They are not many, those swindlers who cheat by spreading falsehoods disguised as scientifically proven facts.
There are perhaps not more than several thousands of them, or a few mill1ions at most if we count also those of the tiniest
caliber, but they are noisy and, eagerly supported by the media, they are very well heard everywhere.
There are two categories of scientific swindlers. One category includes all sorts of doomsayers who insist
that something very bad is going to happen if we disregard their warnings. To this category belong those who warn against
the global warming, genetically modified food, cell phones and other electric appliances, pesticides, waste incineration,
mineral fertilizers, atomic power plants and other alleged dangers. It is convenient to call them eco-swindlers because in
their teaching they always refer to the environment. They are a rather new phenomenon, which appeared only about 50 years
ago, together with the growing public awareness of environmental issues.
The second category includes astrologists, dowsers, homeopathic doctors and other kinds of healers. It is
an ancient category. There were always astrologists and all kinds of shamans.
Swindlers of both categories claim that all their teachings have a strong base in physical sciences. This
is their biggest lie, which needs to be opposed very strongly by scientific community.
My purpose is twofold. The first is to argue that all the claims propagated by scientific swindlers have
long ago been disproved by science, although only few people seem to be aware of that fact. My second purpose is to propose
measures which we should take to defend ourselves against the avalanche of falsehoods coming from newspapers, radio and television.
The global warming
The claims that global warming is coming and will have dire consequences to all mankind are based on the
unquestionable facts that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising and that carbon dioxide is able
to warm the atmosphere by preventing infrared radiation to escape into space. These facts are true but the environmentalists
are making the grave error of assuming that carbon dioxide is the most important factor governing the temperature on our planet.
With that assumption, they totally disregard other powerful factors, which were shaping the climate in the past. There is
no reason to assume that these factors ceased to operate.
The history of the planet Earth is divided into periods of glaciations with permanent icecaps in polar regions
and much warmer periods with no permanent ice cover. It follows that some powerful factors were always changing the
climate on Earth.
We are now living in a cold period of glaciation which begun about two million years ago. During that time
there were fluctuations of temperature and of the size of polar icecaps but no evidence was found for a corresponding variation
of carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere.
By accident we are living in one of the warmer periods which is about to end with a new ice age as did similar
periods in the past two million years.
The last ice age ended about 15 thousand years ago when ice cover retreated from Central Europe and Scandinavia.
Since then there was a series of alternating warmer and colder periods. The weather was cold when the Roman empire was collapsing
but later, during the Middle Ages, the climate was warm with vineyards growing in England. Later the weather cooled so much
that the period between 15th and 18h centuriesis known as the Little Ice Age.
It thus appears that it does not make much sense to invoke carbon
dioxide as the most important factor of climate change as do the proponents of global warming. Nevertheless, the environmentalists
were extremely successful in convincing the general public and state administrators in most countries that the threat of global
warming is real, imminent and serious and that nations must undertake urgent actions to decrease the emission of carbon dioxide.
The infamous Kyoto agreement demonstrates the strength of eco-swindlers and the weakness of the scientific community.
The dangers of global warming are now widely believed because
of incessant propaganda in numerous internet papers and in all media. Even the textbooks for all levels of education are infected
with false stories of what will happen if we do not limit the combustion of fossil fuels.
Genetically modified foods
Foods produced from genetically modified plants are being met with heavy opposition
in Europe. The reasons of European opposition are purely political.
There are no scientific reasons for stopping genetic modification of plants or animals.
Cell phones and other electric appliances
The environmentalists claim that electromagnetic radiation emitted
by electric appliances may cause cancers and other diseases. This is a particularly silly claim because billions of people
were exposed to such radiation for many years and no single case of any disease related to electric appliances was ever found.
It is impossible to explain why articles warning about the danger of radiation emitted from electric power lines, cell phones
or TV sets continue to appear in scientific journals. Perhaps it is a case of dishonesty of some scientists.
The pesticides are chemicals used to exterminate crop-damaging
animals and plants. The weed killers are known as herbicides while the insecticides are used to exterminate insects.
The herbicides were never seriously attacked by environmentalists
while strong attacks were directed against many insecticides. For reasons which are difficult to explain without referring
to historical details, the most vehemently opposed is DDT, which is the most efficient and the safest of all insecticides.
DDT was banned after a long campaign involving evidently false claims that it is toxic to humans.
The number of lies related to DDT is truly amazing. Some of
the better known are shown in table 1. It is important to know that all false claims concerning DDT were disproved by scientific
experiments and epidemiological observations.
False claims related to DDT
False: DDT is toxic to
humans and animals
True: During more than 60 years of continous use DDT was never
found to have caused human death or disease
False: DDT brought several bird species to verge of extinction
True: DDT was never a threat to bird populations. On the the contrary, bird populations increased during the most heavy
use of DDT.
False: DDT is carcinogenic
True: It was demonstrated beyond any doubt that DDT is not carcinogenic
False: DDT was the cause
of the epidemics of child paralysis in 1950
True: The most stupid lie ever told
Municipal waste incineration
Very few industrial procedures were opposed with such vehemence
as the incineration of municipal waste. Several years ago the eco-swindlers were able to achieve the closure of many existing
incineration plants and to prevent building of new ones but lately the common sense together with the economics are prevailing
and incineration is becoming the method of choice for getting rid of garbage. However, the environmentalists still insist
that segregation, recycling and composting are more friendly to the environment. They do not accept the fact that nothing
is more friendly then clean combustion which produces only carbon dioxide, water vapor and harmless ash.
One of the most frequent manifestations of chemophobia is the
claim that mineral fertilizers are dangerous to our health and that the only way to grow healthy food is through organic farming,
which permits only the use of manure. It is difficult to understand why animal feces should be more healthy to humans than
the phosphates and nitrates present in mineral fertilizers. Phosphates and, to lesser extent, also nitrates are natural components
of human bodies. It follows that it does not make sense to try to eliminate phosphates and nitrates from our food by abstaining
from the use of mineral fertilizers.
There is nothing intrinsically wrong with organic farming except
for the fact that the high yields necessary to feed the growing population can be achieved only through intensive farming
with heavy application of mineral fertilizers.
Atomic power plants
The heavy opposition against electric power generation in atomic
plants appears to be fading away with growing realization that atomic plants are safer than plants fired with coal because
of the high death rate in coal mines. In addition, electricity from atomic plants is cheaper and its supply is more reliable
than in the case of wind turbines and solar cells. In the past decades, when the fear of radiation prevailed, no new atomic
power plants were built and the demolition of existing ones was considered but this seems to be over now.
The fear of radiation is also decreasing with growing realization
that low radiation doses are harmless or even beneficial to living creatures.
Aggressive and fraudulent advertising persuaded millions of
sick people that homeopathic drugs bring relief or even heal all diseases even when the drug is pure water and nothing more.
The homeopaths developed their trade into a semblance of science and thus increased the confidence of patients who willingly
pay dearly for nothing but false hope. A law is needed which would force homeopaths to provide unequivocal evidence that their
drugs are more effective than placebos.
Dowsing is the procedure of searching for water, oil and lost
persons or things using a rod, pendulum or other devices which by their movements indicate the presence of the sought objects.
Dowsing is a very old trade with millions of ardent believers in the whole world. The facts is, however, that no dowser was
ever able to demonstrate his talents under controlled conditions. The most convincing evidence against dowsing is the fact
that a prize of over one million dollars is offered to anybody who will demonstrate his or her ability to detect underground
water by dowsing and the prize is not yet taken. Other arguments provide the dowsers themselves who claim to be able to detect
underground water or oil by letting pendulums swing over maps. It is an evidence against dowsing because such ridiculous claims
cannot be accepted as true unless we believe in miracles.
Astrology is the study of the positions of stars in the belief
that they affect human fate. It is difficult to understand why astrology is believed by many even now in the era of science.
It would be very easy to show that the stars are not able to tell anything about our affairs but nobody seems to care and
astrological swindle will be with us for many years to come. Astrology is not very harmful but the fact of cheating for money
should not be tolerated.
How to oppose the frauds disguised as science
The scientist are not able to provide successful opposition
because most of them do not care enough to voice their protest whenever they see a publication which is against science and
reason. In addition, even if they wanted to speak up they would have problems with finding an opportunity to publish their
protests because the media prefer to publish scaremongering enunciations rather than cool scientific statements.
To counteract the spread of falsehoods presented in a scientific
disguise we need a better educated society. The scientists should pressure the educators to change the science curricula at
all levels of education by introducing topics related to scientific swindles and insuring that the new topics are taught in
accord with science and reason and not in accord with pseudoscientific beliefs. The changes need not be many but the new topics
should be repeated many times at all levels. Here we should follow the example of eco-swindlers who owe their successes in
convincing the public only to endless repetition of their claims. I propose teaching the following topics
1. The children should learn that DDT is more safe than any
other known insecticide and that it saved many millions people from unnecessary
death of malaria. They should also learn that the ban on DDT deprived
poor people in mosquito-invested countries from the only cheap and effective
weapon against malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
2. The existing curricula include global warming but do not
mention that the slight warming observed recently might be due to other
causes than to carbon dioxide. Children should learn that the climate
on Earth is variable with alternating cold and warm periods.
3. It is necessary to teach children that the electromagnetic
radiation at the wavelength emitted by cell phones or TV sets is not absorbed
by animal tissues and therefore is unable to do any harm.
4. Children must be reminded that genetic modification of plants
and animals is being constantly performed by the nature itself albeit
at a slow rate. Accelerating that process by scientists in their laboratories
is not necessarily harmful. Billions are eating food derived from genetically
modified plants with no harmful effects.
5. Children should be made aware that it would be silly to expect
modern technology, which managed to send Man to the Moon, to be unable
to burn cleanly our garbage. Present incinerators do not pollute the environment
because they produce only water vapor, carbon dioxide and ash.
6. Schools should counteract any claims that nitrates present
in mineral fertilizers are harmful. Everybody should learn than the bacteria
living in human intestines produce about 50 mg of nitrates daily and they
enter our bloodstream. The schools should also teach that organic farming
is unable to feed the number of humans living now on Earth.
7. It is particularly important to dispel the fear which now
surrounds atomic power plants. The curricula should include also the phenomenon
8. Children taught at school the truth about homeopathy would
probably not try to treat their diseases with homeopathic drugs.
9. Dowsing does not do any harm except that it helps to create
a false picture of our world. Schools should invite dowsers to demonstrate
their skills. It is the surest way to convince the kids that dowsing is
10. An interesting challenge to educators would be to design
experiments to disprove the belief that the positions of stars affect
our life. Whole classes should participate in critical analysis of horoscopes
found in daily papers until everybody is convinced that it is silly to
take horoscopes seriously.
The measures proposed here would probably help to lessen the
impact of scaremongers and believers in supernatural phenomena but it will take time until the effects of the new teaching
will become visible.
I am fully aware that the attempts to introduce the new teaching would be
met with a vehement opposition of eco-swindlers and that their protests would be very difficult to overcome but one has to