Agnotology is “the study of culturally-induced ignorance or doubt, particularly the publication of inaccurate or misleading scientific data. Ignorance is often not merely the absence of knowledge but an outcome of cultural and political struggle.”
It never ceases to amaze us how deeply seeded bias can discolor one’s perception of science and objectivity; even among learned, good men and even when provided with direct evidence their beliefs are just that, only beliefs.
There is a current discussion going on, on the Inspector Journal Forums over what is and is not current accepted science over the mold issue. It is a particularly nasty one which appears to be the result of Home Inspectors having misinformation crammed down their throats for years. The thread is titled, Caoimhin P. Connell vs. Sharon Kramer Slugfest?
It actually began a couple of years ago. But Sharon did not comment until recently when she attempted to make the Home Inspectors aware of the new OSHA publication, “INDOOR AIR QUALITY IN COMMERCIAL AND INSTITUTIONAL BUILDINGS” Instead of accepting the information as the gesture of good will that it was meant to be, the thread continued on with the theme of its mean spirited title into a game of “Let’s trap Sharon on the science. She is just some ole woman with a degree in marketing – not science.”
When Sharon repeatedly told the forum members that she is not a scientist and does not write about science — she writes about marketing, they pulled out the old LAWeekly hit piece, “The Toxic Mold Rush: California Mom Helps Fuel an Obsession, Ed McMahon is among those caught in paranoia over fungus’ supposed perils” By Daniel Heimpel July 24, 2008. This was proof that their beliefs on science are correct and Sharon’s are wrong.
They then proceeded to write exactly what Sharon has been saying about the current state of science over the mold issue. The gist of the question on the forum is, “How much mold and its toxins does science hold that one must be exposed to before illness occurs.”
Inspector Kurt from Chicago writes, “There isn’t an answer to that question, which is why there’s such confusion, and why it opens the door to the scammers and loons.” Kurt is exactly right. There isn’t an answer to that question. It varies widely from situation to situation, person to person.
But, Kurt does not understand just how true his words really are of how the confusion has left the door open to scammers and loons. Since one cannot say how much mold and toxins must be present in a building before illness occurs, then logically, one can also not legitimately profess to have scientifically proven no amount of mold and its toxins could cause illness.
Yet, that is EXACTLY what scammers and loons have professed to be able to prove. These are well connected loons. They were able to get their scam marketed into US public health policy and various state workers comp policies in the early 2000’s. They did this with the help of an ethically challenged medical association and the US Chamber of Commerce.
SCIENTIFIC FRAUD IN POLICY BY ACOEM
In 2002, the workers comp physicians’ trade association, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) brought in two toxicologists with PhD’s to their organization. The two men applied extrapolations to data they took from a single rodent study and professed their calculations proved it was highly unlikely at best anyone could made ill from the toxins of mold found in water damaged buildings (WDB).
Their conclusions formed from their calculations have been discredited by the courts and in research papers many times over. The National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine published an extensive report on Damp Indoor Spaces in 2004, in which it directly stated,
Regardless, like the tale of the Emperor’s New Robe, ACOEM continues to market it as legitimate scientific, proof of the lack of causation of illness from water damaged buildings (WDB).
SCIENTIFIC FRAUD IN POLICY BY US CHAMBER
In 2003, the US Chamber of Commerce and the Manhattan Institute think-tank paid the two toxicologists to spin the deception in science and policy as first legitimized by ACOEM even further. This time, it was claimed their calculation proved people who claimed illness from WDB were only doing so because they had been subjected to media hype, unscrupulous trial lawyers and Junk Science.
FRAUD IN A STRATEGIC LEGAL ACTION
In March of 2005, Sharon was the first to publicly write of several of the entities who worked together to mass market the deception in policy, while she named the names of those involved:
“ He [Bruce Kelman] admitted the Manhattan Institute, a national political think-tank, paid GlobalTox $40,000 to write a position paper regarding the potential health risks of toxic mold exposure. Although much medical research finds otherwise, the controversial piece claims that it is not plausible the types of illnesses experienced by the Haynes family and reported by thousands from across the US, could be caused by “toxic mold” exposure in homes, schools or office buildings.
In 2003, with the involvement of the US Chamber of Commerce and ex-developer, US Congressman Gary Miller (R-CA), the GlobalTox paper was disseminated to the real estate, mortgage and building industries’ associations. A version of the Manhattan Institute commissioned piece may also be found as a position statement on the website of a United States medical policy-writing body, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.”
In May of 2005, Kelman and GlobalTox sued Sharon for libel, claiming the use of her phrase in the writing, “altered his under oath statements” was a maliciously false accusation of perjury. Kelman then proceeded to use perjury to establish needed reason for malice. They have attempted (to no avail) to use the litigation to coerce Sharon to endorse the fraud in science by ACOEM and the US Chamber.
In November of 2006, the Fourth District Division One Appellate Court, San Diego, wrote an anti-SLAPP Opinion of the case. Written by Justice Judith McConnell, Chair of the California Commission on Judicial Performance, the courts framed Sharon to make it look like she had accused Kelman of getting caught lying on the witness stand about being paid to author ACOEM’s Mold Statement. From the Appellate Opinion of November 2006:
“..This testimony supports a conclusion Kelman did not deny he had been paid by the Manhattan Institute to write a paper, but only denied being paid by the Manhattan Institute to make revisions in the paper issued by ACOEM. He admitted being paid by the Manhattan Institute to write a lay translation. The fact that Kelman did not clarify that he received payment from the Manhattan Institute until after being confronted with the Kilian deposition testimony could be viewed by a reasonable jury as resulting from the poor phrasing of the question rather from an attempt to deny payment. In sum, Kelman and GlobalTox presented sufficient evidence to satisfy a prima facie showing that the statement in the press release was false.”
But Sharon’s writing speaks for itself. It is 100% accurate and states the same as the Appellate Opinion. The money was for the US Chamber’s Mold Statement. ACOEM’s was just a version.
“He [Kelman] admitted the Manhattan Institute, a national political think-tank, paid GlobalTox $40,000 to write a position paper regarding the potential health risks of toxic mold exposure…..In 2003, with the involvement of the US Chamber of Commerce and ex-developer, US Congressman Gary Miller (R-CA), the GlobalTox paper was disseminated to the real estate, mortgage and building industries’ associations. A version of the Manhattan Institute commissioned piece may also be found as a position statement on the website of a United States medical policy-writing body, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.”
In July 2008, three weeks before trial, the LAWeekly ran the “Toxic Mold Queen” article by budding journalist Hempiel (now on the fast track of political yellow journalism) about the case that our new friends at the Inspector’s Forum have posted as proof that Sharon must be wrong on the science. Seven people who were quoted in the article stated they were not even interviewed or were misquoted in the article. Even the Manhattan Institute came to Sharon’s defense of the fraudulent piece by Heimpel. According to the MI’s Ted Frank,
“I wasn’t asked at all about Kelman and Kramer, but am portrayed as having an opinion about it. And my observations about Brockovich and vaccines were deleted.”
A particularly ugly piece of yellow journalism, even Sharon’s husband and children were attacked. Her eldest daughter, who is a reality television show editor in Los Angeles, was portrayed to be a sickly lost soul who Sharon holds out as her “starring victim” of the mold issue. Her younger daughter was portrayed to be embarrassed that Sharon has gone over the edge of this issue, when no such statements were ever made.
Heimpel and LAWeekly knew what they were doing would aid the fraud in policy to continue. (So do the justices of the Appellate court: McConnell, Huffman, Benke, Aaron, Irrion & McDonald.)
In trial, a piece of false hearsay evidence of an email by an ex-GlobalTox employee that was never discussed in trial, got into the jury room. According to one of the jurors, who is herself an attorney, this caused the verdict for Kelman. (Among many other funky aspects of the case!) And to this very day, the games play on in the courts.
Since the games play on, it is difficult for people like Inspector Kurt to understand he has had Agnotology crammed down his throat over the mold issue. Credentials inspectors like Kurt and others rely on to provide them accurate information have been bastardized to deceive them.
Its BILLIONS in insurer fraud, primarily workers’ comp, that two men with PhDs applied math to a single rodent study and professed to prove no one was sick from moldy buildings. ACOEM legitimized. The Chamber mass marketed it. And the courts have covered for the fraud.
Inspector Kurt has been fooled in more ways than one. When insurers are able to deny liability for causation of worker illness based on a scientific fraud remaining in policy, the cost burden shifts to the taxpayers via state and federal disability programs to take care of the sick and their families. This includes Inspector Kurt and every other US taxpayer.
Working with many others, Sharon has been able to help remove the fraud from Federal policy. (although NIOSH does not acknowledge its role in promoting the fraud in policy in the first place, and no one will make them ). So the games play on in the courts and workers comp claims handling practices, while the private sector lags behind current accepted science in federal policy.
This leaves Inspector Kurt (who appears to be an intelligent, honest and passionate man) and many other professionals in the issue with the correct understanding that with regard to how much mold must be proven present or not before one gets sick, “There isn’t an answer to that question, which is why there’s such confusion, and why it opens the door to the scammers and loons.” He and many others just do not understand that the science he has been fed as legitimate science, proof of lack of causation of illness, was in reality, written by scammers and loons.
Its BILLIONS in insurer fraud by the US Chamber, et. al., that remains in private sector US policy and in many courtrooms to this very day. And even though the Inspectors Forum found us to be completely the opposite of what they KNEW to be true on the science, we still think they are good guys. Its just human nature to resist when someone tells you that what you were sure you knew to be true is just intentional misinformation mass marketed to you by scammers and loons.