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This month, the Weekly Standard published my article "The Chicken Littles Were Wrong: The Bird Flu Threat Flew the Coop." It was a follow-up to my cover piece from the year before, "Fuss and Feathers: Pandemic Panic over the Avian Flu."
After the blogger at Avian Flu Diary, whose expertise in the disease stems from being a former paramedic, declared me a fool on his website for writing that second article, he later made the mistake of making a prediction. Specifically, he said there was a "50%/50%" chance of such a pandemic in the next year. He didn't realize that one of the most important rules of alarmism is to never allow yourself to be pinned down by actual dates. You just say we're all doomed and leave the time frame open, allowing yourself a permanent escape hatch. In any case, I took advantage of Mr. Paramedic's oversight to bet him 10-1, with him picking the dollar amount, that there would be no such pandemic in the next 365 days. Odds of 2-1 would be even, so this is an offer you'd think he'd snap up. So far no reply. Now I'm extending the challenge to all bloggers who've ignored my flawless track record on disease scares dating back 20 years and who have said in no uncertain terms that I've been grossly irresponsible and a total idiot on the subject of pandemic flu. That includes Daily Kos, "Revere" at Effect Measure, ("I guess I'll have to bite the bullet and say something about this sleaze." Science as sleaze?) and Mike the Mad Biologist at Science Blogs ("What the piece shows is just how ignorant of public health Fumento really is.") Naturally it also includes Mr. Troll himself Tim Lambert at Deltoid.
Okay guys, put your bucks where your blogs are! Ten to one odds for each of you; each gets to pick the amount in question. I say the year 2008 will roll around and there will be plenty of terrible problems in the world, but pandemic avian flu won't be among them. Naturally some of these anti-scientists have insinuated that somebody must be paying me to say pandemic avian flu is a bunch of bird droppings -- that's also how the alarmist game is played; if you can't counter the facts, attack the messenger. Well this time I am going to make some money! Or at least try. If the year-long period sounds a bit short, keep in mind that it's our paramedic friend who suggested it and that I've been writing about pandemic avian flu alarmism since my "Chicken Little Gets the Flu" article in the Wall Street Journal in January of 1998 -- yes, nine years now. They've had their time. I'll let you know at my website if anybody has the courage of their alleged conviction to take me up on my generous offer. Of course, maybe they'll think this is "sleaze" too, since naturally I along with everybody else will have chirped my last chirp by then anyway.