Doug: Remarkable Women

This just in………….

This beautiful (and very clever morphing), with music by Yo Yo Ma. 500 Years of Female Portraits in Western Art

Music: Bach’s Sarabande from Suite for Solo Cello No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007 performed by Yo-Yo Ma
Nominated as Most Creative Video 2nd Annual YouTube Awards

This just in from a colleague.

A Review of Edith Efron’s The Apocalyptics

In 1984, while doing my dissertation research in toxicology, I received a complimentary copy of the first edition of Edith Efron’s impressive tome, The Apocalyptics. Since then, it has become quite worn and “supplemented” with so much highlighting, underlining, and notes in the margins of almost every page, that I recently ordered a copy of the most recent edition for my office, to have it on hand against the unlikely event that a co-worker ever shows an interest.

Edith Efron was a journalist, not a scientist. In what she described as “an intellectual detective story”, she compiled a mountain of historical facts that told the seldom acknowledged story of how “apocalyptic” environmentalism evolved from the scientifically bankrupt assumptions of a few ambitious doomsayers to become the governmental behemoth that, for good and ill, still shapes society, today.

Even though politics has always played a much more important role than science ever did in the development of environmental policy, Efron displayed an understanding of the relevant science which impressed many luminaries in the scientific community, at the time, ranging from Frederick Oehme, then President of the Society of Toxicology, to the world-renowned Bruce Ames, professor at UC Berkeley and member of the National Academy of Sciences. Director A.M. Weinburg of Oak Ridge, who had coined the term “trans-science” 12 years earlier, described Efron’s book as “a profoundly important challenge to the environmental movement”, noting that “If Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring’ is the ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ of environmental cancer, then Edith Efron’s ‘The Apocalyptics’ is its ‘J’Accuse'”.

(The Apocalyptics lacks the sentimental charm and poetic alarm of ‘Silent Spring’, but it has the advantage of being far more accurate, both scientifically and historically.)

Professor Shimkin of the University of California at San Diego called The Apocalyptics “a monumental investigation”, adding what turned out to be the overly optimistic hope that “responsible toxicologists, cancer specialists and regulators will derive the lessons to be learned from Efron’s inquiry.” After working in this field for some 25 years, now, I understand why Dr. Shimkin’s hope was unrealistic, but I am still deeply disappointed that his hope remains, for the most part, unrealized.

If, regardless of what the ideologues of your chosen political party would have you believe, you are among that small minority of people who actually want to understand both the difference between science fiction and science fact in environmentalism, and the process by which the former came to masquerade as the latter in public policy, then this book is for you.

(Incidentally, for those who mistakenly think it should matter, I am a lifelong democrat. However, I am a scientist first, and always will be.)

Finally, don’t be put off by the age of the first edition. As a veteran government toxicologist, I can assure you that nothing in this book is “dated.” Today, the forces of error that were exposed in Efron’s original masterpiece have only become more powerful. And, the general public has been effectively trained to dismiss out of hand any “politically incorrect” science as nothing more than industry propaganda. The first time I read this book, the irony of its Orwellian publication date (1984) didn’t dawn on me. Now, almost 27 years later, that irony is painfully obvious.


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1 Response to Doug: Remarkable Women

  1. Doug,
    Hopefully the presentation above made it clear that the above piece on Edith Efron’s book was from your friend, but whenever possible if you could include the name of the person writing the material I do like to attribute whenever I post anything.


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