a friendly reminder
fake christmas tree?
pick a lane!
fido could teach us
flying over speed humps?
if it involves men...
it's gotta be big
past this gridlock
my scientist
chick flick
the tie is dead
throwing a wrench


My scientist can beat up yours
Sacramento Business Journal
March 27 , 1998

Science is an amazing thing. It can prove just about anything you want it to.

Got some people using scientific findings to trash your image? Something like, "Our science says your gas kills." Well here's a simple solution. Scour the scientific world for studies that show your gas doesn't kill!

This might take some time. You might have to go to other countries to plumb the historic depths of scientific experimentation to get what you need. Or you might find it quickly in your own back yard.

But don't worry. For every cause, institution or politician that has ever spouted off, somebody has conducted a legitimate scientific inquiry that shows their gas is harmless.

After you find just the right scientific study reaffirming that your gas is relatively benign, there is an important next step: Share with the world this important news! And tell why this scientific finding is superior to any others. Your science is right and better because it's more accurate, more extensive, done by actual scientists, paid for by unbiased monks, or all of the above. Get other scientists to say your science is good, and the opposition's science is bad.

Never mind if your science was conducted in laboratories that recorded their findings on cave walls. Those are just niggling details, and you don't need to mention those. Just remember, if it says your gas is harmless, it's just plain good science. Much superior to the so-called science that says your gas does those other things.

This just in from the California Trucking Association: It turns out that breathing diesel exhaust really isn't that bad for you after all.

The association issued a press release recently, declaring with a stack of screaming headlines, "Diesel Exhaust Controversy Over; Australian study unravels state attack on diesel; CTA calls on Governor to investigate OEHHA."

The aforementioned acronym refers to the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. The state office, according to the trucking association, has wrongfully asserted there are ill effects of breathing diesel exhaust.

The particular science being challenged is a draft report by the state, which says that in California, over a lifetime, diesel exhaust in "ambient," or surrounding, air causes up to 60,000 lung cancer deaths.

Well hold on just a minute, says the trucking association. It turns out that on March 6, at an international symposium in Seattle, some very different science came out on the effects of breathing diesel exhaust.

The Australian Environmental Health Services presented a 25-year study, done in cooperation with the Joint Coal Board in an effort to "continuously examine 15,000 coal miners (working and retired) directly exposed to high concentrations of diesel exhaust in underground coal mines."

The study found 30 percent fewer lung cancers among coal mines than in the general population.

But wait. The California study said those breathing diesel fumes have 4-to-1 a higher chance of dying than those who don't.

According to the trucking association's press salvo, the head of the Australian study, when asked about the California study, reportedly said, "As we say in Australia, that's simply frog (bleep)."

Another expert quoted by the trucking association helpfully notes that someone spending 40 years with on-the-job exposure to asbestos is three times as likely to die as someone breathing clean air.

So, he asks, "Is a lifetime occupational exposure to asbestos less risky than breathing ambient air in California? Obviously not."

The trucking association says a new study is needed. The state, it says, is supposed to use "best available science" when listing chemicals as toxic air contaminants. But it used "smoke and mirrors" to identify diesel exhaust as a toxic contaminant, truckers contend.

"If diesel exhaust in highly exposed coal miners does not cause harm, then diesel exhaust in California's ambient air, which comes from the cleanest diesel in the nation, certainly does not kill 2,000 people per million over a lifetime as OEHHA has claimed," says Joel Anderson, executive vice president of the trucking association. "The case of junk science versus CTA is closed."

But it isn't, of course.

The trucking association and its favorite research says the best science proves that breathing diesel exhaust isn't so bad. The state and its favorite research says, yes, it is bad for you, it will cause lung cancer and it will kill you.

So who has the best science? Eventually, it isn't a matter of science at all. It all comes down to who makes the loudest argument.