Friday, August 02, 2002

Mighty Wurlitzer Watch:

I was glancing through the archives of theIndepundit, when I ran across an entry on acrylamide.. you know, that chemical that swedish scientists have been saying might cause cancer? Anyway, in order to prove that Acrylamide is overhyped he linked over to an "expert" on the Fox News website... specifically, this column by Steven Milloy.

I wasn't quite sure who this Milloy character was, but his article seemed hardly convincing. After all, since when do the Swedish scientists that brought this to the attention of the WHO care about EPA guidelines, and since when do reputable commentators use scare quotes around the word "scientist"?

Then I got to the end of the article, and discovered that not only was this guy an "adjunct scholar" at Cato (which too often means "partisan hack"), but he's also the publisher of, which I had earlier encountered as the source of an incredibly dubious "debunking" of the effects of DDT that picked and chose sources that backed up its arguments and conveniently ignored those that didn't. Coupled with a link list that shows a pretty clear agenda (even if the connection to the bought-and-paid-for "scholarship" that Cato usually turns out didn't), we have an "expert" that appears to be no such thing.

Unfortunately, due to the connection between a website with an agenda, a network with an agenda, and a blogger that is either credulous or sympathetic to this agenda, we're left with quotation, argument, and sourcing that's unbelievably suspect, and an indepundit entry that's practically useless for anybody who's trying to figure out whether acrylamide is actually harmful or not.

So my question is this... what's the real deal with acrylamide, and can anybody cite someone that isn't an obvious mouthpiece with an agenda?

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