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E-M:/ What to Tell?



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Enviro-Mich message from joonmck <joonmck@gateway.net>
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Rachel Carson, the author of Silent Spring, perhaps the most influential
environmental treatise of the last century, had breast cancer during the
writing of the book in the early 1960s. But she remained silent about
it. She didn't want her enemies to take that information and accuse her
of being "biased" in her expose. Though her illness had nothing to do
with the facts in the book (except perhaps, as a motivator). 

Interestingly, Carson wrote about three types of silences in American
culture. First there was the silence about heated scientific
disagreements in the literature (in addressing the public, the
"scientific community" usually spoke with one voice, even though
insiders knew better....somewhat akin to Jeffrey Wigand, the
cigarette whistle blower of Brown and Williamson fame....seen in the Al
Pacino movie). Second there were the silences of the song birds in
Spring, sacrificed to the ravages of environmental destruction. Finally,
there were the silences of the "experts" who knew truths about things,
but were afraid to speak out.

Funny, if you read the NEW Silent Spring, Sandra Steingraber's
brilliant, "Living Downstream" (1997), it turns out that those three
silences persist today...BIG TIME!

Readers familiar with "Living Downstream," know that Sandra (a U of M
biologist) has uterine cancer. Unlike Carsen, Steingraber reflexively
revealed her illness in the book. In fact, she made it a centerpiece of
the narrative, probing the possible linkages (known and personally felt)
between toxins and her disease. And wouldn't you know it? Some
Steingraber reviewers have publicly accused her of bias in her work. She
was accused of being biased (and the implication is that her words are
less legitimate) because of her (self professed) cancer. It seems that
one's enemies will use anything they can against you. More on this
later. 

Brian McKenna, Ph.D.


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