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Silent Spring at 50: The False Crises of Rachel Carson Hardcover – September 16, 2012

2.9 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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About the Author

Roger E. Meiners is chairman of the department of economics at the University of Texas at Arlington and a senior fellow at the Property & Environment Research Center, Bozeman, MT. Pierre Desrochers is associate professor of geography at the University of Toronto and senior research fellow at the Center for the History of Political Economy at Duke University. Andrew P. Morriss is professor of law and business at the University of Alabama and a senior fellow at the Property & Environment Research Center, Bozeman, MT.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Cato Institute (September 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1937184994
  • ISBN-13: 978-1937184995
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #365,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Right from the beginning, I think anyone reading this should note that any scientific work will suffer somewhat from scrutiny 50 years after the original work was done. It is the nature of science to continuously improve and investigate and as new and better equipment and tests are created, a certain amount of information will become stale and dated. With that said, it should also be noted that Silent Spring has held up quite well to this scrutiny a half a century later.

The authors, almost none of whom are scientists, pick and chose which subjects to investigate and they use methods that would be laughed from the real scientific community. Let's take Carson's words on cancer. She predicted that cancer cases would increase with the increasing use of synthetic chemicals. The authors, for some reason, chose to examine cancer deaths rather than cancer cases, which is like comparing apples and bananas. Treatment of numerous cancers has improved markedly since the book was written. Just because the death rates haven't increased, or have decreased, does not mean the number of cases hasn't. In addition, the death rates from the cancers most likely to be caused by chemical exposure are beginning to increase considerably and in the people (age wise) who would have been the most exposed. These include liver, pancreatic and lymphoma cancers.

Ironically, the authors took her to task for not pointing out the link between cigarettes and cancer. However, that really was not the point of the book…it was to warn about synthetic chemical use in the environment so why would Carson have addressed cigarettes. If we follow that logic, she also failed to link asbestos to cancer and the link was known then too. In addition, it was way outside her field of expertise.
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Format: Hardcover
What was even the purpose of this book? The authors say that "Silent Spring" was never properly criticized, so now it is time for them to do so. That in itself is an erroneous statement. Anyone alive at the time remembers that the book and the author were dragged over the grill of public, media, scientific, political, and industry criticism until the day of her death. What on earth could have been left out at the time?

The authors say, "Despite her reputation as a careful writer widely praised for building her arguments on science and facts, Carson’s best-seller contained significant errors and sins of omission."

A "sin of omission" is by definition an omission that someone is aware of. Obviously if there was an omission, Carson wasn't aware of it: that wasn't her style. So there were no "sins" committed in writing her book.

They accuse her of "deliberate ignorance." Anyone who knows anything at all about Rachel Carson would bite their tongue before accusing her of unethical behavior of any kind, much less "deliberate ignorance." It's a simple insult leveled by simple people.

They continue: " Much of what was presented as certainty then was slanted, and today we know much of it is simply wrong."

"Slanted" is certainly an opinion. Many held that opinion. Many others did not. But an investigation to uncover the fact that things that were known 50 years before are "simply wrong" today is not a very productive use of these gentlemen's time. Much of what ANY scientist knew 50 years ago is known to be wrong today. Not, in other words, a heart-stopping statement. (And anyway, "much" is quite an exaggeration).
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Format: Hardcover
Too bad the authors did not have the courage, compassion, and vision of Rachel Carson. They appear to be shills (cloaked in university degrees) for the powerful and profitable chemical and pesticide industries. They did not change the course of history for the greater good as did the remarkable Rachel Carson.
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Format: Hardcover
It's clear that with the new generation of food production----GMO, cross breeds, and moving the production further and further away from the public and putting the smaller farmers out of business....and the USDA really being useless--no doubt in the pocket of the big meat corps and agriculture groups, that this book would disclaim the work of Rachel Carson.
I've even read where one company plans on injecting pesticides inside the plant/fruit so that it won't hurt the environment------what about the people eating the food?
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Format: Kindle Edition
Clearly these non-scientific BUT oh so clever individuals have not read the scientific Silent Summer. Try it.... it clearly updates and, unfortunately, confirms Ms Carsons earlier findings.

PS it does NOT compare apples & oranges - which will be a sore point for anyone who likes their opinions unhampered by facts.
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Format: Hardcover
It's useful to realize that this book is published by the Cato Institute, whose founders include the politically active Koch brothers who run Koch Industries. Koch Industries would have to pay estimated billions if We the People charged for dumping carbon emissions in the atmosphere, or more closely regulated chemical emissions. As is, they lobby tirelessly to continue the free usage of the public commons such as air and water, and to deny or obfuscate issues about climate change, chemical releases, etc.

The premise of this book is off, as it disputes Rachel Carson's precautionary warnings to more rigorously test the health and environmental impacts of synthetic chemicals before they are widely distributed into the environment. The fact is, only a handful (five) of 80,000 synthetic industrial chemicals in use have been banned, and not very many of them have been rigorously tested, as the ex-administrator of the EPA, Lisa Jackson, stated. Recent studies have shown that new babies may already have up to 300 synthetic chemicals in their bodies at birth.

As Naomi Oreskes states in her excellent book "Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming," Rachel Carson is an "American hero" for her work in alerting the public to the harms of indiscriminate chemical dumping. Oreskes also points out that there has been a concerted effort by corporate libertarians to confuse the science around issues that may lead to regulation. Oreskes writes, "In the demonizing of Rachel Carson, free marketeers realized that if you could convince people that an example of successful government regulation wasn't, in fact, successful--that is was actually a mistake--you could strengthen the argument against regulation in general.
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