Silent propaganda

By Joseph Kellard
web posted August 1998

The virtually imperceptible manner by which false ideas are often propagandized was poignantly demonstrated on Bill Maher's ABC talk show Politically Incorrect (1-13-97).

"Recently its come to light," Maher commented to his guests, one of whom was musician/environmentalists Don Henley, "that some of these original books that were written about the environmental problems, like Silent Spring and The Population Bomb, made predictions that didn't come true. They said, basically, we'd be gone by now--and we're not. They said the sky is falling--and [it] didn't. And Paul Erlich said, I think, that that's OK to exaggerate. To basically lie in the service of a good cause."

Environmentalist Paul Ehrlich wrote in his best-selling 1968 book The Population Bomb that, "In the 1970's the world will undergo famines--hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now." His predictions were off by hundreds of millions. Contrary to his predictions, life expectancy has increased sharply, along with world health and productivity in food supplies and natural resources.

"Well, there's a great deal of lying going on on the other side of the question," Don Henley said. "By big oil companies, by chemical companies, by agriculture, by mining companies, and by timber companies. They have spin doctors in Washington, they have PR firms in Washington that they pay hundreds of millions of dollars to make everything OK. So there is lying going on on both sides.''

Observe that Mr.Henley leaves the lies and the liars unnamed. Nonetheless, why do businessmen, like many other people, often seek out special government protections when facing environmentalists? Richard Salsman, an economist at H.C. Wainright & Co., submits that one must "recognize the brute political force wielded by radical environmentalists at taxpayer expense--at the so-called Environmental Protection Agency, at the Department of the Interior, at the National Park services, and on the local zoning boards. These activists are not on the fringe. They wield power over millions of people. Even if the radicals represent only ten percent of the environmental population, they represent one hundred percent of the environmentalists committed to government action, which means, committed to forcing their views on others."

Environmentalism's fundamental purpose is not to preserve a clean 'environment' for man. As evidenced by its fundamental philosophy, environmentalism views man as being outside of, and a cancer on, nature, of which it regards as having value apart from man. It is a pseudo-science that presents half-truths and truths taken out of context as objective facts, which, in reality, are often grossly misleading. Such methods lend themselves to the environmentalists' other tactic: outright lies. They then lobby these misrepresentations and falsehoods, and use government's monopoly on force to enact non-objective laws and regulations (i.e, guilty until proven innocent) which violate or abrogate individual rights, and their corollary, property rights. They impose these laws on others allegedly for man's sake, but really for the alleged 'rights' of the environment. This causes individuals to form into pressure groups that then lobby in order to counter these injustices. Such abuses of and by the state divides its citizens into warring gangs. Thus, the environmental movement is fundamentally committed to arresting the very qualities that are necessary to human life and a cleaner world: property rights, capitalism, industry and technology.

Bill Maher then asked Don Henley, in effect, if lying was justified in fighting lying. Mr.Henley said matter-of-factly that he supposed it was. What they both failed to question is why must environmentalists resort to exaggerations and lies? And what does their sanction of falsehoods breed?

In his book EcoScam, author Ronald Bailey writes that a young woman once told him "...even if the ozone 'crisis' was not so bad, it was all right to exaggerate the situation to get the people's attention. Incredulous, I asked, 'So then your saying it's all right to lie in what you think is a good cause?' With complete earnestness, she replied, 'Yes, sometimes you have to lie in a good cause.'"

If the opposing arguments to one's beliefs are false, one must reveal their fallacies by a logical, objective method--not by lies. The environmentalists, however, offer only a veneer of
using an objective method to oppose others, including businessmen, who challenge their exaggerated claims. To do so would only reveal their fallacious claims, which are also under
an veneer of objectivity.

CNN producer Barbara Pyle doesn't cloak her environmentalist bias: "I switched from being an 'objective reporter' to an advocate ..." Nor does scientist Stephen Schneider:"[W]e [other environmentalists] have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This 'double ethical bind' we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective[in getting loads of media coverage] and being honest."

In his book Science Under Siege, author Michael Fumento writes "Both science writers and the public often suffer from the absurd belief that scientists can have no politics, and that even if they did this would never spill over into their own work.''

Mr.Henley shares this naiveté. "You have to remember," he continued, "that a lot of the scientists who are giving these so-called dire predictions have really nothing to gain. These are academics. Whereas the other side, there is a great deal to gain--in profit."

Observe how bare and undefined 'profit' appears at the end of his comment. What implications are left by it? Profits--like factual discoveries to a scientist--are a businessman's gauge for his achievements, which, in a free market, he obtains through his production and his satisfied, paying customers. Mr.Henley's implication is that a scientists' achievements are free from the inherently corrupting activity of profit-seeking, of 'gain', which businessmen are guilty of. The corollary implication is that all businessmen achieve profit at the expense of 'harming' the environment and others. Scientists, however, are not as innocent as Mr.Henley tried to portrait them.

As Ronald Bailey notes: "Of the scores of scientists I interviewed for this book, I could count on the fingers of one hand the number who did not mention funding and the scarcity of research monies. Lab directors are not only scientists; they are also public relations officers and politicians who must navigate the dark byways of Congress and government agencies in search of the wherewithal to keep their organizations going. Consequently, they feel enormous institutional pressure to hype the work of their laboratories and to tie it to the solution of some looming mediagenic crisis."

Mr.Henley continued: "The environmental problems in this country are well documented...You need look no further than your own backyard to see. If you want to talk about the environment you have to start with population." He then proceeded to quote statistics of the world's population and the average yearly and hourly percentage of worldwide birth rates, without any explanation as to why or to whom population growth is a threat. He simply assumes it to be a self-evident 'problem'. This peephole-narrow view of population is exactly that which Paul Ehrlich's outrageously false claims rested--and fell--on. Despite Ehrlich's apocalyptic falsehoods, his premise nevertheless paved the road for others to travel with their population-growth-is-a-problem claims. Mr.Henley makes none of Ehrlich's outrageous predictions, but Ehrlich's entrenchment of the idea that population growth is a problem thus allows Mr.Henley to make simple, contextless statements, all with the intent of alarming people about populations alleged 'problem.' But, in reality, population growth per se is not a problem.

It is considered a self-evident threat to man and nature because environmentalists often portrait a new individual on Earth as a life-long, parasitic consumer--not as a potential producer. But responsible parenthood involves knowing one can feed and raise a child, and teaching him that adulthood requires the responsibility of becoming a producer, of working to feed himself and his child. Increased population is a potential problem for man primarily when governments stifles freedom, which renders production and technological advances either scarce or non-existent, or when irrational cultural customs cause parents to disregard long-range living.

It's no accident that the freest and therefore the most productive and technologically advanced nations (with expanding resources), are generally the wealthiest and cleanest--with the
most contained populations; while the more statist and therefore the least productive and technologically advanced nations, are generally the poorest and dirtiest--with the largest and fastest growing populations; who in turn rely greatly on the freer nations for survival. As a citizen of Soviet Russia once noted: "We don't recycle to save the environment, we recycle in order to survive." It's only comparatively wealthy countries that can afford labor-, time- and money-wasting environmental programs and regulations. That cannot last.

As Nicholas Eberstadt of Harvard University's Center for population Studies wrote in The True State of the Planet "World population has increased tremendously in our century--more than tripling, it appears, between 1900 and 1990--and it continues to grow...with extraordinary speed... This demographic explosion, however, has not plunged humanity into penury and deprivation. Quite the contrary, the global population boom has coincided with an explosion of health, and of productivity, around the world. On average, the human population today lives longer, eats better, produces more, and consumes more than at any other time in the past."

Bill Maher then continued: 'The problem is that if you lie to people and then they know it's a lie, doesn't that down the road erode [their]credibility?"

"I don't think it's fair to make a blanket generalization that everybody in the environmental movement, so to speak, is lying or exaggerating" Mr.Henley said. "There are scientists at the NASA...Institute who are predicting global warming. There is a consensus among world scientists[my emphasis] that global warming is a reality. The question is when and what's going to happen when it does happen."

This claim is offered as a fact not because it is self-evident, but because a 'consensus' of scientists say it is true.1 Presuming that all scientists are innocent of politicizing their claims, is a claim true simply because a majority of scientists say it is? Everyone once believed that the Earth was flat and stationary, until a very small minority of persecuted astrologers and scientists showed everyone objectively demonstrable facts that it is round and it revolves around the sun. That most people support a belief doesn't mean that in reality it is true. Furthermore, since every scientist now believes that the earth is round, a rational man believes it is true not because every scientist says it is so, but because it is an objectively
demonstrable fact.

As with their other claims, the environmental consensus is wrong on their global warming claims since they disregard certain relevant facts pertaining to them, such as, to name a few, that the computer models that predict 'global warming' sport huge inaccuracies; that volcanic eruptions have far more of a negative effect on ozone than man-mad pollutants; that the Earth's temperature for the past hundred years has varied almost identically with variations of the sun's energy for that time; and that the global climate has been constantly fluctuating for millennia--not just since the Industrial Revolution. Global warming becomes a particularly absurd claim when one considers that during the 1970's the consensus among environmentalists was that the Earth's atmosphere was cooling. Therefore, in less than a mere two decades, the impending threat to the Earth has switched from an Ice Age to a vast desert.

Thus, an objective methodology shows us that the Earth may or may not be warming. What is going to happen if and when it warms? If warming occurs, it will be minor, it will probably be almost entirely due to natural factors, such as volcanoes, and it will probably have a beneficial effect on man, since warming increases Co2's, which in turn increases plant, i.e. food, production.

No, not everyone in the environmental movement is deliberately exaggerating or lying about environmental problems. However, such falsehoods are the inevitable outgrowth of a movement whose science is based on an anti-objective approach toward assessing all relevant data. "It's like apple pie and motherhood--you've got to be for it[environmentalism]", remarked another guest on Mr.Maher's show. Naturally, a cleaner world is beneficial to man, but because environmentalism pollutes our world with false, noxious ideas, it is thereby a threat to man--and nature. By undermining truth, and scapegoating property rights, capitalism, industry and technology as 'the problems', the environmentalists deceive a consensus of people into decrying these assets; the very preconditions necessary for man's survival, health and happiness in a cleaner world.


1 (To find the actual facts on this alleged consensus since this article was first written, see both The Intellectual Activist at; and the Science and Environmental Policy Project at

Joseph Kellard is a freelance writer living in New York. To hire him; to publish or reprint his work; or to be included on his e-mail list to receive his articles, essays and letters, please write to Mr. Kellard by e-mail at:, or by mail at: P.O. Box 334, Rockville Centre, NY 11571-0334.

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