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It's now been a week since I threw down the gauntlet on my blog site and at Right Wing News to five avian flu alarmist bloggers who had attacked my Weekly Standard article, "The Chicken Littles Were Wrong: The Bird Flu Threat Flew the Coop." Since one had predicted a "50%/50%" [sic] chance of a bird flu pandemic among humans within the next year I gave him 10 to 1 odds there wouldn't be, noting that 2 to 1 odds would be even so that anything above that should be tempting. I then offered the same odds to the other four. As I expected, none of them took me up on it. Daily Kos simply ignored it; but after all they're Daily Kos so they can do whatever they like, right? A blogger who goes by "Revere" and posted "Fumento's Bird Flu Follies" at Effect Measure also ignored it. But then, his blog actually had little to do with avian flu; rather it was mostly one long ad hominem attack on me. He even referred to my article as "sleaze," a rather strange term to describe a science article. Three bloggers outright refused the bet.
One was Mr. "50%/50%," an anonymous fellow who runs "Avian Flu Diary." Obviously if your blog is about nothing but avian flu, you have an interest in promoting panic. (There are actually a number of such dedicated sites, primarily FluWiki, which refuses to post my material but has no problem posting opinion pieces like A Severe Pandemic Is Likely and running ads from pharmaceutical companies that make flu drugs.) But our diarist friend had no interest in the bet. "Possible Interstate [sic] gambling law violations aside, this is far too serious a subject to debase by making side bets on whether millions of people will die," he whimpered. Personal bets violate no gambling laws, nor do serious subjects prevent bets. Translation: "Bawk! Bawk! Bawk!" He does not have the courage of his convictions, beyond the conviction to keep his blog alive.
Another was "Mad Mike the Biologist," who posts over at "Science Blogs." From other posters and posts I've seen there it should be called "Superstition Blogs." In the event, despite the written record on his own blog site he denied having even challenged the basis of my article. Never mind that the blog post in question, which in the title called me a "disingenuous ideologue," began: "Revere, over at Effect Measure, has a solid critique of Michael Fumento's opinion piece about avian flu. What the piece shows is just how ignorant of public health Fumento really is." That's not a challenge? Translation: "Bawk! Bawk! Bawk!"
Finally we have Tim Lambert, whose original post criticizing my article is here. Lambert is one of the most obnoxious trolls on the Internet. He produces nothing; he exists to tear down other people to make up for some perceived deficiency on his part. Perhaps it's a deficiency that can be measured with a three-inch ruler; I don't know. Some people buy a flashy sports car in his case, but Troll Lambert uses all his spare time to write fraudulent Wikipedia biographies about people who get more attention than he does (approximately 6.3 billion) and to try to poke fun of them on his blog. In his desperation he often makes an utter fool of himself and this was no exception. Aside from refusing the bet, Troll Lambert claimed that my giving 10 to 1 odds meant I believed there was a ten percent chance of pandemic flu over the next ten years. Right, Troll. And my saying "The sky is sunny" means that I believe Al Qaeda will set off a dirty bomb in Wichita, Kansas. I picked the 10 to 1 figure for the rather obvious reason that people like round numbers and we have a base 10 system. Now, Lambert is an Aussie and maybe Australia doesn't use the decimal system - but I'm pretty sure it does. I know they have chickens over there; Troll Lambert is proof.
And they're we have it; five flu alarmists offered the chance to make a chunk of change and all five refused it. What does this tell us? They'll spew and spew and spew, but they know that what they say just isn't true.