alarmism, from Pajamas Media:

Take the alarm over mercury in fish: in 2004, an Environmental Protection Agency employee warned that 630,000 babies per year were born at risk of brain and nervous system damage due to “unsafe” levels of mercury in their mothers’ blood. Expectant mothers were discouraged from eating fish.

Japan consumes a lot of fish, and the supposedly unsafe levels cited by the EPA are exceeded by 74% of women of childbearing age there. Yet there is no evidence that their children are mentally deficient. In fact, only benefits have been reported from high levels of fish consumption, including good brain function and improved intelligence at age four.

The alarming forecast of harm from mercury in fish was derived by extrapolating known bad effects from high doses of mercury to incorrectly predict toxic effects from even very low levels — without bothering to check for evidence. This poorly founded forecast resulted in mothers and their children avoiding a healthy food, to their detriment.

– Dr. Kesten C. Green and Tom Harris, “Past Alarmism and the Future of Manmade Global Warming”August 28, 2011

Many other  pseudo-crises on offer in the combox.

Note this also,

When people learn more about an issue, the persuasion formula that initially worked so well for alarmists breaks down. People become less persuaded by appeals to trust the authorities, less susceptible to fear, less willing to accept emotional appeals from celebrities, less gullible. Trends in polls show that this is already happening with the global warming scare.

Ironically, in any real disaster, panic is the worst threat. So even if it were true, you’d be poorly advised to panic.

It may be happening with Darwinism too. How many people really believe that Darwin skepticism damages the future of science?

How many Darwin skeptics were there when the United States put a man on the moon? Or world health authorities eradicated wild smallpox? Real science is about evidence, not about suspension of disbelief; the latter the province of fantasy literature. Oh wait, we’re talking Darwin here, aren’t we? Evolution As It Didn’t Happen.

Old Chicken Little cartoon:

Hat tip: Five Feet of Fury

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"News"'s posts are frequently anti-science with limited or no relevance to ID. I'm not sure why. Prof. FX Gumby
Are you forgetting that most of the studies revealing that even low-level mercury exposure threatens normal development of the fetus came as a resullt of the 1950s case of women in Minimata, Japan who gave birth to children with severe birth defects because of mercury-tainted fish in their diets? The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) estimates that over 60,000 US children are born each year at risk for life-long problems because of dangerous blood levels of mercury in their mothers (Mercury in the Environment, on-line factsheet; www.usgs.gov/themes/factsheet/146-00) Young children may suffer from cognitive, motor or immunological problems that are difficult to diagnose until mercury exposure is considered, and are only now being addressed by research. Some recent studies indicate that men with elevated mercury levels may suffer more heart attacks. Animal studies suggest that low-level mercury exposure produces autoimmune diseases and other immune system anomalies (N. Shute, Heavy Metal Fish, U.S. News & World Report, March 17, 2003). Is this site anti-evolution or just anti-science? Clyde_Colirrufo

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