Midweek Cuckoo: Steven Milloy

Steven Milloy runs a website called Junk Science, and writes a column for Foxnews.com, called the same. Steven is, supposedly, a consumer advocate and debunker of junk science. What is junk science, you ask? Well, according to Steven:

“Junk science” is faulty scientific data and analysis used to advance special and, often, hidden agendas.

Interesting, then, that Steven is probably the biggest perpetuator of junk science known to man.

Let’s start by going through a few things that Steven considers to be ‘junk science’, and that he claims are lies told to us by the media, the government and the Big Evil Corporations:

  • Human activity is a major cause of global warming
  • CFCs deplete the ozone layer
  • Secondary smoke causes cancer
  • A low fat diet reduces your risk of heart disease
  • DDT is dangerous to humans
  • Polluted air leads to ill health and respiratory complaints
  • Asbestos inhalation can lead to respiratory disease and cancer

Steven makes an apparently convincing argument, by hiding these supposed ‘junk science’ claims among actual junk science claims. And his site seems, to the untrained eye, to contain a lot of references and be pretty thorough.

But the skeptical observer will notice a few important things – Steven writes for Fox News, and Fox News is essentially the PR division of the Republican party. The issues Steven is ‘debunking’ are all close to the republican party line. And most importantly of all, Milloy has received extensive funding from Phillip Morris (one of the world’s largest tobacco, food and beverage corporations), RJR Tobacco (more tobacco), and Exxon Mobil (oil and gas). These are all corporations that stand to benefit from people believing Steven’s claims. In fact, the content of JunkScience.com, which claims to be an independent site, is actually reviewed, revised and edited by RJR Tobacco. What was that about advancing special and hidden agendas, Mr. Milloy?

Not only is the man paid to have his opinion, Fox News knows he’s paid to have his opinion and they still keep him on the staff. If you ever doubted that Fox News has gone down the rabbit hole of journalistic integrity, now is the time to stop doubting. They employ a pundit who they know to be on the take from corporations, yet they refer to him on their site as a “junk science expert”.

If you need any more evidence that what Steven Milloy claims is ‘debunking’ is purely based on his own vested interests, the man even stooped so low as to use the events of September 11, 2001 as a platform for his punditry. No less than three days after the incident, he wrote a column for Fox News claiming that it was the use of asbestos-free insulation above the 64th floor of the WTC that caused the collapse of the twin towers. It takes a special kind of person to pervert a tragedy like that to his own ends.

He’s even been caught lying in his biography. On his site he claims that he was on the judging panel for the 2004 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Journalism Awards. He’s not listed as one on the AAAS site, and it turns out that he was initially considered, and then dropped like a hot potato when his conflicts of interest were revealed.

So if he’s lied about one of his achievements, how many others could he have lied about? He also claims to have a B.A. in Natural Sciences from the Johns Hopkins University, a Master of Health Sciences in Biostatistics from the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, a Juris Doctorate from the University of Baltimore, and a Master of Laws from the Georgetown University Law Center. Yet here is an example of this man’s ‘science’:

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s prediction for the 2006 hurricane season was about as wrong as wrong can be. NOAA predicted only a 5 percent chance of a below-normal hurricane season – but a below-normal season is precisely what happened. If NOAA’s experts can be so wrong about an imminent hurricane season, why have any confidence in far more complex predictions of climate change 100 years into the future?

Junk science, indeed.

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